Sunday, December 22, 2013

Our First Week Back in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Man did this week fly by!!  Settling in for a 5 month stay is way different. But being in a bigger city with more US type options has been....well, overwhelming!  But, way fun!

Having spent many years vacationing in PV, it was very comfortable for us to commit to renting a place sight unseen for 5 months.  We knew exactly where it was even though we had never seen it. It was also why we chose this location to stay this long and test out what it would be like to really live in a foreign country.

We arrived at our new home for the next 5 months and found that we had made quite a good choice. The unit is large with plenty of elbow room for us and space to lay down an air mattress for when guests come to visit. It's also on the north facing side, so we don't get direct sun into our unit keeping it cooler during the day and allows for the breezes to filter in at night. No need for air conditioning since we got here and it even gets a bit chilly with the fan at night.

Our bedroom.

Master bath.


Plenty of storage space so we're not tripping over empty suitcases or having to move things out of the way to use something else. And, we have an actual dining room so we can entertain when the mood strikes. We are even excited that Mike and I both can be in the bathroom and kitchen at the same time instead of having to choreograph our movements. A couple of small terraces with double pane glass doors allows us to enjoy the outdoors but to be able to shut out any noise later in the evening. We have slept like babies here.

Being in PV gives us opportunities we had in the states to purchase in bulk or much larger quantities to keep our costs down.  So on Monday afternoon, Mike and I took the local bus for $.50/ea to Costco, one of our favorite hangouts in the US.  We spent about 3.5 hours going up and down each isle.  Definitely didn't feel like we were in a foreign country and we certainly were able to buy larger quantities for the same, if not lower prices, for the grocery items we use compared to what we paid in other Latin American countries. 

For instance, instead of buying small pouches of mayonnaise every couple of weeks, we bought a huge container that will last the whole 5 months.  This is a big savings for just this one item.  I was also able to buy good wines in 4 packs equaling $4/bottle.  This is also a big savings on an item that's very near and dear to my heart.  And, the list could go on and on to show cost savings.

We didn't buy everything in bulk at Costco, however.  Paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels and plastic garbage bags were just way too large a quantity even for 5 months, so on Tuesday we took the bus for the same $.50/ea to Walmart to buy those items, also at the same or below the pricing in other Latin American countries.  We could have gone to the Mega, a Mexican grocery, and made the same purchases but we need a few things other than groceries, so we went where we knew we could get everything in one stop.

Knowing the Farmer's Market was going to be on Saturday, we did wait to buy extra veggies and fruit.  Unfortunately, we found the prices there mostly to be way over our budget, so we like to buy local as much as possible and went to a local fruit/vegetable tienda and bought a large "golden" pineapple, 2 beautiful tomatoes, 4 ugly but sweet carrots, a small juicy sweet watermelon, and 4 large tangerines all for only $4.08.  The pineapple alone was a huge savings because you pay a huge premium for golden, if you can even find them in other countries.

We also stopped and purchased my SIM chip, minutes, and a phone for Mike.  $16 for each of us.  This is the least expensive phone costs of any country we've been to. 

Monday evening being football night, Mike and I went back to Nacho Daddy's on Bandio Basillo Street or Restaurant Row, as it's called.  We had had dinner here on Sunday and watched the late game.  My 3 glasses of wine and Mike's 3 glasses of Negro Modelo dark beer was only $12.  Well, within the budget!!

The kick ass Margarita that I got for FREE for checking in at FourSquare.  Whoot, whoot!!

We had also made plans to meet up with Facebook friend, Mel Enge, who hales from the Northwest Territories in Canada.  Again, wonderful to meet friends face-to-face finally!  We also met friends of Mel's, Robyn and Mel, and Mitch and Stephanie.  Since then, we've gotten together with Mitch and Stephanie several times.

Mel, Robyn, Mel and Mike.

Tuesday evening was our first Expat Happy Hour get together at Langostino's right on our favorite beach, Los Muertos.  We had a great time meeting new people and Mitch and Stephanie showed up at our invitation.  What we're quickly finding is that there are allot of Canadians who come down for 5 or 6 months during winter. 

The new pier at Los Muertos.


Inside Langostino's.

Me, Sue, John, Jack, Shirley & Carmel.

Me, Mitch, Stephanie, Carmel, Fred.

We are enjoying our 50" TV with all the US channels so we can catch up on some of our favorite shows that we've done without for a long time.  A simple pleasure but a nice one. 

Wednesday we went walking around Old Town to get reacquainted.  As much as things change, they stay the same.  A few surprises on restaurants but then there are new ones to try out.  We also took the time to price check everywhere we went to see what was within the budget and those that weren't.

At Happy Hour, we found ourselves on Los Muertos beach with a glass of wine and beer in hand. Large chilled wine in a gorgeous glass and 3 beers - $7.50.  Oh, and our first real sunset in a relaxing mode!  The massage didn't hurt either.

Nothing like a massage on the beach!

A little entertainment preview on the sidewalk.

Los Muertos Beach looking north.

A beautiful sunset! 

Our usual.

Thursday was a hangout day at home just enjoying our space and the peace and quiet.  But, we had made reservations to go to The Palm in Old Town to see the live Christmas Cabaret show MC'd by Dame Edna impersonator, Tony Tripoli.  This very talented man writes one liners for Joan Rivers.  Mitch and Stephanie joined us and a grand time was had. 

The stage.


She sang the most beautiful opera!


A stunningly beautiful skirt!

Yup, she's dancing with a lighted candle on her head.

