Puerto Vallarta B4 Xmas

December 12, 2015, Trip: ¡Viva México!
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It rained most of the night in San Pedro on and off and continued all morning as we hit the road and headed to the coast. A small section of the road was toll but after that it was a windy two lane road with more traffic than we like.   The vegetation became greener as we went and then by the time we were down to an elevation of less than 1000ft it was very, very lush and jungle like with tunnels of trees to drive through.

It rained all the way to Puerto Vallarta (PV).  We found our condo resort and they allowed us check in early and we were able to leave Tigger in the lot where we could see him from our suite. Bonus!  Then it stopped raining! Yeah

We stayed at the Villa De Palmar “downtown” although it is not really downtown. It is called that because there is another Villa De Palmar north of here which is called “Villa de Palmar Flamingoes”; the latter is actually in Nuevo Vallarta which is in the state of Nayarit. Both resorts are owned by the same company.

DSC01756 fountains out front

We have a large studio condo with a balcony facing the front fountains and the resort has three pools/hot tubs, tennis courts, a gym, three restaurants (there is an all-inclusive option if you choose), shops, bars and Laundromat. It is comprised of about 8 buildings, right on the beach and is well maintained. We are very happy for our $170 for the week!

Sunday morning it began drying out and we went on a “tour” of the other resort which included the usual timeshare schpiel, got our “gifts” and enjoyed a nice walk along their beach and a few drinks by their pool before going back to our resort; transportation was provided both ways.   This part of the “Riviera Nayarit” has a wonderfully long beach that we enjoyed a nice walk on with not many vendors selling their wares.

Monday, we went for a walk, got groceries, enjoyed the pool and hot tub and took a walk along the beach here but not far. The beaches in PV are not as good as those in Nuevo Vallarta as there are rocky outcroppings every so often and you have to either climb over the rocks or venture further away from the shore to get around them. Sometimes the beach is quite shallow and the tide brings the water right to the walls of the resorts that don’t have chairs/umbrellas on the beach. Not as pleasant a beach walk as Mazatlán was either as there are many vendors selling hats, jewelry, blankets, beach cover ups, sunglasses and on and one. Tuesday, we walked, worked, skyped and took it easy by the pool ending the day in the other hot tub.

Wednesday we took the free city tour we were offered and only went along for half the tour as what was left was tequila tasting and jewelry shops then a place to stop and buy your own lunch further along the beach (been there done that or don’t want to do that). We got off the tour in old town and wandered to the far end of the malecon browsing in shops to finish our Christmas shopping, saw the buildings and squares of the romantic zone before sitting at a bar right on the beach drinking beer (15 pesos – less than $1USD. The malecon here is nice but way too many street vendors hassling you every 30 seconds it seemed and if it wasn’t them it was the actual shop owners trying to draw you in. We actually finished our shopping sitting at the bar on the sand with vendors coming to us! We got back to the hotel and had a hot tub before dinner.

Thursday night we took an excursion via boat to Las Caletas beach for a dinner and show called Rhythms of the Night. It came highly recommended. The boat ride across the bay was about 45 minutes (left late – yes, we’re on Mexican time!) and then they walked us through a candle and torch lit path to tables for a buffet dinner. The crew from the boat was so friendly and the open bar begins the moment you walk on board. Every table (for two or more if needed) has a beach front location with wonderful ambience and the food was excellent. The show was okay, kind of a Cirque wanna be; it would have been better with some kind of “translation”. Not that there was a verbal script but too much “artsy” stuff for us to figure out the idea all the time. The performers had amazing costumes; there were feats of strength, fire juggling and what appeared to be a wedding ceremony. On the boat ride back, the open bar continued and the crew entertained us with song and dance as well as a young man who did an amazing ball balancing act. We were quite impressed with the organizer: Vallarta Adventures and from this experience and what we’d heard from others, we’d recommend them for excursions.

We left the resort on Saturday morning and went to check out a place that we thought might work for us to park Tigger while we fly to see family for the holidays. We already had a price from a man recommended on Facebook but we thought a place closer to town would be nicer (shorter cab ride). Anyway, this turned out to be a huge mistake despite us telling this guy how long and high our RV was. The place we could have parked was a home owned by an American, while secure enough and we could have left Tigger plugged in the entire time and the price was right, was super tight to get into and we had some “accidents” when trying it out. One of the storage bins got hit which caused the entire rack on the back to move and the welding cracked in one place. When it moved, one of the jerry cans hit the back of the rig and put a dent in it. The entry to the driveway was very steep and one of the skid plates hit and buckled the bathroom outer wall. When we left there we decided to see what else we could find as we did not want to try parking there again. A further issue was discovered while trying to park: the back right tire had a bubble on it; not safe at all. The man told us the best tire place was Tyre Plus across the state line but being Saturday it would close at 3pm. It was already after 2.

DSC01887

We drove out anyway, hoping to make it in and got there about 2:53! They actually had our tire in stock (first piece of good luck) and although they wouldn’t do a full tire rotation (it’s just about due) they did agree to swap out the bad tire for the new one so we would be safe driving. We had him check out the new noise we were hearing and learned we had a wheel bearing going and the left tire rod was bad. As the latter is a special part, he of course could not order them. We had had the right one replaced back when we were in Connecticut and Doug knew we had a spare in our storage unit as you have to buy them in pairs. Since we were going back for the holidays, we added a trip to the storage unit as part of the itinerary and arranged to have the mechanic to order the bearing and we’d have all that work as well as an oil change done when we got back.

DSC01891 changing the tire

 

While the tire was being changed, we reached out to a Canadian man that the gentlemen we bought our excursion tickets from told us about. He runs a small 15 spot RV park a ways out of town (not quite as far as the first place we looked into) and when Fran called him, he said we could park for free, just pay for the electricity we’d use. Great deal, right? So we decided to drive there that afternoon and check it out.

We drove there and spent the night and enjoyed a “happy hour” with the owner, Gary, his wife Jean, and their permanent resident/friend, Kenny, all from Alberta. We agreed to return Tuesday afternoon to spend another night before our flight, and Kenny offered to take us to the airport on Wednesday as he usually goes into PV on Tuesdays, but he’d put it off a day to help us out. That’s just the way these Canadians roll!

Sunday we headed north back up the coast a bit to spend two nights at Sayulita, a beautiful less built up beach north of PV with a cute little town. We got the last spot at the recommended campground and the place had Wi-Fi (bonus!). After checking in, we went for a walk into town for a few essentials before going for a walk on the beach. After getting online for a bit, we inflated our boogie boards and went back to the beach. The waves were pretty decent but getting out to them was hard work as they come fast and often. We had lots of great fun.

The next we checked out the rest town which has a nice vibe to it with a good number of tourists but not a super touristy place; lots of surfers and health food shops and restaurants. The beach right at the town center was nice but full of umbrellas and vendors. The beach by our campground was quieter and the surf was better. We boogied boarded again and walked the beach. We quite liked this place.

We headed back to the campground where we were going to leave Tigger and packed etc. to get ready to fly the next day.  It was very hard to leave the clear blue sky and the warmth.

 

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