Roda’s Critter Connection, Winter Edition

 

So I had to go all the way to Mexico to find a winter critter worthy of Roda’s Challenge! Well, perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit. But this little leaf guy really was quite friendly and hung out at our host home all day.

Enjoy!

 

Yoga Retreat, One More Time

Last January I let my hubby talk me into attending a yoga retreat. He is a big yogi and his instructor told him about a retreat she was holding just north of Manzanillo. I was skeptical. I don’t love Mexican food, we had been to Mexico many times and it was always way too hot for me and I only do yoga when I can’t rock climb or run. So, how much fun could I possibly have?

The answer: So Much!!

Our goal last year was to meet fun people and do some yoga. We greatly exceeded those expectations, so much so that we signed up to go again this year. We even hosted a reunion last summer at our house. My blog posts from last time Good Morning from Manzanillo!, Exploring Bara de NavidadHappy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay! and Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up! are full of pictures and images that we were privy to this time around as well. So, for this year’s post, I tried to focus more on what was different.

Bill and Susan, our hosts, were once again, fabulous! They made most of our meals and they both are great cooks! Additionally, they would take us to places that no other tourists go-we had day trips to Colima and Comala and they chose restaurants that the locals frequent. They are a big reason why we chose to repeat this experience. Of course Lisa, our yoga teacher, was another big draw to the event! Once again we met wonderful people and had even more adventures. We did repeat the snorkeling trip but otherwise the experience was unique.

We began each day with meditation at the nearby beach then morning yoga, at Bill and Susan’s home. Look at these views!

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The infinity pool at the lower house

 

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View from the lower house

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Another angle from the lower house

We did all our yoga at the upper house, under the palapa. You can see the pool at the upper house as well

We had morning and evening yoga sessions. This year Lisa challenged us with partner yoga poses. She would give us a pose and then we had to interpret that pose in a creative way. For example, Dennis and I did a “moon pose” on the beach.

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And, Janet and Annie did this interpretation of the fish pose, in the pool

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So these were more creative poses than the traditional forms. It was fun to see what everyone would come up with for their assignment.

In between all the yoga were the adventures. Snorkeling, hiking, museum visits and lots of shopping.

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And the food! Oh my god, did we eat!! If Bill and Susan weren’t cooking then we were at some amazing restaurants! I have a few images, many of which were on Instagram, of some of the cuisine we were fortunate to enjoy.

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Breakfast was wonderful! Bill’s granola and yogurt, with local fruit was a fan favorite. And with this sunrise, hard to beat!

 

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Bill and Susan always served dessert-This is a Poncho Villa. Amazing!

 

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Lunch in Colima, these crepes could have been from Paris

 

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Bill and Susan selected this restaurant near Colima. So glad they did!

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Many of you know about my coffee “issues”, This Sunday brunch spot, Los Portales de Suchitlan, was a true highlight. A young girl served as our translator as this was a local place, no tourists around!

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And then this…A Swiss restaurant (?) in Comala, Mexico! Piccolo Suizo was spectacular!

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You can see why we are trying to eat lighter after coming back to Tucson! We ate constantly on this retreat, and it was worth it! So good 🙂

We had another wonderful experience this year, just like last time. One of the tasks I undertook was to organize a slide show for the final night, I was the only one who brought a computer (what a nerd, right?). I took the partner poses and some fun images of our experience to attempt to capture the feel of the week. It is short, only 2.5 minutes and our yogi buddies wanted to see it again. I thought I would post it here for anyone who wants to see a few more images.

 

So what is next for Dennis and I? We need to spend some time on the homes for now, no trips planned right now, but you never know!

Our Yoga Retreat Wrap Up!

We finally made our way back to Seattle, which thanks to Trump and his new policy made it quite difficult as we were swept up in the protest at SeaTac! But, mine is not a political blog and I will leave that story for someone else to tell!

I spent our first day back much like anyone else arriving home after a week away. I did bills, laundry, grocery shopping and a run to Costco to stabilize the household. Now I have a moment to describe the last two days of our retreat.

Thursday morning we got an early start, to beat the heat, and went on a hike to an abandoned hotel. Palm Royale did not survive for long. The story that was told is that the hotel was finished and was scheduled for a soft opening. However, the workers were not paid the wages they were owed and they decided to dynamite the only road leading to the hotel to protest the lack of reimbursement. The developers never reopened! Now, I don’t know if that story is true but it is certainly colorful. The hotel sat at the top of a mountain and the views were outstanding!

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We arrived at the top just after sunrise

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This is a birds’ eye view of the shoreline where we met our boat for the snorkeling tour

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As you can imagine, this is a favorite hang out for local teens to tag and party!

We made our way back down and headed over to La Cumbra for breakfast. This restaurant is located in a gated community consisting of condos mostly owned by Americans who have retired and relocated, at least for some of the year, in Mexico.

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The view from our table located outside on the patio

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This is a small portion of the full condo complex

We were told about a bridge on the property that had been damaged, some years ago, by a hurricane and had never been repaired. So, of course we had to go investigate after our meal.

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It did not look to bad yet!

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We started to see what they meant!

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It was stabile enough for us to cross one at a time, and the view on the other side was worth it!

That evening we had a special treat. A local woman came to our condo to teach us all how to make authentic Mexican tamales and enchiladas. I am not a big fan of Mexican food in general but do love to learn how to properly cook alternate cuisine, so I was very excited to learn from her. She is the “lunch lady” at the local elementary school down the road from our hosts. She brought a mix of masa, which is corn meal, flour and lard, and a variety of fillings for the tamales and enchiladas. She then proceeded to show us how to construct and cook the dishes, she even brought her personal steamer which was large enough to hold all 24 tamales.

With the tamales done, it was time to work on the enchiladas.

Of course, no Mexican meal is complete without home made corn tortillas. I got to try my hand at making these. The mixture was just corn meal and water, no lard this time! I rolled them into a ball, then pressed them with a traditional wood press. We then cooked them off in a dry sauté pan. It was actually surprisingly easy!

We ate, too much, then went to evening yoga and meditation. The next day was our last full day in El Naranjo. I skipped yoga in lieu of one last run in the warm weather! I ran 5 miles and then jumped in the pool! After breakfast we headed to the Tortugario Ecological Center of Cuyutlan. This is a sea turtle preserve and plantation. We were treated to a boat ride in the mangroves to search out snakes, birds, iguanas, turtles and crocodiles.

The turtles were easy to find, the other animals, not so much!

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The large adults in their holding tanks would swim right up to the edge to check us out

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These cute little guys hatched not too long ago

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The eggs are protected by fencing and marked with plastic buckets

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We made our way to the boat and got our first glimpse at the mangroves and tropical forest

We saw many birds and a few iguanas that hid too far back into the jungle to photograph. We did catch a couple interesting sights.

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Two Great Snowy Egrets

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This little croc was hiding in the reeds trying to cool down.

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These are two of the biggest termite nests I have ever seen!

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The tour was at an end. So, you know when you take your kids to the zoo which ends with the obligatory trip to the gift shop, and they want everything in sight? Well, you won’t have that problem at this gift store!

We had one last evening yoga session that night and prepared to leave paradise the next day. We had a blast on this retreat! Our hosts, Susan Lewis and Bill Pecha are amazing! They provided all the meals, transportation, lodging and excursions-this was truly all inclusive and can they cook! The food was amazing, better than any of the restaurant meals that we had! They worked with our yoga teacher, Lisa Kaulen, to put together a great week of activities that kept us motivated and engaged. We highly recommend this type of trip if you want to see some place that is not just the regular touristy sights, and enjoy physical activity!

Good Bye El Naranjo!

Happy Hour,Snorkeling and Lunch in Santiago Bay!

What a day we had on Tuesday! I decided to play hooky from yoga in the morning and went for a 3 mile run instead. It was a huge treat to run in warm weather! It was 8am here and 77°F. My last two runs were back at home and it was 36°F and icy one day and 41°F and raining the next. My body didn’t know what to do in the warm weather. When I got back to the condo everyone else was still in yoga practice, turns out they had a 90 minute class-so glad I decided to run! My husband headed out to golf with our host Bill and the rest of us had some tough choices to make, either walk to the beach, read by the pool or head into town for a message. I went with the message! So glad I did as I am truly sore everywhere! We all met up again for Happy hour at The Oasis Ocean club in Santiago Bay.

The next morning we all got up and did sunrise yoga and afterward, our hosts Susan and Bill made us a wonderful breakfast.

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Our Yoga teacher, Lisa (left) and Susan (right) posing with a huge spanish omelet

This was much needed fuel for our next event. We returned to Santiago Bay for a 3 hour snorkel tour. We had spectacular views on our way to the first of three coves that we would be exploring.

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Yoga teacher Lisa enjoying the ride!

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Condos along the waterfront

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The water was warm and clear, perfect for snorkeling. One of our guides dove in and came up with this little guy.

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Puffer fish

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I’m pretty sure you are not allowed to do this in the states and we made sure to not keep him out of the water for long!

We spent about 45 minutes here and then moved on to another cove and enjoyed more scenery along the way.

Our last spot was a sunken ship near the beach. To be honest, my husband and I have been fortunate to have snorkeled in many other locations around the world and we were not as impressed with the sights this time around, so I stayed on the boat and took this picture above the water line.

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This pelican was waiting for something to swim nearby

Then, as we were all starving from such a tough day (feel sorry for me?) it was time to head to shore and have a late lunch at a local restaurant. I don’t know the name of it or have any pictures of the food because the ten of us didn’t  wait for pictures and just dove in. I will tell you that it was delicious!

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One of many beachfront eateries. 

Tomorrow: A hike to an abandoned hotel and a cooking class! And, of course, more yoga!

 

Exploring Bara de Navidad

We had our first full day in El Naranjo, which is just outside of Manzanillo, Mexico. We are staying with a host couple who have two condos, one in which they live and the other they rent out to guests. They have graciously allowed our group (9 in all) to have our yoga retreat in both homes. They have provided all the transportation, meals and arranged local excursions! What a deal! I am having a message later today-can’t wait!

There is so much beauty everywhere that it is hard to choose just a few pictures, but here are some of our neighbors.

After our morning yoga we went down to the beach. Just a quick walk to check out the waves.

I was impressed by some of the natural structures.

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The waves are impressive and the water temperature was perfect

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Someone placed these stones into small structures.

 

 

 

 

We went back to the condo and set out for Bara de Navidad, a small and charming town about 45 minutes north of El Naranjo. There was a outdoor mall full of shops, not unlike most found in bigger tourist destinations in Mexico. If you have ever been to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan then you have experienced the shopping frenzy that occurs when american tourists enter the plaza. Bara de Navidad was far more laid back, we were never pressured to make a purchase, or approached by aggressive salespeople. I did appreciate the opportunity to just browse around. I ended up buying vanilla for baking when I get home and some ground coffee that we will most likely drink here. Beach was equally beautiful there too!

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This is a view from a hotel pool overlooking the ocean

We took a water taxi over to a restaurant and went past the Grand Bay Hotel on Isla de Navidad. It was stunning and had several amazing yachts out front.

We ate a light lunch and then returned for a dip in the pool, followed by -you guessed it- more yoga! It was a fun day, but pretty tiring! Ready for another adventure today.

 

 

Good Morning from Manzanilla, Mexico!

My husband and I are on a yoga retreat in Manzanilla. We have never been to this part of Mexico before and never been on a yoga retreat! We just got in last night after a rough connection at LAX. Turns out that there is a major storm hitting California right now and it made for some delays and uncharacteristically choppy air. The views from the plane were beautiful as we made our way to a very small airport.

We arrived in the late afternoon so there was only time for a dinner, prepared by our gracious hosts, and then it was time for evening yoga by one of the two pools in our gated community.

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The sunrise was perfect this morning and I was able to get some shots of our surroundings. We are in a condo with the ocean on one side and a small bay on the other.

And this is just the upper house! There is a lower condo where a few other retreaters are staying. I am hoping to get some pictures later this afternoon of both the lower condo and from a small nearby town. Right not, it’s time for morning yoga!