Saturday, October 30, 2010

Surf and a Trip to Vallarta

We woke up with a mission to get wet after being skunked up north even though we knew it was hardly worth but we were men on a mission. Joe whipped up some great scrambled eggs and we had egg tacos with some great salsa before loading up the van. When we hit the parking area for La Lancha I was extremely discouraged by the sheer number of vehicles I saw there and couple that with a dropping swell and you get pure drop in madness. A drop in is when a surfer drops into a wave another surfer is already riding and committed to, thus cutting him off and possibly creating somewhat of a dangerous situation. A drop in, snaking or whatever you want to call it is extremely rude and in some places in the world it will quickly get you a beat down back on the beach.

When we hit the beach it was packed. There must have been 20 surfers in the water fighting it out for waist high slop and I could tell the attitude would be aggressive especially with us three just showing up. The bad part of La Lancha is that you can see all the surfers coming in so sometimes its hard not to get a bad attitude. We paddled out and fought other surfers for the inside and next thing I know, only Joe and I are catching waves! Everyone else was fighting for the very rare “big set” that would come through so that left us on the inside with a few others to take our pick. The rides were fast and short but hey we were catching waves so I cannot complain. Then a pack of 12 surfers on longboards show up. Basically with a longboard, they can catch the smallest of small waves before any shorter boards can enter as we need a steeper entry to catch the wave. Shit….

They hit the water and immediately I figure out they are total beginners which changes things. Its pretty rude for beginning surfers to paddle out and crowd a good wave so I was not cutting them any slack. I motioned for Joe that it was game on and drop ins and blocks were going to be legal and he agreed. I started putting myself into positions right in the middle of them to make them nervous and I took my share of waves with no reguard to them. It may sound very rude and well, it is but we have all started somewhere and I started at the crappiest breaks until I could handle myself in the water. Every surfer knows the dangers of large fiberglass boards with razor sharp fins, especially a LONGBOARD (read 9ft boards) in the hands of a beginner. Someone is begging to be injured! So in exchange for their rudeness and totally obliviousness to the danger they were creating, I became an asshole and took what I wanted from them. In my defense, beginners are usually so happy they are in the water on the board “looking the part” they don’t even know what I was doing was rude and breaking all the major etiquette. The best was the blocking though, purpose diagonal paddling down in front of them into a wave so they are obligated to stop paddling or risk a collision.

Finally I calmed down a little and talked to them. One of the guys tried to drop in on a good Mexican surfer and that’s where I became vocal. “hey dude, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Dropping in on a Mexican local who is riding a 12ft Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) with a 6ft paddle in his hand? He’ll bash your brains in on the beach dude”. His reply was “ohh no, I was just paddling for nothing”. Right.. jackass. It became even more crowded and we were happy so we got out and headed into Puerto Vallarta for adventure and some great tacos I found in Mismaloya. I had been telling this guys for several days about this place and it was basically a 2 hour drive to get there but man was it worth it!

If you find yourself visiting Vallarta and you make your way to Mismaloya, stop right in the small town off the road to your left, heading up to Eden canopy tours. The place is called “Juan and Only” which I find hilarious and the tacos will leave your mouth drooling. A fish taco there is only 12 pesos, about 1.10usd which is NOTHING and I promise, they are some of the best tacos I have ever had in this country.

After the tacos we headed back into Old Vallarta because its much more beautiful than all that modern hotel tourist shit with Starbucks, Home Depot and Outback Steakhouse. We wondered around for a little while and finally found ourselves on the malecon or seawall in English. We watched a typical Indian dance where they swing from a tall pole by their feet while one gay stays atop and plays the flute and a small drum. I have seen it once when I was 15 and in Tulum Mexico with my dad so it was nice to see it again. Joe and Paul were pretty blown away so it was cool to show them a cultural experience from Mexico. We checked out the Huichol (pronounced WE-chole) art store and that was awesome. They are a major group of Indians that used to inhabit the coast line until farmers, government and hotels drove them into the mountains and out of their lands. Now they live deep in the Sierra Madre in several states and their land is somewhat protected. The story of every indigenous culture, we will take your shit if it is worth some money. Sad Sad story of the world but what can you do? Their culture places major importance on the use of Peyote to talk to their Gods and to help guide themselves and their peoples. They make amaaaazing artwork all based on their visions and its extremely cool.

We left Vallarta and swung into Walmart which was packed for Halloween and Day of the Dead (dia de los muertos) celebrations but we just needed a few items and got the heck out and got back to our hotel. It was a pretty cool day and a great adventure. Joe’s time is running out and Im sad to see him go and I imagine he is feeling the same. I hope that he has had a good time down here and things will get better for him when he returns home. Now is the time to think about my next plan of action, stay and ride this swell to the max or head south. Im leaning hard on staying for a few more days, as the guru Allan Weisbecker said, never drive away from good surf.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Went North... Now Back in Mita

Joe, Paul and I headed north back on Tuesday to go look for waves and explore some of the northern areas of Mexico that I haven’t had the chance to see yet. We set out from Punta de Mita and stopped in on several spots like San Pancho, Santa Cruz, Aticama and Matanchen Bay. We checked out some spots for waves and really didn’t find anything working especially with the onshore winds we were having.

The first day was pretty cool as the drive was incredibly beautiful. We headed off into the mountains and soaring jungles that is the state of Nayarit. We noticed even more damage from the heavy rains that nailed this area about a month and a half ago. Bridges out, roads dilapidated and many landslides that were recently cleared plagued our drive north but we enjoyed every second of the fresh and beautifully green landscape. In Matanchen bay we found a place to stay for the night for a reasonable price and we set out to explore the long beach. This beach stretches almost to the horizon and reminded me a little of our beaches back in Texas with the hard packed sand and ability to drive down them without worry. We returned to Aticama for some supplies and hit the beach for sunset and our dinner which was tuna and avocado sandwiches. We hung out there for as long as we could until the jejenes (sand fleas) started tearing us a new one which we expected because this place has a long standing tradition of a horrible sand flee population.

That night we sat down and had a few beers with the guys running the place. I was pretty uncomfortable because the guy was some type of East LA gang member or something but he was sociable and generally pretty cool. Some of his questions seemed a little suspicious but I played them off with lies or general misdirection. Joe helped a good deal by firing back with some of the same questions to ease some of the tensions and in general everything was ok. My anxiety is getting out of control at times and frankly its really starting to ruin my trip. Ill talk more about this later…

The next day we headed back south to a beach town we stopped at because it is seriously one of the most beautiful beach towns I have ever seen in my life. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides and there is only 1 road in and 1 road out. The beach is a beautiful color with soft grains of sand and the waves are pretty gentle, breaking in a fun body surfing shore break in one big closeout. The mountains are lush with jungle and orchards of various types and the town is shaded by high growing coconut palms that stretch out onto the beach and they blow gently in the wind. The town was small and the people are nice enough. It has a tourist feel but not the aggressiveness that plagues so many small Mexican beach communities and that makes it very peaceful and quiet. The vibe overall and from the people I talked to, they like their community small and don’t want heavy tourism, hence my restrain of mentioning the name. Just do some homework on the area and you can find it on your own, just like we did.

Joe and Paul (the Australian guy traveling with us) got a room and I parked on the side of the hotel and slept in the car. The first night we found a fantastic taco place, albeit a little pricey but the food was good and we got to watch the Baseball World Series and Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul in Mexican soccer. The next day we took a hike out to the point so we could fish. Paul had a fishing pole and I was going to share my snorkel gear and Hawaiian sling with Joe. The rocks and reef were beautiful and just bountiful with fish but I don’t know anything about which fish I can eat and which I cannot. I didn’t shoot anything because I didn’t see anything that I knew for certain was edible and of decent size. Joe went around for a bit and had the same conclusion. Paul’s turn came up and he was out for a bit then finally I see him snag something. He shot a large angel fish and we told him you cannot eat those and basically you murdered a beautiful reef fish but we were laughing and joking with him. He felt bad enough so only killing one fish isn’t too bad right? We got back to town and talked to some guys and they said NO! You can eat those!!! I showed them the picture of the fish and they confirmed that yes they are very tender and make great ceviche! DAMN! That day we just hung out on the beach some more and in general just lounged around. Paul got to see a fight on the street involving the owner of the taco place we ate at and some other guy, crazy stuff. That night we returned to the taco place and enjoyed the fantastic yet expensive tacos. We talked to the owner a bit and he was very drunk and riled up about the fight still. All of a sudden the guy he fought with shows back up to either make amends or fight again, we still are not quite sure. The owner goes sprinting out of the place to meet the guy in the street and I notice hes holding a large butcher knife in his hand and a very large brick in the other. Crap, this is going to get messy! I start thinking of the logistics of the place and basically the nearest police are almost 10 miles away through a long winding road in the mountains and that’s not good if this turns into a shootout at OK Corral. We pay our checks quickly and get the **** outa there. By then the fight had calmed down a tad but tensions were still high and with the owner sensing us being uncomfortable he quickly calmed down and put down the knife. We hung out on the beach and enjoyed a few beers and then we decided to call it a night.

Upon walking back through the madness, Paul noticed a family all sitting around a car with the hood up. He calls me over and I start talking to the guy who owned the car. He tells me he has no power in any gear and the car just sits there, like the transmission is slipping. I start checking under the hood and notice a large amount of transmission fluid that has leaked or literally been slung out. Hrmm, Im thinking and I know manual transmissions just usually don’t “give up the ghost” like this but listening to it in gear and watching it sit there motionless I was starting to be convinced that they had a heck of a problem on their hands. I keep thinking about the problem so I decide to check his axles and sure enough, it see the drive cv axle wobbling while the car is in gear. Bingo! I quickly jack the car up and remove the driver side front wheel. I climb underneath in the sand and start working to re-engage the drive axle. I work it from side to side pushing as there are splines you have to make match up correctly. Finally it slipped in and locked! We threw the wheel back on and lowered the car and whammo they had their car back! I jacked it up again and explained to the guy how I fixed it and told him this is not very common and should not happen. There are locking slip rings to hold the axle into the transmission and he should have it checked out as soon as he returned to Guadalajara. He understood everything and they thanked us profusely and then asked “How much for the work?”. When I told them nothing, “gratis” the look on their faces was indescribable. How and why had these 3 gringos just come to their rescue and for free?? That NEVER happens right? Well it just did my friends!

Joe and I followed them out of the mountains and back to the main highway where there is a large town just in case they broke down again. From there they decided to push on to Guadalajara and they said their goodbyes and thanks to us and again just totally astounded at what just happened. We were all running on a high of good deeds because neither Joe, Paul nor I could fully understand what just happened either! What a great feeling!!! I have been looking for ways to give back to a country and a people that have given so much to me and last night I was able to do just that.

Today we came back to Punta de Mita to try and get in a better swell window for what little southern swell is left in the water. There is a large north west swell arriving soon, I just have to be patient. I have been feeling shitty about this trip for a few days but I think I just need a change of scenery. I need to be alone again so I can think about my life and this trip and just slow things down a tad. My van is a wreck because we are constantly moving so there is dirt and disorganization all over the place. My anxiety has been off the charts lately too but I think that is just something Im going to have to learn how to control. I start thinking about all the bad shit that can happen to me down here and next thing I know Ive worked myself into a full blown panic. This is something Ive never dealt with and since I don’t believe in medication, its difficult. I have to control myself and bring myself back down to reality, a reality that these people are NOT trying to kill me and not every cop is looking to bust me for something Im not doing. One of the few things that makes me calm down is that I know I have enough money to buy myself out of a crazy situation if I were to get in one somehow. I have to control this because it is controlling me at times and I don’t like it. Maybe I should find a bilingual psychiatrist or something because quitting on my dreams is something that really bothers me. Although I have been thinking about many other places I would love to go and I wonder why Im down here putting myself through this, especially when there is little to no surf.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Heading North..

Life has been a little hectic lately but its finally calming down. Birthday celebrations, meeting old friends and surfing. Joe is here with me and we have been sharing a room with this cool Aussie guy named Paul. He is a classic Australian and just lives to the max. If you have ever met Australians or hung out with them then you know what I mean, its never a dull moment. The best part is when we get him rolling with all of his crazy lingo and aussie words for things, basically non stop laughter.

We have enjoyed our time here in Punta de Mita but we are getting a little hungry for some waves. Don’t get me wrong, there has been decent surf every day but its not the best and it can get a little crowded at times. Im interested to explore north and surf some places I haven’t been yet and we have a decent size NW swell headed towards us. For all of my non surfing readers, the waves we ride are generated by wind and they form into groups and head towards somewhere in the world in the form of swell. Now, swell can be generated purely by a constantly blowing wind, like Texas, or from a large storm system somewhere else, which is what we really want. So during the summer months, large storm systems and cyclones in the pacific generate huge swell and it radiates outward for thousands of miles to a distant waiting coastline and its surfers, throw a rock in a still pond and you see the same effect. So right now we are approaching winter and this is the time large storm systems in the northern Atlantic kick up the waves and send them here, in the form of big West and North West swell.

Im pretty excited about the upcoming surf and it will be good to get back in the water a bit, Ive been drying out. I caught La Lancha the other day (a local surf spot which I have a serious love hate relationship with) and it was good. Joe and I paddled out but it was super crowded so we stayed over on the right side which people usually are not too interested in as they are fighting for the peak of the waves. I let Joe ride my fish and I rode the longboard and we both caught a few waves and called it a day. My last ride was going to be hard to beat so after a few bad waves I just paddled in. My last wave was great as I got an early entry and had a long face to carve on. Im still learning about the longboard (we never finish learning) and Im learning on how to get the best trip so I can walk to the nose. Well the wave walled up just as it was about to pitch in its final blast and this is usually when the surfer will exit the wave or make one last maneuver. I decided to do a suicidal walk to the nose and take my beating which I did. The wave shutdown on me and due to my proximity to the beach I went straight into the sand but boy was it worth it!

Ive been debating about a lot of things lately like heading south and all that mess. Im running solo down here and right now Mexico is having a few security problems. Its safe more or less but traveling solo sometimes can put you in situation, or maybe its just my stupid fear. The fear I have this time is still in slight control of me at times but Im learning to live around it and flat out tell it go away! I mean, its good to be precautious but living afraid is just ridiculous. Ive been thinking about changing the trip up a little and trying some new things and new places. I mean basically Ive been all over Mexico already and while I love this country, some of this is a little redundant. My friends in Monterrey are all flying to Chile to visit a mutual friend in December and Ive been contemplating joining them even though it will blow my budget by about 2,000 dollars. Im learning not to worry about the money as much, Im traveling and having fun and chanding up the plan or idea is not always a bad thing. Ive also been putting more and more thought into Australia and some other places but these are just thoughts. Im still playing it by ear so we shall see how it goes. That’s all for now…

Monday, October 18, 2010


I woke up this morning with a fantastic feeling inside of me. It was Monday morning, nice and cool inside the van and to think I didn’t have to get up at 7am to get ready to commute to work. I did have work to do today but its work that one could hardly consider to be difficult. I decided to get out of bed around 9am and head into Nuevo Vallarta. I swung by a Telcel store to try and figure out why my cell burns through $10usd in credit in 2 days and basically it is because my cell is from Monterrey and Im roaming. I asked about national plans or deals and basically they told me to buy a chip ( a new number) for every place I stay.

In Bucerias I stopped at the Telcel store to inquire about chips and all that mess and I bought a new number/sim card for $10usd. The problem is activating it and now Im kind of stuck. In Mexico now you have to activate your sim cards through the government as they are trying to crack down on crime using anonymous prepaid cards or infringe on freedom, take your pick. The guy registered my phone in his buddies name because I don’t live here and I cannot register in my name. It was supposed to take only 10 minutes, that was 10 hours ago and Im still waiting.

I went to an internet cafĂ© and took care of some business like canceling my cell phone and paying my final cell bill of $430usd because I used it here in Mexico. Damn they love to rape you don’t they? After that I headed to a Walmart and did some shopping for me and Chica (my dog). I got her some food and some much needed treats and I got myself some lunch. I grabbed a few cans of tuna, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly and Valentina hot sauce. This is pretty much what Ill be existing on for the next few days to save some cash.

I headed to a fabrication shop after that in Mezcales to try and inquire about moving my water tanks under the van so I can have more room. The head guy for the shop was not in so I headed back to Mita to start putting my door back together and clean everything in the van. I worked in the sun for about 2 hours and did quite a bit. I put the door back together, cleaned and cut a custom length of chain for one of my spare tires and got it secured. After that I took a walk to find my friend Debo who just arrived back from Texas.

I drove Debo around a bit and helped her get back into a car and other such things. Then I met my friend Mar and I took her to my favorite surf spot, La Lancha and showed her around. She is just learning to surf and is still learning all of the complicated things most surfers take for granted like knowledge of swell and waves and wind. We watched all the surfers shred for a little while and then watched the awesome sunset over Bahia de Banderas and Punta de Mita. We returned back to Mita and she dropped me off so I could join Debo and her friend for drinks which I highly enjoyed.

So here I am back in the van en el otro lado, the other side… of mita. I met some more cool people at my favorite (but expensive) bar and they are all a cool bunch, maybe tomorrow night we will all go for beers after work. I will help Debo tomorrow morning with moving some furniture and after that, who knows. Im thinking of heading to Yelapa with Mar cause neither of us have ever been! We shall see!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dropped Dad Off...

Today started off pretty sad for me because I had to take my Dad back to the airport so he could fly back home. Back into the grind, back to work and back to reality. We spent an awesome week together surfing, exploring and just hanging out. I got to show him a very cool and beautiful place in Mexico and I got to show him a little of the life that I love so much down here and I hope that maybe now he understands me a little more.

Dropping him off this morning I was filled with sadness and yet there was a twinge of excitement to be back on my own once again. Truthfully I will only be “on my own” for 24 hours as a good friend of mine who lives here in Punta de Mita will be arriving tomorrow and my buddy Joe will be here in 5 more days. Still, my father will be missed and Im happy he was able to come and share this with me.

Driving back to Punta de Mita from Vallarta I stopped at Walmart to try and get some wheel locks for my rims. These are something I should have purchased awhile back but totally forgot and now Im scrambling to get my wheels secured. I bought a set and tried them on the car in the parking lot only to find they were too small. I returned them and searched the others for the right size using one of my lug nuts as a guide but I wasn’t able to find anything. I will check some rim and tire shops tomorrow as today is Sunday and everything is closed.

I stopped by a restaurant where some friends work and talked with them for a bit. One of the guys working there, Alvaro is from Argentina and we got on the topic of spear fishing with snorkel gear. He told me how the other morning he snagged a 4lb fish off the reef out front with his Hawaiian sling. I got inspired and quickly grabbed my gear and ran to the beach. He gave me an overview of the reef under water and what route is usually the best to swim back and forth and a few special features to check like under water crags and overhangs. I donned my gear and waded out into the surf and started methodically checking the rocks next to the jetty. I saw a huge array of reef fish but nothing I thought was worth shooting especially for food. I checked all over the place but I just couldnt find anything worth taking its life for food. I saw all kinds of reef fish though, eels, ribbon fish, puffer fish and a huge array of the colorful little guys you see in aquariums.

I finally got into a school of fish I thought were worth shooting at and I believed to be edible. I fired a few times with the new technique Alvaro showed me and I was missing badly. I finally saw a good looking fish, sighted in and BOOM, I had him! I pinned him to the sea floor as my sling does not have barbs and often a fish can fight there way off of the spear tip. I felt the fish fighting to free himself and the spear jerked in my hands. I could feel every movement me made as he desperately tried to save himself but I held fast and kept him pinned to the floor. Alvaro dives with a knife to finish the fish off that he catches so I was unsure what to do at this point so I tried to surface with him and he got off! He was swimming very crooked and I shot again and nailed him, this time dealing the card of death to him. I felt amazed at my feat and yet saddened when I surfaced with him to learn my first lesson of spear fishing. My mask had increased his size in the water by easily 40%, so my fish was a baby of about 6 to 7 inches… not even a pound I bet. I killed this poor fish for nothing but it was a vital lesson of this new form of fishing.

I kept hunting for another but I found only one and I made sure he was of accurate size. I found this guy swimming along lazily and he was about 3 or 4 times the size of the last fish I had shot! I dove under and pulled my sling tight in my hand, rubber band stretched to the max. I held it out in front of me like a rifle and I slowly eased towards him. For the first time I could I feel the rush of the kill taking over me. I could feel my heart beating rapidly and I noticed my senses all numbing down to what was essential for that moment. I was a hunter and this was my prey. I eased in for the shot and he turned and swam and I gave pursuit but my lungs were beginning to burn and my body cried for oxygen so I resurfaced for a breath, dove hard and never found him again.

I just woke from a great nap and now I must go hunt for a cheap dinner as I cannot afford to spend too much money and in Mita that’s very easy to do. The average plate here in this town at a restaurant will set you back at least $14usd and I cannot justify that. Im waiting for a few taco stands to open or I will goto plan B and just eat some fruit tonight until I can get to a store and pick up a few items to live on. Im reworking the van at the moment and Im getting some ideas for better storage by moving the water tanks under the van and secured to the frame. Ill have to have some mounts built but it shouldn’t be too bad. The van is just to cluttered for me right now and I hate the way it is. Its very difficult to move around and stay organized and clean at the same time. On another note, when I picked up my dad my passenger side window got stuck all the way down and the motor refused to operate anymore. I quickly disassembled the door and tested the electrical connections to the motor and it showed I had a solid 12volts all the way to the motor. The next morning I went to a window and windshield shop and a kid of about 17 years old worked fast to repair my window. The motor was fine but the window was jammed, hence why the motor refused to do anything. He realigned the window and reassembled the internal raising mechanism for a total cost of $13usd. They quoted me $75usd to have both doors converted back to manual if I get tired of the electrical crap. I love Mexico!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Back in Monterrey...

I was finally able to escape the horrible and paralyzing grip of the paradise that is known as Florencia. I took flight early thursday morning last week and I made it to Monterrey after 10 hours of long hard driving through semi arid desert and mountains. The van ran great the whole way and I hope I dont have any more problems from it for awhile.

A breakdown of the total costs...

Total in USD $1300

This includes the cost of labor at $5000 pesos, rebuilding the transmission $8000 pesos, new axle on passenger side, new axle bearings, repacked front wheel bearings, new brakes, change motor oil, change diff fluid, new transmission fluid.

That would have easily cost me $3000 USD back in the states.

So now Im back in Monterrey and hanging out with my friends and just learning to live around some of the violence here. Im learning to be like them, you just turn your head and look the other way. There have een several attacks since I have been here but nothing I saw or heard. Only one attack I passed on the main avenue on the way to my friends house about 15 or 20 minutes after it went down.

I went to my first real Mexican soccer game the other day and that was awesome! I went to a Rayados game, which the fans are rabid and super patriotic to their team. I was with my friend Salas and we were sitting in his seats for his season tickets, on the elevated deck. One of the seating sections to my left and down low is where all the super cheap seats are and Im talking CHEAP. Like $2 cheap. Beers in the stadium where at a horrible price of $2.50 a pop (easy $8 to $10 in Houston) and we didnt even have to pay up front, the guy in our section was just handing them out! I asked my friend and he said I have been sitting here for 3 years, he knows me and everyone in this section... we will settle at the end of the game, which we did when he asked how many beers we had. He didnt even know!!! The cheaper seats were a crazy band of mosh pits and singing for the ENTIRE game, and Im talking loud. They were singing songs about the visiting teams goalie, our team, all kinds of stuff with big drums and loud cymbols. I give these guys a super A+ for effort and spirit and Im talking 90 minutes of non stop singing (read yelling) and jumping and going insane.

I have been getting more brave and driving a little in Monterrey in my car and trying to learn the city. I met a really cool guy who is the neighbor of Adriana. His name is Oliver and he speaks english almost perfectly and studied at UT in Austin Texas where he finished with a bachelor in socialogy. He is an incredibly smart guy and runs his own business creating amazing tshirts with art, I think the name is Arte en Movil (Art in Movement).

Last night I faced some of my fears and took a taxi at night by myself to where Adriana works. Ive wanted to see it for quite awhile and last night was as good as any. She works for one of the large media corporations here in Monterrey and edits all the news with some pictures and videos for their websites. So I got to see all of the reporters, the media studios (even saw a live broadcast of a debate show) and their editing, news and radio sections. It was very cool and I really enjoyed it. I was a little nervous being there because the media is under constant attack and threats here in Monterrey and it wasnt too long ago that they threw a grenade into the building where she works.

After the tour we grabbed a taxi to downtown to meet her family for dinner for their customary sunday night dinner at restaraunt "AL". Now there are several funny stories behind this classic little place in downtown Monterrey. This restaraunt is pretty old, around 70 years which is pretty good for a restaraunt and it resembles something I think I would see in New York or some older city. All white classic tile and the building is shaped very long and narrow. Her family has been coming to "AL" for sunday night dinner for over 50years!!!!! Her grandmother and grandfather used to go there when they were just dating!

Now the funny stories about this place. AL in spanish means "to the". So when you say in spanish that you are going to this place, you say "Yo voy al AL"..... al AL. Or literally, to the to the. The name actually comes from the other funny story. It used to be called "Alaska" but after a big storm many many years ago, half of the sign was blown down and all that remained was "AL". So it was much easier (funnier?) to rename the restaraunt which is exactly what they did. I thought that story was one of the most "mexican" stories I have ever heard and I really enjoyed learning it.

Anyways, I gotta get my butt to bed. Im going to try and start running again and tomorrow might be my start. Ugh... who starts an excersize routine on their vacation?????