Viva Mexico

May 2007

My flight to Guadalajara was going via Atlanta and would take around 15 hours all together. The connecting flight from Atlanta was the smallest plane I had ever been on. I was not a fan, it felt slightly claustrophobic and you could feel every little bump in the air. In the case of planes amongst other things I feel bigger is definitely better. I was very tired upon arrival that evening, luckily going through passport control took all of 2 minutes as someone looked at my passport, looked at me and that was pretty much it. My friend Edgar was there to pick me up, it was lovely to see him again and proof that he knew me very well he had some chocolate waiting for me in the car, life saver!

So the plan was to go to Puerto Vallarta to meet up with a group of my friends at the beach, Edgar wasn’t able to go as he had work commitments but he saw me safely to the bus station where we booked me onto a coach and I was able to put my very basic Spanish into use by spelling my name (I know, impressive right)! We then called my friend Oscar who confirmed he would be waiting for me at the other end. The coach was lovely, I had a seat towards the front and it was so comfortable and fully reclined, I remember nothing of the journey as I literally slept the whole way there which I think would have been around 5 hours or so.

I arrived into Puerto Vallarta feeling revived and everyone was there waiting for me which was a lovely welcome. We then made our way back to our apartment and had a drink and a catch up before going to bed, I couldn’t sleep at all, probably because of my 5 hour nap on the coach! Morning soon came and there was a handy little shop just around the corner to get some milk for my cereal. Once everyone was up and about we decided to spend the day at the beach, we packed up the cool box and off we went. There was one person too many to fit in the car but like the gentlemen that they are they insisted I sit in the passenger seat while they all crammed into the back. Luckily it wasn’t far to the beach and it did not disappoint. It was a lovely palm tree lined beach with some big and expensive looking properties placed all along the shore. I enjoyed the sunbathing while the guys decided to brave going in the water for a swim whilst I waved to them from the safety of my sunny spot on the sand. Oscar and I then decided to go for a walk and a paddle along the shore, there was a lovely warm breeze.

The next day we headed to Marina Vallarta where we boarded the Sarape for our day trip. The views of the Old and New Town from the sea were stunning as we made our way to the first stop Los Arcos where snorkelling was planned. Breakfast was included so I went for something I recognised, a banana. On arrival at Los Arcos people started to queue up for the snorkelling gear and the first few eager people jumped off the back of the boat into the sea. What happened next could only be described as something from a nightmare, the sea was filled with jelly fish. They were everywhere, the crew had to throw ropes out to the people that had jumped in to then pull them back in towards the boat, carefully navigating their way around the jelly fish. I was so glad that I was nervous in the first place which meant I was at the back of the queue!

So jelly fish averted we were then on the way to the second stop Las Animas Beach. It was a beautiful stretch of beach with it’s palapas (open sided shacks with thatched roofs made of dried palm leaves) and tall palm trees it looked wonderfully tropical. We sat at a large table in the shade and had some drinks. Meanwhile a guy has approached the table with what can only be described as a disgustingly massive iguana in the hope that we would want to pay for a photo with the thing. After sending him on his way the guys decided to try some water sports, watching them on the banana boat was hilarious. Then it was back to the boat for some lunch and on to the third and final stop Quimixto, where I was told we were going on a “small” hike to see a waterfall.

First of all we had to get into a really small rowing boat to be taken onto shore which was an interesting experience by itself. Then we embarked on the so called “small” hike, which I didn’t think was very small at all also flip flops probably weren’t the best footwear choice for this kind of walk. Anyway after walking through a little local village, across a small stream and up a large hill we finally made it to the waterfall. I love a waterfall and I was glad to have finally made it but now there was another challenge, the seating area was across the most rickety put together wooden branch bridge I’d ever seen. Slightly terrifying but my need to have a sit down and a drink drove me on, by the way I have never known Coca Cola to be so cheap anywhere else in the world and at this point that was just as well as I needed a crate of it to revive me for the walk back down!

The following day we just chilled and went to a steak and seafood place for lunch. I went for the steak option as I dislike all seafood unless its good old British Fish and Chips, this place was far removed from that offering delights such as Octopus and other equally unappetising things, I was glad the menu wasn’t in English. There was however a Mariachi band playing in the restaurant, I love a Mariachi band, they were great. The next morning Oscars face was twice the size it should be, he has a seafood allergy which he knew about but loves seafood and thought he’d be alright eating a small amount. So off we went to find a doctor to sort him out with some antihistamines. Oh how we laughed, bless him. That evening we had a night out and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen!

Soon it was time to return to Guadalajara, Alexis drove us through some lovely Mexican countryside, I saw lots of tequila plants. I was picked up by Edgar as I was going to spend the rest of my time exploring the city with him. The next morning we went to explore Mexico’s second largest city which has some amazing architecture. First we went to the Cathedral, it is built in the Spanish renaissance style with neo-gothic bell towers, it has been rebuilt several times due to earthquakes. It really stood out with it’s golden coloured domes and spires, impressive looking. We also went inside where it was a lot cooler with its altar made of marble and silver. The cathedral houses the relics of St Innocent as well as the remains of cardinals and bishops, even the heart of a former Mexican President.

Then we had some lunch and sat outdoors at a lovely little restaurant. It was the Mexican Mothers Day that day and they were giving out roses to all the mothers. Our waiter came over and asked Edgar to translate, he said even though I was not a mother, I was still a woman and that’s why he would like to give me a rose. Such a wonderful gesture. We then went on to Hospicio Cabanas which is a world heritage site and is one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in the Americas now being used as a museum.

I was also lucky enough to meet Edgars extended family to celebrate Mothers day, I was given such a warm welcome and treated as one of the family. I was also shown how to make tortillas from scratch, I wasn’t very good and decided it would be best to leave it to the experts!

The next day we had breakfast in a different part of the city I forget what the area was called, but we walked down some lovely cobbled streets and passed some shops full of pottery and handicrafts on our way we found a beautiful courtyard café. We sat right next to a such a pretty little fountain in the centre of the courtyard, it was beautifully decorated with freshly cut flowers, the sun was shining and the birds were singing in the trees, bliss.

I had a lovely time in Mexico, experiencing both the coast and the city and was lucky enough to have such great friends to show me all the best places. Its also worth saying all the Mexican people I encountered on my trip were so friendly and genuinely happy to have me in their country. I have travelled to many other countries throughout the world and have to say Mexican people are the nicest I have ever encountered.

I would not hesitate to visit again and would urge others to do so, I would love to visit Riviera Maya and see Chichen Itza next time. Watch this space. Viva Mexico.