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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Day 11 - Home again, home again, giddy jig

We awoke to a gorgeous day.  Dave says it will start raining tomorrow, so good day to go home.  Melissa spent the morning doing 13 Trip Advisor reviews of all the restaurants we visited on this trip.  Dave is still playing with his new drone toy.  He made a couple of great videos - one of our favorite restaurant Mercedes, and the other one of one of the boats at anchor in the bay.

We asked for a late check out (3pm) because our flight wasn't until 6pm.  The Airbnb host happily agreed.  Alas at about noon the maid showed up to start cleaning and we hadn't even begun packing yet.  So after we got all packed, we stripped the beds, took out the trash, and generally cleaned as much as we could to minimize the work they would have remaining when they returned.  We also left them some food, and the Spanish keyboard Dave bought when his computer needed repair a few days ago.

Our flight was reportedly 30 minutes delayed.  The plane was late coming from Seattle.  Apparently Alaska Air published an apology for the recent delays (we were 2 hours late out of Seattle the day we left) because they didn't have enough baggage handlers in Seattle.  Very odd as its not like the holiday rush was a new thing this year.  So we hung at an airport bar for a while before heading to the gate at the time we were told the flight would board.  Only to find that we were the last in line to get aboard.  Dave says that "a melissa" must have been in charge and hustled them all to hurry up and get back on time.  It was a very bumpy flight all the way home.  Only for a few minutes two or three times did the seat belt sign get turned off.

We arrived home and Melissa was asleep long before midnight when the fireworks went off to celebrate the new year.  zzzzzz.

Great vacation!

Day 10 – Whole lotta nothing

Breakfast at the condo.  Then some video games and Dave flew his copter.  Melissa went for a massage and pedicure.  Then dinner at Tuna Blanca.  Ok, we don’t know why, but every single night out the restaurant has put us at the best table on the beach with a view of the sunset.  We speculated as to why this is.  Maybe because we have grey hair and people figure we are good tippers?  Because we dress up?  Because we arrive early and they know they can turn the table again?  Whatever the reason, we sure enjoyed the sunsets!

As we were sitting at Tuna Blanca there on the beach the usual Mexican vendors came by to try and sell us trinkets, blankets, jewelry, and cigars.  We never bite.  That is till a guy came by with a funny T-Shirt that made Melissa laugh.  She decides to buy it.  The vendor says 700 pesos ($35 USD).  Dave says "200 pesos" ($10 USD).  The vendor shakes his head, no "$500 pesos lowest".  Melissa laughs and hands him back the shirt.  The vendor wanders off.  Under his breath Dave whispers, "one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand".  Melissa cracks up.  Sure enough not a minute later he is back and willing to take 250 pesos.  Sold!

Mmmmm.  Short rib and mashed potatoes!

Day 9 – You can’t go back. Or maybe you can.

As we had been talking about trying to use our gift certificate for Los Arroyos Verdes, we decided to go back there and hang out at the pool.  Years ago (2013) we were there twice – once on Christmas day for a lovely day by their fabulous pool.  The second time was for a disastrous new years eve dinner.  We paid (if memory serves) about $200 each ($400 total) for the fancy affair which we expected to be next to the gorgeous pool.  We were promised steak and lobster dinner.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the hotel was forced to move the party indoors to a building on the far side of their property – with no kitchen.  They then brought in home sized BBQ’s and tried to cook the dinner on them.  Without proper lights they burned everyone’s dinner.  As in charcoal briquettes for the steak and lobsters.  Inedible.  Meanwhile the rain caused the roof to collapse and water poured through – which the staff shored up with pipes while we wondered if the remaining roof was going to fall on our heads.  And there was not enough wait staff so you had to wait endlessly for drinks.  We ordered a bottle of wine three times before it finally showed up.  And when we went to pay the bill there were drinks on it from another table as they had been using first names to keep track and “David” is not exactly uncommon.  We wrote them an email with feedback about the evening and how they might improve upon it in the future.  They thanked us and gave us a gift certificate for a free night stay at the hotel and a bottle of champagne.  As it has been many years, we figured we were not likely to ever use the free night stay.  But we would be happy to trade the nights stay (worth about $200) for a couple of day passes at the pool (worth $25) and the free bottle of wine.  In the end, after much back and forth, the hotel agreed.  In the end we got the free day passes but no drinks.  And while it might sound petty – the lack of “fairness” in all of this irks us a bit.  Unlikely we will ever return.

From there we headed to dinner in La Cruz – one of our favorite haunts from 2013 – a restaurant called Masala.  We thought it had closed several years ago, but were told that its just open in the high season during the winter.  So we figured we would give it a try.  Yummo!  The food was as fabulous as we remembered!

The sangria is a good as Melissa makes.


Caesar salad - top notch.  Wish I could reproduce the dressing.

Grilled veggie salad with blue cheese gratin dressing.

Duck with hibiscus sauce. 


Filet over homemade raviolis.

Day 8 – Labor of Love

Melissa awoke before Dave and caught up on email.  She then started blogging.  She hadn’t yet done any blogging – so she had 7 days to catch up on – along with all the associated picture and video processing.  Which took about 5 hours.  Meanwhile Dave played with the software for his drone.  It does all kinds of cool stuff like wind calculations while in flight.  After that we hung out at the condo as it was overcast and rainy pretty much all day.  Then we went down to La Pescadora for dinner.  Melissa had the dry ribs and Dave (shocker!) had a hamburger.

Day 7 - How Long Does a 1000 Piece Puzzle Take?

At 8am Melissa takes out the puzzle that Santa brought.

9 hours later she stood up from the table having barely moved meanwhile.

Meanwhile, Dave decided to try and fix his computer.  Apparently the latest Windows update broke its ability to play sound.  (Which explains why the other night when we were watching football the sound didn’t work on Melissa’s laptop either until we plugged it into the TV via HDMI).  Dave first tried all the suggestions he could find on the internet to fix it.  No dice.  So then he tried a driver updater called Tweak Bit Driver Updater – which was supposed to be one of the best.  Alas at that point his computer wouldn’t boot at all – and the keyboard was not working so he couldn’t even try to restore to a previous snapshot backup.  Some swearing occurred at this point – which is very very rare.  So Melissa knew Dave was truly frustrated.  Dave hopped in the car and drove to Mega to buy a cheap external keyboard ($7.50 US).  This worked and Dave was able to restore his computer and all was well.  Though the sound still doesn’t work.  So “zero progress” after a day’s efforts.

We then headed to Si Senior for dinner, having seen that they had slow cooked beef short ribs.  Alas they were out of them!  So we had the pork carnitas instead.  Again they put us at a nice table for two only a few feet from the surf where we could watch the sunset.  The Margaritas were amazing!

Day 6 - Trip Over the Mountains to Mascota

Brunch was leftovers.  Melissa cooked up most of the remaining tuna and served it with a pineapple salsa.  Then we headed out over the mountains.  About a 2 hour drive over winding roads took us to Mascota.  Bob and Joyce had chosen to stay up in this mountain village for a few days before they will head back into Puerto Vallarta for New Years Eve fireworks.  It was a lovely, very clean and quaint place with lots of nice restaurants.  We had lunch at Café Napoles – a local joint that served both traditional Mexican and Italian.  Near as we could tell from the pictures of the family in Rome that decorated the walls, we suspect the family had some Italian origins.

After leaving Bob and Joyce, we headed back over the mountains before dark.  The road over the mountains is two lanes and curvy, and unlit.  So we wanted to be down into the flatlands before it got dark.  We stopped in Bucerias for a drink before heading back to the condo.  We made reservations along the way at Mezzoriorno – a restaurant we ate at when we visited in 2017.  Great food though we didn’t eat this time.  They put us at a great table in the bar where we could watch the sunset.  Great place for Dave to chill out after almost 5 hours of driving that required close attention.

When we got back to the condo, Melissa fixed a platter full of what we had in the fridge.  Yeah, even cold cuts around here are Yummy.

Day 5 - Visiting Los Arroyos Verdes 6 Years Later To The Day

Melissa awoke to find Joyce had roped Bob and Dave into helping her shell and devein the 4 lbs of shrimp we bought.  It took them an hour.  Meanwhile, Melissa cooked up some frittata with ham and veggies for breakfast.

