Saturday, August 18, 2012

Carnival Splendor, Our Anniversary!

Day 5

Happy Anniversary to my dear, sweet wife of 9 years!  We were fortunate enough to spend it in Puerto Vallarta. As we pulled into the port this morning the first thing I noticed was a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club.  What?  Where are we?  Why is that all of these countries have to have the American stores?  It seems like everywhere we go, that is all we see, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc, etc, etc (even a Hooter’s in Cabo).  I think that is sad.  I totally understand the companies want to expand, but I personally think that it is a little excessive.  I think that maybe they should change their name or something, mask it somehow.  Oh well, I guess we just need to accept that the world is more American than America is.

Before we disembarked, we heard over the PA system, “Will Gary and/or Rebecca Jewkes please come to the Guest Services Desk?”  I wonder what that is for.  It could only be one of two things.  1) Carnival was not pleased by the reporter comment made by Gary, and will give us the credit, or 2) Emma’s great-grandfather had passed away.  We were all hoping that it was the first.  Gary went down and sure enough it was!  Each of our three staterooms were given the $100 spending credit!  I guess it pays to have a “nasty persona”—thanks Gary!

Puerto Vallarta is such a beautiful place.  There are beautiful mountains in the background as you pull into the bay, and it is all jungle.  We stepped off of the boat, because this time we pulled right up to shore, we didn’t have to be tendered in (which is such a pain).  We stepped out, and of course, instantly being attacked by the people outside to buy this product or that.  I bet some of the stuff was actually bought at Wal-Mart and they were trying to make a profit on it. 

(Notice Sam's Club in the background)

As we were walking away from the ship, there was a guy that was just attached to some of us, saying that he has a van and would drive us around, he would take us to all the sights, and go anywhere we wanted to go.  He looked like a legit guy, we said sure.  His name was Manuel, and he did stay with us all day, and he did take us to some really pretty areas.

He started by taking us through downtown Puerto Vallarta, then to Old Town Vallarta.  

Old Town Puerto Vallarta
There was a little bit of road construction (in addition to the typical crazy Mexican drivers) which slowed us down a little.  Once outside the city, we drove along this jungle road that overlooked the ocean on one side and on the other was the mountain side, SO gorgeous!  He told us that there were about 200,000 people in Vallarta, and about 20,000 Americans/Canadians.  This jungle road is where the “gueros” live.  Beautiful homes built right into the cliffs overlooking the bay.  It was so picturesque.  We stopped at a little local hotel called “El Set”, and took some pictures from the balcony where they also had people trying to sell their goods.  Beautiful!  I highly recommend Puerto Vallarta to anyone looking for a beautiful place to vacation.  Manuel told us that this was probably the #1 vacation spot for the Mexicans too.

Jungle Road

Our first stop after the beautiful drive was to a beautiful area where we were able to go do a “canopy adventure”.  This was a zipline tour of the area, 10 ziplines, and a lot of hiking.  Emma and Madi really wanted to do it, I decided to go with them.  It was a blast!  On the final line, called the “Superman”, I went down flying like Superman.  This last line lasted about a minute and a half—Awesome!  The whole canopy adventure lasted about an hour and a half.  The hikes were absolutely gorgeous, climbing through the jungle—it was mostly shaded too which made it wonderful for me and my “guero” (white) skin.

The Trail
From here we went to a little beach area called Playa Mismaloya, here we got a boat and went out to “Los Arcos” for some swimming and snorkeling.  Los Arcos are three little islands, well big rocks, about a 10 minute boat ride from the beach which all have little tunnels through them.  These big rocks are where pelicans make their home on the cliff sides.  Our boat driver attached himself to another boat and we all jumped out and swam with the fish.  Even Becky jumped in and gave snorkeling a shot (for the first time), and was very successful.  This was not the most beautiful snorkeling I have ever done, but there were tons of fish and coral, plus the water was super-clear, so it was a success.

This is where we snorkeled
From here we had to go into a store of any kind for Gary to find a hat.  His “Panama Jack” style hat has been through a lot over the last several years, and it has been to a lot of different countries, but we feel that it is time to retire it.  Gary wasn’t quite in agreement, but I think that we talked him into it enough to where he was actually looking for one now.  We made a stop at every place that we saw hats between the Mismaloya Beach and the cruise ship, unsuccessfully I might add.  However, at one of the stops we were able to get out and go to a candy store that had some very different candy than what we are used to.  For example, we tried a gummy that was mango flavored with a hint of chile, I liked it, Emily did not like it so much.  We also tried a flavor that took me back to my mission—it was a type of guava covered in sugar and chile, very spicy, Emily didn’t appreciate that one either.  We didn’t purchase either of them, but we did get some gummy’s for the kiddos.

We finally made it back to the ship after giving Manuel a nice payment for a day’s work.  It was great to be able to speak Spanish again, I kind of get carried away when I am speaking Spanish, I could really talk to anyone for a long time about anything (something I have never been able to do in my own language).  

If you are ever in Puerto Vallarta, here is Manuel's card.  I highly recommend him, great guy!

Anyway, we made it back for dinner, a little late, but they still served us.  For our anniversary dinner, Emily got the filet mignon, and I had a beef stroganoff.  Dinner was followed by a beautiful dancing company from Puerto Vallarta which was accompanied by a mariachi band.  It was really neat to see some real Latin dancers doing some of their cultural dances.  The group was headed up by a man who had to be 70 years old, he was a cute little man that was super skinny, and smiled a lot.  He was letting out the whoops and the hollers during the mariachi music with the Mexican rolling of the tongue followed by the aagh-hah.  It was very Mexican, it was great!

After the show we went into the hot tub for the first time since being on the cruise.  We actually had it to ourselves which was definitely a first.  Then Gary and Becky joined us.  The girls stayed in their rooms, which is where they spent a lot of time.  From there we came back to our room and Emily had set out some balloons that had little lights inside them, and she gave me some chocolates and other unmentionables!  I will leave it there.


jhutchings said...

Perfect recounting of the story but I do want to point out that you called me "dear"...just sayin'.

The Child Family said...

Oh it reminds me of my honeymoon!!! Next time you do Puerto, you should go to an all-inclusive resort, there is some fantastic night life there (clean, non-alcoholic kind). The zip line looks awesome, we also did one, but our was an all day thing that included a burro ride and repelling. I'm so jealous that you got to snorkel, we were able to get in the water, but there were so many jelly fish that after 10 minutes we had to all get back on the boat. Did you do most of your stuff on the north or south side of the bay?
It seems like a great way to spend your anniversary!!! And congrats on getting the $100 on-board credit!!!!

Ryan and Andrea said...

Wow, what a trip! Glad it was better than the last one! I can't believe Emily wanted to go, being prego w/triplets! Your photos make it look like y'all are the only ones on the ship, ha ha! Those pj's of Jenn's must have been worth bucko bucks to go back & get them! Looks like you had lots of fun on your last trip before the babies come! Happy Anniversary!