We had 4 days in between our Galapagos cruise and our annual pilgrimage to Mexico for Thanksgiving (pun courtesy of cervezas) with Darcie's family. To fill the time, we spent 4 days at Rancho Las Cascadas, a horse ranch and spa outside of Mexico City, before heading to Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta.
The "horse resort" is Darcie’s version of heaven: temperate climate, massages, horses, wine and Spanish—all “inoculations” before the family reunion and airing of grievances. Rancho las Cascadas turned out to be more of a resort than dude ranch: our horses were saddled for us each morning and we dropped them off at the end of each ride for the wranglers to untack, groom, feed and water. It was like valet parking. The ranch had about 35 horses from which to choose, and our mounts were reflections of our personalities: Darcie asked for a “beginner’s” horse and was assigned Fabio, whom she rode for the remainder of the stay. Dale asked for a different horse each day: he test drove Calypso, DaVinci, and Cherokee before deciding that Cherokee was a good fit because he wasn't a "tail follower," and was fast and rowdy! There were also 5 dogs at the ranch, including two, 6-month-old Boxers who clowned with each other and the guests, and 2 Boston Terriers who were much calmer. Yes, we just typed a statement with the words "terrier" and "calm."
Darcie also visited a local market near the ranch. Similar to markets in other countries, this huge market was filled with clothes, food, electronics...and pig heads. Plus lots of peppers.
We loved the ranch experience - it was one of the most beautiful settings we had ever seen; the architecture and design were very elegant for a ranch; the meals were delicious, the staff bent over backwards to help us, and we were grateful for the pool and jacuzzi. However, we both agreed that we would try a more traditional dude ranch next time, where we had all responsibility for the horse and could learn how to groom, feed, tack up, ride, and inspect a horse. Just in case we got horses later in our lives...
Our next stop was the Rui Palace Palace Pacifico in Neuvo Vallarta, to meet Darcie's family. The week was wonderful. There is nightly entertainment by the staff (including a Miguel Jackson impersonation), and some games which include audience participation. We were very proud of Dale for coming out of his shell and competing in the gender battle contest on stage!
Darcie bought crickets (as food) at the local Mexico market, and our nieces filmed us in our cricket-eating challenge. In fact, our younger niece tried one herself. The verdict? They taste like the husks of roasted peanuts. Not disgusting, but not something we'd eat again unless we were on the set of Survivor.
The beach at Nuevo Vallarta was beautiful; the water was warm and the sand was soft. Darcie took morning walks each day. On one day, she had a canine escort. On other days, she witnessed baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean. Most don't seem to make it, because there are birds waiting at every stage: by the nest, by the shore, and in the water.
The Mexico trip was fun and we loved seeing our family.