Category Archives: Tourist Sites in Mexico

Playing Tourist–Paracho de Verduzco

So round about the time my son was finishing his secondary education (See Secondary Graduation) his guitar broke.  Talk about disappointed.  Of course, I pointed out that we did buy it second hand (See Music Lessons) and it lasted nearly 2 years as he slowly mastered its use and care.

Since my parents sent a little money for his graduation, we earmarked it for a new guitar and off we went in search of one.  We went to every single pawn shop in Moroleon twice.  We even looked at the new ones at Fabricas de Francia after swearing I’d never set foot in there again.  I contacted all the musically inclined people I knew in town and even some who weren’t.  Nothing satisfactory appeared.

Since I had such luck searching online for my piano (See Piano Shopping), I thought I’d give that route a go. Lo and behold, my search got a hit on Facebook and I contacted guitarras Amezcua to set up an appointment to see guitars.  I googled directions to Paracho de Verduzco, Michoacan and my next day off, we set off on our latest adventure.

Google maps gave me three routes and I chose the one that seemed the most interesting rather than the route that took us through Morelia.  What a drive!  We were enthralled with the scenic views, forested areas and little towns we drove through.  It took us a bit longer than we anticipated, but the trip there was disaster free.

paracho guitar

We drove past this HUGE guitar monument as we entered the town.  Guitars hung from store windows and wooden shacks to the left and to the right.  I said to my son that if we couldn’t find a guitar in this town then we wouldn’t find a guitar anywhere. After all, 40% of the local economy is based on the manufacturing of guitars and other stringed instruments.  There are 15 guitar talleres (factories) which produce about 5,000 guitars every week.

The town itself is very small, with a population of 357 residents, and was undergoing street renovations while we were there which limited our explorations.  In addition to guitars, every little shop was crammed full of all sorts of handcrafted wooden items.  

IMG_20171014_222512_045

We delightfully purchased the items in the picture above at a fraction of what they cost in Moroleon.

IMG_20171014_222749_291

We found the taller of Sr. Amezcua, but it was closed.  As he said he might be in a meeting at his daughter’s school and to call or send a message when we arrived, we did. He said he’d be there in five minutes, so we waited.

IMG_20171014_222712_977

His shop was small, but the guitars were beautiful.  In the glass cases, there were autographed photographs of famous cantantes (singers) from the 50s and 60s with their Amezcua guitar.  My son asked for a studio guitar and Sr. Amezcua put one in his hands immediately.  

IMG_20171014_222559_360

As soon as he strummed the strings, he was smitten. I encouraged him to try a few guitars to make sure that he wanted that one.  So he tried out a flamenco guitar.  He liked that one as well and it was less expensive, however, the rich tones of the studio guitar had stolen his heart.

IMG_20171014_222641_658

My husband negotiated a bit and we walked out of the shop with the guitar and a soft guitar case for $3,200 pesos.  Later, my son had an appraisal done on the guitar and it would have easily cost $15,000 pesos or more in a store.  Needless to say, he’s quite happy with his new guitar.

Those scenic views we so enjoyed on the trip there turned into nerve-wracking hairpin curves in the dark.  We ran into a military checkpoint.  The young officer asked where we were coming from and where we were going, then waved us on.  Or at least my husband and I thought he waved us on.  My son said that the officer actually told us to pull over to the side for a full inspection.  Oops!

Then, we missed our turnoff and ended up driving through Morelia, but once we are in Morelia, we can find our way home pretty well.  So, overall a good adventure!

Interested in learning more about the lovely little town of Paracho, I did some internet research and found that for 2 years now, the town has been trying to break the Guinness world record for most guitarists at one gathering.  This year the gathering had nearly 3,000 participants.

It was no surprise that Paracho is the home of the Feria Nacional de la Guitarra (National Guitar Festival) which occurs in the beginning of August every year.  This just might be something we make sure to attend next year!

*******************

Curso De Guitarra Veloz – Aprende A Tocar Hoy Mismo

disclosure

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Tourist Sites in Mexico

Playing Tourist–Guadalajara Zoo

This year, the elementary school I work at, had its class trip to the Guadalajara Zoo.  Never one to miss an adventure, I signed us up. Overall, it was a nice experience and one I would reccomend for tourists visiting Mexico.

