Punta el Custodio

You are currently browsing the archive for the Punta el Custodio category.

San Blas fish stall

This morning Chris, Pete, and I got up a little after six. We were going fishing. The day before, Chris had arranged with Diego, a fisherman who lives at the bottom of the hill in Plantanitos, to take us out in his panga. The dorado are running but to get to where they are you have to go far out to the islands, and if you ever saw Diego’s small outboard motor, which he covers in a dirty old T-shirt, you’d think twice about going an hour or more offshore in his boat. Instead, we would just fish along the coastal reefs where the local fisherman go.

So just before seven, we were all loaded up with rods and reels and tackle boxes along with some water and snacks for the morning, but when we got to the gate, the guard told us that Diego had come up earlier in the morning to let us know there would be no fishing. The winds, which had been blowing for the last couple of days, were making the surf too big and he was afraid his panga would get swamped pushing off from the beach.

This was too bad. I had really been looking forward to going out in Diego’s panga and doing some fishing. You get out in the deep blue water where the dolphins break the surface all around you and the water is so clear you can look down and see the large schools of jack crevalle or toro swimming beneath you and you tend to forget that you have a house in Bucerias that has some major plumbing and electrical problems.

Well, I said as we drove back to the house, perhaps we can go out tomorrow. Tomorrow, Chris said, we were planning on going to La Tovara in San Blas to look at the birds and the crocodiles. We can go fishing on Saturday.

Which is a bit of a conundrum for me since I was planning on heading back to Bucerias this afternoon after fishing. I would like to go fishing Saturday but I do not want to go to San Blas and it seems silly to sit around the Fletcher’s house tomorrow while they are all doing the jungle cruise in San Blas. So now I will have to decide whether to drive home tomorrow and see what sort of new horrors await me in Bucerias or stay here for a couple more days.

Tags: ,

Chris and Malin Fletcher at the bat caves. Photo by David Lansing.

It’s always a full house at the Fletcher’s home in Custodio. At the moment, besides me, they’re also hosting several friends from Southern California and Chris’s cousin, Wendy, an artist who lives in Puerto Vallarta, who was here with a large posse of friends, just left this morning. In addition, Chris’s brother, Dave, and his wife are in residence next door along with several of their friends. So it’s a large group.

And the Fletchers aren’t the sort of people who like to just lie around the pool (although they do that as well). Yesterday when I arrived, everyone was getting massages by a woman who came up from Sayulita just for that purpose, and then later there was paddle-boarding up the estuary followed by a twilight walk along Turtle Beach. This morning there was a power walk into Platanitos before breakfast followed by a yoga session led by a woman from Alaska and then water aerobics. Not for me, of course. I mainly just hung around the pool and watched the pelicans fly by along the coast.

Late in the day, Chris announced that we were all going to the bat cave. You go there just before sunset and, he said, thousands of bats come out of the caves in the cliffs and chase the clouds of mosquitos that come out at night. So plans were made. Dave Fletcher made pitchers of margaritas. Chris made up some gin and tonics. Everyone doused themselves in bug spray and piled in to various SUVs and we drove a short distance through the jungle and then walked along a path that ended up at a bluffside platform about a hundred feet above the ocean. Below us, supposedly, were the bat caves.

We sipped our cocktails. We watched the sky turn purple orange. We complained when one or the other of us was bitten by a mosquito or no-see-um. And we waited. About ten or fifteen minutes after the sun had set, but while there was still light in the sky, the first bat appeared. Flying drunkenly over our heads, chasing bugs. And then a few more joined him. Eventually we saw a dozen or so bats. Some careening within feet of us as they chased down their dinner. A few of the bats almost banged in to Leah who decided she’d had enough. She started walking back to one of the cars. At this point it was getting dark so the rest of us decided to head back as well. Using the beam from a single flashlight to carefully make our way through the vines and overhang of the jungle. We hadn’t exactly seen thousands and thousands of bats. But it was kind of a cool experience anyway.

Tags: ,

Marta, the Fletcher's cook and housekeeper at Custodio. Photo by David Lansing.

It’s a nice drive to Custodio. For half an hour or so you slowly wind your way through the jungle, usually crawling along in a conga line of traffic led by a shuttering old truck or a heavily-laden bus bound for Guadalajara or Tepic, until you get to San Pancho where the road opens up and you pass by dozens and dozens of fruit stands selling coconuts and papayas and star fruit and even dried shrimp.

