(and More Bus Adventures)
In December, John joined a group of hikers who went six miles in some challenging terrain. I passed on that one, but he said the first couple of miles was fairly easy, and ended at a small beach with a restaurant. As it turns out, the restaurant – called Ocean Grill – is a pretty popular destination for vacationers, with good reasons: the trip there, the views, the food and the beach.
There are two ways to arrive – you can take the complimentary water taxi or hike starting at Boca de Tomatlan. We chose to hike there, have lunch, snorkel for a little bit then water taxi back.
So last Friday we set out with Steve and Lynn from Bella Luna for our little tour. We chose, based on information from the December hike, to travel to the starting point in Boca de Tomatlan by bus, thinking that would add richness to the adventure. The information we had was “Take the big bus (not a combi) from La Cruz, and at the end of the route in Puerto Vallerta transfer to the Boca de Tomatlan bus”.
Sounds easy enough. Except there isn’t really a bus terminal where all the lines intersect. At least, we didn’t find one.
We reached the end of the route, we think…because we were the only people left one the bus. So in my pidgeon Spanish I asked the driver where to find the bus to Boca de Tomatlan, and he responded in muy rapido Espanol. My turn. I responded with a deer in the headlights look because I understood not one word of his answer. Sigh. I have a long ways to go in my mastery of this language.
(Pictures from our pre-hike beach bar. Hover your mouse over each one to see the captions.)
We did eventually figure out that we needed to go back a couple blocks and find the orange bus. Aha! Different lines are color coded! More on that later, but instead of the orange bus we found a yellow taxi so cheated and hired one.
Of course by this time we needed to use el bano (bathroom) so we could either pay 5 pesos each to pee, or go to the bar and have a drink and pee for free. Needless to say…..250 pesos later we were ready to start the hike.
The trail is only a couple miles long and runs along the coast through the jungle. Interestingly, there are houses built along the trail, but since the trail was there first, the houses are required to provide trail access regardless of what else they do. So we walked past someone’s kitchen door and over a few patios.
(Interesting sights along the trail. Hover your mouse over each picture its caption.)
John is, I swear, part billy goat. He just walks trails like they are wide, smooth sidewalks. The other three of us…not so much.So imagine how thrilled we were to finally see a glimpse of the beach at our destination…and how dismayed to realize that the last bit of trail is all downhill via switchbacks.
But we persevered and arrived at this charming little waterfront restaurant:
Only to find this:
Once we confirmed we had reservations, the door was unlocked and we were permitted to enter.
After a nice lunch and a trip to the bano to change to swimming attire, we had a little snorkel time.
(An interesting bathroom. Hover your mouse over each image for the caption.)
After snorkeling, John made a new friend:
The best part (for us) was the dog would not leave John alone, and even tried to hug him a few times – paws on shoulders, legs around John’s chest. It was awesome – for us. And I assume awesome for the dog.
We were on the 4:30 taxi back, so time for another drink. Or two.
The water taxi was operated by a fine panga driver and his 8-year old son. The son rode the front and was in charge of tying the bowline to the docks. He did a great job and his dad was justifiably proud of him.
Returning from Boca de Tomatlan on the orange bus was easy, since it was the only one. Not entirely orange, more like white with orange sections painted. Once we exited the orange bus, all bus travel hell broke loose. All around us – only orange buses. The bus to La Cruz is all white and marked with the letters “ATM”. None to be seen.
We are smart enough about the buses to know that if you stand along the route and stick your arm out, one will stop and you are on your way. So it’s just a question of finding the main drag of Puerto Vallerta and looking for a white bus, right? Well first, we had to stop for a beer and to confirm this plan with the waiter. Who said we had to take either a blue bus or a green bus to the WalMart, then get on the white bus.
Green bus. Blue bus. Is this a Dr. Suess poem?
While enjoying the libation, we come to realize that right across the street, buses are stopping. We hop on a green bus – AFTER confirming he is going to WalMart, and are on our way.
To the wrong WalMart.
Which we only found out because Steve and Lynne recognized their tour guides from a previous excursion (zip-line!). Now we learned we need get off the green bus, wait for a blue bus to come along, get off at the WalMart and find the white bus stop. Yes, there are three bus stops at WalMart and they each service a different color bus.
Finally – FINALLY – we are on a white bus. And yippee, it’s Friday night, rush hour, everybody is on their way to someplace else, and they are all taking our bus to get there. Our hot, crowded bus stops about every 100 feet nearly the whole way from Puerto Vallerta to Bucerias where, mercifully, there are only a few passengers left and a few stops to make.
Just a couple days ago (but five days after our adventure) a friend emailed this link to me. We will still use it because it gives the locations of the various bus “terminals”, which are really just a particular block where the routes begin and end.
By now it’s 8:15 pm and we are ready for pizza. Guess what the owners of the pizza joint have? A new puppy! And guess who she likes best?
In closing, here’s another sunset picture – we moved back out to the anchorage on Saturday and this is how we closed out the weekend: