Thursday, December 2, 2021

3 UNEXPECTED REASONS TO HAVE LUNCH AT SEÑOR FROG’S IN PUERTO VALLARTA--Even As An Expat!

Yes, It's a Bit Touristy, But...


There are Some Good Reasons to Sit Here for Lunch

     While taking our weekly walk along the Malecón, we passed through the outdoor seating area along the sidewalk at Señor Frog’s restaurant and I noticed someone eating a hamburger with french fries that looked yummy. I was hungry, we'd already walked half a mile from the Witchery Hair Salon, and it was lunchtime, so I suggested we try their burgers. Jon knows that when I say I’m hungry, we have five to ten minutes to sit down somewhere with a menu in front of us, so he reluctantly agreed.

     Señor Frog’s seems rather touristy—we haven’t gone to one for a meal since our younger days in Mazatlán when Jon would watch Monday night football there. One of my favorite photos of him is with the grumpy, scowling Señor Frog statue there. I love Jon’s matching scowl. Señor Frog seems to be happy in Puerto Vallarta—or maybe that’s the current impression he wants people to have of the experience they’ll have at the chain locations.

Jon Scowls Just As Well As Señor Frog

3 UNEXPECTED REASONS to Have LUNCH AT SEÑOR FROG’S in PV

     1.    A Front-row Seat to Watch the Flying Papantla Bird-Men

     Seated at an outdoor table, we placed our order and settled back with a soda to wait for our hamburgers. Suddenly I realized we had a front-row seat to watch the Flying Papantla Bird-Men. I enjoyed them this week as much as I did the first time I watched them years ago. I wrote about them in 2014, long before we decided to move here, in my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico blog article PUERTO VALLARTA, JALISCO: ARomantic City with So Much to Offer!

A Short Video of the Flying Bird-men

     As the bird-men twirled and descended to the beach, one man playing traditional flute music, I was mesmerized by the show. I walked up to the seawall to wait for them to touch down and then dropped a 40-peso ($2US) tip into their cap. When I returned to our table, I realized another good reason to sit at Señor Frog’s.

Flying Papantla Bird-Men Touching Down

     2.    The Whales are Here and We Could Watch their Show During Lunch!

     I was gazing at the beautiful blue sky reflected in the tranquil cerulean ocean when I suddenly saw a whale breach the surface and spout. It was likely a humpback whale, the most common one here during the winter. It could have been a blue whale or a sperm whale, but we were too far away to see them clearly.

     I was so excited to see that the whales had arrived after their migration south to Banderas Bay off the coast of Puerto Vallarta to breed and raise their calves. For a couple of years recently, very few whales were seen here because the water temperature had altered their food source in the area.

     Soon, we realized there was a second whale alongside the first. A sailboat slowly motored over so the passengers could watch the whales who were clearly putting on a show. The two whales swam around the boat, breaching and spouting repeatedly. They were in no hurry to swim away from the boat.

     Suddenly, Jon pointed and said, “Look! Two more over by that other sailboat to the left!” It was so fun to watch the whales show off—I think they are friendly creatures and enjoy the interaction with humans as much as we enjoy them. Señor Frog’s was a great spot for whale-watching! 

3. We Added Two More Sculptures to Our “Landmark Game”

     Jon devised a clever way for us to learn our way around Puerto Vallarta on foot—the “Landmark Game”. We learn street names and routes to our favorite restaurants or other places by the sculptures that sit on the Malecón. We nickname the landmarks so we can remember them, then I research the actual name and artist information.

     The turn to No Se Nada restaurant is at the “Ladder” sculpture, named “In Search of Reason” (En Busca de la Razón) by the famous Mexican artist, Sergio Bustamante, a very distinctive 30-foot-high statue “with three strange pillow-headed figures and a ladder that two of them are climbing, like looking for an answer farther and above the normal limits of humanity, maybe up in the sky or beyond”. This one sits at the ocean end of Corona Street.
     We added and nicknamed the “Lovers” sculpture to our landmarks that day, situated at the end of Pipila street. We turn there to go to Aura Spa, where we get massages, and Señor Frog’s is located at that corner, too. The “Lovers” sculpture is named “Nostalgia” (1984) by Jose Ramiz Barquet.

