Sunday, December 16, we left the state of Nayurit, and entered the state of Jalisco, arriving in fabulous Puerto Vallarta in late afternoon. We decided to look for our hotel first thing.
We knew we liked the old historic part of Vallarta from a previous trip there last March, so we headed for that part of town. We found a wonderful hotel, the Hotel Paloma del Mar, with a kitchen, a view of the ocean, and a rooftop swimming pool for $490 pesos per night, about $38.00 USD. I was so happy!
We swam in the pool that night and took it easy, and headed out the next day to explore Vallarta. The historic district is hilly and very scenic.
There is a long expanse of boardwalk, where there are street performers,
artists and craftspeople selling their work,
discos, and lots of shopping.
There's a store with the work of Sergio Bustamante, one of my favorite artists in Mexico.
And you can watch the sunset from the boardwalk.
At the local park there was a craft fair with many regional crafts displayed, including these great carved mermaids from Guerrero,
and this art from Oaxaca.
This craftsman was weaving beautiful bags, even though a car accident about 15 years ago left him blind and in a wheel chair. He had a beautiful spirit, and sang me a song about Mexico!
Again, there was a beautiful church, which Eduardo went in and photographed for me, since I wasn't allowed inside wearing shorts!
Puerto Vallarta is very magnetic and alive, and I look forward to visiting again and spending more time there. It is filled with art and culture, and also has a modern portion with the kinds of big stores you find in US. Puerto Vallarta also has an airport and is within 2 to 3 hours driving distance to multiple beautiful beaches both to the north and south. But since we were on a mission to make it to Ixtapa by December 24, we reluctantly said good-bye!
We left Vallarta Tuesday morning to continue our drive south to explore the beaches of Jalisco.
Thursday night, we drove as far as La Penita, and spent the night there. We did some laundry in the morning, and then started heading south. Since I was beginning to feel a bit of Montezuma's revenge, we made quick visits to the next few neighboring beaches.
Guaybitos was the first stop, and is a very popular and family oriented beach town. We hopped out of the car to make a quick visit to the beach. Someone was selling shrimp on skewers from a little cart.
And I liked the way a palm tree was growing through the foundation of this building.
Driving through town, of course there was a lovely and unique church.
We got back on the main road and continued on to San Francisco, which is known as San Pancho, and that is the beach town where we spent the next two nights.
As is true with most beaches that we visited in Nayarit, the people that live in San Pancho (many from the United States and Europe), consider it one of the best kept secrets in Mexico. The town is charming, dotted with restuarants and galleries, and the beach is clean and beautiful.
It's not uncommon to see horseback riding on the beach.
And I enjoyed the Christmas decorations on our evening walk.
Still stricken with Montezuma's revenge, the price I had to pay for adjusting to the food in Mexico, I ended up spending the better part of Saturday in our hotel room, which was a charming building with 4 bungalows!
Sunday I was feeling much better, and we took a drive around San Pancho to take a look at the local architecture. Here's a bus from California, complete with solar panels on the roof, that was parked right next to the beach.
At the opposite housing extreme was this huge home, just a block away, on the beach.
We got back on the road and headed for the next very popular beach town in this area, called Sayulita.
Sayulita is especially popular with young adults, and has good waves for surfing.
I am a mermaid lover, and this carved wood mermaid bench was one of the most unique pieces of mermaid art I have seen so far.
Still recovering and dragging a bit, we continued south and decided to make our next stop Puerto Vallarta, and we spent the next 3 days and 2 nights there.
After spending our second night in the antique town of Las Varas, Thursday morning we had our coffee and bid farewell to the town. Heading south, we passed the road that we had taken the previous day to Chacala, and didn't get too much further before we spotted a sign that said "El Divisadero". We were curious, because it wasn't on our map, and we decided to take the road. Now that the weather is decidedly tropical, we've started seeing fruit trees along the way, like banana,
We saw a sign for Vista Encantada Eco-Club, and decided to see what it was. What we discovered was a beautifully landscaped community under construction.
And as luck would have it, the owners and developers of the project, Carlos and Sandra, happened to arrive on the property shortly after we did. Carlos offered to take us on a hike down a special path they created leading into the jungle,
to share several places for quiet reflection. I felt like I was at Disneyland, only it was real. It was a very special treat to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the jungle.
On the way back out, they pointed out one of the very special trees on the property.
And here's a picture of Carlos surveying some condos that are under construction, offering ocean views.
After our hike, they encouraged us to take a walk down the road leading to the beach, which was about a 20 minute walk downhill. We were rewarded with a pristine beach with calm, warm water, and we had the beach all to ourselves. Divine!
After a nice swim, we took the walk back out (slightly more challenging uphill) and made it back to the car with just enough daylight left to drive to the next beach town of La Penita, where we would spend the night. Our afternoon at El Divisadero was totally unexpected and a real delight.
Wednesday we had coffee in Las Varas, and the town was quiet that morning. They were probably recovering from all the Virgen de Guadalupe partying the night before! We saw the local meat store,
and the fish vendor on the street.
I liked the prehispanic symbol I saw for the dentist on one of the shop windows.
We decided to stay in the town for one more night and just take the short drive to the local beach of Chacala for the afternoon. Of course we say cowboys on the road along the way.
After the experience with the no-see-ums in San Blas, we were a little bit reluctant to spend time in Nayarit at the beach, but we were in a for a big surprise! The little beach town of Chacala is quaint and beautiful, and nary a mosquito in sight.
A very international beach, along with the local Mexican population there are also many Americans and Europeans living there, and they are very proud of their beach, which is one of a handful of certified clean beaches in Mexico. They consider their beach the best kept secret in Mexico!
The water is warm, calm and clear, and the town is very family oriented.
We were chatting with one of the local people from the US who decided to build their retirement home there, and she was telling us that the people out on the sailboat in this picture had stopped by Chacala for the day, and were still there three weeks later! I guess they were charmed by the place, too.
There were vendors selling lots of beautiful crafts, and I especially love the beaded work of the Huichol people, who live in the neighboring mountains here. Their work is steeped in symbolism and tradition.
There were colorful and artistic cafes, this one owned by a former Californian.
And Eduardo even ran into a fellow vendor that he knew from Venice beach in Los Angeles, who is now living in the area!
We were thoroughly delighted with our time in Chacala, and went back to Las Varas for the night, to recharge our energy and get ready for our continuing journey through the beach towns of Naryarit.