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Los Colores de Careyes

In February 2010 there was an unseasonal but spectacular overlap of climatic conditions along the Pacific coast of Mexico. Winter usually turns this hinterland to dusty earthtones. But this year, sporadic rains throughout the ‘dry’ season maintained the ground cover and shrubs in a dress of summer green while the late winter flowering trees all came into bloom at once for a smorgasbord of colour.
And nowhere along the Costa Alegre was this new climatic phenomenon more dramatically illustrated than at Careyes.
The name is synonomous with its own architectural style and the bold colours with which the Careyes villas are painted. The enclave of satellite mansions contains at it’s centre a hotel and a cluster of multi-coloured, greek island-style stacked dwellings aptly named Las Casitas de Las Flores.


From foreground to background it was a time of complements at Careyes: along roadways and from terracotta pots on terraces, the always blooming bougainvillea burst forth in hues from snow white to papal purple. Midground were the facades of orange, sky blue, yellow and ochre buildings staring out to the blue Pacific. Background was the immutable Sierra Madre Occidental which, at that time, looked like Joseph’s Technicolor Coat adorned as it was with patches of outrageous rosas moradas and primavera in full bloom.
The lagoon between Playa Careyitos and Playa Teopa never looked so vibrant and healthy.

Global climate changes can prompt beautiful mistakes.

For the times they are a changin’ and I was glad to be in Careyes when they did.



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A Weekend Away

Puerto Vallarta is the sort of love:hate place you need to get away from every so often in order to keep that ratio in a healthy balance. Fortunately there are easy getaways in any compass direction (except west unless you have a boat or are a strong swimmer).

A couple of weekends ago I went south about 100km to camp on the beach at Bahia Chamela at a place called Xametla. I took along Cashew for some company that didn’t require dialogue and together we had this beautiful place to ourselves. Cashew is a slightly silly version of a pit bull that doesn’t look for fights and avoids pits. She does however love to chase a moving target but doesn’t quite know what to do when the quarry is cornered. Cats and even squirrels usually have the last word. Tossed coconuts are more easily pursued, subdued and chewed.

She loves the beach but never says no to a road trip anywhere.

After a lazy start we’d arrived late in the afternoon but time enough to swim, walk and read a bit before the sun settled down for a prolonged sunset.

The onshore breeze went with the sun and the extended twilight that followed heralded an annoying spate of no-see-ums (hehenes). Repeated infusions of cold beer dulled the annoyance and lime juice eased the itching. A glorious sunset and call to tripod also took the mind off the pesky little insects. We slept soundly, Cashew inviting herself into my hammock with the pre-dawn chill. What a pussy.

A little further south down the Costa Alegre on the way to Careyes is one of my favourite seafood restaurants, La Viuda, which proves every time that you can’t beat fresh fish and that an eatery doesn’t have to be flash or expensive to be top notch.

A secondary reason for the weekend away was to revisit careyes to present some photographic prints of a job I’d recently performed there, shooting some of their hallmark villas.

A tertiary reason for the road trip was to watch some international polo as USA, Canada and Central America competed for the right to play in the 2008 World Polo Championship. Canada won. Mexico, being the host nation for the 2008 tournament also get to go.

The afternoon’s event was a good spectacle but the highlight was when the excitable Cashew, who had been dutifully restrained from pursuing the equestrian targets, finally wriggled out of her collar and ran on to the field, causing chaos, general panic and eliciting curses from players and umpires but conservative cheers from the small crowd. She eventually singled out one retreating horse and gave a spirited and high speed chase down the length of the field, prompting one heckler to suggest that they paint a number on her flank for the next chukka. I’d have photos of the action but was too busy chasing after the bloody dog….!

And as if that wasn’t excitement enough…. on the drive back to PV the next day we happened upon a recent accident involving a fuel tanker and a case of exceso de velocidad which delayed our return to PV but added some different photos to the weekend’s catalogue.

Where to next weekend? Cashew’s next adventure?


Stay tuned.


Sunseeker Cruise to Careyes

Maybe I shouldn’t have declared to the bloggy world that I will work solely for the sake of adventure ‘cos the offers are flowing thick and fast while the rent remains upaid!

Last weekend was a ripper, though. I’m a sailor by natural inclination not a stink-boater but it’s been so long since I had any high-seas adventures that this was not one I could refuse. Any excuse to go boating.

The vessel was a humungous 82′ Sunseeker powerboat called ‘Machiavelli’ and the trip was from Puerto Vallarta down the Jalisco coast to Careyes and back. The purpose was to document in photos the trip with a view to publishing the story in a soon-to-be-released magazine called ‘Costa Vallarta’.

The storyline was of three couples ‘getting away’ from Vallarta and at a rate of US$4500/day I guess the couples were presumed to be fairly well off. The people involved were mostly French with a Canadian and a Brit thrown in for good measure. (You could tell they were French because the word ‘rabbit’ was never mentioned once during the 3 day voyage.)

The trip was organised by John who runs the Producciones Viva empire http://www.virtualvallarta.com/ and who will be responsible for the new mag. As such, the trip was organized on the basis of an ‘intercambio‘ or exchange, whereby John fills pages of his magazine with an attractive enticing story in exchange for advertising space for the boat’s charter business. Free and willing models/subjects; free and willing photographer and a very expensive mobile platform for the exercise.

Somewhere down the line though the purpose of the exercise got lost in translation and we ended up being catered to in casual, paper plate/plastic fork style which needless to say didn’t make my job any easier (or tastier). So there’s a paucity of table-top settings in the photo line-up but plenty of others. http://www.callananphoto.com/machiavelli/

Catherine (the token Pom but fluently in French) was beautifully pregnant and as always the consumate model. Her husband Etienne did his best to stay as sunburned as possible for the duration of the cruise (I suspect as a means of escaping the camera’s probing lens). John and Florencia were more than happy being host and hostess with nothing much more on their agenda other than having a good time, and Christian and Corinne, both hard-working parents also enjoyed the escape from everyday reality. All three pairs were in love and very comfortable in present company which helps when trying to photograph happy couples enjoying themselves, ‘cos they are and don’t need to bung it on for the camera.







The passage down the coast traverses open, undeveloped coastline without many photogenic features but thankfully clouds always provided some interest to otherwise plain scenes, Cabo Corrientes being an obvious exception.

The Careyes coast during the dry winter months is less obliging; dry scrubland is hard to translate visually into a paradisical scenario (even with Photoshop!). Tight or otherwise selective crops on landscaped backgrounds or waiting for late golden light was the only way to make the stage as ‘luxurious’ as the story demanded.

But most of the time, while we weren’t trying to get specific shots I just shot people doing what a group of friends do on a big boat in a beautiful place; enjoying themselves, relaxing and righting it all off as a business expense. Viva el intercambio!