A few years back we were at something called the "Unity Fair" in Vallejo and were asked to pose for some pictures. We didn't really understand what they were for at the time but a year or so later, the Vallejo Gay Network contacted us and asked if they could use one of those pics on a banner they were sponsoring. We were honored of course and said yes. The banner has been up for severall years now and I wanted to get some pics before they came down. About a year or so after this video was taken, the banners had come down. I'm not sure what happened to them after that. I would love to have had this one!
June is "Pride" month in the San Francisco Bay Area or "Gay Pride" to be more exact. This was probably the weekend before the parade festivities. Milton and I were in The City and stopped by the Badlands bar on 18th, off Castro. We danced a little and had a good time.
On my brain,
you're like a boil,
my nerves so tight,
like an unsprung coil.
You read my mind,
through my hat of foil,
you scare me girl,
like burning oil,
The voice in my head
says you ain't loyal
you ain't my queen,
and you ain't no royal,
You just stir the pot,
a cauldron of toil,
you an evil witch,
the good you spoil!
I know you put a transister
in my tooth,
I hear the transmissions,
I hear the truth.
I can't eat or drink
anything you serve,
I know your dangerous
'cause you got some nerve.
I know you work for the F.B.I.
and eveything you tell me
is just a lie.
You put bugs throughout my house,
there's even a microphone in my mouse.
You share information with the C.I.A.
I can't believe anything you say!
You tell me I'm crazy,
but I'm just wise,
I'd be a fool
if I believed all your lies!
I'm not a fool
I'm not a nut,
you little whore,
you little slut!
When I'm asleep
you inject poison in my veins,
to keep me sedated,
and make me insane.
I hear a voice
or maybe it's five,
or maybe a hundred
bees in a hive,
buzzing and screaming
you just connive
and if I value my life
I gotta go now
to get out alive!
No, I'm not going to see your "doctor" friend,
who believes the mean
justify the ends.
I'm not taking the pills
at your request
after he rode your ride.
The voices tell me,
they do confide,
you tell everyone stories,
to all you've lied.
So girl, just leave me alone
don't call because
I won't answer the phone.
I'll seal my room
with some gray duct tape
so I can privately plan
my great escape.
Being with you
was like brain rape,
now my plan
can finally take shape!
Please don't call 911,
Don't call police,
Don't call my mom,
Don't call a priest,
it will all be done.
it all will cease,
God and me are one
It was in December of two thousand five,
when the cynical right was well and alive
and the cult of the religious far right & insane
decided to steal Christmas for political gain.
The grinch, Bill O’Reilly, lied about the a.c.l.u..
Pat Robertson lied about me and you.
But WE know Christmas isn’t really something you steal,
Or... tear apart
because Christmas is something
that lives in the heart.
It isn’t about divisive wedge issues or hate or fear,
Christ was a liberal, or didn’t you hear?
WE celebrate Christmas, with our families we share,
but we don’t need to impose on the public square.
We love our Muslim brothers,
the Hindu’s and Jews,
We love the Buddhists,
And the atheists too.
Christ was a peacemaker, not a war profiteer
He loved all the oppressed and even the queer.
So if you celebrate Christmas,
Here is wishing you well,
And everyone else too,
I think your all swell.
And Merry Christmas even to the nuts on the right,
that seem to miss the meaning of that Bethlehem night.
You shouldn’t use Christmas as a political tool,
But otherwise “Happy Holidays” and a Merry “Yule.”
Another Christmas, another year,
another poem, a little cheer.
If Christmas was banned, I guess it must have been brief
‘cause here we are now in another season of peace.
As the holiday season begins to descend,
it is time to send Christmas cards again and again.
Only good wishes, wishing you the best,
anything divisive, I’m putting to rest.
If you read this, I know you have an open mind
and I know pushing a viewpoint really isn’t so kind.
Last year my political humor, for some did offend,
but I’m glad for those that can differ, and still be called friend.
Even the bitter and the sour, I would never exclude,
just because of our differences, in our attitudes.
Some cussed me and banned me, and have cut me out of their lives,
but my care and affection, for them still survives.
Christ was forgiving and I hope we all will be too,
his message was love, may that love be with you.
And here it is,
its Christmas again,
it didn't get stolen-
I'm not sure why there was ever a fear
'bout any war on Christmas,
'cause Christmas is here!
My atheist friends,
they have put up a tree,
they talk about peace,
just as you and me.
burn a Menorah of lights
celebrating the peace, too
through eight winter nights.
Muslims and Christians both,
take advantage of sales,
everyone loves a good deal,
and a card in the mail.
