Tuesday, February 05, 2008

HOLA MEXICO!!!

This one's for you Tasaka!
We need a MOMAR here!
Well, I just got back from a 10 day trip in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and wow what a good time! The area there is absolutely fantastic. While the City itself is teathing with Gringos, you don't have to go far to see the true Mexican culture and take in the vast mountainous terrain. Instead of writing for hours, I put together a collection of some good photos that show the highlights of the trip. Enjoy!

Mount Rainier on the flight down

I had to include this one (especially for Gary and Megan). This is a shot of the last stage of the 2007 Baja Travesia including the last trek, last kayak, and finish in San Felipe. Just happend to be flying over!


The reason Kim and I went down in the first place was to attend and celebrate the wedding of Roger and Carol MacLeod. Both Roger and Carol have been MOMAR regulars with Carol having won every race in her category that she entered. I first met both of them in late 2005 and it was through them that got me into the my first MOMAR in Cumberland. We ended up winning the team of four co-ed and it has just gone from there. The wedding was very nice and it was great to meet some of their family and enjoy time on the beach with everyone.

Beach Time!

Iguana in Action


View of old Puerto Vallarta. Kim and I walked up some steep stairs that led by little Mexican apartments where the locals played music, made food in little hibatchees, or just hung out with some cervezas. This was the view from the top.

A beach sand Budda in Puerto Vallarta

Old cobble streets that you would think would just destroy the cars in this City. However, there are tons of old cars including old VW buses and bugs. They must either just fix them or they just don't care.


A group of us in the wedding party went on a 52km bike trip that led from this small town (I forget the name) to the beach village of Yelapa. The ride was primarily old road with lots and lots of long climbs. Very Fun!

From left to Right: tour guide helper, Me, Kim, Bob, Natasha, Matt, Roger, and our awesome tour guide Alexandro. Natasha is Carol's race partner (The Snot Sisters) and was our fourth teammate in the Cumberland MOMAR in 05.

In the mountains for the first time

A short break in a small Village

Matt pushing up the climb with Natasha in background
Bob feeling the heat (and I thought I sweat a lot!)

Another small village

A stop for some refreshments, some local stares, and a donky ride.

Look at that gorgeous flowering tree. Alexandro said that this is the biggest tree of this kind that he has ever seen.

Sometimes we had to watch what was around the corner!!!

After a sweat view from the top (the first photo up top), he headed down a super sandy and super fast road down into the Village of Yelapa. It reminded me of some bike videos where they're riding downhill bikes down the paths of the town.

The finish in Yelapa

Since Yelapa is a ferry in only Village (except if you Mountain Bike in :) ) we took a water taxi back to a pickup point.

Our great tour guide

ROAD TRIP!!!
We rented a small car and went on a road trip for four days to get out of resort town and see what Mexico is all about. We were not disappointed. The first place we stopped was the small beach surf town of San Fransico.

A sweat beach with a nice sunset.

When we were walking the beach we ran into a group of people who were part of a turtle rehibilitation program. They collect the eggs on the beach, store them in coolers with sand until they hatch, and then release them at sunset to make their way into the ocean. They are a type of large sea turtle.

In San Fran we stayed in one of these 'luxury' palapas

A nice view from up the coast

We headed in land and started to see the big mountains. There were many volcanoes including this one.

Nice countryside

We stopped at a volcanic information pullout where the area was covered in broken up lava flow rock. It was pretty cool. You could see the rock flow going all the way up to the blown off peak of the volcano.

One of the many small towns we visited

The City of Tequila where Tequila was first discovered. It is the most active distillery area with over 24 Tequila factories.

The towns in Mexico are all the same. There is a large public gathering area with lots of benches, trees and gardens for people to enjoy. Surrounding this is usually a large church, the 'municipal office' and several main shops. Mexicans definitely know how to make a town centre. They were always filled with people and were a gathering place for many different purposes.

Some locals enjoying the shade of high noon.
No visit to Tequila is complete without a tour to a Tequila plant. Tequila is made from the heart (or as they call it the pineapple) of the Agave cactus. Once they are slow cooked for three days the starches turn to sugers and the at this stage they actually taste quite good.

After a Tequila tour and diner which included no less than seven shots on the house (to try and get you to buy the restaurants sponsored Tequila) I was completely pissed! I did not sleep well that night!

The road trip continues.

Our last stop before our return to Puerto Vallarta was to the mountain Village of San Sebastien. The peak in the background is one of the highest in the area at probably around 2000m. We found out that there is a road that heads almost right to the top to a radio tour. We were debating walking the road all the way up but as I was still not feeling good from my night with madame Tequila, we decided to see what our mini rental car could do. Good thing it was a standard. 1st gear for 45 minutes of climbing.

The road going up to the peak was actually in really good shape in part due to the extensive cobble work done on steep sections of the road to avoid washout. It must have taken a lot of manual labour but I'm sure it will last centuries. Those Mexicans sure know what they're doing.

The road got pretty rough near the top so we decided to walk the rest. The top afforded some phenomenal views in all directions.

The number of small re-entrants (small valleys) in the surrounding mounatins was unreal. Lots of rain in the rainy season!

Another view with the Village of San Sabastien barely visible in the centre right.

Close to the top of the peak, with noticed a sign for a Village called Real Alto which means 'really high'. It's probably around 1800m and made up of several small homes and of course, a large church.
Real Alto.
Well, our road trip was over but we still had two days left to enjoy some tours around Puerto Vallarta. The first day we went on a catamaran sailboat out to some protected bird santuary islands for some snorkling. Of course, I got pulled into having a Macaw dig it's claws into my scalp. It was a bit of a tourist trap at the marina but the people using the Macaws were part of a conservation group that tries to educates people and rehibilitates stolen birds back into the wild (the birds are taken from the wild to be sold as pets since each bird can take in over $2000).
On the way out to the snorkle site, we saw lots of humpbacks as it is currently their breading season. They swim all the way down from Alaska to mate in the warm Mexican waters.
We had lots of dolphins playing off the bows of the ship when we were sailing. Some of them were huge!
The snorkling was a lot of fun but ended up being pretty cold. After a good 50 minutes, we were ready to pack it in. The bird santuary (shown in the background) is home to the blue-footed boobies which you might have heard before in connection with the Galapagos Islands.
Fish in Action
Coral, Sea Urchans and a flurescent blue fish
With the sails up, we head back to shore
Holy Sheeet! Our last day was spent in El Eden; a nice river valley going up into the mountains and the filming location for the movie Predator (yes, a classic Swartzeneger film). We went to do a canopy zip line tour which ended up being a lot of fun. There were 12 lines with each getting progressively longer and faster. They eventually worked up to a 500m line where you reached 100km/hour. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the zip lines.
After the zip lines, we made our way to the airport to finish off an amazing trip. I was reluctant about going to Puerto Vallarta at first but was truly impressed by how nice it was, how much there is to do in the surrounding area, and how genuinely nice and happy the locals are. Whether you're into exploring the countryside, or just lying in the sun at a resort, there is definitely something for everyone.
Mexico is the BEST!!! I'll see you next year :)
TNO

2 comments:

Gary Robbins said...

Todd, loved the picture story! Looks like you had an amazing trip with some great adventures...now get back to work, lol!!

GR

Scott said...

Todd,
Sweet pictures, you guys had an awesome time no doubt. Can't wait to see the other pictures!