Larry Grossman takes his friends on a THIRDHOME Exchange trip to Mexico for a week full of birthdays.
Ah, Puerto Vallarta, my favorite city on this Earth!
And I’m not alone. Puerto Vallarta was among Conde Nast Traveler 2017 Reader’s Choice Award picks for one of the “Best Cities in the World” as well as one of the “Top Small Cities Outside the U.S.”.
After all, how can a city that boasts being the film location of Schwarzenegger’s “Predator” as well as legendary Director John Huston’s “Night of the Iguana” not be a really special place?
So, after years of begging my two birthday compadres, Tina and Fiesta, to move our annual celebration (our birthdays are August 14th, 15th and 16th) out of the U.S. to Mexico, I finally won out and we planned a week long birthday celebration and reunion.
Ten long-time friends hopped on planes in Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Arizona and headed down to Puerto Vallarta for a birthday party for the ages. My final argument to the group was compelling and three-fold:
Reason #1: I had scored a beautiful 11,000 square-foot penthouse through THIRDHOME for our birthday week located in the hills above the “Romantic Zone” of Puerto Vallarta.
Reason #2: Casa En Las Nubes (House in the Clouds) features a panoramic view of the City and Banderas Bay as well as a view of the Sierra Madre Mountains and, dare I mention, a private Chef named Santos and an exquisite bartender named Maurecio.
Reason #3: If your parents were savvy enough to name you “Fiesta” shouldn’t you, and your husband, spend important moments south of the border?
Now, there are many who believe that the only time to travel to Mexico is the winter season when snow, ice and freezing rain are the norm in much of the United States. I, however, have learned over the years that summer in Vallarta is a fantastic time to visit for the following reasons:
- Since it rains in the afternoons, the surrounding mountains and jungle are a dazzling emerald green. There is nothing quite as dramatic and photo-worthy as watching the clouds roll in over the Bay leading to the daily afternoon thunderstorm.
- Less Gringos (Americans) and cruise ships visit in the summer months and the locals are more relaxed and have time to talk and interact with curious tourists.
- Because of a constant breeze coming in from Banderas Bay summer is actually less humid and sultry than my home in Virginia. The Bay is very calm and swimmable.
So how do 10 old friends suddenly reunited in the same house for a week spend their waking vacation hours?
For starters, you reminisce, relax and rejuvenate. Our best moments were sitting together talking for hours in one of the home’s huge outside living areas looking down into the city as the sun sets and the Puerto Vallarta landscape moved from daytime to dazzling nighttime scenery.
Casa En Las Nubes was ideally situated for our nightly bonding. I have visited nearly every nook of Puerto Vallarta and nothing compares to the views we enjoyed each day. Throw in the amazing food and beverages and we really had no need to venture out, but venture out we did.
So many highlights over the 7 days but here are my personal favorites:
Highlight #1: Our water taxi and snorkeling ride to the Yelapa fishing village. Yelapa is a small Mexican town lost in time. On the towns website they brag: “A palapa in Yelapa is better than a condo in Redondo”. We sampled the world’s best Michelada (beer, clamato, shrimp, jicama, peanuts and more), we hiked to, and swam below the Yelapa waterfall, we sampled raicilla, a locally produced fermented mash (moonshine) and we took pictures with the biggest iguana I’ve ever seen.
Highlight #2: We spent a day roaming Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon (downtown boardwalk) admiring the numerous one-of-a-kind statues and sculptures while talking to locals, sampling tequila and indulging in local seafood. The huge local Mercado (market) met all our souvenir and shopping needs for the week.
Highlight #3: We ubered into the jungle to visit El Eden an eco-tourism natural park, site of the Predator movie set. Although we were all too chicken (or old) to participate, we watched the zipliners careen past us while we enjoyed a seafood lunch, listened to mariachi music and swam in the swimming hole beneath the Eden waterfall.
Highlight #4: The surprise afternoon visit of the mariachi band to our condo to usher in our birthday celebration. Thank you Dale and Art!
“Priceless” is the only word that describes a week like the one we just enjoyed. I’ve found the real joy of THIRDHOME membership to be the opportunity to travel in a first-class manner to outstanding places while enjoying the company of my closest family members and friends. Gotta go, time to plan my next escapade.
See more of Larry’s photos from Puerto Vallarta below: