Another busy day in Guadalajara with the fiesta spirit not too far! Indeed it was the beginning of the weekend and we all geared for a good time. First Paco and I went around to find some of the items on our list with mixed luck, then we picked up the Cochon de lait in order to cook it at his restaurant. There we met a friend of him from Cuba and started the party at his home, now I know where the 0.1% live in Mexico, one word “Wow”. Benjamin and Valerie went with our hosts to the fiesta del Libro, this is the largest event of the year in Guadalajara the world come to visit; this year, Israel was the guest country.
Our future host country, Ecuador.
Esther and Valerie having a blast in the kitchen.
Dinner is served, what a treat to be re-united with the two families that we met in Tenacatita. We were spoiled with some Cuban and Mexican dishes, wine and a little Tequila. Thank you so much for such hospitality.
And what the kids doing?
On their social media with internet of course after going to a movie.
Our life has been a world-wind this week-end, we will have larger post about two very different markets, a big party and lot more when we get back to the boat. For today, only one video of Valerie Birthday.
Today we will take you for a tour to the historic part of Guadalajara. This town was founded in the 1500s and under the heavy influence of the Spanish; it was the center and is still to this day of a very conservative religious based society. There were two cathedrals built plus a multitude of hospices and other religious orders. Today, they are even building a big cathedral looking like the Sydney opera on a top of a hill, it certainly looks very impressive. Let’s not forget that Guadalajara is also the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila, which gives it a very rich heritage altogether and allowed Guadalajara to become the center of commerce to prosper and the Third largest city after Mexico city.
On our side, it has been a very long time since we last saw that many traffic jams, beggars and so much people walking in the streets. Guadalajara counts 5 million people and at the end of the day it felt as if we had met a good chunk of them!
Instituto started it’s life as an orphanage, now the center for the advancement of art.
Sample of the famous Mural from Jose Orozco.
City Hall with more mural.
Delia (Daughter of our host) we found the store for your dress
Where the other part (2%) of Mexico live, gated community with all the amenity you need.
Here is where you will find the best Mille-Feuille (French Pastry) in town, the back of a car. Lucky we are curious.
Believe it or not, we have been up for an hour and at 7.30, we are on our way to Guadalajara. This trip will take a Panga ride, a walk though town, a small bus to Melaque, a big one to our final destination.
We may not have time to post much over the next few days, but we will try our best.
Here is an update: we are well and arrived in a very big city. We passed some lovely sceneries on the way in, and we feel we made the right decision by taking the bus instead of driving a rental car. Indeed, the road takes you through the mountain for the first part with a lot of altars or cross reminding us of the casualties.
From our window we could see that Guadalajara is a very large city, as we haven’t seen in long time back in California. Add to that some Latino drivers, traffic jams, rush hour and we are happy to have chosen the bus to come to visit, no problem.
As you can see the ride was very comfortable, better than airplane with even leg rest. 5 hours passed by very quickly and Francisco was there to welcome us on our arrival and we went to visit his new restaurant.
We even got the Pinata right to the house in one piece, of course Mexican bus have a spot to hang them.
Time to go to sleep, like this little guy, he is getting ready for the Fiesta over the week-end.
While in Melaque we were fortunate as the sea was gentle with us, we didn’t get any major swell to land the dinghy for four consecutive days, what a treat! But during the night we felt it growing and could hear the noise of the crashing waves on the beach. This was a perfect timing for us as we had planned to move to the lagoon and settle Letitgo before our departure to Guadalajara.
Barra Navidad: You may remember this location from our luxurious celebration of 6 months cruising. Well, this time we are taking the backpacker option and lodging at the hostel. We are in the lagoon a wide bay that surrounds us by 350 degrees, filled with green vegetations and multiple birds singing, flying nets fishermen, on a mirror still water with a few mosquitosssss from 6pm to 7pm (at sun down).