Silly Jon Posing at the "Ear" Sculpture

     While walking along the Malecón from Señor Frog’s toward home, we discovered another sculpture we’d never noticed—the “Ears” sculpture, which is actually a bronze bench facing the ocean. It’s in a circle of eight whimsical sculptures called “The Roundabout of the Sea” (1996) Alejandro Colunga. Each sculpture is uniquely unusual and is molded into a chair or bench, the tall ones dominating the circle, so we’d previously missed seeing the “Ears”.

     According to this article on puertovallarta.net, “These strange seats invite you to enjoy them, take a seat, touch them and get your photo taken for posterity. Alejandro (the artist) loves this and makes it clear he actually created the works with this in mind, he is convinced that human touch and the interaction gives the statues a patina and color that they wouldn’t have if they were protected, a 3D coloring.”

     That day, surprisingly, Jon agreed to pose for a photo with the “Ears”. We hadn’t even ordered beer or margaritas at Señor Frog’s! Located where Aldama street ends and intersects with the Malecón, it's located across from the Tierra Huichol store. It is now our landmark for the one-mile point to our home, a good place to rest while gazing at the Pacific Ocean and watching people stroll along the boardwalk.

     Time for the rest of our healthy walk along the ocean and into Old Town. A stop for a hamburger at Señor Frog’s had turned into a fun, healthy afternoon. Next time we'll have to order a margarita or beer—maybe we’ll be more inclined to laugh at the silly décor inside the restaurant.

Some of the Silly Decor inside Senor Frog's

Two Lessons Learned:

     1. Hamburgers at Señor Frog’s are a nice change from fish tacos.

     2. The sculptures sometimes get moved so check Google Maps for their current location.

     Have you read Living in Mexico Lessons Learned: Healthy Living in Mexico #3? This is my most popular book this year, thanks to many readers downloading it and leaving great reviews. Available worldwide, it’s FREE with kindleunlimited.


     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As a self-published author on Amazon, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books to help others find them. I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.

Terry L Turrell, Author

Monday, November 22, 2021

MY NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER HAS BEEN PUBLISHED--Happy Thanksgiving, Exploring Puerto Vallarta, a 99¢ Book👀

Happy Thanksgiving from tropical México. I hope you will have a wonderful holiday, the best in years!

Jon and I have plans to give thanks in my favorite place, the same stunning venue we went to last year, Vallarta Botanical Garden. After a walk through the colorful tropical flowers, dancing butterflies, charming hummingbirds, and vanilla groves, we’ll spend time in the gift shop, buying Talavera knick-knacks to decorate our new condo in Puerto Vallarta. Then we’ll enjoy the same three-course turkey dinner that we had last year in the Hacienda del Oro while listening to live dinner music and viewing the mountains and river below. The hummingbirds and other tropical birds will entertain us at the feeders hanging outside the balcony. I can’t wait!

     If you’re interested in attending this event, be sure to make a reservation. And don’t forget the insect repellent—you’ll be out in nature, surrounded by the jungle.

Jon and Terry at Vallarta Botanical Garden in 2020

We love our new life in Puerto Vallarta. What a contrast it is to living in a Sayulita barrio, a Mexican neighborhood complete with chickens, sheep, and turkeys. It was the right time for us to experience a change.

     In case you missed my recent articles, click on the links below. Don't miss the 99¢ book offer at the end of this newsletter—TWO days only!

To read more, click HERE.

My books are available on Amazon worldwide. If you enjoy them, please leave a brief review on Amazon. I wish you good health and happiness.

          Cheers,
          Terry

Friday, November 12, 2021

VISITING SAN SEBASTIÁN DEL OESTE—An Old Pueblo Mágico

     Jon and I have talked for years about visiting San Sebastián del Oeste, a 400 to 500-year-old Pueblo Mágico (a Mexican Magic Town) in the Sierra Madre mountains of Jalisco state. We decided it was a good time to go now that the rains have stopped and before the weather turns too cool in the mountains. I convinced Jon to take an all-day, all-inclusive tour for our first visit to this charming town and we were glad we did.

San Sebastián del Oeste's Plaza and Cathedral's Bell Tower

     Our first stop was Panadería Carmen’s Bakery. Jon and I shared one pastry, a flaky jam-filled empanada, and it was delicious. We wished we would have shared one more! The courtyard and gardens there were beautiful and relaxing.

Jon Talking to the Birds at Panadería Carmen's Bakery

     I was amazed at the mature banana tree and its 2-foot long bunch of bananas, some of the fruit from the bottom already harvested. Jon talked to the pair of parrots for a while but they were busy building a nest inside a gourd so weren’t too interested in talking. We’d like to go back to Carmen’s bakery again.

How did this Banana Tree NOT Fall Down!

     La Quinta Mary (The Fifth Mary in the family) coffee roaster was our second rest stop. We had a tour of the edge of the plantation where our guide gave us an education on café de altura (coffee of the highlands), coffee roasting, and the family history. It was very interesting to learn that the citrus trees planted interspersed with the coffee plants provide a natural insect repellant for the coffee berries—organic farming.

Coffee Roaster at La Quinta Mary

Beautiful Macaws in the Aviary at La Quinta Mary

     The four macaws were screeching furiously when the group of tourists passed by, possibly looking for attention or hoping someone would feed them. Jon came up to their aviary and started “talking” to them in macaw language and they settled down immediately. Jon is a “bird whisperer”. As he continued to mimic them, they looked at him, stretched, and nonchalantly started to preen. One even closed her eyes and took a nap, hypnotized by Jon’s crooning.

Blue Agave Plants, Years from Maturity

     We stopped at a blue agave field for a look and education on growing the plants and making tequila, raicilla, and mezcal, distilled products of agave in the state of Jalisco. Our tour guide smilingly promised tequila tasting later in the day.

     After we arrived in the village, once a thriving silver and gold mining town established in 1605, we toured the Casa Museo Doña Conchita Encarnación museum, the beautiful cathedral which was constructed starting in 1608, and the Casa de La Cultura (House of Culture). Then we were free to wander around the plaza and along cobblestone roads to admire the old adobe and brick buildings and to shop. I enjoyed the cooler, dry mountain air in San Sebastian del Oeste while Jon admired the old architecture.

Touring Casa Museo de Doña Conchita Encarnación

Town and Family History Inside the Museum

Inside the Beautiful San Sebastian Cathedral

Casa de La Cultura Courtyard and Mural

Quaint Architecture and Cobblestone

Very Old Adobe and Stone Architecture

      The San Sebastian del Oeste plaza was beautiful and peaceful, a complete contrast to Sayulita’s, the Pueblo Mágico where we lived for six years. We wondered what it would be like on a Saturday evening with live music and lovers strolling hand in hand.

San Sebastian del Oeste's Peaceful, Pretty Plaza

     Our last stop was for lunch and tequila tasting at Hacienda Don Lalin, a small distillery and brewery. The multi-course, freshly prepared lunch was traditional Mexican food served family-style with six to eight people sharing a table. We enjoyed getting to know travelers from Britain and Michigan while we dined. Finally, it was time for tequila tasting. We loved the almond tequila and chocolate-coffee flavored tequila, which would be delicious over ice cream or ice with milk for a dessert.

Hacienda Don Lalin Tequila Tasting

     We booked our tour with Vallarta Adventures and recommend them. Having a friendly, knowledgeable guide who is bilingual and a good driver to expertly handle those windy mountain roads made it worth the price. One note for future tours—the instructions did not mention using insect repellent against the no-see-ums, but we had itchy, red evidence of their bites the next day. We were glad we had worn long pants, socks, and shoes as our legs and feet were spared the invisible insect attacks.

     It was a worthwhile day-tour. Even Jon agreed.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As a self-published author on Amazon, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books to help others find them. I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.

     Happy reading and traveling! Stay safe and healthy. 

     Terry

Saturday, November 6, 2021

OUR 12 FAVORITE PUERTO VALLARTA RESTAURANTS--So Far! (Part 2)

 Wine Selection, Quality, and Temperature are Factors

Cheers! Many More Restaurants to Try😄

     We have three more Puerto Vallarta restaurants to add to our Favorites List. Did I mention that I don’t list our favorite restaurants in any specific order? We just like them all, but for different reasons.

