This marks our first blog post from mainland Mexico! Once we landed here, you couldn’t help but sing Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”. No longer were we surrounded by mammoth cactus, scorpions, and coyotes – we were deep in the jungle. The roads curved in every direction through lush greenery and many different variety of fruit trees. It was a challenge not stopping at every fruit stand to pick up another treat. While we loved Baja, the change in scenery was welcomed.
Lo De Marcos
Our first stop on the mainland, which happened to be Kevin’s 33rd birthday, was Lo De Marcos. Lo De Marcos is a quaint and friendly village that sits right on the ocean. The main street of the town has a bunch of good spots to grab a taco, shop and drink. There is a big gringo population, but it was the perfect mix between ex-pats and locals. We were still smack dab in the middle of the holiday season so this little town was booming! While we were trying to find a place to park the truck for the night we were learning quickly that all 7 of the campgrounds in this town were completely full. Using our Baja connections once again, we were reminded that our friends from Mulege told us where we could find their best friends: Randy, Claudette, James and Crystal.
We pulled into the Cruz Maria RV Park and clearly looked lost. A man approached us and asked if we were looking for a place to stay. We told him we were but asked if he knew anybody by the name of Randy and Claudette. As fate would have it, we were speaking to Randy himself. Our friends from Mulege had informed them that we might be showing up so they were ecstatic when we did! Luckily Randy and Claudette pointed us to a spot we could park the truck for a couple of days. Thanks to them we found an awesome spot right near the beach with an inground pool and HOT SHOWERS.
We spent our time in Lo De Marcos celebrating Kevin’s birthday, relaxing on the beach and visiting with our new friends. It was great having those contacts there – they gave us tons of awesome spots to check out on our travels and provided great conversation. They even took us to this spot where we had one of the best quesadillas ever. It was fairly simple, filled with pork al pastor, chopped pineapple, and delicious melted cheese. They had this pineapple-habanero salsa that had pickled red onions, it was amazing and took the quesadilla to a whole new level. We will for sure be recreating this when we get back to the states. It was so good we ordered a second one before we even finished our first one. In fact, my mouth started to water after typing this out.
Although we only spent two days there, we got a pretty good feel for the town and we liked it. One night we checked out the Canadian owned sports bar in town, and they ended up having this great little Cuban band with a guy on Sax that ripped. Our day on the beach was also great. The beach was a bit packed due to the Christmas holiday, but it was all Mexican families. It was nice to feel a bit more in touch with the culture rather than being at the typical tourist beach with the only locals in sight being the ones trying to sell you things.
We most likely would have stuck around for one more night, but it was New Years Eve, and we had a hotel reservation waiting for us in Puerto Vallarta. It was time to move on and to wave goodbye to 2017.
I had zero expectations for Puerto Vallarta and up until this point I seemed to enjoy the smaller, off the beaten path spots in Mexico, rather than the big tourist hot spots. However, we both were looking forward to this stop on our adventure for a couple of reasons. The first being we had a three-night reservation in a hotel. The second was our friends, Mandy and CF, happened to be on a cruise that docked in PV for the day, so we were planning on meeting up.
We got into town with no real way of communicating with them unless we had Wi-Fi, so our first stop was a Starbucks. As fate would have it, we ended up at the same Starbucks using the same Wi-Fi to try and find one another! That was easy! Mandy and CF were the first friends we’ve gotten to meet up with on our trip and words can’t express how great it was spending time with them, even if it was limited. Of course, the time flew by and a few margaritas later we were waving goodbye.
Up until we hit Puerto Vallarta we had been living a pretty frugal lifestyle – Puerto Vallarta felt like a vacation within a vacation, if that makes any sense. We had been going back and forth on where to stay while in town and spots were filling up so fast. Turns out that the entire town of Puerto Vallarta was at 100% capacity for the New Year. Meaning all hotels and home rentals had been filled up. Luckily, we found a gem of a spot, Mondavi. We lucked out because this place is normally a timeshare spot so it was probably the least crowded place to stay in the entire city. Mondavi was about a 5-minute ride away from downtown PV – cobblestone streets led the way to this little sanctuary nestled up on a hill. The views from our room were amazing, it felt more like we were in Spain or Greece than Mexico.
