We were treated to a wonderful experience of Puerto Vallarta, MX by friends Judy and Bruce. We flew down for a week to check out the sites and culture and to celebrate Marie’s birthday. Our friends stay each winter in Nuevo Vallarta, the neighbouring tourist town in a lovely beachfront condo. And what a beach it is, running for some 30 km around the rim of a volcanic cone framed by mountains on 3 sides.
Puerto Vallarta, the “jewel of the Pacific” has a population of about 300,000 that welcomes over 5 million tourists a year. Its cobblestone center is home to the ornate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church, boutique shops and a range of restaurants and bars. El Malecón is a beachside promenade with contemporary sculptures, as well as bars, lounges and shops.
We ate at a funky place called Pancho’s Takos. It is a hole in the wall on a busy sidewalk where people line up for 30 minutes for a table to be served the best Mexican food that we have ever eaten. Beef is cooked shawarma style on a vertical spit and carved onto soft shell tortillas with a variety of salsa sauces, cheese and chorizo sausage added to taste. The roast onions were a meal in themselves. While waiting they offer you beer and ask afterwards how many did you have? Street drumming, singing and dancing groups entertain. It is a must eat PV experience that we loved.
Nuevo Vallarta is a timeshare, condominium and hotel town where Canadians surprisingly out number Americans and Mexicans at this time of year. There are thousands of beach front rooms that people have been returning to for many years. We fell in love with the pedestrian lifestyle. You walk a lot and take a bus or taxi which is cheap, to get your groceries or to eat out. It was a refreshing change for us from the car oriented Fort Myers where we have been wintering for several years. Prices for food, drink and accommodation are more affordable here too as the Mexican peso has depreciated against the $CDN in recent years.
We met many Canadians during our week-long stay and only a few Americans. Bruce took us to a country estate benefit concert in support of a local retirement home for under privileged Mexican seniors. There we met Doug and Debbie from Barrie, ON area who have been coming here for 25+ years. Doug describes Mexico as his “adopted country” and along with Debbie, are involved in charitable works assisting locals in need each year.
The next day was Marie’s birthday. We were invited to another brunch, this time at the elegant El Tigre Golf Club with a group of 20 others. We had a great time meeting everyone and enjoying the great food and endless champagne. We could see that this lifestyle is something we could get used to real easy. Everyone is happy and ready to meet, greet and explain their passion for Mexico. The Mexican staff are nothing but gracious, polite, efficient and good-natured. Here, we are on “the fun side of the wall” as the tee-shirt says.
As our week drew to a close we were happy to walk the beach, swim in the ocean and pool, visit the huge Vidanta resort next door, check out the wild life and local markets, and, look at some condos for possible rental next winter…God willing and should we decide not to return to FL.
It is safe to say that we fell in love with PV and really would love to come back. Thank you Judy and Bruce for sharing this special place with us and for your generous hospitality. We are forever indebted and grateful to you for giving us this enduring intercultural experience.