I guess it’s about time I wrote something other than Facebook posts since we’ve been in Puerto Vallarta for over a week now.
The drive down from Lo de Marcos was as pretty as expected with vast swaths of greenery.
Our plan was to try to get into one of the parks in either La Cruz or Brucerias. The idea was to stay out of the fray of Puerto Vallarta itself while still having bus service in to town. Would have actually preferred to park at one of the 2 parks right in PV but I was a little spooked about trying to find them in the big city. Our first attempt at finding an outlying park was a dismal failure. Dora kind of told us where it was but the driveway she wanted us to turn on sure didn’t look like something I wanted to attempt, especially since we weren’t sure there even was a park up there and if there was, would they have available spaces. The guidebook said there were only 5 spaces to begin with. Finding no decent turnaround spot, we ended up driving almost all the way to Punta Mita before getting turned back around. OK, so much for La Cruz. Let’s try Brucerias. We passed two places where RV parks were supposed to be but found neither. Discouraged, we decided to bite the bullet and go where we really wanted to: Trailer Park Puerto Vallarta in the middle of Puerto Vallarta.
Our first concern was not getting a ticket. We’d been warned by the Churches that rigs with dual tires in the rear need to be in the lateral lanes in PV. They said the cops are just waiting for RVs and such to pass the airport. If not in the laterals, they give you a ticket. For those of you who don’t know, “laterals” are kind of a weird deal. In some towns the main highway will run through the town just as you might expect. But, alongside of the main road, and separated from it by a barrier, is either a one or two lane parallel road called a “lateral”. Now the crazy thing is that when they have these you usually can’t make left-hand turns from the main road. You must make them from the laterals. So, if you’re driving along on the main road and need to turn left at the next stoplight, you need to find an opening in the barrier and get into the lateral on your right. Then, at the next stoplight, when you get the left-turn signal, you go ahead and make your left, across 4 or more lanes of main road and the 1 or 2 lanes of the lateral on the other side. It’s a long ways across and takes a little getting used to. Since we’d been warned about the tickets, we wanted to get in the lateral as soon as possible. This led to us doing a lot of getting onto and then getting off of laterals (they don’t run the full length of the highway necessarily) before we got to the airport. But it all worked out.
The next trick was finding the park. The Church’s directions said that “after you pass Pemex #4322, turn left at the first light south of the Soriana Supermarket. We found Pemex #4322 just fine and the Soriana was less than a block south. We got into the appropriate left-turn lane and, when the green arrow lit up, made our turn. Except, there was nowhere to go except back the way we came. There was no sidestreet like they said there’d be. Just a barricade. The only choice was to make a u-turn, then head for an opening in the barricade to get onto the lateral, then make another u-turn at the first signal and try again. Not sure what the heck was going on, we decided to follow Dora’s advice. We followed her instructions by driving another 1.6 miles south (on the lateral, of course) and then turning left where she said to. We drove up a little street about 2 blocks and she told us our destination was on the left. Where she indicated a left turn was an opening in an unmarked wall. We figured Dora blew it (again) but, as we passed, we noticed a big bus parked inside. It being Sunday and there being no traffic, I backed up and we turned in. Sure enough, it was the RV park. There were 2 Canadian class A motorhomes and a whole bunch of tents (hence, the bus), but tons of open spaces. We chose one and settled in to a little oasis in the middle of town.
A couple days later, we took a walk to see if we could figure out what the discrepancy was between the guidebook’s instructions and reality. What we found was that the Soriana we turned at, the first one south of Pemex #4322, must not have been there when the instructions were written. Because there is another Soriana about 1 km further south. If you turn at that one, you’ll be right where the Churches say you should be. Trouble is, that one is really hard to spot. It’s sort for tucked back in behind some other stores and is definitely hard to see. You’re better off using the big LANS store as a landmark. Same instructions as for Soriana but much easier to see. And just so you don’t think we’re complete rubes for having a little bit of difficulty finding this park, we have some friends who came in a few days later who had to finally hire a taxi driver to lead them here. And, if that’s not enough evidence, another couple were so lost they finally asked a gardener if he knew where the park was. He turned and pointed through the opening in the wall. They were right outside.
Difficulty of locating the place aside, this is a great spot to be for exploring Puerto Vallarta. We’re two blocks from the bank and bus stop, about 4-5 blocks from the Mega Supermercado, 2 blocks from the Coppel Department Store, a short block to a taco stand and a block and a half to another one, as well as a lavandería to get our clothes washed. The Ciel water delivery truck stops by every morning using the RV park as their bathroom break and thus, making drinking water easy to get. We’re less than a mile away from the Soriana Supermercado as well as La Playa liquor warehouse. It’s a 2-mile walk or a 7.5 peso bus ride down to the old town area (Centro) or the very touristy malecón. All-in-all, a very good place to be. The only tough part is getting propane. We seem to be getting low so we asked the RV park owner how we could get some. She said she’d call the propane guys and they would stop by and fill us up. “No problem.” It being Sunday, we knew not expect them to show up that day so we took a walk downtown after getting ourselves settled in to our spot.
