February 27, 2008
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."
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