Since you are all avid readers of the blog now, when you hear the word luxurious resort you can’t help but think of Benjamin! Let us assure you that as soon as we had dropped anchor, English class was over and he had his moppet kayak in the water, he had decided to enjoy discreetly the comfort of the resort. Returning 4 hours later with the smile of a pampered Prince, he had unlimited speedy internet in luxurious surrounding, at his usual floor by the hot tub; needless to add he felt right at home! (Sadly we don’t have any pics to share, there were no paparazzi…)
As for us luxury is a lot simpler, a call on the radio and we ordered our baguettes and “pain au chocolat” for breakfast. We were just on time for the first delivery of the season, Aymeric made it at 9.00am, our coffee was hot, the baguettes were delicious and the view from the terrace was divine! Not bad for a backpacking dive…
We were so fortunate to have been invited in Maria and Arturo’s home for a lesson on *how to cook Tamales*. Valerie has been looking at recipes online but could never get the grip of the real details. Here was our chance to learn from “The Queen of Tamales” herself. We have eaten a few Tamales in our time in Mexico, but none compare to the taste texture and finesse of Maria’s creations. And now we know why! As the making of a simple “mousse au chocolat” it is the combination of few good ingredients and the “savoir-faire” that makes it so delicious and unforgettable to our taste buds. With that said, it is now no surprise why Maria sells so many either “to go” or at the “cart” every night, and we can assure you it is a lot of work for 10 pesos apiece. Realistically with everyone working nowadays it is a lot easier to buy them than to make them.
Maria and Arthuro, thank you so much for opening your home to us and for share your knowledge and culture. Your are extraordinary ambassadors of this great country, like so many fabulous people we’ve met in Mexico, you make our stay in Melaque even more enjoyable and enabled beautiful memories for years to come.
Even with the little one in her arm she has an eye on everything and always with a smile.
1 kg of Masa, water and oil
1 bunch of spinach nicely washed, and chopped thinly
2 green onions, we will only use the green parts previously washed and chopped thinly
A pinch of salt
First thing you need to find the Masa, it is bought directly from the tortillera.
Maria explained that they use a more coarse flour and you can’t purchase it in the store, this one is 100% maiz of course.
Then you need to blend it with a bit of water as to make the consistency of a thick batter for “crepes” preparation.
The main trick is:
Once blended with water, you re-heat it with oil. Most people skip that step, but this is what makes it so creamy, and onctuous.
Maria’s are always light and smooth.
It’s ready once your finger come out clean, remember to mix it vigorously and not allow it to stick to the pan.
Then cook the greens, spinash and green onion in a pan with a little oil.
You can add a pinch of salt at that stage only.
Mix the two concoctions until well blended.
The packaging stage in Corn leaf
Spread your mixture on the soft part of the leaf.
Note: you need to previously soak your corn leaf (hojas) first in a pot of water so they are nice and supple
You will need to use a steaming rack, and to cover it with corn leaves. The water should not over flow your steaming rack.
Steam for one hour, they are ready when they have that beautiful blond color.
Serve with a dollop of “crème fraiche” and “salsa” and you are in for a treat, sit back and relax.
We also prepared some pineapple ones, but this require another technique for the dough and really… we can’t tell you everything for nothing.
Now where to find Maria if you are visiting Melaque? Easy, she is located next to the church in the main plaza “jardin”. Once you sit down, you will feel her warmth and beautiful smile welcoming you at the table.
When your time is counted, your mind is focused, well, that’s what we learnt in management training and it still applies nowadays. Because we know that we are not coming back here and counting by the day our stay in Melaque. There are no better time than now to invite Maria “The Queen of Tamales” and her family onboard. Fortunately for them the surf was gentle with us and we had everybody in and out nice and dry! Phew… Melaque’s break can be vicious at time…
Once more we discovered a lot about the daily local life and the culture, the evolution of the country. In the end we all share the same questions of the essence of life and we all are on the same quest, truly it is one’s personal choices and outlook on life that will guide you on the path to live happily. Maria shared with us the surprise she had: Two months ago she became Grand-Ma from her daughter who is just sixteen years old, sadly it is an occurrence still common in Mexico. Then again, with a smile she will tell you “Es la vida!” and life must go on; next to Maria’s tamales stand there is now an extension and the young parents are selling here ice-cream cones, as you can see it is not a free ride!
Though it seems that for 10 pesos of rent per night, you can get good ratio on a P&L. We will have more photos and narrative soon, as we have been invited to cook Tamales at her house on Monday: her day off. I don’t know if Valerie is going to be able to sleep tonight…
As the sun was coming down, we started roaming the street as usual. Benjamin had mentioned that Piñatas are a tradition for Christmas, low and behold in a back street we found a lady making them by hand. It takes Rosa two days of precise labor for a big one, there are lots of silk paper to be glued to the cardboard cone. The ones with ten spikes represent Jesus, Marie, Joseph and the apostles; they are then filled with candies mandarins and nuts! Nice way to get the kids hyper for a few hours.
Look at all these colours
Most times we only take picture of special things, but not the everyday life, so tonight I made an effort without flash to just capture the essence of Melaque’s Saturday night routine.
Let’s go for a walk.
On the square, you will find a plaster coloring station for the younger ones, while the teenagers are smoothing on the bench or at the beach swimming in the dark in pack with a few beers.
Want a serenade? just pay the wandering guitar player.
Two typical tacos stand setup, one on a corner of a lot, the other one just in front of your home.
A very professional churros set-up! Emma just for your standards we tried them and they tasted AMAZING…
This is our favorite “tienda”, the owner does all the receipts by hand at the speed of light without calculator and he is honest. You can notice the dirt floor, shady roof, and a few cats to keep the vermin under control, there is not a lot of tourists here. Where do they go shopping? Two streets over at the Hawaiian store, where the prices are a lot higher for the same product, though admittedly it is well displayed with a few Costco products. Let’s just say that Maria had a good laugh when we mentioned it and said: “It’s just for snobs and we are not gringos!”.
The view from where we get internet nowdays, it’s getting better! We sit on the pavement in front of the bus terminal.
And this last one is for you Alfredo; your “paletas” are still the best thank you so much for gifting us with the care package at our departure. You know, the ones in Melaque are horrible, we are spoiled now!…
Benjamin’s flavor is Oreo, Valerie’s is strawberry, and Laurent’s is Guajanabana or Soursop in English, en francais corossol.
A quick hop and we left the peacefulness of Tenacatita for Melaque, another city we have thoroughly enjoyed during our spring venue. After anchoring in front of the defunct “hotel Melaque”, we made a straight bee line for the bus station. Emma, we must admit it was an emotional time for us, when we saw the churros stand of your love again; but enough with the tears, we have to get to work we have some reservations and decisions to make tonight!
Truly we were on a mission, trying to analyze value for money in the bus system and it’s not as easy as it seems; especially when you haven’t used that type of transportation since living in the UK during the 90′s… With that said, for our upcoming trip to Guadalajara, we need to travel a bit; and there are four bus lines to get us there from here. Easy enough one might think, however this trip can take 4.5 hours to 7 hours depending on your choice. You see one option could be to ride on a chicken bus or similar to those in a South America backpacking like in the movie or option B you could travel in a Hollywood movie star bus with only 30 seat, air conditioned, toilets and a hostess onboard to welcome you. This quality difference evidently transfers in fare price which goes from $250 to $359 one way, decisions decisions… While we were orchestrating and ensuring that the timing was the most accommodating for our hosts via e-mail, we could see the ballet of buses coming in and out of the street and with that we noticed the difference between the rides. At this point my favorite wife quietly reminded us that: with the state of the road, the heat and a 6 hour ride, these might very well be good reasons to splurge for once…
Indeed, Laurent do you remember the regular rides we did from La Cruz to Puerto Vallarta: A 1 hr bus ride and how tired we were after it? Where is your sense of adventure? A chicken bus with multiple stops and local color might make for an enjoyable and memorable day! Non? Never mind, I lost that argument, as you can imagine… Although I still got the last word : “Yes dear! I just got the Primera Plus, you see only the best for you!
