During our two days in Palenque, Mexico, we got to enjoy some tasty food. On our first night, we just wanted a simple dinner. We needed to find an ATM to get some cash beforehand and ended up walking a long way looking for a Scotiabank ATM. We never did find one so had to backtrack to another ATM, then re-backtrack to Pizzeria Palenque. I was more than hungry (and fussy!) by the time we got there, but it was worth all the trekking. The pizza was delicious, and the cervesas were very cold. Great prices too!
Our pizza had fresh tomatoes, spicy chorizo, jalepenos, and avocado. Delish!
Both mornings we had the continental breakfast at the Hotel Xibalba, which was included in our room rate. The breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, bread and butter, and really good coffee (but only one cup -- free refills are not typically given in Mexico, or Belize for that matter). We sat outside in handmade chairs constructed from thick wood rounds, sanded and polished to a smooth shine.
We didn't eat any lunches out as we were at the Palenque Archaeological site the entire full day we were in town and ate only snacks, but we had an excellent dinner that night after climbing lots and lots of stairs all day long. We ate at El Huachinango Feliz (The Happy Snapper) right next to our hotel. We'd noticed a good mix of locals and tourists the night before and that it was FULL -- a good sign.
They first brought out a complimentary shrimp and vegetable salad with our beers and chips. Wow! What restaurant gives away shrimp salad? It was absolutely full of shrimp and delicious, similar to ceviche but not swimming in lime juice.
For his entree, Barry ordered the shrimp au gratin, and I went out on a limb and tried the octopus au gratin. It was tender, well-seasoned, and absolutely delicious! We ate every bite and rolled out of there full to the brim.
Stay tuned as we travel farther west to San Cristobal next!
On Sunday around lunchtime, we were walking around downtown Merida where a variety of outdoor food vendors cluster to serve the shoppers and walkers. I wasn't very hungry but was hoping to find some Sopa de Lima (Lime Soup), a classic Yucatecan soup I'd heard so much about. Although the booth we stopped at said they had it to lure us in, they didn't actually, though they had some other kind of chicken soup. Realizing it was probably too hot for soup anyway, I settled for a cooling Horchata (a traditional rice beverage) to drink, and Barry got a panucho.
Since we had such a light lunch, we decided to eat dinner early and tried one of our Tripadvisor picks, Amaro. Since we were eating so early, we had the place to ourselves. I started with a michelada, another specialty drink in Mexico, and Barry had one of their special cilantro/habanero margaritas. We also ordered some guacamole, chips, and salsa to whet our appetite as we perused the menu.
I still had Sopa de Lima on the brain, and we'd planned to go for sorbet after dinner, so I decided to have a light soup dinner. Barry had a chicken dish.
After our relatively light meal, we strolled back up to the Paseo de Montejo for some sorbet. We'd eyed this place the night before but had chosen fancy desserts at Hennessey's.
We neglected to get a photo of the breakfast Larry prepared for us on Sunday morning, but it was very good -- fresh fruit, granola, yogurt and toast. On Monday, the day we were hitting the road again for our next destination, we asked for a hearty breakfast (but sans meat) since we'd be eating only snacks for lunch.
Before heading to the bus station to be on our way, Barry was determined to stop at the French pastry shop, Cafe Creme, very close to where we were staying. A Frenchman owns and operates it, so it is authentic and lovely. We figured we'd pick up a couple treats for the bus ride, since we wouldn't be having lunch.
After meeting the owner and getting a few free sample tastes, we picked our poisons. It was all so delicious we could hardly go wrong with any choices.
Stay tuned as we travel from Merida to our next destination, Campeche!
One of our favorite things about visiting a new city is trying out new-to-us restaurants. Merida has a reputation for having great food, and we weren't disappointed.
Our first night in the city, we were too tired from our travel day and lots of walking for most of the day to do much for dinner. We decided to walk around the corner from La Casa Lorenzo to a pizza place Larry recommended and bring home a pie to eat in his bar area, which we'd have all to ourselves, since we were the only guests at the bed and breakfast. This vegetarian pizza did not disappoint. Of course Barry got my olives, and I got his mushrooms. Yum!
The next morning, Larry said that he would either serve us breakfast (included in our room rate) or take us to a very authentic Mexican place to eat, Wayane. Always up for something novel, of course we chose the latter, and it didn't disappoint.
Our juices -- Barry had chaya/pineapple (the green one), and Larry and I ended up with tamarindo, though we thought we ordered mandarin orange -- must have been our Spanish! No matter, it was delicious.
As with our juice orders, there were some misunderstandings with my food order. I though I'd ordered three different egg tacos (with various add-ins), but ended up with only one egg and two meat (chicken and pork). They were delicious but way more food than I really needed. Larry successfully got three egg tacos.
Despite the small ordering snafus, this place was a really fun experience, and the food was great. If we hadn't been staying at Larry's, we would never have known about it, and it was a bit of a drive in his car, so we wouldn't have gotten to enjoy this authentic breakfast. Thanks Larry!
For lunch we tried a place we'd read about on Tripadvisor, Chaya Maya, recommended for authentic Yucateca food. It is downtown and super popular with locals and visitors as well. The waiters spoke almost no English, and the menus were in Spanish as well, making it an interesting experience, but we did just fine.
We started with a cold cervasa and complimentary chips and sauces. Yummy.
We both tried the Turkey Panuchos, a traditional Yucatecan dish. They were really colorful and tasted great.
An interesting thing; there was a woman making tortillas on one side of the restaurant. Very cool!
After eating two very authentic Mexican meals, we decided to do something completely different for dinner. On Larry's recommendation, we strolled down the Paseo de Montejo and ate at an Irish pub/restaurant, Hennessey's. And even stranger, we ordered pasta! And it was actually very good! It was a light chicken and veggie pasta, leaving us room for a yummy dessert.
We shared two different (and very lovely) desserts, cheesecake and chocolate terrine. They tasted as good as they looked!
Please stay tuned for much more from Merida!
After two full days and three nights, it was time to hit the road again, heading north to Merida from Tulum. We'd be traveling to a different Mexican state today, from Quintana Roo to Yucatan.
We've neglected to include a map of our travels so far, so here is a map showing our route through Merida. We'll continue updating it as we travel along.
After breakfast, we headed to the Tulum ADO bus station, a very short walk.
Today's journey was to be made on a "luxury class" bus called an ADO gl, which is pronounced, we found out from watching ads on the DVDs in the bus, like "ADO hell". Ha! It was much closer to heavenly than hellish, however. A very comfortable ride indeed. We were given free bottles of water, earbuds for listening to audio, and there were multiple DVD players playing American movies that were dubbed in Spanish. We discovered that with most movies, even speaking just a bit of Spanish, we were able to figure out enough of what was going on from the video to follow along.
Unfortunately, this was to be our only ADO gl bus of the trip, though we didn't know it at the time. They just don't run that many routes, and most of them seem to run near Cancun. For the most part we were on regular first-class ADO buses from this point on, but they were still plenty nice, and a bit cheaper than the gl buses. There is a bus even more luxurious than the gl called the ADO Platinum, but we never even saw one that I recall. Wonder if they serve champagne and caviar?
The ride from Tulum to Merida was approximately three and half hours. The first thing we noticed when pulling into the Merida bus terminal was how huge it was. Merida is a much bigger city than Tulum; we felt like we had just arrived in New York City!
Even though we had a good Merida map in hand, we found ourselves a bit disoriented as we hit the city streets until we figured out the street numbering. Odd-numbered streets run east and west, and even-numbered streets run north and south. Streets are marked on each corner, making the Centro portion of Merida easy to negotiate once you know where are! And one thing was for sure -- we were not in Belize any more!
We gradually got ourselves oriented and pointed in the direction of the bed and breakfast where we'd be staying for the next three nights. It was about a two-mile hike north (though stil in the historic "Centro" area of Merida), but we'd be stopping for lunch part way to rest our shoulders. Carrying my pack definitely got a bit tiring, but catching a taxi takes all the adventure out of the journey, right!?
There were many parks along the way, so we stopped here for a rest and drink of water. All of Merida's parks are wi-fi enabled (though we didn't know it at the time), as well as many of the parks in other cities in Mexico. Very cool!
We didn't know where we'd stop for lunch, but a friendly man speaking English lured us into this cute "Margaritas Time" restaurant along the way with the promises of cold cervasas and good food at good prices, so we succumbed. The restaurant was pretty empty as Mexicans tend to eat lunch much later than Americans, and dinner too.
The lunch special of the day was just 50 pesos (approximately $4 US), which couldn't be beat, so that's what we had. Chicken, rice, and dessert were all included. The beers would cost us extra...but not much.
The friendly waiter took our photo.
These sauces were yummy -- spicy habenero and mild garlic cream.
The Pollo Pibil was delicious -- falling off the bone. This is a very popular dish in the Yucatan (for pork as well as chicken) and is traditionally cooked in banana leaves.
Creme Caramel for dessert - yum. All this (plus chips and dipping sauces) for $4 is just crazy! But in a good way, for us.
Well-fortified, we were able to continue on our way to La Casa Lorenzo, a bit north of downtown and on a quiet residential street. Perfect!
Stay tuned for much, much more on La Casa Lorenzo and Merida in the days to come!
We began our second full day in Tulum with breakfast a place that is quite popular with the locals, right on the main street: Don Cafeto's. It was good, but not our favorite meal of the trip, and we were downwind from heavy smokers sitting at the table next to us, so the experience was not the best. But it was reasonably priced and conveniently located right on the main drag. The coffee was really, really strong -- a bit too much for us.
They bring you this rather unexpected bowl of pickled vegetables and garlic (!?!) before your meal arrives. I don't know if this is supposed to be a hangover cure or what, but it didn't hold any appeal to us in the morning, and we left it untouched. The homemade salsa, however, was nice, and Barry enjoyed it on his omelet.
For lunch after our long bike ride, we were pretty hungry. We decided to try Charlie's on the main street through Tulum, which we'd heard was good. It really was! We had the place to ourselves as Mexicans tend to eat lunch much later than we do (like 2-4 pm, with dinner correspondingly late).
We started with a couple of brews and the complimentary chips with very, very piquante habenero salsa. Yum!
I liked this bottle wall behind Barry...what a great way to recycle and lets light in too!
For our last dinner in Tulum, we decided to splurge with a trip to Cetli, one of the fancier restaurants in Tulum. We'd read some excellent reviews and were really excited to try it. We had the place to ourselves when we first arrived to the candlelit garden, a beautiful spot for dining.
The beautiful setting....
The chef/owner, Claudia, does most of the serving as well and really makes this place a special treat as she explains each of the dishes. Everything is organic and so carefully prepared. It's a foodie's paradise!
Claudia first presented us with this lovely plate of starters. I couldn't begin to tell you exactly what it all was, but every morsel burst with flavor and sounds of "mmm...mmm...yum" could be heard emanating from our table again and again. There were a couple of homemade cheeses, delicious breads, and some tasty toppings.
Ordering was difficult as everything sounded amazing, but Barry decided to try the "Metzli", described as "Chicken breast roll with macho banana, covered with black mole sauce". The presentation was as special as the taste.
I selected the "Na-a-a", which was a grilled grouper fillet served with grilled vegetables. It was simple but perfectly prepared.
At a place of this caliber, of course we had to try dessert, because we knew they would be special too. We tried the "Cetli" (Corn cake with chocolate and kalhua) and "Tzopelic" (Bread pudding served over a layer of white cream sauce with strawberry and almond liqueur topping"). Mmmmmm...it goes without saying that these were amazing! We passed them around so we could both try each dessert, and licking the plates was oh-so-tempting, but we held back.
With our tastebuds fully satiated, we were presented with homemade candies wrapped in corn husks as well as a couple of bookmarks when the check came. This was our most expensive meal of the entire trip by quite a lot. With two glasses of wine each and the two desserts, we paid $80 US, which included the tip. We thought that was a reasonable price for a meal of this fine caliber and would have been much higher in the US or on Ambergris Caye for an equally fine meal.
Our final meal was a quick breakfast the next morning -- a travel day. We stopped in at a little natural cafe on the main drag on the way to the bus station and each had a lovely, large fruit cup with yogurt and granola, plus coffee. This was one of my favorite breakfasts of the trip. It was simple and delicious, and I especially liked that they had cut the fruit up very small, so it was easy to eat, no peeling or cutting necessary!
Stay tuned for one final Tulum post, then onward to Merida!
We'd heard raves for Tulum's food (thanks Rebecca aka SanPedroScoop.com!) so came here with high expectations, and Tulum delivered. It's going to take two posts just to cover it all!
Right after arriving in town and checking into the hotel, we stopped in at a little coffee shop on the main street. Rebecca had recommended their reasonably priced cappuccino, and I hadn't had one in ages, so it was on my brain. Yes, it was perfect at about $2 US and perked me right up after our morning of travel. Barry ordered a tropical fresh-fruit smoothie. Delish!
On our first evening, we walked down to El Camello, recommended by Rebecca and Joshua (who owns the Secret Garden Hotel, where we were staying). Supposedly it had the freshest seafood in town at the best prices. Nothing fancy, just good, honest food. You know a place is good if it's packed, and El Camello was certainly busy, even at the early hour we like to eat. Many of the diners were locals, another good sign. We both had the grilled fish with refried beans, salad, fresh tortillas, chips, and a couple of Mexican beers apiece. We walked out of there for a grand total of $300MX or about $24 US, including tip. Wow!
The next morning we tried a place for breakfast that had also been highly recommended by both Rebecca and Joshua -- Azafran. We arrived around 7:30 am and were surprised to find that they didn't open until 8, but they said we could sit down and they'd serve us coffee. They ended up taking our order after all, and we had an a delicious omelet breakfast with some wonderful grainy bread and the best coffee I've had in ages, all in a lovely garden setting that we had to ourselves. Service was excellent.
Our first lunch was at Puro Corozon, across from the beach. We walked there from the Tulum Maya ruins having no idea what the mileage was going to be, but it was a long and very warm walk. Barry later calculated that we walked about three miles (excluding our earlier walk from the collectivo to the ruins and the walking through the ruins!)
By the time we got there, we were sweaty, tired, and hungry. Joshua had told us this place had authentic Mexican food, and the menu alone made us drool. Our timing was good as well as they had Happy Hour beginning at noon, with half-price margaritas. Need I say more? We decided to try the mezcal margaritas, and they were so good (and potent!), we ended up lingering there for quite some time and drinking FOUR apiece! Not something we would usually do, but we were in full-on vacation mode!
We shared these delicious mixed veggie tacos, and Barry ordered a lovely chicken mole. I had a "Latin Tower", described as "a tower of sweet potato, pesto cream cheese, and fresh tomatoes". This may be Mexican, but it was certainly gourmet Mex! The flavors were as delicious as the presentation.
For dessert we splurged on the chocolate fondue with fruit. We were a little disappointed to receive only bananas and apples. Pineapple would have been a great addition, and of course we would love to be here during mango season!
We can definitely recommend this excellent restaurant to anyone staying in Tulum. It was one of our very favorites of the entire trip. And the garden setting is as delightful as the food.
After catching a taxi back to town from the beach and sobering up, we weren't all that super hungry for dinner, but I was determined to try the #1-rated Tulum restaurant in Trip Advisor, Altamar. They are only open for dinner and looked a bit fancy, but we didn't care; most people dress so casually in Tulum, we just went with the flow and walked right in. Both the service and food were excellent! Instead of going the entree route, we shared a trio of appetizers and got to try their delicious condiments. The staff took great pride in explaining each one to us.
I'm sure the entrees would be amazing based on the deliciousness of the appetizers, but we were craving some gelato, and this way we saved room. Next stop, gelato shop!
It was not on the level of Tutti-Frutti in Placencia but was still a yummy treat and a great way to end our first day in Tulum.
To be continued...
One of Ambergris Caye's much-beloved restaurants re-opened the day after Thanksgiving, and -- of course -- we were there. Ens and Cheri are our neighbors, and not only that, they really know how to do barbeque right. Although we don't eat a lot of meat under normal circumstances, when we want to indulge our inner carnivores, nothing but the Lazy Croc will do.
This is a sign we weren't sure we'd ever see again:
They're starting out simple with their basic menu of pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and a few sides. Prices are the same as before, and there is a choice of four sides with your meal. A limited drink menu is included but no desserts. They told us they might add to the menu again over time, but wanted to begin again with the basics. Makes sense to us! Prices are in Belize dollars (divide by two for USD), and only cash is accepted.
They're reserving their rear deck on the pond for private bookings, but they do have tables out front, or you can carry out.
Barry had a nice chat with Ens by the smoker -- where the magic happens.
While I talked to Cheri manning the kitchen. She's a stellar cook!
Since we live right next door, we just brought our grub (note my "cowboy lingo"!) back home. Barry got the Smoky Joe pulled chicken sandwich (on the left), and I got the Juicy Lucy pulled pork with coleslaw. We both ordered BBQ baked beans for our side dish.
Let me be the first to say, they haven't missed a beat. It was absolutely delicious, and I even broke my "no white bread" rule and ate every bit of it, just this once!
Here are the Croc's days and hours of business. We'll definitely be back...often!
This year Thanksgiving "went to the dogs" as Fido's, an ever-popular San Pedro restaurant, bar, and live music venue, teamed up with Saga Humane Society for a fundraiser featuring singer-songwriter Kelly McGuire. Fido's and Kelly are both such Ambergris Caye traditions that I am embarrassed to admit we've never experienced either, so we were looking forward to a good time for a good cause, and we were amply rewarded with a unique and fun Thanksgiving evening. I'd been asked to take photos for the Saga website, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone by doing our own blog of the event as well.
We left home on our bikes a bit early so we could eat dinner before the Saga event really got cranking at 6pm. Barry got our steeds safely locked to one of the huge anchors right outside Fido's on the ocean front. Fortunately, his pinched nerve and upper back issue has finally healed up, or most of the way, and he can ride his bike again. We're both very happy about that!
We got a table right by the sea and started with a special drink of the evening -- vodka with watermelon juice. Yum!
Here's the menu for the special Thanksgiving dinner. The Cochinita Pibil was tempting, but we both ordered the traditional turkey dinner, which was $40 BZ ($20 US) and also included dessert (and a rum punch, as it turned out) -- neither of which were mentioned on the menu. So it was quite a good deal.
The dinner was delicious. The Candied Plantains tasted very similar to candied sweet potatoes, which I love. It was also nice to get real mashed potatoes with lumps!
These two cute felines were making the rounds and became our best friends while we were eating our dinner. I gave them a small taste of turkey. Some kids at the next table gave them quite a nice portion of turkey a little later, so I think they made out pretty well for the night!
As I mentioned above, the menu didn't say that a rum punch was included with our Thanksgiving special, so we drank it between the entree and dessert. Not a problem!
Dessert was a version of Key Lime Pie that had the texture of frozen Cool Whip with added lime juice and green food coloring. Not our favorite interpretation of the traditional island dessert, but we managed to choke it down!
After dinner, I spoke to the Saga board members and volunteers at the event, and Barry and I both started taking more photos.
Kelly McGuire was great! Although his music had a lot of country in it (and I'm not normally a country music fan), it had an islandy flare I really liked, reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet. Lots of songs of sailing and boats, which we appreciated given our past (we used to own a 30' sailboat), and songs mentioning Belize. Kelly lives in Texas but is much loved here and comes to the island frequently enough that a lot of the folks in the audience knew all the words to his songs. It's obvious that he loves Ambergris Caye as much as it loves him. Some of his songs were upbeat and fun, and some were more touching. The one about daddies and daughters definitely wet my eyes -- and his too, he said. He did two great sets and spent plenty of time talking to the audience, promoting Saga, and drawing raffle tickets for great prizes.
A lot of Kelly CDs and merchandise was being sold to audience members, with a portion of the proceeds going to Saga!
Ari was working the crowd and selling lots of Saga raffle tickets.
Kelly auctioned off one of his "Boats in Belize" bags with CDs and a Boats in Belize shirt to the highest bidder. There were several bidders, and the bag brought a high bid of $140 US, all of which Kelly donated to Saga. Awesome!
Here are the winning bidders in the auction with Kelly!
Kelly invited all the dads with daughters in the house to get up and dance when he sang his sentimental daddies and daughters song. Not all of these are daddies with daughters, but a few were. There was one really young girl dancing with her mom and dad, but they were just to the right of this photo. Really sweet!
Two of our building neighbors put in an appearance, which is pretty impressive considering that they are the only others from our building on the island right now!
And just a few more random shots from the night...
As Kelly was finishing up his second set, we took off. It was almost 9pm after all, and these two old farts have to get their beauty sleep! But first, a bike ride back to our condo (with our headlamps). The taxi and golf cart traffic north of the bridge was the worst we've ever experienced heading home after a dinner out. Maybe because it was Thanksgiving, or maybe the whole Mayan calendar fascination brought extra folks to the island, but it wasn't as much fun a ride home as usual. Oh well, we still had a fine Thanksgiving night on the island, and Saga raised a lot of money to help the dogs and cats of San Pedro. It's all good!
Hope all our friends and family in the US had a very Happy Thanksgiving. We miss you!
You know you've been in a place for awhile when you start repeating yourselves! Like this time last year, we enjoyed a fine opening day lunch at Aji, one of our neighborhood restaurants, but since we forgot our camera last year, this time we came prepared to snap some photos of the great setting and delicious food prepared by Chef Hugo.
Unlike last year, when heavy rain forced us to eat at the bar, this time around we had a lovely table outside in the trees, with a beautiful beach-side view.
Like last year, they offered a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert for a very reasonable $25 BZ ($12.50 US) and drink specials as well. I rarely get to indulge in wine here because of the high prices, but at $10 BZ ($5 US) a glass, this Sauvignon Blanc was a welcome treat!
