Puerto Vallarta after Xmas

January 12, 2016, Trip: ¡Viva México!
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We got back to PV on Jan 11th and the 80+ degree weather and sunshine was a welcoming site.   We took a cab back to Tigger and it was in fine shape except for some ants. Luckily, we had some ant bait traps and in a couple of days we had that issued pretty much licked.

Gary, the campground owner who also runs ATV tours, took us a tour the next day and it was great fun. Fran did get stuck once but no one rolled.  There was one other couple with us also, from Canada. We rode for about two hours up hills, across streams and small rivers and had lunch at a little “rancho” that distills their own tequila. We enjoyed taste testing, cold beer and a pool for a couple of hours before heading back a different and shorter route in the late afternoon.

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Thursday, we headed back to the garage that was going to work on Tigger and discovered the pitman arm we’d brought of storage was not going to work as it did not have a certain third piece (we only had two pieces) so Francisco said he could order a new regular set and we’d replace both sides with non-specialized ones. It would be delivered in two days and the work could be done on Monday. So this meant we had another few days in PV. Not a bad place to hang out. We also decided to finally get a bathroom wall repaired that had water damage awhile back and found a carpenter at the Home Depot who said he could do the work for a reasonable price. We had purchased a roll of vinyl flooring in the US to replace part of the wall (apparently hard to get here).   Alex and his assistant, Julio got the wall done on Saturday afternoon/evening in less than 90 minutes for $40 in the Costco parking lot! Another item off Doug’s to do list.

About a month ago, the instrument cluster in the dashboard began acting up big time. Previously, we had an issue once in a while with the speedometer crapping out but we had a fix that corrected that until…..: we got to mainland Mexico. The speedometer, trip meter and odometer all stopped working. Doug found a guy in Wisconsin online that fixes these so we had taken the instrument cluster with us to the US and shipped it to him where he was supposed to fix it and he shipped it back to us in Coeur d’Alene where we stopped to see a dentist for a cleaning. Upon returning to Mexico and reinstalling the cluster, we found the odometer still not working (just said “error”) and after 16 miles the trip meter stopped as well. The speedo was working. So we called Todd and were advised that had the odometer said error when he got it (it did not when we shipped it, it was just stuck at one mileage number) he would have told us it was not repairable. He offered to refund our money and told us we’d need a whole new cluster! Dang! We will have to see if we can find that in Mexico or whether we have to wait until we return to the States. In the meantime, we have guesstimated what we think our odometer should read and will run a trip meter on our GPS to keep tabs on it. Apparently, when you get a new one they can hook up the old one to a computer to verify the mileage; we’ll see……

For these four nights in PV we stayed at a small RV Park right in PV a few blocks from the beach and walking distance to the main drag and shops. It was nowhere near full and it had full hook ups for a decent price. It only had wifi in the office though but there was a Burger King nearby that we used a couple of times. We walked the malecon and beach about three times during our stay, met some full timers and overlanders at the campground (Jack & Marilyn, Stefan & Sharon, Rob & Liz), spent some time working on our Spanish and chillin’.

Sunday morning we drove south a bit down the other side of the Bay of Banderos, to Nacional Parque Los Arcos where we hired a boat to take us out to the rock arches to snorkel for about an hour. While the water temperature was perfect, the water was not super clear. The fish varieties were limited but there were large schools of the ones that were there. We also saw one ray, a few needle fish and swam through one of the arches. It was a good time for not an overly expensive price. We were glad we did not pay for the “tour” from the city to do this as the snorkeling was not comparable at all to what we experienced in the Baja and what we hope to experience in the Yucatan and Belize later this year.

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Monday, it was back to the mechanic where we pretty much spent the day. Bad news: both the wheel bearing and the tie rods were the wrong parts for our truck despite Francisco using the VIN to track the parts down. He told us we were out of luck on the tie rod situation but the ones we had still had some life in them so no huge rush; as for the wheel bearing he had his guys take out the bad one and they took it to the supply place where they found the correct one and installed that as well as doing an oil change and tire rotation – so the day was not a complete loss. By the time we left there it was 5pm, so too late to go anywhere outside of PV on our route, so we went to a grocery store to stock up and asked if we could park there overnight; it was not an issue. The store closed at eleven and did not open again till seven, so other than some highway traffic noises, it was quiet.

So finally, on Tuesday morning, a week after returning to Mexico after the holidays, we hit the road again. The sun was shining and the sky was clear as we headed into the mountains behind PV and drove south west to the coast again. It was a good climb up to 765m/1854f through jungle like vistas and then back down to the coast. We drove about 175km total and stopped at a small campsite on the beach for less than $10 where we had a palapa to sit under, chairs & a table provided, a toilet and a bucket shower system.   There was a lagoon at the top of the road by the highway with many different kinds of water birds.  Here’s a link to a video Fran took the next morning:

The beach was amazing – it is near the small pueblo of Chamela and the view of the islands off shore and the waves coming from many directions made it the best beach we’d been on in mainland Mexico. We went out into the waves a couple of times in the afternoon and the water temperature was lovely and the waves were so much fun. We walked along the beach and got to the mouth of a river where we saw a HUGE crocodile on the other shore. At first we were not sure if it was just a log or a croc so Fran pulled out the camera to zoom in on it, when it got up and walked into the water! We saw it swim across the river to the other side and disappear into the trees there.

Before leaving the next day, we got a few things done including some exercise and had brekkie under the palapa. We walked back to the river and found the croc on the same sand bar and Fran took some pics. We only had the waterproof camera so not a great zoom but we have evidence we saw a crocodile in Mexico!

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Midday we left this paradise to find another at the town of La Manzanillo about 50km/30m south; now this is not to be confused with the city of Manzanillo as we are still in the state of Jalisco but it was spectacular!   A lovely long curved palm tree lined beach with islands off shore, nice surf and not the crowds of PV. However, the beach at the town end of the bay was not very clean with lots of debris in the water and a funny odor. We stayed here only one night. The RV park itself was very small and a little pricy for the services it offered. It seems this town has a sewage problem as the odors began to drift over us late in the night and were still there come morning. We met several French Canadians (there are LOTS of them here in this part of Mexico) including a couple, Denis & Renee, who have been coming to and travelling around Mexico for fourteen years. They were a font of information.

Next stop for a lunch and a walk was Barra de Navidad which is lovely little coast city on a great looking bay with magnificent looking water. We parked and wandered around looking for a book store we’d read about where you could exchange books but apparently it had closed. Shucks!

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Then we checked out some waterfront restaurants before choosing one to have lunch and watch the surfers. The food was excellent and the scenery was magnificent.

After heading back to Tigger, to drove to Manzanillo across the state line in Colima.

 

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