     I thought Jon and I might be able to call ourselves “foodies” until I researched the definition and decided we’re not foodies because we aren’t gourmets, don’t know food pairings, and aren’t able to properly cook. But that’s why we like to dine in good restaurants and we do fit these criteria, “Always have a restaurant recommendation, eat healthy food, and have a taste for wine.”😀

     So here are three more of our restaurant recommendations with healthy food and a good wine selection. Jon leans toward Vino Espumoso (Sparkling Wine) by the glass during the hot weather or a good margarita on the rocks. My new favorite is Pinot Grigio by the glass because it’s refreshing and goes well with seafood, chicken, and most foods I choose.

Part 1 of this series can be viewed HERE.

4. La Dolce Vita


     The Malecón location of La Dolce Vita has been a favorite of ours for years, starting long before we moved to Puerto Vallarta. We often go there when we are taking a walk and want the ocean view. This is our favorite Italian restaurant. Now they have a new location on Basilio Badillo that we like just as much except it doesn’t have the ocean view. It’s close to our condo in Colonia Emiliano Zapata, so it’s a good choice when we want to walk a shorter distance to dinner.

Chicken Parmigiana with Fettucine Alfredo

     For a long time, we were stuck on pizza here—it’s so good! Recently, we tried the Pollo alla Parmigiana (Chicken breast with crusty parmesan cheese) and a side of Fettucine Alfredo. It was delicious. With a shared salad to start, this meal was plenty to share.

5. Azafrán Restaurante Bar

Pechuga de Pollo Rellena Azafrán (Stuffed Chicken Breast)

     I’ve often thought that this restaurant should be rated higher on TripAdvisor. (I gave them a 5-Star rating on that important site.) Though Azafrán is located on Olas Altas in Old Town, it’s a bit off the beaten path so it doesn’t get as much notice from walking traffic as some restaurants. We walk by it often and were enticed by the beautiful dining room and intriguing menu. Open-air dining on the terrace is nice, also, offering a great people-watching view. The European Fusion salads, main courses, and desserts offer a wonderful change from the plentiful Mexican and Italian food in Puerto Vallarta.

Jon's Ribeye Steak with Grilled Potatoes

     I highly recommend this restaurant! The food, service, and setting are wonderful. My Pechuga de Pollo Rellena Azafrán (Chicken breast stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, served with risotto) was so good, I’ve had it on two occasions. Jon said his Ribeye Steak was great! The Apple Beignets, made here, served with Vanilla Ice Cream are a must. This is one of our new favorite dinner restaurants when we don’t want to walk too far to and from dinner but want a delicious, healthy meal. The menu changes occasionally, so we’ll have to visit again soon to see what’s new.

Outside View of the Restaurant/Bar from Our Table

6. La Cappella

     La Cappella is one we reserve for special occasions. The setting is wonderful on the upper floor of an old chapel behind the famous cathedral, Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. The food, wine list, and service are exceptionally good. It’s a little expensive, so we only go there once or twice a year. Maybe our upcoming anniversary will be a good opportunity to make a reservation for a front-row seat.

Celebrating Jon's Birthday at La Cappella Restaurant

     The restaurant’s website describes it so well, I’ll quote it. “La Cappella is an open-air restaurant that overlooks the city of Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay and serves contemporary Italian Cuisine, reveling in violin music, in an elegant but informal ambiance. A full bar and wine list are also available. House specialty cocktails take advantage of local fruits, herbs, and spices to create a uniquely enticing selection.” 

Wood-Fired Salmon with Baby Potatoes and Vegetables

     Hmmm, I notice we tend toward Italian restaurants. If only there were more good Asian restaurants… I do miss Chinese food here.

     If you missed Part 1 of this series, check it out HERE. Let me know what you think and if you have other suggestions. Especially Chinese.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As a self-published author on Amazon, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books to help others find them. 

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.

     Happy reading and traveling! Stay safe and healthy.