Despite the agonizingly long bus trip to and from Guadalajara, the class trip to the zoo went pretty well.  The animals seemed well cared for.  There were even babies in evidence, showing adequate food and living conditions.  

The aquarium was small but nice.  The penguin exhibit seemed a bit lacking in penguin stimulation opportunities.  A snow slide or two would have been nice.  Maybe a dancing penguin.  Nope.  Nothing like that happened here.

No happy feet here.

No happy feet here.

There were two shows available, birds and reptiles.  Both were short and entertaining even though there was some snake kissing going on.

cam05516

The sky zoo was out of commission, but my son said that was just as well.  They seemed a bit rusty and unreliable to him.

The “train” ride wasn’t really worth it.  It went entirely too fast and the same route can be covered on foot.  These animals were in smaller enclosures, not in an open area like the safari.

The Safari Masai Mara was much better than BioParque. Our guide almost seemed authentic with his brightly colored robes on and dashes of Swahili in his scripted presentation. The animals had both shade and adequate water. They didn’t seem listless and hungry.

cam05478

The giraffes were mighty friendly. Also more ecologically sound was the fact that our guide gave us handfuls of food to feed the giraffes rather than a cup, reducing our ecological footprint (again, unlike BioParque).

cam05448

The Rancho Veterinario was pretty lame. There were a handful of small animals behind glass, Shetland ponies, mini-donkeys, a Clydesdale, a cow and a hairy pig. La Yacata has more variety. Although there was a short discussion about what it means to take care of animals, the animals were not interested in interacting with the students and the students seemed abnormally horrified at all the pooping going on. This part can be skipped completely.

The food was typical fast food, greasy and overpriced. You are allowed to bring your own food into the park, so that is what I would recommend.  Souvenirs are 3 times what you can get at a regular store, but better quality than most.  We bought a little Masai drum to add to the Jaguar whistle and Carved Skull from Teotihuacan.

cam05355

One bit of the trip that made my heart soar was the fact that so many of the kids referenced something we had discussed in English class when seeing the animals.  In fourth grade, we just finished discussing extinct and endangered species.  When we passed the mountain goat section, a fourth grader shouted out that the Pyrenean Ibex was extinct.   In fifth grade, we are discussing forms of communication. We watched the video about Koko and gorilla sign language.  That topic came up as we passed the gorilla enclosure.  In third grade, we just finished discussing animal abilities with can and can’t.  Of course, the students already knew that the giraffe can clean its ears with its tongue and that penguins can’t fly.  Even my lackluster student in sixth pointed out that a certain bridge would be perfect for bungee jumping (extreme sports being our current theme).  Validation as a teacher!

However, as I mentioned, that LOOOOONG trip there and back prevents it from being a repeated activity, at least for us.

cam05348

********************

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

2 Comments

Filed under Tourist Sites in Mexico

Claudia’s San Pancho Marine Turtle Adventure–Earning theTeam Turtle Tattoo

14001799_1106708539377258_405826518_o

That afternoon I returned to the group in San Pancho to try my luck with the turtles. Frank greeted me and said we missed out when I was in Nuevo Vallarta because mom turtles had appeared, but I was given the 11:00 pm shift for another guard shift and try my luck. Once I was given the time I went back to find that Sally and Season were ready to go ahead and waiting for us on the beach. There had been some poachers and they needed to protect the turtles as they arrived. I joined the guard with Frank, Ruby, and Katherine, who were girls 16 or 15 years old I guess. They were very friendly too.

13936873_1099332283448217_668798095_n
I was in luck because another basket of baby turtles was ready to be released. We took them with us and left quickly when the other team arrived. We went all the way around the beach before finding the first nest. Sally and Season were already guarding that nest. Frank told me to get ready to release the baby turtles with Season.

