Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Elephants in Puerta Vallarta!!! 12.30.09

Hold onto your hats everyone….I just have to tell you about our exciting bus ride into Puerta Vallarta today. It was a crazy one…memorable for sure!

The sights along the malecon in Puerta Vallarta

Joe & Deb from Pacific Jade and Bill from Grey Max took us into Puerta Vallarta to show us some of their favorite hangouts, stores, & shopping spots. We have been into PV several times and each time it surprises us how diverse it is! Anyway, we jumped onto a bus just behind Joe & Deb, who were having difficulties with the bus driver as there was confusion about the fare and exactly how much they paid him. It’s entirely possible they paid him about 5 pesos more than was due…but it worked out in the end.

As we were cruising down a two-lane street in downtown PV, we looked ahead and saw a convoy of vehicles being led by escort through town. Upon closer inspection, we realized the vehicles were loaded down with circus animals! We had seen the circus tent on the outskirts of town and realized this was an advertising event we have witnessed before in Mexico. See, the circus animals are loaded up in cages, flatbeds, & open air vehicles and are paraded up and down the city streets while a megaphone on the front vehicle tells everyone that the circus is in town, what time the shows are, and what they should expect to see! It’s always quite a sight…but today was so much better than we have ever experienced.

Elephant convoy in Puerta Vallarta

Circus convoy in Puerta Vallarta

Our bus was in the left lane and the circus animals were in the right (see the blue bus in the picture above? That’s how close we were to the elephants in the convoy!). We passed the first truck carrying the monkeys, the next one had the camels. Then our lane slowed down and they passed us by. Then their lane had to stop and we passed them….monkeys, camels, cats….and then it was our turn again. Back and forth this happened until we saw….the Elephants! The elephants were in what looked like a flatbed, with a chain on one leg. We couldn’t help but laugh as while the truck was driving along the streets, the elephants would reach out with their trunks and shear the trees all along the road, stripping them of leaves and whatever else he could. Quickly, we realized there was not just one elephant, but five! And each of them was doing the same thing. They would lean as far as their chained foot would allow, sometimes coming really close to bringing a tire or two off the ground of their flatbed to pull leaves off of the trees.

An elephant helping himself to shrubbery in Puerta Vallarta

And if they were stopped at a stoplight, which was often, they would lean into the other side of the street, trying all their might to strip the trees on the other side of the street! They didn’t seem to be choosy between the palm trees and the shrubbery – whatever they could get their trunk around and snag was promptly put into their mouths and any leaves that were dropped were vacuumed up with the tips of their trunks. And…..god help the poor pickup truck drivers that were in the next lane because the elephant would put his trunk in the bed of the pickups and see if he could find goodies!

Elephants snacking on shrubbery in Puerta Vallarta

Now you can imagine, we are enjoying every moment watching these elephants. To say we were laughing is really an understatement. There were only 4 other occupants and the driver other than us in the bus and we were all having fun watching the animals.

But….the best part was yet to come. You see, our bus had to go past the elephants and, well, it appeared our bus driver was a little nervous around the big guys. So he stayed right on the tail of one of the vehicles, giving us the show of our lives!

Deb with her arm out the window of the bus taking pictures of the Elephants in PV

Just as the bus driver would get up enough nerve, the elephant would lean across our lane and he’d slam on his brakes again. It gave us quite a close view! But as fate would have it, he finally got up the courage and we went right beside one of the behemoth animals….and were promptly stopped at the next stoplight! Now we were nose to nose (well, nose to butt really) with an elephant!

Aack! Elephant butt!

We watched as he sheared some of the bushes on the sidewalk, amazing all of the occupants on the street! He put his trunk in the bed of a pickup, sniffed around and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he turned around and came towards the opened window of the bus! Now we were really eye to eye to this elephant!

My, what big eyes you have!

As quickly as he turned around several things happened. Everyone in the bus, including the folks on the other side of the bus drew in a huge noisy breath, the bus itself seemed to lean over about 2 feet as everyone flinched and leaned to the left (including the passengers on the opposite side of the bus!), and Deb slammed her window shut! And of course, everyone couldn’t stop laughing! The elephant looked at us for what felt like hours but was surely only a couple of beats, swinging his trunk to and fro, and, realizing he wasn’t going to get any goodies from us swung around to the trees on the other side again.

Hello, Mr. Elephant!

Deb joked with Joe that maybe she shouldn’t have slammed the window shut – maybe it was a little rude. But Joe said if she didn’t, he would have! And we all rationalized that the nosy elephant was probably after Deb’s straw hat….yummy! We also laughed uncontrollably as we thought about the commotion that would happen if they were stopped beside one of the many ‘veggie trucks’ in the area! A veggie truck is literally a pickup truck loaded down with fruits & veggies that travels from spot to spot selling their wares. And what would happen if he had to explain it – maybe to his wife or, even better, a policeman! Really officer, I was parked on the street when suddenly an elephant made off with a whole crate of my carrots! Joe & Deb’s extra 5 pesos paid to the driver sure turned out to pay off! Hahaha!!! It’s impossible to think of without either cracking a smile or breaking out into laughter – even now. I love Mexico!

Finally we made it around the convoy – getting up close with hyenas, panthers, lions, leopards, bears, monkeys, baboons, elephants, camels, horses, & zebras. How fun!!

The day just got better and better as Joe & Deb took us through town. We stopped at Burro’s restaurant in old town PV which was rumored to have incredible mango margaritas (they were out of mangos so we settled for peach, pineapple, lime, banana, & strawberry – hey, we’re an adaptable bunch!),

Joe & Deb, Bill, & Michael & Rene at Burro’s Restaurant in PV

walked from there through old town to Rizo’s supermarket that has lots of yummy, expensive, items from the States that are very difficult to find down here, to the foot bridges that cross the river leading us to the market along the river,

The markets along the river in Puerta Vallarta

to the flea market, to Fox’s Café Roma, on and on… It was an incredibly beautiful day, warm & sunshiny, and before we knew it, was getting late so we found the bus stop & headed back to La Cruz, exhausted from the days events.

Just another wonderful day among friends….enjoying everything around us. Life is good!
What u looking at?!


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