Lazy Crazy Days South of the Border

LJ in "Position A" at LBS. The holiday season kicked off in mid-November with Jungle Storm III.


Shortly after returning from South America, KR headed to our new home base in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I grabbed the oars of commerce in Los Angeles.   It was a long summer for both of us — hot, humid and unbearable in PV, KR’s mind started spinning into new, expensive territory (more on that in a minute) while I put my head down trying to make something of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.  Our goal and reward was to spend the holidays together south of the border.

It’d been almost a year since I was last in PV.  It felt both familiar and strange; KR and Lilly greeted me at the airport and the roads to our house in El Centro were familiar and welcomed.  I greeted the neighbors and they even seemed to recognize me.  Our house felt smaller than I remember, though and KR had redecorated with new stuff during the summer.   I often joke that most of our PV and LBS friends have spent more time in our house than me, and it sure felt that way at first.

We quickly got into a familiar pattern  in prepping for the upcoming events: open up “Little Big Sur” for the season; shop until we (I) drop buying stuff at Soriana (PV’s version of Ralphs), Walmart, CostCo, Home Depot, Office Max etc.  Somehow I found the energy to hit our favorite restaurants and bars.  Ahhh yes, now this is feeling familiar: )

I know the first question many of you want to ask is… “How did we survive the Narco gunfights in the streets every night!?”  It’s a little boring to report that no bullets flew, no robberies nor kidnappings happened, nor… whatever else is on the front pages of US newspapers to scare gringos from coming south happened.  That’s not to say it was quiet, as we live in a Mexican neighborhood with music blasting at all hours of the night, roosters crowing at 4:30AM (they must be on EST),  fireworks going off all over the hillside, and discos open till the wee hours.

Tourism seems to be picking up, which is a welcome sign for a city that probably makes 70% of its revenues from Gringos, Canadians and wealthy Mexicans (by the way — Mexico’s economy has been booming in the past year, just not in the gringo vacation home sales and tourism sectors).  PV is looking pretty good too as it got a major re-do in preparation for this past October’s Pan-America Games.  The centerpiece of the redo is the new Malecon’ that stretches along the entire beach in the center of the city.

This season was centered around four events:

  • Jungle Storm III (Co-Ed Edition):  What started almost 25 years ago as a weekend party for a bunch of us guys (the infamous Desert Storm) has morphed into a co-ed event held in the jungle south of PV.  I’m glad to report that LJ, Melissa, TKF, and Pammy can still party with the best of them.
  • Citrus Storm I:  Sam and Jill make their first historic visit to PV and LBS from the wilds of Florida to join us for Thanksgiving.
  • Christmas:  KR and I spend Xmas in Chonchos.  This is the first time that we’ve been alone in LBS in years.
  • New Years:  Cindy and Peter fly in for the week between Xmas and New Years.  We spend a couple of days in LBS and then hang in PV for New Years.

Now, for those who believe a picture is worth 1,000 words, here they are.

Some things are the same no matter where you are. This is a (there are more than one) Wal Mart in PV. All vacations in PV start with multiple shopping trips.

Keith and Larry settle into LBS. This picture could be repeated 24x7

TKF quickly gets into my favorite uniform.


One of the many fine dinners Keith cooked for us at Little Big Sur. I especially like the clothes drying on the line ambiance.

They laughed when I brought eight bottles of vodka -- one of which was a magnum -- to LBS for the "season". My vodka joined about a dozen bottles of wine, three-four bottles of rum, a couple of bottles of tequila, and assorted other refreshments. By event #3, we were hauling in more vodka as everyone seemed to appreciate the taste of my screwdrivers and bloody-marries. It's always good to check with the family physician or check-into Betty Ford when returning from a Jungle Storm event.


This happens a lot in Chonchos. Your sitting in the "living room" minding your own business when one of the neighbors drops in (there are no locks, heck they're no doors) for a neighborly cocktail. And then another neighbor comes by. Smoke signals must go out throughout the jungle and more gather. Pretty soon Chuck moves from the vodka to the tequila and a whole new level is reached. Here, Yvonne, Bill, Chuck and yours truly solve the world's problems. Notice the safety outfit I'm wearing to make it easier to find me if I get lost in the jungle.


Lilly had no problem getting into the laid-back pace of LBS life.


Just your basic everyday view


This is as close to a fish as Jones got all Jungle long. LJ needs are-think on his fishing strategy as it ain't working.


Wanted by the police, I'm sure, this motley crew grabs a fish taco in Old Town, Puerto Vallarta.


This was the beginning of a three-night party that broke my personal record. Photo is not fuzzy on purpose.

Night #2 was Thanksgiving, which has become the biggest party of the year at Chonchos. This year is was held at the Landing Beach with fish cooked by Alphonse and various side dishes brought by all. And Chuck bought the tequila. At the end, I was force marched up the 1000 yards to LBS by Raphael, Bill and Peter. Raphael hurt his arm on the trip, Peter needed as much help as me, and Bill was the voice of reason throughout.

This is obviously a before picture of Jill, Sam, FW and KR


EVERY visit to LBS is a working visit. Here Sammy applies another coat of varnish to the railing. Earlier, Jones had repainted the front entrance while I repainted the outside bedroom.


What visit to Chonchos would be complete without dragging a boat ashore. This is Robb's new pontoon boat, which obviously doesn't come with wheels.


The most welcome sight of any arrival at Chonchos is Artemio and Pamela. Pamela is truly a beast of burden when the Walti's show up.

This was a big, big whale watching season. Here Peter keeps a sharp eye out. We saw three different types of whales (humpback, gray and orca), lots of dolphin, and the occasional manta ray. A

Yahtzee sucks. KR showed no gratitude for being taught the rules and strategies by yours truly as she immediately pounced on everyone. Here KR, Cindy and Peter roll the dice.

The Walti clan in front of our newly painted LBS sign. Now everyone will be able to find it.


The DOE, DOD, LADWP and me. In between Thanksgiving and Xmas, I went back to LA to throw a dinner for some folks from the Dept of Energy and Dept of Defense and then we held a panel discussion for...

three hundred of so people in the future home of LACI.


Jill and FW have their morning Starbucks on the Malecon in PV. There are a lot of worse ways of starting your day


Sammy in Casa Corona's doorway, looking pretty relaxed. PV has a way of doing that to you.


KR takes a break in Casa Corona's temporary living room.

Some of us still have to work. This is a design and construction-planning session among Jim (the architect) and Isidro (the General Contractor) and me. What, I didn't tell you that we were doing a slight remodel of Casa Corona? Yes, we're adding two additional floors, three kitchens, four bathrooms, a garage, a pool and an observation deck. Target completion date is May 2012. Or was that May 2013?


When we're not laying around the house, we're out eating and drinking in PV's restaurants. Left, Keith argues that Teatro Limon's chef, Bruce, is a better cook than he... "I bet he doesn't do Salmon very well." Bruce runs the finest restaurant in PV. Sammy is an enthusiastic eater on the beach at La Palapa. At right is the french bistro, La Cigale, which we finally got a table at 10:45PM on New Year's evening.


Where to begin? I'm taking suggestions for captions here

Not everyone just lays around, of course.

Three ways to take in New Years in PV. Hit the dozens of night clubs along the Malecon. Cover charges too high for me.

Or watch the fireworks from a rooftop. Fireworks and views were spectacular.

Or go to a neighborhood party, in this case on the street in front of our house. Across the hill, locals block off streets for their parties, which go for most of the night. Cindy, Peter and I sit on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor's.

Man of the people. I join Eduardo sipping from the tequila bottle. And another record crumbles, I was up past 2 in the morning. It was a great New Years, on a par with last year's Buenos Aires street party.












4 replies
  1. Bill says:

    Just for the record, it was me and Gabriel who took you on the ‘forced march’…lets just say Peter wasn’t quite up to the task!

  2. Gregg & Tish says:

    Looks like the holidays were festive! Keep the news coming, we love living vicariously through your adventures, except for the 7 day work weeks.

  3. DH says:

    Hi Fred,
    Thank you for sharing all the good times in and about P.V.
    We sure missed Thanksgiving on the beach at Chonchos, next year a must. Hi to KR

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