¡Adiós México!

As much as I hate to leave paradise, I’m looking forward to seeing my cats and sleeping in my own bed.

We had breakfast this morning on the beach again, at one of our usual places. That meant we got to say goodbye to Suzy, who took great care of us whenever we were there. After breakfast, Amy stayed to enjoy the beach while Misa and I did some final shopping. Misa is fabulous at bargaining. I’m not sure I know how to shop without her anymore.

We met back up at the apartment for last minute packing and showering. We have so much more stuff to bring home than we brought with us! I don’t know how that happened! Oh, wait. Yes I do.

We used Uber to get to the airport and hurried through security, which was a little awkward because of all our purchases. Then we had delicious airport food court food (it was terrible), except for Amy who ate some pastries she bought in town.

Our flight to Dallas wasn’t very full, so Misa and Amy got a row with no one in the middle and I had a row all to myself after my seat mate moved to another empty row! If only I had this luck on overnight flights.

We got into Dallas half an hour early and off the plane half an hour late since they had no gate for us. Fortunately we made the connection and are on our way home to Dayton.

See you next vacation!

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¡Viva México! Sexto Día

We had another early start today to get to our dolphin tour, but it was totally worth it! Our guide was a marine biologist and all our tour money goes to funding research, so if you’re in Puerto Vallarta and want to check out turtles or dolphins or whales, I highly recommend Wildlife Connection. They took us out to find several groups of dolphins, and the dolphins rewarded us by jumping and playing with the boat. Unfortunately they didn’t want to play with us humans. Every time they stopped to boat to let us swim with them, the dolphins dove down or swam away. I was one of the first volunteers to jump in the water, beating out Misa by less than a second. Unlike the way things would go in the United States, we didn’t have to sign any waiver or use a life jacket. They gave us flippers and a mask and let us jump into the open ocean with the animals!

Even though we couldn’t swim with the dolphins, at least they put on a great show. And we had an even better show a bit later, when a mama whale with baby and escort came within about 20 feet of our boat. All three jumped and showed off for us and it was an amazing sight.

When we got back from the tour, we headed out to the beach again to relax in the sun, with a stop for Amy and me at the mole restaurant (because mole is awesome). They couldn’t sell us a bottle of it to take home, but they did give us two tiny cosmopolitans for free. I also maintained my klutzy streak by falling up the stairs on my way to the bathroom.

From the beach we came home to shower and get ready for dinner at The Iguana, the super great restaurant at Elizabeth Taylor’s home, Casa Kimberly. The dining room is on a terrace so we had great breezes and could watch the sunset. The food was tasty (although I don’t think all of us enjoyed it as much) and my chocolate mousse was AMAZING. There was a mariachi band that played twice while we were there, sometimes serenading us. We were the youngest people in the restaurant, but it was definitely worth the walk over there.

Back at the apartment, we learned that one leg of our flight home was canceled, so we dealt with rebooking that before Misa and I headed out to a club, Andale. The crowd there was much older than us on average, so we left to seek out another club, where there was an open bar for ladies! It wasn’t a lot of fun either, so we headed next door, where one of the friends that Misa made on this trip got us in without a cover. We lasted there for a good while before heading home, where we couldn’t get our key to work! We had to knock and wake poor Amy up to get back into the apartment, but we eventually made it.

It’s sad that we have to leave tomorrow, but at least with the new flight home we have a few more hours!

¡Viva México! Quinto Día

The word of the day is “Incredible.”

We got an early start this morning to make it to a historical/cultural walking tour that left from the tourism office. After only about half an hour on the tour, we ditched it to wander on our own. The tour guide was nice, but scattered and long winded, and none of his stories seemed to relate to what we were seeing. But it was…”guess what?” “Incredible!” (To quote him. Every third word he said was “incredible.” It wasn’t incredible. Except incredibly boring and incredibly amazing how many times one person could say “incredible.”)

Misa headed out to do some shopping farther out of town while Amy and I wandered the remainder of the Malecón and did a bit more shopping. I especially enjoyed seeing all the buildings as they climbed up the hills, but I’m really glad we aren’t staying up there. Too many stairs. After almost two hours of walking and shopping, we made our way back to the apartment to meet Misa. There, we had a lunch of leftovers from the night before and made reservations for a dolphin tour and a fancy dinner tomorrow.

We spent the next little while lying on the beach outside the same restaurant as yesterday. Our favorite servers were there, too, as were the people who were next to us yesterday. After some food and a few drinks for some of us, we left to do even more shopping. Apparently most of what we do in this town is drink and spend money. Eventually the heat and sun got to us and we returned to the apartment.