We decided to order different things for each course so we could taste as many dishes as possible. For our appetizers, I ordered the Seafood Fritters, while Barry ordered the Hummus with veggies and chips. Both were fresh and delicious, and the fritters were HOT. Perfect!
For our entrees, I got the grouper and Barry the vegetable pasta. Again, delish! As I told Barry, I wish folks down here didn't make that high-carb white rice taste SO delicious by cooking it so perfectly in coconut milk, because I know it's not good for me...but I can't resist it cooked Belizean style! Mmmmmmmm.... And the fish was perfectly cooked.
We ordered one of each dessert, the Chocolate Rum Cake and the Caye Lime Pie. Both were yummy and attractive, but I think we both agreed that the tartness of the pie with its delicious lime glaze was the top choice. I wanted to lick the beautiful plate and would have if I'd been at home!
Right before our desserts arrived, our good friends and snowbirds Ruthie and Chunky, just back on the island from their six months in Minnesota, arrived on Forrest Jones' Hobie Cat from south of town. It was funny because I'd noticed the Hobie sailing up and wondered how they had enough wind as we could feel almost none from our table, sheltered by trees. Apparently they had plenty of wind out on the water. We were surprised to discover that the very boat we'd been watching was "crewed" by our friends. We greeted them with hugs and were truly delighted to see them!
After meeting Forrest and saying our goodbyes to Ruthie and Chunky, who should we run onto on our way out but Ben and Joanna Popik, island friends who run Island Films here on Ambergris Caye. We hadn't even seen them in the foliage of the restaurant. We all noticed that an extremely large black cloud was forming behind us to the north, and since they had farther to walk than we did, Joanna suggested that they better walk fast once they passed our building.
I'm afraid they didn't make it home without getting wet, because not long after we got safely inside our condo, the rain came fast and hard. Wow! We were imagining the folks at the restaurant having to scramble to get everyone sitting outside the palapa, and their food, safely under cover. We were so lucky that we had had perfect timing today!
Here is what it looked like just five minutes after we got home:
Once the storm had passed, we saw the Hobie heading south right outside our windows. With wind out of the north, they should be pushed right home. We waved from our dock, but I don't think they ever saw us.
Last year was the first time we'd ever been in Belize in the month of October. It was not our favorite month. I remember it as being gray and rainy and still, with not nearly enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes and sand flies away. I remember plowing through deep pond-sized puddles on the road north of the bridge as we traveled from our condo to town and back again, time after time. I remember washing our bicycles over and over since the puddles were deeper than our bottom brackets. About the only thing positive I can recall about last October was that it was cooler than the summer months. October, we were not sorry when you melted away into November.
What a difference a year makes. This October has been much drier, sunnier, and the breezes a bit more constant. There have been a few mosquitoes and sand flies, but nothing like last year. It has been, really, gorgeous and bright, with only a few days that tourists wouldn't love. Those folks who got cheap low-season rates for October vacations here are no doubt feeling a bit smug. Hurricanes? Nope. Tropical storms? Not even close.
The biggest difference in the October of 2012 and the October of 2011, though, is the roads. Sure, less rain has helped, but thanks to a big effort by the new town council, the road north of the bridge (at least as far as Grand Caribe), was graded and filled with load after load of gravel this summer. And it's holding up well. There are a few areas where potholes and "moguls" are developing, but this is nothing even close to the "great lakes" of October '11. And in a few of the larger holes, more heavy-duty gravel was dumped just in the past week or so, after a few wet days made a bit of a muddy mess in a couple of lower-lying spots. This rocky gravel isn't the most bike-friendly stuff I've ever seen or ridden on (thank goodness for wide beach cruiser tires), but it certainly beats putting one's legs up and going "wheeeeeee!" through deep, silty puddles you can't see the bottom of.
But I'll shut up now and let the photos tell the rest of the story.
In addition to changes in the road, the Funky Monkey at the Cloisters is no more, but a new restaurant. Feliz, is busily preparing for opening soon, and we happened by as the new sign was being painted.
We also happened to meet the new proprietor, Kevin. He's currently working on planning the menu and is hoping to keep prices reasonable so ex-pats and locals, as well as tourists, will be able to afford to eat and drink there. Great idea! It will be nice to have another choice of eateries in our north of the bridge neighborhood.
All in all, I'd say the changes between this year and last are for the better!
UPDATE October 20: I was biking by again today, and the Feliz signs are complete. Very cute and colorful, don't you think?