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Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 27th, 2008, 8:33 am
by Liv
I thought I would re-post this as this was one of those borderline entries which got killed the day the blog/board went down.

Southern Fried Infidel wrote:Hi all. Just got back from my trip to the Mexican Riviera. I won't upset anyone with the details of my trip, but I thought I could at least mention a few things that I saw while on shore.

Cabo San Lucas: The first thing that got my attention as we stepped off the tender was the soldiers standing all around the area with assault rifles ready for action. All through our trip, the Mexican military was ubiquitous and appeared to be watchful of the tourist areas. I assumed that this was primarily on account of the recent troubles with drug lords in Northern Mexico. The next thing that I saw that might be related to the military presence was a rather large blood stain on the sidewalk outside a vendor market just off the pier. As if someone had been shot or stabbed.

We ignored all the locals asking if they could get money from us for varying things: fishing, cabs, trinkets, getting our photos taken while holding an iguana that was wearing a little sombrero. Yeah... Cabo is more than a little weird.

We took a while to locate the dive shop that we had made arrangements with, but eventually we stumbled across the captain of the shop's boat, and he led us to the correct place. Our divemaster told us that the boat trip to dive at the North Wall would take 5 minutes. And he said that the water was pretty bloody cold -- he estimated around 60 degrees. My son and I took that in stride... we've been for many quarry dives in that temp or colder. So we got suited up and walked out to the pier to the tiny outboard boat that would take us to the bay. We barely had time to get our equipment together and ready to roll over the edge into the water.

Once we were in, it took a couple of minutes to get used to the water. Then we went down to see this northern edge of Cabo's underwater canyon. It was a terrific dive. The scenery was spectacular, and we managed to encounter some cool critters, including a wide variety of sea stars, a couple of guitar fish (sort of a transitional beastie between sharks and rays), and a really spectacular jellyfish. When we came up, they got everything together and scooted us back to the docks. There, we were told that we could get some lunch -- all the local cafes were used to SCUBA customers wandering in for snacks between dives. So we made our way to a nice little cafe on the water front, ordered some lunch, and sat enjoying the scenery and the breeze. By far, the best surface interval I've ever had.

The second dive was out at Pelican Rock, just a few yards from the rocky shore. There, we saw a whole crowd of trumpet fish as we entered the cold water again. We swam away from the shore, down to the base of Pelican Rock, which we circled to see what sort of critters lived there. Our divemaster found some tiny critters like a half-inch slug. He also pointed out a lobster and a rather small eel that was hiding out. He also found a guitar fish and poked at its nose to get it to move around a little. Apparently, they're not all that big on merely looking. I say this only in passing, because I've seen divemasters in Hawaii who were similarly happy with playing with critters they found in the water. My son and I always keep our hands off, mostly because of our ignorance, but also because we dislike disturbing wildlife.

One thing that impressed us both was the constant noise of the second dive. Boats were zipping past overhead at a pretty constant rate, and some of them set up vibrations that shook my chest to the core. I can't imagine how it must be for any fish that lives there. Pretty uncomfortable, I expect.

After our dives were completed, we decided to give that marketplace near the tendering dock a look. Mostly, it was just touristy-stuff. Silver jewelry, tee shirts, caps and carvings. A couple of items that stood out in my memory: a sword carved from fish bone... with a huge Jesus face (crown of thorns variety) carved out at the hilt. and some flutes of various colors, carved in the shape of a large, erect penis. I urged my son to buy one of those to give to his girl friend's parents. He demurred. :roll:

The next stop on our trip was Mazatlan. There, we signed up for a general tour of the city. It was pretty cool. We got to see some of the local scenery around the bay, including a natural lighthouse and some rocks out in the bay that were so totally white that they're called Mazatlan's "Icebergs." Next, we went to visit the town's cathedral. It was a pretty standard-looking cathedral. The only thing that really stood out for me there was the stands for votives -- it was all electronic. All the "candles" there were round, red containers with a tiny white electric light in the middle. The parishioners who wanted to light a candle there had to insert a peso in the box to light one up for a day or so.

