Adios Puerto Vallarta, Hasta Luego

No doubt about it, the highlight of our visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this year was our visit by Senior Iggy, the Iguana.

No doubt about it, the highlight of our visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this year was our visit by Senior Iggy, the Iguana.

It was time to say goodbye to Puerto Vallarta. We packed up our clothes, laptops, dock kits, etc., and were wondering where we would find space for the goodies we had bought. Like most experienced travellers, we carry minimum luggage. Space is at a premium. Somehow, we always seem to have a few square inches to spare, however. Our Kindles help; a travelling library is no longer required.

Checkout was at 10:00. The plane was leaving at 3:30. Translate: Lots of time to kill. We headed over to the hotel’s open-air restaurant that overlooks Banderas Bay. Maybe some dolphins would entertain us. We didn’t see any, but Angel, the headwaiter, spotted us and came hurrying over. Peggy has befriended him over the years. I am in charge of generous tips. The combination assures excellent service.

 Peggy and Angel at Krystal Hotel in Puerto Vallarta

Peggy and our waiter, Angel, at the Krystal Hotel.

While we missed seeing any dolphins during breakfast, we found this father-son look-a-like team rather amusing.

While we missed seeing any dolphins during breakfast, we found this scene rather amusing. I wonder who the boy’s father is? (Grin)

As always, we had enjoyed our two weeks— one with friends and one on our own. We had eaten several good meals, sat out on the beach, watched beautiful sunsets, appreciated the art, and enjoyed the wildlife, including Senior Iguana, who had stopped by for a visit. Walking three to five miles a day and limiting ourselves to one major meal meant we might go home skinnier than we came. That would be a first.

Much of the art on the Malecon encourages interaction, much like Burning Man art. Here I am with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake.

Much of the art on the Malecon encourages interaction, much like Burning Man art. Here I am with our friends Ken and Leslie Lake.

Numerous good restaurants in Puerto Vallarta always tempt us. Peggy chomps down on a tropical creation.

Numerous good restaurants in Puerto Vallarta always tempt us. Peggy chomps down on a tropical creation.

Tropical look in Puerto Vallarta

Speaking of the tropics, this plant certainly had a tropical look.

7 Tropical flowers in Puerto Valarta

As did this flower.

 Palm tree in Puerto Vallarta

And this palm tree.

Pigeon with flying symbol on back in Puerto Vallarta

Pigeons are  found everywhere but this fellow with his unusual ‘flight patter’ on his back caught my attention. I must have chased after him for ten minutes with my camera.

A view of our hotel. When we started going to Puerto Vallarta, the Krystal stood side by side with one-two story buildings. Now surrounding skyscrapers have destroyed the ambience.

A view of our hotel. When we started going to Puerto Vallarta, the Krystal stood side by side with one-two story buildings. Now it is surrounded by skyscrapers. So much for ambience.

We would head out to the beach every evening to catch the sunset. I liked the silhouette of these palm tress created by the setting sun.

We headed out to the beach every evening to catch the sunset. I liked the silhouette of these palm tress that was created by the setting sun.

14 Cowboy and cruise ship in Puerto Vallarta

Old and new Puerto Vallarta: A cowboy stops to talk with someone as a cruise ship disappears into the distance.

Counting up left over pesos is always part of our departure ritual. Peggy’s responsibility is to then go out and spend them. She darted across the street to the furniture-plus store while I worked on writing in the hotel’s lobby. I now have another blog in the Grand Canyon series (you will see it on Friday), and Peggy has two new colorful cereal bowls.

Finally, after what seemed like a long, long time, we grabbed a cab for the short ten-minute ride to the airport. And here I have something important to report— the security-check was a pleasure. What?? No way!!! Peggy and I work really hard to make TSA officials in the US laugh. On rare occasions, we even get a glimmer of a grin. I think TSA has a no-smile rule, like the guards at Buckingham Palace. But here, the agents were actually smiling on their own, like they enjoyed their jobs, like they were happy to see visitors, like they recognized the odds of us being terrorists were infinitesimally small. Back in the US they probably would have been fired.

15 Sunset in Puerto Vallarta

A final Puerto Vallarta sunset.

NEXT BLOG: Back to the Grand Canyon and hostile spirits from another realm.

The Beautiful Sunsets of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta

Sunset over Bandaras Bay, Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Palm trees and sunsets seem to be made for each other. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

My father, who was a talented landscape photographer and painter, always discussed sunsets with a certain disdain. “Post card art,” he would sniff.  When I sorted through his thousands of slides after he passed away, however, what did I find: dozens if not hundreds of sunset photos. Apparently, the old fellow had been as addicted to sunsets as I am.

