Our day in Puerto Vallarta was full of exploring, walking, tasting and geocaching. The geocaching gives us an excuse to go exploring parts of the city that one would normally not see. It takes us into neighborhoods and little parks and plazas. We walked many kilometers today and took many photos. The public art continues to amaze us. And people love to sit on and interact with the sculptures. We wish our cities back home would invest more in art and public places.
Puerto Vallarta is a city of 255,000 built on the edge of the mountains as they plunge into the ocean. It’s a long narrow crescent-shaped city, maybe 20 kilometers along the harbor. Tourism is it’s main income with airlines and cruise ships bringing people here from all over the world. Canadians seem to have a big representation here. We have talked to many. Also it is a major vacation spot for Mexicans. This is a rich paradise.
The Rio Cuale that flows next to old town is a great place to get away from the hustle of tourists and the eager vendors. We saw the Great Kiskadee, the Little Blue Heron, the Plain Chachalaca, the Snowy Egret, swallows, and other birds. Plus there is a nice little cafe there that sells the 2 for 1 drinks that every place in PV seems to sell.
One of our geocache finds was at the top of a high stairs in a beautiful neighborhood.
When we got up there and were looking for it, a little girl came out from a house and asked if we were looking for the geocache and said it with correct pronunciation. Then she showed us where it was hidden. That was very cute and she was very proud of herself.
People are friendly and helpful here. A lot of the Mexican people whose job is to deal with the tourists can speak pretty good English. A lot better than our Spanish, but we keep trying. We need to spend more time down here to get our Spanish together.
We were going to get up early in Manzanillo and go for a walk on the beach, but somehow until we took showers (cold, because the water ran so slowly that it wasn’t until the end of the second shower that the water started to get warm) and packed up all our stuff, it was time to call the taxi to go to the bus depot. We had a bit of a panic after we were on the way – Galen couldn’t find his wallet, so the driver stopped and backed up and Galen went back to the room. With the help of Jesus (the name of the hotel clerk) they found it on the floor under the bed!
At the station, we got to sit in the special, air-conditioned waiting room for Premier Plus passengers. Waiting with us was a couple from Canada with their two young girls. Nice to see families travelling Mexico by bus.
We expected a first class, direct bus to Puerto Vallarta, but as soon as we saw the bus – not one of the fancy Premier Plus buses, but one of their older buses – we knew we wouldn’t have wifi. Bummer. 6 hours on the bus and no wifi! How will we manage? I heard the Canadian mother explain to the little girls that they wouldn’t have wifi. . .they were expecting it as well.
The bus also stopped at every town along the way, including one on the north side of Manzanillo, where several English-speaking tourists got on. It was an interesting drive out of town past little markets and places selling pottery and tile. Big bunches of coconuts were for sale by the side of the road. Later we passed by lots of coconut and banana plantations.
We stopped in Melaque, a beach town just north of Manzanillo. The place is crawling with foreigners, walking, biking, driving. . . Lots of them got on the bus – almost half the people on the bus were foreigners, probably Canadians.
Highway 200 stays fairly close to the coast most of the way north, climbing through hills and then back along the water. When we are near the water, we see quite a few private, gated roads that must lead to private estates or clubs. As we go north, the country is dryer and cactus reappear. In some areas where there is irrigation there are large fields of vegetables. Then we get into an area that is almost exclusively mangos – huge plantations.
On the last part of the trip, the road skirts the Selva El Tuito National Park. We climb up high, switching back and forth. Then we have to go back down to sea level. Galen didn’t take his dramamine soon enough and eventually woofed his cookies, the last time just as we were arriving at the bus terminal. He felt yucky, but managed to keep everything down during the 20-minute taxi ride to our hotel. He felt better after resting a bit, then going out for some food.
We arrived in Puerto Vallarta by 2:00, so we had time to go exploring, walking along the Rio Cuale that flows close to our hotel, and crossing over on the suspension bridge to an island.
We see some interesting birds and several iguana.
We do a little geocaching, climbing stairs to the high bank on the side of the river. Can’t seem to find the cache here. . .
Then we wandered down to the Malecon along the water and walked along it, stopping to enjoy the amazing sculptures and watch the other tourists. We made our way back to our hotel, then decided we weren’t ready to stay there, so we went back out, looking for a place to have a drink. It is so easy to find food and drink here – just walk a block or two and you will find every kind of restaurant: air-conditioned, fine dining; hole-in-the-wall cafes (often family run); and street food. As we walked by Gilmar’s restaurant, the lone customers were a couple sitting at the sidewalk table. Their food looked delicious and they raved about it. So we went in for a drink. Then we decided we were a bit hungry, so we asked for some kind of appetizer. Turns out, they make salsa for you, right at your table. You say how much garlic, hot pepper, onion, etc. that you want and they mash it up in a molcajete for you. The peppers and tomatoes are already roasted and the whole thing is so delicious I would fly back to Puerto Vallarta just to have salsa at Gilmar’s.