     Terry L Turrell, Author

See My Amazon Author Page HERE

Sunday, October 31, 2021

END OF LIFE PLANNING WHILE LIVING OR TRAVELING ABROAD--Particularly in México (Part 1)


Planning for Death While Abroad 

     What happens if we die while visiting or living abroad? What do we do if a loved one dies while in México? These are not comfortable thoughts but are important to plan for. This is Part 1 of the End of Life articles, planning for death while living or traveling abroad, particularly in México.

     Jon and I recently attended Pamela Thompson’s End of Life talk and found the information to be very helpful. Pam has many years of experience with health care and is the Patient Service Coordinator at Sanmaré Clinic in Puerto Vallarta. She also has a great deal of experience aiding with the process of death at Hospital Joya, sadly a common occurrence during COVID-19.

     Pam has helped us make appointments with doctors, dentists, and surgeons, appointments for lab tests, ultrasound, and MRIs, and provided information about eye care and eyeglasses. We've found her services to be priceless. Many foreigners agree.

      With Pamela Thompson's permission, I have summarized Pam’s talk and added some points of my own. Part 1 includes steps to take before death. Part 2 will be steps for your spouse or another family member to take after your death. Some of this information is specific to Puerto Vallarta, but most steps below are very important regardless of what country or area you travel to or live in.

1. Register with your home country consulate

U.S. Citizens: United States STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)

A SERVICE OF THE BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS

U.S. Department of State link: https://step.state.gov/

               ·       Set up an account: Allow plenty of time and patience! This is a typical                            government site—it took me three attempts.

·       Register your travel plans and/or address in Mexico

·       Register your emergency contact (a designated family member other           than your travel partner)

·       Register your travel partner or spouse

     Jon and I were elated when we finally succeeded and received this STEP Enrollment email. But really, we had only completed Step 1 of this planning process. There’s more work to be done.

Step 1 Success: STEP Enrollment Email Received

        2. Secure your important documents in your home safe. Give a designated family member a key or code to the safe so they will be able to manage the required Mexican procedures after your death.

              ·       Codes and passwords for computers, phones, email, etc.

·       Real estate escritura (deed) which states beneficiaries. A Mexican will is not necessary unless you have assets besides real estate such as a bank account.

·       Instructions for cremation or burial, written and signed by you. (Having a witness sign this document might be wise.)

·       Passport

·       Will prepared by an attorney in your home country

·       Marriage certificate, if applicable

·      Your personal information including a copy of your residency card, Mother’s and Father’s complete names, and where they were born (city, state, country) which will be needed to obtain the death certificate at the Civil Registry

             ·     A plan for pet care after your death

Planning for Death at Celis Funeral Home

     3. Whether cremation or burial in México is desired, visit your local funeral home to make plans. In Puerto Vallarta, Pam Thompson recommends Celis Funeral Home to arrange this and prepay. The cost of cremation at Celis is currently $1050 USD (non-refundable). Celis works closely with Pam and Clinic Sanmare to deal with the bureaucracy of death in México. (If death is due to COVID-19, cremation is required within 24 hours.)

     4. Preparing a plan for pet care after your death is very important. Write the instructions out and put them in your safe.

     5. Let your designated family member know about your plans and desires after death and the location of your safe.

     I recommend, from my personal experience with my mother’s estate, that you leave sufficient cash in the safe so that family members can deal with necessary expenses, including tips to Mexicans who assist them with procedures and paperwork after your death.

     Part 2 of this End of Life series will be published in a week or two. Thank you, Pamela Thompson, for your helpful summary, which finally got us motivated to take the above steps. This will help our spouses and other family members after we die in México and give us peace of mind now.

     Have you read Living In Mexico Lessons Learned: HealthyLiving in Mexico #3? This is my most popular book this month, ranking highly in Amazon’s Mexican Travel (Kindle) category, thanks to many readers downloading it and leaving great reviews. Available worldwide, it’s FREE with kindleunlimited.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly, más o menos, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As a self-published author on Amazon, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books to help others find them.

Terry L Turrell, Author

     Happy reading and traveling! Stay safe and healthy.

     Cheers

     Terry