No Roads To Yalapa…
More friends from Flathead Lake are arriving! We have planned a quick four day cruise around Banderas bay, starting from La Cruz, to Punta de Mita, then to Yalapa, and last to Puerto Vallarta where a short cab ride would get them back to the airport. According to the guide books, Punta de Mita is a prime surf spot with a mix of surf breaks suitable for beginners to experts and boards are available to rent. Yalapa is a small, remote town only accessible by boat. It had electricity run in 2001 and phone service there started with cell phones. Puerto Vallarta is, well, basically the opposite of Yalapa. Here we go!
Our friends arrived a few hours earlier than we expected, surprising us! They were walking around the docks looking and yelling for us while we were finishing up a few things on the boat. They finally found us when Bill heard them calling out “Are-You?!”. We showed them their first class accommodations, they stowed their things, and we were off to explore the beach on the outside of the marina. A dip in the water, a walk on the beach, fantastic! Back to the boat for a quick rinse and we were off for town. We had plans that evening to meet our other Flathead friends for dinner- Flathead Lake South continued!
The next morning, while we finished prepping to go, our friends went off to explore the fish market. They returned less than an hour later with fresh fish in hand and we set off for Punta de Mita. Mother Nature put on a show for all of us with dolphins playing in the bow wake, boobies flying around us, and a whale in the distance off the port bow. We chose a spot to anchor outside the point in amongst some other sailboats. We surveyed the potential surfing opportunity. The waves looked large. All of the waves looked large. We did not see any “beginner” surfing waves. We blew up the pool toys instead and had some beers while we floated around the boat and talked until dinner time. Wow, the fish was so good, so fresh, amazing!
The next morning we had a quick breakfast and sailed across the bay to Yalapa. We put out our hand reel fishing line trying to repeat the fresh fish dinner. Instead, we hooked a Boobie that mistook our lure for a fish. Luckily our friend is a wildlife biologist who studied sea birds earlier in her life, no kidding! What a lucky bird. She held it professionally while I got a scalpel to nick the skin and allow the lure to be extracted. She then allowed it to spread its wings making sure it was healthy. Away it went! Away from us fast! We decided we could buy some more fish.
As we approached Yalapa, two pangas came racing toward us, literally racing. The guy in the red shorts just beat out the guy in the green panga who sat dejectedly listening to Red offer a mooring ball, assistance with the lines, panga trip into the beach, and advice on which restaurant we should go to all for $30 American. We happily took the offer, green raced off, and we followed Red into the little bay. He waited while we got our money, string bags, and hiking shoes gathered. We asked if he could take us to the town dock rather than the beach so that we could hike to the waterfall. He nosed the panga into the dock keeping us powered up against it. We leapt off. We would meet him at Fanny’s restaurant later for a ride back to Sacagawea.
We started walking up through town. The first thing I noticed was how narrow the streets were, no cars! It was charming with cobblestone streets, stone buildings coming right up to the sidewalk, little sidewalk shops, murals on the walls, and hand painted signs pointing to different things written in Spanish. We walked to the “main” street and up to the top of town to a very nice waterfall. If we had gotten there earlier in the day, there was a little snack shop selling beverages and fruit, I could picture people swimming and lounging around the waterfall pool. Too bad we missed it, but we had the falls pretty much to ourselves! Time for dinner and beer. We started heading back down the streets, more like extra nice hiking trails. Our friends were eying some items in the sidewalk shop with paintings on tree bark, so we decided to meet at the restaurant.
Bill and I decided to walk along the beach to Fanny’s Restaurant. How romantic! We doubled back toward the city dock where we were dropped off, then onto the beach. As we walked along, we could see an obstacle ahead. Big black boulder sized lava rocks with giant crashing waves……yikes! We looked up and it was a cliff to get up back to the town, we could turn back and start over but we were more than halfway there. We clambered up over, along a bit of a narrow patch, and then some kids about 11 years old passed us climbing up over the scary rocks from the other side, so we figured we weren’t completely crazy. If they can do it, we can do it! Right? We did and we made it. On the other side of the rocks, the sand was coarse and we were sinking up to our ankles with each step. Next, we came upon a tidal river. No menacing crocodiles or fire breathing dragons, but really!?! What happened to the romantic walk along the beach? We found the shallowest part and entered. The water was almost hip deep and swift. Luckily the bottom was even packed sand and it was no problem. Fanny’s was a hundred yards ahead, I could already taste the beer. We made it about two minutes before our friends did. “How was the beach walk?’’, they asked. “Oh fine, a little challenging over those rocks,” pointing, “and that river,” pointing. They had walked through town and down some steps to the beach, across some powdery soft sand to the restaurant. We had a good time drinking a few beers and eating some spiny lobster. We caught a ride with Red back to the boat a little past his closing time but he didn’t seem to mind.
February 10th, we ate a quick breakfast, packed up for another hike and walked out on the deck. Yesterday we were told to just wave for a panga so we started waving to the pangas for a ride. We could see guys in their boats but they were making an obvious effort to not notice our waving. Finally, with a big shout the closest panga came over and picked us up. We asked to go into the beach. “How much?” we asked. “Whatever you want to pay,” they replied. It turned out they were just fishermen getting ready for their day, not really a water taxi. Wow, we must have looked desperate! I am sure they put our dollars to good use. Our goal for the day was to hike to the far away waterfall, about 6 miles round trip. Our waiter at Fanny’s told us he would show us to the trailhead. We walked out the backside of the open air restaurant, past the locals’ picnic area, to the trail. The only advice he gave us as he sent us on our way was that if we started going downhill, we had missed the left hand turn to the waterfall. Off we went! It was definitely morning rush hour in town. There were horses and mules carrying whole families; kids dressed for school, husband and wife dressed for work. An occasional quadrunner carried a nicely dressed couple, the young women grinning ear to ear. We figured the men driving were trying to impress them. As we left town for the suburbs, we saw homes along the river with pumps for water, dogs sleeping on the sidewalk, and evidence of normal day to day life.
We crossed a jiggly suspension bridge and started along the trail to the outskirts of town. Here, in the riverbed, men were making bricks from the mud and stacking them to dry. This is what the whole town is mostly built from. Wow, such hard work. Next we passed a warning sign stating we were passing the last tienda. There were nice chairs and tables with tablecloths arranged under shade facing the river. A dog was sleeping on the primo two-seater loveseat. The trail went across the river twice making us stop and take off our sneakers for the crossing. Very lovely, we were glad for the stop! The trail started downhill and we all worried that maybe we had passed the left hand turn. No, we were watching carefully. We forged on and there was a big hand-painted sign with bright colors pointing left; “Waterfall”. That was worth a laugh! The waterfall was beautiful. We had a snack, admired the surroundings, rested and cooled off. I found a giant “throne” carved in the rocks. We saw a Burimundi cross over the stream on tree branches. Beautiful. We headed back. The town was awake now and in full gear. Streetside vendors and eateries were in full swing. We went around the corner and there she was! The pie lady! I had read about the pie lady carrying pies in both hands and on her head selling by the slice or the whole pie. We were right behind her, what a sight! The pies balanced on her head were neatly stacked in a five-gallon bucket. Brilliant! We headed back to Fanny’s for lunch. To our great fortune, the pie lady came by and we all bought slices. She has been selling pies for 40 years, 30 years with her mother and now she carried on the business.
It was time to go! We were off to Puerto Vallarta, the final stop. On the way we stopped for a snorkel at Los Arcos. It turned out to be a quick stop due to waves and currents. Our friends dove in while we tended the dinghy so it wouldn’t be taken away by the current. We planned to return here on our way out of Banderas Bay. On-On to Puerto Vallarta! As we approached, we noticed a cruise ship in the channel, wow! Huge! Oh crap! It’s moving! Hard to port, hard to port! Watch the whales (cow and calf appeared!)! Be careful of the whale watching boats! I did just that, making a full circle. We called the Puerto Capitan to get permission to enter. We were told listen on channel 16 and wait until he gave the all clear as a cruise ship was setting sail. “Thank you, Capitan, Sacagawea standing by on 16” Huge breath, idiot yatistas! At least we could laugh about it, no harm done. Marina Vallarta was like a water city. We made our way in down the main “street” to our “side street” and finally our parking spot. We had dinner at the marina and relaxed.
The next morning our friends grabbed their back packs and we headed for old town Puerto Vallarta taking the bus for a dollar. The town is built right up from the water. Like Seattle, it goes steeply up from the beach. In some areas there are stairs rather than a sidewalk. Our friend saw a lookout like an old lighthouse near the church. We set out to find and climb it. It was a beautiful view. We walked down to the malecon where there were many beautiful statues along the wide pedestrian-only avenue. It was time for our friends to catch a ride to the airport. It was a great trip and it was so much fun to share some of our dream. We parted ways and they headed home to Missoula. Bill and I continued our exploration of Puerto Vallarta before finding the bus back to our home, Sacagawea.
Hi guys! It has been so great to follow along! David and I would love to meet you sometime! Let’s try and plan something for the future, meet you somewhere warm maybe in the winter or spring? 🙂
Love you, Paula PA
It would be fabulous to see you guys! We will pretty much always be where it’s warm from now on… lol check out our “Where are we now” page to see where we are actually physically at- we are way behind on blog posts. As we say; you can pick when or where you’d like to visit us, but not both! 😉
Great story. We spent a whole winter commute cruising to our boat in Puerto Vallarta, while she was berthed in Marina Vallarta. Currently heading down Johnstone Straight to Vancouver, to check out the City Lights.
Looks like you’re enjoying the dichotomy of desert and sea travel back-to-back, and you’re nowhere near the Sea of Cortes! 🙂 Hope things have gone more smoothly since you got free of the dock. Safe sailing and fun adventures to both of you!
Hi there Friends, I am so envious of this leg of your trip…..I have spent many great times at PV in the past and have had many friends living there in retirement……Most were older and have passed on……It has exploded from the old days there in the early sixties……Keep having fun…….I am not happy that Karen has decided to sell her car…….For me that is like cutting my legs off……I hate that she will lose her independence……..evidently she hates driving…..Stay well and happy …..love you both…..Stanley
Hope you are recovering from your slide into home plate well Stanley! Keep your car in good shape- I’m (Bill) still looking forward to a ride in it!! Health and happiness to both of you!
Once again you make me think I should be traveling to the water and its only been a month since we were at Holden Beach. I’ve been pulling weeds of the midwestern states for months and I haven’t seen any weeds in your pics.
Love the waterfalls, thanks for sending photos of them.
I look forward to seeing you whenever and wherever. Hugs to both of you.
Your posts are so exciting and descriptive! Thanks for “taking us along”!