Having your alarm set for 3:00 AM is only OK when you are leaving for vacation!!! Our 3:00 AM wake up call was just enough time to get up, great ready, and grab a taxi to the airport (out of the house by 4:00 AM) arrival to the airport at 4:20 with a flight departing at 6:20. With TSA Precheck and even with checked bags, we were through security and at our gate by 5:00 AM. Something to note is TSA Precheck is a must for international travel and also leaving at a busy time (Friday morning). The regular line was backed up pretty far.
With a short layover in San Francisco, we were off to Puerto Vallarta by 10:00 arriving at 2:00 PM.
NOTE: we were in the back of the plane –which meant boarding first however we were the last ones to de-plane and with a plane at over 160 people, we were 158th in line at customs … just for our plane. Looking back we should have paid the extra $50 for an upgrade for more leg room and to be off the plane first. NOTE: grab some extra bottled water before you get on your last leg or ask for some on the plane as it might be a couple hours before you are outside the airport and it can be HOT!
Derek had been to the Puerto Vallarta airport in the past so we knew there was two lines immigration and then customs. The immigration line was longer than Derek was used to – however if we would have been first off the plane, we would have been close to the front of the line. We waited about an hour in that line. NOTE: you cannot use your cell phone in this line!! It was hilarious to see all the college kids on spring break going through withdrawals without their phones.
After about an hour we were off to customs. This was a sh*t show. There were about 5+ planes coming in at this time and it was a major bottle neck and no one knew where the lines were and everyone was going crazy … “I am in line” “Where is the line” “I am going to go find another line” “There is only one line” “This is crazy!!” I was glad to be with someone so patient and even in the worst congestion, it is still better than being at the office. NOTE: it will not be crazy for long. Eventually they will open up new lines and everything will work out. There is no use stressing, just get in what looks like a line and keep your eye out for when they open up new lines – this way you will be through faster.
We did just that and were through within a couple minutes after more lines were opened – however we ended up being there for another hour. The next part Derek warned me to get ready to say “No Gracias” and keep moving as you walk through a hallway of venders and transportation.
After a quick stop at the ATM (NOTE: make sure to have cash as a back-up incase the ATM does not work – worst case scenario you can pay the extra charges to have cash converted at the airport. In my travels this has happened many times (the ATM is out of cash, doesn’t work or my travel notification has not gone into effect yet) luckily I have had cash where I could exchange some – but paid a lot for it.
After about 2+ hours we were in a taxi and headed to Sayulita (about another 45 min) These are very official taxis and a lot nicer than taxis in the US. They are air conditioned and organized very nicely. Out of all our travels this was the safest taxis we have taken (I was reminded of the Philippines when we were on tutus and they had to arrive the luggage so the weight was distributed evenly. Or taxi driver only spoke un poco English so we were glad we had a GPS, Address and printed map…NOTE: make sure you have a printed map – this works even better than a GPS. We circled the location and had the address, make sure the address is large enough for the driver to read.
We arrived at our house, Jardin Del Mar (which translates to Garden by the Sea) and WOW we hit the jackpot for booking late. Derek or I had never been to Sayulita however his friends had and they sent some suggestions and the best part of town to stay which I am eternally grateful for, we would have had no idea and all the travel advice varies from review to review. We are in the perfect location – close enough to the beach/town (under a 5 min walk) but away from town enough to be quite and feel like our own private garden.
Looking back at some of the places that we considered we would have been miserable as they were above the bars/clubs in town and it was very loud (see later posts). Our place is actually owned by a lovely couple in Bremerton, Washington. They purchased the house and rent it out when they are not here. You walk in the gates and there are gardens all around you. Up the walk there is a patio that wraps around the house – a table on one side that had windows into the kitchen and then on the other side are some lounge chairs and some leather couches with a fan and a light. (This is were we were 90% of the time). The main living area has a large kitchen that is open to a living area and then a master with a bathroom with a stone shower that has an open air window. There is another bedroom/bath upstairs so it would be a perfect place for a couple or a family.
After changing we were off to explore our home for the next 10 days. My smile never left my face. This place is heaven on Earth. Enough culture to know you are in another land but safe and friendly enough to not worry about anything (feel safer here than I do back home with the state of things). We walked down the street to the local sports bar and then on to the square with music, crafts and vendors. Just past the square is the beach. We got some beers on the beach and then headed back to the Villa to meet Nancy, the caretaker, who was lovely and takes care of the house (and 12 others). She mentioned some great places to eat, one of which, Antonia’s, which was just down the road. Nancy said she has been cooking for 20+ years and pretty much just opens up her porch for guests. We were sold.
We enjoyed at the time “the best guacamole” we have ever had and some tacos y pollo. It was funny that the “restaurant” did not have beer – but when we ordered a beer they went across the street to the “Sports Bar” Aaleyah’s and got us our Pacifico. Liquor laws in Mexico are non excitant – and the fact that a 10 year old was waiting on us was another sign the laws did not exist.
After a lovely dinner and listening to a table of girls next to us argue over 50 Pesos or 60 Pesos (which is literary the difference of around $1.00) and also seeing them freak out over a large ant and move tables – we left stuffed and glad we got some silly Gringo entertainment; we ventured next to Aaleyah’s the “Sports Bar” to watch the reminder of the Wisconsin Florida State game. I put Sports Bar in quotes because the picture in your head you have of a Sports Bar is probably very far away from what this was. This is an open air bar with two TVs (one playing 1980’s VH1 music videos …. YES!) and the other playing a game of some sort. They also had – which was very cool – a white sheet hanging up and a projector of the game shinning on the “screen” We ordered two more Pacificos and enjoyed the upset on Wisconsin (enjoyed the atmosphere, not the loss).
NOTE: Since this was Spring Break week (probably why the airport lines were so long) it was more crowded than usual we gathered. Also, a lot of the locals that were retired from the States probably said “see ya” and rented their Villas and took a vaca … so some of the local culture that is probably there normally was missing.
After the game we headed back home for a much needed good night’s sleep.