What is that noise? Where am I?

Those were my first thoughts when I woke up yesterday at 3:30am, annoyingly to the alarm I’d set to catch the 6am flight the day before, not realizing it was still active. And it took me a second to remember where I was. I tried to go back to sleep but my body generally doesn’t work that way and this was no exception. Breakfast isn’t until 8am in this hotel (such slackers I tell you!) so I had a lot of time to kill. I did some emails and banking tasks, went up to the deck on the top floor and read some. Tried to go back to sleep up there but that wasn’t happening so I decided to go for a walk and went out about 6:30.

This is the Church of our Lady of Guadalupe, probably the best known and easiest to spot landmark in the city, and about 2 blocks from my hotel on the same street. Construction started in 1921 but wasn’t completed until 1940, with progress halting during a 3 year war between church and state. The crown was added in 1965 and resembles the crown seen on Our Lady of Fatima statues.

 It was nicely lit up at 6:30 in the morning, but not open. Some of these photos I look later in the morning.




 Depicting the church’s namesake, Our Lady of Guadalupe, this is to your right after you enter the main doors. And by the way, if you’re not familiar with the Juan Diego story, it’s a nice read. Having attended a Catholic school that was largely Hispanic I was very familiar with it.

As I leave my hotel, the church is two blocks to my left. The Malecon, a mile long boardwalk along the beach, is 3 blocks in front of me. The seahorse in the center of this photo is another famous PV landmark; Jon says the PV sign was just added a year or two ago. You’ll see a much different scene here at the end, but there weren’t many folks around. Although there were more folks than you might expect out running or walking their dogs at 6:30am, there were few enough to allow me to get this people-free shot without difficulty.

 There are lots of sculptures along the way. The one above is a like a garden; the one below I found particularly interesting in that cluster.


 Above and below, just a couple more of the art pieces I liked along the way: a couple of mer-people, and an alien-like couple.


 Above: probably about 7am and the sun was starting to rise. Below: a pair of PV dancers.


 I took a few shots like this today. Nothing to see particularly, just a look I like that seems to capture the overall feel.
 Above: the beginning of my block on Calle Hidalgo. I was trying to capture the stairs on either side that go up to the homes built into the hill but it didn’t quite come out. Below: my hotel. That deck you see at the top is where I was killing time in the morning.


 Above and below: my view at breakfast, and where I’m sitting again this morning as I write this. [And this morning there’s a whale out there entertaining the breakfast crowd!] Breakfast was really simple and I didn’t eat much, just some pineapple, a yogurt, and some potatoes that were cooked nicely with onions.


 Taken on my second morning walk, above is an outdoor theater which is part of a public square. I didn’t know at the time that this is where Jon and I would be coming in the evening. We sat right there on the bleachers on the right to eat our dinner.
 Sign at a restaurant I found amusing. [For those using screen readers it says: Keep calm, you’re on the fun side of Trump’s wall.]
The point of this trip was to spend some time with Jon, check out someplace I’d never been, and relax without a jammed packed agenda. There are a ton of places to get cheap massages here so I decided that would be a fitting way to start. A 2 hour session that actually went 2.5 hours included a sea salt scrub, massage and facial. I’d never done a facial before, probably wouldn’t again, but it was part of the package. And all for a whopping $70 or so US dollars. It was a nice way to smooth out the edges from 2 nights in a row of not great sleep. By the time I was done there it was about Noon so I kept wandering to find a place for lunch.


 I stopped at El Mole de Jovita, which specializes in, duh, mole. It seems like I’d had mole before but couldn’t quite remember it, vaguely remember thinking I didn’t care for it much. But figured here it would probably be better than anything I’d tried in the States so was worth a try. They start with chips and a sampler of 3 moles – OK right there, I thought there was just one kind. The tan one on the right I thought at first was warm refried beans, but is actually a peanut mole. The dark brown in the middle is traditional mole with a chocolate base. I forgot to ask what the green one was based on, some kind of pepper; it was my favorite.


I got a platter which had 2 enchiladas, 2 sopas, 2 crispy tacos, and a tostada. All was yummy and very filling. The enchiladas had the traditional mole on it and it was certainly better than any I may have tried before – I’ll remember it this time! – but it was very rich and I couldn’t finish it. I sat at the table under the sign on the left in the photo below.


 Above: the restaurant from the outside.
I left the restaurant around 1:30 and just started meandering, with no discernable goal. And I discovered a river – didn’t know there was one! The river Cuale, there are some beautiful, tranquil spots carved out in the middle everything. It was a nice find, as seen above and below.



 I walked around some more, trying to find the restaurant we were at last night but couldn’t. For some reason I’m having trouble getting my bearings here and I’m usually pretty good at getting grounded directionally. I thought finding someplace I’d already been would help so not finding it disoriented me even more! But I enjoyed watching the locals and checking out various shops. Above: local market which spills out onto the sidewalk. Below: a suspension pedestrian bridge over the river which is literally just hanging. As soon as you step on it, it starts to jiggle. It was fine I just wasn’t ready for it so a bit of a surprise. Jon and I walked across 2 different ones later in the day.


Above: the other side of the bridge, some nice residences built into the hills. I was struck by the divide between this view and the very poor neighborhood I’d just left. Below: there’s a little island in the middle of the river which was formed after the river grew into a fork in 1926 and a little island emerged. In 1976 they dredged to make the island permanent and turned it into a nice park with a couple of restaurants on it.


 Above: just more street views I liked.

I went back to the room about 2:30 to rest and maybe take a nap. I may have dozed a little but clearly wasn’t ready or able for a full on nap so by 3:30 decided it was time to head out again. I went back to the Malecon since I hadn’t seen it really since the sun rose and decided it was time for a walk on the beach.

A decent portion of the beginning of the Malecon runs right next to Banderas Bay. Around the next bend after that palm tree, it starts to decrease in width as it begins to run along beaches. Sort of in the middle, you can see the dolphin fountain which is in the photo below.


I walked along the water essentially until I couldn’t walk anymore, blocked by rocks against a cliff.


A pier which Jon says was just built a few years ago. On the other side of this pier the mix of gay and straight changed dramatically, from maybe 10/90 to 90/10.


 Above: approaching the end. Below: a panoramic I took while standing there at the end.


 Above: I got off the beach at the pier; positioned the sun behind the larger middle pole to get this shot. Below: the beach view from the same spot as above.


From the pier I just continued walking back into town. I found the art gallery that was on my list of things to do and took a look around. About 80 different local artists, it was packed with all kinds of colorful things, with a sculpture garden in the middle. Jon and I returned to this in the evening, briefly, so he could show me the work of one of this friend’s that I’d met.

I made it back to my room about 5:15 and got ready to meet Jon at 6. He lives just a few blocks from where I’m staying. We met a friend of his for coffee at a place back down on Olas Altas street, in an area referred to as the Romantic Zone  where I’d spent most of the day. We visited for about an hour then went to an English LGBT 12-Step meeting (all flavors welcome) which is one of Jon’s regular meetings.

After the meeting we went to the public square I’d come across 2-3x already, where there was a nice mariachi band playing. I’m typically not a big fan of mariachis but this was pretty good and fit the setting. There were a fair number of people gathered, and several tents set up with all different kinds of food. They do this every other Friday. Above: the band; below, Jon standing in line at the place we were getting a bite to eat.



Jon has been here before and really liked this food: blue corn quesadillas. As you can see above, very fresh – that’s masa in the green bowl, she presses it out right there into a thick tortilla and throws it on the grill to her right, as seen below.


Above: the crowd and more of the food tents. Below: the food, which we ate in those bleachers I had a photo of earlier. This spot is actually behind there; the band is set up on yet another stage in the park, not the one in front of the bleachers where we are now sitting. The food was great, that tortilla memorable.

We stopped for ice cream – which was incredible – and walked back along the Malecon. There were some mimes performing in interesting costumes, this one I was fascinated by. I still can’t quite figure out how he did that: appears to be balancing – better yet floating – with only the sword for support. Above and below, he did several poses for us.


Ending in a way where I began: the same PV sign with the boy on the seahorse, as seem at 10pm vs. 6:30am.

That’s it for Friday. A successful start to a relaxing few days. See you tomorrow.


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