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Report 1558: Mexico in August ... What Was I Thinking?!

By Amarena from New York, Summer 2008

Trip Description: My family, husband Jamie, sons Reed and Miles, diverted from our usual trips to Italy this summer, and embarked upon an adventure in the jungles of Puerto Vallarta. We had a great time, though the heat can be quite unbearable at times in August.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - Mexico

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Beach; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people; Adults and Young Children

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Page 1 of 3: Puerto Vallarta

Wednesday, August 6

Got up at 2:30! So, so tired. Pack up the car, get the boys up, and we are on the road by 3:40. Check in at Delta; in the club by 5am, no coffee made. Bummer. Flight is supposed to leave at 6, but there is some sort of delay and we donít depart until almost 7 for Atlanta. Jamie is worried about delay, but we make the connection in Atlanta, even have time for the club there. We toast in the trip with a glass of champagne in the club. The boys show no signs of being tired, and are very excited. Reed takes a photo of our plane from the terminal. The pilot sees him and gives him a big wave.

Our next flight is fine, though the food is really, really bad, overcooked and unseasoned dry steak or mushy unseasoned pasta with chicken. I donít expect much from airplane food, but this is probably the worst yet. I watch Definitely, Maybe on my computer Ė good movie! Boys both watch Godzilla on my iPhone ... Jamie sleeps.

We arrive and exit the plane. Extreme heat! What were we thinking coming to Mexico in August? Get to luggage area Ö guess what? Bags are lost. Delta sent them to Mexico City. Great, and I didnít pack any swimming suits in the carry-ons. Our bags are supposed to arrive at 4pm. It is noon right now. We take a taxi to hotel, having successfully avoided the many timeshare hawkers trying to lure us in.

Check in to The Westin Marina. It looks very nice, bright funky colors, which could be tacky but somehow they work here. See my photos. The hotel is a very quick ride from the airport. They are putting us in a honeymoon suite, sounds nice. Itís on the 8th floor. We have to step over the remnants of a ceiling along the way. HmmÖ this isnít so good. Iím willing to just chill though. Hotel room is good. Not one of the renovated rooms, but itís a larger room than what we booked AND it has a fantastic large balcony with a Jacuzzi and view of the bay, hotel and Puerto Vallarta. Too bad itís too hot to enjoy it.

Speaking of hot, itís hot. Super hot. Hot, hot, hot. I insist we buy swimming suits at the hotel because I need relief in the pool. Two hundred dollars later, and we are outfitted. My new suit is quite nice, as is my matching sarong. The boyís suits are not so great but they will do.

Pool is nice. We swim over to the bar and order a couple of drinks, feeling more cool and comfortable. We spend the next couple of hours in the pool chilliní out. AhhhÖ

Our bags arrive around 5. Yay!!

Dinner that evening is at Victorís in the Marina. They are super friendly here, food is pretty good, and they give you a shot of tequila with each drink you orderÖ uh, oh. Musicians serenade us as well. Liking the vacation so far.

Thursday, August 7

Good night sleep, and not hung over despite the tequila the previous night. We head up to the club for breakfast. They have a nice spread Ö pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, breads, yoghurts, lots of fruit. Good coffee.

We have no plans for the day, but we have lots of activities the three days after today, so we decide to check out Puerto Vallarta town, and do a little shopping. We take a cab into town, and are dropped off by a flea market. We wander through, and the boys pick out a couple of items Ö a wooden crocodile for Miles and a key chain for Reedís collection.

Lunch is The River Cafť on an island in the river. We get a very nice table under a gazebo over the river. It isnít as hot as yesterdayÖ so far. Our food is pretty good, and service is very friendly. The river is not that pretty, as far as rivers go, very brown. But the sound of rushing water is nice.

After lunch, we do some shopping. Or that is, we start to shop but all boys tucker out at the first shop. So they head back to the hotel, and I continue some shopping at Quirinale, a very nice shop with antiques, ceramics, embroidered linens and lots of high-quality Mexican handicrafts. I buy an embroidered colorful cloth, which I will frame, a painted cross, and a painted wooden board of Saint Raphael, who apparently saved a boy from being eaten by a shark and is known to watch over children. Never hurts to have a little extra help!

More swim time and then dinner at the hotel. Food isnít bad, but the service is extremely slow. After dinner, we go down to the beach, listen to the music at Nikki Beach, sip on margaritas and watch the boys play in the sand.

Friday, August 8

Canopy Tour day. A quick breakfast and then a taxi back to PV for our canopy tour. We do a tour with Los Verranos Canopy Tours, and they are very, very good. Professional, fun, and a nice bus ride to the location. Miles isnít old enough so he and I go along for the ride, but then have to wait about 1.5 hours for Reed and Jamie to finish. I forget to bring any toys or distractions for Miles, but we still enjoy ourselves. They have a small petting zoo of monkeys, plus lots of caged spiders and snakes to look at. Also there is a river with lots of boulders to climb, and a restaurant.

Jamie and Reed are totally ecstatic when they finish. Jamie says it was quite scary at first, but after they got used to the height, really got into it. The guides made it a lot of fun for everyone AND kept it safe for everyone. Jamie took lots of photos during the tour, and we bought a DVD of their experience since one of the guides filmed them. They both want to do this again, though Iím not sure Iím brave enough to try it.

More swim time.

We hire a sitter through the hotel, and take a taxi into PV for dinner. We go to Daquiri Dicks for a drink, sit at the bar and call the sitter to make sure everything is okay. No answer. Try again. No answer. Try again. No answer. Call the concierge to ask for help. She says she will call back. No call. We call again, frantic, and demand that they send security to the room. We jump back into a cab, and canít speak to each other, thinking unspeakable things. The concierge calls back. Everything is fine. Kids are in the room, but our room phone isnít working. She assures us that the sitter is good, and works at the hotel in the kids club. We feel better but decide to go back to the hotel to see the boys for ourselves, and then stick closer to the hotel for dinner.

We end up at the Marina. There is a lighthouse there, with a bar on top, so this is our first stop. Itís a nice view, and we discuss the merits of the rainy seasonÖ itís always easy to get a table! The heat is a bummer, rain is brief, but at least there arenít any crowds.

Dinner is back at Victorís. We share some beef tacos, and share some laughs. And I canít remember, but Iím sure there were some tequila shots thrown in as well.

Saturday, August 9 - Swimming with Dophins

We booked this tour through Wildlife Connections because I had read good things about them on tripadvisor.com. They actually study dolphins in the wild, and take you out in a boat for three to four hours to swim with them in the bay, rather than letting kids swim with dolphins in captivity for 1/2 hour in a pool. We learn that dolphins in captivity do not live as long as the dolphins in the wild AND there are several outfits which acquire their dolphins somewhat illegally. Eduardo is our guide. He is a photographer for National Geographic, and very passionate about the sea-life around PV, giving us a short but very informative talk and slideshow before we head out on the water.

Two guys join us at the last minute. They are from the Czech Republic and doing a story about Wildlife Connections for a news station there. Or actually one of them is, and one of them lives in PV and has done a book on the wildlife around PV, but he is helping out his friend, or maybe it is his brother. Whatever. They film us and the dolphins the whole time, and seem very enthused about the tour, as are we. It is great fun. It is fun looking for the dolphins, then spotting them, then trying to stay with them. Jamie and Reed snorkel with the dolphins, and I stay on the boat with Miles who is never enthusiastic about swimming with fish. I really want to get in, but canít, and weíll just leave it at that. Really bummed that I canít, though, it is so my cup of tea. But I love filming the dolphins, and hope to do this again, maybe this trip.

Lunch at Nikki Beach. Not too hot in the shade, and a lovely view of the beach. Food is good. I am craving a salad, and have a pretty good one. Service is okay, though they couldnít figure out how to charge to our room.

Back to the pool. The pool with no rules! Love it. At our town pool, there are so many rules about jumping, toys, playing, etc. Now of course it is very, very safe. But sometimes I think it was more fun to grow up in the 60ís and 70ís when there werenít so many rules. Things are much safer now, but not always so much fun. We stay with the boys in the pool, but allow them to jump and play to their little heartís content.

For dinner, we all take a cab to PV and dine at Barcelona Tapas. Fantastic view of the city and bay AND great sangria and very good tapas. Fun night. Last summer we were in Barcelona, so it was nice to reminisce about that trip.

Sunday, August 10 - ATV Day

We take a cab into PV, and the driver drops us off at a different ATV place than the address I had given him. He tries another place around the cornerÖ nope. Hello? Could we maybe go to the address I first gave you instead of you trying to drop us off at any old ATV place? We find it once we try actually going to the address listed, though Jamie and I have to push him to keep going down the street to the correct number.

Our guide drives us close to where the canopy tour took place close to Los Verranos where our canopy tour was.

It begins at the Botanical Gardens, which is gorgeous. But it is one of those hot days, where all you want to do is sit submersed in a cool pool with a cold drink in your hand, not sitting on a hot ATV, in the midday sun, trekking through the jungle. And a trek it is.

We did an ATV tour in Leadville, CO, which was fun but this was a bit terrifying at times. However, I did get the hang of it, and quite adept. It is fun but way too hot.

We go through the jungle, through rivers, past horses and cows, Then get on the paved road and drove 1.5 miles down to a village, take a water break, then go to a tequila factory. Did a tastingÖ oh, this tastes good! Buy a bottle of course.

Then our guide takes us to Chicos Paradise for lunch. This is okay, but I feel a little trapped there when they keep trying to get us to book their canopy tour and horse rides. Plus Miles and I are looking at their parrots, which are a bit mangy looking, and one of them poops and then proceeds to eat his poop. Gross.

We drive back to the Botanical Gardens. I would have enjoyed staying awhile since it was like a little oasis, but know the boys are very hot and need to get back to the pool. But they are nice enough to do a quick walk-through for me to do a little photographing.

Pool time and then dinner at Porto Bello in the Marina. We try to eat outside but the heat and mosquitoes drive us inside. It is nice to have a different cuisine after several days of Mexican food. I have pasta with shrimp and sundried tomatoes, which is pretty darn tasty.

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