San Blas or Bust

After a fairly long few days, we arrived in San Blas in the Nayarit region of Mexico yesterday afternoon. We left Phoenix just before noon and as our plane forced its way up into the sky over the desert, I was ready to go but also a little sad that six weeks has gone by so quickly.

Due to a budget flight, we didn't go to Puerta Vallarta direct but went via Dallas and the entire flight I had the theme song from the show of the same name running through my head: "Ba, ba-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, ba, ba-ba, ba-ba-baaaa!"

I remember watching that show every Friday night as a kid with my grandparents - Sue Ellen, Bobby, JR. Those were the days! We spent about an hour in the Dallas Airport and I am a bit disappointed to announce that the hair was neither terribly big nor the accents terribly Texan. They did have a lot of BBQ restaurants in the airport though.

After arriving in Puerto Vallarta, were immediately and stupidly ushered into a situation I was completely unprepared for. I am a stereotypical Canadian in that when people try to speak to me, I have trouble not stopping to listen. When they talk and talk and talk, I feel rude just walking away - even if they are trying to sell me something I don't want or need.

Walking out of customs at the PV airport takes you down a narrow hallway flanked on either side by people yelling out to you, holding signs and generally acting like they know you and understand exactly what you need.

"Hola! Lady, where you staying?"

"The Flamenco Vallarta." (Admittedly, responding was my first mistake.)

"You go here - talk to that woman. She represents your hotel."

"Okay." (Second mistake.)

From that point on and for about ten minutes we were amiga and amigo'd by a woman who clearly didn't represent our hotel and who was trying to sell us any number of things from a cab ride, to breakfast, to a friggin' deep sea fishing expedition. Finally, Dan got tired of my polite nodding and ushered us the hell out of there only to have me run into the arms of a dodgy cab driver who charged us the equivalent of about $20 (USD) for a five minute cab ride to our hotel. Yeah, I'm a sucker and Dan was not impressed. I'm going to have to get this under control before we go to India, if we go to India.

Our night in Puerto Vallarta was nice once we got over the irritation of being taken for a ride. Here are some pictures:

After one night at the Flamingo, we got up early with the task of trying to work out how to get to San Blas. We knew it would be by bus, but we had conflicting information about where to catch it, how much it would cost and how long it would take. Due to our rip off cab ride the day before, Dan was pretty intent that whatever we were going to do, it wasn't going to involve a cab or any opportunity for me to be suckered in. Just short of putting tape over my mouth and making me promise not to talk to strangers, we set out with enormous packs on our backs. We were originally going to catch the bus to Walmart, where we were told we could take the Silver Line bus to San Blas but after being admonished by our hotel clerk, we headed in the opposite direction to catch a bus to the central station. Did I mention that my backpack weighs about 100 pounds and although it isn't as hot here as in Phoenix, the humidity is insane and probably feels even worse because we're accustomed to the dryness of the desert. So by the time we'd completed the ten minute walk to the bus stop, I was pretty much soaking wet.

There's this thing about city buses in Mexico that the guide books don't tell you - they don't stop unless you flag them down and often, you don't know which bus to flag down because the destination is painted on the front window by hand and isn't always easy to read. After flagging down the wrong bus once and watching half a dozen pass us by we lucked into a meeting a very friendly man who, was originally from San Blas. For a small tip, he accompanied us on the right bus (which he kindly flagged down) and took us to the station where we would catch the Pacifico bus direct to San Blas. He was a really nice man; it was his birthday and he told us how difficult things had been since the recession because tourists weren't coming down as much. He works at the Westin Hotel and seemed hopeful that things would get better soon. We had a two hour wait at the Pacifico station with only one disaster; a bottle of suntan lotion spilled in my bag and got all over the outside of my laptop, peeling off some of the finish. It still works fine but now it has a bit of character in the form of a shiny-looking chemical peel in one corner. It's scary to me that something I rub all over my skin has the ability to peel plastic off a Mac. Some photos from our wait at the Pacifico station:

The bus actually arrived on time and to our relief it was air-conditioned and nearly empty. The journey took about three hours but would have been less except for quite a lot of construction along the road. It stopped every now and again in small towns where little boys would jump on and try to sell us homemade tacos, pop and Doritos. About an hour outside of San Blas, the scenery changed from dense green jungle to one of small, colourful seaside communities. The ocean smells and looks like heaven and these places are filled with colour and food, children running around and people riding vintage bicycles.

It hasn't all been perfect (more on that later): I am already covered in angry red mosquito bites and there's been one slightly ugly bout of stomach upset but I love looking at this place and I love the slow, sleepy pace of siesta and late dinners. More on San Blas tomorrow ...

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Friday Films said...

It sounds like you're having a real, true adventure there in San Blas.

I can sympathise with the Canadian disease of politeness-at-all-costs - in Paris last fall, we were approached by these men who seemed to be canvassing for a cause. I wanted to stop and sign their petition but Bruce told me to just keep walking. I didn't, and when he asked me if I wanted to 'help Africa' I said 'Erm, yes!' (duh!) and he said, 'Okay, sign here!' and I did. And then he said 'Twenty pounds, madam?' And, well, let's just say we were lucky I was not carrying notes on my person.

Sorry about your laptop and tummy bug, but enjoy every last minute of that place! It sounds wonderful. xx

Amy said...

Thanks lady - you know I'd be right there with you trying to give some con artist money.

Tummy bug, mosquitoes and near laptop fatality aside, I am really enjoying it. It's not comfortable because I'm not anywhere used to it yet - it's definitely a challenge. The worst thing is probably the bug bites. I've tried tea tree oil and toothpaste but have finally settled on liquid neurophen as the best itch remedy. The Mexicans seem immune to bites - most of them don't even have screens on their windows but I don't see them walking around looking like they have the pox. Ah well, learning experience!


* said...

Your photography is breathtaking.

Like, truly beautiful.

I am so enjoying your trip around the world...

One day, I'll share with you the wonder and adventure we had when we went to Saskatoon for the weekend. Try not to get too excited there, Amy.

It was a very spiritual time, and when I say that I mean we went to Fuddruckers where the hamburgers (pronounced AM-BUH-GUHs) are, like religion, good enough to die for.