Scenic sunsets beg to be photographed… even more so when warm tropical breezes and palm trees are involved. Peggy and I found ourselves out on the beach every evening in Puerto Vallarta waiting for the show to start, and we were never disappointed. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Palm trees outlined against the sky in Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

I caught these two palms outlined against the sky with just a hint of color in the clouds.

Puerto Vallarta beach vendor outlined by setting sun. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

After a long day of work, a beach vendor heads home just as the sun drops behind the horizon.

Clouds always add drama to sunsets. We watched as this impressive cumulous cloud changed from white, to golden, to pink. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Clouds always add drama to sunsets. We watched as this impressive cumulus cloud changed from white, to golden, to pink. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Cumulous cloud in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Cumulous cloud in sunset at Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Our grandkids Ethan and Cody joined us in downtown Puerto Vallarta to catch the sunset. (Photo by Natasha Cox.)

Our grandkids Ethan and Cody joined us in downtown Puerto Vallarta to catch the sunset. (Photo by Natasha Cox.)

Sunset along Malecon in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Another shot from the same perspective looking down Puerto Vallarta’s beach front across Banderas Bay.

Puerto Vallarta beach sunset. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

I took this photo with my camera inches above the sand. Think of it as a crab’s perspective on the sunset.

Sunset photo capturing sand, sea and sky in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Another view.

Puerto Vallarta sunset photo on Banderas Bay. (photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Sea foam adds its own twist to sunset photos on the beach.

Sometimes the colors of a sunset are so vivid they seem unreal. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Sometimes the colors of a sunset are so vivid they seem unreal. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Palm tree view in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Just for fun, I’ll conclude this post with a non-sunset photo. I gave you the sea from the perspective of a crab. This is a palm tree from the perspective of an iguana.

NEXT BLOG: I will wrap up my Puerto Vallarta series with a few photos I couldn’t fit into my posts including a whale and one small boy catching a very big fish.

Puerto Vallarta’s Iconic Church… Our Lady Of Guadalupe

Photo of crown of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta,  Mexico. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The crown of Puerto Vallarta’s iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Juan Diego had a vision on December 9, 1531 according to the Catholic Church: the Virgin Mary, i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe, met him on a hilltop near Mexico City and asked that a church be built on the site to honor her. To prove her identity, she cured Juan’s uncle of an incurable disease and had him take flowers bundled in his cloak to the local bishop. When Juan opened the cloak for the bishop, an image of the Virgin was embedded in it.

The Virgin got her church and Our Lady of Guadalupe has been big in Mexico ever since. Pope John Paul II declared her the Empress of Latin America in 1999. Juan Diego was canonized in 2002. He’s now a saint. As for the cloak, it is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is the most visited shrine to the Virgin Mary in the world. Millions of people stop by to pray and ask for blessings.

Thus it isn’t surprising that the people of Puerto Vallarta decided to name their church after the Lady when they built it in the early 1900s. The beautiful structure has become an icon for the city of Puerto Vallarta. We were there in early December for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Feast Day. The church was packed with events and people.

Parade to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A number of activities were planned around the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe including this parade. The painting in the middle depicts the image on Juan Diego’s cloak.

This young lady was part of the parade. She seemed to take her role quite seriously.

This shy young lady was part of the parade. She seemed to take her role quite seriously. But is that the beginning of a smile?

The parade turned the corner and made its way up to the church. (Photo by our daughter Natasha Cox.)

The parade turned the corner and made its way up to the church. (Photo by our daughter Natasha Cox.)

Bell ringer at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The church bell-ringer did his job, calling the faithful to church.

Inside Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The number of events made it difficult to get inside and photograph the church. The first time I stopped by, a hearse was parked outside. I thought, um no, not a good time. This photo was of a Quinceanera, I believe, a 15-year-old girl’s coming out celebration.

Following are several more photos of the church.

Peggy caught this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Peggy shot this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Looking up at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Looking up at the Church of Our Lady Of Guadalupe.

Puerto Vallarta mural depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.Photo by Curtis Mekemson

One of many depictions we found of the church in Puerto Vallarta murals.

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at night. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The church at night.

A view of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe through stree decorations in Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Looking up at the church through street decorations.

View of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico through the trees. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A final view of the church through the trees.

NEXT BLOG: The tropical sunsets of Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta.