First order of business was to get some gas. I had scouted out a station that looked easy to get in and out of, and sure enough it was. However, the attendant tried to rip me off. This is a fairly common problem in some parts of Mexico, and I'm not surprised it happened in a big tourist area like Puerto Vallarta. What happened was that I asked for 1,000 pesos worth of gas, and I had two 500 peso bills in my hand to pay for it. When the attendant was finished, I handed him the two bills. They were together, but I had them slightly separated so that he could see there were two of them. As I handed them, he asked if I needed a receipt and he turned around for a second as he looked at the pump. This is when he did the switcheroo and when he turned back he showed me the bills but now there was a 500 and a 50 note. He pointed at the pump and tried to say that I only gave him 550 instead of 1,000! I immediately laughed at him, hopped in the motorhome, locked the door, and simply drove away. As I started it up, he was at the passenger side and simply waved at me. It's always an adventure in Mexico!
Highway 200 driving through Puerto Vallarta. Not much traffic at 7:45am on a Sunday morning.
Believe it or not, the main highway still is on old cobblestone road in this part of town. Yes, everybody including tractor trailers has to drive on this section of the highway.
And this part is under construction and at one point is down to one lane.
We were headed for the Vallarta Botanical Gardens which is about a half hour drive south of Puerto Vallarta. I had emailed them asking if we could overnight in their parking lot after visiting the gardens and they had said that was fine. By the time we got there it was about 9:10am and so it took almost two hours to do the 62 km (38 mile) drive from Rancho Altarose. That included stopping for gas, but never expect to get anywhere fast in Mexico!
When we got there, we were the first visitors to arrive. Only problem was, their parking lot is NOT suitable for RV's. Too small, and not even close to level. A beautiful place to visit, but not with an RV. We did manage to get parked well enough to be able to visit though we wouldn't be staying overnight. It cost 60 pesos ($4.68) each for admission.
Ruth on one of the many trails in the gardens.
There is a nice river that even has a beautiful swimming area called the Emerald Pools.
This tree started to fall, but Ruth quickly held it up!
Kevin on the jungle trail.
Some of the flowers in the orchid display.
This one was beautiful...sorry about the focus!
The main building at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
We left the gardens at about 12:15 and headed further south. We knew the beach town of Punta Perula has some RV sites, but that was still pretty far south so we didn't know if we would find something before that or not. We ended up pulling over for lunch for about a half an hour, and there were certainly lots of spots where we could have spent the night if we had to, but decided to continue on to Punta Perula.
Our Mexico camping book lists 4 or 5 different RV parking possibilities. We parked at the central square and decided to walk to check them out. We went to the cheapest one first at the Hotel Punta Perula (Chino's) and there we found about 7 full hook up sites. One site taken by an older couple from Victoria, B.C., and we went and spoke to them and she went and got the owner. He wanted a very reasonable 175 pesos ($13.65) for full hookups including wi-fi. I explained that we just wanted a parking spot, and we agreed on 100 pesos ($7.80) per night. He gave us the wi-fi passcode anyhow, and we have (so far) lightening fast internet at this little Mexican beach town!
A: Our departure at Rancho Altarose
B: Vallarta Botanical Gardens
C: Punta Perula
We drove 182 kms (113 miles) yesterday, our longest driving day in quite some time.
More about Punta Perula tomorrow! Can't for the life of me figure out why anybody would stay in Puerto Vallarta when they could be here!