Back from Mexico

27 Mar

We got back from our vacation to Mexico on Sunday night around 10:45 (our plane got delayed an extra hour in Phoenix). Let me tell you, it has been THE HARDEST transition back from a vacation that I have EVER had, not only weather-wise, but energy-wise and mood-wise.

But more on that later (like tomorrow or the next day). First, the pictures and recap!! I’m going to give the highlights day by day but let it be known that every single day involved stuffing ourselves to the gills with every kind of food and drink you can possibly think of.

Day 1: Sunday, March 15th

Travis and I got to Puerto Vallarta around 12:30 PM. We had about 2 hours to kill before the rest of our family showed up so we went up to our room and watched TV while waiting for our suitcases.

Travis with my "welcome flower"

Travis with my "welcome flower"

Our hotel

Our hotel

The view from our hotel room (in the morning)

The view from our hotel room (in the morning)

After we unpacked, we went for a walk on the beach. I didn’t have any sunscreen on and even though we were only out there for 30 minutes, I  had a tanline by the time we went back in. Darn Norwegian skin!

Travis and I found a little coffee bar and chilled there until my family came. They were famished when they arrived so we went and ate at one of the restaurants (the first of many meals that involved primarily dessert for me!) Around 5:30, Jeremy (my oldest bro) and Jen (my SIL) arrived. We ate with them (again!) and by then, we were all pretty much beat so we went to bed.

Day 2: Monday, March 16th

Travis got up at what we like to call the asscrack of dawn–also known as 6:45 AM–(pardon the French) to go running on the beach. It didn’t even look like it was light outside yet so I opted to go later (at 7:15ish). We ended up running (literally) into each other on the beach so we went back up to the hotel room, got showered, and got in the Word before breakfast (sadly, the only day that would happen).

Breakfast was delicious. These were my favorite breakfast things: chocolate milk, pineapple, cheesy potato oles, sugary French toast with real maple syrup, and scrambled eggs. 

After breakfast, we adjourned to the beach, all of us sitting in a big long line of beach loungers.

Chillin' with the gang

Chillin' with the gang

Travis and me on the beach

Travis and me on the beach

There were many “tourist activities” on the beach you could do: buy jewelry and clothes, parasail, go jetskiing, go on a banana boat, etc. I was intrigued by the parasailing. Every once in a while, someone would joke, “So who’s going to be the first to go parasailing?” And I said, “ME!”

And that’s just what I did. I was excited but also a little nervous, standing there wearing a harness, waiting for the boat and the rope to straighten out. Before I knew it, I was being pulled forward, off the ground, and then I was 200 feet in the air. It was great being up so high, seeing so far. It may not be worth the exorbitant amount of money to do it again but it was definitely worth it for one time.

After I went, Jeremy, Brian, Lauren, Chris, Travis, and even my dad and uncle Roger went parasailing. Those guys got their money out of us!

For dinner we went to the beachfront restaurant called Mar Íntimo:

From the left, my uncle Roger, cousin Ben, cousin Josh, aunt Sharon, brother Jeremy, SIL Jen, SIL Meg, and brother Chris

From the left, my uncle Roger, cousin Ben, cousin Josh, aunt Sharyn, brother Jeremy, SIL Jen, SIL Meg, and brother Chris

From the left, me, my mom Sheri, cousin Tim, his gf Lauren, brother Brian, his gf Lindsay, my dad David, and my husband Travis

From the left, me, my mom Sheri, cousin Tim, his gf Lauren, brother Brian, his gf Lindsay, my dad David, and my husband Travis

After dinner, we watched a rendition of Mamma Mia! (dancers played each of the major roles and lipsynched to the soundtrack…they were good dancers, it was just a little cheesy.)

Day 3: Tuesday, March 17th

Travis and I got up and worked out, ate breakfast at 9:30 with the group, then we sat by the pool, ate some more, hung out on the beach. In the afternoon, we rode dune buggys. Jeremy had talked to a guy on the beach named Orlando who would let us ride dune buggys for 4 hours at $75 a couple. Orlando said we would get to cross streams and see great scenery, more of Mexico, and all the pictures looked pretty cool. In addition, my brothers are all kind of in to that sort of thing so the whole clan ended up going.

Let's do this!

Let's do this! (For some reason, I ended up with goggles that had one dark lens and one light one...it didn't look weird from the inside, just the outside!)

My parents in their buggy

My parents in their buggy

My cousins Josh and Ben

My cousins Josh and BenMy cousin Tim and his girlfriend Lauren

We met up with our guides at their business (as you can see from the pictures above) and from there, we drove right onto the busy, crowded, regular-car streets of Puerto Vallarta. No adults seemed surprised to see us but the little kids waved and smiled.
Jeremy and Jen when we were driving through the streets of Puerto Vallarta

Jeremy and Jen driving through the streets of Puerto Vallarta

Not 20 minutes into our drive, the buggy that Brian and Lindsay were driving (they were right in front of me and Trav) fell apart. The wheel axel just snapped in half as they went over a speedbump. You can kind of see it in this picture:

 
I don't think it's supposed to look like that...

I don't think it's supposed to look like that...

One of the guides who had been following in the back of the pack pulled forward and Brian and Lindsay jumped into his dune buggy so they could continue on. Unfortunately, that buggy was extremely loud and Lindsay had a headache after 5 minutes. Poor girl.

Chris and Meg

Brian and Lindsay right before the accident happened

Driving the dune buggys was fun for about the first hour and a half…it was neat getting to see Real Mexico, not just the tourist-y part. But the unfortunate part was that we were driving on the unbelievably dusty, sandy roads through the slums of the city. We kept thinking, “Just a little farther and we should be getting up into the lush mountains where we get to drive through streams, get muddy, and see lots of great sights.” The more time went by, however, the more we realized that we weren’t going to the jungle…this was it. We were driving down alleys, dirt roads, past shantys and farms, and through (what seemed like) people’s backyards.
 
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my goggles had obviously been broken and fixed with a lens from a different set of goggles because one of the lenses didn’t fill the whole eyehole–so there were gaps in my goggles where the sand could come in. I spent quite a bit of time with my left eye shut, my right eye a slit, hoping Travis didn’t crash and I didn’t get hit by any rocks kicked up by the buggy in front of us.
 
As for the streams, we decided that the water running down the roads (most likely with sewage, oil, and other nasty things mixed in) didn’t count. The real stream was at the halfway point–and it was more like a small river. Though it was only about 2 feet deep, we definitely got wet. I think the guys really got a kick out of that. The women now, we just humor them by being good sports and playing along.
 
On our way back, we stopped at a tequila restaurant where they gave tequila tours (the history of how tequila got started and is made). When we saw ourselves in the mirror, we couldn’t help but laugh at how dirty we were–there were outlines on everyone’s face where their goggles had been. The swimsuit I wore didn’t even get clean when I washed it in the washing machine. A permanent reminder.
 
We were resistant to take the tequila tour because we were doing one the next day with our resort but we did it anyway. I’m glad we did because it was very interesting. They gave everyone 4-5 little shots of tequila at the end (I didn’t take any because I’m not a huge tequila fan).
 
Finally, we jumped back in our dune buggys and got back to where we started. Now we had a new challenge: how to get back. The guys working at the business (our guides) didn’t want to arrange a ride for us until we agreed to buy some of the pictures they had taken of us (which we couldn’t because we didn’t have any money!! We had spent it pretty much all of it on the dune buggys. Plus, they wanted something like $80 for all of them!)
 
I suggested we walk out to the main street and hail some taxis. With 16 people, we were going to need several. My mom suggested to me that I go inside a gas station (since I can speak Spanish) and ask the clerk if there was a bus we could take back. I took the easy way out by asking the man “¿Hablas ingles?” He said “Un poquito” so then I talked in English. 🙂
 
I found out that there was a bus that would take us back to our hotel. The guy said we would have to walk 3 blocks to the bus stop but as I was explaining all this to my family, I saw one of the buses coming. I waved my arm and said “That’s the bus we need!” I wasn’t expecting the bus to stop, but it did so I ran up to the driver and asked if he went by Vallarta Palace. He did and when I asked how much a ride cost, he said 12 pesos (or $1 USD). So we all hopped on the bus and in 20 minutes, we were back home. I think my parents were a little worried…but I thought it was an adventure.
 
After we cleaned up, we ate dinner at the restaurant called Momo No Hana, a Japanese restaurant, where I stuffed myself with sushi (I am a total convert…I love it now!) Then we played some pool…me and Brian dominated the table (only because the players who were usually really good were usually crappy that night)!

Day 4: Wednesday, March 18th

By 9:00, we had set out on a day excursion into downtown Puerto Vallarta on a tour with our resort. When we arrived downtown, we watched four men twirl in a circle upside down while hanging from a 100-ft tall flag pole and playing what looked like wooden recorders but sounded like bagpipes. Little by little, they got closer to the ground and at the end, they grabbed their ropes and righted themselves. Ta-da!

Our guide told us history about Puerto Vallarta as we looked at sculptures along the sidewalk and made our way to the Catholic cathedral. It was very pretty inside but I’ve always been kind of creeped out the way Catholics have so many figurines of the crucified Jesus–lifesize ones! When we left there, I bought some of this amazingly delicious coconut dessert from a street vendor. I wish I would have bought more…mmmm…

We were then given 30 minutes to shop in the market. My mom bought me a “real” (who knows if it’s the truth?) turquoise necklace (which I love!) and Travis a t-shirt with fish and fishing rod on it that says Puerto Vallarta. She also bought my dad a couple of t-shirts. Then it was time to leave. 😦

We drove along the ocean coast in the coach bus, admiring the million dollar homes and the beautiful beaches (the water gets bluer toward the south end of Puerto Vallarta…it was pretty murky where we were). We stopped at the Parque de Las Rocas (I have pictures of them later).

On the way back, we stopped at a real tequila factory (they make the tequila there and you can definitely smell it!) I decided to drink the tequila there and the guy who was giving out the shots decided to pick on me by not just giving me a little taste,  but by filling up my shot glass completely. We tried tequila blanca (for mixed drinks), reposada (for shots), and anejo (for sipping). Then we tried Almond Tequila and Chocolate Tequila. That chocolate tequila was absolutely delicious (coming from a non-tequila drinker!) and if it hadn’t been $80 a bottle, I would’ve bought some to bring home.

Instead of going to a restaurant for dinner that night, Travis, Chris, Meg and I just hung out in their room and ordered room service. It was a lot of fun, just chilling. I felt like we got to actually talk to Chris and Meg. When you’re in such a big group, the conversations are usually just light banter and random discussions, nothing deeper. So it was good to spend some time with them. Plus, Travis got to watch baseball so he was happy. (He liked spending time with Chris and Meg too though!)

Day 5: Thursday, March 19th

After breakfast and a little pool time, all “the kids” (me, my bros, and all our significant others) went kayaking and bodyboarding out in the ocean. Tons of fun. My parents didn’t go kayaking, though I wish they had… I hope they had fun anyway.

We played a little more volleyball in between bouts of beach lounging and then at sunset, we went on a cruise aboard a catamaran. The ship was a lot bigger than I had expected and they served margaritas and some nasty snack food (including what looked like cut-up cold hotdogs). There were several members of our group that felt sick after that night.

I took some pretty pictures (which is a feat with my ancient camera!):

Rock Formations in the middle of the ocean that the natives call Las Rocas

Rock Formations in the middle of the ocean that the natives call Las Rocas

Another angle

Another angleFor some reason, I think these are really cool and really creepy all at the same time (creepy because of all the birds flying around them).

A cave in one of the Rocas

A cave in one of the Rocas

Me and my schweetie--I'm wearing my new turquoise necklace!

Me and my schweetie--I'm wearing my new turquoise necklace!

Brian and Lindsay

Brian and Lindsay

Chris and Meg

Chris and Meg

Jeremy and Jen

Jeremy and Jen

My parents

My parents

Sun over the water

Sun over the water

The beautiful shoreline

The beautiful shoreline

Roger and Sharyn

Roger and Sharyn

Tim and Lauren

Tim and LaurenMe and my MomOur tour guidesBeautiful Sunset

When we returned from our sunset cruise, we went to eat dinner (though I had snacked on the boat and wasn’t hungry). I am not proud to say that I ate a full meal anyway (I blame it on the margaritas). I felt so sick that night. Yuck. I hate doing that.

Day 6: Friday, March 20th
I woke up with the worst alcohol/food hangover I’ve had in years. I was weak, tired, nauseated, and dizzy. In an effort to not feel incredibly disgusting all day long (at the beach  no less!), I got up early (7 AM, but I couldn’t really sleep anyway) and did the elliptical at the gym for 30 minutes. Then I went and ran on the beach for another 25. I felt somewhat better by the time breakfast rolled around but I still only ate fruit and pb toast…anything else made me want to gag.
We were scheduled to go on another tour with our resort, this time on a small boat through the canal to see wildlife like crocodiles and birds. I was feeling decent enough after breakfast to go along. I had been skeptical about the tour…I don’t really care that much about watching wildlife. But it was very interesting. We saw crocodiles, iguanas (they’re like cats in Mexico), and cranes.
Our totally cool life jackets

Our totally cool life jackets

The crocodile--they blend in so well!! This one is only 1-2 years old.

A crocodile--they blend in so well!! This one is only 1-2 years old, just a baby.

A Crane with his skinny little legs

A Crane with skinny little legs

After the tour, we shopped at a local supermarket for more sunscreen and I bought Mexican candy for some of my co-workers.

We ate lunch and went bodyboarding some more, interspersed with laying on the beach and playing volleyball. We had signed up for Sunset Pictures, where a professional photographer takes your picture at sunset. With our whole group, you can imagine what an ordeal it was. And it was so windy on the beach!! I hate wind so I was not a happy camper.