One of the best things about the hotel was the rooftop infinity pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The hotel, being nestled up on a hill and standing eight stories tall, seemed as though it was the highest spot in town. Like I had mentioned before, there happened to be barely anyone at this hotel, so it was like we had our own private infinity pool and hot tub floating above Puerto Vallarta. The second-best thing about the hotel was the manager, Sergio. He was the nicest and most laid-back hotel manager we’ve ever met. He went above and beyond and he deserves a big shout out! After we checked out, we were staying one more night in Puerto Vallarta, but didn’t have a hotel. Sergio was so cool that he not only allowed us to hang out at the rooftop pool all day, but also park Poppins in one of their parking spots and sleep for the night. He even allowed us to use the showers by the pool the next morning!
While we were wandering around earlier with Mandy and CF we noticed that there was a stage being setup in the main square with a firework display. Because it was New Years Eve and we had no plans, we decided that seemed like the best place to head to for the night. We loaded a backpack up with drinks and champagne and off we went. The city was throwing a free music festival at the waterfront. Hundreds of boats were lined up at the waters edge and the place was packed. Not only was the concert free but they had three Mexican funk bands on the lineup! We didn’t even know Mexican funk was a thing up until this point, but it was amazing. I’ve never had so much fun dancing to three bands I’ve never even heard of before. For our friends back in San Diego, all we kept thinking about was Joshua Tree Music Festival!
Just as the clock was about to strike midnight and we were about to pop the champagne, we made friends with the couple that was standing next to us: Patricia and Akin, from Switzerland. I mean, what better way to make friends then offering them a glass of champagne on NYE at midnight! On top of that, we were situated almost directly beneath the phenomenal fireworks display. 2017 was probably one of the best years that I’ve ever had (personally – not politically). While I was in Puerto Vallarta, cheers’ing with our new friends, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past year and smile. I also couldn’t help but get exciting at all the new connections we are going to make around the world in 2018.
In typical New Years Day fashion, the morning was spent licking hangover wounds, but luckily all I had to do was roll out of bed and walk upstairs to our infinity pool. Nothing says goodbye to a hangover then floating on your back in a rooftop infinity pool! That night we ended up making plans with our new friends and going out to dinner to a spot that was recommended in Lonely Plant: Dolce Vita. It was an Italian restaurant, which we had been craving for a while, and it was great! It was so different than the typical Mexican cuisine we had been indulging on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great and all, but who doesn’t love a good Italian feast! If you’re ever in PV we can’t recommend this place enough, although be prepared to wait, it usually takes an hour or so wait to get a table. We ended up ordering a bottle of wine, two appetizers, four entrées’, two deserts, 3 espressos, and 4 limoncello shots and the total bill came to $100 USD. While $50 was the most we’d spent on a meal since we left, it felt like the perfect time to treat ourselves, being the New Year and all. Besides, a meal like that in the states would have cost us triple!
With our one remaining day, we decided to explore a little south of PV, so we drove to a little village called Boca de Tomatlan. It was a tiny village on the water, and parking was impossible. We ended up having to forge a river with Poppins and got a spot on a little island in the middle of the river. While there were some restaurants and shops, the town is really a jump off point where you can take water taxis to multiple beaches in the area that are only accessible by boat. We headed to Las Animas, and it felt like your quintessential Mexican vacation; sitting on the beach in recliners being served rum and pineapples and eating ceviche. Definitely a great way to set the pace for the new year.
That night we spent in the parking area of the Mondavi hotel, and the next day began our travel inland. All in all, our trip to PV was magical. It had everything we were looking for and then some: old friends, new friends, great food, a break from truck life and everything else in between.