Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Week of Unexpected Pleasure! Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Continuing to settle in here.  Our pace has changed due to us knowing we have a whole 5 months to explore.  Completely different rhythm!

So on Monday, after our usual morning routine, we ventured out on the bus again up north to return a few items purchased that just didn't work out. And, of course, we then just had to buy a few more items that once tried on at home aren't working either - so that means another trip back for returns.  LOL

One item of notable change on Monday was that the bus fare went up from 6.50 pesos to 7.50.  So now the bus ride costs $.60 instead of $.50 per person.  Don't think it'll break our budget.

Tuesday morning, Christmas Eve, we were woken up by my phone ringing.  It turned out to be our new friend, Joe King Carrasco.  He's the brother of our friend, Tucker, who lives in Nicaragua.  Anyway, Joe needed to go out to his land up in the mountains just outside of San Sebastian and wanted to know if we'd like to tag along with him.  Of course, we would!!

So we got up and dressed and headed to the bus and were on our way with Joe in a matter of about an hour.  Not bad!  And, along with us came the pups, Anna, Pee Wee, and Peanut, Joe's Jack Russell's.  Anna was the momma and the other two were her sons.  We quickly became friends and they laid their heads in my lap for the drive.  Anna, however, is an ornery old lady of 17.  Even though she would climb into Mike's lap in the front seat and settle in, she would growl and snap at him if he touched her.  Hands off!!

The drive took about an hour and we climbed into the most beautiful countryside!  The weather got cooler and less humid.  When we arrived just outside of La Estancia we met Ernesto and Alexis.  They own the property next to Joe's and her family owns hundreds of acres around the area.

The surveyors were just finishing up with the markers on his land.  There is a beautiful view from the flat of the surrounding mountains.  It made Mike and I feel like we were back home in NE Washington in the Colville National Forest.

After spending time on the parcel with the surveyors, who had the latest most up-to-date technology, we took a short walk down to the creek with everyone.

Me, Joe, Anna (the dog), Ernesto & Alexis.

Mike got in the picture this time before the self timer went off.

It was then time to head over to the small quaint village of San Sebastian on the other side of the ridge.  What a sweet town!  A good lunch and a nice walk through town before heading back to PV.

View of the mountains that we just drove through to get to San Sebastian.
Anna, Peanut, Pee Wee, Joe & Me at the entrance to town.
Our first stop at the coffee house to buy wonderful Mexican coffee!!
The old coffee roaster still being used.

This tree by the town square was all decorated with big ornaments.  Don't think you can see them. :(

One of the town square hotels with restaurant.

This is where we ate lunch.

The beautiful old San Sebastian church.

Our walk took us over this beautiful bridge.

And along the river walk.

Main square bandstand with church tower in the background.

Just us!

A very exquisite hotel, Hacienda Matel, that is right outside of town.

We ended the day with a bottle of beer and a glass of wine on the beach for sunset and Santa and his sleigh flew by a couple of times.  Only in the tropics!

Beautiful piñatas that everyone hangs for decoration over the holidays.

The sail statue on the Malecón right outside the museum.

Christmas Eve sunset.

Santa and his sleigh!!

Christmas Day dawned beautiful and bright after a hard downpour during the night, so after a wonderful Christmas homemade breakfast, Mike and I headed out to the beach for the very first time! It looked like everyone else in PV was thinking the same.  We had to walk almost to the south end of Los Muertos beach to find empty chairs.  Actually, a great place to park it for the afternoon.

A beautiful Christmas Day on the beach!

One of the many statues along the beach & Malecón in PV.

Mike, you shouldn't have!!  This was anchored right off the beach where we sat.

And a bit of live music to listen to while idling away in the sun.

The one unfortunate event was that Mike lost his wedding ring while playing in the surf.  There were some pretty big ones coming in and it just sucked it right off his finger!  He felt pretty bad but we recovered quickly.  On our way back, we actually found a nice jewelry store right on Olas Altas and stopped in to look.  If you know anything about PV, you know there are jewelry stores and beach vendors everywhere.

After trying on many, he decided he liked this one!  A beautiful light weight steal band with a center band that turns with the infinity sign.  So for the time being, he's happy to have one on his finger again and at a cost of only 50 pesos - $3.86 !!! LOL 

As we rounded the corner to head home, there were 2 young gentleman standing next to the sign for the spa we had been eyeing for awhile.  Yup, they were open on Christmas Day so Mike and I decided it was as good a time as any to have our massages.  What absolute bliss!  2 for $500 pesos or $19.30/ea.  Love it!!

Then off to another ending to a great day with Happy Hour on the beach since it was 6:10pm when we finished.  And then we finally made it home to a quiet evening of some TV.  A very nice Christmas Day!!

Dancers advertising for Rhythms of the Night show. We saw it years ago and it's fantastic!


The Sea Monkey restaurant & bar.

One of the many cruise ships that come and go here.
My yacht is leaving me behind....

We had made the decision last week to begin looking at long term rental properties to see what we could get in our budget.  As it's high season, there isn't much to look at yet. But we know the inventory will grow as March, April, and May approach.  I look at Craigslist everyday and make inquiries when we see something of interest.  It also helps because we haven't been to allot of the actual neighborhoods, so we'll get to see a different side of this city.

So on Thursday, I got a call from an agent that I had contacted to look at a couple of places right in Old Town.  The building is new and has wonderful amenities and beautiful finishes.  However, the unit that we would possibly consider isn't available to see until Jan. 2, so he showed us a 2 bedroom.  Nice, very nice.  The bummer is that it's unfurnished and that would mean we'd have to buy some furniture.  At least all of the stainless appliances are included. 

We have also been talking to a few direct owners that we've gotten to know.  So, we were able to look at a small 2 bedroom but even though it was in a great neighborhood, it's way too small for me.  Mike liked it more because the owner has workshop space that he could use for his iron sculpting.  I think he could still strike a deal with the owner about the workshop.  Again, we'll see if we make the final decision to stay here.

I talked about supply and demand driving the housing market wherever we've been.  And, it certainly holds true here.  The biggest difference here is that there is an abundance of housing already built for a tourist and expat community that's been around a very long time.  So the supply is huge but the demand has actually diminished due to the economy in the states and the fact that the media has been hitting Mexico pretty hard about the drug cartel violence.  It just isn't a reality here in PV or in most of the country. 

Friday we woke to ugly rain, which stuck around for most of the day with only a few minor sun breaks.  The highlight of our day was to attend an Expat Wine & Appetizer gathering in the Peninsula Towers north of town in the Hotel Zone.  What spectacular buildings with gorgeous amenities.  A nice time meeting new people and visiting with several we had met before.  The funny highlight though was watching someone take a shower in the next tower.  Don't know if the person realized his body would be silhouetted at night. :)

The party lounge at the Peninsula.

Mike was the only beer drinker there.  ??

Part of the entry lounge.

Another part of the entry lounge.

Can you see me now??!!  Oh YES, we can!!
So another week has come and gone.  This next week brings in the New Year of 2014!  And, we continue to wish a Healthy, Happy & Prosperous New Year to all of our friends and family!!
And, our journey continues into another year full hope and joy. So continue with us and celebrate life ....