This being the holiday season, the beaches and beachside bars were busy, although, at least at the north end of the malecón, not packed. There were people doing sand sculptures on the beach, acrobats in native garb doing some sort of traditional acrobatic daredeviltry, native dancers dancing for tips, etc.
After the malecón, we wandered around the old town area for awhile.
The next day we hung around the park, waiting for the propane guy, who never showed up. Tuesday, pretty much the same thing although we did take care of a little shopping we needed to do. One of the priority items involved Lulu’s bike. Not sure, but I think I wrote about how we got off the beaten track a couple weeks ago and ended up having to do a 3-point turn in a tiny little village. I may have mentioned how I backed into a fence post making my turn and, except for a broken brake lever on my bike and slightly bending our bike rack, we seemed to have survived okay. Well, not so much. While in Lo de Marcos, I checked out the bikes a little closer. Mine did, indeed, come through with only a broken brake lever. Lulu’s, on the other hand, at first appeared OK but when I tried to wheel it around, I found the rear rim had been bent. OK, that’s pretty easily replaceable. But when I looked at things from head-on, it was clear that it wasn’t just the wheel that got bent. The whole back of the frame was skewed off-center. This would require major surgery. However, we’d planned on replacing her bike someday as the knuckle where the frame folds is in her way and she’s constantly smacking it with her knee. Since getting her tougher knees didn’t seem likely, we figured we’d just get her another bike. Here was the opportunity. I left her old bike with Miguel at Pequeño Paraiso in Lo de Marcos with instructions to do whatever he wanted with it. These guys can and will fix anything so I’d be surprised if it wasn’t already on the road again. Of course, he also had to replace the brake lever I stole off it. So, on Tuesday we walked across the street to Coppel and found Lulu an equivalent-quality, non-folding bike. It was the floor model (last one of that particular one they had) so, although it was already assembled, I had to spend an hour or so refining the setup. It’s not the greatest bike in the world but neither was her old one. We like having bikes that, if they were to be stolen, would not break our hearts.
Wednesday was New Year’s Eve and about all we did during the day was to take a discovery walk the other direction from the park. We went out for dinner with 3 other couples who are camped here. Amazingly, we were still awake at midnight when the bombs started going off. We stepped outside the camper and saw fireworks across the entire western sky. I swear that, compared to the fireworks here, US fireworks must have noise mufflers on them. These are no more colorful than the professional displays put on in the States but they are much louder. I almost expect air raid sirens to precede them. BTW, still no propane.
I’m getting my days mixed up but, one day we took the bus out to La Cruz to look up some fellow Toyota Motorhome owners we met on-line. They were having driveability issues and a few leaky window problems and thought maybe we could help. Ultimately we couldn’t offer anything they hadn’t either already tried or thought of but it was good to meet them and see La Cruz anyway. If we were here on our boat, this is probably where we’d be, either anchored or in the marina. But we’re glad it’s not as the marina is huge and La Cruz is a kind of long bus ride from PV. Also, we can’t help but watch the surf along this coast and try to picture ourselves landing or launching our dinghy to or from the beach, hopefully without swamping it or having it flip over. Doesn’t look promising.
It was now Friday. We still hadn’t gotten any propane but we had bought an electric hotplate so that, if our propane did run out, we could at least boil coffee water. We hadn’t done any cooking since we’d been here other than breakfast and Lulu’s occasional batch of cookies or bread. It was much easier and as cheap or cheaper to walk down to the taco stand. We’ve had tacos and quesadillas at the taco stand on the corner and pozole at the place down by the bank. We also had seafood chowder (YUM!) at Joe Jack’s Fish Shack the other day on the recommendation of our friend Jan in Silverton. Our rent is paid through Saturday night but, since we feel like we’ve barely scratched PV’s surface, we decided to stay longer.
BTW, the propane guy did finally show up Saturday, after being called again. But, guess what? He’s set up for filling household-type tanks (and those fixed tanks on large motorhomes). He didn’t have the right adapter to fill our portable tank. Crappage! There’s apparently only one place in PV to get our tank filled and it’s not in PV, it’s in Ixtapa, the opposite direction from where we’re going. But I contacted the owner of the RV park in Punta Perula (our next stop) and he assured me that it’s no problem to get portable tanks filled there. Hope he’s right.