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the mean bus driver, cioppino and chicken mole

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we had dinner at a nice restaurant that offered a fusion of french-southeast asian cuisine. it could have been any nice restaurant in nyc (no mexican angle) but the food was good especially the sate and the delicately flavored shots of creme brulee that came in a friendly trio. after some down-time at our cousin’s apartment we were off to the hotel. the next day the kids registered for the sheratoons (the local kids club) and made some awful smelling cookies. they also swam and took it easy.

we decided to go to the city for lunch and thought the local bus would be an adventure for the kids. we got tickets and even though kids tickets were half the price, the driver charged us full price. i didn’t care much. we told the driver we wanted to get off in the center of town – centro – that was one of the bus’s regular stops. when we got to the city and tried to get off, the driver wouldn’t let us leave. thrice we tried to disembark but he told us to stay put – he knew where we had to get off. my husband trusted him. i was more suspicious. the city of puerto vallarta is tiny (just a couple of main streets) and it was obvious that we were out of the city now. the bus began to climb a hill. it turned a corner and there we were, bang in the middle of pv’s slums. there were no cabs here, no tall american tourists with flashy sunglasses, no shops crammed with talavera pottery or huichol art. this was the ghetto outside of puerto vallarta and well-meaning tourists are not supposed to see it. there were fewer and fewer people in the bus and i began to panic. i didn’t want to go wherever this guy was taking us. maybe we should just get off anywhere. but how would we get back? finally, after an hour of chugging along, we reached the end of the bus route. the bus driver asked my husband to pay for tickets if we wanted to get back to the city. so that’s what it was all about! i was furious. i refused to pay. my husband tried to explain in spanish but the driver insisted. “non comprende” was the way to end the argument and so it was that we were finally dropped off in downtown pv.

one night, after a day of shopping for pottery and rugs, we had dinner at our cousin’s apartment. her friends, pierre and hillary, were excellent company. pierre made some delicious cioppino with fresh fish and shrimp. cioppino is supposed to be san francisco’s answer to bouillabaisse and since our cousin and her friends are all from the west coast, it figured. the kids had a relaxed evening – lazing around, watching tv, and eating fire-roasted chicken, avocados, and french bread dipped in cioppino, with mango ice cream and guavas for dessert. it was a lovely evening.

we ate out on our last day at a mexican (mariachi and all) restaurant. i had some chicken mole. although the mole sauce was dark and rich and delicious the chicken was hard to tackle. it looked like pv was gearing up for new year’s eve but we were off early next morning, back to rochester and some mind-numbing below zero weather. mexico had been one helluva holiday!

huichol art

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