Our first few days in Mexico have passed quickly and without incident, well, apart from the first time we decided to take the bus and a man with clown face paint got on and started shouting in Spanish. My heart literally stopped until I realised he was just a performer looking for tips! Apparently this is normal here. But apart from that I’m happy to report we haven’t had any problems or even felt unsafe at any time. Except on the buses. Which are pretty scary and don’t really slow down when you get on or off…
The plan for the first couple of weeks has been to stay in hotels, acclimatise ourselves and make the most of being tourists before heading to an airbnb and knuckling down to some serious work. And tourists we certainly feel. Central Puerto Vallarta is like a cross between Blackpool and Skegness but with (much!) better weather and lots of Canadians. Steve gets grumpy because we aren’t speaking enough spanish or meeting ‘real’ mexicans, but for this short period at least we decided to just go with the flow. We have even booked ourselves on some tours too; humpback whale watching, jungle zip lining and a snorkelling beach trip. Happy days.
Aside from the obvious things like sun and spicy food, we’ve discovered there are some interesting differences between Mexico and Spain (or the UK) that take some getting used to. Throwing your toilet paper in the bin instead of flushing it is very weird to start off with. As is the fact that you don’t take your laundry to the ‘lavadorias’ and do it yourself (like in Spain). For a few peso’s a nice señora washes, dries and even folds your clothes for you on the same day! Magic! I don’t mean to sound like a total girl stereotype but getting clothes washed and dried is something we take for granted at home and can be a major pain when travelling.
The pretty cobbled streets in the ‘romantic zone’ look nice but they aren’t fun to drive on, although, we’ve been amazed by how considerate drivers are to pedestrians. Waiting to cross the streets we’ve found cars will generally just stop and wave you past (there don’t appear to be any actual crossings). Unlike in Valencia where you take your life into your own hands every time you want to cross the road.
One of the first days after we arrived we decided to walk the couple of miles to the new shopping centre ‘La Isla,’ to have a look around and get some essentials like sun cream and to buy Steve some new shorts since he only brought one pair with him.
On the way we were happy to find a small mall with a TelCel desk in it so I could buy a local SIM card. Generous as Vodaphone’s ‘roam further’ for only £6 a day is, it doesn’t beat a local SIM card which gets you a months worth of data for less that 100 peso’s (about £3.85). Excitedly I rushed up to the assistant, at which point all spanish disappeared from my memory and all the came out was ‘hablas ingles?’ ‘No.’ Ah. Luckily Steve was on hand and was able to converse effectively so that 10 minutes later I was the proud owner of my first Mexican SIM card and back in the land of social media again. Qué algería!
We had a lovely afternoon mooching around the shops and got the shorts for Steve. Unfortunately, the next day while we were stepping up a particularly high curb, I heard a yelp and turned around to find him looking sheepishly embarrassed. Turns out the seams in the shorts weren’t of the best quality and had given way. Luckily, the aforementioned señora at the laundry is also a dab hand at sewing and very reasonable, so I don’t feel quite so daft for scoffing at my mum’s suggestion bringing a sewing kit!
Our home for the next few days also takes a bit of getting used to. We picked it because it looked quirky and Mexican and it certainly is. We arrived yesterday to check in to be asked how much we should be paying. Given that I had booked it through booking.com I was a little surprised to be asked this but it turns out the hotel only takes cash. I’m not convinced they have any computers either. After a bit of haggling, showing the señora the booking confirmation to avoid over paying and having to dash to an ATM to withdraw enough cash to cover the stay we were finally shown to our room by one of the maids. I say maid, but she must have been in her 80’s and could barely climb the stairs. She smiled her toothless smile at us and let us into our room. She even showed us how to work the air-con and tv remotes; press here for ‘on’ and ‘off.’ Despite all this (or because of it) we love the hotel and its ‘Frida’ character. Plus we pretty much have the beautiful pool area to ourselves and have taken to it as our office for the week since the wifi doesn’t extend to the bedrooms. There are definitely worse places to work.