Sunday, December 18, 2011
Day 28 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
I go on the horse riding excursion today - a nice way to get away from the commercialization of Puerto Vallarta. A bus takes us inland to an arid area behind Puerto Vallarta, where the real Mexicans live. There are no Wal-marts, Home Depots or upscale shopping centres here…just little cafes beside the road with a few tables and dirt floors, and vendors BBQing chicken beside the road, selling to the local families for their Sunday dinners.
We arrive at the hacienda and are assigned our horses based on our weight and skill level. I get a horse called Grandpa (Abuelito in Spanish). There are about thirty riders from the ship, so it is a good-sized group as we leave the corral single file and try to get used to our steeds (and them to us, no doubt). Grandpa seems to be very good at following the horse in front of him, and that suits me fine.
We travel slowly across country similar to the dry and scrubby land landscape I remember from La Enscenada Lodge ranch on the Gulf of Nicoya in Costa Rica. We cross the river twice, once where it is less than a foot deep, and another point where it is probably about a metre deep. Grandpa is one of the bigger horses, so I don’t get my feet wet, while other riders do.
We have a rest stop after an hour, where they have a little cantina setup with beer, pop and water for sale, and of course there are also bathrooms available. Some people have a dip in the nearby hot springs, while others ride a horse, which likes to swim in the deeper part of the river. I just take it easy, take some photos, and then climb back on Grandpa for the return trip back to the hacienda.
After dinner on the Lido deck, I see the Green Flash of the setting Sun from the poolside table in the Lido as the ship sails up the coast. My friend takes some good photos of the green flash from the deck above, however I’m pleased to visually observe this apparition – a personal first for me after many years of trying.