we went to mexico over christmas break 2007 and what a terrific vacation that was! the weather was perfect, the food was flavorful (and quite different from the rather tepid fare passed off as mexican at most american restaurants), the people were friendly, and the places we visited were lovely.
we landed in puerto vallarta a little after 1pm and rented a car to drive about 1 1/2 hour north to chacala, a small fishing village. just take highway 200 in the direction of tepic. we stopped at rincon de guayabitos for some lunch and found this sleepy seaside town to be charming. we ate at this small family-run restaurant where the owner sat comfortably under the shade of a colorful awning, playing cards with her friends. it looked like she had spent a good part of her day doing just that. the food was delicious but it took the longest time for it to get prepared. it was obvious that our american-style dependence on time and efficiency, units of work produced per unit of time, would look embarrassing here. it’s better to go with the flow and enjoy each languorous moment of the day.
after following a long dirt road into chacala we finally got to kate’s house, casa monarca. kate is american, her husband is mexican. they have just finished building this beautiful house in chacala – tangerine-colored stucco, a pool with shimmering spheres of mediterranean blue, friendly hammocks and colorful wicker rocking chairs. it was a feast for the eyes. the family lives upstairs and rents the lower portion of the house. after settling down a bit we decided to walk to the beach and get some dinner. the most tourist friendly restaurant with the most extensive menu is the one with all the flags on it. it sits right on the beach. but instead of eating at the restaurant we decided to try a pineapple from a little fruit stand. it was an elaborate affair.
the top of the pineapple comes off first, before the fruit is cored. the core is moved to a small bowl filled with grenadine. the inside of the pineapple is then scraped and grated so as to make it drinkable. fresh lemon juice is squeezed into it and so is fresh orange juice. sea salt and chili powder are carefully stirred into the concoction. finally the fruit’s core is replaced into its center along with cucumber and orange slices. it’s a thing of beauty and perhaps the best tasting treat i had in mexico. my husband, the doctor, was praying that the chef and sous chef had duly washed their hands before embarking on this culinary project. all i can say is that it was well worth the risk! after this tasty and unconventional dinner we lingered on at the beach and experienced a stunning sunset. for the first time in months, i felt completely relaxed and carefree.