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Old 02-25-2016   #16 (permalink)
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What a shot! Lovely photos all around!

Thanks Susie!
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Old 02-25-2016   #17 (permalink)
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Wait, tell me you didn't see this guy at the bar at the hotel at some point?

I saw a number of things after 5 shots of Don Julio, but I did not see that.

The scariest thing I saw at the hotel was the Michael Jackson show. Time to give that up.

Nice photo by the way.

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Old 02-25-2016   #18 (permalink)
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As I was setting up my car rental I told the young woman what we were doing the first day, then I asked if she had any suggestions for a second day if I decided to keep the car for another day. I told her I would like to get away from town and see something that most tourists don't see.

See suggested a town named San Sebastián del Oeste. I did a Google search for the name and it looked like an interesting little town. I thought we would give it a try, so we headed out for a day in the Sierra Madre mountains.

I had to drive into Puerto Vallarta in order to catch the road into the mountains, but the signage was not good and I missed the turn. I could have done a u-turn but I did not want to break any traffic laws, so I went further down the road until I could make a proper turn. About a minute later there is a police officer pulling me over. He tried to tell me I made a bad turn, and while I was sure I didn't, I did not figure it would help me to argue too much. He asked me to drive up the road a little bit more and he got back in his vehicle and directed me where to stop again. I was not sure what was happening.

The officer then told me I needed to go to the police station the next day to pay a 2000 peso fine. I responded that I really did not think I made a bad turn, but if I did it was just a mistake I made because I was a little lost. After another minute of discussion, he the said that IF I went to the police station it would be 2000 pesos but he would be happy with 1000 right now.

I have rented cars in Mexico for years without incident, but I had heard stories similar to this. I had about 7000 pesos in my wallet and did not want him to see it so I kept my wallet facing away from him and pulled out a 500 peso bill and looked up at him. He nodded his head in agreement and took the bill as he handed me back my license. They then politely gave me the directions I needed and drove off. I told Pam with the exchange rate it was only about $30 and well worth the experience.
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Old 02-25-2016   #19 (permalink)
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WE headed out of town and one of the first interesting things we came upon was this Mexican all-inclusive. I wonder how the accommodations are?



Went through some small towns along the way and made a couple of stops for a cervaza and snacks.










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Old 02-26-2016   #20 (permalink)
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I knew that not to far after that bridge we would come across to town of La Estancia in which the turn off to San Sebastian would be. As we entered the little village we came around a corner and to my surprise there was a little dirt road being guarded by about a dozen heavily armed police or military men. It looked very serious. I was not sure about exactly where I was supposed to turn so I got out of the car a asked if the next turn took me in the right direction. I got absolutely no response, but someone across the street came over and helped me. I could not figure out why all this was happening in this little village. I would have loved a photo but I wanted to live through this day.

Before continuing on our way we made a stop at a pharmacy, about our 5th of this trip.



As we headed through the mountain road, about every minute or so for the next 15 minutes a military vehicle passed us coming from the other direction. A number of heavily armed and masked men in military gear rode on top with one standing ready with a large mounted firearm. I was wondering whether this was in some way related to drugs. More on this later.

After about 20 more minutes of driving we were finally approaching out destination. The last few miles consisted of a very old and bumpy cobblestone road.

The town was a very nice, interesting town but a number of shops were closed. I think it is busier here on the weekends because there are some tours that come here.

We walked for a while, bought Pam some jewelry from a local artist and enjoyed some of the architecture.










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Old 02-26-2016   #21 (permalink)
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The town was originally a well populated mining town.



The streets in town all look like this. We both wore sandals, which caused our feet to hurt a little for a number of days, but not enough to bother us too much.



We visited the local jail.



Pretty little town and we enjoyed our time, but it was time to head back. It took us about 2 1/2 to get there because we took our time , but figured it would be about 90 minutes back.






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Old 02-26-2016   #22 (permalink)
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Interesting report , thanks Mnbruce, can almost feel the suspense building
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Old 02-26-2016   #23 (permalink)
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On the way back we stopped at a Tequila distillery.



The blue agave plant, which tequila is made from.



We took a short tour there, and when we were finished the young man who gave us a tour asked if I could give him a ride home. He lived in a about 5 miles down the road in our direction. I asked him about all of the military presence, and all he said was that there was a problem up there about a year ago and that some bad people lived up in the hills.

Later that night while sitting on our balcony I did another Google search on the town but added the word cartel to the search. Turns out that in April 2015 a state police convoy was ambushed by the Nuevo Generation cartel right by the town, and 15 police were killed and a helicopter was shot down.

I was glad I had not read about this earlier because I might have decided to do something else, and we then would have missed what turned out to be a delightful day.

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Old 02-27-2016   #24 (permalink)
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great pics ! cant imagine my wife if she would have seen all the military and police ,scary
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Old 02-27-2016   #25 (permalink)
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great pics ! cant imagine my wife if she would have seen all the military and police ,scary
Thanks Steve! It just seemed so tense and serious, but after finding out about that attack I can completely understand why.
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Old 02-28-2016   #26 (permalink)
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It turned to be a super nice vacation. We enjoyed the resort as much as we did the first time and the staff went above and beyond to make us happy. I received about a half dozen hugs from the staff on our last day. When I got home I wrote a glowing letter to Riu pointing out those staff members who really stood out. That is a rarity for me and I received a very appreciative response.

While we always say one more day would be nice, we were not at all disappointed that we were heading home. Maybe that was because it seemed like such a complete vacation and we did everything we wanted to do.That did change however when we stepped outside the airport to minus 10 degrees.

I will complete this as I usually do with some photos and maybe a comment or two. Thanks to those of you who took the time to view this report.

My wife had a couple of friends ask her to send them a couple pictures of Pina Coladas on Facebook. Of course, I could not send some simple photos. I have no doubt that some on the beach for the sunset were wondering WTF I was doing.






It is quite common at intersections for people to be selling things to make some money. These two would run into the intersection when the light turned red, juggle for a bit, then walk through traffic for tips.


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Old 02-28-2016   #27 (permalink)
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This setting caught my eye.



Normally these boats would be out on the water with customers doing some whale watching, but the El Nino this year has kept the waters too warm so most of the whales have stayed out of the bay. Tough luck for the boat owners.



They say happy wife happy life. Pam was happy all week long, which made me happy all week long.




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Old 02-28-2016   #28 (permalink)
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Finally, some of the sights while hanging around the hotel and the beach.



Engulfed in one of the classics







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Old 02-28-2016   #29 (permalink)
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Muchas gracias Riu Palace Pacifico!

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Old 02-28-2016   #30 (permalink)
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Amazing pictures!!! Thanks for sharing them!
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