"A week in Banderas Bay" Mexico by Nanumi
Mexico Travel Guide: 20,747 reviews and 48,731 photos
I grabbed a phone on Thursday and said, "is it last minute club? I want to book a flight for tomorrow to wherever is available.." Puerto Vallarta was the only option available so good bye Costa Rica and Cuba and Mexico, here I come. I knew that hurricane Kenna hit the town and no one knew the extent of its anger - at least in the official press. My bag packed - here I go again - not much Spanish, never been to Mexico, no problem - will manage. My internet addiction served its purpose - I booked a rom in Casa Corazon - somewhere in Puerto Vallarta. Friday morning I frantically searched for maps - ok, Banderas Bay, and some other maps..looks like my Casa is in the old part of the city. Hallelujah - I'd hate to have my quarters in the tourist district...
AirTransat was packed and uncomfortable, food was horrible and people on board were travelling in generational hordes with male packs leaders getting majorly loaded throughout the flight. It was my first taste of heading towards a popular touristy spot.
Evening temperatures hit me with the full force of heat and humidity. Customs etc. were a breeze through the crowds of already sweating bodies and soon enough I was on my own outside the airport. "Taxi, taxi?" Info from the internet gave me further tips: I walked accross the bridge to the road and a few minutes of fierce bargaining landed me a cab for $10 Canadian to my Casa. A joy ride through the city took under half an hour with my frantically holding onto the seat as we sped through the crowded, honking streets. A cab stopped on the dark hill top of a pebbled road and I was pointed to a black contour of a small building - here's Casa Corazon. I rang the bell. Once, twice...many times...Finally I heard steps and the gates to Sezame opened up. Not much conversation took place for lack of a mutually understood language. I was shown to my room and that was it - the sound of waves hitting the beach combined with the humming of presumably huge airconditioner from the nearby hotel sung me a lullaby...
My story unveils in tips....
My Casa has been situated in Romantica zone right on Playa Los Muertos (Deadmen's beach). It took me five minutes to walk to the Los Muertos pier from which I took a water taxi to Yelapa for $17 both ways. It was another joy ride which reminded me of being in a speeding car with no shocks. Holding to the bench for my dear life the taxi jumped from one wave to another falling back with the loud thud.
Yelapa is a fishing village on the slopes of Sierra Madre accessible only by boat. It's marketed as a rustic paradise but electricity is already there along with t-shirts, "gifts" and prices aimed at tourists. Still it somewhat pure and simple. Water taxis and cruises bring tourists there for few hours and take them back in the afternoon therefore later on during the day the beach is deserted. There is also a growing number of expats living in the village. To get to the village pier from the beach one has to take a local water taxi or risk a climb through unmarked trail.
Yelapa means "gathering place" and lies on the same altitude as Hawaii. There are two small hotels right on the beach and few cabanas (huts) for an overnight stay.
A local "restaurateur" (goes by the name "John" - how approprietly! - you can see him in Boca de Tomatlan picture) sells everything from gifts to illicit substances to visitors and locals alike. Through him one can also taste Raicilla - the local moon shine, distilled from a fermented mash of the maguey plant. From what I've read it can produce a sudden and unpredictable drunkeness and can potentially lead to bad gastric reactions and temporary motor paralysis. It's also known for producing an aphrodisiac effect on females while causing a temporary impotency in men thus creating an interestingly confused social situations ! I dared not touch that stuff being on my own and all but info is here for your drinking desire !
I stayed the night in a cabana, woke up amidst a violent storm which soaked my bed...
Check out my tips as the story develops....
I was told that Quimixto is a less touristy fishing village, another one accessible by boat only. Money smarter I walked 15 minutes to the bus from my Casa, paid some 60 cents for a 30 minute ride along the coast of the Bay and arrived to Boca de Tomatlan to pick a boat (panga) to Quimixto. In the pier there I run into John from Yelapa who tried to make me part with $12 for the trip but settled for $4. He dropped me off in Quimixto and boy, was I sorry for going there. There were 3 cruise ships in the small bay. The place was swarming with tourists. I tried to follow MY path but since there's only ONE dirt path I was forcibly immersed in the never ending living mass of multilingual, loud, sweating groups of people. Up we went accross the river, passed zillion hopeful horse owners waiting for those willing to partake with green money and reach the mountain top on a horse (in fact they followed those on foot waiting for tourists to get too tired to climb!), crossed another river (is there bilharia in those rivers?) and up towards the hills of Sierra Madre. Every time I tried to distance myself from one group I was sucked in by the next one. I became disgusted with this procession of city dwellers and went back - alone at last! The village itself was a major disappointment as well. Poor shacks on the slopes and gift stands throughout the settlement. "cheap! very cheap! almost free!"
I spent some time on a beach where tourists didn't go because hurricane Kenna destroyed little restaurants on the shore therefore there were no "facilities" to eat, drink etc. - suited me just fine.
I picked up the first panga back to Boca de Tomatlan - no bargaing anymore - I wore a facial expression of an expat : "I live here, buddy - don't even think of pulling that tourist surcharge on me!" and got myself in no time back to Puerto Vallarta.
Pictures follow in tips....
- Pros:cheap bus tickets
- Cons:tourists everywhere
- In a nutshell:seek your own route
- Puerto Vallarta - travel light !!!
- See All Puerto Vallarta - Yelapa - water taxi
- See All Puerto Vallarta flea market
- See All Puerto Vallarta - beach
- Puerto Vallarta taco stand
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