Buddhists obviously like the peace,
but also good cheer,
and maybe a feast.
So maybe this "war,"
is only a myth,
created by Fox
to give their ratings a lift?
I hope the myth doesn't incite,
and everyone will have
a happy Yule night.
The winter solstice
is as old as the earth
and we all celebrate
with light and good mirth.
2010 was not good for some
with economic collapse,
and their mortgage due sum.
It's been a long climb
from the valley of Bush,
but Obama's done fine,
with Pelosi's good push.
Recovery is coming,
I think we all know,
I hope that it's here
by the melt of the snow.
Jobs on the rise,
mortgage defaults on decline,
repeal of DADT,
I'm feeling so fine.
The Freedom of Info Act,
is much more secure,
'cause Obama ordered
agencies to concur.
Coverups and corruption
is more a thing of the past,
I hope that transparency,
is something to last.
have been noted so far,
and that's just a start
for raising the bar.
Fox watchers don't know,
'cause their all misinformed,
the truth is deformed.
They worry 'bout stuff
that doesn't exist,
like mosques at ground zero,
and a soldiers limp wrists.
There are some from MSNBC,
that are a little too left,
and do themselves harm
railing on Obama,
and seem so alarmed.
"Don't let the perfect,
be the enemy of good,"
Don't let Ralph Nader
arise out of the wood.
We must all stand together,
and some compromise we must,
as hard as it is,
when there is so little trust.
There will always be those,
that want to give it all to the rich,
that kind of thinking,
got us into this ditch.
But history facts,
they really don't lie,
we ALL do better
when we let the Democrats try.
Christ WAS a liberal,
I've said it before,
and Santa's a Democrat,
do I need to say more?
So this holiday season,
I wish you all well,
and again I say,
I think your all swell.
Sorry for politics,
it's just who I am,
Milton tries to say "no"
like a thumb in the dam.
Politics spill out,
even if I try to hold back,
it isn't opinions
that I ever lack.
I was always a little apprehensive about visiting Mexico. Cancun was good for a first time visit though. It is very American in many ways while still giving you the ability to sample Mexican culture. Cancun is a good base from which to explore Isle Mujeres, Cozumel and Chichen Itza which I will discuss in this review. I will also tell you of our experiences with the all inclusive Blue Bay Village (same as Blue Bay Getaway but NOT the same as Blue Bay Club!) and will briefly mention our experience with the one gay club we visited.
Just to let you know my perspective, I am a fifty year old white gay male with a forty some year old black lover. My lover of twenty years was taking me to Cancun for a fiftieth birthday present. Neither of us had ever visited Mexico before. We had done quite a bit of research and had decided to stay at the Blue Bay Village because it was advertised as adults only and was all inclusive. The price of our package through MexSeaSun (same thing as Apple Tours) came to about $1100.00 each for round trip air fare, seven nights lodging, meals and drinks including alcohol.
Overall, I think we got a pretty good deal but there were some problems I would like to alert you to. You can read my opinion regarding Mexicana airline elsewhere on epinions in which I discuss getting to Cancun and my warning regarding customs and immigration.
Upon arrival at Blue Bay Village after not sleeping the night before (because of my schedule at work), we were exhausted. A bellboy was called and we embarked on a long, winding route that took us to our room which was at least a city block from the Blue Bay Village lobby and in a much older and shabby looking building where everything was marked "Plaza Los Glorias." We later realized that we had gone through a wall that had recently separated Blue Bay Village from the separate resort of Plaza Las Glorias. Were we being shuffled to a less desirable resort? Apparently Blue Bay had recently bought the next door Plaza Las Glorias and we were being put there instead of what we had paid for!
The Plaza Las Glorias building was in desperate need of painting and some of the hallways we were taken through were rather dark. When we finally arrived at our room, the first thing I noticed was the torn curtain sheer which had a big gaping hole in it. This was certainly alarming and my excitement quickly turned to dissapointment. I looked around the room. The furniture was old with paint chipped. The room was an awful peach color and had a mild wet cement odor. The door locks on the doors were the old fashioned key locks rather than the modern card electronic locks which the actual Blue Bay main buildings had and most American hotels prefer for security reasons. The door frame- the part where the bolt of the lock goes into the wall- was broken and the metal part was dangling by one screw. You would not have needed a key to get into the room- just a gentle push on the door! There was no remote for the TV. The bathtub appeared to have hairs in it (which later turned out to be cracks in the surface of the tub- the tub really looked disgusting). This is not the kind of room you want to see after planning and being excited about a trip for months and being exhausted upon arrival!
I went and located Ms. "B", the Apple Tours representative. She seemed to be busy with others. When I interrupted and started my tirade, the woman with whom B had been speaking said "Oh, they put you over there too?" Apparently there were others that were not getting what they had been promised by Apple Tours and Blue Bay Village. Finally, B brought me to the front desk and talked with them. She told me if they were not able to find a better room, she would put us in a different property. Well, we had done our research on Blue Bay and already knew they had another property called Blue Bay Club which was in a remote location and allowed families. We knew we definitely did not want to end up there so when she said this, it felt more like a threat than an assurance.
The front desk gave the bellboy the keys to three more rooms- all of which were still in the Plaza Las Glorias property. Each of these rooms were rather shabby too but the last one had a microwave and refrigerator. At least the curtains, tub and doorjam seemed in better condition. We were tired of fussing and just wanted to rest and caved in at this point. We had to bring a table lamp from another room since this last room had none. We also had to exchange the TV in this room with another room because there was no remote available for the tv that was already there.
After several hours and quite a bit of haggling in our exhausted state, we were finally able to rest for a couple hours before heading for the dinner buffet (a side note- we did notice over the week that we were there that there was activity toward renovating Plaza Las Glorias and the name was being removed from the building and the logo for Blue Bay was being applied-- I just think it was outrageous that they had put guests in BEFORE the renovations!!).
I have to say that I was impressed that first evening with the buffet. There were a lot of choices. The food was good but I have to warn you that over the period of a week, the buffet becomes very repetitive and kind of boring. I suppose I would compare it to Hometown Buffet in the states. Adequate- nothing exceptional- I guess mediocre is the word I am looking for. Slightly better than mediocre maybe. The food is plentiful though, from 7AM until about 10PM at night and all drinks are included as well. There are also a Chinese and an Italian restaurant available to break the monotony of the buffet but they both require reservations a couple of days ahead of time and they require a little more getting dressed than what the buffet required. We never made it to either one.
The activities were fun to observe at Blue Bay. I think if you were a heterosexual that likes to drink alcohol, you would really have a very good time. There are various activities through the day and evening. There are three different pools. The main one is quite nice and this is where many of the activities take place but I have to tell you, if you want a poolside beach chair at the main pool, you will need to get there about 6AM! If you want a beach chair in a good location on the relatively small beach at Blue Bay, you will need to be there by 7AM. These people get up early! And they put their towels on the chairs and wonder off for hours (maybe they go back to bed) but nobody else feels comfortable sitting there since there is already a towel there.
There are various games we observed such as horseshoes, volley ball and such. We also attended one Disney themed show (energetic but not every polished) at the theater they have there and then one night they set up a stage in the buffet room and had some Mexican dancing which ended with a French Can-can.
There are also free non-motorized water sports available- wind surfing, hobbie cats and that sort of thing. The water sports guy Jose was great and very helpful. They have lessons available for free. Motorized water sports were available for a fee.
The beach at blue bay does have the cool limestone sand for which the area is famous but it does not have the beautiful turquoise water. If you want to stay at a hotel with the beaches you usually associate with Cancun, you will need to say on the Caribbean side of the hotel zone (and probably pay quite a bit more money than we did), not the bay side where Blue Bay is located.
During our stay, we also visited Blue Bay Club which allows children. If you stay at Blue Bay Village, you are allowed to visit Blue Bay Club and have all the same privileges. Blue Bay Club did have a nicer building overall- (certainly better than the Plaza Las Glorias in which we had been stuck)- but the location is terrible! It is VERY remote. You would have to take a LONG bus ride or a boat shuttle to get to Blue Bay Village or downtown or the hotel strip where everything is going on. The beach at Blue Bay Club is even smaller than Blue Bay Village. I would only recommend staying here if you are just going to stay at the resort and read.
Speaking of reading-- bring lots of your favorite magazines and books- they are hard to find in Cancun. Also, even though Blue Bay promised "satellite tv" which in my mind would be a good selection of channels, we were only able to get English CNN, HBO, HBO Plus and Cinemax. And sometimes those were even showing stuff in Spanish. You probably won't spend a lot of time watching tv anyway but sometimes in the evening, we would have enjoyed a better selection of channels.
We had been warned several times about time share salesman. You will be accosted repeatedly on the streets and even in the hotel with great sounding offers of free tours, meals, etc. but just keep in mind that nothing is free in life! There is usually going to be a high pressure time share salespitch string attached. If anything sounds like too good a deal or someone seems overly eager to help you, just remember, I told you so. (on a side note, it is also interesting that when I complained to one Blue Bay representative about our treatment, they tried to sell us the Blue Bay "Premiere Club" which they assured us would get us a better room NEXT TIME!! They wanted us to go listen to some lengthy salespitch for this but, of course by this time, we would not have trusted anything said from this organization)
The day after our arrival, we were supposed to meet with the Apple Tours representative at 5PM. We were there but they had not showed up by 5:45 and so we gave up on them. Essentially, we learned, they were going to try to sell us various excursion packages. I would advise avoiding these anyway since they are way overpriced. For example, you can get to Isle Mujures on a ferry for about $3.00 but the hotel charges about forty (although the hotel is probably more convenient and does include food, drinks and snorkeling). We just like to be able to come and go when we want rather than being on someone else?s schedule. The same with Cozumel. It was very easy to get there on our own. The tours sold in the hotel left too early in the morning and went too long in the day for us..
Isle Mujures, Cozumel and Chichen Itza are HIGHLY recommended! For Isle Mujures and Cozumel, or probably anywhere that you need to take a cab, just be sure you don't need much change from the cab driver because they won't always have it or at least they will say they don't. I would recommend NEVER taking a cab in Cancun itself since the bus system is so great and easy.
There are various "theme" parks that will be foisted upon you and maybe they are okay but I would say the highlight of the trip for me was the real deal at Chichen Itza. Read up on it before you go. The Maya pyramids are really impressive. It is an all day trip but very much worth the time and money. We had debated whether to go on that tour but I am so glad we did. We also found that Gray Line tours has a better bus going to Chichen Itza than the hotel or Apples recommended tour- Gray Line has a bathroom on their bus but we were told the hotel's recommended tour bus did not have a bathroom. If I am going to be on a bus for this long of a trip, I want a bathroom. Lunch is included on most tours.
I highly recommend you set some time aside for snorkeling. Isle Majures has a park called Garrafon that makes it convenient but it is probably not adequate for serious snorkelers or divers. Nice for us though. I would recommend bringing your own towel although you can rent everything you need there. I also snorkeled at Chankanaab on our day trip to Cozumel. My lover doesn't swim and so I did not really try to do anything more serious than just these parks but there are many other options available.
My lover and I were curious about the gay activity in Cancun. We had our Bob Damron (a gay guide) with us and could see that Cancun was rather limited compared to Puerta Vallarta. We went to Karamba on a Wednesday night about 10:30PM. There was absolutely nothing going on. We went back on Saturday around 11:30 and a few guys were sitting at tables. The music was some awful techno crap. You are brought to a table by one of the waiters and they bring you your drinks and then they obnoxiously return every couple of minutes asking if you are ready for another drink. Very pushy.
This scene at this bar did not really get under way until after midnight. It finally got pretty crowded. They had some performers- a male and female doing some dance with batons with lights on either end. Pretty boring. Then they had these strippers that took FOREVER to strip. Well actually, I don't know if they ever did finally finish stripping since we left by that time. It was probably about two in the morning and we were tired by that time. The music actually did get pretty good for about thirty minutes out of the couple of hours that we were there. I guess if you like techno that just drones one and on and on, you would like it.
There is another bar called Picante according to Bob Damrons but we could never locate it.We also so a building with a big rainbow flag with the name "Le Club" which was not listed in Bob Damrons but we never got there when it was open.
The weather while we were in Cancun varied. We did have about three days where it was pretty overcast and we got rained on a few times but it is that warm tropical rain that doesn't last very long. You don't really even need an umbrella because it is usually brief but it would not hurt to have one in case you want it. We were told that it was unusual weather for April- that the rainy season usually starts later in May. Most of the time it was in the eighties during the day. I love tropical weather!
All in all, I enjoyed the trip and was thankful that my lover had been so generous to take me. Cancun is a good base from which to explore Isle Mujures, Cozumel and Chichen Itza none of which I would miss. Blue Bay Village was adequate although there is obviously a lack of integrity here- I would never trust Apple Tours or Blue Bay to meet the expectations that they set up but I do think that overall we still got a pretty good deal once we changed rooms and I did have a great time--- even though I did lose a little sleep over being in Mexico illegally... but that is another story.. which you will find in my review of Mexicana airlines in which I discuss getting to and from Cancun.
Some of you may be trying to decide between the two cities of Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. Now that I have been to both, I can make a few comparisons. If it is your first trip to Mexico and you are a little apprehensive, Cancun will feel a little more familiar. Mexico is a Third World country but Cancun is a little more modern. Puerto Vallarta is quaint and primitive in comparison. We were careful about not drinking the water in both places but I still got a little sick in P.V.. Neither of us had any gastrointestinal problems in Cancun. People do get sick in Cancun but I think the risk in P.V. is greater. Although they have a fairly new water purification system in P.V., the water still goes through old pipes.
Another factor you might want to consider is that there is more to do in the area where Cancun is located. If you just want to relax and do a whole lot of nothing, then it won?t matter so much, but if you want to see sites and be more active, go on day trip excursions and such, there are more activities and sites to see in the area of Cancun such as: various Mayan archeological sites such as Chi-Chen Itza; Isle Mujares; and Cozumel. Snorkeling is better in Isles Mujares and Cozumel than in P.V.. You must take a scheduled boat in P.V. to go snorkeling and so you must make reservations and get up early and get to the marina to catch the boat which only leaves a couple of times in the morning. Snorkeling was just too much hassle for me in Puerto Vallarta. The water is a prettier emerald green in Cancun at most of the beaches and the sand is more fine and white in Cancun than in PV.
You are probably thinking from the above comparison that I liked Cancun better. I don?t think that is really accurate though. Puerto Vallarta is very charming. The streets are cobblestone and the lack of activities just encourages more relaxation. The weather was definitely better in Puerta Vallarta but I suppose that could vary. We had rain in Cancun a couple of times and we were there the same time of year- in April. Tropical rain is brief and warm but I preferred the weather and clear skies in P.V. The Blue Bay Getaway experience is much better in Puerto Vallarta. The gay scene is better in P.V. Instead of snorkeling to see fish and fauna, we went to the clubs and saw drag queens. P.V. has a lot of drag queens in the gay clubs.
Although we had some problems with the all-inclusive Blue Bay Getaway/Village in Cancun on our 2001 trip, we still decided to give the Blue Bay Getaway a try in Puerto Vallarta. We like the fact that these resorts are all-inclusive and adults only so we do not have to listen to other people?s out of control, ill-mannered, screaming children all week. It is nice to be able to get into a swimming pool that is not full of hyperactive children splashing and shrieking. The all inclusive aspect is also very economical and convenient (although it can also become monotonous). Blue Bay Resorts do have all-inclusive resorts in both Cancun and P.V. that are family friendly if you want to consider one of those but we visited those and the family resorts tend to be in much more isolated locations.
The price from the S.F. Bay Area on the West coast is about $300.00 less for Puerto Vallarta. We had paid about $1100.00 each for our all-inclusive seven night package to Cancun from MexSeaSun/Apple tours but only paid slightly over $800.00 for an all-inclusive seven night package to Puerto Vallarta from Suntrips. Although we paid less for P.V., we got a much nicer, deluxe, ocean view room in a high-rise. The view from our balcony was incredible. (We also got trip insurance included in the price of our Puerto Vallarta package. Overall, Suntrips did a much better job of delivering what they promised than MexSeaSun/Apple tours. Read my review of our Cancun trip for more details in that regard).
If you are considering booking Blue Bay Getaway in Puerto Vallarta through Suntrips, I would strongly suggest you request the deluxe ocean front room. It is only a hundred dollars or so more than the standard room.It appeared to me like there were three categories of rooms at Blue Bay in P.V. I think the ocean front deluxe in the highrise are the preferred rooms. This building has 11 floors although they are numbered from 10 to 21. We were on the 15th floor which is actually the fifth floor. I know it sounds confusing and don?t ask me why the floors are numbered this way. We had an exquisite view though. There is also a three or four story low rise building that has balconies from which you could possibly see the ocean. We were never in those rooms so I can?t say too much about them. They looked like they would be okay though but not as nice as what we had. Those looked like the medium priced rooms. Then there are the rooms in the highrise we were in that faced away from the ocean. They looked about one quarter the size of the deluxe room and pretty dismal with NO view of ANYTHING at all. I would have been miserable in one of those. Make sure you are very clear about what kind of room you are booking. Do not think you can change it or ?upgrade? once you are there. That is not an easy thing to do from what I have seen if you are there in a prepaid package.
I mentioned earlier that we prefer staying at adult resorts so to avoid screaming children. Do not think that Blue Bay Getaway is quiet just because there are no children though. The adult resorts in both Cancun and P.V. are NOT quiet. They really appeal to young adults. It you want quiet, go elsewhere. These adult resorts play loud ?party? music and have scheduled activities all day long and into the night. You will hear some of this even when you are in your room- especially bass thumping from time to time. Although we did not participate in the party-like games and activities, we enjoy the party atmosphere and we watched others participating and we liked the music and never did use the personal stereo?s we brought.
One thing I noted was that the Cancun Blue Bay had more free non-motorized water sports activities available included in the package. I didn?t see any boating at the P.V. resort. Volleyball was the main beach activity in P.V. There were many in-pool and poolside activities. They had aqua-aerobics every day and water basketball among other things.
In addition to the various poolside and beach activities the resorts provide, they also have stage shows. We believe the dancers we saw in Puerto Vallarta this year were some of the same ones we saw last year in Cancun. There are about eight of them that do Las Vegas/cruise ship style shows. They performed a different show each night for the first four to five nights in Puerto Vallarta. I think they only performed a couple times in Cancun. They must travel among the various Blue Bay resorts. The dancers we saw are quite talented and energetic. Their shows provided some convenient evening entertainment. Dance clubs don?t really start happening until after midnight in Cancun or P.V. and the evening television selection is pretty spotty and so the dance shows at the resort are a nice way to spend early evening. Otherwise, as the sun goes down in Puerto Vallarta, a walk along the Malecon is a nice alternative.
The location of the Blue Bay Getaway in PV is excellent. It is next door to the Sheratan. It is within walking distance to downtown although it is a long walk and you may need to sit and rest along the way. We mostly used the buses to get back and forth between the hotel and downtown. The buses are about 4 pesos and are an adventure. Sometimes we took taxis for 30 pesos-- (always agree on the cost BEFORE you get in the cab.)
As far as television availability, there are about five English-speaking channels in both resorts. We had HBO for a couple nights after arriving in P.V. but then it disappeared. It is worth mentioning that the Blue Bay Getaway adult resorts show hard core, heterosexual, white male oriented porno as one of the television channel selections. You will see it as you flip through the channels and so if you love porno or hate porno, this might be something that will effect your decision regarding Blue Bay Getaway.
Even though the resort is all adult and you won?t have to deal with screaming little kids, you may hear an occasional screaming, immature 18-21 year old that is too inexperienced or goofy to realize when they have had too much to drink. There were a lot of these from Canada in P.V. that were testing their limits. The Blue Bay resorts are not only all-inclusive of food, they are also all-inclusive of alcohol and these young post-adolescent, pre-adults just don?t know when to stop. They party and occasionally whoop and holler at all hours of the night to let you know they are having a good time. Do not expect the resort to impose any limits on them.
There is food available throughout the day at Blue Bay. The buffets are similar to what you might see on a cruise or in Vegas or Reno. The food is adequate- fair to good. I would not say excellent but it is really not bad either. There is a lot to choose from though. They start serving breakfast early in the morning and you can have fresh fruit, cereal, pancakes, French toast, and omelets made to order. These are only a few of the items available in the morning. There are many options available for lunch and dinner as well. All drinks, including alcohol, are included. We don?t drink much alcohol but if you do, I think it is probably a great deal to not have to pay for each drink. The resort in P.V. also has a couple restaurants that are slightly more upscale than the buffet but you must make reservations and where long pants. We never made it to these restaurants in Cancun or P.V.
You can always go elsewhere to eat but do not be lured by the marketing for Senior Frogs or Carlos O'Briens. We had seen these establishments in Cancun and I assume they are two chains owned by the same company. There are stores all over P.V. selling t-shirts and other ?official? merchandise pertaining to these two restaurants. I think they both have dancing at night and maybe dancing at one of them would be okay- just don?t eat at either of them. The food is edible?along the lines of Planet Hollywood if you have ever eaten at one of those but prices are way out of line for the quality you get. It was the day after eating at Carlos O?Briens that I became ill. Of course, you may be more adventurous than us. There are many restaurants in P.V. that were recommended to us or that got good reviews but we mostly ate at Blue Bay. I regret that we were just foolish enough to be influenced by all the hype around Senior Frogs/O?Briens- you will know better.
My lover and I visited several of the gay bars in Puerto Vallarta. Paco-Paco?s was the best dance club although I could have done without their drag show, much of which was in Spanish. Paco Ranch is right around the corner from Paco-Paco and it had a strip show before the dancing. The Anthropology was practically empty Saturday night around midnight. We visited Blue Chairs beach during the day and it looked pretty quite this time of year. We also visited the rooftop bar at Blue Chairs on a Sunday. They had the best drag queen show. There were several other gay establishments we visited but were not very impressive. We were in Puerto Vallarta at the tail end of the high season and I kind of wondered if the gay scene might have been more active at the peak of the high season. It was certainly more interesting than the gay scene in Cancun though.
