The hotel WiFi is working again so I’m happy about that. It’s funny how the blog has become such a normal part of any trip that it felt really strange not to be able to work on it. And I was a little panicked; I’ve never gotten a day behind before – although the final day is often delayed due to traveling – and I started to rethink my schedule to figure out how to get caught up. Thankfully Jon saved the day; thanks, Jon!
I don’t remember what time I got up yesterday but I went out early for a walk. I got the shot above of the church from the Malecon; I hadn’t realized how clearly you could see it from there. I walked about 2 miles along the Malecon and back through town. I stopped at an Oxxo for coffee since my room doesn’t have any. (Although it has a coffee maker – but no coffee or filters; I keep forgetting to ask what’s up with that and haven’t bothered to get my own.) Oxxo is like 7-11, a typical convenience store, although in serious competition in the ubiquitous category with ABC stores in Hawaii. They are everywhere.
I got back to the room in time for the kitchen to open up, get some more coffee, and talk with Dan at 8am. We typically talk on Sunday mornings and had kept the time today flexible until I could figure out my schedule. It’s always nice to see his face – we use FaceTime although the connection was a little shaky. We only talked about 20 minutes so I could get on with my day. He will be in Sacramento this Wednesday through Saturday so we will see each other shortly anyway.
I had a little breakfast at the hotel and texted Jon to invite myself over to use his WiFi, a thought that finally occurred to me on my walk. He said – come on over, I’ll make you some coffee!
See said coffee in the above shot. As I was getting started I asked “do you have a magazine or something I could use as a mousepad?” Mine doesn’t always do well directly on some tables. He says “A friend of mine gave me this and I use it all the time; even take it with me when I travel.” Notice the Nationwide logo top right. I cracked up; I don’t remember having this and don’t remember giving it to him!
I was at Jon’s from about 8:45 – 10:00, and got the blog up during that time – a record for sure. Luckily it was a pretty straight forward day and there weren’t a ton of photos to have to pick from or edit (crop, mess with the lighting, etc.). A typical blog schedule is two hours, loosely an hour for photos, an hour to write. So I wasn’t sure I could do it but was glad I did. It helped that we didn’t “do” much that day, so there really wasn’t that much writing to do beyond photo captioning.
I had somewhere to be! In my wanderings the day before, I came across food walking tours and signed up for one. We met at the same park I’ve been at every day somehow, including Friday night with Jon, at 10:30.
This is the gazebo that was behind the mariachi band in the same photo from Friday night. This is where we were meeting; the tour guide is there to the right in blue, although I didn’t know that yet when I took this shot. The tour was only $50 and included food tasting at 8 different places. Seemed like a good deal to me.
A popular photo opp, this is right behind where I’m standing to take the one of the gazebo. There were lots of kids playing on this when we were here Friday night.
Our first stop was Tacos El Cunado (with a tilde above the n, I’m just not taking the time!), just off the Malecon. It was one of the first street vendors in operation, since 1968, and has been run by the same family the entire time.
A taco asada, beef. They had 5 different salsas/sauces you could add, in varying heats. I opted for the first 2, an avocado based one and a light tomato salsa. It was tasty and a good start to the tour.
Next was Taco Robles, a taco stand in operation since 1986 up on Constitution.
The taste was taco dorado, named for the gold color of the fried crispy tortilla. Your choice was beef or goat; I went with goat. I topped with fresh onion, a little brown salsa that was pretty hot, cilantro, and of course lime juice. It was amazing; this was my favorite bite of the tour.
Next was Mariscos Cisneros up on Aguacate; marisco is seafood.
This is a stuffed pepper taco: a jalapeno stuffed with shrimp, breaded and fried, served in a tortilla with taco garnishments. This was also very good. What I liked so far about all 3 of these places is I would never had tried any of them on my own. The taco stands and little restaurants like this are everywhere, but it’s hard to know what might be good. When in doubt: look for crowds of locals.
Next was Vallarta Factory on Libertad. It’s a chocolate place.
We got a taste of roasted cacao beans above, and a piece of dark chocolate around a coffee bean below. the cacao bean was just interesting, but I of course loved the chocolate.
We spotted some iguanas hanging out in trees as were we crossing the river. The shots above and below is the same one on one side of the river. He was pretty easy to see, would have easily caught your eye in passing.
The above iguana was on the other side of the street and you had to really look for it. The tour guide said they are often around so knew to look for them.
Next was Cesar’s Coconut Stand. Just watching this guy work the coconut was fun.
We had some coconut water, and a little piece of fresh coconut with chili flakes and (of course) lime.
This is Concepcion, he hangs out on the Malecon selling tuba. No, not an instrument, a drink made from palm sap. This had apples and walnuts and I’m not sure what else in it. It was incredible and, goat taco aside, was my favorite taste of the tour, probably because I was so surprised at how much I liked it. It had incredible flavor and was very refreshing.
Since there’s no Dan to include in any of my shots and no Dan to take photos of me, you’re stuck with a selfie. It just seems weird to not have me in here somewhere. Maybe it’s someone else taking this trip…
The next stop was at Gaby’s. Sound familiar? It’s where I met Jon Friday evening, and where I take the stairs up to his place, 2 blocks from my hotel. The big thing for most people here were tequila tastes, two of them. Although I obviously passed – I got the fruit drink shown below – I should have at least taken a photo as they were presented well: 3 tall shot glasses, two colors of tequila and a red chaser of some kind (I forgot what that was since I wasn’t really paying attention to that portion of the program…).
