When last we spoke we had just arrived in PV and were really enjoying the new surroundings. What is not to like? The weather is beautiful, the water is warm, the views are fantastic and the beer is cold. As we are constantly reminded, “we are on the fun side of the wall”. But this is the start of our traveling life and we know there will be ups and downs. We are also adjusting to the fears and worries of our new life. I know, traveling full time while retired sounds like a dream to many, and it is to us. But traveling is not always easy, not always fun, and being retired means you don’t have a job, and consequently have no income. Unlike many of our retired friends we don’t have pensions and we are too young to take social security. We must live off our savings which tends to rise and fall with the stock market……need I say more?
Then, we all got sick. Yes, three days into our grand adventure and we are in gastro intestinal hell for 12 hours followed by several days of slow recovery. We missed the big downtown New Year’s Eve celebration. We honestly don’t know if it was food, or water, or a bug we picked up on the plane. Yes, I know, Tim and Megan warned us to stay away from the beachside ceviche, but after a couple margaritas we threw caution to the wind, and well ….maybe it was the ceviche. The bigger problem was we were then worried about everything, could we eat or drink anything? And nothing sounded good. The voice in my head was saying “what were you thinking, traveling full time is a bad idea” “don’t you just want to go home, where you speak the language and can trust the food and water”. This was running through my head as I lay in bed listening to the awful New Year’s Eve MC down the hill at the Hyatt yelling “Arrrrrre yooooou ready to Paaaaaaaarty? No, not really, I am not ready to party.
Well, we did not pack it in and head for the states, we/I took a deep cleansing breath, and on New Year’s day we went to the beach. An $8 uber ride or a 50 cent bus ride takes you to Mismaloya, a small beach 15 minutes south of PV. The locals will inform you that Mismaloya was where John Huston filmed much of the 1964 movie “Night of the Iguana” starring Richard Burton. Apparently, Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stayed in Mismaloya during filming. There is a statue of Huston on the beachfront in PV to honor the fact that the movie transformed a sleepy fishing village into the tourist destination it is today. I have never seen the movie but we may have to watch it while we are here just to see how much PV has changed.
The town of PV and the surrounding area is beautiful. A lovely though somewhat touristy beach front. The parish church, La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe aka Our lady of Guadalupe, is striking. It was built between 1921 and 1965 when it received its trademark crown, a beautiful touch.
Not far from the touristy parts of PV are plenty of less touristy beach and jungle areas to explore. But you can’t ignore the poverty, poor roads and tumble down buildings that abound. Regardless, the people have all been warm and welcoming. This is an observation we have seen in all of our travels, poverty does not equate to unfriendly or even unhappy. Not to mention we have never felt unsafe in this town.
When you travel with a 20 year old daughter you are expected to plan some activities. Surprisingly, the 20 something millennial is not very excited about sitting on the deck and reading a good book. Something her aged parents find very appealing. So, before Cap flies home today we blew our budget and scheduled a few activities. Kelly and I have a daily budget of $100, which includes food, transportation and entertainment for the day. We will see how realistic this is as we travel through the year, but I can tell you it is not very realistic when you add in the cost of a 20 year old, nor should it really.
First off, we returned to Mismaloya via the 50 cent bus option. An adventure in itself as the bus looks like a 40 year old school bus with very noisy brakes. It is always fun to experience the world as a local. At Mismaloya we planned to snorkel Los Arcos, small islands offshore with natural stone arches. We hired a small boat and driver for a couple hours, with snorkel gear included our total cost was $60 US.
Great snorkeling, huge fish counts and depending on your arrival time you may have huge snorkeler counts. Our boat had 3 snorkelers but as we were leaving, a big boat showed up and was dumping about a hundred snorkelers into the water. Upon our arrival another big boat was pulling away with its load of about 100 amazingly toned men in speedos.
Our next activity was zip lining with Los Veranos. Kelly and I had never zip lined so this was a new adventure for us. The company we chose was fantastic, they have the largest course of zip lines with 14. The facilities were top notch and their staff was great. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and professional.
That being said, my thoughts on zip lining could be summed up as…meh. It was fun zipping down a 1000 foot cable through the jungle and over a beautiful river.
But if you know me, you know I am cheap. And $100 per person for less than 14 minutes of actual zipping seemed a bit much. This activity was clearly the most American like activity we had, with the most American (high end) facilities, and also the most expensive. As we learned years ago, the hotels and condos in Hawaii are so expensive because it requires a small army to make them look the way they do and provide the level of service they provide. The same is true here and anywhere in the world.
Our last activity with Cap was a cooking class.
This proved to be the best of all. We booked it through Airbnb, as it is one of the “experiences” they now offer. For $70 per person we were picked up downtown and driven up a washed out mountain road to a house in hills with a commanding view of Puerto Vallarta.
We spent the afternoon with Carlos, Brenda and two of their staff sipping drinks, and cooking local cuisine. Nothing fancy or elaborate, roasted vegetable salsa, guacamole, pork tostadas and chicken enchiladas. Nothing like the similarly named fare you get back in the states. Amazing taste and wonderful conversation with locals about their city, their food and their traditions. We finished with some holiday bread for three kings day and their private label tequila. It was a special experience and we would recommend it to anyone. We loved cooking together and it really brought us back to loving PV after a roller coaster week.