Two words: Puerto Vallarta. The town was put on the map when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton filmed the movie The Night of the Iguana there, bringing with them scandals, glamour, and a ton of paparazzi. These days, it’s a solid resort town, but one that doesn’t appear to have gotten too corporate yet. It felt like lots of the people vacationing there were, in fact, from Mexico, so it had so much local flavor.
Mike was visiting once more (last time before I go home), so we headed out into a gorgeously sunny day. We started by meandering slowly towards the beach by way of the flea market. I somehow managed to fall in love with and eventually buy a tile painting, and Mike and I were super proud of our tagteam haggling skills. (I love pretending I have to defer to my husband for financial decisions; it allows him to be the bad guy and me to be the sweet wife who connects with the sellers emotionally.)
Then we wound up on the beach, where our mission was: rent a jet ski. I think this was something of a bucket list item for Mike, and I was very much up for an adventure. We knew there were jet ski operators on the beach, but we weren’t sure where. Now we know: if you ever find yourself on Puerto Vallarta beach, just look for where jet skis are parked in the water, and talk to a guy with a clipboard and a lifejacket on the shore – you’ve found one. They’re up and down the beach, in fact; I assume they all work for the same company, given their identical waivers.
So within about ten minutes of hitting the beach, we were climbing onto a jet ski together. And oh my heavens, was it fun! The ratio of danger to ease of operation was incredibly high, hehe; it felt like we could overturn or bounce off the seat at any moment. (Any kid knows that fun things have to have a hint of danger to them.) The top speed was around 50 mph (82 kph, to be exact), and it was exhilarating. We had an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day, the water wasn’t too crowded, and I think we were out there for about 45 minutes, zipping here and there. No stunts for us, but a beautiful ride.
Then we started walking down the beach, in the general direction of downtown. What was maybe a ten minute taxi ride was something closer to a ninety minute sand walk, but it was such a nice time. We got to see all the resorts up close (one day, we’re going to come back and rent one of the condos at Los Tules!), we walked in the waves, and we discovered a spot where a freezing freshwater river met the slightly warmer ocean. The conflicting currents were fun to walk through, especially since the sand beneath your feet moved around so dramatically when the waves crashed into the river.
Eventually, we decided to also go parasailing. I’ve wanted to float up in the air since I first saw the parasailing operators in Santa Barbara, and I was thrilled to get it in before this contract finished. First, though, we sent Mike up. It’s worth noting that Mike is actually not too keen on heights, so this was a big leap for him (literally, haha). But he loved it, and I loved playing photographer. Time for a photo essay…
Finally, it was my turn. It was beautiful, effortless, incredibly quiet, and exactly what I’d hoped it would be. The only thing that was a little freaky was looking down and seeing where the beaches drop off into much deeper water. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of deep water, and so my heart kept leaping into my throat when I pondered those underwater cliffs. Why I torture myself like that, I don’t know. But finally I landed – with a taste in my mouth for more. I have a funny feeling I’m going to end up skydiving some day soon. I love being up in the air like that.
Eventually, we reached the outskirts of downtown Puerto Vallarta, stopping in a local restaurant for a late lunch. If you’re there, I highly recommend the Rio Grande Restaurant. The food was delicious (Mike had grilled octopus, and I had this amazing almond-crusted fish with coconut rice and vegetables), the desserts were beautiful (coconut ice cream in a coconut shell and sweet corn ice cream in a corn husk), and the live music was amazing. It was a singer who played guitar and a harpist who sort of sang backup, and the two of them were like something out of a movie. In fact, I could totally see some studio executive in the 1940s hearing these guys, flying them to L.A., and signing them to appear in movies like Casablanca as background entertainment. They were just so authentic! And very, very talented. Mike kept commenting on how sophisticated their often jazzy chord choices were, expecting as he was something simpler like campfire chords.
Finally, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to the ship, where we sat in the hot tub and watched the sun set. I mean, is that a perfect vacation day, or what? Can’t say I’ve had too many days like that in my life, so that one’s gonna stick with me for a long time.
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruise Lines, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.