Not a day has passed that I haven’t found myself daydreaming about Mexico since the day we bought our tickets. Both Brian and I desperately needed an escape from an exceptionally dark and cold Seattle winter, and I could barely focus on work the weeks coming up to the trip. Now that we’re back, we talk nonstop in broken Spanish about how much we loved our time there, and planning trips to all of the Mexican cities we can’t wait to visit. I don’t know if it was the weather, time spent with family, or just a week of doing absolutely nothing, but this was honestly one of the best trips I think we’ve taken together. When we plan trips, we gravitate toward cities (that are notoriously chilly and rainy) and plan days full of exploring on bikes and trying to soak in as much culture as we can. As much as I do love love love those trips, I also apparently really love lounging in beautiful weather and just doing nothing. It’s incredibly therapeutic.
Brian’s family has been coming to Puerto Vallarta for years and years, and they always stay in La Zona Romantica in a condo building called Vista del Sol. I didn’t really know what to expect from this trip, but I was completely blown away when we walked into the condo unit. When we first walked in, the patio doors were wide open in front of us with the ocean right outside the window and a breeze blowing through the room. It was a pretty heavenly experience. Each morning we sat on the patio looking out at the ocean, drinking coffee and hoping for whales. I couldn’t believe what a gorgeous place we were staying in, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip, maybe with a little babe???
The surf was super rough while we were there, with giant waves crashing violently on the beach and dragging decent sized rocks with them. I really wanted to play in the water, but after a few times of getting body slammed by waves that were 80% sand and super abrasive, I gave up and hung out on the beach instead. We spent our days on a constant rotation of reading on the beach, walking around the city, hanging out at the pool with the family, and eating.
The area of Puerto Vallarta where we stayed was a really interesting mix of tourists and locals. There’s definitely a waterfront strip and a few blocks that are purely aimed at tourists, but just a few more minutes of walking and you’re very much in the neighborhoods where real life carries on. I enjoyed exploring this part of the city more than the beachy part, but I always felt a little like I was out of place and just a tourist who strayed from the beaten path. Everyone was extremely kind and welcoming, but I couldn’t help think about if the roles were reversed and these Mexican families came to Seattle to be tourists and walk around our neighborhoods, whether we’d treat them with the same welcoming attitude. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but one that was on my mind most of the trip. We’re so lucky to have the opportunity and privilege to travel where we want and experience new cultures and lifestyles.
My favorite places that we ate….
-Jorge’s Hideaway Shrimp Shack! We had giant delicious mango and blackberry margaritas and it was such a fun night out together.
-Salud Super Food – omg delish. Salud is a tiny little cafe, owned by a guy who used to live right by us in Capitol Hill! They serve really great and healthy meals, like lentils, salads, grain bowls, and nutrient-packed smoothies. I think we came here 4 times in 2 days, and I wish we’d gone even more!
-Red Cabbage – we came here with the whole family for our last night. The food was amazing and probably the most authentic that we had the whole trip. The margaritas were simple and clean, which was so refreshing.
-A little taco vendor on the street – we splurged and got a chorizo taco and a carnitas taco, and they were worth it. Vacation foods don’t count 🙂
My favorite things we did…
-Walk. We spent one morning wandering through the streets, watching the city wake up. People washing their sidewalks, hanging the clothes out, opening up their windows.
Another day, we walked up a twisty old cobblestone street where we saw beautiful architecture, a lizard, and great views of the ocean from way up high.
-Picked up fresh tortillas for dinner and a coconut! The fresh coconut cost 30 pesos, which is only $1.50!! It was so worth it for both the fresh coconut milk and the photos 😉
-Bought our beautiful wool rug. There are tons of vendors around Puerto Vallarta, and most of them sell cheapy little trinkets or mass produced blankets that you can get on Amazon. Right outside of the condo where we stayed, there was a stand with the most beautiful handwoven wool rugs. One in particular caught our eye and we walked over to look at it and started talking to the couple who own the stand. Lulu and Jacobo were just the nicest and showed us pictures of their home in Oaxaca where they and their family treat and dye the wool, and weave these beautiful rugs. We promised we’d be back the next day to buy the one we wanted after we went to get cash. When we walked up to the stand the next day, we literally watched someone buy our rug before we could get there! Ugh completely heartbroken, but we found another that we loved, and its perfect in our apartment.
-Ate dinner with the family each night. We don’t get to see everyone very often now that we live so far away, and when we do, it always seems rushed or there’s so much going on that we don’t get to just chat and relax. I loved having dinner together each night and just being together.
I was hesitant about carrying our Fuji camera around some of the neighborhoods, so our photos are a mix of Fuji, iPhone, and film. I love them all.