But we had two other tastes here as well. Tortilla soup, above, and a chicken enchilada with two kinds of mole. Again, I was “whatever” about the brown, but the green was excellent. Neither as good, in my opinion, as the mole place I was at on Friday.
The last stop was a candy store a block away where we had several tastes.
Some fresh coconut, shredded and in tequila supposedly although I didn’t pick up on any of it (taste or feel and I’m now very sensitive to alcohol!) so couldn’t have been that much; below are peanuts in caramel and sesame.
Above: almonds in caramel – probably my favorite of this stop; below is caramel and craisin, also very good.
This was coconut flavored with I don’t remember what anymore. I’m sure I liked it because I like anything coconut but don’t remember now what it was.
The tour was over 3 hours, ending around 1:45. Definitely worth the price. I was oddly both disappointed and comforted that we didn’t go into areas that I hadn’t been to yet – didn’t see anything knew, but figured I haven’t missed much either.
Now what? I had nothing else planned the rest of the day. Since I was so close to the hotel I stopped by my room for a few minutes to regroup. As we were walking around this morning we’d passed the pier and she pointed out the water taxi stand which somehow I hadn’t noticed. Most of what I’d seen so far looked like day trips and I’d decided against that long ago. But maybe there was something shorter? Under the heading of couldn’t hurt to ask, I made my way over there.
I waited a few minutes for the guy to finish with the couple who’d walked up just ahead of me. I explained I was just looking for a way to kill a couple of hours, did he have anything short? Sure, he said, what do you want to do? Snorkeling? No, I explained, not really looking to “do” anything, mostly I just want to be on the water for a little while. Two other guys had walked up at that point, one of them wearing a maritime shirt, and the sales guy called out to him in Spanish. Whatever they said, it sounded like he could take me now for $100. I paused and changed my mind; somehow that math didn’t seem worth it in the moment. So I said thanks anyway and walked away.
I continued walking along the Malecon and several hundred feet away I hear someone calling after me. It was the guy in the maritime shirt. “Senor, I’m the captain of the boat, that guy works off commission. I don’t want him to see us talking because he’ll be mad at me but I’ll take you for $80.” And to that I said: why not?
Meet Captain Leonardo Hernandez and his little boat. I was his only passenger, it was just him and me so we talked a bit on the trip. He’s 34 years old, lived here all this life, has been driving boats since he was 12 and has made a living out of it. He’s never been to school. His English was pretty good, just picked up a long the way. He says he lives in paradise and has no interest in ever living anywhere else. He was a good guy and I enjoyed visiting with him.
And he filled the time with exactly what I wanted but what sounded a little ridiculous to the sales guy: I’m here, figured I should just spend some time on the water despite not being a water person. No I don’t want to snorkel, fish, swim. This guy got it. We were out for an hour an a half. It was fun, relaxing, beautiful.
Banderas Bay is 22 miles long and 22 miles deep. We went along the south end. Many of the buildings you’ll see in these photos are private residences – clearly someone’s making a lot of money here – with some obvious resorts as well.
That’s a single family residence on the left; the structure on the right is actually two residences, although I wouldn’t call it a duplex; they just happen to share a wall.
Bungee jumping. Nope.
About 35 minutes out, he slowed down as we approached this area where there were a few other boats slowly moving around some big rocks in the water.
And the reason they come: lots of pretty fish you can clearly see from the boat. These are angel fish.
It was hard to get good shots from the boat – and was terrified of dropping my phone – but these actually turned out pretty good considering; at least you get the idea.
This was the last resort we went by until we turned around and went back.
There were lots of pelicans hanging out on the rocks; seeing them fly seemed somehow prehistoric, they have such an interesting look while in the air.
And the pier which you’ve seen, just not from this angle, as we were coming back. It was a fun trip and I’m very glad I did it.
It was approaching 5pm; I was a little hungry but it was too early for dinner. Decided to go for dessert first – some flan and an iced latte at a coffee and dessert place, next door to the gelato shop we’d stopped at Friday night. I went back to my room to shower and rest a bit before dinner.
I went out about 7pm again and hadn’t really decided where I would eat. I’ve been going more with gut feel and what happens to be close by wherever I am rather than doing any research. And I was sitting at dinner I realized I hadn’t done too bad. TripAdvisor has 1095 restaurants listed in Puerto Vallarta. The mole place I had lunch at on Friday was #34; Saturday’s night stop a couple of blocks from my hotel, Casa Tradicional, was #25. And tonight’s pick was #70, Roberto’s. This is more seafood than Mexican but it’s what I was in the mood for.
I took this on my way out; I sat at the now empty table in the middle behind the pillar.
A tuna carpaccio, in a sauce made from soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and ginger, with some fresh onion. This instantly became my favorite taste of the entire trip, very fresh and incredible flavor. And memorable; I can still taste it!
I couldn’t decide between shrimp dishes so he surprised with me a combination: garlic shrimp, fried jumbo, and coconut shrimp. The coconut shrimp were of course my favorite, and they were sitting in this sauce that, oddly, was reminiscent of what you’d get from a Kraft macaroni and cheese box – and I mean that in only the best way.
I walked around for maybe another hour just watching the nightlife. It’s so not me, but entertaining to see so many people out. So this homebody went back to the hotel, uploaded the photos and got another nice night’s sleep.
I leave today, won’t be doing much, and don’t know exactly what it is yet. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow :)