Mango Margarita Trip Report, Parte Dos (and still long!)

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Escrito por Swimming Sister desde ( el día martes, 14 de diciembre, 2004 a las 23:45:21 horas :

After 4 nights of partying w/ friends in Zihua, I was ready for some peace & soltitude. So it was off to Barra. I wanted to get some food supplies, as I’d heard the pickins were pretty ‘slim’ in Barra, so after my swim/espresso routine, I headed off to the Zihua mercado to pick up some fruit & avacados. Swung by the ‘pink’ bakery to get 4 days’ supply of goodies. Then I went in search of a cash machine to fund the rest of the trip. There were loooong lines @ all the bank machines. Like an idiot I suddenly remembered that today was the 1st & that was payday for all the nationals and not just me! Finally found a machine w/ only about 5 people waiting, got enough pesos to tide me over, & then went back to Sun & Moon to wait for my ride to Barra. I had been looking forward to the local bus/cattle truck mode of transportation, but the owner of the place I was staying graciously offered to pick me up. About noon Don Bernie from Playa Calli arrived to pick me up. This guy is a fascinating character who speaks a plethora of languages. About ½ hr drive later arrived at his adobe-style bed & breakfast. His place is serene, lovely and spotlessly clean . My room was HUGE. And it had the requisite 2-burner stovetop for my mandatory espresso! The lighting was good for evening reading & there were lots of citronella-scented candles to keep the pesky mosquitos at bay. No air conditioner, but TWO ceiling fans. Best of all, the place had 2 friendly, affectionate dogs, Beastie & Negra, mother & daughter. The only way I could tell them apart was that Beastie had dewclaws on her back legs. After I dug out my bag of Beggin Strips I’d brought for them, they were my loyal friends for the next 5 days. I also met Yarra & Jorge, the live-in staff, who treated me wonderfully during my stay. After I threw my bags in my room it was time for a swim & lunch! After the nice, lapping surf of La Madera, the waves @ Barra looked a bit intimidating. However, after getting out beyond the break (about thigh level) the swimming was heavenly. The endramadas in Barra were about a 15-minute beach walk from Playa Calli, so by the time I got done walking I was ready for that cold cerveza! I decided to make La Condessa my ‘enramada of choice’, mainly because of the good reports I’ve seen on this board & because that was Don Bernie’s preference. Got to know the waiters Fernando & Francisco well during my stay. Also observed the ubiquitous Don Otto sitting at La Condessa, looking exactly like the photo Rob posted a while ago. I introduced myself & thanked him for putting together the ‘local’ website of Barra as I found it very informative. He said it is still in its ‘early stages’, so watch for more improvements! After munching on guacamole & abulone, I moved to a nearby hammock for reading & light napping. It was a weekday, so the enramadas were pretty quiet. After a few hours I walked back to Playa Calli, unpacked my bags & took a shower (plenty of hot water-yipppeee! I’m usually thrilled w/ lukewarm!) Headed back to the palapa on the beach to watch the sunset. Alas, no mango margaritas to be found in Barra, so I had to make do w/ my duty-free hooch (vodka w/ tonic). The sunset was gorgeous. Spent the next hour (my favorite time for walk is the hour between sunset & when darkness completely falls) heading down the other direction of the beach. Didn’t seem to be much down there but private houses. By the time I got ‘home’ it was dark but only 7:30. There wasn’t much of a breeze, so the mosquitos made sitting outside for long an uncomfortable experience. So headed off to bed at 8 pm! But after 4 nights of revelry I was ready for a good, LONG night’s sleep.

Woke up the next morning early 6:30 & couldn’t go back to sleep. Decided to vary my routine a little & walk the paved road into ‘downtown’ Barra & see what the town had to offer. That was another good time to walk–before the sun got blistering hot. It was also fun to see kids walking or biking to the school that’s right on the beach. Being a fair-haired gringa, they all wanted to practice their ‘hello, how are you’ English with me. Got to the ‘main drag’ of Barra & decided to see if I could find Laura from Casa del Encanto. Also wanted to check out the library that Rico in PDX is helping construct (both financially AND physically). Stopped at Misc. Lupita on the corner to ask for directions & the owner pointed me down the street. As I walked down the street noticed about 5 locals building a roof. The future library! And there was Laura taking photos of them. I introduced myself to Laura, & she invited me in for coffee. She truly lives up to her reputation as a dama encantada. Spent a couple hours chatting with her over STRONG french-press coffee. While I was there the ‘tamale lady’ stopped by so we had chicken tamales for breakfast–delicioso! Laura also gave me the great news that Barra now had a massage lady, so made a mental note to set aside enough pesos for that treat. While sitting over coffee, lots of people stopped by for a visit, especially children. Even had a photo taken with some of them (note to Laura to send to me before you delete it!) Sampled some of her ‘jugo de jamaica’ (hibiscus drink) she had made for the men working on the roof. Before leaving I got a tour of Laura’s accommodations & they are most charming. I made the mistake that day of not partaking in the big ‘comida’ & instead chose to snack for lunch. So by evening I was starving & kind of SOL. One disadvantage of Barra is it lacks a restaurant that stays open for dinner. The enramadas close about the same time the mosquitos make their appearance. I’d heard there were a couple taquerias in town, so after sunset I ventured down to the ‘main drag’. Dona Olga’s was still closed for the ‘low season’. At Dona Emi’s, she was ‘gone to the beach’. When would she return? Quien sabe? So I headed back to my B&B for a dinner of crackers, cheese & an avacado! The next day Bernie took pity on me & drove me up to Achotes to get a roast chicken to munch on over the next few days. So for other travellers going to Barra who relish their evening meal as much as I do, take note: either bring food supplies w/ you & stay @ a place with cooking facilities, or stay at a place where your host/hostess will make you dinner (for a fee). While in Barra I made a point of looking at some of the other accomodations. Among them were: Casa Frida (lovely, tranquil, & amazingly quiet considering all the activity around it); Our House Bead & Breakfast (made note that it would be good place to take elderly parent as it has no stairs & lots of ramps); and Casa Puesta del Sol, where I spent an hour chatting with the most gracious owners, Sid & Lurene, and enjoying the affection of the 3 precious doggies.

By the 2nd day in Barra, I was getting into the ‘groove’–morning swim, espresso & breakfast on my terrace, followed by a 2nd cup of java in the hammock w/ my book (Amy Tan is GREAT reading on vacation!) Eventually it was time to wander down the beach to the enramadas, have lunch, & then a snooze in one of La Condessa’s hammocks. At La Condessa I witnessed 2 events which just delighted me. The first, 2 whales ‘frolicking’ in the ocean. My knowledge of this species is limited, but suffice to say, they were BIG. And no, this sighting wasn’t an illusion brought on my too many cervezas–the rest of the customers at La Condessa also shared in my delight. I heard the word ‘whale’ in 4 different languages! The 2nd event was watching a local ‘haul in’ a sportfish using a fishing line wrapped around what looked like a driftwood ‘paddle’. Now, I know men who have spent thousands of dollars (and so I don’t sound too sexist, probably a few women too) on fancy, state-of-the art fishing equipment, and to see this local haul in a 15+ kilo ‘gallo’ (roosterfish?? At least that’s what Fernando the waiter said it was called) with such primitive fishing ‘gear’ was truly astounding. And the funny part was, after hauling up his ‘catch’, all the foreigners (& even some nationals) went running from the enramada to have their photo taken with this guy’s ‘catch’!

On my next to last day I was finally able to partake of the strong & nimble hands of Lupita, the massage lady now working in Barra. She is *phenomenal*. Currently she has her table set up at Laura’s. It was a most delightful setting. While on my back I observed the butterflies landing overhead in the bouganveille (sp?) flowers while listening to the sounds of the birds, some ‘new-age’ music on CD, & the agitating washing machine in the background! That evening Bernie had some other guests arrive & offered to cook dinner. For 150 pesos, it was well worth it. Chilled avacado soup which was out of this world, followed by grilled salmon (alas, from South America) & pineapple pie for dessert.

Last day was bittersweet. Time for a last swim, last read in the hammock, & last chance to give Negra & Beastie the remaining Beggin’ Strips. Bernie took me to the airport in the late afternoon, & I immediately ran into one of my friends from the ‘anniversary gathering’ heading back to Portland. So it was nice to share the ‘misery of the return’–and even more the nightmare of Los Angeles Customs/Immigration–with somebody. Before leaving Zihua we both blew our remaining pesos at the duty-free. I picked up a bottle of Cien Anos Sr. Curly had so highly recommended. If he’s lucky he might even get a snort :-).

I left with many ‘musts’ on my list unfulfilled. Never made it to La Gula or El Manglar for a meal. Never got to Lillian’s for a manicure/pedicure. And Stew, your beloved Casa Vieja Restaurant was still closed for the season. On the other hand, I enjoyed a plethora of simple delights. Among them: Tikki todavia vive! Tikki, the chihuahua mutt mix ( & a dead ringer for my own dog) I had befriended @ Rossy’s 4 years ago is not only still alive but looking pretty darn healthy! And the neighborhood behind Madera was a delight. I had never explored Calle Adelita(s) before, & was glad to have the opportunity to finally get to know & explore this area.

Sooo, do I regret going to Zihua so early in ‘the season’? Heck no! Do I hope to squeeze in a 2nd trip later this winter? You bet! Feel free to send any leftover pesos–including coins–my way! .

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