Life's What You Make It!

This blog is designed to keep you up-to-date on our familiy's adventures!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Peurto Vallarta

Playa Los Arcos--Our hotel

The view of the pool from our room

I named this friendly iguana Fred (Corey called him Javier). He seemed to live on the roof of the hotel lounge. Every morning when we left our room, we would see him sunning himself.

The streets of downtown Peurto Vallarta

We ate at Pipi's (twice!). They had the best margaritas!!!!

Can you believe this is made out of sand? Amazing!

Enjoying a blue drink at the Cheeky Monkey!

The view from our table at the Vista Grille

Corey and I just spent six fabulous days in Peurto Vallarta, Mexico! We flew into Mexico City on Saturday, March 12th and then took another plane over to Peurto Vallarta. I had never really been out of the country before and it was a bit of a culture shock, but I have to say I would definitely go back. We had a short layover so we really didn't get a chance to see Mexico City other than from the plane, but it was huge! The city just kept going on and on. I think Mexico City is the largest city in the world--100 million people or something like that! On our lay over in Mexico City, Corey and I had dinner at the airport at a Carl's Jr. Something cheap right? I just about fell over when the cashier asked for $228. Then, I realized--pesos! OH!! And they use the dollar sign ($) so it gets a little confusing. If only I actually had that much money in the bank!

We stayed at the Playa Los Arcos, a hotel in the romantic area of Peurto Vallarta. The hotel was right in the downtown area of Peurto Vallarta and there was cobblestone streets. Very romantic and beautiful to look at, but I can't imagine driving on those kinds of roads every day. Everything was "open air" meaning there was no real front door to the hotel. You simply walked into the lobby directly from the street and then could walk through to the pool and directly to the beach on the ocean! The scenery was fantastic. Saturday, we got there just in time for dinner. We enjoyed a Mexican buffet at the hotel's restaurant and spent the evening down by the beach and relaxing after the long day of traveling.

Sunday was our bumming around day. We walked up and down the ocean along an area I believe was called the Plaza and around the downtown area looking at all the shops and eating our way around town. We had lunch at a restaurant called Pipi's. They had the largest margaritas I have ever seen and came to your table and made fresh guacamole for you. Fantastic! I've always said I don't like guacamole, but I could have eaten that stuff with a spoon. So good! For dinner, we ate at a place called the Cheeky Monkey which was (I'm told) a gay bar and Italian restuarant. Well, the waiters were definitely cute! We spent hours swimming and sitting by the pool and enjoying the beach by our hotel. As usual, even with sunscreen, I got burned but didn't get much of a tan! Sigh!

Outdoor Adventure

We rode in these Mercedes Benz jeeps up to base camp.

OMG! Hang on!

Rapelling down the waterfall was one of the scariest parts for me

P.S. I won this race!

Monday, we began our excursions.  I had booked three excursions with a company called Vallarta Adventures and they were all so much fun! After cabbing it to the marina, we hopped on a speedboat and sped across the bay to a little island you can only get to by boat (I can't remember the name of it). There was a town on this island of about 570 people. Seeing how these people lived was really eye-opening. Old buildings, dirt roads, poverty, minimal "essential" comforts. I could not live like this!

We then got into a Mercedes-Benz jeep and bumped and rattled our way up the moutain. (Peurto Vallarta is located between the Sierra Madre moutains and the ocean so everywhere we went were views of these gorgeous mountains!) These jeeps sat 15 people on rows of seats in the back. It felt kind of like a cattle truck. There were grab bars that hung from the ceiling in the back and you seriously needed them! We drove along roads so narrow you had to pull off to the side when another vehicle was coming down the moutain because both vehicles wouldn't fit on the road! After about a 30-40 minute jeep ride, we made it to base camp.

After gearing up with our harnesses, ropes, pulleys, gloves and helmets, we rode on horses (mules? mule horses? I don't know exactly what these things were) on a dirt path further up the mountain to our first zip line. Riding the horses was one of the scarier parts of the trip for me. First of all, I don't really know how to control a horse. We rode in a group of about 15 and we would go up and down steep hills. My horse decided to stop halfway up this really steep hill and I had a hard time getting it going again. Then, going down the hill, all the horses would decide to start running and I couldn't get mine to stop. I was afraid I was going to lauch the guy next to me off the mountain! It was dusty and dirty and I was glad it was only about a 20 minute ride.

Then, we reached our first zip line and found out what all the harnesses and pulleys were for. We had a short, "test" zip line we were all supposed to try first. Our guides gave us a brief tutorial.

Okay, lean back, legs out, use your weak hand to grab the ropes in front of you and your dominant hand to grab the zip line above your head. Don't grab the top zip line, only the bottom zip line. Make sure your dominant hand is on the zip line as far behind your head as you can or you will start spinning and won't stay straight. Your hand should be in contact with the zip line, but not holding the zip line too hard or you will slow down and get stuck. We charge an extra $50 if we need to come out on the line and rescue you! When we signal you to slow down, that's when you should start gripping the zip line to slow yourself down.

Okay! Got it! No problem! Panic attack! Is my heart supposed to beat this fast? Serious, I think I might pass out! What did I sign us up for? There is no other way down! We have to do this! EEK! It didn't help matters when the first woman to go on the "test" zip line gripped the line too tightly and, indeed, got stuck before she reached the other landing area. But, after the first zip line, it felt amazing and I felt confident on how to hold myself.

We proceeded to go on a very strenuous course of zip lines and rappels all the way back to base camp. We had long and short zip lines. One zip line was so steep, our guides had to slow us down at the bottom and you literally felt like you were falling. We rappelled down a 300-400 foot waterfall. Scary! You basically backed off the landing and tried to keep your feet along the rocks while you (theoretically) slowly lowered yourself down to the base of the waterfall. The rocks were slippery and I had to work hard not to slip all the way down. We did a free rapel where you simply lowered yourself on a rope several hundred feet. At the end of one of the zip lines, we got dunked in an extremely cold mountain stream (all part of the plan) and had to climb out of this moutain pool. We walked across streams on rope bridges and hiked up and down steep steps. Towards the end of the course, I did feel much better about the zip lining part of it and found myself looking around and really enjoying myself. It was such a rush!! Unlike anything I have every done before! Absolutely amazing although words cannot really describe what it was like.

When we reached base camp, we had a snack and got a chance to look at all the pictures they had taken of us while on our trip. Some people's scared faces while on the zip line were truly priceless. Then another harrowing trip down the mountain in the jeep and we hopped on the speed boat to speed across the bay and back to the marina! Wow! We made it out alive!

Yelapa & Majahuitas

The boat we took on our excursion

Javier--the entertainment director on the boat. He was hilarious!!!

A humback whale nursing her baby! One of the highlights of the trip for me!!!

Ready to snorkel

It was fun--but the water was so cold!

We did do more than drink....

What a beautiful drink! Don't even know what this was, but it was good!

Corey having a rough time on vacation

Yah...I brought the coconut with me back on the boat!

The next day we took another excursion on a catamaran to the islands of Yelapa and Majahuitas. Javier--the first officer or entertainment director for the cruise--was absolutely hilarious! He joked, played music and the crew danced for us on the boat ride out and the ride back. On the way to Yelapa, our first island, we came across a humpback whale nursing her baby! We shut the motor off to the boat and drifted beside her in silence for about 30 minutes. It was absolutely breathtaking!! I loved it! I was up by the bow of the boat snapping pictures left and right.

Then, we reached Yelapa and went snorkeling. It was really fun once you got used to breathing through the tube. It took a couple of time trying to put my head underwater before I could relax and not panic. The water was cold!! I saw some really beautiful large blue fish with yellow stripes, smaller back and grey striped fish, sea urchins and coral reefs. There is a whole other world under the water. Maybe next time I'll be brave enough to try scuba diving. 

When we reached the island of Majahuitas we took a water taxi from our catamaran to the beach. Some people hiked to a waterfall nearby, but Corey and I decided to stay on the beach and relax because we had just rappelled down a waterfall the day before. We sat by a little bar/restaurant called Domingo's and had some pina coladas and a lovely drink served in a fresh coconut! On our ride back to the marina we were lucky enough to see a humpback whale breaching. The whale was a little further away than our previous encounter, but amazing to see something that large jumping out of the water. It was a relaxing, fun-filled day!