Today was an adventure. Literally. As in Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure, courtesy of Vallarta Adventures, a tour company “inspired by nature.” It was the one thing I knew for sure I wanted to do when I decided to return to PV, and what I’ve been looking forward to the most. It did not disappoint.
I didn’t sleep well Friday night, only about 4.5 hours. I finished the blog having finally found a workaround to the weird thing YouTube was doing with my whale video (the workaround being using OneDrive instead). It was still early, too early for breakfast here, so I went out for a walk and got some coffee at the nearest Oxxo 2 blocks away. (You’re probably never more than 2 blocks away from an Oxxo in this town…a convenience store…and that’s not an exaggeration…)
I walked over the Malecon to get this shot without people, which is impossible during the day but quite doable at 5:45am. As the day before, I sat on the steps to the left some and listened to the waves.
Another simple breakfast: plain scrambled eggs, potatoes with onions and green peppers, beans. Had I known how my day was going to go I might have eaten more.
I’d signed up for the Outdoor Adventure months ago, originally for Friday. When Jon presented the whale watching opportunity, I moved it to Saturday. Other than ziplining, I hadn’t paid much attention to what you would actually do in it. Had I – and looking back at the website it was all right there – I might not have done it. So I’m glad I didn’t know. But I did, at least after breakfast, realize I needed to know a little more and, while I still didn’t pay attention to details, I noticed it asked you to bring stuff with you: a change of clothes, a change of shoes (that should have been my first clue), bug repellant and sunscreen. I was texting with Jon and mentioned I needed to find a pharmacy for the latter. He quickly said “you can borrow mine and meet Pepper.”
So meet Pepper, Jon’s beautiful dog he got in May. Many of you know Jon and know the story: he had a Yorkie named Chai who died suddenly and traumatically in May after eating rat poison someone had left out on the street. Someone in Jon’s network died unexpectedly soon after that and Pepper needed a home. He’s a beautiful, friendly dog who wanted to play ball with me. If you know me at all you know I passed 🙂
I got an Uber and made my way to the port terminal. I’m one of those people who, when traveling, would much rather arrive early, even if it means waiting around, then rushing and/or having something come up – which can easily happen on the road – and you’re late. So I had plenty of time to kill and a pretty comfortable spot to do it in.
We boarded a speedboat to make our way across the bay. It went pretty fast, took only about 30 minutes to get all the way across, and was a surprisingly smooth ride especially at that speed.
We got off at Boca De Tomatlan, a little beach and fishing village. We’d driven up to this on Friday as we were coming back from lunch but didn’t stop.
We loaded into a 4×4 all-terrain trucks and somehow I got flashes of Jurassic park. These sat 8-10 people and were full.
Now THIS was an uncomfortable ride. Not in the above photo, but quickly past this we got into a freeway with lots of turns, and then onto a dirt mountain road that was pretty steep and very, uh, we’ll just say rugged. We were all very happy when we got to where we were going.
You left everything behind you here in the lockers. If they’d said “empty your pockets” I missed that, but something told me I should and I’m glad I did. This is also where they geared us up.
The gear looked complicated. Luckily, they didn’t rely on us to know what we were doing.
A 15-20 minute mule ride further up the mountain, much of it pretty steep again. Not sure which was more uncomfortable – this or the 4×4.
Our incredible crew. I don’t know how old these people were but all seemed mid 20s (if that) to early 30s. They were an amazing amount of fun, as committed to ensuring you were having a good time as they were to ensuring your safety. Completely professional in how they took care of us and worked the gear, which was mesmerizing to watch at every stop.
They’d split the boat in half and the other group was ahead of us. In this photo, I’m right in the middle – 2nd row. I wanted either to be first or last once we got going, and without even trying ended up last. The two couples on the left in the front row were in front of me so I chatted the most with them throughout the day. The couple on the very end has done stuff like this in Cancun and St. Lucia and at the end of the day said this was by far the best experience. They were all from Colorado. (And also all seemed quite young. Or am I just that old now?)
The first trip is a complete act of faith – in the crew, the equipment, that the company that doesn’t want lawsuits or bad press. There was a second where that “I don’t know if I can do this” feeling came over me but clearly I got over it. Picking your feet up off the ground was the hardest thing because it was just so unnatural.