We had dinner at Joe Jack’s, which had been recommended by a friend of Amy’s and which was delicious, even though we had to wait for it and there was a weird conversation with a guitarist from France outside. After dinner, Amy went back to the apartment while Misa and I walked back across the river to check out some art galleries that have a special event on Wednesday evenings. By the time we got there it was nearly over, but that was okay because the art wasn’t to our taste and was pretty expensive as well. We walked on a bit farther, and ended up taking a taxi back.

Tomorrow we have to get up early for dolphins!

¡Viva México! Cuarto Día

We didn’t get to do flyboarding today. We were all set to do so and then we learned that the people who run it take Tuesdays off. Oh well. Some other time.

We started the morning with breakfast at a restaurant we walk by on the way to the beach, Fredy’s Tucan. The food was delicious and the service pretty quick. It was filling enough that we didn’t need much in the way of lunch today. Instead, we settled into some lounge chairs in front of Si Señor, a beachfront restaurant. Our servers, Susy and Gilbert, took great care of us, and didn’t make fun of the fact that we started with cocktails at 11:00 in the morning.

We stayed on the beach all day, meeting the people around us courtesy of Misa and her ability to make friends with everyone. Because the beach is full of people walking by hawking their wares, we also got some shopping in! I got a sarong (courtesy of Misa) and a purse, and Misa did a good amount of shopping as well. We all also got henna tattoos. Mine was so simple the guy gave it to me free.

We parked on the beach for numerous hours, even though Katie had to leave us to go back to reality around 1:00. For lunch, we got guacamole, which they made at the table! And it was some pretty delicious guacamole, too. We finally left as the restaurant was starting to set up for the dinner crowd, at around 5:00. After a stop home to shower and rest (because a day spent on lounge chairs is so tough) we headed back out for our own dinner.

Dinner was at Pancho’s Takos. We’ve passed it the last few nights, and there’s always a line, plus it got great reviews online, so we decided to give it a try. And it was completely worth it. We got so much food and had to take some home, but the tacos al pastor and the quesadillas and the avocados and everything was delicious. Except the spicy mango onion thing. I didn’t try that, but Misa did and instantly needed something to drink. We didn’t take any of that home with us.

As we walked back to the apartment, we stopped at a pastelería/panaderīa to pick up breakfast for tomorrow. It’s amazing how inexpensive things are. We got six pastries for only 95 pesos, or a little over $5 US. I’m really looking forward to them.

It might have been all the sun, or it might have been all the drinks (it was the drinks) but I’m completely exhausted from a day spent relaxing on the beach!

¡Viva México! Tercer Día

¡Ballenas! Whales!

We got up extra early today to make it to our whale watching tour. We had to be there by 7:30, so we left at 6:50 and made it with plenty of time, thanks to our Uber driver. We thought we had enough time to grab breakfast there, but they called our tour before the food arrived, so we took it to go instead. Misa, Katie, and Amy ate their while walking to the boat, but I had ordered oatmeal so I decided to wait until after the tour. Bad move – the container broke while we were on the boat so I ended up with a soggy bag full of oatmeal and only a banana for breakfast.

The four of us squished onto a seat designed for three and then held on for dear life as we zoomed over the water. It was like a roller coaster ride, and since we were in the front we bounced a lot on our seats. At one point, Misa even went totally airborne! But it was worth it. We saw many, many whales, including a mama and baby. Mama was teaching the baby, so we got to see her slap the water with her fins and then see the baby copy her. It was amazing. At one point they were only about 20 feet off the side of our boat.

When we got back to dry land, we followed the recommendation of one of the other tour guests and took the bus back to town. It cost only 7.5 pesos, or about 40 cents, and was almost as quick as a cab. We got to listen to a guy rapping on the way, and it dropped us near to our apartment and we got a little shopping done as we walked back (I bought some art type stuff). Then we set off for the beach. We mostly settled into the shade in the more secluded beach we discovered yesterday, but Misa wanted to swim so she went back to the other beach (there were a lot of dangerous rocks in the water at the secluded beach). I spend most of the time reading, but did try to sneak in a little nap in the sand and breeze and shade.

When we left the beach, Amy and I grabbed cheesecake and smoothies from a little cafe. We met back up with Katie, who had gone for a walk, and headed back the apartment, where Misa arrived a bit later. There we attempted to become a little more presentable after a day spent in wind and sun before going out to eat and see the sunset.

Dinner left something to be desired in terms of food and drink (although the guacamole was good) so we walked the length of the Malecón again and got some bonus treats (crepes are so good). I found more artwork to buy because I am my mother’s daughter. We saw a beautiful church and I hit the bank to make up for all my art purchases, then walked back the apartment.

