The Journey to Casa Madera – Puerto Vallarta, our new Home!

December 7, 2010 – A month ago we sent our dog, Alexa, to training school.  She was good dog but we had bad dog owner habits that had made her a leader in the household instead of the 4th in line behind Heather, myself and Zorro the cat.  This needed to be corrected so she got a month’s vacation with Carlos at Dog Tag training.

Alexa and Zorro

The final stage of this training is training us on what to do and how to handle her.  This entails us going into Vallarta everyday this week for that training.  That can be a challenge at this point in time to say the least as on August 31, 2010 heavy rains washed out one of the bridges over the Rio Ameca which divides the two states, Nayarit and Jalisco.

What was remaining of the Northbound section of the bridge

This has caused quite the traffic mess as people work of both sides of the river and go back a forth a lot.  This is also the highway that goes to Tepic.  Needless to say there have been days when we sit in a traffic line up for an hour just to cross the river and because of this we only went into Puerto Vallarta when we had to.  This all changes tomorrow at 11:00 AM as they have finished rebuilding the bridge and traffic will once again flow smoothly between the two populated areas.

Fifteen weeks from the date the bridge went into the river, it has been replaced.  They worked 24 hours a day to get it done.  It is truly an amazing accomplishment.  But I digress….

One of the main things we like to do when we are on the other side of the river is find a fruit truck.  The fruit is farm fresh and much, much less expensive that at the grocery store.  Today we drove into Ixtapa when we were done with our training and found a truck selling Papayas, Pineapples, Watermelons, Mandarin Oranges, Apples and Cucumbers.  As we were picking our fruit I was reminded of the first time we bought fruit on the side of the road on our way into Puerto Vallarta….

November 16, 2008 – We were up early at the City Express Hotel in Mazatlan.  Breakfast was included in our room so we loaded up the car and headed to the lobby to chow down.  The hotel was new and they were still working the kinks out so we had to wait a bit for them to get everything out but the coffee was ready so we were able to enjoy a cup.

All fed and watered we were in the car trying to find our way out of Mazatlan.  The GPS worked wonders and that was a good thing because while I am not normally directionally challenged I certainly was in Mazatlan.  I would have gone in totally the wrong direction!  However the GPS rescued us and we made the right turn and ended up on the road out-of-town.

It was a beautiful morning.  The sun was out and it was 24 degrees at 7:30.  This was the nicest morning we had on the entire trip down.  It was a perfect start to the day we arrived at our new home.

Lagoons south of Mazatlan

We had been on the road for only a few minutes when we hit the toll booth.  Now all of the toll roads we had been on so far were smooth, 2 lanes and nice to drive on.  Today….it was a toll road but is was a 2 lane toll road, one lane in each direction!  Speed limit 110.  Straight as an arrow.  Oh and no shoulder.  Sigh…

In Mexico they build the bridge before they need it!

It did eventually change back to a 4 lane but that did not last long, only about 50 kilometers and then it was back to the 2 lane.  A 2 lane that began to climb about an hour out of Tepic, Nayarit.  It did not finish climbing until we got to Tepic.  The other problem with this toll road was that it was no longer straight.  It turned here, it turned there.  It was like a road race set except you don’t find buses in a road race set going 110 on a twisty turny road.

It turned out the road was still under construction so being as it was two years ago maybe some of the curves have been ironed out or at least maybe it has been twinned.

We were quite happy when we got to Tepic as it was the final major center on our journey.  161 kilometers to go.  That won’t take long.  It was about 11:30.  The GPS was telling us that our arrival time in PV would be 4:00 pm.  What the heck?  It was 161 kms.  No way.  Even allowing for the time change from Mountain to Central, that is still 3 and a half hours.  It must have miscalculated.

Woo Hoo!

So we left Tepic knowing that we will be in Vallarta soon.  Certainly well before 3:00 pm.  It was then the highway got narrower and hard to believe, twistier!  The speed limit was 60 kph and I could not get to it.  It made the Trans Canada Highway outside of Golden, BC look like it was straight as an arrow.  To top it all off most of these corners were on cliffs where Heather was looking straight down.

Did I mention the buses who were riding my bumper.  Cars were passing on the 75 feet of straight highway between corners.  Needless to say we started to drive even slower as we had not driven this far to go over the side of the cliff.  Luckily there are little pull outs on the side of the road here and there where you could escape to let people by.

