1 January 2016

A very different place for us

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

view from our rooftop terrace
A year ago while spending winter on Vancouver Island in Canada, as the temperature dipped closer to zero and the clouds covered the sun, it wasn’t surprising that we started thinking about where we wanted to go for the following winter. One of my favourite TV channels is HGTV – Househunter’s International, Beach Flip, Income Property – I love them all. We saw an episode on two gays guys buying a condo down in sunny Puerto Vallarta Mexico. It looked very inviting, so we did a little research and decided that would be where we would spend the winter of 2016.

the other 3 buildings in our complex of 26 condos

I found a condo in the Romantica zone; Old Town which would give us the feel of Mexico, and booked it for mid Feb to mid April. Then we realised that we needed to be out of the USA for longer but we couldn’t extend where I had booked so we found another place, this time, south of town.

Old town, all the streets are made up of river stones - great for shock absorbers!

It was our first time on an American airline. We went down with United and are coming back with Alaskan. It was a new experience with self-check in where you drop off your bags to go underneath. Everything is done on a screen, including asking you if any of your bags are overweight? Really, who would agree to that? All the airline staff member does is take your bags. The flight only took two and a half hours and we were in a warm tropical paradise.

lots of street stalls, we've yet to try one

I booked an airport transfer to our condo through Puerto Vallarta tours, so they were waiting for us when we arrived.

New Year's Eve's fireworks

The owner met us at the condo and went through some basics. We can get the 20L water bottle replaced for $35 pesos from Oscar. At least that saves us getting water. Our maid comes once a week but doesn’t do our washing. She does, it turns out though, change our sheets, wash our sheets and towels, cleans the floors and tidies up after us, even inside the fridge! The first time she came it took us hours to find the avocados we left on the bench. The second time, we lost the rubbish bin for a day. I’m not used to having hired help! She rattles off in Spanish at a million miles an hour expecting us to understand her, even if I could understand, I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Where the Mexicans shop

We have a washer/dryer in the condo and of course all the menus on the dials are in Spanish. Using a translator I managed to work out how to put on a cotton wash. After downloading the user guide in Spanish I was able to copy/paste the section for the dryer as well. I’m not that impressed with the dryer mode, so I think our clothes would be better off air-drying on a chair or a coathanger. 

Around town

On the owner’s instructions we waited outside the complex for a green and white bus to take us to Walmart, as this was the only supermarket we were aware of when we arrived. After waiting an hour, we gave up and got a taxi. We have now found a number of local supermarkets, the fresh food Mexican market, the Saturday, let’s have a market for all the tourists, market. Our local family grocery stores and Oxxo, which is like 7-Eleven, perfect for milk. You can get bread and other yummy morsels at the bakery on Basilio or the supermarkets. We are slowly finding our way around, exploring our new environment.

Even some birds for Lindsay to photograph, a Great Kiskadee

All our food tasted a bit funny for the first week or so until Lindsay realised that the oil we had bought smelled funny, like it was scented. Googling it’s name didn’t help, it’s normal oil, but not as we know it. We haven’t been able to find taco seasoning, so we thought we’d make our own, except we can’t find all the ingredients either. I can understand now why on border control reality TV people bring food from home to other countries. 

the short cut to the beach, not so bad going down, ugly coming up!

Our current abode is about a ten-minute walk south of town, up a hill, make that two hills. It makes a very good calf muscle and aerobic workout. 

Saturday market

For some reason our Australian mobiles won’t log onto any networks here which is a pain as it means I can’t do any internet banking. So if we get any unforeseen bills that can’t be paid by credit card in the next few months, they will have to wait! We normally have to make a call/SMS on our phones every three months to keep our accounts active, which of course we won’t be able to do either. So we contacted our carrier to let them know of our dilemma and they have promised not to make any changes to our accounts without emailing us. Fingers crossed. There is nothing else they can do. We managed to get some money put into our Citibank Plus account which is what I use to withdraw cash internationally, so we are not destitute. You can’t use your credit card for everything here as we do elsewhere.

Lots of colourful pottery

The weather here is lovely, as long as you’re not walking up that hill. If you are, then you feel all the humidity compounded and have to have another shower when you get home. Most of the time, I leave my shower until after we have been into town, because I always need to have a shower after walking up that hill.

It’s now mid January and the new year crowds have gone. The beaches are nearly empty and I feel a bit sorry for the locals, business must really drop. From talking to other people we have chosen the right locations to stay. As we thought, there are many American and Canadian’s either holidaying or are here for the winter. Everyone is very friendly as we are all in the same boat, swapping tips or places to go. It's been a long time since we have been to a beachside holiday destination. We are going to enjoy our time down here.

Other Puerto Vallarta Posts:

2. Life's a beach
3. Living in Old Town
4. A seaside village only accessible by boat
5. Wrapping up Puerto Vallarta
7. Puerto Vallarta Essentials


  1. Looks like a fun and colorful place to spend the winter! Is that a Great Kiskadee? We saw them in south Texas a few winters ago. Wonderful photos!

    1. Thank you Laurel, yes it is a Great Kiskadee - there are flocks of them, I had no idea what it was, I thought it was a bee eater. The weather down here is pretty good.

  2. We might just copy you one day when we get off the road. The place looks not only interesting but very colorful and I think I can live there.
    Since we have help back in the Phil. I could get use to some help :)
    Enjoy and be safe out there. Im looking forward to what you will be doing out there.
    And those Kiskadees can be noisy!

    1. Yes, it's lovely having solid walls and not moving! It is safe here and yes those Kiskadees sound like our Lorikeets & Rosellas - makes me think of home!