We rolled into Puerto Vallarta on the 23rd of December, sad to leave Sayulita, but excited to visit the city where Predator was filmed. At least, Predator was Puerto Vallarta’s claim to fame when I visited it back in 1996. That trip included a pilgrimage to the site where Jesse Ventura proclaimed, “I ain’t got time to bleed!”, sunning on the beach, and bar hopping by four underage Norte Americanos discovering tequila.
I didn’t recognize Puerto Vallarta at all as we drove into the city. In fact, nothing at all felt familiar. There were no signs directing us to the site where Predator was filmed. What gives?
Turns out, the city has moved on. This city is massive — I’m guessing it’s bigger than Mazatlan. There is a stunning beach that is lined with giant hotels. Everywhere you go, you will encounter vendors attempting to sell you hammocks, silver, or bracelets. And yet, despite all this, Puerto Vallarta charmed us completely.
Our first day was spent orienting ourselves. After a taking a couple of wrong busses (locals helped us find the way eventually), we found ourselves strolling along the malecon.
We eventually wandered our way towards down town, where we saw a beautiful cathedral:
A large river runs through central Puerto Vallarta, and an island in the river has been developed into a commercial hub:
Several blocks off the main streets, we found a taco stand that fit within our budget. It’s good to know that you can still get $1 tacos, even in a place as busy as Puerto Vallarta.
In addition, we were introduced to “Brocheta de Cameron”, a kabob filled with shrimp and Mahi Mahi, covered in a tangy, tamarind BBQ sauce.
Christmas Eve, we met up with Richard, Ashely, Allen, Julea, Mike and Tiffany. It didn’t really feel like Christmas Eve to us. Without our family and the rituals of Christmas, it just felt like any other day. For us, it was wonderful to see our friends and celebrate with a huge meal.
I have to mention–Allen drove us to and from the city Christmas Even, through the narrow streets of Puerto Vallarta, in his giant truck (it’s got duallys). It’s not something I could have managed!
Arriving back at the RV park where we were staying, we found a huge Christmas Eve party in full swing! This party was thrown by all the French Canadians staying at the RV Park. The music alternated between Celine Dion and something that I can only describe as french square dancing music. Sadly, the party ended early (midnight instead of 2:00 AM) due to rain storms that would stick with us for the next week.
We will miss Puerto Vallarta. We parted ways with Julea and Allen who needed to book it down to Costa Rica. In addition, Richard and Ashely were headed towards central Mexico. We were the only ones heading down the lost coast. It wasn’t clear if our paths would cross again. However, we’ll always remember the Christmas Eve spent in Puerto Vallarta with great friends and food.