Tuesday, January 25, 2022

OUR 12 FAVORITE PUERTO VALLARTA RESTAURANTS--So Far! (Part 4)

Yummy Churros with Ice Cream at Merida Grill
     When I started writing this article back in October, Jon and I were going to list our 10 favorite restaurants. But there were two we couldn’t agree on, so I increased the number to 12 to include one of his favorites and one of mine. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series of articles, list numbers 1 through 9 of our favorite restaurants in no particular order.

     We only include a restaurant if we’ve gone there at least twice and everything was consistently excellent. Some restaurants will have great food, service, ambiance, a clean restroom, and good value one time, but fall down in one area the second time, so we are hesitant to return a third time or to recommend it to others. Service is our biggest criterion and only the best staff can maintain excellent service during busy times—that’s the true test.

     These three restaurants are consistently great. High season or low, we always have a great experience at these.

10. Merida Grill (comida yucateca)

     Merida Grill is one of our top choices for Mexican food, but not just typical Mexican. The flavors include a variety that is unique to this area, one they call comida yucateca, or food from the Yucatan. We try something new every time we visit and are always happy with the delicious dishes.

Fresh Salsa Prepared at the Table

     The meal always begins with fresh salsa prepared to order at the table. We order it “picante” but we’ve been eating spicy Mexican food long enough that it seems just right to us, about medium-spicy.

Merida Grill Bar and Tree Growing Through It

     We’re always amazed at how well the kitchen and waitstaff at this restaurant handle the high season in Puerto Vallarta when they are full every night. We’ve learned to make a reservation during this time of year. But our favorite time to dine here is the low season when the city and the locals are less rushed—it feels more like the real México of an earlier era inside this darling place.

Merida Grill's Classic, Subtle Entry

11. Bravos Restaurant Bar

One of Bravos' Dining Rooms 

     Bravos is one of our favorites, but especially Jon’s. When it’s his turn to choose our dinner place, this is often where we go. We’ve learned to make reservations here any time of year, high season or low, especially if we have tickets for a show afterward. Who wants to rush dinner to make it to Act2PV on time? We did that once and learned a lesson. We like to allow two hours to enjoy drinks, salad or appetizer, dinner, and maybe linger over dessert. That’s the Mexican way.

The Calamari Appetizer was Delicious!

My Mahi Mahi was Fresh and Flavorful
Jon's New York Steak and Baked Potato were Perfect

     We used to share meals, but with Jon's Parkinson's disease, his tastebuds have changed so that he doesn't enjoy seafood as much as I do. Now we order separate meals and eat every bite of them. How did we ever share?

     Jon's New York steak is always cooked exactly to the temperature he likes at Bravos. He was too quick to smash his baked potato and slather it with butter and sour cream, so I didn't catch a photo of it before he attacked it. We're always happy to find real sour cream here in México, as it is rarely served. Our meals are always presented beautifully at Bravos.

12. The Blue Shrimp

A Quiet May Evening at the Blue Shrimp

     Seafood is my favorite meal, and when I order it, I want it fresh—that’s part of my attraction to life on the Pacific coast of México. When it’s my turn to choose a restaurant here in Puerto Vallarta and I’m craving seafood, I often select The Blue Shrimp. Jon says it’s too expensive, but it’s worth the extra price for the wonderful setting alone. He does occasionally enjoy their Huachinango and when he orders it, there's enough for two or three meals.

Now That's a Huachinango!

     Overlooking the beautiful blue waters of Banderas Bay, there’s always something interesting to see while enjoying the view and sound of the gentle waves. One evening recently, we watched a sea turtle come ashore searching for her perfect nesting area. She used her back flippers to dig a hole for quite some time before she gave up and moved on down the beach. I wondered if it was because there were so many people standing nearby watching, but the waiter said she left because there are too many rocks in the sand there making it difficult to dig the hole deep enough. As long as we’ve traveled in México, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and even the Galapagos Islands, this was the first time we’ve ever watched a sea turtle come ashore ready to lay her eggs. It was very exciting.

Sea Bass with Shrimp at The Blue Shrimp

     I've ordered the Sea Bass with Shrimp more than once at The Blue Shrimp. While it doesn't look beautiful in my photo, it's always delicious.

      Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part3 of this Puerto Vallarta Restaurant series.

     We love retirement in México. Life is good.


     Have you read my book, Retirement Before the Age of 59: Healthy Living in Mexico #2? I love it when readers leave a brief review on Amazon. 

Check out this 5-Star Review:

Great book for anyone thinking about living in Mexico

     I read this book because, ahem, I'm right about the same age and I wanted to see how they did it. As it turns out, the author is a pharmacist who sees many of her patients plan a great retirement, only to die or become disabled without getting to live the retirements they planned. She and her husband didn't want to become one of these statistics, never getting to live their dreams. I loved finding out how they eased into retirement first with extended vacations and then finally making the leap. I also loved how they actually went to about ten popular retirement destinations in Mexico for an extended period of time to decide if that is their dream location, listing the pros and cons. I recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of moving to Mexico, whether before or after retirement.

     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.

     Cheers,

     Terry

Jon and I at iK Restaurant, Still Trying New Ones!

     To see my books, blogs, and author description, please check out my Amazon Author Page.  Thank you.

     Terry L Turrell, Author

Saturday, January 15, 2022

END OF LIFE PLANNING IN MÉXICO (Part 2)—Procedures After Death

Whether Traveling or Living in México

     End-of-life planning is never a pleasant subject. It has been very difficult for me to write this article but is an important topic to address, especially for those of us who are expats.

     Part 2 of this End of Life Planning series relates to procedures for your loved ones if you die in México, whether while traveling or living here. Some of this is specific to Puerto Vallarta, but most can be applied to other cities, as well. I recommend reading End of Life Planning in Mexico Part 1as well.

      My goal here is to summarize Pamela Thompson’s talk about this difficult subject to help others handle death in México properly. I plan to print this and place it in our safe so my spouse and/or children can find it when I die here and have a blueprint for what to do. It eases my mind to know these instructions will smooth the process for my family. I hope you find the following information helpful, too.

Sanmaré Clinic’s Entrance

     Pamela Thompsonthe Patient Service Coordinator at Sanmaré Clinic and with an office at Hospital Joya Marina in Puerto Vallarta (which are ssociated) organizes these End of Life talks for ex-pats and viistors to understand the legal process of handling death in Mexico. It’s significantly different than that in the U.S. and Canada. As Pam told us, many American documents regarding after-death processes are not recognized in México.

The Check-In Process Outside Sanmaré Clinic

     Jon and I have found Sanmaré Clinic and Hospital Joya in Puerto Vallarta and Hospital Joya Nuevo Vallarta to be very professional health institutions with extensive services. I’ll refer to these facilities in this article as "the hospital". These are the places that Pam Thompson works and speaks about from her vast experience.

     We’ve had multiple procedures, lab tests, physical therapy sessions, and surgeries at these facilities and have been happy with all of them. One important point Pam made, which I agree with whole-heartedly, is that if you are admitted to a private Mexican clinic or hospital, your chances of recovery are greater than in a public sector facility, mostly because private hospitals have more medications and equipment.

1.    What if I Die in the Hospital?

     If you are admitted to Hospital Joya with a terminal illness, the doctor will speak with the family over the phone. If death is foreseen, the hospital staff prepares the paperwork for the Mexican Death Certificate (See Part 1 for information needed by the Mexican government).

     “Do Not Resuscitate” orders and Living Wills that include medical instructions are not legal documents in México. They don't have them here and they don't recognize them from other countries. If the patient is terminal and there is no longer hope of survival, the doctors and family can agree on the steps to take.

     The hospital has a CPR protocol that they are required to follow. When death is imminent, if the family chooses, the physician can discontinue all treatments, only continuing pain medication and liquids as needed. Euthanasia is not permitted, but the physician may lower the level of care when appropriate to discontinue keeping the patient alive at the end of life.

     To ease the family members’ concerns and help manage end-of-life procedures, doctors at the hospital will email, video chat, or send videos of the patient to family members. When COVID is a concern, family members may not be allowed to visit the patient in the hospital. The phone calls and videos help family members realize that they don’t have to come to México right away, and can choose not to come at all if desired. 

     If you do not have a family member to make decisions for you and to handle your death in México, choose a “person of confidence” and complete a Mexican affidavit giving him or her the legal ability to make decisions regarding your body, including picking up the ashes from the funeral home. Pam has these affidavit forms. This is important for partners who are not legally married.

Hospital Joya Puerto Vallarta

     After death, the hospital staff works with Celis Funeral Home in Puerto Vallarta (referred to below as “the funeral home”) to handle the body, prepare the Mexican Death Certificate paperwork, and file it with the local Civil Registry. If COVID-19 is the cause of death, Mexican law requires cremation within 24 hours. Organ donation is not done herein Puerto Vallarta they don’t have the facilities to harvest and store organs.

     The hospital requires that the bill for services be paid on the day of death. This is another reason to have cash available in the safe for the family members to pay for the deceased’s expenses.

     The funeral home will require the deceased’s passport as well as all other information listed in Part 1 of this series to prepare the paperwork. They will punch holes in the passport, invalidating it, and return it to the family, as directed by the consulate.

Celis Funeral Home Brochure Page 2

     A member of the funeral home staff will take the family member to the Civil Registry office to report the death and obtain the Mexican Death Certificate. There will likely be a long wait, especially when COVID deaths are numerous. It’s important to review all information on the form for accuracy as obtaining changes will be next to impossible. Request at least twenty notarized copies of the Mexican Death Certificate, which will cost 20 pesos each (about $1 US). The family member will sign all twenty copies and then the certificates will be endorsed with an official government stamp.

Celis Funeral Home Brochure Page 3

     A member of the CELIS staff will take the family member home or back to the funeral home, as desired. It will require 24 hours for the deceased’s ashes to be ready to pick up. The ashes can be transported on an airplane, which might be best in carry-on luggage. While it’s not legal to spread ashes in the bay here, talk to Pam Thompson or a CELIS staff member about where it can be done.

     A family member doesn't need to go to the consulate. A hospital staff member will call the consulate and request fifteen copies of the official “death of a citizen abroad” document (different than the Mexican Death Certificate) which may be needed for banking, attorneys, insurance, estate management, etc. in the home country. For Americans, the document is called “Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad” and may take four to six months to receive from the U.S. Consulate. This process is expedited if the person has registered with their consulate when traveling or moving to México, a very important step in end-of-life planning (See Part 1 of this series).

2.    What If I Die at Home in México?

     If the death at home is from accidental or violent causes, it's considered a crime scene, so don’t touch anything, stay outside, and don't get involved. Call Pam Thompson (322-252-1711)or CELIS Funeral Home (See brochure below) where an authorized representative will guide you through proper procedures. (I recommend adding these numbers to your contact list on your phone.) The police will respond. An agent from the Ministerio Público (Public Ministry) will go to the home and determine where the body will be taken.

     If the patient dies from natural causes, a chronic illness such as cancer, cardiac disease, etc., call the funeral home for assistance. The Ministerio Público goes to the home and determines whether the body will be released to the funeral home or taken to the morgue. If the cause of death is questionable, the body will go to the morgue. Suicide is considered a crime so, in this case, it may take about a week to get the body from the morgue. If a family member can’t be located immediately, the morgue may hold the body until a family member is found, for up to four years before burial.

CELIS FUNERAL HOME Brochure Page 4

     CELIS Funeral Home is very helpful in guiding people through the legal procedures required. Some funeral homes are less hands-on with the process. CELIS can take care of the funeral services for burial or cremation. Their brochure spells out the steps to take and how part of the funeral home's service is to guide people through the legal and functional process surrounding death. 

     Bodies can be flown to the United States or Canada, but the process is cumbersome and expensive. Since 9/11, legal restrictions state which Mexican city the body can be flown from and where it can enter the other country. The COVID pandemic has made this even more difficult. The majority of expats here choose cremation and can prearrange and prepay with CELIS funeral home.

     If you live or travel in areas other than Puerto Vallarta, I recommend contacting a local, reputable funeral home near you for an explanation of their services and fees. In some cities, such as San Miguel de Allende, there is a private service to assist expats in arranging end-of-life plans. 

     I urge you to read Part 1 of this End-of-Life Planning series. This is equally important, providing steps to take before you die in this country.

     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.

     Book #3 of the "In Sickness and In Health" series, For Better or For Worse, is in the works and will be published this year. Set partly in Mexico, these three stories revolve around love, life, and medical care for an expat couple.

          

     When Lindsay and Jake fell in love, it was magnetic and powerful. Then health issues complicated their lives, tested their love, and stress took them to the breaking point. 

     Will moving to Mexico save their health and their relationship? How will they get the medical care they need living as foreigners south of the border?

     Read more on Amazon at In Sickness and In Health novels.

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

     Happy reading and traveling!

Terry L Turrell, Author

Sunday, January 2, 2022

PURIFIED DRINKING WATER—Bottled Water versus an Inline Filter

 Don’t Drink the Tap Water in México!

Our Drinking Water Dispenser in Sayulita

     Living in México, most residents and visitors alike drink only purified water, as there’s no guarantee that the tap water is safe to drink. Most purchase 5-gallon garrafónes (refillable bottles) of purified water for drinking—we did for the first six years that we lived here and it helped keep us healthy.

     We also carried several garrafónes of water while traveling in our RV and planned to continue the practice no matter where we live, even in the U.S. Who knows what comes in through the pipes!

     One of our Mexican neighbors in Sayulita recommended that we purchase Ciel® water produced by the Coca-Cola company, telling us that it was the best water. We were skeptical since it was a little more expensive. One Ciel bottle costs 32 pesos rather than 26 pesos for locally purified bottles, about 30 US cents more per five gallons—that adds up over a year. Is there really a difference in bottled water? But we took their advice. It did taste better than the drinking water prepared by the local purification plant, but probably due to the minerals that Ciel adds to improve flavor.

Bella Playing by the Garrafones of Ciel Water

     When we moved to our condo in Puerto Vallarta, we decided we wanted to eliminate the weekly purchase of several bottles of purified water from the truck that delivered it to our doorstep. It was a hassle and physically challenging to lift those heavy bottles and insert the garrafón neck into the water dispenser. I couldn’t do it unless I pumped half the water out first. Once Jon started having back pain, it was time to find another purified water source.

Ready for Ciel Water Delivery in Sayulita

     We refuse to buy single-use bottles of drinking water. Our planet is polluted with too much plastic as it is. We needed another solution.

     A condominium administrator told us people drink the water from the refrigerator water dispenser and they haven’t had complaints. When Jon looked at the type of filter used in our refrigerator, we realized that they do not filter out heavy metals, which can contribute to causing cancer, or other microscopic particulates.

Drink the Water from the Refrigerator Dispenser?

     We viewed a YouTube video by the Two Expats Mexico titled, “Is It Safe to Drink the Tap Water in Mexico?”. I was convinced by the segment about city water pipe conditions and repairs not to drink unfiltered city water. Knowing how broken and old pipes affect water purity, we decided we didn't trust the Puerto Vallarta water to be pure enough to drink.

     But a quality water filter can be used to purify tap water. Jon started researching inline water filters that filtered more. He came up with a plan to purchase a Waterdrop® filter from Amazon Mexico since they now stock them and ship to Puerto Vallarta.

Waterdrop Inline Filter for Under the Sink

     Jon installed a single Waterdrop®, a five-stage water filter to the cold-water line under the kitchen sink of our Condo in Puerta Vallarta to provide us with our purified drinking water. With a filtration accuracy of 0.5 μm, the Waterdrop multistage filter improves the quality of drinking water by reducing contaminants such as lead, mercury, fluoride, chlorine and chloramines, taste and odor, sediment, and rust.  The system also retains minerals that are essential to your body, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium.

Jon Installing the Inline Water Filter Under the Kitchen Sink
Jon Checks for Leaks in the Connections

     We don’t have to worry about the safety of our filtered water now.  When used with municipal water, each filter has a maximum service life of 24 months or 16,000 gallons. We will err on the side of caution and install a new filter cartridge every year. If the cold-water flow slows significantly, the filter cartridge is clogged with particulate and can be backflushed or replaced.

     Currently, the Waterdrop 17UA-UF Under Sink Water Filter System, with an improved filtration accuracy to 0.01 μm (a micrometer is one-millionth of a meter), and a larger 19,000-gallon service life, is available from Amazon.com.mx. The total price for a complete system is around $150 US plus shipping. The replacement filters are about $82 US with shipping on Amazon.com.mx. That costs us about $7 US per month when we change it yearly, about the same as buying Ciel drinking water in 5-gallon garrafónes, but much more convenient. In the U.S., you can order these items at Waterdropfilter.com.

Hurricane Nora was Coming—Time to Stock Up On Water

     Hurricane Nora caused widespread flooding and broken pipes in August shortly after we moved into our condo. Repairs to water lines in Puerto Vallarta are still underway four months later. We were glad we had a few garrafónes of drinking water to tide us over until our Waterdrop filter arrived and Jon could get it installed. Now, while we brush our teeth with tap water, we only use filtered water for drinking and cooking.

     This is part of Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico.

     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.

     Have you read the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series, Life in Mexico Never a Dull Moment, a collection of stories? Available worldwide, it's FREE with kindleunlimited. Here’s a helpful review for this book:

"Useful Info, Entertaining Anecdotes

This book is packed with useful information on traveling in northwest Mexico. The author’s style is casual and easy to read. Well worth the time."

     Are you interested in Medical Fiction? Check out my second book in the “In Sickness and In Health” series, “Pickle Jar Test: A Novel”. In this love story with a little romance and information about Parkinson’s disease, follow Jake and Lindsay as they adjust to living in México with a new diagnosis and treatment.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. Jon and I co-wrote this article, Jon being the expert on anything technical. As a self-published author on Amazon worldwide, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books.

     Happy reading and traveling. Cheers and Happy New Year!

     Terry and Jon


Terry L Turrell, Author