South to La Manzanilla
We make some great friends at the Oasis Hostel is Puerto Vallarta, particularly Andrew and Tyler who drove down in their $800 beat-up Subaru from British Columbia, Canada. Our last night at the hostel happens to be Andrew’s birthday and we party hard in town, arriving home just after 5am. It turns out a couple of Duke’s friends from Lake Tahoe are staying in a condo just south of us, so we move down there and hang out with Mike and Shelly for the afternoon. The view from their balcony is absolutely amazing, as is their basically private beach.
The policy on turtle eggs on this beach is amazing – they are removed from the beach, raised inside until they hatch, then released on the sand at sunset to the delight of camera wielding tourists. We didn’t stick around to see the turtle parade into the ocean, but did get to see a container full of little ones that had just hatched earlier that day.
On Mike & Shelly’s recommendation we make a stop at the Puerto Vallarta Zoo to contemplate our options. The crazy thing about this zoo is that it’s encouraged for you to feed and pat the animals – all of them, even the bears – through a fence. This leads to some amazing photos of patting a(n) that is bending down to eat a carrot right out of your hand. It’s late in the day and a few of us don’t want to pay 100 pesos for only 1 hour of zoo time, so we move along. As we drive out of the parking lot a local guy tells us the film set for Predator is just a little ways further up the road.
It sounds cool but we pass.
The light fades quickly and I find myself driving in the dark for the first time in Mexico, something I was warned time and time again not to do. Below are a few reasons why I won’t be trying this stunt again in a hurry:
- The road surface is extremely unpredictable and difficult to see at night. At times I can move along nicely at 90 km/h, then I hit a sharp corner where the surface deteriorates to bad gravel in the space of 10 meters.
- The un-signed vicious speed humps (topes) are usually a first gear affair even in the Jeep, and are very tricky to spot in the dark. I’ve already hit one doing about 80 km/h and don’t want a repeat.
- A lot of vehicles have very few lights or none at all, making them virtually impossible to spot in the dark. At one point while I’m doing about 70 km/h a car appears just off the side of the road coming towards me from the side. It is apparently merging onto the highway with no lights of any kind.
- Very slow vehicles are encountered often, and apparently locals are even crazier about overtaking on blind corners at night than they are during the daylight.
Duke has more friends in the little beach side community of La Manzanilla, and we rock in late at night to find we’re crashing in a full-on guest house, and are basically treated like kings
In town we buy a mountain of 8 peso tacos and have a huge feast, full of excitement for the adventures we will have in our new town…