After breakfast we opened presents.  Theme was “favorite useful tools”.  So Bob got Dave’s favorite flashlight, his favorite lighter, and favorite magnifying glass.  Joyce got Melissa’s favorite avocado cutter, citrus squeezer, micro plane grater, and onion glasses.

Then we headed out to Los Arroyos Verdes.  We had been there twice before.  Once for Christmas 2013 when we hung by their gorgeous pool, and again for a disastrous New Years Eve party where the ceiling collapsed and the food was burned.  They had offered us a free night stay and free bottle of champagne as compensation for the crazy evening.  The office was closed though so no way to redeem our coupon for the free champagne.  Plus they said that the “day pass” didn’t include beach towels and we didn’t bring any.  But they lent us towels anyway.  None the less we had a nice time hanging by the pool and sipping white wine and eating nachos and ceviche.

On the way home we stopped for sea salt at our favorite road side stand.  Same family has been there for years.  We wanted two bags - 1 kg each.  So did Joyce and Bob.  But price was three for the price of two.  $50 pesos for three bags.  So we bought 6 kgs total for $100 pesos - $5 USD.  Crazy!

When we got home, we cooked up a feast.  Albiet maybe not a traditional Christmas dinner.

First Joyce took the leftover Mahi Mahi and made a nice appetizer served on slices of radish.

Then we cooked up the shrimp and had a giant shrimp feed.  As much as you could eat.  We made our way through about 2/3rds.  As everyone wanted cocktail sauce, we had gone on a hunt.  Alas they don’t sell horseradish or cocktail sauce down here.  So Melissa attempted 4 different versions.  One was simply a jalapeno ketchup they sell here. One was made by grating up a red radish that the store clerk swore was their version of horseradish (albiet through Melissa’s broken Spanish – so this was a bit iffy to begin with). One homemade with jalapeno and garlic blended with ketchup.  And one with wasabi mixed with ketchup.  The one with wasabi was the clear winner, though the one made from fresh jalapeno a close second.  Turns out that the green wasabi you buy at the store is most often made from dried ground horseradish died green.  So no surprise that this combo tasted exactly like cocktail sauce.

Afterwards we watched the new animated version of “the Grinch” before heading to bed.

Day 4 - How Much For a Burger?

Still on the hunt for a dress, Melissa and Joyce head back out to shop.  Again they saw very little that fit Joyce and that wasn’t crazy expensive.  Except for a little shop right underneath our condo.  They had hand painted dresses that were gorgeous.  Melissa bought a dress too.  We should have taken a picture!

Then we headed over the Four Seasons hotel here in Punta Mita.  When we drove up to the gate, they wouldn’t let us in until security could call down to the hotel and verify it was ok to let us in so we could come to the bar and have a drink.  We waited about 10 minutes before the restaurant called back and verified they could fit us in.  Once on the property, we made a wrong turn and realized this was the land of security gates.  Every few feet was the entrance to a different section of condos/houses which had its own gate and security guards.  The hotel then had another security gate – though this time they let us right through because the restaurant had called ahead and told them we would be coming through.

The Four Seasons is quite a place.  Its not “Mexico” to us – but instead an Americanized hotel with all trace of Mexico nearly erased and replaced with fancy.  We chatted with the restaurant waiter – who was very funny and spoke flawless English.  He commented at the end that it was nice that we came because “guests don’t usually talk to him here”.  Says a lot about the type of people who choose to come here.  Cheapest room available at the time was a 2 bedroom suite for $2000 per night.

Despite the $25 price tag, Dave had a hamburger.  Joyce and I split the ceviche, and Bob had the tortilla soup.  That and a few beers and glasses of wine, and the bill came to $160 US.  You would think we were back in the States.  Dave said the hamburger was yummy though.  And its Christmas – so who cares anyway?

We got all dolled up for Christmas Eve dinner at Restaurant Mercedes.  Dinner there was as lovely as we could have hoped for.  We had steaks that were juicy and tender.

They have a dish called “Tuna Rock”.  Apparently, they bring you a very hot rock on which you cook your own food.  Might have to come back and give that a try.

Day 3 - How Much Fish Can We Eat?

As Uncle Bob wanted to have a big shrimp feed, we headed back to the fish market in La Cruz.  When we got there, the tuna truck had just pulled up.  Wow are they big!