It was a long day, and much of it in the sun, so we’re all pretty worn out. Tomorrow might include flyboarding!

¡Viva México! Segundo Día

We had a leisurely morning today, even though several of us were up early. Misa went to Mass while the other three of us grabbed breakfast on the beach. While Amy and Katie chose Mexican food, I went with French toast because I couldn’t not have that once I saw it on the menu. But I did have Mexican hot chocolate! So tasty!

We walked along the sand to where rocks blocked our path, stopping to take pictures of (and get accidentally soaked by) the waves along the way. At the beach, Amy and I lazed about on the sand while Katie set off to explore. Eventually we made our way into the water, just around the same time as Katie and Misa met us at our towels with a piña colada for each of us.

The beach was full of a lot more locals than just about any other part of the beach. There were stairs leading over the rocks that took us to another little beach, but I wouldn’t have wanted to swim there because there were too many rocks in the water. Katie went with me and fortunately is a patient person, because the sandy rocks and heights made the going tricky for me. Someday I won’t be afraid of heights, but today was not that day.

When we left the water and walked along the sand again, I did probably the most me-thing ever: I found the hole from someone’s sand castle and stepped into it, twisting my right ankle. Luckily, I didn’t hurt it too badly, and some ibuprofen took away most of the pain, but it is bothering me off and on. My other ankle must have felt left out, because later in the evening I stepped into a hole in the sidewalk with that one. Lesson learned: ignore the sights around you and just watch the ground.

Following the advice of some people in a pool (it was right next to the malecón!), we found a taco stand a few streets over for lunch. Amy and Katie ordered the food while Misa and I grabbed drinks from the OXXO (a convenience store), and we sat under an umbrella to eat it. The food was amazing. Absolutely fantastic. We had 8 tacos and 4 quesadillas and we only stopped there because we were so full. Misa, in typical Misa-fashion, managed to make friends and get a recommendation for a rooftop bar from one of the other customers. She befriends absolutely everyone!

After lunch, we headed back to the apartment to rest a little and decide what to do for the evening. Eventually, Amy, Misa, and I headed back out while Katie rested. The three of us did a little touristy shopping, bargaining down prices and checking out local crafts. We found a fun park full of mosaics and walked the length of the malecón. We snacked from food carts as we went along, so I had a dinner of elote, guava Italian ice, and half a sweet empanada-like thing. There were also stands selling crepes, tamales, tacos, all sorts of desserts, rice and bean plates, and, well, just about everything you could imagine. We ended up in a little park where music was playing and everyone was dancing or eating.

Despite the limited physical exercise of today, I’m completely wiped out. We have to be up extra early tomorrow for our whale sight seeing tour, so it’s bedtime!

¡Viva México! Primer Día

It’s been several years since I last visited Mexico, and I’ve never been to be Pacific coast, so I’m really looking forward to this trip with friends to Puerto Vallarta!

We (Misa, Amy, and I) started off at the unholy hour of 4:00 in the morning so that we could catch our 6:00 flight, but thankfully that was the only bad thing about flying. We soared over fluffy pillow-like clouds and dusty Mexican desert (from the sky it’s a lot more colorful than Arizona desert) before crossing into more mountainous terrain and arriving in Puerto Vallarta around noon local time.

Customs was easy-peasy, except that while the passport control form was bilingual, the customs form was not. This wasn’t a problem for us, but we ended up helping a lot of those around us fill it out. After clearing customs we forced our way through the crowd outside of the airport and trekked over the pedestrian bridge to the cheaper cabs. There we got a ride to Old Town/Zona Romántica, where our Airbnb was. It was a bit of a wait to get inside and they weren’t quite done cleaning, but at least we were able to drop our stuff and change into clothes better suited to the climate.

Our place is in the absolute perfect location. We can walk to the water and there are so many shops and restaurants and there are cobblestone streets.

We set out for the water and ate lunch (it was 2:00 local time, so 3:00 for us, and we were so hungry) in a tourist trap kind of place on the sand. Tacos and mango margaritas for me! The mango margaritas left something to be desired. After lunch, Amy and I wandered along the sand gawking at how overbuilt it was. We detoured back into the town and made note of the pastry and coffee shops on our way back to our place, where Misa already waited. There we rested and unpacked while we waited for Katie, our fourth.

After Katie arrived, we headed back out to find dinner. I tried mole for the first time. I’ve seen it and knew what it was, but I had never had it before and it was amazing! We walked down to the water and looked over brochures for tours, watched a wedding reception, and were scared by fireworks.

We’re all exhausted by our day of traveling, so it’s an early night for us! Tomorrow–beach time!