A Duck Landed On My Lap

This guest post is the 1st of a three part series from Howard Hian, aboard the ms Zaandam

photo courtesy of Howard Hian

Just as I started to write this entry, a Black Bellied Tree Duck landed on my lap, looked me straight in the eye and seemed to say “Buenos dias, bienvenidos a Las Caletas,” which I loosely translated as good morning and welcome to this island paradise.

This was one of those grand moments that inveterate travelers (and writers) dream of.  My wife, Susan, and I had signed up for an excursion offered by Vallarta Adventures (VA).  We were on day four of our 11 night cruise on the ms Zaandam and Las Caletas (the Cove) was our beach destination for the day.  We boarded VA’s comfortable catamaran, replete with continental breakfast and entertainment provided by the friendly, helpful crew, for the one-hour boat ride to the island.  Las Caletas is exclusively leased by VA and, although we sought out a quiet spot on the sand and took our own hike, others participated in non-fee activities including all sorts of water sports, a cooking demonstration, nature hikes, animal encounters and, of course R&R.

photo courtesy of Howard Hian

For a modest fee, one could also get massages, take a clay making class and partake in guided scuba diving or snorkeling with sea lions.  A note for film buffs: Las Caletas was once owned by the legendary John Huston.  The outing is an all-inclusive experience with open bar and a marvelous buffet lunch served on a mini-bluff overlooking the ocean. Attentive table-side service, linen tablecloths and napkins added a touch of class to the meal.

Too soon, our idyllic afternoon, including perfect weather, came to an end but the frivolity and open bar lived on during the catamaran ride back to our ship.  That evening I skipped the duck served in the restaurant.

Tomorrow we cruise to Manzanillo followed by Acapulco and, of course, I will write more about the ms Zaandam.  Special note: my hat from Outdoor Research is not only UPF 50+ rated but clearly ducks find it attractive!

Howard Hian was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.  His prize winning story, Houseboating with My Pirate Pals, was in the Intergenerational Travel category.  In 2010 he also received a second place award in the Cancun International writers competition for his feature, Quintessential Quintana Roo.