Sand sculptures and sore feet – 29 December

Today we went to and from Puerto Vallarta by bus.  The bus system here works remarkably well, and the rides are cheap.  It cost only 12 pesos to get to from Bucerias to the Marina in Puerto Vallarta (about a 35 minute ride, includes about 10 km of highway), 6-1/2 pesos to get downtown (about 15 minute ride, mostly urban).  The exchange rate is about 11 or 12 pesos per Canadian dollar.

I can’t say that I feel altogether confident in the mechanical condition of the buses – yesterday on the way back from the Mega, I was sure I could smell gasoline and was hopeful that it was the vehicle in front of us.  Today, a different bus, again a very strong smell of gasoline, most certainly from the bus itself.  Being my usual paranoid self, I was watching carefully for any signs of fire, and noting my exit path.  I tend to be silly that way.  Thankfully, nothing bad happened, and we arrived at the Puerto Vallarta marina in good shape.

The signage and notices on the buses here of course is all in Spanish, so I don’t understand it.  But on this bus, there were religious paintings of Jesus, his mother Mary, and the Sacred Heart.  How interesting!

See sacred paintings along sides above windows

Note “Jesusito” at front above door

Another interesting thing about the buses that says a lot about the Mexican culture.  The drivers use an open rack to sort and store the coins they receive.  We’ve been advised that you can just tell the driver where you are going, hold out a handful of coins and they will take the correct coins and give you the correct change – they will not try to cheat you.  Wow, having all those coins right in front, you couldn’t do that back home!

Check out the change tray beside the driver!

It is quite an impressive marina.  Lots of hotels & condominiums, high end shops, at least three Starbucks that I saw, and of course lots of high end boats and yachts.  We wandered into the Embarcadero Pacifico (Eric looked it up – it’s a hotel with option to be all inclusive), it was very nice, wow.  And Eric found out that when not at peak time (like now over the Christmas holidays), it’s about US$800 per week all inclusive.

We hopped on the bus labelled “Centro” and headed downtown, where we walked the malecon from end to end.  Well, the rest of the group walked the malecon (stone walkway along the shore).  I hobbled away for fifteen minutes to track down a farmacia (pharmacy) and get some bandages to put on my blisters!  Eric smirked as we left the condo, saying that the new sandals were going to leave me smarting, but I didn’t pay any heed.  Now I was paying for it!  Ouch ouch ouch.

Well, I managed to find some bandages, and they helped a bit, anyway.  Dayna was waiting a block along the malecon to ensure that I survived.  We hobbled back to the group along the malecon – well, I hobbled and she sighed and walked slowly with me.

Between the malecon and the shoreline, there is a beach, but it’s kind of weird because there is nobody on the beach.  But then there is about a kilometre of beach with beautiful sculptures.  Some of them are religious in nature, related to Christmas and the life of Jesus.  Others were secular in nature, related to the New Year, still others of Santa Claus, legends and ancient deities.

One of the figures was too complex to be just sand – and it wasn’t!  It was a person dressed up in sand, doing the statue routine.  He started to move!

We wandered across the river into old Puerto Vallarta, and went to a wonderful restaurant called, not very uniquely, “The Pancake House”.  The pancakes and waffles were great, having unique Mexican and fruit flavours.

After lunch, we sauntered down the street to the flea market, where we split up into three groups.  Dayna and I went back into the old city and hung around for a half hour or so, then climbed on the bus to head back.  The other two groups met up and travelled back together.

The transfer point, and the place that everyone in Puerto Vallarta seems to know, is Wal-Mart.  A huge, SuperCenter [sic] Wal-Mart.  When we arrived there, Dayna and I hobbled (she walked, I hobbled) into Wal-Mart and got some short socks to wear in my (ugh so painful) new sandals.  Actually, I tried on some new, new sandals, thinking that I might be able to get ones that don’t hurt as much, but, well, after you have blisters, pretty well anything is painful.  We purchased just the socks, and I put them on as soon as we left the store.  It helped a lot!

There is an American-style mall next to the Wal-Mart called Galleria Vallarta, so we went and checked it out.  There was a Christmas display, no obvious Santa Claus area, but with a place to put your child in a stocking!  There was a kid’s train that ran the whole upper level.  There was a large RC race track that kids were running cars around on.

One thing was humourous though, check out the name of this store.  It’s almost saved by “the” at the beginning.  But it still made me smile!

After wandering the mall, we got onto a Bucerias bus and went back to the condo.  The others actually had beat us there, and were down at the beach.

Supper was simpler tonight, but just as good – hamburgers!  Simple but effective, especially with the younger members of the family.

We put Back to the Future II on after supper, and the younger members were entranced!  Dayna, Jennifer, David, and I went for a walk down the beach in the dark.  It was very quiet on the beach, there was nobody there.  The sound of the waves crashing on the shore was quite soothing.

At the town square, Dayna and I went up to the square, and then wandered back to the condo.  Jennifer & Dave arrived shortly after.

We got home just as the movie ended.  Now there is talk of a playoff round of cards – 31 to the finish!  Or something like that.  I’ve been talking trash about my brother and I playing 31 at the cabin back in the day, always seeming to end in fisticuffs – so I may be dragged in too…

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