Mitch, Stephanie, Me & Mike
Afterwards, we ended our evening by having drinks at Andale and dancing away the rest of the evening.  This was the first time in a year that Mike and I danced to our heart's content.  This is a big plus for us, as we met while dancing and we both enjoy it very much.

Pulpito Street

Me, Stephanie, & Mitch.

Someone having a grand ol time on the donkey being ridden inside the bar.  Yes, the donkey is real!

Play that funky music white boy!!

Love the Christmas decorations all over town!

Friday was a bit cloudy, which was a pleasant thing since we wanted to walk up the hill and discover our neighborhood.  What a pleasant surprise to find the beautiful boutique hotel and restaurant, Casa Isabella, literally just up a short walk.  The setting is absolutely spectacular with open bar, pool, restaurant overlooking the bay.  And, then to find out that every day from 2-4pm most of the items on the lunch menu are only 50 pesos!!  $3.85!!  Think that will become a weekly event. It also goes to show that there are ways to keep costs down while still enjoying the finer things in life.

Apartments that we see from our terrace. Beautiful bougainvillea growing up the side.

Our pool deck.

The road up the hill on the side of our complex.

Casa Isabella in yellow.

Casa Isabella

Casa Isabella pool deck.

The view.

The honeymoon suite.  I sooo want to stay there!

Love the terraced way of building up the hills.

View to the Los Muertos pier.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in downtown.

Casa Isabella.  The terrace is the restaurant.

The "hood".

We set the alarm to get up for the Saturday Farmer's Market but I had been woken by the drenching rain we had around 5am.  Although the rain had stopped, it was still threatening when we left.  I realized we had forgotten the umbrella about a block away but we decided to keep going.

Mosaic walls along the school in the heart of Old Town.

Police Segway's at the market.

The children signing their hearts out in English with Christmas music.

Home made GOOD whiskey!! I think Mike wants some but he just bought a port.  Dilemma!

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see many of the booths before the rain let go again.  After getting pretty wet, we dashed across the street to the coffee and book shop.  While having a fruit drink, we started talking to the two guys, Don and Noah, across from us.  To our delight, Don gave us his landlord's name and phone number to see about looking at a beachfront condo for rent. 

Yes, we have decided to look at long term rentals here to see what we can get within our budget.  As the housing budget is a huge line item for us.  And, one that we don't want to have to give up too many creature comforts for.  As supply and demand control this issue all over the world, we have found housing to be quite expensive for what we're looking for in every town or city we've lived in because of the lack of supply.  Demand has been high, so everyone is vying for the same properties. 

Well, the clouds parted and the sun came back out so we were able to finish our first Farmer's Market in PV.  We didn't buy much but we did buy the most awesome brownies, a loaf of garlic & cheese bread, and homemade jam.

Back home to dry out and rest up for our planned afternoon and evening out in town.  At 3:30pm we headed back to Pour Favor Sports Bar, where we had had lunch earlier in the week, for a Customer Appreciation Party.  There was live music, free food, good drinks and new friends.  A fun time.

As we hadn't had time to walk into New Town along the Malecón, Mike and I headed down towards the beach and strolled north into town.  It didn't disappoint us in the great vibe with lots of local food stands, shops, and restaurants being enjoyed not only by tourists but by locals out with their children and families. 

Further into town along the Malecón is the Amphitheatre where children, lovers, and families are entertained by many different local acts.  Last night was the pantomimes that we have watched for many years.  By the delightful laughter and cheers, it appeared everyone was getting their FREE monies worth of entertainment!

Just a small yacht.

Pantomimes dressed like sand statues playing chess.

The pantomimes with another couple and they poured sand into the sand wine glasses.  Cheers!!

One of the large condo complexes right on the beach.

Hark the Harold angels sing....

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

We continued to saunter up and were rewarded with beautiful lighted Christmas decorations, the ever present statues that line the walkway, and many new shops and restaurant/clubs. The one big surprise that I had noticed before was that part of the old road had been turned into a total pedestrian walkway now.  Not only is it a delight but way less dangerous than it used to be.  And, we were further delighted to see our favorite Cuban restaurant & club still in full swing!  We will wait on going there for later but thrilled this legend is still a viable establishment since 1942!


Our Lady of Guadalupe church tower.

One of the many clubs along the Malecón.

A gorgeous huge chandelier in one of the clubs.

Since we had made plans to go back to Nacho Daddy's to hear our good friend, Tucker's brother, Joe King Carasco, play and sing, we headed back to Old Town.  Tucker is our friend we met in Granada, Nicaragua.  His brother, Joe, is an investor in this restaurant and plays with his band on Saturday night's only.  A delightful man and we were happy we got to meet him.  Again, a great time had by all!! 

Joe playing behind his head.

Joe "King" Carasco

We made our favorite delicious breakfast sandwich of gorgonzola eggs with bacon on a croissant this morning.  This was our "signature" breakfast in the states and it was awesome to be able to buy all of the ingredients at Costco to have this meal again.

Wanted to give an update on Louis and Mandy DeSouza playing Santa and Mrs. Santa in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  The event took place Friday and it was a huge success!!  The children of the neighborhood truly enjoyed their gifts from Santa!

Mandy & Louis

You make a lovely couple!!

Happy Children!

So it's Sunday and that means football. Mike watched the early game at home and then went down to Pour Favor for the Seahawks game.  I decided to keep working on the blog and stay home.  I got to watch the sunset from our beautiful deck and take gorgeous pictures.

As this coming Wednesday is Christmas, I would like to wish all of my readers and followers a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  And, if you don't celebrate this holiday, celebrate life and please have a great week!!

So until next time, thanks for taking this journey with us .....

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