The Journey to Casa Madera – A pineapple! We finally have a pineapple!

February 24, 2013 – It is a muggy day today at Casa Madera Bed and Breakfast.  Warming up but a little cloudy which keeps the humidity up.  Normally by this time of day the sun has burned off any cloud cover and the day is bright, sunny and warm.  Its warm, now all we need is sun!  Being Vallarta, it will be here soon.

As I mentioned in the last post I seem to have writers block occasionally trying to come up with things to write.  I start to wonder if what is interesting to me is interesting to those who read my dissertations.  I have been assured by our friend Elaine that it is all interesting and unique so if that is the case here goes!

We have been trying to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables over the 4 years we have been in the house.  Most have been a total disaster.

The tomatoes we planted came up, bore two fruit and died.   The corn came up, grew to 2 and a half feet, sprung an ear the size of pea pod and died.  The list is longer but frankly it is depressing so I cannot remember all of the total failures.

However there was one item that grew like wildfire.  Watermelon.  We did not plant it.  It was planted by Oswaldo when he was working here.  The plant went crazy once it started to grow.  It spread out like it should and flowered like it should.  We know the flowers had insect traffic but the fruit never set.  It was then we found out that most of the watermelons you buy are hybrids and won’t actually finish fruit.  So as they too died we took them out and were once again fruitless.

And then there were pineapples.  We had been told that when you cut the top off of your pineapple just plant the top and it will grow.   So Heather did that with a few of the pineapples we bought.

The first one she planted took to ground well and started to grow almost immediately.  She diligently watered it and watched it grow wider and taller.  This inspired her to plant more.  However they were not as successful.  Some died or rotted in the ground.  Others grew but were not happy about it.

The original one was still growing and doing well but it was kind of lost in the front garden with the other plants that were overgrown and blocking its light and our view of it.  I had even forgotten it was there.

We have noted that others that we have planted in our yard are not as happy as the one in the front flower bed.  We are guessing it is getting the right amount of sun and shade whereas some of the others get maybe too much sun.

After all of the frustration of things we have planted today was a special day.  Today in our garden an actual pineapple has sprouted on top of our plant.  We knew they took two years to produce fruit and I am pretty sure that one has been in there for 3 years or more but my bet is that the plant is now happy that Ramon comes once a week and trims the plants, fertilizes and takes care of the garden.  Somehow I think that the fruit on our pineapple plant showing up 6 months after Ramon started here is not a coincidence.

Either way, it does not matter.  I am looking forward to putting a few slices of this on my plate one morning.  Not sure how long they take to mature but hopefully it won’t take too long because it will be hard to wait.

The good thing is they are so easy to start that we have 7 more plants growing across the street.

Our first little pineapple
Our first little pineapple

For more garden photos check out our photo albums on our facebook page.



The Journey to Casa Madera – The Guests Speak!

I have not been a very good blogger this year.  My followers will know that I have basically written nothing.  Well folks that continues today as I present a story written by a guest of ours over Christmas, Rolando Gomez.  It is a great story and I am happy that Rolando gave me permission to share it.  Please take the time to read about his visit to the Puerto Vallarta area and comment if you like it.

My December Vacation in the Eleventh Canadian Province

Politically incorrect ramblings 

If you think the eleventh province I’m talking about is Nunavut or Saskatchewan, check again your trivia sources.  Besides, no way I would go to those…in December.  After I’ve lived for a few years the “true Wisconsin experience” in Milwaukee, I would have to be pretty darn stupid to pick Kugluktuk or Saskatoon as a destination for a December Vacation, wouldn’t I?…I thought so too.

So, it turned out to be that the 11th Canadian Province is actually located down here in the Mexico, and its name is nothing complicated or First-Nation as other Canadian provinces: it is simply called Vallarta.

My wife Judy and I decided to escape this past December from the craziness, the loud noises, the horrible traffic jams and the pollution in Mexico City.  We packed the trunk of the car with bare necessities (including of course my fishing poles and sandals), we told Bombón to hop into the back seat, which he happily did, and we all set for a very long drive.

We arrived Nuevo Vallarta right before Christmas day.  Judy had made a reservation at a Bed & Breakfast called “Casa Madera”, and I just went along with her choice.  I just knew she had a phone conversation in English to settle conditions before our trip.  I knew nothing else.

On arrival to Casa Madera we were greeted by a very nice woman named Heather and by her friendly husband Kevin.  The fact that I knew nothing about the reservation process, led me to commit my first gruesome mistake; politically incorrect mistake: in my heavy Argentinean accent I asked Heather…”what part of the States are you guys from?…”

Silence.  Throat clearing.

-“Er…we are actually from Alberta, eh?”

I didn’t know where to hide myself.  I wished the earth would have swallowed me in that very moment.  I felt almost as Collin Farrell must have felt when he realized he actually hit a Canadian, confusing him with a Yank in the movie “In Bruges”.

But it didn’t go pass that.  I hit no one else no more, and Heather and Kevin turned out to be a great hosting couple.  Nice people who own a beautiful house in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, and just –I thought-”happen to be” casually from Canada.  Their Bed and Breakfast is beautiful.  A two-story Mexican house with a nice patio, a cute small swimming pool and three rooms for guests, each one with independent access and a small terrace.  Heather and Kevin manage the place very professionally, but also with discretion and charm.  It is their house, but they let you be.

A happy female dog named Alexa greeted Bombón, and they quickly started to play around the house as if they knew each other from the Kennel Club for years.  Two handsome and very cool cats let Bombón know very quickly who was the boss at the house, and I couldn’t get their names because they retrieved themselves to secure quarters during the rest of our stay.  Smart felines.

The first evening I invited Judy to go to the Puerto Vallarta’s famous “Malecón”; a stone paved promenade by the sea in Down Town Puerto Vallarta, sort of a boardwalk, just fifteen minutes driving from Casa Madera B&B.

It is there that I started to realize that the fact that Heather and Kevin were from Alberta was not a mere coincidence.  The Malecón was absolutely full of English language signs -some of them with a Maple leaf- and English speaking people all over, almost all of them saying “eh” every other sentence –Canadians.

I sat down on a short stone wall with Bombón while Judy went inside one of the stores with English signs, and a very, very fat woman approached me to ask me for Bombón’s breed.  If it weren’t for the fact that she added “eh?” to her question, I would have felt –again- like Collin Farrell in the movie.  I almost started to remind her about Granada 1983, Panama 1989 or Falujah 2004, but I didn’t   Neither I would have called her “f’king elephant” like Collin Farrell in the movie.  I am usually politically incorrect, but I ain’t no Brit.  I just answered that Bombón was a “Golden-Spaniel” and went on smoking my cigarette.

The good thing about Casa Madera is that you can go in a matter of few minutes to that place where there is a noisy crowd, very loud music, Cuban cigars smoke in the air all over, plenty of booze of all kinds and of course the loud talking that comes along, and when you are fed up with it, you can return to a very quiet place in the middle of a tropical forest, and fall asleep to the sound of frogs and silence, and wake-up to the sound of birds.  Peace and tranquility as you wouldn’t imagine.

The next day we searched for activities around the area.  Of course we went to research the very popular “Vallarta Adventures” tourist business.  Swimming with Dolphins?  -Nah.  Not my cup of tea.  Especially after seeing that the swimming pool where the poor mammals are made into wet clowns was overflowing to the sides due to the presence of very-heavy-beer-drinking-over-sized-tourists.  Are they from Canada too?  I doubt it.  I didn’t ask.  Whale watching?  -mmm…maybe, but too expensive for what is worth.  Outdoors Adventures or Extreme “Zip-Line” Adventure?  None of that for me.

We left the place booking none of the expensive options, and decided instead to take the car and explore our own options.  We drove all the way down to a beach called “Boca de Tomatlán”.  A place where a cold, clear-water river meets the Ocean, and we rented the services of a young boy named Joel (pronounce it kho-el), who took us to a peaceful and nice beach after a 15 minutes boat ride.  We had a margarita, ate fish and shrimp at a restaurant on the beach, and Bombón had a blast jumping up and down of the boat in the middle of the waves.  In the way back on the boat, we even spotted a couple of dolphins, swimming free  along side the boat, away of the over-sized tourists!

That day we had a great time, and we ended-up paying a small fraction of what the corporate tourist business ask for each one of their “adventures”.

Back in Casa Madera that evening we simply rested, and took advantage to check e-mails and talk to family on Skype.

At this point I am sure you are already asking yourself the typical North-American tourist question.  No; not the one about safe drinking water; the one about crime and violence in Mexico.  Well, Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta both seem not to be Mexico.  It is actually safe and quiet!  I am convinced that maybe it is the eleventh Canadian Province.  It is not only safe, but full of “residents” who came from the ice and snow up there.  Heather and Kevin are not the exception.  In mathematical equivalence, Canadians are to Vallarta what Americans are to San Miguel Allende in Guanajuato, and I tend to believe that Canadians have chosen better.

The confirmation for the 11th province status came for me the following night: Judy and I were a bit hungry, and I drove around Nuevo Vallarta looking for something to buy and eat at the B&B.  I was a bit in a hurry, and in a solitary main road I committed a gross traffic violation that I will not details out of shame for myself.  Well, a police patrol was right next to the road, and they stopped me.  Since I live in Mexico City, I went “oh boy!”, and checked quickly my wallet to see how much I had.  It had happen to me already several times here in Mexico City.  To my enormous surprise, the copper was not only absolutely professional and never, ever hinted a word about “mordida” (bribe), but he also was kind a sympathetic for my explanations about why I committed the violation!  His sympathy did not alter the fact that I was fined.  Cleanly and properly fined.  I spent the next morning just a few minutes paying the fine at the local Traffic Police Station.  Don’t tell me: this usually happens in Vancouver, not in Mexico, right?

Tatiana, my Canadian cousin’s wife, had made me believe that all Canadians despise Mexico.  She refuses to come to visit, claiming that down here they attack Canadians.  Vallarta has made me see that she is hopefully quite lonely in that perception.  Perhaps if I open a Tim Horton’s franchise on the Vallarta Malecón, not only that Tatiana would finally come to visit us to drink “regular coffee” (with “homo milk”, that is), but I could also strike a business opportunity of a life time with the “locals”.  But no; I wouldn’t dare to spoil my good Argentinean espresso or Middle-Eastern “mud” Turkish coffee.  Not even for the sake of Tatiana’s visit.

We left Vallarta right before New Year’s Eve and drove back to the noise and hectic chilango life.  Kevin posted in Facebook that it pour-rained in Vallarta the following day, which is extraordinarily unusual in December.

Maybe the sky decided to wash out all traces of my visit and discoveries.  No one would ever admit the 11th status.

I liked Vallarta.  You may call me a lunatic, but I liked it.  It is like a nice Mexican town with a bunch of “loonies”, eh?


Rolando “el negro” Gómez

Coyoacán, January 5th 2013


Editors note, I have, at the author’s request, corrected some grammatical and spelling errors but I have tried to leave the story the way it was written in most cases.  If you have not seen the movie of which he speaks, In Bruges, then download if off of Netflicks immediately.  It is a great movie.

Next week, I promise, I will write, really, I will.