Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A taxi strike, protesting Uber coming to Guadalajara, throws a bit of a wrench into our Tuesday morning departure for Puerto Vallarta. The bus station is a good half hour drive from our hotel and we find out about the strike 2 hours before our bus leaves. Not a lot of time to work around the transportation problem and make our bus.
As an aside, we cannot understand why Uber would even want to operate in Guadalajara. The taxi fares here are the cheapest we have seen in our travels. A half hour ride costs around $10. How can Uber possibly undercut that and make any money? How do the Guadalajara cabbies make any money? Needless to say, we tip them generously.
We’re told to walk out of the central part of the city, into another taxi district, to get a cab. Hurrying and without a clear plan, we get separated. Craig & I find and get into a cab having no idea what has happened to Donna & Ron. We make it to the bus depot with lots of time to spare but they don’t show up. The bus leaves at noon with us on it, but not our friends. We have texted and tried to phone them, but have not heard back. I worry that they have had an accident or are in some kind of trouble.
Forty five minutes into the trip the bus makes its first stop, at Zapopan. The doors open and on get Donna & Ron. Their cabbie decided that the chaos and traffic caused by the strike was such that taking them to the Zapopan bus depot was a better bet. Lots of laughs and much relief!
The road to Puerto Vallarta used to be a real cliff hanger with hairpin turns and roller coaster hills. Thankfully it is now a “carreterra” or 4-lane highway, which makes for a much more relaxing bus trip. And the bus itself, part of the “Primera Plus” line, is pure luxury. Seat belts, individual TV screens, wifi, his and her bathrooms, reclining seats, foot rests! The almost 6 hour journey is very comfortable. Particularly after we stop wondering about the fate of our friends!
In PV we are staying smack in the middle of the “zona romantica”, the old part of town, on a side street a few blocks from the beach, at the Casa Dona Susanna. We are blown away by what we get for the price and may have found our new go-to digs for future trips here. The rooftop pool is particularly appealing as the beaches in this part of the city tend to be very crowded and crawling with hawkers.
A torrential rain storm, somewhat unusual at this time of the year, is pummelling the city as breeze is wafting in. The noise coming up from the street is mostly squealing tourists running for cover.
The next morning everyone is talking about “la tormenta”, the storm. There is damage to some of the beach front cafes, water pooled on the streets, and tree branches strewn about. La Nina? Global warming? An angry god? Who knows?
The same thing happens our second night here. After a gloriously sunny day, the sky darkens with ominous rain clouds, the wind picks up, beach umbrellas start to topple, and the temperature drops about 10 degrees. We take shelter in a cafe and watch la tormenta head our way. It rains all evening. We change our plans to dine al fresco and end up at Fajita Republic because it is close by and under cover.
In the mornings we walk, ogling the real estate. An area known as “Gringo Gulch” is famous for the bridge connecting Liz Taylor and Richard Burton’s house, where they were staying during the filming of John Huston’s “Night of the Iguana”. Both married to others at the time, they nevertheless carried on an affair, aided by the bridge. It is said that filming the movie and the presence of the stars put Puerto Vallarta on the map and it was never the same after, going from a sleepy fishing village to a major resort.
We return to the River Cafe, a gorgeous spot on the Rio Cuale, for lunch our last day here. The two-for-one margaritas are loaded with tequila and we add a new word to our spanish vocabulary: borracho. Drunk!
We’ve been coming here for almost 30 years and it remains a special place for us. Querubinos, a favourite shop, has closed and Las Palomas, a much loved restaurant, has moved north to the marina, where we never venture. The Señor Frog, Bubba Gump, etc scene on the water front is a bit obnoxious. But we find new places to eat (notably, Barcelona Tapas, high on a hill with amazing views and Salud Super Food for healthy lunches), new places to shop, and new neighbourhoods to explore. PV continues to enchant us and no doubt we will be back!