They had done a pretty thorough safety briefing where they talked through how all of your natural tendencies when you’re under stress – to keep your body close to you and grip – is exactly what’s going to get you stuck. It was fun to notice when I’d start swaying that if I would let my right arm go further back, I straightened out. And if you grip too tight – brake – when it’s too flat you’re not going to make it all the way. So just enjoy the speed, it won’t kill ya.
There was a 2nd zipline soon after that one that seemed higher, or maybe it was just that the jungle canopy was lower. At any rate, I was doing pretty well until the very end and didn’t make it all the way, one of the guys had to come out about 10 feet to get me.
I get off the line and suddenly see what’s happening next. We’re at the top of a waterfall and there’s a little “How to rappell” sign nailed to a fence with some instructions. I literally said in genuine surprise “you have got to be kidding me” and everyone laughs. Seriously. This is the thing had I known it was included I might not have done it. And yet when I went back to the website last night, there it was, 4th bullet: Rappel down breathtaking waterfalls. So here we are.
Your hands are on the same rope, looped through a pulley. You use your strong hand beneath you as the guide, and your weaker to hold on. Leaning backwards and stepping off the landing was the hardest part.
And of course you got pretty wet when you got to the bottom of this thing. Super glad I left my wallet up top.
There were several other smaller ziplines from here, a water slide, and several wobbly bridges of various constructs.
This was a free fall rappel that somehow wasn’t as scary as the first, maybe because it wasn’t as easy to crash your body against the rocks. And here’s a little video of this. It was a quick drop.
This was the other big “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment. I thought one of the guides was joking when he said we were going upside down next. For a moment I seriously considered not doing this – they gave you the option of going down the normal way. But when in Rome and all that. Turns out, it might have been my favorite.
It was actually quite a distance to be upside down, and you couldn’t see where the landing was. I could hear the line braking then suddenly I’m caught by one of the guides and they’re saying “put your feet down.”
Soon after this was the only other thing I seriously considered not doing: a jump into a pool from about 15-20 feet. You didn’t have to do it at all; unlike the others (especially that first rappel) there was another way through. Again, “when in Rome” kicked in and it was fun, although I’m not a great swimmer. I did lose one of my shoes and one of the guides went in and brought it back for me.
This was the 10th activity. The 1th and final one, which was either my favorite or 2nd favorite, was a very long water slide that was quite the wild ride. I thought I selected the video of that but it didn’t end up on my USB stick so maybe not. At any rate, it was a hoot.
They’d had water for you all along the way. Once you got off the last slide there was fresh pineapple and watermelon, and water flavored with the same. From here you got all your stuff back and I was So Glad I’d checked the website to bring a change of clothes. I cleaned up a little, ordered my photos, and ate the best simple cheese quesadilla ever. It’s about 5pm now and I hadn’t eaten since around 8:30. I’m surprised I wasn’t hungrier than I was, but it was starting to get to me for sure.
The was a play area with swings, archery, a mechanical bull!, other things to relax with while enjoying the beautiful view.
I was told when I’d called to change the reservation that we would be back by 5:30. Based on that, I’d made a 7:30 reservation for a massage. We didn’t even leave here until 5:45. It was about 30 minutes to get to the boat, and another 30 across the bay. I wouldn’t have time to go back to my hotel first if I didn’t want to be late, so just took an Uber to Blue Massage in the old town. I’d been here twice last year and they do great work. I got there early (better than late) and they took me right away for a 90 minute session. It was Exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. I was a little freaked out that I wouldn’t get to shower first but that water slide did a pretty good job of cleaning you up 🙂
For dinner I went to the mole restaurant I’d enjoyed so much last year.
They bring you samples of each mole with your chips so you can see which one you like. Until I came here, I didn’t realize there was more than one kind. They all have their place and it’s hard to say which one I like the best.
So when I ordered tacos that come with mole sauce poured over them and they asked which one, I said “can I have all 3?” Well, of course you can. This was a very simple meal but probably the best bite of the trip so far, and cheaper than Friday’s meal (although I didn’t order as much food here). Not quite as messy as that langostino, but tasted much better.
The chicken was finely shredded and super moist – so much that by the time I got to the fourth one, it fell apart. I’m sure the mole didn’t help. Oh well, that’s what forks are for. This was a great dish.
A couple of blocks from here is an ice cream place, so I got some to walk home with: coconut and Belgian chocolate fudge brownie.
I was greeted with a short little fireworks show once I got back to my room. These started popping as soon as I hit the 2nd floor landing.
That was my day, and what a day it was. It took about 2 hours to get the photos ready and I went to sleep really easy sometime after 12:30.