At Las Veras you turn inland and drive for about half an hour over narrow country roads passing farmers on bicycles or horses. Always there are a few tractors on the road making things interesting. Eventually you come into Zacualpan, a sleepy little town that may hold the record for the most number of speedbumps on the road. Turn left at the church, pass by the paleta stands and the women grilling chicken along the side of the road, through Ixtapa, down the cobbled road towards Plantanitos and its many thatched beach restaurants, and up the hill to Punta El Custodio.

When I arrived at Casa Corona del Mar, the Fletcher’s home on the bluff overlooking the ocean, no one was around except for Marta, their cook and housekeeper. I love Marta. She has taken me in to her kitchen to show me how to make tortillas from scratch and let me play sous-chef as she made her wonderful chicken mole. And even though I usually only see her once a year or so, she always remembers me. So here I was, standing outside the Fletcher’s house by the fountain, looking in through the open kitchen window at Marta who was working at the sink, and she looked up, surprised to see me, and immediately welcomed me with her warm smile.

It was good to be back in Custodio.

Tags: ,

On the road to Custodio. Photo by David Lansing.

I’m not in Bucerias any more. I’ve fled. Up the coast to the house of my friends, Chris and Malin Fletcher, in Custodio. They’d invited me up last week and I had responded with an e-mail explaining I couldn’t come because my electricity didn’t work and then I had this flood, and Chris sent me a text saying, “Just come up. We have a cold beer waiting for you.”

So I did. But only after I’d spent four hours early Saturday morning draining the lake in my house. The first thing I did was throw down every beach towel I had. Which was really useless. It was like tossing a few Kleenex in a bathtub hoping that will soak up the water. All it did was leave me with seven or eight soaking beach towels weighing 50 pounds each that were impossible to wring dry. I heaped them in a pile on my patio. Then I grabbed a large sponge and a pail. But that was pretty worthless as well. Eventually what I decided to do was to take a wide broom and start pushing the water forward through the living room and out to the patio where there was a drain.

This took hours of work. But it was effective. Eventually I was able to get the bulk of the water out the door leaving me with just a shallow pond everywhere. At which point I went back to the sponge routine, sponging up water from the entryway, then the bathroom, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and out to the patio. Bonus: My floors looked really clean at this point. The third step was to get a dozen bath towels and mop up the remaining wet spots. Then just let the ceiling fans and the dry air remove the rest of the moisture. By nine, I was done.

I sent Miss Vicky an e-mail asking her if she knew a refrigerator repair man. She e-mailed me back to offer to come over and help me clean up (I was finished at that point) and said the fridge guy would be here first thing Monday morning. In the meantime, I again had no water. And no desire to sit around my condo worrying all weekend. So I got in the car and headed through the jungle to Custodio.

Tags: ,

The thing about staying at the Fletcher’s Casa Corona del Mar is that you’re bound to gain weight. The minute you walk in the door (even if it’s well before noon) one of the Fletchers is liable to offer you a cerveza or a margarita made with just-pressed limes. Just to be polite, I’m liable to say, “Sure, why not,” thinking I’ll spend the afternoon lounging on one of their oversized outdoor beds on the patio and, you know, make my single margarita last until comida.


Photos by David Lansing

Photos by David Lansing

The problem is that the Fletchers are treacherous people; every time you close your eyes, just for a moment, or grab the binoculars to look at the humpback whales breaching a short distance from shore, they refill your drink.

And then the afternoon becomes what I like to call a Mexican Dorothy Parker afternoon. Remember what she said about martinis? “I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under the host.”

The same goes for the Fletcher’s margaritas.

Yesterday, they hosted a fiesta at their home. Marta and several other cooks at Punta el Custodio made a plethora of food, ending with red and green enchiladas and grilled camerones the size of small lobsters.

Since Marta was otherwise employed and the Fletchers were being gracious hosts, I took over as bartender, making batch after batch of blended margaritas. Of course, I had to sample each pitcher to make sure I’d gotten the ingredients just right, sometimes adding another splash or two of tequila, other times sweetening things up with a bit more Mexican Controy (which, to my tastes, is far superior in a margarita to the traditional French Cointreau).

We drank, we ate. The Latin music was fabulous. People got a little tipsy (did someone fall into the pool?). As often happens, the hangers on stayed late and laughed riotously at absolutely nothing. Eventually when the last guests left, I tucked myself into what the Fletchers call The Chicken Room (because of its yellow walls and tin chicken lamps) and turned off the light. Amazed to see that it was 9:30.

That’s what happens when you start drinking Marta’s margaritas before noon.

Tags: , ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »