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PUERTO VALLARTA


Jalisco, MEXICO

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Copy, in whole, or in part, without express permission of the author is illegal.


Story and Photos by

LEE A. WOOD

`6/2/18

Needless to say we were quite tired when we got to Mexico. The plane left Vancouver at 1 AM. Serena got more sleep on the plane than I did but it wasn't very comfortable. The seats were small and close together. At least we were in front of the motors so it was fairly quite.

(PV (Puerto Vallarta) airport.)
PVR (GUSTAVO DÆAZ ORDAZ AIRPORT)
(PV (Crew debarking from  Air Transat airplane.)

PV (Puerto Vallarta) is a major transportation link for Mexico. Two other flights, from Air Transat, would follow us within the next 8 hours. That is only one airline and one day of the week. Multiply that by the number of airlines that service PV and you can estimate the thousands of tourist that use PV as a destination, or an entry port into Mexico.

From PV thousands of; cars are rented; bus tickets are sold; and people jump onto other airlines for destinations throughout the nation.

We walked out of the airport, past all the taxis, to the left, past all the limos that tried to get us to ride with them, and around the end of the building.

Here you will find a bus stop and a pedestrian overpass.

We took the pedestrian overpass.

Being tired I forget to check the position of the sun.

On the other side of the overpass I found, to my dismay that traffic was flowing North.

Back across the over pass we caught a South bound bus. However it was the wrong one and after negotiating a major traffic over pass he dropped us at a bus stop.

After awhile, with the help of some friendly locals, I learned which bus to take and found one with some room on it.

It was rush hour when we got off the plane so the busses were full.

However, after talking to the driver we got off at the wrong stop. He dropped me at the El Centro, but I wanted the El Centro in Old Town.

I did find a bank machine and then enquired about a taxi to take us the rest of the way.

The taxi driver who had told me where the ATM was knew I had money so wanted to charge me P100.

I laughed at him. I knew the bus was only P4.5.

We walked a bit until someone told us where the bus stop was and we caught another bus. That took us to the area we wanted, Old Town, or Viejo Vallarta.

Within a couple of blocks we found a hotel. It was more money than I wanted to spend, P350, and the only room left was on the top, 5th, floor.

We were too tired to walk anymore and my back pack was falling apart. I had caught the bag on the door of the bus, while ,getting on, and ripped a strap off.

(PV (Front of  Posada Don Miguel.)
POSADA DON MIGUEL
(PV (Serena standing in doorway of hotel)
SERENA SAYS, "QUIT MESSING WITH THE CAMERA AND LET'S GO".

So we took the room.

Hotel Posada Don Miguel is located at 322 Insurgentes col Emiliano Zapata. Insurgentes is the main bus route for traffic going North from Old Town.

(PV (Ceramic plaque on side of wall. Insurgentes col Emiliano Zapata)
STREETS SIGNS IN PV ARE CERAMIC,
(PV (Buildings alongside of street.)
HWY200, SOUTH OF PV, BECOMES
INSURGENTES COL EMILIANO ZAPATA
WHEN IT ENTERS PV
(PV (Ceramic plaque on side of wall. Venustiano Carranza col Emiliano Zapata.)
PLAQUES ON WALLS OF BUILDINGS

Along the South wall of the Posada is Lazaro Cardenas and the court yard of the Posada faces Venustiano Carranza which is another major traffic route for busses and trucks heading for the tunnel. Needless to say the Posada is surrounded by a cacophony of motorcycles, buses, transport trucks and all other forms of traffic honking their horns and rattling over the rough boulder paved streets.

After a nap, OK, siesta, we walked around, found a shoe maker to repair my dive bag, and explored the beach.

Serena was excited, thrilled, scared, (Her first time on a beach) as the water came up around our legs and washed the sand out from under our feet. She clung to me for dear life as her skirt, though I held it high, got wet. Even the legs of my shorts got wet on one wave.

We explored some stalls and then some hotel rooms and found some cheaper ones, closer to ground level. Ranging in price from P300, P280, most were P250, and one for P200 and still within 5 blocks of the beach. Only a couple of blocks from where we were staying, and two blocks from the shoe repair.

After picking up my dive bag. We went back to our room for a nap. I wanted to use the pool in the lobby but didn't think my legs could handle another 10 flights of stairs, 5 down, 5 up.

(PV (Serena sits by the pool in the hotel courtyard.)

At 7 o'clock, neither of us has a watch but there is a clock tower we can see from the stairs of our hotel, we walked down to the beach and strolled along the Malecon (seawall).


(PV (Panoramic view from the top of the stairs on the North side of the posada.)
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE STAIRS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE POSADA

We sampled foods at various stalls, and watched mimes, and men hang from ropes that they wrapped around the top of a tall pole.

(PV (Night shot. Dancers hang by their ankles from ropes around a tall pole.)
ALONG THE MALECON

Serena's sister must have warned her about time share salesmen. (Her sister was with me when I bought my time share in Cancun.) I stopped to ask a time share salesman about whale watching. Time share salesmen know everything and are willing to spend lots of time with you, especially if they are not busy.

This is the time of year when the Sperm whales gather off Puerto Vallarta. When Serena saw the picture of the boat we would go in, it was no go. I thought it would be.

Serena virtually pulled me away from the time salesmen as they wanted to continue talking.

We returned to our room at 11 PM and watched fireworks from our balcony. The balcony has a tremendous view of old town. On the hill South of us are several restaurants overlooking the harbour. We could watch the flashing lights, from one of them, as a performer twilled flaming torches.


(PV Night shot. Lights from buildings on the hillside.)
LOOKING SOUTH FROM THE BALCONY OF OUR HOTEL
(PV (Night shot.  Fireworks from the Malecon.)
LOOKING WEST FROM THE BALCONY OF OUR HOTEL
FIREWORKS FROM THE MALECON

(PV (Day shot, panorama of the hillside.)
LOOKING SOUTH FROM THE BALCONY OF OUR HOTEL

(PV (Interior, messy room.)
OK, IT'S MESSY, BUT WE WERE PACKING TO LEAVE

The bathroom was very tiny, you had to sit sideways on the toilet. The shower stall is too small to back away from the shower. You have to put your hand over the shower to direct the water onto your legs. Only one of the three lights in the main room has a bulb in it. The window above the bed has a missing pane so I stuffed the curtain in it, to keep the breeze off.


`6/2/19

Yesterday I had several internet signals. The only one that wasn't secured had only 1 bar, but it worked. This morning I have only two signals, both very strong, but both secured.

At 7:30AM, Serena woke up and we got things packed and headed out to find breakfast and check out the P200 room. As we went down the stairs I looked at the clock tower. It might have been 9 on my computer but it was 11 in PV. We had to forget about breakfast and find a new room before check out time.

We walked up to the 200 hotel but it had no empty rooms. We walked back, past the 280 and 300 hotels to the first 250. The room was only on the second floor, four less flights of stairs. Bright and breezy, a small table and chair on the balcony, for the computer.

However, when I was on the balcony a bus went by. I warned Serena it would be noisy but she liked it and I thought it was a side street with only one bus so we took the room and hurried back to the other hotel, grabbed our bags ands and checked out.

(PV (Front of the hotel, Serena standing on balcony )
(PV (Interior, open center to hallway.)
2ND FLOOR

(PV (View of street from balcony.)
LOOKING WEST
(PV (Street sign on side of building.)
HOTEL ANA LIZ
429 FANCISCO L. MADERO
(PV ( View of street from balcony.)
LOOKING EAST

After dropping our bags at the new place we went to find lunch. We found a nice little place across the bridge but it was really noisy, right in front of a major bus stop. It was long and narrow and all the traffic noise poured in and reverberated.

The busses here are very noisy, they rattle, and many of them run straight pipes, no mufflers. The streets here are paved with rock, about six inches in diameter. Consequently all vehicles rattle and the tires, bump noisily.

After lunch we walked back to a flea market. We came out the other side and there was a swinging bridge. I didn't think Serena would cross it but she oohed and awwed all the way across. It isn't very long but it bounces a lot.

(PV (Interior roofs of stalls In market)
ROOFS WITHIN ROOFS
EACH LITTLE STALL, ON THE GROUND FLOOR, HAS ITS OWN ROOF

On a little island we wandered through some shops, then across another bridge. I went across first so I could take pictures of Serena as she crossed.

(PV (Serena crossing a suspension bridge.)

We walked back to the hotel and I took my backpack over to the shoe maker but he was closed, it is Sunday. Then I walked back to a little stand I had seen on the street. He had some cheap DVDs. I picked out one, in Chinese, for Serena.

We had a nap, put on our swim suits, and walked down to the beach. The waves were smaller than the day before, the wind was less but it was cloudy. The waves push on your legs and when they go back out they take the sand out from under our feet. I had to hold Serena or she would have fallen over. Each time a wave would come in it would splash her and she would oooh. I found the sand rather coarse and hard on the feet. Only a few feet out the water got deep very quickly and the bottom turned to large boulders.


Finally she took to collecting bits of sea shell, when the waves were out, and running for high sand, when the waves came in. I went swimming.

When the sun was just about down into the water we walked back, had a shower, and went looking for supper. We found a long wall, behind which was a lot of music, at the end of the wall was a small restaurant. Behind the restaurant was a large dinning area, and behind that was a large ballroom. I believe one small kitchen was catering all three.

I had Carne Milaneza, breaded beef, and Serena had Filete de Pescado, Filet of fish. They cost P20 each and were very delicious.

After supper we called it a day as our feet and legs were tired. It is a good thing we were so tired because that is when we realized how noisy our room was, buses, cars, dogs, drunks, etc. all night long.

Though irksome, the busses at night have a steady monotonous sound as they slow for the tope, speed bump, in front of the hotel. That is, the ones which don't have straight pipes or those whose brakes don't squeal.

The first time I noticed it I thought it was the waves breaking on the beach, then realized we were much too far from the beach to hear the waves. But throughout our stay there I could compare the sound of the busses to that of the waves so it wasn't an entirely unpleasant experience.

Because the power cord for my computer has three prongs I can't plug it in in the rooms as they only have two hole outlets. The first night I adapted the cord of my shaver to fit the power box of my computer. The second night, third morning, actually, I found an extension cord, powering some lights around a sign attached to my balcony. I was able to plug the three prong cord into the end of the extension cord.

The hotel turned the lights off at 7 AM so I only got an hour on my computer, but not on line as I couldn't find a signal..

`6/2/20

Again we got started late, 11AM. We took my back pack over to the shoe makers, then we went for breakfast and found a little hole in the wall where I had Juevos Rancheros, eggs Mexican style, and Serena had Juevos Chorizo, eggs with spicy sausage.

When I say she had and I had, I usually order two different things and then we split them so she gets to try different things. So far she hasn't found anything she doesn't really like. Some things she finds not bad but the tacos we had last night she found excellent.

She wants to buy some tortillas and take them home.

We wandered around, following busses till we saw where the main bus stop was and went over to catch a bus to the North part of town. The bus stop is in front of a theatre and I took a quick look at the movies that were playing, none that I had worked on.

I asked the bus driver where there was a car rental and many blocks later he dropped us in front of one I had never heard of.

We went in and asked about prices and I hemmed and hawed, said I wanted to look further. She told me that what ever price I found, come back, and she would match it. Just a couple of blocks further we found a `Dollar' rental. After talking prices for awhile she finally told us that if I went on line I could get a lower price.

We walked further North past many big hotels and then caught a bus back.

When we had first arrived we were told not to take a bus with the word TUNNEL in the wind shield. Or maybe I was told to take one. It would have made more sense because the ones marked TUNNEL go right past the shoe maker's, within a couple of blocks of all the cheap hotels.

I had taken a stroll past the shoe maker's and saw the busses coming out of the tunnel.

The shoemaker, who speaks very good English, told me that the tunnel leads to a highway that bypasses the down town section of PV.

The shoemaker also told me my bag wasn't ready yet so I went back to my room for a nap, but couldn't sleep. After reading for awhile Serena and I put on our swim suits and walked to a different part of; the town, and the beach.

Through the South West corner of Viejo Vallarta we found a myriad of tourist shops and nice hotels, not big American style but higher price then what I frequent, close to, and on, the water.

Here the beach had restaurants and more peddlers.

(PV (Beach at Viejo Vallarta, Mexico.)
LOOKING NORTH, BAHIA DE BANDERAS

The sand South of the wharf is finer than the sand North of the wharf. And there is less undertow.

(PV ( Viejo Vallarta, Mexico.)
LOOKING SOUTH

Also, here, the sand was much finer, went out further into the water and didn't drop off so steep. When I tried to stand still, small fish would nibble at my toes.

I tried to watch them but it is impossible to stand still long enough with the waves buffeting you about. It is the one thing I don't like about swimming in the ocean.

After walking back to our room and showering off the salt water I went to an internet café and booked a car.

I tried `Dollar Rent A Car' and found it confusing on the types of cars that are available. I tried National because I have a card with them. I couldn't get the card number to work though I had confirmed it with them before I left home.

I went back to dollar and tried to book a compact with no air. They suggested an upgrade for an additional 50 cents a day.

I said OK, just to see what I would get. They gave me an intermediate with automatic and air, so I agreed.

(PV (Ceramic plaque on side of wall. Calle Jacarandas col Emiliano Zapata)
ON JACARANDAS NEAR CARDENAS

For supper I took Serena to a stand I had seen getting set up while walking back from the shoe maker.

In the morning the cobbler had suggested a place up the next corner for breakfast. It wasn't open and when we went for supper it still wasn't open. I gather it doesn't open on Mondays. El Brujos, I believe it is called and apparently is fairly well known. It was doing a booming business when we came back into town, through the tunnel, on Tuesday night.

Anyway, we went to this stand around the corner, which had a line up, and had tacos. Serena had three pork and I had two pork and one beef. We would order two, eat them and then order two more. Each time we got up to order someone would take our chairs, there are no tables, when we got our order we would find two empty chars.

Six tacos and one Coke came to P47.


(PV (A street in PV.)
NOTICE THE STYLE OF PAVING
(PV (Close up of stands along the street)
IT IS REALLY HARD TO WALK ON

After super I took Serena past the little DVD stand and found her another Chinese movie, a real scary one.

But it didn't work. The nice thing about this stand is that Francisco, the vendor, knows some of his DVD's don't work and he tries them all on his TV to see if they are good, before the sells them to you.

(PV (Close up of a stand along the street, and proprietor out front.)
SENOR FRANCISCO SALAS AN HONEST SALESMAN - 355 AQUILES SERDAN
(PV (Ceramic plaque on side of wall. Insurgentes col Emiliano Zapata)
CORNER OF INSURGENTES

On the way there I stopped into the movie theatre and checked the posters for all the movies that were playing because I had seen some of the names when I had been looking through his DVDs earlier. However after picking out all the latest movies that he had in stock I could only find one that would play and had English.

Some have English language and Mexican subtitles and some are vice versa. Some only have Mexican.

He puts them in a small TV and you have to hold your ear next to the speaker to hear what is being said because the clown at the next stand has his TV turned up full blast.

`6/2/21

Serena and I go to bed on Mexican time, two hours before Vancouver time. She gets up on Vancouver time. She sure does like to sleep. But hey, the only reason I look at clocks is out of habit. Time means nothing, here, in PARADISE.

About 5 in the morning, while I was on the balcony, on my computer, a man from the hotel across the street was waving a flashlight at me. He wanted to know if I was getting internet signal. I was getting two, very strong, but both were secured. He wanted to know what secured was.

We were trying to talk quietly so as not to disturb anyone but we had to talk loud enough to reach across the street.

While Serena got up to start to pack, she couldn't pack everything because two of our bags were still at the shoemaker's, I drew her a map of how to get to the shoemaker's, then headed off to pick up a car.

I took the wrong bus and ended up on a scenic tour of East central PV. We went up; narrow, steep, windy, rough, unsurfaced, streets, and back down again. Finally, when we got back to the main drag the bus driver dropped me off, 3 doors from the car rental.

I was at the wrong rental. I was at the one I had been in the day before but it wasn't the one where I had booked the rental. There are several Dollars in town and I chose the wrong one from the list on the computer.

`No problemo', as they say in paradise. They had the car brought over from the other location.

I rented a fairly new Dodge Stratus, with only 78K on the odometer but from the body you would swear it was 780K. There isn't a panel anywhere that doesn't have scratches or dents.

Back at the hotel I had to double park, there wasn't a space for blocks. This didn't keep the bus drivers happy, but it is a one way street and they got by.

Heading out of town we found a street stand that sold fish tacos but it wasn't open yet so we ate pork tacos at the next corner.

Serena, I don't know what she put on her's, but she was sure complaining about `ta la la'. Which is Mandarin for `TOO SPICY'. And if a Mandarin Chinese complains about spicy, you know it's hot.

Spicy food in Shanghai is far spicier than anything in Mexico. Even the chicken at the KFC is spicy.

I had to stop and get gas, it was only 1/4 full. Gas here is about 1/2 the price of Vancouver.

Heading North we went through the part of town known as Marina. Here there was a large cruise ship, The Sapphire, Princess.

We drove the loop around Manzanilla, Punta Mita, Sayulita.

See my story about my trip at Camino 200, on my Mexico page.

I wanted to get back to town and question the car rental about a light that was on the dash.

After much searching we were directed to the Dollar out by the airport where their mechanic informed me it was just a light problem, nothing wrong with the brakes. I didn't believe him but he assured me it was ok to drive it. I told him, ²Ok, I'll drive it, if it falls apart it's not my carÓ. He and his boss just laughed.

Then we headed North out of town again. I had seen a sign when we were coming in and I wanted to check it out. We fond the sign again and took a rough dirt road down to the beach. The name of the beach is playa Boca de Tomates, or beach of the mouth of the tomato.

(PV (Sign to Playa Boca Tomates.)

(PV (Panoramic parking behind restaurants)
WE CHOSE THE ONE ON THE RIGHT, `RAMADA EL PACHUCO'

(PV (Beach)
THE SETTING SUN GIVES A GOLDEN HUE TO THE NORTH END OF THE BEACH
(PV (Interior of restaurant kitchen)
IN THE MIDDLE, THROUGH THE BACK DOOR YOU, CAN SEE A COOK AT A WASH TROUGH CLEANING FISH

(PV (Panorama of restaurants along the beach)
THAT'S PV IN THE BACKGROUND

(PV (Panorama Beach and PV.)

(PV ( Beach, setting sun.)
(PV (Beach, setting sun.)
(PV (Night shot. Beach, children on trampoline.)
(PV (Night shot, huge tree branch over road.)
I WISH I HAD TAKEN THIS PICTURE ON THE WAY IN

This place reminded me very much of Playa Saladita, one of the first places I visited in Mexico. Restaurants along the beach, and fantastic food. Serena had a fish plate and I had lobster.

Then we went back to PV, through the tunnel past the hotel we stayed at before and found a little hole in the wall for P250, with a space to park out front.

(PV (Front of hotel.)
HOTEL LINA
(PV (Closer, front of hotel.)
376 FCO. I MADERO

(PV (Still closer, front of hotel, front door, Serena standing.)
(PV (Hotel interior, many colours and plants.)
(PV (Sign over front door, Hotel Lina.)
(PV (Hotel interior, large tree grows up to the sky, courtyard has no roof.)

The room was clean but when we were checking it out Serena saw a little gecko in the bathroom and just about freaked.

The room is on the ground floor, no stairs, `yeah', and back in the middle of the building, no bus noise. Again, `Yeah'. However there was a pop cooler right outside our door and a TV across the lobby.

Thankfully they turned the TV off about the time we went to bed.

`6/2/22

About 7 in morning some kid came clattering down the stairs wearing plastic roller skates. However Serena sleeps through most anything, which is good as the bed is the lumpiest, baggiest bed I have ever encountered.

I finally woke her at 9 AM.

Once the car was packed we stopped in the next door and had breakfast. I finally found some Mexican food Serena doesn't like. Fried cactus. It was a side item on a plate with an omelet.

I have never seen it on a menu or on a plate before or since.

Not sure why, but she didn't even try it.

I tried it, knowing what it was. It was all right, tasteless actually.

After checking out, we went to the drugstore to get some more sun tan oil. The previous day, Serena had wanted to put it on herself. As I didn't help, I didn't notice, she didn't put it on her ears. Now the tops of her ears are sunburned.

As we were heading South, I thought it would be cheaper here than in the smaller towns.

The first two drug stores we looked in were expensive. However, right across the street from the second one, a third one had the exact same product for a lot less. P99 as compared to P166. I bought the next size up at P110.

We then proceeded to the edge of town where we fueled up, before heading South on Hwy. 200.

Hwy. 200 South of PV is a narrow, windy, road that doesn't seem to be climbing but once you pass El Tuito it is down hill for miles. Once you leave Mismaloya there is little for habitation, a few small towns but mostly mountains. After a lot of down hill, without noticing it, you go back up and then you come down for a much longer time. Finally into the valley you find plantations and farms.

We saw a couple of signs that said beach but the roads looked long and rough.

See my story about my trip at Camino 200, on my Mexico page.

We drove as far as Zhiuatanejo with stops in Punta Perula, La Manzanilla, where we stayed for 2 nights, and Manzanillo where we stayed for one night and went to a fair where Serena tried a pistol shooting game.

She shot little metal camels off a wooden shelf. She had 15 shots in the gun and knocked off 13 camels. Wish I had had my camera with me.

We spent a night at Playa Azul,

After visiting friends in Zihuatanejo we returned North, bringing with us our friends from PG (Prince George). We spent the first night in San Juan de Alima and the second night in La Manzanilla.

`6/3/3

Our friends from PG caught the bus back South and we carried on to PV where we spent the night at the Hotel Ana Liz.

`6/3/4

We had all day to go shopping as our plane didn't leave till late.

(PV (Man riding donkey, and cars, crossing bridge.)
JUST NORTH OF THE THEATRE, Av. INSURGENTES
CROSSES A SPLIT WATER WAY, OVER TWO BRIDGES
(PV (Creek lined with trees, some buildings in the trees.)

(PV (Stairs going down to stores.)
BETWEEN THE TWO BODIES OF WATER IS AN ISLAND
(PV (Stairs going down to stores.)
ON EACH SIDE OF THE STREET, STAIRS GO DOWN TO A MARKET
(PV (A statue and fountain)
(PV (An iguana)
WEST OF THE MARKET IS WASTELAND

END

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