As we drew closer to Puerto Vallarta the familiar jungle sights and smells boosted our excitement of finally reaching the first extended stop on our adventure.
We visited Puerto Vallarta 8 years ago and stayed just north, in a small town called Bucerias. It was dusty, slightly rundown , and completely void of almost all tourist influence aside from the downtown market and The Royal Decameron Hotel, which is where we stayed the first time. That vacation was one of our best and we quickly fell in love with a Bucerias and decided it would be a great place to have a break from driving.
Tiff’s dad blessed us with a much needed break from crap hotels and our tent so he gave us an early Christmas gift of 3 nights in the Westin Hotel while we did some apartment hunting. We figured 3 nights would be plenty since which we envisioned finding a place would be fairly easy.
A room with a view!
And while we have found some “pet friendly” hotels so far, the Westin upped the ante and actually accomodates their furry guests! Our room was outfitted with a dog bed and food and water bowls. For us there was nothing better than hot showers and a real bed (can you say KING SIZE?)…we could even flush the tp! (If you have ever been to a less developed country and not stayed at a resort then you get it!)
Our Bed. They totally bogarted the whole thing through.
After relaxing our first full day in Puerto Vallarta on the Westin beach we readied ourselves for the apartment hunt. We had some prospects lined up from a few locals we met around the marina and Craigslist ads. Little did we know that Over the past 8 years Bucerias had been invaded by gringos and was no longer the quaint little town we remembered. So, the cost of rent had skyrocketed and we were forced to search the outlying towns of San Poncho, Lo de Marcos and Sayulita. San Poncho and Sayulita, while smaller, both had even stronger gringo influences. In addition, we came right at the beginning of the peak season, as well as watermelon picking season, so the amueblado departamentos (furnished apartments) on the other side of the highway were all rented (the cheaper ones) and even the moderately priced ones closer to the water were taken. Crap and double crap.
Some sights from around town while searching for a place to stay
We stopped and knocked on a few places with “Se Rente” signs, asked around at RV parks and bungalows, and even scoured the local websites but were not finding anything close to our budget. We were checking out of the Westin when we got an email from an ex pat who had been in touch with us regarding apartments. He found us a place 1 block off the beach next to the Decameron For $300 usd a month! Whattttt????!!!! That was our ideal location (secure, with easy access walking to everything)! We met up with him, looked the place over and sealed the deal.
Home (for now)
The breakfast nook
The view. You can sorta kinda see the ocean!
Our new home for the next month ended up being an open air bungalow on the roof of an apartment building. While not ideal with like 3.75 walls and a sort of outdoor bathroom, the price was right. It has been kinda like indoor camping, with a slight fear of bats and bugs, as well as the occasional rainstorm getting us and our things a bit damp. The bonuses being we could leave the dogs for a few hours to explore on our own and it had significantly more privacy than a tent. Also, a sink. Sinks are amazing. Its amazing what you come to appreciate while living without regular water sources. The shower is cool… well, cold, but it’s a shower.
We spent the next few weeks hitting the beach for sun and some boogie boarding. We walked the streets and hit the familiar markets but it became obvious that the area had changed significantly due to the influx of expats and tourists. 8 years earlier there were no condos or fancy restaurants, and there were definitely no yoga studios! Thankfully we found out from the woman who cleaned our apartment before we moved in that the Lady of Guadeloupe festival was going on about a 30 minute walk away. The festival lasts from the 6th of December until the 12th. We went a few nights and we were the only gringos there! The Lady of Guadeloupe Church is a bit of a trek (especially in the dark after a few cervezas) up the Seco (dry) river that runs through town. We tried our hand at some of the games at the fiesta . Tiff blasted a rock through a glass bottle on a stick and won a beer and I won a box of cookies in a dart game. The food at the festival was great too. Also, cheap. Just another bonus of leaving the tourist trappings behind.
On the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta
The Market “Buy something you don’t need!”
Aside from beach bumming most days, we did a few trips to Puerto Vallarta centro and strolled around. We also finally got out wifi straightened out with Telcel, and Tiff busted her but to finish her CPE for the year.
Beach fun with the dogs
Part of the Lady of Guadeloupe Festival
Beer on the beach
With the holidays approaching we started to get the urge to get back on the road to see new places. Although it has been nice having a place to leave the dogs while we can do our thing. We are still up in the air if we will stay until the 6th of January, but its starting to look that way…
Teaser: Stay tuned for Christmas with the Overlanders and Surfin’ Safari
To clear up any confusion from the “I”s and the “Tiff’s” this blog was mainly written by Mike, edited and posted by Tiffany.