13936972_1099332350114877_1563945224_n

She was wearing a swimsuit and carried a lamp to guide the babies to the sea. We stood a few meters away from the water so that the baby turtles could come to the water by themselves. All of them ran their race to reach the sea. It was heartwarming to see how some reached the sea quickly and how with others, it seemed that the sea was playing with them. Two of the hatchlings were left behind. We returned to collect them because they were already tired and had to take a little break before retrying to reach the sea. Later Frank let them run again and so that they finally entered the sea.

I got back in the Buggie to give it another go and saw what I most wanted, a mother turtle was just beginning to dig the hole in the sand to lay her eggs. Katherine and Ruby stayed to care for her while Frank and I went back to finish the lap around the beach. Finally, I got off with Sally and Season. I could see how the turtle wanted to lay her eggs. She really was making an effort. When she finished with the egg laying she began to fill the nest with sand with her fins. They seemed like small hands with webbed fingers. After she filled the hole, she walked over the sand and repeated the process until it was completely covered.
I couldn’t believe the strength of the mother. I could feel the earth rumble when she was flattening the sand. Once she finished she returned to the sea so fast that I couldn’t get a video of it.

Here’s where the real work began. Sally and Season quickly marked the spot with a large X to identify the center of the nest. They used a rod to stir a little sand around the nest, I imagine to loose up the packed sand. Then they started digging carefully until they reached the eggs. These must be removed carefully and are placed in a plastic bag in groups of three. When the eggs are all collected, the final count is written on a card along with the beach area they were found and the time.

13941005_1099332293448216_623838727_n

When we came across a second turtle nest, Ruby and Katherine invited me to collect the eggs. I was afraid I wouldn’t dig well or even break an egg. They are very soft. However, I managed it. There were 97 eggs in that nest. There are never fewer than 70 eggs per nest.

We collected eggs from 5 mom turtles altogether that night. The last we collected just in time. Someone was there collecting the eggs in his raincoat while the mom was still laying them. That should never be done since it may cause the mother to not come back to the beach. I don’t know what agreement Frank came to with the person, but we managed to get most of the eggs safely. To top it off, we saw the same person with another turtle. That left me worried about what would happen to the eggs from that turtle.

We returned to the facility at 2:00 am to start packing eggs. First, you must prepare the sand using a bucket to measure the amount of water. The sand should not be completely wet, but damp.

13884358_1099332330114879_685447801_n

Season explained the packing process to me.
“When we pack the turtle eggs we first have to see how many eggs there are in a bag and pick a box size based on of the amount of eggs. Depending on the box you will have rows changing between fives and fours (added up to 36). The thick wall boxes will only have rows of four (28 on the bottom, 32 in the middle, and 28 on the top). The other two boxes will have 36 on both the bottom and middle rows and whatever you have leftover will go on the top. For the data collecting (paperwork) we write down where the nest was found on the beach, the total number of eggs in the box, the number of eggs on each layer in the box, if there was rain and/or lightning when the turtle was laying, if the turtle was there when the nest was found, who collected the nest, who packed the box, the location of the box in the nursery, and whether or not any eggs were broken. ”

We finally finished packing the eggs at 3:00 am. It was a long night and I was exhausted. The next morning was my last day, so I did some shopping and walked alaong nearly all the major streets in San Pancho. Then I went back to the facility to say goodbye to my fellow volunteers. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to Frank because he was busy working. I did say goodbye to Joslin. She took my picture and handed me my Team Turtle Tatto because I had seen a mom turtle and collected her turtle eggs.

13933520_1099341753447270_698571903_n

This trip was very gratifying and educational. In the late afternoon, I went to watch the last sunset on the beach. The scenery was very beautiful. The sky was divided into three parts. The left side was gray from heavy rain falling in Sayulita. The middle was a pink and orange sunset. The right side was pastel blue and lilac. It was my farewell from San Pancho.

So that ends my adventure to Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta. I hope to return soon to help save more marine turtles with “Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde”.