Benjamin with internet, doesn’t he look like he belongs here?
Another thing we have discovered in Mexico via the regular Telcel’s scam advertising- and text, it is the way they design their promotion. You see 10% or 20% for booking online or if you buy a return trip. Easy enough you imagine! Well you are wrong they have more rules and regulations than your IPod updated license agreement. And you have to work hard to get them, but after bugging the cashier multiple time, I was able to make sense of the fine print, actually the non-printed one since nothing is written anywhere. Nonetheless with a lovely cheeky smile she will be happy to tell you…
So here we are, our bookings are set and done, to go meet again the wonderful Gonzalez family from Thursday to Tuesday, in Guadalajara, we are so excited you have no idea!
Now this note is for our sweet Emma, she is in our thoughts often as you can all imagine. After this milestone, Emma what do you think was the next most appropriate thing to do? Yep, you’ve got it, we went around the plaza, then sat in front of our favorite “food truck” to eat at Maria’s “the queen of Western Mexico’s best Tamales”. As usual your Mum kept some room in her tummy for a piece of flan; from there we went to the dirt floor tienda for some fresh fruits and veggies. Now here is the best news ever, we have Maria’s family coming over for lunch tomorrow!!!
We nearly had forgotten the feeling of not being alongside a city with all the distractions it offers. Thankfully in Tenacatita, we went back quickly to that perfect frame of mind and reconnected with what we love best: a life where time is readily available for anything and nothing. While Benjamin is studying hard and consistently, the rest of the family had time to clean the bottom of the boat, and in the end it was not as bad as we had anticipated after two months; and fresh bread is being made again. Additionally since the morning dew is so abundant in this area, I can indulge in my favorite pastime: a free fresh water boat wash. We told you life is simple, lately the big question has been what are we cooking for dinner?
For the rest of the day, a nice walk along the beach, a nice talk with our neighbor and Benjamin finds a way to get his mother worried sick when he decides to go Kayaking the mangrove for 4 hours without expletively telling her, without a radio and all alone. Will he be eaten by crocodile? Chased by the police in the restricted area? Or will he be back before the light goes down? The answers were as followed: No, No, and finally Yes! So for the aperitif Valerie decided to have a beer!
While his mother is worried…
Never forget that the photo flatten the bay surrounding us.
As per the photo above you can see the entire bay is opened with no-one around, Tenacatita for yourself a real treat. Not so good for Benjamin’s ambition to play volleyball and to participate in any other organized activities, in this retirement village for cruisers from Mid-December to Mid-April. The troupe hasn’t made it yet this South from Mazatlan or La Paz; where the majority would have stored their boat for the summer. We have been here, when it was full 40 boats at least, and run away quickly after a few days.
Now on a technical point of view: since we left the Northern point of the Sea of Cortez this summer, we have travelled 2000 Kms as sailor count or 1200 Kms in a straight line. We only used the engine for 4.32% of the miles or 47 hours. This is the equivalent of 90 liter of diesel, half a liter per 100km (85 miles for the gallon). But enough with this technical non-sense, the reality is that we have been back in 30 degrees temperature for the last two weeks. The water is a comfortable 25 degrees and for the first time since we left Bahia de Los Angeles we can finally swim! As strange as it sounds you don’t go for a swim when you are in Marinas (except if they have a pool that is) or in old harbor, even La Cruz this year with the red tide didn’t feel too appetizing…
Late in the afternoon, we got some company in the form of a military boat. This morning we got our first official inspection, nothing to worry about just the official boat ownership paper and last port of call “zarpe” (ours was from April in La Cruz) very polite and quick. No question about identification or security item, when presented with the TIP (importation document) he didn’t even know what it was.
The only child is getting some special quality time with Mummy and Daddy.