Posts Tagged With: Sayulita

Puerto Vallarta- The Pearl of the Pacific

While I was living in Santa Barbara during grad school, Aron and I spent a few weekends taking sailing classes in the harbor. One day when walking around the docks, we came across a statue of a little boy gallantly riding a seahorse. A plaque at the bottom of the statue declared it was a gift to the city of Santa Barbara from its sister city, Puerto Vallarta, “The Pearl of the Pacific”. Upon arriving in Puerto Vallarta, we found the same statue of the little cowboy while strolling the boardwalk (or malecon) along the ocean in the center of the city.

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We arrived in Puerto Vallarta on the afternoon of Sunday, February 10 and found our friend Govinda “Benny” hard at work outside of Murphy’s Irish Pub on the malecon, enticing passerby’s to stop in for a drink or a pot pie. I have never seen two friends so happy to see each other. I just couldn’t stop smiling as Aron and Benny hugged and laughed and just couldn’t contain their excitement to be in this beautiful city together.

We walked up to Benny and his girlfriend Crystal’s adorable studio apartment where we would be staying for the next week to shower and unpack. It is located right in the center of town, three blocks up the hill from the malecon and is surrounded by plants with a gorgeous view of the ocean.

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We joined Benny for a few drinks and some dinner at Murphy’s and then walked over to Viejo Vallarta, the oldest part of town filled with vibrant bars, restaurants, and shops to pick up Crystal from her work. We toured a few fun bars in the area including The Roxy and Bolero where we met an awesome couple of Canadians, Steve and Kathy, otherwise known by their band name Butterflywingtip. They are some of the coolest people we have ever met and they make cool, creative music together that you can check out on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/butterflywingtip. We ended up walking over to their treehouse apartment which was a second story open air studio surrounded by trees alongside the river Rio Cuale that ran through town, it was gorgeous. On the way back to Benny and Crystal’s we stopped for some late night street tacos and quesadillas.

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The next day was Benny and Crystal’s only day off of the week so we planned a fun trip to Yelapa, a beautiful little town in a cove only accessible by boat. Steve, Kathy, and their husky Skully joined us as well so the seven of us loaded up the van and drove half an hour to Boca de Tomatlan, the last little coastal town south of Vallarta that can be reached by car and also the town where some of Benny’s family lives. The sky was surprisingly gray and the ocean was extremely rough but nonetheless we boarded a water taxi along with ten or so other people and headed out for the 45 minute ride to Yelapa. We had to hold on for our lives as the little panga was lifted into the air by the swell and would smack back down onto the ocean. It was pretty exhilarating and we made a good time out of it but it was a little scary. We made it to Yelapa safely and found a perfect little three bedroom casa directly on the beach for 800 pesos ($65 or so) for the night.

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We wandered the cobblestone streets of the little hilly town and bought some fresh caught fish from some local boys and found a market with produce.

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We cooked a lovely dinner of fried plantains, guacamole, fish in garlic sauce, grilled peppers, and a salad and had a wonderful night with great friends.

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The next morning we woke up to a gorgeous blue sky. We strolled through the town and bought some fresh tortillas from a tortilleria and made another lovely meal at the casa.

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We enjoyed the day on the beach and Aron and Steve snorkeled in the clear waters. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and saying how beautiful everything was, it was just amazing.

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Our friend Justin from San Diego who currently lives in Yelapa and works at a swanky resort on the cove had the day off and met up with us on the beach. When we all gathered at a palapa restaurant on the beach for some drinks, Justin introduced us to raicilla, a type of moonshine made from agaves like tequila and mezcal. It was a little smoky like mezcal and really livened up the already fabulously fun day.

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To make things even better, the Pie Lady of Yelapa stopped by. The Pie Lady of Yelapa is known throughout Vallarta and beyond for her delicious home made pies and has been selling slices of her freshly baked pies to the lucky visitors on the beach of Yelapa for more than fifteen years. We had a slice of the chocolate coconut pie and it was one of the most amazingly delicious things I have ever eaten in my life. She had made it fresh that morning and I just wish I had the words to describe how good it was. The only picture I have does not do it justice either.

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The time we spent in Yelapa with our friends new and old were some of the most memorable days of our lives. It was pure bliss, we all had such a wonderful time in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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During the week in Vallarta we would spend the days strolling along the malecon or wandering the cobblestone streets of the town before going out for dinner and drinks in the evenings.

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We spent a lot of time enjoying some of the delicious food the city had to offer. Our favorite was Tacon Marlin, known for it’s fresh seafood burritos. I had one with red snapper and shrimp and Aron had their famous burrito with marlin, shrimp, and octopus. They were absolutely amazing and I have been dreaming about them ever since. We also ate fresh oysters on the beach, some of the freshest and most delicious we have ever had.

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For Valentine’s Day we drove back up north to Sayulita (about an hour drive from Vallarta) to explore it some more since we had only stopped there for a moment on the way down the coast. We found a nice little camping spot near the beach at Sayulita RV Park and Bungalows for 300 pesos and spent the evening and the next morning at the beach.

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Aron surfed some little fun waves and then we strolled the weekly farmer’s market which sold everything from clothing, jewelry, and trinkets to fresh produce and cooked foods.

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We wanted to stay in Puerto Vallarta longer but after a little over a week we knew it was time to move on. There is still so much to see on the road ahead of us. It’s difficult to keep moving when we want to stay in each beautiful place that we stop in but we are grateful for the beautiful places we have seen so far and the wonderful people we have met along the way. Thank you Benny and Crystal for showing us such an awesome time in Vallarta!

Categories: Mexico | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mainland Mexico- The Beginning

After two weeks in Cabo turned into two fun filled months, we headed to La Paz to board the ferry for Mazatlan. We arrived at the ferry terminal two hours early as instructed and I walked through customs while Aron drove through and waited in line to drive the van onto the ferry. We paid an extra 500 pesos (about $42) for a private little cabin with twin beds and a sink and it was well worth it to have a comfortable place to sleep and watch a movie during the 16 hour ride. The ferry was nice, nothing fancy, and had a little cafeteria that sold snacks and served dinner and breakfast and there was a movie theater like room with seating for passengers without cabins. There were also bathrooms with showers which was nice. In the morning we grabbed some coffee and watched the sunrise over the ocean and stayed up on the deck to watch Mazatlan and the islands off the coast come into view.

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As soon as we got off the ferry in Mazatlan we headed to the beach. We drove north through the city along the coastal boardwalk- or malecon in Spanish- and saw that people were busy setting up band stages and food and beer stands along the street. We realized it was the Friday of Carneval in Mazatlan, the third largest festival in the world after Carneval in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. As we continued driving we started seeing large artistic statues of old famous actors, comedians, and musicians like this one of a famous luchador (I assume) below.

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We drove to the northernmost end of Mazatlan, past the old city center and the Zona Dorada or tourist zone, to Playa Brujas (Witch Beach) and Playa Cerritos which are known for their surf. We found a little restaurant for lunch that overlooked Playa Cerritos where fishermen were bringing in fresh catches of fish, lobster, and oysters.

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We shared the pescado zarandeado, or flame broiled fish, and it was blackened, crispy, and delicious.

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After lunch Aron surfed little waves at Playa Brujas just south of Playa Cerritos before we decided we should probably start looking for a place to stay for the night.

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We stopped at a few RV parks that we read about in a Mexican camping book that has been really helpful and we decided on Mar Rosa Trailer and RV park for its beachfront location and proximity to the festivities. We paid 250 pesos for the night which included a secure camping space and nice, clean bathrooms with hot showers.

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After getting settled we headed out to explore the Friday night Carneval festivities. Carneval in Mazatlan is a five day celebration that always falls on the week before Ash Wednesday. It had started on Thursday, the day before we arrived, and is filled with events each day including a huge parade on Sunday that we would unfortunately miss. Friday night was a sort of fiesta night where 3 miles of the malecon and the street along it were closed to cars and were filled with food and beverage stands and numerous stages where different bands played.

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It cost 30 pesos to get in and 20 pesos for beer, so we spent about $20 for a night of fun with food and drinks for both of us. As the night went on, the streets became filled with people and the bands started to play. A lot of the music was traditional banda style with 15 piece bands consisting of trumpets, trombones, tubas, and other brass instruments.

We ran into some people we met on the ferry from Oregon, France, and Mexico and wandered around with them checking out all the different bands and dance performances.

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In the morning we headed out of Mazatlan with plans to camp somewhere along the way to Puerto Vallarta. As soon as we left the city the road started winding through little farms with grazing cows and horses and fields of corn and tomatoes and even rows of blue agave used to make tequila. After about 4 hours of driving on the toll road and passing a hundred little stands selling dried shrimp (camaron seco) and tamales, we arrived in San Blas. We had read about San Blas as a beautiful little surfing town lined with mangroves but also filled with lots of biting bugs like mosquitos, no seeums, and sand flies. We were a little hesitant to stay because of what we heard about the bugs but the sun was going down and we didn’t know what we would find further down the road. We paid 100 pesos to camp in the dirt parking lot at Stoner’s Surf Camp, named after a surf spot out front that wasn’t breaking while we were there. After putting on pants, long sleeves, and bug spray, we met up with some friends from Oregon that we met at Carneval and that are traveling though Mexico on motorcycles. We hung out in the town square of San Blas and had a few Palomas, my new favorite drink of tequila and grapefruit soda, and enjoyed some street tacos and fresh off the grill elotes (corn) with three different sauces including a delicious peanut sauce.

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It was Saturday night and the town square was a happening place. It was brightly lit and lined with places to sit and stroll where families and young and old were enjoying the night. Being Saturday night, upon returning to the van, we quickly discovered that we were camped next to the main street along the beach where people like to cruise in their cars and play music as loudly as possible until the wee hours of the morning. It was not the best night of sleep we’ve had but we did get to hear some bumping Mexican music.

We woke up early the next morning and packed up and left, but not before Aron got bitten up by bugs pretty badly after only being outside of the van in shorts for 10 minutes. Once on the road we drove past rivers and mangroves and the scenery became green and jungly. There were groves of banana, mango, and coconut trees along the windy road through the lush green mountains.

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We passed some nice little towns along the coast and turned off the road to check out Sayulita, a cute little colorful hippy surf town on the side of a hill.

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We jumped in the water and strolled around a bit but left shortly after because we were excited to continue on to Puerto Vallarta to meet up with our friends Benny and Crystal from San Diego. They had moved to Puerto Vallarta in October and were living right in the center of town.

So far, Mexico is even more beautiful than we had imagined and we are so appreciative to have a year off from work to enjoy traveling and seeing new places. A post about our time in Puerto Vallarta will be coming soon!

Categories: Mexico | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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