Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A good time was had by all.

Friday morning, Ethan and I got up to go ziplining, and Justin and Kim packed up and headed to the airport to fly home.

I will be back eventually with ziplining pictures.......

Kim and her coffee

Pancho's did not disappoint. A wonderful meal, served oceanside. I ran to the shopping area just outside as we waited for our meals so I could buy myself a bracelet. Whenever we go on vacation, I buy myself a necklace or bracelet as a souvenir of that trip. Nothing too fancy (in Victoria, I spent $5 on a cool abalone bracelet that I wear a lot), but something I can look at and remember where I got it from. I bought a beautiful Cat's eye bracelet set in silver. A variety of blue/grey shades that I love.

Oh, my bracelets. I will have to take pictures of them to show. I have a simple ankle bracelet with Larimar, a light blue colored stone with white patterns in it from the Dominican Republic; a freshwater pearl bracelet from Sydney; a silver and gold plumeria flower bracelet with swarovski crystals from Maui, with a matching puka bead necklace; the aforementioned abalone bracelet from Victoria; a silver and malachite bracelet from Mazatlan last year, as well as a silver sun-shaped bracelet from Mazatlan; and a beautiful sparkly green bracelet from Puerto Vallarta with crystals shaped into little flowers. I am not a jewelry person, but I WILL wear bracelets and necklaces, so I am building up my stash.

Anyway, I digress....

I bought my bracelet, as well as one for a coworker back home who refuses to travel but loves I get her bracelets when I vacation (that she pays for, of course...she gives me a budget and I go to town).

The flaming picture above is included solely because of the guy in the background. THis is a picture of Kim's Mexican coffee. A huge production involving flames and sparks and all sorts of alcohols. They finished it with cinnamon on top, and I have to say (as a non-coffee drinker), that it was pretty tasty. Anyway, the older guy in the background of this pic was there with his wife and adult daughter. Being a jerk. Probably pretty drunk, but he kept yelling at his wife and being obnoxious and rude. Eventually, the wife and daughter left him, and he spent the next 30 or so minutes we were there calling his wife's cell phone (she would either not answer or hang up on him shortly after he started talking). I guess you had to be there to appreciate the hilarity, but he kept screaming into the phone 'you are my wife!! How could you leave me?! You are my wife and I love you', and then she would hang up on him. A drunken obnoxious man. The restaurant owner kept coming by, gave the guy a free drink, and some coffee, offered to get him a taxi, but the guy was pretty beligerant and very drunk and kept calling his wife. I guess this sounds sad and horrible, but it was hysterical if you were there. He was still there when we left, screaming into his cell phone.

We walked around, throgh hundreds of little stands selling trinkets and food and everything in between. When we were done sightseeing, we hailed a pulmonia and headed back to the Golden Zone. We wanted to take Justin and Kim to Pancho's restaurant, a favorite of ours from our previous visit to Mazatlan.
We took a taxi down to the area where the cliff divers are, and wandered around for a bit. We only watched one diver go, but boy did he thread the needle to make his jump!! Not a very big area to choose from. THey have to time their dives with big waves coming in, since it was not at high tide.


Thursday was Justin and Kim's last full day in Mazatlan. We started the day out by heading down to the water. Justin and Kim hung out at the pool, and Ethan and I headed for the ocean. Playing, playing, playing. Then we headed inside to get cleaned up and eat a bit and head into town.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Financial randomness

Ethan and I have a heck of a time saving money. We make substantially more money than we did 6 or 7 years ago.....and have nothing to show for it. The more we make, the more we blow on junk. Really not sure where--spendier food at the grocery store?? More crap in the house that we dont use?? Just junk.

We recently discovered a program that takes our suckiness and makes us save. It is called Dumbest name ever, but it is a good idea.

Basically, we tell it what we want to save money for (for example, our 2010 Seahawks season tickets), and when we want to have all that money saved by (we need it by March 15 of 2010). Smartypig figures out how much we need to save each month to meet our goal, and automatically removes a monthly amount from our bank account (evenly divided amounts taken out once monthly). It puts this money into a savings account that earns 3.1% interest, so we will end up with a little extra (much more than the 0.6% interest in our regular savings account). When we meet our goal, we have the option of having the money transferred back into our savings account (free of charge), or we can apply the money to a gift card from a variety of stores (best Buy, etc). If we choose a gift card, they give you a little extra (up to 6% more money), as an incentive.

We have set up accounts for our Seahawks tickets, Storm season tickets, the GEICO bill that comes twice a year, and a vacation fund for cash/incidentals on vacation (not for airfare or hotel fees). This way, we don't have months where we are totally broke because we had a several hundred dollar insurance bill or our $1000+ Seahawk tickets due. It evens things out over the whole year (or whatever time period we specify). Great service. I am thinking of adding in the Amerson portion of the Coast Christmas house rental as well....

Check it out! 3.1% interest is quite comparable to what you would earn in a CD, but you can access this money ANY TIME. You can increase or decrease your goal amounts, take money out early or late, etc. A great way to do things. Really takes the responsibility of saving money out of your hands if you suck at saving, like we do.

Another financial decision we have recently made (well, a few months ago), was to open up Roth IRAs for both Ethan and I. You put money into these just like a 401K or 403b...but this money comes out of your bank account AFTER you have already paid income tax on it. You can put a max of I think $5500 per year into your Roth IRA, and it is only available for people making less than $150K per year. The beauty of this is--the money/earnings are TAX FREE when you take them out at retirement (unlike 401k/403b, where you must pay ordinary income taxes on the money you take out). A Roth IRA is a great supplement for retirement. If you average it out, the max you can put in per month is about $415 (unless you are over 55).

The great thing about the economy today is that I am young enogh to be around when things recover. Stocks are so low, I can buy them now for cheap. For example, a stock that is generally around $20 per share is now around $4 per share.....I can afford a lot more shares if I buy now. The prices WILL go up over the next 25-30 years before I I am getting a lot more shares of stock than I ever would have been able to afford before. It is important to be very diversified in your investments, so that if some stocks do very poorly, you have enough different ones that some will also be doing well, so you don't lose all your money.

We watch a lot of Suze Orman and On the Money and Mad Money and Dave Ramsey (when he is not on a religious or political rant). Learning a lot, and feeling pretty good about retirement someday.....

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Wednesday was low key. Had to be, after Tuesday night! We slept in late, took lots of ibuprofen, and ate at the Cerritos restaurant right next to our condo complex.

That evening we went to a Mexican show called Spectaculare. A bit underwhelming at first, and there were only like 10 people there (after one group walked out about 15 minutes into the show), but it did pick up and get interesting. Lots of info on different areas of Mexico and different cultures, and they had the world famous Indian pole dancers who climbed up a 40 foot pole, wrapped a rope around their waists then jumped off and twirled their way down to the floor while spinning around the pole. Kinda cool. We enjoyed ourselves, then headed back home for a quiet evening playing Hearts.


Tuesday, we went on a tour to Deer island. The name Mazatlan is pidgeoned together from the native word for 'deer', if you didn't know. Used to be a lot around here, not so much now.

Our tour started about 45 minutes late (boat engine problems), but once underway it was a good time. We tooled around, looking at the Sea Lion rock and other landmarks before we finally laid anchor off the shore of deer island. A small tender boat ran us to shore. On shore, there were several options for activities. Ethan and I sat in the shade for awhile, and eventually did a little snorkelling. Justin and Kim opted for the banana boat once we landed, and I have a humorous video of them being dumped off of it as they tried to leave the shore. They eventually made it out onto the open water and both complained of sore muscles for days in their attempts not to fall off of the boat!

The snorkelling was definitely so-so, but we pretty much knew it would be because of our location near the sea of cortez AND the pacific ocean. Ethan ventured further out than the rest of us and it sounds like he was rewarded with better sealife for his effort.

After snorkelling, we had a Mexican food buffet, and purchased a few coconuts that were filled with a variety of adult beverages. Ahhh....this is the life. Sadly, our journey came to an end shortly after this, and we headed back to the main boat and to the Mazatlan marina. We did see some dolphins playing off in the distance, and really enjoyed our tour.

The worst thing about this tour was that it got us home around 2pm....and we got hungrier later on that evening. Justin and Kim wanted to go to Senor Frogs. Ethan I thought it would be sorta like a Mexican Planet Hollywood, and did not really want to go.....but went anyway.

When you first arrive, you look up and see a variety of fake inner-tubes with butts and legs hanging down. Very cute. Then you hear the pounding music and signs and decor everywhere. A really cool place. We had some margaritas by the yard (mine was mango), and a nice dinner.
Four million drinks later, we left. At least it felt that way to me. I did go back and list all of the drinks I had, and I was shocked. I do *not* like the feeling of being drunk. I will drink, but have only been drunk maybe 3-4 times my entire life. Lets just say I was drunk this night. Enough to throw up (my very first time...and last!!). Too much of a good thing.
I had a mango margarita by the yard, 2 mai-tais, some blue tropical drink, 2 shots of tequila with the group, 2 shots of some sweet banana flavored monkey drink, some electric blue shots of something with the waiters...the list goes on. Suffice it to say that I had technicolor vomit later on. And I *did* feel better afterwards. Ethan and I danced for a couple songs at Senor Frogs, really had a great time. We were there for like 5 hours altogether and really did have a great evening with Justin and Kim.

And that was Tuesday

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Monday we confirmed our tour reservations and goofed off in the pool. We walked the mile or so down the beach to Mr Lionsos at Play Bruja for lunch. A wonderful meal for all, but Justin got food poisoning midway through and had to abandon his lobsters (and the rest of us) and stumble back to the room.

We spent the evening on the beach, talking and watching the sunset. A nice, laid back day.


We spent Sunday just hanging out. I was still feeling the effects of my cold, and was not up for a whole lot.

We played in the ocean with boogie boards for a bit, then spent a few hours lying on beach chairs in partial sun. Enough that I scorched my legs from mid thigh down, and Justin seared his calves and his feet. Purple people.

That evening, we decided to head into town. Antonio, the tour desk/activities coordinator recommended a restaurant in town on a beautiful square. There are 15 or 20 little restaurants spread out around this beautiful square. Since it was holy week, there were festivals and performances going on, and dozens of little street carts selling palm fronds woven into a variety of holy icons, as well as some in fun animal shapes. It is my understanding that these are burned the day before Easter, but I am definitely *not* a Catholic, so I am not totally sure on that one.

We wandered around, checked out the cathedral, then headed back to the recommended restaurant, Pedro and Lolas. Decent food and wonderful atmosphere. There were some older guys from Canada playing old Blues and R&B songs. Jimmy Hendrix, etc. Very nice. Justin and I were starting to feel our burns at this point, so we headed off...

We went to the hotel Los Flores in the golden zone, very near where we stayed last year. They have a nice little bar right on the beach. A nice place to sit in the cool evening. Totally randomly, Mike and Magdalena from LA(a couple we met last year at THIS hotel), were sitting there! We chit-chatted for a bit, then headed our separate ways.

To get back to our condo, we took a pulmonia. This is an open-air taxi, kind of like a souped up golf cart. A bit terrifying to drive around in when you get up to full speed in light traffic....but fun, too.

Most pulmonias have souped up stereo systems blasting American music. This one was no exceptiong. I can't imagine what it looked like to the cars behind us when we had a spontaneous breakout of the YMCA dance (including our driver) when that song came on. It did make the driver swerve a bit, and he *did* miss our exit (blamed it on too much tequila), but it was hysterical. A great end to our evening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Okay, a bit of a tirp report to go along with those pictures.

Saturday, we took off in the midst of my massive cold (thanks to Ethan). The dry air on the plane helped a bit, and the excitement of being on vacation probably did, too.

There was a certain amount of irritation when we nearly missed our plane (thanks to Ethan and Justin), and when we got onto the plane there was a couple with a baby sitting in Justin and Kim's seats (one row behind us, in the very front of the coach section of the plane). I guess they had booked two seats and a lap infant, being cheap and hoping that they could get an empty seat to put their baby/car seat into. I had run onto the plane while Kim ran to the bathroom to tell Justin and Ethan to get a move on. I saw these people in Justin and Kim's seats, and let them know that they *were* coming...they said they would wait. Like I would let that plane take off without my group!! Justin and Kim showed up, and these people tried to get them to move to the two seats in the back of the plane that THEY had booked. I jumped in and said no. We booked seats together so we could 'hang out' and chit chat. Don't be cheap and pay for two seats and try to get the rest of the plane to move around to accommodate you. Irritates me....

Anyway. Landed in Mazatlan, breezed through immigration with a green light (red light for Justin and Kim), then caught a taxi to our condo.

Checked in, met with Linda Zimmerman, the rental agent, and toured our unit. Two bedrooms, full kichen, small lanai with a table and chairs. Very nice. We were on the third floor with a partial ocean view/pool view. Got an ethernet cable so we could hook up to the (free) internet and Ethan could put out fires at work.

We toughed it out and headed into town to the Mega store for groceries. Had fun browsing around, getting breakfast and snack food, as well as drinks. Caught a taxi back home and began the relaxing portion of our vacation. I think we headed down to the pool for a bit, relaxed...and had a wonderful first day.

Back in a bit for day 2, Sunday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On Deer Island

Ethan loves snorkelling (even though it pretty much sucked in Mazatlan--not really a snorkelling place with all the choppy currents)

I love my coconut

Justin loves Ethan's coconut

Ethan love his massive coconut

Deer Island tour

Justin and Kim on the banana boat (before it dumped them off)

Sea Lion rock

Kim, Justin and Ethan on the boat.

Ethan enjoying some leggy dinner

Playa Bruja


We walked about a mile north down the beach to Mr. Lionsos, a restaurant on Playa Bruja (witches beach, named because the waves get bigger here and you can surf).

Other than Justing getting food poisoning from his meal, we had a great time. Lots of locals enjoying the beach here--it was totally uncrowded on the resort beach, but the public/no hotel associated beaches were pretty busy.

Hanging out at the Pool (Monday)

Our balcony is on the third floor behing the palm tree on the left...

Justin in the pool

Ethan relaxing after the pool

Tuesday night

Justin and Kim with Senor Frog himself

Ethan with Senor Frog

The waiters gave Ethan a Peligro (danger) headband. I should have taken that as a warning. This night was the first in my life (and the LAST) that I have ever thrown up from drinking too much. Lesson learned. Great atmosphere there, lots of fun, glad I went and had a great time.

Sunset before heading off to Senor Frogs for dinner

More Monday night beach pics

Kim realizes how cold the ocean really is

Monday night on the beach in front of our complex

I always find a place in the sand to scratch our name and the year when we go on vacation.

Justin and Ethan enjoying the sunset

Ethan and I in the sunset.

We had dinner at Pedro and Lolas, on the corner of a beautiful open square. Decent food, amazing atmosphere. There were two older men from Canada playing old blues songs as we ate.

Mazatlan--old town.

Some of the beautiful architecture we came across.

Justin preparing to head out.

We headed into town from our resort on Sunday afternoon for some sightseeing and walking around town. The tour guide at our condo recommended a restaurant and starting place for our walk, which was great.

Lots of old buildings, all colorfully painted. Being Semana Santa (Holy week, the week before Easter), there was a huge church service going on in the cathedral, and hundreds of people watching a childrens dance performance and selling religious items.