On The Road To San Sebastián

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It became a favorite day in Puerto Vallarta. Hungry, we were driving down from the hills on our way back from San Sebastián, disappointed with the meals we’d had so far that day. We couldn’t wait to stop at the first place we saw that might offer some good food. We stopped at a place at the bottom of the hill, a small ranch offering home cooked meals. Shrimp tacos were on the menu and that was good for me. The joint was an authentic family operated Rancho and Restaurant called El Coco in the small rural town of La Estancia.

We were one of two parties seated, it was a very peaceful and refreshing atmosphere. The other patrons was a family with kids and we enjoyed observing them, especially the little boy as he rolled up a corn tortilla on his dirty jeans and stuffed it in his mouth.

Before our meal they served a cheese plate with two different Mexican cheeses that they make themselves. Both cheeses were very good. Celia is not a big cheese fan but she enjoyed these very much. They also gave us a plate of sliced avocado and a package of some Norteñas Tostadas. I prefer tostadas over chips in Mexico, so this was perfect! They also served us some salsa that didn’t look that great but tasted really good. I ordered the shrimp tacos and they were ok, different from your taco stand variety and more like a gordita or quesadilla.

The countryside ambiance and friendly service more than made up for the ok tacos. The views from the place were wonderful.

We go to talking with our server, Alejandro (pictured above) and he offered to show us around the ranch. It was great to see what a real countryside rancho was all about. They had sheep, roosters, chickens, a small papaya grove and more. Alejandro climbed one of the Papaya trees and picked one for us to take back to PV.

I definitely recommend this restaurant over anyplace in San Sebastián because the restaurants there are all over priced and the one we ate at was horrible. Our meal here was only 60 pesos (US $4.52) and I gave a 20 pesos tip (US $1.50). Our day had been rough and this stop had turned it into the best day of our trip.

Taco Stands

Taco Stand

We love taco stands and in PV its good cheap eating. If you are eating late it might be your only budget option. For Christmas eve we where going to eat at our favorite spot; El Colera, but they where closed. We ended up eating at a taco stand and enjoyed a Christmas dinner for about $4.00 (US).

They don’t cater at all to vegetarians but I discovered a solution; bring your own avocado. The stands don’t normally carry fresh avocado, It’s usually in the form of a salsa or runny guacamole but if you bring your own avocado they will cut it up for you and add it to a quesadilla. YUM!  We where always looking for stands that had beans and good pico de gallo. You can pick up an avocado at any corner OXXO or small local grocer for about 10 cents (US). OXXO’s are open late. The perfect veggie quesadilla was wrapped in a freshly made tortilla, stuffed with cheese, beans, cilantro, onions, avocado, pico de gallo, and your choice of hot salsa. If you are a vegetarian like me and feeling more adventurous, ask for a slice of pineapple on the quesadilla. The pineapple is cooked on top of the rotating column of Al Pastor (roasted, seasoned pork) so if you don’t mind potential contamination I suggest you go for it! And on that note, its advisable to be flexible and open with your vegetarian ideology while eating at a taco stand or eating in Mexico in general. Locals don’t really understand the concept of being a vegetarian, so you need to accept the fact that your food may have been contaminated by meat juices or remnants, as it will have been prepared on the same grill as meat and assembled near other meat dishes. On one occasion, after I handed my avocado to a cook at a small taco stand, she cut it in half and then placed it on a pile of carne asada to await my quesadilla. I looked at Celia, we were both watching diligently and just smiled.

Beware of Dog

DSC_6205-EditI walked into this alley in Puerto Vallarta; having remembered photographing it years ago when I first visited this inspiring city. It is on the eastern side of Viejo Vallarta near the River Cuale.

After I took this image, I walked further in. A big ugly dog quickly came out of nowhere, started to growl and bark at me while approaching, clearly warning me to back off. In turn I slowly started to step back. Tenants residing in the homes on the left started yelling at the dog and told him to go away. The dog ran off and a really nice lady came out to greet me.

Her name was Juanita (pictured below), she spoke English and explained how the dog does that to everybody. We chatted for a little bit and she asked me If I was canadian. I said, “no, American”. she said, “a lot of canadians live around here.”

As I went on my way I found myself wondering why there are so many more Canadians here than Americans. Are we more afraid of Mexico than Canadians are? Or is it just the weather?

Juanita, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico