Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Sunny – 83F

Distance from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta: 180 Nautical Miles

Port Trivia.  Puerto Vallarta was pretty unknown to anyone outside the area until a movie company came here to shoot “Night of the Iguana” in 1963 (starring Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and directed by John Huston).  Richard Nixon worked out a deal with Puerto Vallarta to provide electricity to the town (I’m sure he walked the beaches in his black suit and dress shoes).  This is also the place where I just had to have a salad which made me sick for three days in 1986.  So much for making sure I got the right amount of fiber.

Even though it never changes, I had breakfast up on Deck 9 Aft.  It was another beautiful morning


It is difficult to see but there is a Carnival ship on the horizon below.  The Carnival Miracle (a new big ship) would join us in Puerto Vallarta.


Carnival Miracle in the Distance

The Journey is scheduled to arrive in Puerto Vallarta around 9 AM.  The ship is a little early and the sail in is even more spectacular than usual because the buildings have a golden hue due to the sun.

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Puerto Vallarta Sail In

Our ship is docked right across the street from a Sam’s Club and Walmart. 


Just like Home

Once the ship was cleared, we headed out for some walking.  The ship is berthed in a kind of park (lots of greenery and palm trees).  There are also vendors set up along the exit way to the street.  We got to a point, where we could get some nice pictures of the Journey and the pier.


Ellen and the Journey

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Journey Docked in Puerto Vallarta

When we were here last, we found a wonderful and reasonably priced spa near the pier.  After some searching around the pier, we did find the place but it was closed (it looked like it was still in business since a phone was still plugged in and everything looked in order).  We continued to walk along the main street until we reached the Hacienda Hotel – it was here that we were able to get WiFi back then to stay in touch with home.  On the way back, we stopped back at the spa and still found no one there – a vendor selling trinkets told us they would open in five minutes at 10:00 AM.  They showed up a few minutes later and we were the first two in line (other passengers from the ship settled for appointments after us).  Again, the place was clean and terrific – a good place to stop next time we are here.

We went back to the ship for lunch.  I ordered the tuna wrap – you have to order this item well done otherwise it is still alive.  I usually do but I forgot this time – they nuked it some more and even included grilled onions.  It was good.

There was still a long day ahead of us so we decided to go to the downtown area (about 4 miles away) – this was beyond our usual walking range so the local bus was the option (a taxi ride would be 4 dollars/per person).  The bus fare was complicated. According to the Pursuit, the bus fare per person was either 7 pesos or 1 US Dollar.  We had no pesos so we gave the driver $2 for the two of us and he gave us 5 pesos change.  Using pesos the ride would have cost us 7 pesos ($0.40) for a total of about $0.80.  Instead, it wound up costing us 31 pesos or about $1.72.  The bus system makes out pretty well when tourists are forced to use dollars.

The bus ride to the downtown area was the bumpiest 20-30 minute ride ever (no shocks on these busses).  I sat in the back – I might have done better standing but the bus stops very quickly and I might wind up on the ground.  For future information, the bus stop is right across from the Walmart near the pier and for the return trip from the Malecon, the bus stop is on Juarez Street near the town square.

We got off the bus at the Malecon – the beachfront boardwalk (the one featured on House Hunters International).  There wasn’t much shade but we tried to stay out of the sun as we walked along the beach.  The beach was expansive in both directions.  We spotted familiar buildings near the pier – we had come a long way.


Looking Back Toward the Pier


The Other Way

There weren’t a lot of people on the beach but plenty in the restaurants and on the streets.  The Malecon was also replete with statues – pretty much everywhere we walked.  This cool seahorse is an example of the amazing handiwork of the artists.



Seahorse looking back to the Cruise Terminal


Sculpture Garden of Who Knows What


Not Sure What This Is?

Of course, there were many familiar stores (e.g. Subway, McD) including this one.


Senor Frog’s

We kept walking to a large square near an interesting church (maybe the Cathedral).

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Town Square and Impressive Church

From the Square, I looked back down toward the beach, where a statue of dolphins stood.


The ride back was on a larger bus and we sat more in the middle of the vehicle so the bumps were not as nasty – I am still amazed how the locals manage to stand and hang on after those quick stops.

As soon as I spotted the Carnival ship ahead, we got up and signaled for a stop.  It was only a half block to Walmart, where we went looking for a cold tablet for Ellen.  It turned out that they didn’t have what we needed and they probably wouldn’t have taken dollars.  Still, the Walmart was just about the same as the ones back home.


A Little Bit of Home

Tonight is the Azamazing Evening Event for this leg.  Because of this, dinner is buffet style in both restaurants.  After dinner, we waited in the Mosaic Café until our deck number was called. 

Because the event is being held in the Sierra Madre foothills, big buses cannot be used.  During dinner, we could see all the minivans assembling in the parking lot of the cruise terminal.  It would take about 60 vans to transport just the passengers to the site.

I hopped into the front passenger seat of my van (I was the biggest of the passengers and who wants me to squeeze three across).  The ride took about 45 minutes and went from the main street of Puerto Vallarta into some residential streets and finally onto dirt roads.  Along the way, we could see how locals lived in the hills above the city.  There were also numerous speed bumps (in groups of three) that really slowed down traffic.  There were no street lights so when we got close (on the dirt roads), cowboys on burros (yes) with flashlights prevented us from going over the side of the road.  At the site itself, there was a heavy police presence.

By the time we got there (we were the last van), there were no seats left.  I wound up sitting behind a support pole.  It was too late to wander around to see things or to sample the tequila as the show was about to start.

The theme of the evening was the story of the Huichol Indians, who hid in the hills from the Spanish.  There was also a Mariachi Band, Dancers in sombreros, a dancing horse, kids doing lariat tricks, and an open bar (I did not know).  The show ran about 45 minutes and Eric dismissed the group to the vans.  While we were queued up, there was a brief fireworks display.  Considering the number of people involved, the reloading of passengers into vans was pretty orderly.



Huichol Indian Dance

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Mariachi Band and Dancers


Dancing Horse


Eric Bidding Adios

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Fireworks Finale

The ride down the mountain was also interesting – people were still out – eating, chatting in front of their houses, kids out and about.


Van Convoy Down the Hill

Soon, we were back at the pier – we made a brief stop at the buffet set up in the Discoveries Restaurant and then to the room.


The Journey – End of the Evening

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