TRIP REPORT: AUGUST 2013 – PART 3
A/C turned up high, MP3 plugged in and playing Margaritaville, we entered Mexico 200 in the car and headed south. Traffic was light from Nuevo to PV, and we enjoyed looking upwards to the mountains and seeing beautifully lush green jungle foilage. As we entered Old Town PV, we glanced lovingly out the windows as we passed all of our favorite landmarks and special places. Truly, life is good. Following the winding highway through the jungle, past Conchas Chinas and beyond, many lavish homes and complexes punctuate breathtaking views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. We drove past Le Kliff Restaurant, which is hands down our most favored dining choice on every PV vacation (unfortunately for us, it’s currently closed for the season), and wound left heading to Boca de Tomatlan. Once we reached Boca we drove down the steep passage that leads to the river. After parking, I pulled out my cell phone and called Alfonso at Ocean Grill. The restaurant’s water taxi was sent to meet us at the pier. Moving swifly through the green-blue water, light breezes cut through the heat, and boat ride afforded us beautiful views of nature at its finest. Instead of the usual beach landing, we were taken directly to the new pier where we climbed up and out of the taxi and were soon greeted by Wilson – the casual, friendly resident canine. Seated at a prime table bordering the railing which overlooks the water, we greatly appreciated the arrival of ice-cold washcloths to cool us down. The four of us each ordered grilled sea bass (catch of the day) with veggies and enjoyed six drinks between us. Amazingly, the bill amounted to only $980 pesos! As on each of our previous visits, we were incredibly grateful for the ambiance and service, and left a 22% tip. There aren’t enough words to adequately describe this special, magical location. It’s something you must experience for yourself. But because the restaurant is very small and can only accomodate a limited number of guests, the owner must unfortunately turn away 80-100 hopeful diners on any given day during high season. Reservations are essential.
After returning to Boca by water taxi, we decided to continue onward to the Botanical Gardens. Without adequate warning, we discovered the afternoon had suddenly turned into early evening. We drove through the Gardens’ double gates at 4:45pm, an hour and 15 minutes before closing time. There was a sudden crack in the golden sunshine and down came some friendly sprinkles, giving us a chance to rethink taking a walk through wide open areas during a possible downpour. So we made the decision to head back toward town. Fortunately, by the time we neared Mismaloya the sun had brokered a deal with the clouds. The sky cleared. We turned down the narrow dirt road bordering the south side of the Barcelo Resort and continued on toward the beach. Parking was plentiful, and we were immediately greeted by the usual round-up of restaurant employees and vendors. This small curve of beach is always delightful and has such a great personality. You can’t help but think of the famous movie Night of the Iguana and try to imagine how this whole area must have looked when love birds Richard Burton and Liz Taylor walked the sand on this same shoreline.
Continuing the drive into town, we discussed the possibility of stopping by La Playita for appetizers and drinks. But that plan was quickly foiled when our attention turned to sparks of fire flying off a newer and quite large road construction vehicle. The flames were just getting started, but soon all four tires were on fire and flames quickly engulfed the whole vehicle. With all the commotion, we missed our turn off for the Lindo del Mar complex, and there was no turning around. Highway workers immediately blocked off the lanes. So heading back to Nuevo, we decided to make a stop in Mezcales to eat at a taco place off the beaten path where the clientele was 99% locals and tacos were only $10 pesos each. And boy, were those tacos good!
FRIDAY: After a few morning errands, surfboards were strapped to the roof of the car, and the trunk was loaded up with beach chairs, beach umbrellas, ice chest and towels. We plugged in the MP3, and with music in the air and A/C on, we headed north to spend the day at precious Sayulita, the fun and vibrant Bohemian surf town. It was another beautiful day at the beach. The vendors that comb the sands with their wares are very respectful and not over bearing. When it comes to potential retirement destinations, there are no real competitors. It would be a literal dream to live right here all year round. This sweet place just beams happiness and relaxed, good-time vibes. Cute and colorful shops and eateries, which are abundant, line the darling streets, and for many the favored mode of transport is via golf carts and ATVs. After a few hours of ocean and sand time, the husbands went up beach to walk around a bit and search out some good tacos and drinks and bring them back to share. A bit later in the day, with a bag of both new and used Specialized bike components, I accompanied my husband as he led the way to another restaurant to visit the owner. In April/May, he and a friend took our mountain bikes and went on a jungle exploration of the area. On their way back to Sayulita, they stopped at an excellent fish taco place, Chilly Willy’s, for food and beer, and met a really nice local who admired the boys’ bikes and components. He left the restaurant to quickly go home and retrieve his own bike to proudly show it to the guys. When my husband saw that the bike was in great need of TLC and new Specialized components, he offered to round up some items at home in CA and bring them down for him on our next trip. The local was very grateful, but also probably thought that after a few days this conversation would likely be forgotten. We arrived at Chilly Willy’s, and although the sign clearly announced summer operating hours, talking to a few locals we learned that in actuality the hours of operation are more on a daily whim. Oh well, we’ll return with the bag of nice surprises on another day next week. At afternoon’s end, we loaded up the surfboards and gear and headed another 5 minutes north to San Pancho. The town is really small, but the beach is knock-your-socks-off gorgeous! It’s really amazing, like a breathtaking locale you’d only view in a movie. No matter what time of year we visit San Pancho, this ultra-incredible beach is either totally unoccupied or very lightly sprinked with visitors. It’s a true hidden gem.
By the time we hit the road again heading homeward, the sun had begun it’s downward decent. We had hoped to dine on a bluff at Peppers in The Rancho Banderas complex, Punta Mita, but the day had somehow evaporated. On autopilot, we found ourselves on a return visit to Tacos on the Street in La Cruz for fabulous $15 peso ribeye tacos, beer, Margaritas, and some of the best flan in the whole area.
This morning my husband is currently out for an early morning run on the beach. When he returns he’ll shower off and relax until it’s time to leave for his 9:30 a.m. visit to a local dentist office for routine teeth cleaning. Although our dental insurance covers $1K annually in benefits per person, extracting a few wisdom teeth will eat up that whole amount. So why waste $200 USD out of pocket on a simple teeth cleaning procedure back home when you can receive the same great service at a beautiful dentist office here for only $40. With a sparkling set of teeth, my husband will then drive back to the condo to pick the rest of us up and head into PV for breakfast at The Pancake House on Basilio Badillo. Afterwards, we’ll then cross the street to see if Banderas Soap Blends is open today. Last month, via internet, I bulk ordered 19 bars of “Sunset on Banderas Bay” soaps. These beautiful creations are a take-home must for anyone who dreams of PV long after their trip ended. The colorful soaps each depict a gorgeous yellow-orange sun as it sets low over the ocean. If time allows, we’ll stop by the Paradise Community Center in the Romantic Zone (Pulpito #127) to visit the Saturday Market Co-op to browse the various tables displaying sweet small treasures. Then we’ll head back to the Panasonic store on Candelaria to pick up our Brookstone stereo that luckily was able to be repaired. Electronics are not too fond of humidity and salty ocean air. Afterwards, the day is wide open to new explorations and adventure. Our list of things to do and places to see is forever long!
In the coming week, we may visit San Sebastian, possibly drive out to San Blas, take a Vallarta Adventure tour or two, and from Boca de Tomatlan rent a private panga for the day to explore Yelapa and other beautiful areas which accessible primarily by boat. There’s always so much to look forward to.
Sitting here on the balcony overlooking beautiful views of the bay, I notice blue ocean waves inviting me to come downstairs and take a lovely morning walk through its lacy foam fingers as they gracefully reach out to the waiting beach. It’s just another glorious day on Banderas Bay…