Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
On the map Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta really don't look that far apart. Eight long hours on a bus with only Spanish TV tells a different story. It was worth it though.
I highly recommend arriving into Puerto Vallarta at night. The old town was stunningly beautiful, even if tourists did outnumber locals 100:1. Lights everywhere, cobblestone streets, cute restaurants, market stalls, food carts, street performers, fireworks - even the centre square was packed with dozens of people line dancing. I hadn't seen line dancing since the 1990s and had no idea it was such a hit in Mexico. The whole place had a carnival feel and we became swept up in the momentum, drinking $1 margaritas, devouring tasty street food and enjoying free tequila tastings. Tequila tip: aged = darker = better (look how cultured we're becoming!). The big plus for us was that EVERYONE spoke English, so we could actually communicate with people other than ourselves (not that I was getting sick of talking to you or anything, Danny...).
Running lesson number one: cobblestones are not conducive to an easy, let-your-mind-wander run. This cut my morning exercise down to almost non-existent, as I didn't have the patience to deal with the unevenness of the roads. Instead I indulged in a huge Mexican-style breakfast, which of course I deserved because even planning to go for a run justifies a post-workout celebration of calories, right?
Mexican breakfast: the filling "huevos rancheros". Tastes better than it looks.
Not a lot to share about this town. We brought our tourist game, checking out all the souvenir shops and pretending we were interested in most of the junk they sold. It's at this point that I love when the shopkeeper only speaks Spanish, as we could plead ignorance and quickly back away from their sales pitch. After we exhausted ourselves of this (and really, it doesn't take me long to get over shopping) we headed inland, along steep roads, hoping to find a lookout over the town. No such luck. There probably was one somewhere, but we had no idea where we were going other than "up" (hill-climbing workout: check). We gave up on this idea and decided to look for a beach instead.
The best view we saw of Puerto Vallarta.
Here's a hint if you ever think about travelling: a map is generally a good idea. Even just some verbal directions can help. We didn't have either but thought that, being a coastal town known for its beaches, gorgeous stretches of sand would be everywhere. Sooooo wrong. We followed the main road south and took every little side road we came across, believing that one would lead to a swimming point. I have no idea how long we did this, but it was some time between "forever" and an "eternity". Upon arriving at a small, pebbly, unpicturesque patch of land with water access, we gave up our search and plonked ourselves down on the bumpy surface. Not the best place we visited in Mexico.
While today wasn't going in our highlights reel, it did end well with one of the most awesome foods known to humankind: peanut butter. In this case, it was peanut butter ice cream, from liquid to frozen ice creamy-goodness in 3 minutes, made right in front of our eyes. If only I could figure out a way to carry this store with me...
Danny was not excited by peanut butter ice cream. The high point for him was finding a brewery with a Trivial Pursuit board built into the tables:
Like he has any hope playing Trivial Pursuit after a couple of beers.