After the pictures, though, we had dinner on the beach…literally. The resort had set up tables and food right on the beach. It was pretty cool.

Me and the hubs

Me and the hubs

Leis complete their looks

Leis complete their beachy looks

The Krsnaks at their beach table

The Krsnaks at their beach table

After dinner, some performers came out into the middle of the tables (where there was an open space) and did capoeira fighting. They did flips, karate, and even fought with swords and sticks. Then some fire dancers came out. They were awesome. I can’t even describe the moves they do.
After that, we went and watched a hotel performance of the musical Grease. It was like the previous one: lip-synching to the soundtrack. But the dancing was good.
Somehow, after all of that, Josh convinced me, Travis, Brian, Jeremy, Jen, Tim, and Lauren to go with him downtown to some nightclubs. We went to 2 clubs, one called the Zoo and another called Hilo. The first was a decent place…good drinks, good dance floor…minus some crazy, drunk girls and one really creepy guy with long hair. The second bar was loud and smoky and sucked. There was more drama to the night but it doesn’t matter…we ended up getting back to the hotel around 2:45 AM.
Day 6: Saturday, March 21st
If my memory serves me correctly, I was up fairly early on Saturday morning as well because of drinking too much and not feeling well (due to the night on that catamaran). No wonder why I have been so exhausted since getting back home! 
I spent the majority of the day at the pool or beach. We played volleyball in the pool and Travis almost lost his wedding ring. I say almost because he had somehow flung it off his finger without knowing. All of a sudden, he realized he wasn’t wearing it so in the middle of the game, he just started walking around, with his head down looking into the water. We were all like “Travis, what are you doing?” To that, he fessed up that he had lost his ring.
Mind you, the ring doesn’t have much actual value…just sentimental value. We borrowed some swimming goggles from a boy who was near by. Everyone playing volleyball stopped and walked around the pool, looking for Travis’ ring. We had pretty much given up hope because we had looked in all the places Travis had been in the pool and not found it.
All of a sudden, Lindsay yelled, “I think I found it!” She picked it up and was like “No, I didn’t. I found a ring, just not Travis’ ring.” I went over and took the ring from her. It was Travis’ ring. I laughed at Lindsay’s initial reaction. Yes, Travis’ wedding ring is THAT scratched and beat up. He won’t let me bring it to a jeweler to have it refinished. Eh, oh well. At least we found it!! And the crazy part was that it was in a section of the pool that Travis hadn’t been anywhere near. Strange…
A minute after we found the ring, Chris came back to the pool with a brand new pair of swimming goggles that he had paid $14 for, just so we could look for Travis’ ring…what a sweetie.
Saturday evening, I got a free back massage, manicure and pedicure (they come with our all-inclusive package). The back massage was half-relaxing, half-annoying (I had done my hair because we were going to dinner afterwards and the masseuse kept massaging my head and messing up my hair!!) but the manicure and pedicure were the best. The chairs they have you sit in face a wall of glass that faces west…and I was there at the perfect time to watch the sun set. Doesn’t get much better than that. Pedicures are one of my favorite things in the world.
We went to eat at Momo No Hana that night and I paced myself better than I had been doing…but still left uncomfortably full (I was definitely ready to go home and eat regular meals again at that point!)
Not wanting to go to bed quite yet, I grabbed a couple of Jenga sets from the bar and we played a few games outside under this mossy terrace laced with flowers and lanterns (absolutely gorgeous!) They were the most intense games of Jenga I have ever played. Both games that I played in, we went so long that we were literally out of moves. The first game ended when I was forced to pull out a piece that just did not want to come out. I tried to wiggle it but it wasn’t coming. So I tried the tablecloth trick–pulling it out really fast. The whole thing toppled over.
Day 7: Sunday, March 22nd
This was by far our most stressful day of vacation. Jeremy and Jen had to leave the hotel around 7:40 or some godawful hour. After much miscommunication with their ticket for a return ride to the airport, they got going around 8:45. Travis and I had to leave around 10:45 for the airport so we had just enough time to pack, get ready, enjoy the pool for a little longer (Travis went bodyboarding again), and leave.
Colorado was warm when we got back but yesterday, we got majorly dumped on. Here is a picture of my car, left sitting outside my office from when I arrived at work to when Travis and I retrieved it around 6:30 PM.
That's a lot of snow!

That's a lot of snow!

Pardon the bad picture, I took it with my phone.
So that was our trip to Mexico. My parents are already planning our next family vacation: Dominican Republic in 2011. Can’t wait!
This is quite possibly THE longest I have ever written so I’m signing out now.
 

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