So we decided in addition to the shrimp we needed Tuna for sushi.  We bought 4 lbs of shrimp and 2 lbs of fresh tuna – for a total of $40 US.  Crazy cheap down here.

When we got back to Punta Mita, Melissa and Joyce went shopping.  Joyce was looking for a new dress. But most of the shops here in Punta Mita are US prices.  We would discover why the next day.  Meanwhile though we enjoyed wandering in and out of the shops.  One shop was quite cleverly made from two truck containers.  One with a big glass window that was visible when the container doors were opened.  It was super cheap to build, but very classy and cleverly done.

Melissa then made Sushi as a snack.

Meanwhile, Bob and Joyce wanted to watch the Minnesota Vikings play Green Bay.  Alas, many of the regular viewing channels we use – Comcast and Prime don’t work down here due to licensing rights outside of the US.  Melissa struggled with getting this to work earlier this morning.  She tried various things – including pulling out her work laptop and VPNing back to the US.  This made Prime work, so when it was game time she tried to find the game on Prime.  Alas they didn’t have it.  And in the end she just bought a NFL International membership for a week so we could watch the game.  Their website allowed you to “watch delayed” so despite messing about with this for a while, we got to watch the game from the beginning.

While the gang was watching, Melissa cooked the Mahi Mahi for dinner by baking it in the oven very briefly, and then made a cucumber salad and a big green salad with honey mustard dressing.  This right here is why Melissa always brings a good chef knife when we travel (including this trip).  Its the difference between cooking being fun and downright frustrating!

Day 2 - MacGyver Plays with His New Toy

Dave got a new toy for Christmas.  Apparently Santa let him open it early.

It’s a new-fangled copter that has features like a self-stabilizing camera, and it will fly home and hover till you land it if its battery gets low.  So Dave spent a ton of time learning how to fly it.  Here are some pictures of what all he has gone and “seen” nearby us.

And here is a cute video of all of us waving to it as it returns:

As today is Sunday, we headed down to the farmers market in La Cruz.  We had enjoyed it a number of times when we had the boat down here.  But boy has it grown – its about triple the size since we were here last.  Like maybe 200 vendor booths.  We bought fresh veggies, gluten free bread (yeah! Cuz there was none at the Mega).  We even found some homemade dish soap that won’t make Melissa’s hands break out, dry up, and bleed (yes this is an actual problem – very painful).  We did manage to lose Uncle Bob though.  We accidentally wandered away from him and it took us an hour or so before Dave found him.  We bought some fresh Mahi Mahi for dinner tomorrow night.

Then because we were visiting La Cruz anyway, we decided to have Tacos on the Street.  Not just any tacos on the street – but the Tacos on the Street.  Alas vegetarian options for Joyce were limited.  None the less – Yumo!

Bob and Joyce commented that there was no hot water in our condo unit.  Apparently, they took cold showers this morning.  Dave can’t find the water heater – cuz you know MacGyver, he’s determined to fix it.  After a quick exchange with our Airbnb host, we find there is a utility closet outside.  Sure enough the pilot light is out.  Dave lights it and it goes out.  Dave lights it and it goes out.  Dave lights it and leaves the access panel on the water heater open – and Voila it stays lit.  Dave then makes himself a “pilot light vent hole cleaner” out of a scrap of wire he found in a drawer.  And Voila – the fix is permanent.

Melissa had made reservations for Dec 24 for Restaurant Mercedes.  Dave and I thought we might go for a walk and check it out to make sure that is where we wanted to eat for Christmas Eve.  Following the Trip Advisor app – we could see that it should be located right below our condo – maybe even in the same building.  Alas we couldn’t find it.  Knowing that sometimes the maps here in Mexico get confused due to the odd way they state addresses here – we decided to walk down to our favorite wine shop in town (we were out of white) and look along the way for the restaurant.  Much to our delight we discovered that our favorite wine store was now a restaurant – and as luck would have it – the one we made reservations at!  The place was gorgeous!  The chef came out and talked about what he could cook for Melissa to get around her allergies, and the head waiter said he had already reserved the best table in the house – right on the beach at sunset for us.  Oh we are so going to keep this reservation for Christmas Eve!

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