For TJ's 30th Birthday Extravaganza we decided to go on a road trip to the American beach town of Puerto Vallarta for an extended weekend (thanks to yet another local holiday).
Puerto Vallarta is locat...what? It's NOT an American beach town? Well, ok, I guess you're right. But I will say that I haven't seen such a large concentration of gringos since my days living in central Texas.
Puerto Vallarta, along with Cozumel and Cancun, is one of the most popular tourist destinations for American travelers. I would encourage any of you in the states that have considered foreign travel but are afraid of the language barrier to give Vallarta a chance. Almost everyone speaks English (which wasn't necessarily a good thing for us, as we wanted to practice our Spanish...at least a little) and the environment is so laid back and relaxed that you'll never want to leave.
I have heard rumblings that some US-based cruise lines have cancelled cruises to PV. Visual evidence to the contrary, Americans aren't travelling here as much as they used to. They are afraid of the narco violence. To anyone reading this, I implore you: don't let fear rule your life. Vallarta is as safe as any of the other port towns your cruise ship will dock in. Violence on the border does not equal violence on the beach.
Anyway, Puerto Vallarta is a 365 kilometer drive from Guadalajara, and to get there you have to drive northwest for a while, then zig-zag through the mountains before heading southwest, ultimately arriving at a location that is directly west of Guadalajara. Most of that zig-zagging occurs on a two-lane road, and travel times will vary widely depending on time of day. For us, it was a six hour drive going and a four hour drive returning. (Tip: mid-morning travel is highly recommended). Despite the distance, the ride is a pleasant one filled with beautiful landscapes.
Now, for the beach...I've never been much of a beach person. Living in Florida for seven years, I think I went to Daytona and Miami Beach once each. My three trips to Key West never saw me setting foot on the shore.
With that said, I LOVE PUERTO VALLARTA!
Despite a day trip here and there, TJ and I haven't had a vacation to speak of since before this crazy Foreign Service life began. In fact, we're about to hit our one-year FS anniversary (stay tuned for a future post regarding that!) so a 3-night getaway was a welcome break from the day-to-day.
The beaches were gorgeous; Busy, but not crowded. The bars and clubs were fun; Crowded, but not overflowing. The restaurants were amazing; delicious, but not expensive. In fact, we discovered a new favorite dish (stay tuned for another future post regarding that!). I got the most amazing massage. Soaked in a little sun. Walked along the shore and just felt...at peace.
Vallarta is definitely somewhere to which I would like to return. And soon.
The area that we stayed (Playa de los Muertos) was bustling with activity of an artistic nature along the shoreline. There were sporadic sidewalk art shows, random beachside demonstations, inumerable art galleries, and dozens of permanent scultptures to be explored. Every turn of the head provided some new hidden treasure.
Here are a few of them.
(Oh, and for anybody that's wondering...no, he never did get that particular rock to balance. But I was quite impressed with the upper body strength it must have required to even lift it in the first place.)
This trip provided such sheer and utter physical relaxation and visual stimulaton that I somehow managed to walk away without capturing a single picture of us. Either that, or the fact that we're too self-conscious to take beach pics. Oh well. I guess that means we have to go back!
Wish I was here...maybe soon