This year we visited Mexico legally with all of our papers in order which was a nice change from our trip last year to Cancun. We did not have to change planes going to Puerto Vallarta like we did last year going to Cancun and so we avoided all that confusion with customs you read about if you read my review of last years trip. Allegro airlines was quite adequate and I will try to post a review of Allegro like I did of Mexicana last year. I hope this review was helpful for planning your trip and that you have as wonderful a time as we did.
We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and although the winters here are relatively mild, Milton and I try to go south for a week or so mid-winter each year for a warmer climate. In recent years we have gone to Key West, San Diego, and Palm Springs. On Epinions, you can read about our vacations to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. This year, in our quest for sunshine, we visited the Estero Beach Resort in Ensenada.
We are at a point in our lives when we occasionally fantasize about places we might like to retire in ten or twenty years from now. We love the Bay Area but it is expensive and someday we would really like to be somewhere with a warmer climate. We had this in mind when visiting Cancun and Puerto Vallarta and were also considering this when planning our trip to Ensenada.
Ensenada is a small fishing village about seventy miles below the San Diego/Tijuana border and we thought it would be fun to visit for our winter break and was also a place we might want to consider some day for retirement since we imagined it would be relatively inexpensive to live there but still close enough to the border for shopping or healthcare needs.
Driving into Mexico is an adventure. We drove across the Tijuana border with no problem and after a few minutes were able to get to the toll road that is recommended for the trip to Ensenada. We had to stop and pay tolls three times and paid $2.20 each time to drive on this fairly well maintained road. Speed limits were posted in kilometers but my speedometer had both miles per hour and kilometers per hour so it was no problem. It was actually a pretty easy drive for the most part.
When you fly into resort cities like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, you do see some of the poverty in this third world country on your way from the airport but nothing like what you see when driving seventy miles through the countryside. The terrain is somewhat like the San Diego area but much less developed and landscaped. It is relatively barren desert compared to San Diego. There does not seem to be any regulations or building codes. It is amazing to me the number of half finished, abandoned buildings you see in Mexico (including places like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta). I am not sure what happens- someone starts building a building and then runs out of money? You also see a lot of shacks that don’t look inhabitable at all which are often located close to hotels or luxury homes.
Each time I have visited Mexico, I have been struck with the smell of diesal fuel. The amount of litter along the highway was also notable and it made me think about “freeway beautification” programs we have in the U.S. such as the “adopt a freeway” program where businesses or organizations take responsibility for cleaning up a section of freeway. The air quality, the litter and the chaos of half finished buildings, abandoned buildings and shacks along the way caused me to reflect on, in a positive way, U.S. government regulation that many of us often complain about, and housing codes, and even homeowner associations!
Once we got to Ensenada, we got a little lost but it is a fairly small town and it didn’t take long to find our way to the resort we had booked. We chose the Estero Beach Resort because it was one of the only hotels we could find in the area that was on a beach. Ensenada is a port town and the waterfront is taken up by fishing boats and cruise ship docks. There are no sandy beaches in Ensenada itself. The Estero Beach Resort is several miles south of Ensenada and it turned out that it really doesn’t have much of a beach either. For an “ocean front” room, we were supposed to be paying $80.00/night for Thursday and Sunday night and $90.00/night for Friday and Saturday nights but we wound up only staying Thursday and Friday and were ready to go by Saturday.
As I said before, the resort is a few miles outside Ensenada. When you drive up to the compound, there is a security guard that raises a gate to let you in. There is a wall around the entire compound and it includes the hotel itself, an R.V. park, permanent residences, a restaurant, a small art store, and a small museum. The hotel area is beautifully landscaped and the “deluxe” room we had was large and nice enough although I thought a little overpriced really when we compared what we had been getting recently in the U.S. through priceline.com or even the all inclusive packages we had got in Cancun and P.V. If you are going to Mexico, you would be better off spending a couple hundred dollars more and flying elsewhere.
Milton didn’t notice it (he had a cold) but I immediately noticed a faint odor in our room. I have a very keen since of smell. Our rooms in both Cancun and Puerto Vallarta had this slight odor also. I think it must have something to do with the building materials or the humidity or the water or the sewers or something. It is a very faint odor and it is tolerable but slightly annoying at first and it is more of a question for me than anything else. What is it? You quickly get used to it whatever it is.
The resort is actually on a bay. You can see waves breaking off to the side and at some distance but you can still hear the relaxing sound of them breaking. There were very few people in the hotel when we arrived. Apparently this was not high season. One of the empoyees told me that it fills up more when school is out in the summer months. It was almost too quiet for us. If you are looking for quiet, February here is the place for you. Or if you are afraid to fly or just want to get away for just a couple days of reading and reflection, you might enjoy this. For us, we need more activity and would have preferred downtown Ensenada. We did drive into downtown and there was a Mardi Gras/Carnival celebration going on but it appeared much of that was at night and we did not feel comfortable driving at night since many people and books we had read warned against this. We had hoped there would be shuttle but there was none. A taxi would cost $10-$15.00 each way.
I know a lot of you love to read on vacation and could care less about television but we like to watch tv in the evening after playing tourist all day or when we are tired of reading. None of the hotels we have stayed at in Mexico have had an adequate amount of English speaking channels as far as we are concerned. Estero Beach Resort had HBO and CNN but no CBS, NBC or ABC. There was something called the “American” channel which showed a few American talk shows but t.v. leaves much to be desired at Estero. If you are used to having more than three choices of television channels, any of the hotels we have stayed at will dissapoint. If I were planning another trip to Mexico, I would probably make more effort at finding out what channels were available.
The weather wasn’t great. It really wasn’t much better than what we would have had in the Bay Area. This time of year we would have done better to go to Florida or Hawaii or deeper into Mexico for sunshine.
There was very little to choose from on the restaurant menu. We didn’t feel like driving back into town that first night so we ate at the restaurant. I though it was overpriced. I have gotten much better food for less money in the U.S. but I guess they think they can charge more at Estero Beach Resort because there is no competition there. They were charging $7.00 for a cheeseburger! I am not sure if it was the food there or something else but I was taking pepto bismol for several days after our dinner there. One of the things that I thought about was how people in the U.S. will talk about a particular Mexican restaurant in their town being good because it serves “authentic” Mexican food. I have discovered that I like inauthentic Mexican food in the U.S. better for the most part. It often tastes better in the U.S. and can be trusted not to make you sick.
We were very careful about drinking only bottled water and although I didn’t get as sick as when we went to Puerto Vallarta, this was the second time I had gastrointestinal problems in Mexico. We even brushed our teeth with bottled water! We were very careful.
Since Milton and I had discussed the possibility of retiring in Mexico, I was very interested in the “permanent” residences at Estero Beach Resort. These are mostly mobile and manufactured homes. The area in which they were located was pretty well maintained. One could buy one of these residences from about $17,000 plus some kind of title transfer fee of a few hundred dollars. You would not own the land though. You would pay Estero anywhere from $250.00 to $500.00 a month to rent the land on which your building stood. I can see where this might be attractive to some retirees. I don’t think you could live that near the ocean for that cheap anywhere in the U.S.
For me though, this trip pretty much closed the door on retiring in Mexico for several reasons. I finally came to the realization that I could not live somewhre that I could not drink the water or where I had to worry each time I ate at a restaurant. I had thought that I could just be careful and drink bottled water but as careful as I was, I still wound up getting sick two out of my three visits.
As far as vacationing in Mexico, we might still visit Cabo or Mazatlan one day but vacationing in Mexico for sunshine is really not much of a bargain when you factor in the intestinal cramping and other concerns. At this point I could really only recommend Cancun and maybe P.V. -- I encourage you to read my reviews of Cancun and PV for the reaons why. I could not really recommend Ensenada or the Estero Beach Resort.
This article is not finished... please check back in a week when it has been finished.
This is video of our first day on the Mariner of the Seas, February 21st, 2010. We were out to sea for the first day and it was an opportunity to explore the largest ship on the West coast.
We were out to sea on the second day of the cruise but there was plenty of things to do on the ship. There were many venus of entertainment to visit. We enjoyed the ice show and the tribute to Ricky Nelson. The 70's party on the Royal Promenade was a blast but was way too short. We found the Dragon's Lair disco later that night and discovered a group of gay men on the ship and Milton and I felt comfortable dancing. So far, we had only eaten in the Windjammer and at the Promenade cafe. We were having a great time.
This is some footage from day three of our cruise. We took a little "tender" boat ride from the ship to shore in Cabo and spent a couple of hours walking around the Marina and out onto the beach. It was a beautiful day and after weeks of rain and drizzle in the Bay Area, I wanted to soak up every drop of sun possible and ended up getting sunburned. After a couple of hours, we went back to the ship for lunch.
This is video of Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, days 4 and 5 on the cruise and day 6 which was out to sea