Dangerous curve, no FREAKING kidding!

While the driving was hairy, the scenery was spectacular.  We thought it might be similar to the Alps with the lush farming fields in the distance and views that went forever.  It was beautiful.  However, I was ever so happy when we came off the hills down into the town of Compestela and the road flattened out.

Spectacular views

We stopped at an Oxxo store and picked up some drinks and junk food for the rest of the drive.  Evidently the GPS was going to be right and we would have another 2 hours on the road.  It took us an hour to go 31 kilometers.  We still had 130 to go.

The drive did not get any less pretty.  Rainy season had just ended a few weeks previous and the jungle was lush and spectacular.  There was a canopy of trees and vines over the road.  Really cool.

As we moved towards Puerto Vallarta we started to see fruit stands on the side of the road.  After passing about 30 of them we finally stopped at one.  The woman and her daughter who ran it were all over us letting try this fruit and that fruit, many we had never seen before.  Some was ok, some would be an acquired taste.  But one thing that was purchased was a Pineapple.  10 pesos for about 2 kilo pineapple.  She had given us a taste of one they had cut, oh so sweet and juicy.  I had never tasted one so good so it was a no brainer, a pineapple for a buck.  We had to buy it.  Hopefully it will be as good as the one she gave us.

It was about an hour later when we saw the sign for Sayulita, Nayarit.  Something familiar, finally.  We had visited Sayulita in 2006 when we were in PV with my kids.  A beautiful little beach town.  With nice gentle surfing waves it is a very popular place and gave us a very California in the sixties kind of feeling.  A nice place to spend a Sunday.

The final push, 30 kilometers left.  Over a mountain.  Lots of traffic but it was slower as the climb made it difficult for trucks and buses to move fast.  The next thing we knew we were thrust out of the jungle onto the four lane highway by La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  We had made it.  4 lanes all the way now.  What a relief.  20 days after we had left Edmonton we had finally reached our destination!


We drove through town finally starting to relax until we pulled into the area where our condo was located, Plaza las Glorias.  Now the fun part, finding a place to park.  Our condo was in a retail, office complex that was surrounded by 3 hotels.  It was a busy area so parking could be a premium and it was this day.  We finally found a spot in the middle of the street and started the unloading process.

Almost there!

We were getting the second load out of the car when a time share sales rep named Juan approached us and asked if we wanted some help.  He was probably looking for someone to sign up for a presentation but it was a hike to the condo from where we were parked so we said sure.  His help probably saved Heather and I three extra trips.  We said thanks and offered to buy him a beer later but we never saw him again. (and we did look)

Almost full

We stood in our kitchen (20 square feet of kitchen) and surveyed the living room.  It was packed with stuff.  Well what should we do, unpack?  Nope, off to Casa Blakes Sports Bar to say hi and have a well-earned cerveza!

Time for a well earned Corona!

5 thoughts on “The Journey to Casa Madera – Puerto Vallarta, our new Home!”

  1. We have tv, but dont watch it too much. I actually didnt know we could get the program here in Mexico! We ended up going to Carlos at Dog Tags near the bus station in PV. I guess he is our local dog whisperer. He worked wonders for Alexa and we are happy to report we have a much calmer dog back home with us. I will look for the tv show so we can continue with her progress. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Yay, the bridge is open! No, you don’t digress at all. It is big news that the bridge is opening. I heard rumors this morning, and your blog is the only reference I can find on the internet that it open this morning. It took me 55 minutes last week to cross the remaining bridge to get back home to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Thanks for the news.

    Welcome to WordPress. It’s a great blog host.


    1. Thanks Kathleen. Yes it was an absolute pleasure this morning to go into Dog Tag for training with Alexa and it only took us 12 minutes! You have a great blog as well. We are always looking for more Mexican recipes, the food is soooooo goooood!

      1. I’m almost looking forward to my next trip to PV. Well, almost…
        It has to be better than the last time.
        I’m glad you like my blog. Maybe you two are cooks. If not, maybe you like to “eat” visually and will enjoy the photos.
        Yes, the food in Mexico is the best. I don’t know why I’m not fat yet, but maybe it is just a matter of time. 🙂


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