We woke up around 7:00am in order to get ready for our time-share presentation. We needed to meet our ride at 8:30am. As we putted around the van brushing our teeth, washing up and getting dressed we noticed that there was quite a lot of activity at Walmart given that it did not open until 8:00am. We thought nothing of it until around 7:40am when the parking lot was nearly full and the store was bustling with people. This is when we came to the realization that we had crossed a time zone and it was actually an hour later than we thought. We were now officially late for our meeting!
Quickly, we ran into the Walmart to our waiting hosts from Playa Del Sol Resorts. We add had a good chuckle at our error in time management. They whisked us off to the Playa Del Sol 'Grand', the newest of the resorts in Nuevo Vallarta. We were treated to a breakfast buffet and toured the grounds. We were
very impressed with the sales presentation as it was much different from the standard one-week or points packages generally offered. We spent the majority of the day at the resort discussing options to purchase either vacation weeks or a vacation home. The sales group was great and basically educated us on all the options, even though they realized a purchase was not going to happen on the day of our visit. I guess we are what they call 'future customers'. We received some small gifts for attending the presentation, which included a Walmart gift card. This was key as our food supply was majority depleted. The resort was nice enough to offer us a return visit anytime we wanted to use the facilities and check out the place some more at no charge. We decided to take them up on that offer another day.
Back to our 'urban camp' at Walmart, we spent hours walking the aisles and meticulously picking the essential items we needed all the time keeping an eye on the total amount we were allotted on the gift card. We are getting awfully good at watching our spending as we were only over by $2.50 when we went through the checkout. Score!
Some of the locals we have met suggested a small hotel near downtown that would accommodate our budget. We wanted to be closer to the action to walk around and Walmart is quite far away.
We took the advice and checked into La Mission. This hotel is without any bells and whistles, but at $40/night was a great bargain and we both were itching for showers. Oh, we did enquire about the trailer park in Puerto Vallarta and learned that since we were travelling in peak season it would be anywhere from $35 - $50 per night. The decision was simple to grab the cheap hotel for the night. Once checked in, we showered up and walked the boardwalk at checked out the sights at night. The bars were hopping and the restaurants were overflowing with tourists. We were not in the drinking and partying mood, maybe still recovering from our nights in Sayulita, and decided to head back to the room and relax in a full size bed.
Somehow during the night a handful mosquitos entered our room at La Mission and bit up Geraldine.
Michael heard them buzzing around in the early morning, but for some reason, they refuse to bite him. He is not complaining! Michael got up first and headed down to the van to get some insect repellent and bite
treatment for Geraldine so she could try and get a few extra hours of uninterrupted sleep. Michael went down to the restaurant in the courtyard of La Mission which was directly below the window of our room. Sipping coffee and working on the computer, the morning passed by quickly. We checked out of La Mission on March 3, 2007 and decided to continue camping back at the van. We had nabbed a great parking spot on the side street adjacent to La Mission only steps from the sandy beach. This was now to be home for a while.
Hunger was starting to set in and we headed down to the boardwalk to share a burger. Last time Micheal was in Puerto Vallarta he raved about the food at Cheeseburger in Paradise (now named Paradise Burger).
We walked in an found a balcony seat in the sun overlooking the ocean and the boardwalk. After scanning the menu we choose to simply order water for $4 USD. The price for a burger combo was over $10 USD. With both McDonalds and Burger King in town, we figured that both of us could eat for the price at Paradise Burger. Not that the big burger franchises compare to Paradise Burger, so we settled on tacos. We found a local taco joint around the corner called El Puerto, which was literally a hole in the wall with a few stools and the kitchen directly up front. It was our first time at El Puerto, we were very cautious and conservative and stuck to the basics...tacos and quesadillas. The chorizo sausage quesadilla was off the charts good. The portions of food were enormous and the total price for both of us was less that $5, including a soda pop.
With full bellies, we roamed the downtown streets for a while before heading back toward 'Nilla to get cleaned up for a night at the bar. On the walk home we met a "jeweller" named Oscar, really he was a silver peddler and with his fluent 'Spanglish', he convinced us to check out his shop. Oscar was playing all the angles and tried to sell us everything from silver, time-share, boat rides, ATV tours and maybe his shoes...we are not exactly sure. He actually brought over the guy from the next booth, Reyes and the two of them were pressuring us to attend the 'best of the best' time-share presentation to make some quick cash. The hard sell was on, by we remained strong and smiled apathetically and walked out.
It was Hockey Night in Puerto Vallarta and we ventured down to the 'No Name Bar' to watch some hockey, since we have been out of touch for the past two months. The Leafs played Buffalo and it is fair to say that the game was one sided. Buffalo easily defeated the Leafs 3-0. Of interest, any North American style bar down here also charges North American style price with beers at $3-4 and mixed drinks $6-7. It is much cheaper to buy you booze and stand on the sidewalk and watch the TV. Next time! After the game we walked back to 'Nilla and settled in for the night.
Photo break: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=16xvaj2z.cb4gs8tj&Uy=-uoeyg4&Ux=0
The next morning we decided to focus on jewellery shopping since the prices are right. We were mainly looking for wedding rings. Slow down everyone, there is no date set, we are just getting prepared.
To avoid the hard street sell, we walked down the smaller side streets and checked out the shops there. Throughout the day we examined hundreds of styles of rings and still the perfect ones have not been found. One of the silver shops actually offered to custom make our rings, the only problem is that we do not intend to stay in Puerto Vallarta long enough for them to get made. The day flew by and near late afternoon we found ourselves on a bus to a older local section of town called Pitillal. We came across a free Tequila Tour during our day time travels and decided to check it out. The tour was on the outskirts of Pitillal at a small tequila distillery. As we entered the distillery, we were surprised to be the only ones. Our host, Gabby, was not fazed in the least and assured us he would still give us the tour. First off though, we were offered a complimentary beverage.
As we were sipping on margaritas and beers, a group of six disgruntled people walked in. They were supposed to be going a tequila tour across the road however nobody was answering the door. Again Gabby was not fazed and offered to give them his tour at no extra cost to them (don't think you'd find that kind of hospitality in Canada). Moments after sitting down to enjoy their complimentary beverages, they read their invitation again and realized that their tour was closed on Sundays. Ahhhh....fine print. The tour itself lasted about 15 minutes and then we were able to sample some tequila. Our shot glasses got about 8 drops of liquid from four different types of tequila before we were set free to shop. Of course Michael and I did not buy anything and hit the road back to the Pitillal square. It was Family Day and the streets were packed with....you guessed it....families. We toured around some more and stopped to watch children splashing around in the fountain just outside the church.
From there we caught the bus back to downtown and started the hunt for a place to eat some good tacos. How fortunate it was when we stumbled upon 'Mr. Taco'. It was a quaint little family run shop with a pork roast station by the front door. We figured this had to be the place to eat.
During our meal we couldn't help but admire the shirts the staff were wearing. They all had the same drawing of a man selling tacos to a very happy customer. The best part was that the people were stick men and the entire logo was embroidered. We asked if they had any shirts for sale and were pleased to find out they did. Unfortunately the shirts they had for sale were screen printed t-shirts. Boo! We enquired further about the staff shirts and were informed that Edna (sister of our waiter) embroidered them herself. We put on our best smiles and asked in our sweetest voices if Edna would entertain the idea of embroidering a shirt for Geraldine. Without hesitation she agreed not only to embroider a golf shirt, supply the golf shirt and charge us the price of a screen-printed t-shirt (a measly $10USD). The only catch was that she needed a week to complete it. With that said, we decided to hang out in Puerto Vallarta for a week. The next catch was to determine what size of golf shirt Geraldine would need. Edna was very accommodating and changed out of her shirt so Geraldine could try it on. The sizing was a tad off, so we made plans to meet at a clothing store the following day so the proper size shirt could be purchased. We were tickled pink with our new shirt, our new favourite taco shop, and of course of our new friends.
All smiles, we walked the boardwalk back to our parking lot haven. It was dusk now and the evening entertainers were out in full force. There was a gentleman balancing rocks along the beach.
There were several guys working on building a new sand sculpture. There were also four Huichol native men that climb a massive pole that is anchored into the beach. The men are dressed in traditional Huichol outfits, which are elaborately hand stitched white suits with brillant colours and patterns. Once at the top of the pole, the men attach the long rope harnesses from the pole to themselves. After they are connected, the ropes are then carefully wound back around the pole. There is a moving square platform atop the pole and with a quick motion the four men launch off the platform backwards and upside down. The platform spins around and unwinds the acrobats as they spin around the pole. It is an incredible sight to see. Each man has a musical instrument as well and the sounds of a drum, moroccas, and a flute can be heard as if the noise is blowing in the wind. Content with a full evening of eye candy, we headed home to sleep.
More photos: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=16xvaj2z.4vxv5spz&Uy=-rqqrco&Ux=0
Camping in the Walmart parking lot was an interesting experience. It was quite loud until around midnight as some locals use this area to tailgate and drink. A bit of a fight broke out in the parking lot and we watched from the peeled back curtains of the van. There was lots of yelling and pushing, but no real punches thrown. Let's be honest, it was more of a playground argument than a fight.