Editor’s Note: Mini Staycation in Marina

Editor’s Note: Mini Staycation in Marina

Finally, a good wash of rain was had in Puerto Vallarta. It’s been a dry rainy season. It’s probably not a scientific measure, but I assume because my house didn’t flood this season, we’ve had less average rainfall.  A recent Facebook memory reminded me that I was cursing the giant fireball in the sky this time in 2016, so perhaps it’s all relative.

This week’s rain was a result of tropical storm Tara who blew in with a fury and stranded motorists all across the city as the streets flooded with the deluge. But I am not complaining. My house remained high and dry, and my garden is thriving under the weather. I recently planted a giant daisy bush – which I’m sure has a real name, but I don’t know it. And it has dozens of little shoots eager to become branches and then flowers and then provide refuge for hundreds of butterflies.

This past weekend I was fed up with the humidity and thought some unlimited AC and a gorgeous beachfront pool would make me feel better. Boy was I right! I took a mini stay-cation at the Westin in Marina Vallarta.

I’m going to share a little secret which I think I’ve shared here before. If you’re on a budget and you want to try a new hotel, but you don’t really care which one – check out hotwire.com or better yet download the app because it comes with extra discounts. Put in your search parameters and voila – you’ll have a couple dozen options for a last minute hotel booking – including the Westin for about $50 a night.

A few weeks back when my power was off, and I wasn’t feeling great I booked a hotel for two nights that was basic but clean and comfortable and on the water in the marina for only $30 a night. Boom – a mini vacation for under $100.

PROTIP: The site lists the exact amenities of the hotel you’re choosing and the Westin is the only 4-star resort that is also pet-friendly so I always know I’m going to get the Westin.

While in Marina for the weekend we went for breakfast at Café Tacuba – Victor’s Place which has moved closer to the Marina entrance. As always the service was excellent, and the food was tasty. I walked by the Corazon de Niña Charity Shop. It’s also moved locations – though only a few doors over. They weren’t open, but I peeked in the windows and saw a lovely headboardPROTIP: The site lists the exact amenities of the hotel you’re choosing and the Westin is the only 4-star resort that is also pet-friendly so I always know I’m going to get the Westin. Which is convenient because I need a new headboard…

Next Thursday (October 25) is the first Thursday Night Marina Market. If you haven’t been, this market attracts a considerable number of vendors that range from unique, finely crafted items to mass-produced t-shirts and knick-knacks. I usually find a couple things I need – like freshly roasted hand-picked coffee from the hills of Nayarit or a strand of colourful pom poms and embroidered hearts – Trust me, you can never have enough embroidered hearts. There are some gifted food producers as well.

This is my favourite time of year. The weather is lovely. The ocean is warm. The store shelves have aged cheddar once again.

The energy is palpable. There has been a shift this week. Hold on to your bikini tops. They’re coming.  I spotted a surge of pale-faced people in the ‘isles of Costco.’ And with their arrival comes all the events again! Check these pages for what’s up around the bay. If you have an event you’re hosting – let us know, and we will share it on these pages.

The newspaper is up to 32 pages from our usual 24. Thank you to everyone who has kept us going all summer and to those who have placed your confidence in the Vallarta Tribune once again. We appreciate your trust.

Support local. Say no to that straw. Tip generously.

Safe travels,

Madeline

Fun on the Riviera Nayarit.

Fun on the Riviera Nayarit

Hey Everybody! The week sure has cooled down with our first storm passing by the bay. I am ready for some rain and so is the ranch! I heard there were a few sprinkles in Puerto Vallarta, but nothing out at the ranch in Bucerias as of Monday.

Mother’s Day celebrations kicked off the week’s events, and the Altruism Festival, held on Sunday, topping it all off. (Wednesday was Mother’s Day; Mexico, and Sunday Mother’s Day for the States/Canada.) The Int’l Altruism Festival is one of my favorite festivals. I got a ride from my friend Ed Rothman, which meant I was going to be able to have a few cocktails! This festival is where the nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to fundraise and meet new people interested in lending a hand. The monies received are split between the nonprofit organizations. I will let you know the totals when I receive them. Our friends from the Amigos de La Cruz greeted us at the entrance and gave us our wrist bands.  I thoroughly enjoyed stopping by the nonprofit booths and meeting new people as well as chatting with friends. I hope to connect more with everyone for the fundraising next season!

The entertainment at this venue brings forth some of the best talent around the bay, along with culinary delights beautifully displayed and always fabulously delicious. I usually end up eating more than I do over the holidays! Every year they give each person a glass created from the bottom of a cut wine bottle. After filling my glass with a margarita, the feasting ensued.

My feast began with wings from Champions, a super amazing chocolate cupcake with extremely buttery delicious chocolate frosting; also a small cube of Red Velvet cake from Los Chatos, on to Maximillan for delicious crab filled empanada with a mushroom sauce underneath, Maurcio’s had excellent smoked marlin, (they gave me a shot of tequila too!); Sabroso for a healthy chicken stuffed lettuce roll, and Four Seasons with filled lettuce wraps topped with spring noodles and a caramel desert. I

continued the feast to The Weston who served delightful seafood and a layered chocolate parfait; next up a few bits of sushi and a bit of ceviche from La Peska. I then finally found the Chili en Nogadas at the River Café booth…one of my favorite dishes here in Mexico—YUM! At this point I enjoyed a cup of coffee to aid digestion; Americano with milk. That was just the pick me up I needed!

Sitting with my friend (and also designated driver) Ed Rothman was fun as we chatted up friends who cruised by, checking our raffle ticket numbers and enjoying the entertainment as I refilled my glass again and again. (Thank you Ed!) The entertainment was fabulous, beginning with a grand Mariachi Band, more music with belly dancers, flamenco dancers, performers from Rhythm of the Nights, which was very acrobatic and amazing! Back out for a little more dessert at another amazing bakery booth and that was all I could manage!

The raffle gave away all sorts of prizes from massages and facials, restaurant certificates and a lot of bottles of tequila and other alcohol. I won a certificate for dental work, which has been on my list! The wine, margarita and rum punch flowed freely all evening as Armando and the gang joyfully filled our glasses with ice and drinks.
Thanks so much for tuning in this week. Now, I am ready for a small fast and a detox! Hahaha!
Enjoy all of the photos. To view all of the photos, please visit RivieraNayaritFun.com Facebook page. Give us a LIKE while you’re at it!  If you have any questions or comments you may email me directly at Cat@RivieraNayaritFun.com.  Create a fun week everyone. AHO!

Life in La Cruz.

Life in La Cruz

 

Giving back to the community: The trio behind Mercado Huanacaxtle

By Cindy Bouchard

Three amazing folks exemplify what I cherish about the people who make up La Cruz!

You might know Mayra, Pia and Jason as the founders of the La Cruz Sunday market (http://www.mercadohuanacaxtle.com/), which they created to support people selling their goods and to provide locals with produce (and more) so they don’t have to travel far to shop. Culture was paramount! Market rules: the vendor has to bake it, grow it, sew it or transform it; no factory produced items allowed. Every person working at the market gets paid, including organizers, maintenance, advertising, bathroom and venue cleanup, children’s event organization and more. They attract tourists and locals, foreigners and nationals.

The cultural portion spreads into the community, taking place even when the market isn’t running. They participate in schools with book and writing programs, teaching English, mind/body respect and awareness, music and more. They’ve brought counselors to families to help when challenges arise. They created a sports field for local children to run, play and do what kids do, and now they’re creating a volleyball court as well.

As always, I wanted to know about the people behind the scenes. Jason was born in England and raised in Mexico City and both Mayra and Pia were born and raised in Guadalajara.

Jason always wanted to live by the ocean and Mayra loves the tranquility. Enchanted by our small fishing village and its mountains, they moved here eleven years ago; they have two delightful teen daughters.

Pia too enjoys the oceanfront town for its tranquility, she moved here eight years ago. She and her hubby have two babies.

All agree they were looking for a better quality of life and wanted the opportunity to be involved in the community. La Cruz is an excellent place to raise their children; it’s safe, has a natural environment and is multicultural. They like having their children brought up as the community is growing.

Jason’s commitment at the La Cruz Market and Huanacaxtle AC is in event coordination and logistics. He’s also involved in events such as Fiesta del Ceviche and a Musik Festival. He enjoys most “finding solutions in situations where others freeze, finding the extra energy to achieve goals, both in myself and to see it in others.” Success to Jason is “when both community and businesses work together in making La Cruz a better place for visitors and themselves.” His greatest reward? “Seeing faces smiling with pleasure!” He’s inspired by the way humans can adapt to situations (in a peaceful way) and that we are capable of resolving them for a common good.

Mayra’s responsibilities include administration, accounting and coordinating the venders at the Sunday Market and Huanacaxtle AC and running the market online. She appreciates, “Feeling the synergy produced between vendors, customers and workers at the market. I also enjoy working on my own schedule, and when something has to be done I simply do it.” She feels successful when “creativity and work meet.”

Pia’s works Monday to Friday as an Interior and Graphic designer.  For the La Cruz Market and Huanacaxtle AC she’s the graphic designer, social media expert and coordinator of the vendors. She enjoys having social interaction with others, finding unique art and artisan pieces and seeing happy clients. Success to Pia, “with the interior design; having plenty of work with nice clients and at the market when I see small vendors growing their businesses”. Art inspires her, especially Mexican artisans with contemporary designs. She enjoys the beach with her children.

Creating value for those who live here is their passion… I’m so grateful!

Explorer, Advocate and Editor: Madeline Milne

Explorer, Advocate and Editor: Madeline Milne

Our nine-month ‘sabbatical’ had my hubby and I enamored with all things Mexico… we were delighted to happen upon a most fabulous event at the trade and convention centre in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Booths bursting with Mexicana, flamenco music, girls in colourful traditional dress and happy informative speakers; all sharing about why vacationing, investing or living in Mexico need not be a dream!

Having recently invested in and committed to living in Mexico we were delighted to know people presenting there. We had to know who was behind this marvelous event called Mexi-Go! We learned it was Madeline Milne.

I had to share, beyond the editorial, this amazing woman who so generously champions all that we love of Vallarta-Nayarit and who also decided to make it home. A rare opportunity to reimagine her life presented itself and Madeline took it! Moving to Mexico in 2011, first in Bucerias, a brief stint in Ajijic and then making Puerto Vallarta her home ever since.

Why here? “Vallarta is a great mix of modern and traditional Mexico with an expat experienced public service sector. It’s close enough to Vancouver, Canada for quick flights home and offers easy access to explore the rest of Mexico. The mountains and the bay are similar to what I left in Vancouver and it feels comfortable.”

Before Mexico, Madeline had a nice house in a good neighbourhood and a fancy job title. She traveled regularly and wanted for little, but she worked all the time and when wasn’t working was ‘stuck in traffic’. As often in a North American home, her son was in daycare more than he was at home.

Madeline told me, “I thought Mexico would bring more personal freedoms, and in many ways it has.” Her son has become fluent in Spanish and has a broader understanding of the world. “He went through some challenges and came out on the other side stronger for them. (He might disagree in this moment but I think in the future he will be appreciative of the opportunities.)”

Her role as Editor of the Vallarta Tribune happened by total fluke in March 2013. “I was getting my nails done and picked up a copy of the Tribune. It was atrocious. Clearly they were taking Spanish articles and using Google Translate to publish them in English. Nothing made sense.

A friend mentioned they were looking for a new editor and I called the next day… I was hired on the spot and was basically handed the newspaper with nothing more than a handshake and a ‘Good Luck!’” Madeline oversees the content of the newspaper.

She appreciates being informed and involved in local and national events and learning something new each week. “The best is when I get wonderful emails from readers and advertisers thanking me for the Tribune and what it has brought them.

The readership of the Tribune is a mix of snowbirds, expats and tourists. We’re in all the major markets from Mismaloya to Sayulita and since we reach a broad range of people I think it’s important to have more than just what’s happening in Old Town.”

Madeline shares her goals for the newspaper: “I want to make the paper more inclusive for all the communities we have in Vallarta-Nayarit. We offer positive, intelligent information about Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Mexico. I think it’s important for those who visit to have a better understanding of Mexico and all it offers. I try to educate people through story.

This country inspires me. It has so many edges and smooth parts. It’s colourful and bold and noisy. It’s also diverse and has this incredible depth of history and culture. The natural beauty and the creative beauty I see here, everyday, inspires me.” In her down time Madeline explores the countryside. She points her car in any direction but west and goes for a couple hours until she finds a new paradise on earth.

“There are so many great places to explore just a few hours from the city.” There’s not many places she hasn’t been to and she has tons of experience traveling the back roads. Feel free to ask her for advice on your next road trip.

Everyone knows Mexico is famous for its food. In the bay, seafood reigns king and Bucerias is the place to go for the freshest catch of the day. When guest are in town, Lagostinas on Playa Los Muertos has consistently good food and that million-dollar view.

She also recommends, “Joe Jack’s Fish Shack has the best mojito’s and is great for groups; Los Alcatraces by Costco has excellent Mexican breakfasts; Yeo for sushi; Los Patrones in Pitillal for the world’s biggest quesadillas, and an abuela close to her house makes the most delicious birria; perfect for hangovers,” she confides.

Many expats come to Mexico and focus on charity work. Madeline has no one favourite cause but she does have a parade of rescue dogs (and the occasional kitten) through her doors.

“Until recently I found myself too busy to commit to something regularly so I support a number of charities. RISE and Corazon de Niña are worthy organizations; the PVSPCA and PEACEAnimal Clinic have done amazing work in recent years to alleviate animal suffering.

Pasitos de Luz and the new Casa Connor need all the help we can give. IFC helps the community both Mexican and Expat in so many ways.” Development and change are touchy subjects to those of us who love ‘authentic’ Mexico.

What changes has Madeline seen in her years in Mexico, “The number of people who are traveling to Vallarta-Nayarit is the biggest change. When I arrived the country was still suffering from the effects of the US recession, swine flu and bad press. People and businesses were hurting.

Now we’ve seen tourism practically double and the area is thriving. It’s been an inspiring change to witness. And a lot of kudos has to go to the efforts of the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit tourism boards in changing people’s perceptions. ”

As always, I ask if you had a magic wand, what would your wish be for Vallarta five years from now and beyond? “I hope that Vallarta and the area can find some balance between unbridled growth and sliding backwards. It would be my wish that the natural beauty of this area is better protected and that infrastructure is improved to benefit all who call this area home.” Why vacation here?

“It has something for everyone. You can do nothing, lie by the pool and sip margaritas or you can get as adventurous as you’d like. Adventures include dining, shopping, playing on the water, in the mountains and in all the little towns, each offering something unique.” Why move here? “Aside from the great weather and affordable prices, the path has been laid.

Moving to the PV area in particular is fairly straightforward because so many have paved the way. The government and service industry understand the needs of the expat community. Anything you need is found here. And it’s a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of Latin America, as well as traveling back to the US or Canada.”

On your journeys around town, promise me, if you see Madeline, give her a great big thank you for all she does for so many.

Los Mangos Library Seeks Scholarship Donors.

Los Mangos Public Library has begun promoting their summer program for this year for children ages three to 13. But not every child can afford the cost of admission. “Every year we do our best to maintain our tuition costs competitive,” said Adriana Garcia, director for the cultural institution. “But the fact is, almost two third of our students will enroll expecting to receive a partial or full scholarship.” Approximately 100 children are expected to participate in the program.

Los Mangos Public Library, like many other cultural entities in Puerto Vallarta, exists thanks to donor funding, so involving the community is essential. The annual program involves a substantial staff of teachers and supervisors, committed to providing the students a safe, educational environment in which they immerse themselves in a variety of activities, including art, science, language and social skill development. The admission fee for the entire program is approximate $200 USD.

But you can help to make a difference. This year, Los Mangos Public Library is looking for donors that will contribute amounts in full or half-scholarship amounts, $200 USD or $100 USD, respectively. “If a donor requests it, we will gladly keep them updated of their scholarship student with photos,” García promised.

This year’s summer program theme at Los Mangos is “We Are All Heroes,” and it will take place July 18 – August 12. If you would like to send a local child to Summer Camp at Los Mangos Public Library, please contact Adriana García via email at bibliotecalosmangos@gmail.com. If you are not in Puerto Vallarta, Los Mangos has a Paypal account to which you can make a deposit. Learn more about this important Puerto Vallarta cultural institution by visiting bibliotecalosmangos.com.