• Nicaragua!

    Nicaragua: Door in Granada. Go Now!

    Nicaragua
    Mystery abounds behind every door in Nicaragua, including the historic cultural city of Granada (pictured). Go Now!

  • United States!

    United States: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Go Now!

    United States
    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

  • Trinidad & Tobago!

    Trinidad & Tobago: Beautiful Coastline. Go Now!

    Trinidad & Tobago
    These Caribbean islands mix Indian, African, and European cultures alongside beautiful beaches. Go Now!

  • Cuba!

    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

    Cuba
    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

  • Guatemala!

    Guatemala: Colorful culture. Go Now!

    Guatemala
    Colorful Guatemala offers something for every visitor: great food, ancient Mayan ruins, and pristine beaches. Go Now!

  • Jamaica!

    Jamaica: Pristine beach. Go Now!

    Jamaica
    Jamaican culture is about relaxation, great foods, friendly competition, and so much more. A good place to start is on the beach. Begin Your Journey!

Mexico

Sunrise in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

February 27, 2008
Arrival

Puerto Vallarta is a tourist's paradise, however seeing as how I tend to avoid tourist paradises, it is far from a paradise in my opinion. The city is teeming with uneducated American tourists, half of whom seem to be looking for a bar and the other half of whom seem to be looking for a beach. Hidden from the eye are numerous other tourists who feel fortunate enough to be staying at an all-inclusive resort with a private beach so they don't have to interact with any locals. Beneath all this, however you can find the real Mexico.

At the airport there is a taxi stand, which is government-run. I got a pre-paid taxi from them and went to the hotel. Later I discovered that the pre-paid taxi stand is government-run from the national level, however there are also local, state-run taxis for about half the price; something I'll have to remember if I ever return.

The hotel/resort is a nice walled in complex with rustic brick-paved, palm-tree lined pedestrian streets. Each building is the size of a small hotel and on the water is a pool, restaurant, and a couple of the hotel room complexes. My room is in this complex, but not overlooking the water.

February 28, 2008
Go Get Sick

The meeting yesterday started with multiple illnesses, however not from the food, which, from what I've read, seems to be the most common cause of illness in Mexico; rather it just seems a virus is going around. It also seems our resort is catered towards the college student and we have plenty of American college students in the pool who are drunk by about noon.

For lunch I went to what I can only describe as a "Mexican Denny's." The menu consists of breakfast served all day along with multiple Mexican dishes. The atmosphere and menu appear to be an almost complete copy of Denny's. I had the enchiladas and they were what you'd expect from a Denny's; good, but by no means original.

February 29, 2008
I'll Have the Street Tacos

After my meetings today I decided to get out and see a little bit of the city. I walked out to the bus stop in front of my hotel, caught the bus and stayed on until it appeared I was somewhere I wanted to be. The city is rather peaceful and local other than the main street along the beach and the boardwalk. In that area there are multiple sand sculptures, bars, restaurants, and touristy shops. Also nearby is a market selling everything from sombreros and string puppets to Mexican salt and pepper shakers.

I however, spent most of my time walking around the side streets just north and east of this, in my opinion the most picturesque part of town. Behind the city's main church, the mountains rise up quickly and the hike is demanding, however the views beautiful. Every house here has a lot of character and each is unique. I saw no one but locals, who looked at me with a slight curiosity although I was only ten minutes from the beach. The views from this hill placed the church in the foreground with a backdrop of the ocean.

For dinner I went back to the north side of the main street and found myself a mobile cart, which seated about 7 people and was home to a small grill. I ordered a couple tacos and quesadillas; most of our communication was through pointing. The tacos were small, but only cost about $.50 each, so I had a feast for only a couple dollars. The tacos were very different from the tacos I'm used to in the U.S.; they were much simpler and without many topping options, but the mobile stand was popular with locals and soon four of the seven seats were filled and they were talking as I was simply trying to, however failing to, comprehend.

I again took the bus back to my hotel after watching the sunset and trying to figure out where my bus picked up. A couple stops after I got on, a young man got on the bus to sell a CD with over 100 mp3s on it. The best part was it only cost $1.00; how could I pass? Thankfully I know the numbers in Spanish thanks to Sesame Street so bought a CD on my way off the bus.

March 1, 2008
If Your Boat Breaks Down, Release the Life Raft

The group from our meeting went on a night cruise to the opposite, south side of the bay, which is quite isolated due to the mountains. The boat ride provided incredible views of the city, the church, and the mansions just south of the city itself. Soon after taking off, however our engine sputtered so our captain did the only logical thing: he released the life raft so it wouldn't weigh us down. The hour cruise took nearly three hours, although no one seemed to care due to the open bar.

We made it to the south shore, which is primarily jungle with narrow pathways leading from the dock to the stage, bar, restrooms, and dining area. We found our tables, got some food from the buffet and ate as quick as we could since we were already running quite late. After dinner, the entertainment, a fire show, began. The dancers perfectly performed their choreographed fight scenes as I sat mesmerized.

Thankfully, the trip home was much quicker since they had fixed the boat by then and soon we were back in our "resort."

Learn more about Mexico Return to Justin's Travel Blog