Later, we went to see "cliff diving." This was a rather big disappointment for us -- there was no cliff involved. Instead, there was a tower built with rocks about 40 ft above the waves. A guy spent his day climbing the tower and diving into the waves. I gave him a couple of bucks for his trouble...

In driving around the city, it seemed to me that these people have gone monument-crazy. Every mile or so, the guide was pointing out another monument. There was a monument to the fishing industry, one for family life and one for the need to be wise stewards of the seas. Things started getting a little weird when we saw a monument that looked like a beer vat... apparently, folks there thought it necessary to honor a local brewery that had stayed in business for about a century. Things went totally overboard when we saw a monument to something that looked like a golf cart. I never got to the bottom of that one...

In Puerto Vallarta, I took my wife and mother-in-law to a resort on the beach for a few hours of lounging in the sun. The resort area of the city reminded me strongly of Wialea on Maui -- lots of golf courses, lots of extremely expensive resorts, all competing to be the most magnificent and luxurious available.

While the beach and the resort facilities were very nice indeed, one thing sort of grated against my nerves. At the resort entrance, there were several large, strong cages. Inside, for the pleasure of visitors, the resort kept some tigers, monkeys and parrots. The only thing that I could think of was that maybe here was another manifestation of the Spanish cultural quirk of wishing to have as much control/dominion over the most striking animals available. I don't know... Personally, I could readily have done without that added "attraction."

After the beach trip was over, I realized that I was short on a couple of gifts for my family. Luckily, just across from the cruise ship terminal, there was a Wal Mart. So I strolled out with my wife to the store (there were soldiers stationed inside the entrances, by the way) to see if there were any acceptable items that I could get last-second before sailing. As with many Wal Marts in tourist locations, there was a section near the entrance with a few rows of local crafts and baubles. I found a couple of decent items, purchased them and high-tailed it back to the ship for the trip back to LA.

Overall, it was a pretty good experience. I'm glad we went... and I hope one day I can get back to Cabo for some more diving. THAT was neat!

Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 27th, 2008, 9:18 am
by SouthernFriedInfidel
Thanx, Liv. I was rather fond of that entry.


Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 27th, 2008, 9:29 am
by Liv
Me too... I'm glad it survived.

On the topic of the O.P., I thought of you when they had that guy in australia who murdered his wife while diving on Nancy Grace.

I said "I hope this isn't SFI picking off people under the water."


Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 27th, 2008, 6:08 pm
by SouthernFriedInfidel
Things are way too much fun under water to even consider killing anything while you're there, IMO.

Others think differently, and I tend to try and avoid their company... particularly the spear fishers.

Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 30th, 2008, 1:18 pm
by SouthernFriedInfidel
I finally have a few photos to add to my write-up...

These are the rocks formations outside of Cabo San Lucas. They're sort of a signature sight for the city.

This is a guitar fish that we saw on our dive trip in Cabo... cute!

Here's one of the many monuments that we saw at Mazatlan. It was in honor of some sea lions that the city "adopted" many years ago for some reason.

And... a view of the "quiet pool" of the resort we visited in Puerto Vallarta.

Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 30th, 2008, 2:02 pm
by Liv
Looks beautiful.

Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 30th, 2008, 2:24 pm
by A Person
When we were in PV we rented a boat and pilot for the day:

and went snorkelling at Los Arcos

and saw lots of these (no guitar fish though)

For a swimming, we rented horses and went up the river a short way

to this open air bar with its own swimming hole:

Re: Observations of Mexico

PostPosted: June 30th, 2008, 2:31 pm
by SouthernFriedInfidel
I've been to Mexico three times now. While none of my visits made me want to live there permanently, there ARE a lot of cool things to see and do. The only place that I've seen that I think I could truly love is Cabo. There's a rugged, dry beauty there that I can't really put into words yet. Maybe I'll be able to go back and stay a while to get a more detailed idea of the place. I hope so, at least.