February 25, 2001. Nuevo Vallarta.
Another week has passed since our last email and we barely realized it since life is so pleasant here. Last Wednesday, we took a horseback riding trip into the Sierra Madre behind Puerto Vallarta. We were pick-up at the hotel by a bus and an energetic guide offered explanations of the landscape while we drove into the mountains. He explained why we see so many unfinished houses everywhere: apparently the interest rate charged when you buy a finished house on credit is too high to make sense for most people and so the mexican people just build their house slowly, during their spare time and when they have spare money. They may live in the finished first floor, leaving rebar sticking out of the roof for the future second floor. The guide added as a joke that often the women tell their husband that they want to separate as soon as he finishes the house (the wife would keep the house) and that is an additional incentive not to finish the house.
After a short visit of Las Palmas, we arrived at the ranch where we had breakfast. Then we were assigned our horse for the day. Linda (Clark’s mother) and I were a little nervous as it had been a very long time since we had been on a horse. We eyed each new horse with apprehension. The guides were selecting who was to ride each horse based on size and weight so we just had to wait and hope to get a good one. I was the almost the last one to be assigned a horse and got a pretty large and good looking one, which also was very well behaved. I liked it a lot and wished I had had carrots for it.
We rode along a little river between forested hills to a set of lovely waterfalls where some people swam and we had refreshments. I noticed more of the landscape than if I had been hiking because I did not have to worry about where to place my feet.
After the visit to the waterfall, we went higher up in the hills, through a relatively dry forest (it is the dry season) with orchids perched high in the trees and many Brahman cows wandering around. They are tough cows which can live in hot climates and eat poor quality food, but their meat is also tough. They were cute though because of their very long floppy ears.
We rode for about 3 hours and our legs and behinds were sore when we arrived back at the ranch for a late lunch. But it was a wonderful way to visit the Sierra Madre and we all enjoyed it very much.
Saturday, I went back into Puerto Vallarta to the old town market to stock up on brown rice and barley which are hard to find in regular supermarkets.
I also went to a specialty store which imports supplies like horseradish and cherry pie filling. Through my numerous bus tripS into town, I have slowly replenished Temptress food stores. Initially we had thought that we would do one big shopping expedition and take a taxi back with all the food (which we could not have carried on the bus) but by always filling my cart with the maximum amount I could carry on the bus I achieved the same thing. I also learned to recognize the different packaging and what is and is not available in various stores. The only disappointment was not finding canned kidney beans for my chili. Mexicans either buy the beans dry and cook them themselves or buy canned refried beans. The only beans commonly available canned are garbanzo beans and black beans.
Yesterday, Clark’s parents took us out to diner: all you can eat italian buffet. And it was not just a buffet of pasta with two or three sauces. They were 7 salads, 3 breads, 6 main dishes, pasta toppings cooked to order, and a dozen desserts! It was delicious and overwhelming, especially when I was faced with the desserts. You all know how fond I am of desserts and most of them were very good: from liquor soaked cakes to tiramisu, passing by custard fruit pies and pears cooked in red wine. I tasted most of them…
We are leaving the marina Thursday morning so we also have been busy getting the boat ready: replacing the steaming light bulb up the mast, getting an additional propane bottle to extend our range (at least my baking range), getting new boat insurance, doing laundry, etc.