(Claudia’s adventures do not end here.  Just a few weeks ago, she left behind the Mexican dream and moved to the US.  She’s planning on blogging her experiences and I for one, look forward to reading Surviving the US–Adventures and Disasters)

***********************************************

Ya tarde/noche en San Pancho volví al grupo para probar suerte con las tortugas. Frank me saludó y dijo que nos extrañaron en la noche que estaba en Nuevo Vallarta porque habían aparecido tortugas mamá, pero me citó a las 11:00 pm para iniciar otra guardia y probar mi suerte. Una vez dada la hora llegué nuevamente al lugar, Sally y Season estaban listas para partir y se adelantaron para esperarnos en la playa, habían aparecido algunos ladrones, había que cuidar pronto de las tortugas que llegaran. El grupo con quien me uní a la guardia fue con Frank, Rubí y Katherine, chicas de 16 o 15 años me supongo, a quienes conocí más tarde, muy amigables también.

Para mi buena fortuna había otra canastilla de bebés tortuga listas para ser liberadas y las llevamos con nosotros y por fin el equipo partió rápido para llegar, dimos una vuelta completa por toda la playa antes de encontrar el primer nido el cual ya estaban custodiando Sally y Season; Frank me dijo que bajara para liberar a las tortugas bebé junto con Season.

Ella iba con traje de baño y una lámpara para guiar a los bebés al mar. Los colocamos unos metros lejos del agua para que las tortuguitas llegaran por si mismas hasta el agua. Todas corrían su carrera por llegar al mar, era emociónate ver como algunas tocaban rápido el agua y otras parecía que el mar jugaba con ellas. Dos de las tortuguitas se quedaron atrás y las volvimos a recoger porque ya estaban cansadas y debían tomar un pequeño descanso antes de volver a intentar que llegaran al mar, más tarde Frank las dejó correr nuevamente y por fin entraron al mar.

Volví a subir al Boogie para dar otro rondín y por vi lo que tanto deseaba, una mamá tortuga estaba recién empezando a cavar el agujero en la arena para colocar sus huevos; Rubí y Katherine se quedaron a cuidarla, Frank y yo volvimos para terminar la vuelta a la playa y finalmente me bajamos con Season y Sally, pude observar cómo la tortuga suspiraba para pujar y colocar sus huevos, realmente estaba haciendo un esfuerzo. Cuando terminó empezó con sus aletas traseras a llenar de arena el nido, parecían pequeñas manos con dedos palmeados jalando la arena y después de jalar pisaba la arena y repetía el procedimiento hasta dejar bien tapado. Se sentía la fuerza de la madre porque hacía retumbar la tierra cuando aplanaba la arena; una vez que termina vuelve tan rápido al mar que no logré grabar su retorno.

Aquí comienza el trabajo, Sally y Season rápidamente marcan el lugar con una X grande para indicar el centro del nido. Después con una varilla pican un poco la arena alrededor del nido, me imagino que para soltar la arena aplanada, luego se comienza a cavar con cuidado hasta llegar a los huevos. Se debe sacar con cuidado y éstos se colocan dentro de una bolsa de plástico contando por grupos de tres, (3=1, 3=2, 3=3….) al final se hace la cuenta de la cantidad de huevos colocados y se marca la bolsa con el número de huevos recolectados, zona de la playa y la hora. También pude sacar huevos de un nido de la segunda tortuga que llegó, Rubí y Katherine me invitaron a hacerlo, tenía miedo de no cavar bien o incluso de romper un huevo al sacarlo, son muy blandos. Pero logré hacerlo y había 97 huevos en ese nido, wow, no nunca hay menos de 70 huevos en un nido.

En total esa noche recolectamos huevos de 5 mamás tortugas, la última por poco y no la contábamos, una persona había llegado antes que nosotros y estaba sacando los huevos en su impermeable cuando la tortuga aún estaba poniéndolos en el nido; eso no se debe hacer, ya que se invade la privacidad de la madre y esto puede motivarla a no volver más a esa playa. No sé a qué acuerdo llego Frank con esa persona pero logró hacer que nos lleváramos los huevos y ponerlos a salvo, pero para colmo más adelante lo volvimos a ver junto a otra tortuga, no supe qué iba a pasar con los huevos de esa otra tortuga, pero sí me dejó angustiada.

Volvimos a las 2:00 am al grupo para empezar a empaquetar los huevos. Primero se debe preparar la arena, la medida es una cubeta; esta arena no debe de estar del todo mojada, debe de estar en un término medio.

(esto lo pongo en ingles porque Season me explico mejor el proceso de empaquetado)

When we pack the turtle eggs we first have to see how many eggs there are in a bag and pick a box size based off on the amount of eggs. Depending on the box you will have rows changing between fives and fours (added up to 36). The thick wall boxes will only have rows of four (28 on the bottom, 32 in the middle, and 28 on the top). The other two boxes will have 36 on both the bottom and middle rows and whatever you have leftover will go on the top. For the data collecting (paperwork) we write down where the nest was found on the beach, the total number of eggs in the box, the number of eggs on each layer in the box, if there was rain and/or lightning when the turtle was laying, if the turtle was there when the nest was found, who collected the nest, who packed the box, the location of the box in the nursery, and whether or not any eggs were broken.

Y finalmente terminamos de empacar los huevos a las 3:00 am.

Fue una noche pesada y caí rendida. A la mañana siguiente era mi último día, así que hice mis últimas compras y paseada por casi todas las calles principales de San Pancho. Después fui al grupo a despedirme de mis compañeros voluntarios, del único que no pude despedirme fue de Frank porque estaba ocupado con sus labores.

De quien sí me despedí mejor fue de Joslin, nos tomamos una foto para el recuerdo y me entregó mi Team Turtle Tattoo porque había visto y recolectado los huevos de una mamá tortuga.

Fue muy grato todo lo que viví y aprendí de este viaje. Al casi final de la tarde fui a ver el ultimo atardecer en la playa de ese día, el paisaje era muy hermoso, esa vez la playa de San Pancho estaba dividido en tres partes, la izquierda del lado de Sayulita color gris por la fuerte lluvia que caía, en medio colores rosas y narajas por el sol y del lado derecho colores azules pastel y lilas. Esa fue mi despedida de San Pancho.

Esa fue mi Aventura por Nayarit y Puerto Vallarta, espero volver pronto para volver a ayudar por más tiempo al “Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde”.

*******************

disclosure

1 Comment

Filed under Guest Blogger Adventures, Tourist Sites in Mexico

Claudia’s San Pancho Marine Turtle Adventure–Sightseeing in Valle Dorado and Sayulita

14001799_1106708539377258_405826518_o

The next morning, I still felt bad about the run of bad luck my friend had. We spent the day exploring San Pancho and the beach. There were several restaurants offering different types of food, vegetarian, Italian, Mexican and seafood, however, some were closed until October. There were also some nice looking bars, but again, the signs said they were closed for the season. Overall the food was food and reasonably priced, but if you wanted to prepare your own food, there were health food stores, fruit stands, butcher shops and other well-stocked small stores.

In the evening, we went to Valle Dorado, Nuevo Vallarta. Dinner was very good. We had hamburgers. The specialty of the house was shrimp hamburgers. They offered a variety of flavored dressings to add to your dish. There were garnishes of parsley, cilantro, cherries, raspberries, chocolate, coconut, flavored mustard among others. I can’t remember because they were so many. I choose coconut and coriander. It was incredible. Just thinking about it again makes me salivate. The burger was well made, a good size and a fair amount of French fries. There were naturally flavored waters to drink along with other drinks. I ordered jamaica water. The price was reasonable. The burger was $50 pesos and the drink $12 pesos. I definitely recommend Hamburguesas de camarón “Robin” in Valle Dorado.

The next morning I went alone to Sayulita. It is a slightly larger town and is close to San Pancho. It is a perfect place for those who love murals. Colorful murals abound here. Sayulita has almost everything. There are hotels, bars, souvenir shops and craft vendors. It is a very nice and creative area.

13871692_1099332303448215_1793178836_n

For example, there was a shop called “Presents: This is Mexico, Folk Art” where the theme is Mexican skulls. It is not difficult to locate as it is in the center of Sayulita and the front of the store has folk skulls decorations.

13940926_1099332386781540_1526594177_n

Then there was the “Teatro mágico para locos”. It was closed when I saw it but if I go back in December and if it is open, I’ll visit. I imagined Alice and the Mad Hatter being presented there. There are also schools to learn to surf.

What I liked both Sayulita and San Pancho, was that both areas encouraged recycling, caring for the sea and the selling of industrial free local ingredients and natural products.

13883922_1099332353448210_10284718_n

I just found an unpleasant thing in Sayulita in plain view. I’m not sure if it was a factory, but there was a building that was releasing its sewage into a stream that reached the sea from the public beach. It was the only sad and unpleasant thing I saw in that quaint place. All that pollution causes harm to the health of the turtles that arrive there and all animals in general.

On the way back to San Pancho there were several roadside vendors selling very cheap nuts. A 1-kilo bag of nuts cost only $ 50 pesos! What a bargain! Costalitos Sea salt was also sold kilos.

********************************************************

A la mañana siguiente me sentí mal por la racha de mala suerte de mi amigo, pero pasamos el día completo explorando San Pancho y también parte del día en la playa. Hay varios restaurantes de diferentes tipos de comida, vegetariana, italiana, mexicana, mariscos y algunos estaban cerrados hasta octubre. También hay algunos bares muy bien arreglados pero igual con letreros de cerrados hasta que llegara la temporada. Pero en general la comida es buena y a buen precio, pero si prefieren preparar su comida hay tiendas naturistas, fruterías, carnicerías y una pequeña tienda muy bien surtida de alimentos.

En la noche fuimos a Valle Dorado, Nuevo Vallarta, a cenar unas hamburguesas muy buenas, tienen una de camarón que es la especialidad de la casa y el lugar contiene una gran variedad de aderezos de diferentes sabores para todos sus platillos. Hay aderezo de perejil, cilantro, cereza, frambuesa, chocolate, coco, mostaza condimentada, entre otros que ya no recuerdo porque eran varios. Yo escogí coco y cilantro y huy… estaba súper buenísimo, solo de recordar se me hace agua la boca. La hamburguesa está bien surtida, es de buen tamaño y está acompañada de una buena cantidad de papas a la francesa y sus aguas de sabor son naturales, pero también tienen otras bebidas, yo pedí agua de Jamaica; el precio no lo consideré tan elevado pues vale la pena, la hamburguesa costó $50 pesos más $12 del agua. Es un lugar que recomiendo visitar por su peculiaridad de los aderezos y el sabor que éstos le dan a la comida, son conocidas por *Hamburguesas de camarón “Robin”* de Valle Dorado, con ese nombre los encuentran en facebook.

A la mañana siguiente partí sola a Sayulita, es un pueblo un poco más grande y está cerca de San Pancho. Es un lugar muy colorido, perfecto para los amantes de los murales, abundan aquí.  Sayulita es un pueblito que tiene casi de todo, hay más hoteles, bares, tiendas de recuerdos y también vendedores de artesanías, muy bonitas y creativas. Por ejemplo hay una tienda que se llama “Presenta: Esto es México, Arte Popular” donde la temática es de calaveras mexicanas, no es difícil de ubicar ya que está en el centro de Sayulita y la fachada de la tienda tiene decoración de calaveras folclóricas.  Y existe un “Teatro mágico para locos”, estaba cerrado cuando lo vi pero volveré en Diciembre y si está abierto entraré y les diré que hay ahí. Me imagino que Alicia y el Sombrerero Loco deben acudir ahí jeje. También hay escuelas para aprender a surfear.

Lo que me ha gustado, tanto de Sayulita como de San Pancho, es que ambos tienen mucho la cultura de reciclar, cuidar el mar y la venta de varios productos locales y naturales libres de ingredientes industriales.
Solo me encontré una cosa desagradable vista de en Sayulita; no estoy segura de sí era una fábrica, pero había un edificio que estaba arrojando sus aguas negras a un arroyo que llegaba al mar de la playa pública. Fue la única cosa triste y desagradable de ese pintoresco lugar ya que ahí llegan las tortugas, todo eso provoca daños en la salud de todos los animales en general.

De regreso a San Pancho por la carretera hay varios vendedores de nueces muy baratas, una bolsa con 1 kilo de nueces a ¡$50 pesos! Una ganga y también venden por kilos en costalitos llamativos lo que es sal de Mar en grano.

**************************

disclosure

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Blogger Adventures, Tourist Sites in Mexico