Puerto Vallarta: La Vida es Buena

Anka gave me this great picture of Ty and I walking down the road away from Boca de Tomates. For some reason I am reminded of Dorothy and Toto on the yellow brick road …

On a recent cloudless, sunny Monday afternoon I joined about 50 others on the grass at Oscar’s on Isla Cuale to participate in the ZuBaYoReDa fundraiser for the Las Animas trails, organised by Barb, Sharon, and Bobbi, local yogis and hikers.

We enjoyed an afternoon of Zumba, Barre, Yoga Dance and Restorative Yoga, followed by margaritas and dancing to DJ Isaac on the top deck at Oscar’s. In the image above you can see my pal Angie (blonde ponytail) shaking it in the yoga dance.

In the picture above, in the red shirt, you can see Dr Bob, my 80 year old fitness hero, dancing with Jessi, our new zumba teacher.

Tuesday’s walk from Quimixto to Las Animas, the last such walk for the season, was very enjoyable but our usually relaxing lunchtime session was a bust, as I’ll describe below.

Quimixto is a small immaculate village, always well-swept and clean.

Our route takes us through the village proper, across the elementary school grounds, and along the ocean. As an aside, once the village kids reach high school age they must travel by panga to Boca for their education, 50 pesos each way, a sum that means some children quit school at grade 7. The lucky ones boat back and forth each day, wearing life-jackets, the only life-jackets we ever see on the boats here, except when a dignitary is in town and the police are checking.

It’s interesting that the sand here is so white, in contrast with the dark grey sand at Boca de Tomates in the north. While this beach seems caribbean, Boca de Tomates is more like the west coast of Vancouver Island.

After a walk of about an hour and fifteen minutes myself and mi amigos Pam, Cec, and Eve rolled into our usual restaurant for a cold towel, beer, and lunch.

As we were sitting sipping our first beers, we saw a panga pull up with a brass band. It seemed a little odd but didn’t really register as meaning much to us – wrong! The band, a 10 piece group complete with drum set, bass drum, three trumpets, clarinets, a tuba, and a singer, set up right next to our group. Hired by some locals celebrating a birthday, they played at ear-splitting decibels the most horrendous off-key Latin band music, complete with the screaches and scratches of equipment feedback, also at a billion decibels. As as added bonus, the lead singer couldn’t carry a tune.

I could not continue to sit at the table to eat while they were playing so took my meal to a waterside lounger. The worst band in the world eventually chased all of us out of the restaurant and onto the beach to get away from the noise.

To top it off, only one of our six tables had received any food after being there two and a half hours. So we paid our drink bills and bailed – not sure whether we’ll be going back to that restaurant or not.

Another day, another hike – this time from Las Animas to Quimixto, once again on a lovely clear, sunny day at a relaxed pace with Anka and Eve.

The bay here is so beautiful and I love being on the water. Today’s panga travelled at a very sedate pace with its 11 passengers and the sea was calm so I really enjoyed the ride.

Our two boats disgorged 24 people onto the beach at Las Animas for the hike to Quimixto early enough in the day that only one guy with iguana was visible on the beach. (Usually there are at least three men with various sizes of lizard importuning people for pictures).

The path travels up from the beach and through the jungle where new hand railings have been installed, thanks to our fundraising contributions.

The water along the coast here is a glorious emerald green-blue – we wondered what causes this colour.

An easier hike than Boca to Las Animas, the trail is nevertheless steep and narrow in parts, as well as a bit slippery due to its sandyness. As we came down one of the switchbacks to the beach, a burro and rider passed us heading up the trail.

This is such a pretty spot; most of our group relaxed and had lunch, while a more active contingent hiked to the inland waterfall and back.

Today for the first time the beach restaurant in the village was open, with crowds from two tour boats on hand.

Upon our return, I passed this fountain near our place and watched for quite a while as a whole series of different species of bird enjoyed bath time.

Rob and Angie are celebrating their wedding anniversary so we decided to spend a day at Los Arroyos Verdes, an eco-resort near Bucerias, about an hour by bus north of Vallarta. We were really lucky with all our bus connections and arrived at the resort around 10 in the morning for a day of lounging poolside.

This place is spread over several lush acres and was built ten years ago by Guadalupe, the Mexican proprietor, an architect, designer, sail manufacturer, and award winning sailor – a woman of many talents indeed. Apparently she helicoptered in many full-grown, full-sized palm trees for the gardens.

The pool area is beautiful: on one side is an area of lush grass and vegetation, on another a restaurant, and on another a patio with loungers, as well as a herb garden and outdoor seating area outside the kitchen.

In the middle of the pool is an island of loungers and seating areas. And spread around the rest of the estate are 32 casitas of various sizes for short and long-term guests. The beehive structure below is for indigenous spiritual ceremonies that take place here periodically.

Luckily we staked out our poolside loungers as soon as we got here because the place filled up pretty quickly with Sunday day-trippers like us.

Here’s a picture of some of the casitas, one and two bedroom townhouses set in beautiful gardens of cacti and indigenous plants.

As you can see from the photo above, many of the cacti here are enormous.

The complex even has a huge dedicated art-making area, as well as several BBQ areas and a pickleball court.

Sunday is a great day to go because they have live music; this day it was the flamenco guitarist Esau, another guitarist from Tatewari and a wonderful singer with a great voice.

While listening to the music, all of us also enjoyed swimming in the huge pool, large enough to do many laps – I loved it! My first time in a pool this year.

Ty really enjoyed his time floating; however, sometimes good things need to be paid for and the next day, he had a sunburned torso and had to stay out of the sun.

At the end of the day we had the taxi drop us off at the Bucerias Beach, packed with local families enjoying their day off – it was still screaming hot at 6:30 at we walked along the beach.

A guy flew overhead in his own personal flying craft, comprising a sail and engine strapped on his back.

After a nice walk along the beach and up the hill, we caught our bus within a few minutes for the hour-long ride back to town, and even got seats – huzzah! Sunday night it was hopping at the square, with a huge crowd at the arches and dancing in the square – living la vida buena!

Here are a few random photos of us out and about, below at La Carretta Beach Bar.

Below at the Cenduria Celia, a local eatery in the barrio where Ty, to his delight, got an enormous chicken breast, with all the sides, for about $4.50.

At the Babel Bar for their second anniversary celebration (we didn’t actually sit inside because the restaurant was full but we enjoyed the music from a bench in the park).

That same evening the Vallarta Cultural Centre had an exhibition of its students’ work, as well as a film presentation.

On the malecon day and night

A stroll from Old Town down to the Mega to get our favourite caramel donuts, stopping for coffee and cervesas.

In between the Sharaton Buganvilias and the Mega there is still a large area of no-man’s-land, occuped only by a big flock of quail-like birds that I’ve never seen before, enjoying the ponds underneath the three palm trees that grace this strip of land.

In another undeveloped parcel a goatherd and two goats occupy a prime piece of beachfront acreage.

The sunsets are spectacular and a large group of sunset afficionados cluster at the end of our street each evening to watch the glowing orb sink into the sea.

We can relive the glory days of 1980s disco and John Travolta and the Bee Gees in their heday every night at this bar on the malecon, via their TV screens, still stayin’ alive after all these years.

We never know what we’ll see in the amphitheatre at the Arches – tonight it was a Zumba special and a blue clown blowing up balloon animals.

The pirate ship plys the waters of the bay every evening, carrying revelers out to sea, while farting out a few blasts of fireworks periodically.

Art Vallarta has a new show of mixed media art, featuring works in a dizzying array of mediums, as well as a workshop on felting in the downstairs cool room.

See more here and here.

4 Replies to “Puerto Vallarta: La Vida es Buena”

  1. Fabulous Lisa! Once again it’s another great and inspiring trip for you and Ty. I am reading this while watching the last light of the day go down behind the hills around Maseru in Lesotho. I am only here till Monday when I fly back home. Maybe catch you guys in early May when Tianna graduates?

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