|The very best part of our stay in Lo de Marcos appropriately occupies most of our last week here, and that is a visit from family! Stephanie and Gary, Howard's daughter and son-in-law from Sacramento, flew in to Puerto Vallarta last Friday and left yesterday, March 2nd. We found them a nice one bedroom bungalow at El Caracol, a short block's walk from us, with a beautiful beach and patio for us all to enjoy as we wound down our days of sight-seeing playing Mexican Train by the pounding surf. They were up early having their coffee on the beach by 6 a.m. and back down after dinner until gates were locked at 10 p.m. We so enjoyed our time with them and think they got to see a different side of Mexico in our small town as well as our few side trips!
With limited time, our days were busily filled with seeing the local sights. Destinations included a day in Rincon de Guayabitos, a bustling town about 10 miles north of Lo de Marcos, previously covered in these pages. Another day was spent south about 10 miles seeing the villages of Sayulita and San Francisco. This area, north of Puerto Vallarta, is known as the Nayarit Riviera. Nayarit is the third state from the US border on the Pacific with Sonora and Sinaloa the first two.
Many years ago on our first and second trips along this coast, when we got to Sayulita we thought we had truly found Nirvana. Such a quaint, lovely beach town, near Puerto Vallarta but without the crowds and craziness that exists today. Sayulita is a lot of fun and a great place to spend a few days, especially if you're a surfer, and a day's visit was perfect for us. The Sayulita Trailer Park & Bungalows has maybe 20 sites suitable for rigs up to 35' in tight maneuvering conditions. In town there is a large area near the river that accommodates small vans and tent camping.
A few miles north is the still quaint town of San Francisco, affectionately known as San Pancho. There is a bit of condo development on the outskirts and some pretty expensive looking real estate tucked in and around the plastered cinder block of the typical local home, but the village still maintains a good balance between its Mexican roots and the tourist influx that provides nice shops and restaurants and a beautiful beach that is largely free of wall to wall vendors. There is no RV parking in San Francisco.
Lastly, on our "to-do" list was the big tourist city of Puerto Vallarta, beautifully situated on the large Banderas Bay and framed by the majestic mountains of the Sierra Madre. After negotiating an hour and a half of hair-raising traffic along the narrow, twisty MX Highway 200 to go 30 some miles, we come to a wide four lane road through Bucerias, Nuevo Vallarta, the airport and cruise ship terminal and the hotel zone before entering the narrow, cobblestoned streets of the old city.
We were very impressed with the cleanliness, the colors and crafts of the public marketplace along the banks of the Rio Cuale, the artful shops and galleries featuring the works of the local Huichol Indians. Along the Malecon were more statues and sculptures depicting Mexican heritage and lifestyle and many buildings that belong to Puerto Vallarta’s past such as The Zocalo (Main Square), the City Hall and our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Restaurants, tequila tasting, and many and varied tour opportunities and timeshare offers were in great supply. In keeping with the spirit of playing tourist, we opted for lunch at Bubba Gumps and it was fun and extremely good!
Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco and in the central time zone. There are a few options for RV parking but Tacho's Trailer Park is big rig friendly with 150 sites and conveniently located on the north end of town just south of the airport and about a mile east of the Walmart/Sam's Club. Worthy to note that when driving any vehicle with dual tires, such as motorhomes and heavy duty trucks, one must drive on the side lateral road. Also, most left turns are made from the right hand lateral (confusing?) so knowing where your turn is in advance helps considerably!