The trip to the coast is about a 5 1/2 hour drive from Chapala. The worst part of the drive is through Guadalajara, but most of the trip is on one of Mexico's fabulous toll roads, or Cuotas. Cuota means toll, and the tolls are heavy, about $30US one way, BUT believe me, it's worth it! There is always an alternative free, or libre, road, but for a long trip, these roads are very narrow and SLOW. Here is a photo of the cuota we were on from our point of view:
The scenery through the mountains on the way to the coast is stunning. We passed the town of Tequila, where most of the world's tequila is made:
We also passed an inactive volcano, Volca Ceboruco, which had left many deposits of old lava from its last eruption. Here is the volcano and some of the lava deposits:
We stayed at a small hotel, Vista Alegre, where, for about $85US a day, we had a room on the ocean with a private balcony, three good meals a day, snacks by the pool in the afternoon, and an open bar from 11am to 11pm. Here are some photos taken around the hotel and the beach:
We enjoy taking long walks up the beach every day. One afternoon, we ran across a large group of people on the beach. They had collected some newly-hatched sea turtles and were releasing the 8 hour old babies on the beach. They need to find their way to the sea on their own to the experience will be imprinted on them so they will return to the beach in several years to lay their own eggs. We each held a turtle, released it, and watched it make its way into the ocean. Pixie named her turtle, Isabelle. Of course I forgot my camera, but here are some photos of a similar turtle release from this week's New York Times:
Sadly, only one out of each 100 turtles released will live to adulthood. The rest are victims of the many predators. Some, undoubtedly have been eaten by birds already. When I asked the Mexican man what the turtles themselves eat, he replied, "Jellyfish."
On Pixie's Birthday, we drove into Puerto Vallarta for the day. We found it beautiful, but much more expensive and full of tourists from a cruise ship. Here's a photo of the birthday girl and some shots of Puerto Vallarta:
One interesting person we met was Xaime Ximinez, a street artist who, because his hands are congenitally deformed, paints with his brush in his mouth. He is obviously very successful and has a variety of paintings for sale. Here is his photo with a sample of his work:
We're now back in Chapala, back to our busy life. We are both starting to teach English this week. I am teaching three Mexican friends in a once-a-week lesson at one of their houses. I am looking forward to working with a small group. Pixie is going to a local orphanage to help teach English to preschool children on Saturday mornings. We re both looking forward to these new challenges.
Finally, my new poetry book, Agave Blood, has been published and is now available. This book is bigger than Sacred Lake, with 101 pages and 54 new poems.