S: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - January 2011
FC: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | January 2011
1: On the left was Jeremy's flight path from Toronto. His flight departed Toronto on Saturday January 22 at 6am and arrived in Houston at 8:54am. The connecting flight to Puerto Vallarta departed Houston at 10:25am and arrived at 1:08pm. On the right was Kayla's flight path from Halifax. Her flight departed Halifax at 6am and arrived in Toronto at approx 8am. The connecting flight to Puerto Vallarta departed Toronto at 9am and arrived at 2pm. Both flights were uneventful, however Jeremy had to wait over 45 minutes to pass through immigration upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta, while Kayla sailed right through. Jeremy flew with Continental Airlines due to it being the cheapest fare available via Expedia. Because of the type of airplane being used (a basic puddle jumper), he had to walk all the way to the end of the airport and out on to the tarmac. As it was 6am and it was still winter, a walk outside in the cold was not anticipated, resulting in a chilly wake-up call. In the middle is a picture of the entire 100 KM coastline of Bahia De Banderas (Bay of Flags), which is regarded by most geologists as the original attachment point for the southern cape of the Baja California Peninsula before it was rifted off the North American Plate millions of years ago, forming the Gulf of California. The bay itself is Mexico’s largest and one of the world’s deepest, with recorded depths of more than 3,000 feet.
3: On the opposite page are views of the Mexican landscape to the North of Puerto Vallarta. It was much more rugged and varied than anticipated. On this page are pictures that were taken upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta.
5: On the left is a shot of the area where one would stand in order to flag down a local bus to take to town. The fare is 7 pesos (approx 70 cents) and the ride (which is rather rough due to the conditions of the road, the age of the buses, the bus driver's speed, and the winding nature of the road) takes approx 20 minutes. Below is a shot of Jeremy, Kayla and Ilona waiting for the bus in the shade. | On the opposite page are shots of Punta Negra. Like most buildings in the area situated along the ocean, one would not know the true height of the building if they had only seen it from the highway. From the road (bottom left), the building appears to be only 5 stories, when in fact the building is 9 stories. Our unit, called Casa Blanca, was situated Northern end on the 8th floor (top right) and had a wonderful ocean view.
6: Above is a view of the living room, which faced West. As a result, there were some beautiful sunsets. On the opposite page is a view of the kitchen inside the condo. The bedrooms are on the left. The entrance (which is not clear in this picture) is on the right on the other side of the wall opposite the fridge. Inset: Kayla hard at work preparing lunch.
8: Looking North From Balcony
9: Looking South From Balcony
10: View of Punta Negra and strip of condos which are located approximately a 20 minute drive to the south of old Puerto Vallarta. On the opposite page are sunset pictures taken from the balcony of the condo.
12: Above and on the opposite page are shots that were taken at Joe Jack's Fish Shack which is a lively, hip seafood restaurant located on Basilio Badillo in beautiful “Old Town” Puerto Vallarta. The restaurant has two levels, a Mexican style cantina bar on the ground floor, and an open air rooftop dining area upstairs, which is where we were situated. The photo of the three of us was taken at the end of the meal. On the bottom is the remnants of our dessert, which was a rich chocolate concoction. In the middle is the outside of the restaurant with the requisite long line. Mark was absent because he had plans to play poker with his friends Mick and Dario.
14: Looking South on the beach in front of the condo
15: Looking North on the beach in front of the condo
16: Kayla on the beach. New Puerto Vallarta is in the background.
17: Note: In January, the average water temperature is only 21C/71F, which means quite a jolt when first entering the water, which explains the look that was captured on Kayla's face.
18: Kayla snapped this pic of Jeremy walking on the beach when he wasn't looking.
19: Jeremy getting his first taste of the cold Pacific water.
20: Rafel Zamarripa's "Caballeo del Mar" ("The Seahorse") has become the calling card of Puerto Vallarta. It is a 9' high bronze statue featuring a naked boy riding this larger than life sea creature. The sculpture is found in front of No Name Café, voted the home of "the best ribs in Puerto Vallarta" (note: we did not stop to try the ribs ;-)). The original seahorse sculpture was located at the end of Los Muertos beach, but ended up in the bay after Hurricane Kenna.
23: Above left is a sign that identifies various hazards along the beach. Above right is a typical licence plate from the state of Jalisco. Below is a car that was parked precariously on an edge. On the opposite page is a photo that was taken after our lunch was complete.
24: These are photos of random signs that were found in and around PV. Clockwise from top left: Oxxo is the name of a chain of convenience stores; Typical stop sign; I found amusement in the improper grammer of this handwritten sign ("Well Drinks"?); Typical street sign; The Deli, which is a favorite of Ilona's, is not a deli whereby one would find corned beef or pastrami. It has more continental fare, and caters to the Canadian/American ex-pat market; Random bus sign in Old Vallarta.
25: More photos of random signs. Clockwise from top left: Chickens on a spit; A convenience store sign that reads "open, day and night", rather than simply saying "open 24 hrs"; Mexican version of Frosted Flakes; Cheapest chicken in town. Two whole chickens with tortillas and salsa for only 140 pesos, which is only around $12 dollars; Slogan that was seen on various Oxxo store windows "Mexico Creo En Ti", which is translated as "Mexico, Believe In It"; Mexican ketchup.
26: Typical street on a quiet Sunday morning in Old Puerto Vallarta.
27: Typical pavement in Old Puerto Vallarta. This adds to the charm of the town, however it also adds to the bumpiness of the bus rides.
28: On the left is a picture of a random sculpture located near the area where tourists come to purchase schlock and get hassled by aggressive vendors. I took the picture not because of the sculpture, but because of the two random dogs that were sitting next to the sculpture. Above is a picture of a random iguana perched above the electrical wires in the middle of town. I did not bother to ask any locals for an explanation of the reason for the iguana's existence.
29: One day we went to Old Puerto Vallarta and helped Ilona with some grocery shopping. On the left are pictures from a local market. Top left are some green vegetables. Below left is a bucket (there were no carts in the Canadian sense) of vegetables that Kayla had picked out. Of note was the fact that there were no prices listed with each item. One would fill their bucket and take their bucket to the shopkeeper. After they counted the items, a total price would be provided. There was no way to know if the price that was given was a 'gringo price' or a 'standard price'. On the right is a banner at the front of the weekend farmers market which is packed with expats trying to sell anything from homemade chili to ice cream (which were both sampled by the way).
30: Kayla soaking up some sun by the pool at the Punta Negra.
31: Kayla enjoying some shade after soaking up too much sun by the pool at the Punta Negra.
32: Jeremy taking a stroll on the private beach outside the Punta Negra.
33: Jeremy playing in the surf. He was being careful as it was noted that there was a very strong under tow.
35: Along the Malecon, were all of these sand sculptures that had been constructed by locals. On the opposite page are sculptures of (clockwise) Santa and his Reindeer, the Egyptian Sphinx, an iguana, an Egyptian pyramid and a polar bear and an igloo. All were quite impressive. On this page is a sculpture of a turtle (above) and of the real thing (left). The turtle was spotted as we were walking along the beach through a busy stretch of town, which made the find quite a surprise.
36: On the left above are more pictures of the sand sculptures that were found along the Malecon. On the right is one of the more noted sculptures on the Malecon. According to Wikipedia, the Malecon is a paved walkway along the seashore in Col. Centro. It features a collection of contemporary sculptures by Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, Ramiz Barquet and others. The Malecon was extensively rebuilt in 2002-2003 following damage from hurricane Kenna.
37: The pictures on this page were taken during our day trip to Yelapa. | The sculpture on the opposite page, which is found on the Malecon is titled "In Search of Reason". Created by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamente, at first glance it is simply a ladder covered with tourists. After closer inspection you will notice it is a ladder with two bronze children climbing up it with a figure, presumed to be their mother, calling to them from the ground. The sculpture appeared in 1990 and generated much controversy.
39: On our way to Yelapa, we encountered a whale. Many pictures were attempted, unfortunately, given the fact that it was a fair distance away, the above picture was the best result. What is clear in the picture is the whale's spray and a portion of its tail. On the left, a picture of Jeremy in the shade. On the opposite page is Kayla trying to stay out of the sun.
42: Above: View of the beach at Yelapa prior to arrival. On the opposite page: More pictures of Yelapa. We stopped for lunch on the beach. Mark had been saying that our visit would not be complete without ordering a piece of pie from the 'pie lady'. At the end of lunch, Mark went to find her. After about 15 minutes of waiting, she appeared with a wide range of options. I tried a slice of chocolate pie, which to be honest, was rather underwhelming, and did not live up to expectations.
45: On the opposite page are pictures from a short hike in Yelapa to see the waterfall (above). The pictures on the left were taken for Jeremy's amusement. The fact that there was a lone donkey tied to a tree in this small town seemed rather stereotypical of Mexico. The picture below, reads 'no tires basura', which when translated to English means, no littering. However, my first instinct was to wonder what this sign had to do with tires (in the English sense).
46: On our next to last day, in search of something different to do, we made the trek across town to check out the marina. It was very hot day, so Jeremy decided to cool down at lunch with a very large pina colada (see opposite page).
48: On the left is a picture of a bridge located in a section of town called " Gringo Gulch". The bridge was built by Elizabeth Taylor and RIchard Burton to connect Casa Kimberly to a villa they had purchased across the street (formerly owned by Director John Huston). The bridge was a replica of "The Bridge of Sighs," that can be found in Venice, Italy. Interestingly, the building on the left has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it is no longer habitable. Apparently from the top of the bridge there is a breathtaking view of the Bay of Banderas. Above is a picture of the sunset taken prior to dinner, with the cathedral tower on the left.
49: On the left is a picture of a tiny gecko on the side of the wall of the tapas restaurant that we dined at towards the end of our week. Of note was the fact that it was very tiny inside the restaurant, which was likely a residence at some point. There was seating for 20 people max. Also of note was that it was very affordable. The four of us dined for approx $60. The middle picture is of Kayla outside the restaurant prior to dinner. On the right is a picture of me prior to the meal.
50: According to Wikipedia, the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) is a ceremony/ritual which has its roots in the pre-Hispanic period and presently best known as associated with the town of Papantla, Veracruz. It is believed to have originated with the Nahua, Huastec and Otomi peoples in central Mexico, and then spread throughout most of Mesoamerica. The ritual consists of dance and the climbing of a 30 meter pole from which four of the five participants then launch themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground. The fifth remains on top of the pole, dancing and playing a flute and drum. According to myth, the ritual was created to ask the gods to end a severe drought. Although the ritual did not originate with the Totonac people, today it is most strongly associated with them, especially those in and around Papantla, as the ceremony has died off in most other places. The ceremony was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in order to help the ritual survive and thrive in the modern world. At the time that this picture was taken, any cultural significance was lost on me. I just thought it was impressive that these guys would swing upside down on a pole 30 meters in the air and climb back up for another show 20 minutes later. Unfortunately due to the hight of the performers and poor lighting conditions, the above picture does not adequately portray the scenario.
53: On our next to last day in PV, we had lunch at a beautiful spot called Casa Isabel. Above is a picture of Kayla and the Bay of Banderas in the background. On the opposite page from the top left: a picture of the steep hill that one must climb in order to reach the restaurant. In the middle is a picture of my lunch, quesadillas. On the right is a picture of the dining area and the pool. Below is a picture taken by Kayla prior to our meal.
55: Our final walk on the beach prior to our departure.