Eighteen dollars mojitos
Hertz We start off with our typical greasy breakfast in the Airport, except that this time we are SFO's old International terminal which makes San Jose's Terminal C look like Shangri La! Anyways… off we go on an uneventful flight to Puerto Vallarta. Of all the places we have visited, and all the airports we have landed in, the Puerto Vallarta experience was the most bizarre! Right out of Customs we get hounded, I mean HOUNDED, by random people trying to sell us anywhere from hotel rooms to cab rides. Frustrated that we couldn't actually make our way thru this crowd Dan mentions that we already have a rental car reserved.
"Ah, but of course, which agency?"
"Right this way sir…"
Except that the counter he takes us to not only is NOT hertz, it's not even a car rental! It's his buddy trying to sell us a condo or something! Right-this-way my ass! We eventually find Hertz across the street, politely resist the dude trying to lure us into a time-share demo, get our crappy car and off we go.
Unmarked Gate Punta Mita is an hour to the north of Puerto Vallarta. It promises to be deserted and pristine. We exit and bam! We are plopped into a crappy town with a super crappy apartment building. Ayyy! Hopefully this is not another Soliferino on our hands! The road leaves the crappy village and becomes narrow and beautifully meanders thru the jungle…not bad. At one point we pass a beautiful imposing unmarked gate and a guard… one of those If-you-must-ask-you-don't-belong type gates.
At the end of the road, lost, confused and with no Four Seasons in sight, we ask around and realize that the gate was our hotel. Nice! Inside the compound, the resort is still a few kilometers away, and when we do reach it, we are once again reminded that you get what you pay for! :) This resort is so well positioned on its land. There are gorgeous views everywhere, two deserted and isolated long white-sand beaches, a rock to have a private dinner on - for which we promptly make reservations - great restaurants, one right on the beach and the other perched higher with a view of the ocean, and a fabulous spa. Too bad it is hotter than hell!
Jet Fuel One of the highlights of our trip is our daily visit to the cultural center. The art director, Ms. Patricia Gonzalez Moller, is a fabulous lady, and fabulously knowledgeable. Best of all, she puts up with our constant questions. We attend all her lectures on all-things-Méxican: Art, Culture, Architecture, History, People, etc. We learn all about Taquila and even take a tasting class; it is still too rocket-fuel for our taste, even after learning the proper drinkng techniques. And then we spend every spare moment we have on the resort's fabulous sandy isolated beaches. The water, she is warm as bath-water. Between ice-cold drinks and other constant goodies - ice cream, fruit, frapuccinos - we are total beach bums for hours each day, something we have never done! Ahhhh…. so relaxing.
Best Guacamole Ever We driver to Puerto Vallarta for the day and it is just what we expected: very touristy and spring-breakish, and again, it is hotter than hell! Fortunately for us there were no cruise ships in town that day. The main breach drag is nice with the ocean on one side, the old town on the other, and sculptures scattered about. There are a few cobblestoned streets, but they seem silly compared to San Miguel de Allande!
The outdoor market is cute, albeit full of stuff one can live without, and the constant calling from the stands and hand vendors really puts a damper on any visit. You can't even look at a stand because they sense your interest - just as cats zoom in on the person with allergies - and flock to you! The highlight of our day is the guacamole Si Señor made for us at our table: the absolute best guacamole we have EVER had! Yummm.
Choco Banana Patricia recommends that we visit the small villages of Sayulita and San Francisco. Sayulita seems to be very popular with x-pats. We eat breakfast at the birthplace of frozen-banana-on-a-stick, Choco Banana. Yuuumm-mmmy. The town is tiny and very surfer-dudy, and FULL of méxi-pups: everywhere you look there is a cute dog, and all with collars. And they all look like they came from the same parents. While having breakfast a dude offers to make us bracelets. We say yes, and 120 pesos later we have matching "Shmoopy" bracelets!
The next day we go to San Francisco which is cuter than Sayulita but not as well-known. The streets are, again, cobblestoned and cute. And the beach is deserted and beautiful. We find it fascinating that the tourist doesn't make it up this far from Puerto Vallarta, but we are also happy that they don't! I'm sure they will beat the charm out of these villages.
The Rock To keep with our tradition, we are doing something special for our last night's dinner. And this time, it is one of the highlights of our trip: we are having dinner on The Rock. Edgar greets us with champagne and tells us we have both him and The Rock to ourselves all evening, then proceeds to take lot's of pictures of the two of us. Some of them are actually really good. The clouds are just incredible and they make for a surreal sunset. Then once the sun sets, they just disappear and we have a fabulous star-filled sky above us. Couldn't have asked for a better behaving sky, or a more perfect last-night's dinner.
Oh Punta Mita! We loved you, and hope to soon see you again!