Sunsets and Pelicans and Mojitos, Oh My!

After all the dreaming, working hard, saving money, and the hours of planning, we were finally here. I personally have been planning this trip for so long, I don’t mind admitting I never thought I would ever have enough money to actually take the plunge, and I had a little emotional moment as we stepped onto our first Mexican beach. With no one else nearby, just the crashing of the waves and the pelicans dive-bombing for fish as company, I took stock of what was just the first step on a trip that is the next major stage of our lives.

Although we will be popping back to the UK occasionally for visits here and there, this is now us – we are on the first leg of our plan to work through Mexico and into Central and South America!

Rewind 48 hours, and the UK had been absolutely hammered with snow, whilst Norwich was colder then Canada, Norway and the Antarctic! Trains and planes were being cancelled across the board on the Wednesday and Thursday, and we started to worry that we might be grounded for an unknown amount of time until the snow cleared. The first stage was getting to the airport, so packed and wrapped up warm, we stepped out of the front door ready to embrace the next stage in our lives… Anthea immediately slipped over. Good start!

Once Anthea had finished her best impression of a turtle stuck on its back, we grabbed the bus into Nottingham and huddled away from the freezing cold until our coach arrived to take us to Gatwick. Thankfully, we were only about an hour behind schedule, which considering the conditions was quite remarkable. Alarms set for 5am, we managed to get maybe 3 or 4 hours of sleep, despite being woken up by someone apparently dancing around at 3am on the creakiest floorboards known to man, and then onwards to Gatwick North Terminal. We opened the curtains, expecting to see an avalanche of snow, and there was… nothing at all. It was clear!

view flying into Puerto Vallarta

12 hours is a long time to be on a plane. However, it passed by pretty event-free, and despite feeling like we would die of exhaustion, as we started to descend into Puerto Vallarta airport, there was that sudden moment of ‘what if we don’t like this?’. Too late for that! We passed through border security and customs remarkably fast, and ploughed on through the plethora of offerings of taxis and coaches. We did get stopped by some officials working at the customer information desk, asking in English whether we had our transport arranged. Anthea was a tad tired and feisty by this point to be hassled by people trying to sell us their goods, however, once we spoke to them and explained our plan, they advised we could actually just get the bus instead of the £30 taxi service, and one of them even gave us her mobile number, telling us to call if we ever had any problems or questions at all!

Anthea thinks she just wants to get commission to take us to her friend’s bars etc. I prefer to think that she was just being as nice as we’ve heard many Mexicans are!

We ended up deciding to just get a taxi to the hotel, but outside of the airport grounds, meaning it was literally half the price for the sake of crossing a bridge. We charged onwards in the taxi (quite literally, there were a couple of moments I was pressing the airbrake!) and the first thing I noticed as we went down the main road was just how ‘American’ it appeared. Big shops and shopping malls, with all the big name brands advertising among a few Mexican shops here and there. Once we got away from the run of hotel resorts though and crossed a bridge, the taxi driver informed us that we were now entering the downtown centre. The landscape changed entirely; we were suddenly on cobbled roads, and the shops were now all terraced style buildings, with a lot more Spanish signs and names shown around. It is obviously still tourist focused, but it no longer felt like we were in America. We got dropped outside our hotel, and checked in easily enough, and then decided to have a little wander.

About 100 yards down the road, we saw a little street that ran down to the beach, so decided to go and have a quick scope of what awaited us, and this was the moment I took scope of everything as mentioned at the start.

prett street behind our hotel

We walked down the main beach boardwalk, having a look at some amazing sculptures that were dotted around and admiring the sun-glazed views, until we found a place to try our first Mexican Mojito and food. We spent a good hour or so, sunbathing (read as: getting sunburnt), having some really good food and mojitos, before we decided to carry on walking down the way.

mojitos by the beach

malecon sculptures

At this point, we had been awake for about 19 hours, so we were starting to get very tired, but revitalised by our food and drink, we ambled down, stopping for various photos and having a little look around the market stalls. We stopped for a few minutes to just admire the pelicans again, and Anthea saw a guy with a chess board covered in sand – there’s no other way I can really describe him – and despite my initial rebuttal, she got me to sit down and start playing chess with him; this was fine until we realised he doesn’t actually play chess, you just have your photo opportunity to pretend. That cost Anthea 50 pesos (about £2), as we had no small coins, and a valuable lesson to make sure we’re not just frittering away money on non-existent games with people covered in sand.

chess man

We found a spot along the way to sit and just admire the sunset, as many others all around did too, before we headed back to the hotel and collapse into bed, absolutely knackered. It was only 20:30, but Mexico is 6 hours behind the UK so to us it felt like 2.30 in the morning.

Overall, we’re pretty taken with PV so far. Although quite tourist-focused as we knew it would be, there’s a serene calmness to the area, which feels very safe and friendly. The weekend will be spent looking for the places where the locals eat and drink, and practicing some more Spanish while planning the week ahead, including the whale watching trip we’re very excited about!

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