I won't lie to you, when we got all cosy in Los Angeles, I think we lost our mojo a bit. It almost felt like we got lazy couldn't really be bothered anymore.
Travelling and having new experiences are great! Life affirming! Exciting! Until planning, keeping spirits high in the face of early morning grumps and mobilising troops becomes boring. Suddenly, after our month with a base, we started to get excited about going home and the thought of getting back on the road felt daunting.
That's not us though. I can't leave a book unfinished, let alone a round the world trip.
So, we waved goodbye to our friends in LA, gave ourselves a kick up the arse and plonked ourselves in Puerto Vallarta, on the West (Pacific) coast of Mexico. It's a tourist town, so we thought it would break us in gently.
The first thing we did was head down to the beach, stepping over people who were sitting around on the street playing with their kids, snacking on street tacos and greeting us with a 'buenos tardes'. we had no idea what anyone was saying to us, but a smile is infectious and it was clear the sentiment was kind and we felt completely welcome.
At the beach it seemed like people were playing out every Mexican stereotype possible. There were people dancing on the beach, Mariachi bands playing to people drinking margaritas. The festival atmosphere was totally infectious and as we set ourselves up for the afternoon in a beachfront music cafe, we realised we FOUND OUR MOJO AGAIN.
I'm a sucker for a bit of live music and the mariachis are basically like a live juke box. Oh and did I mention the margaritas too... I had no idea why I doubted I'd love this.
As for the children, well the new scents and sounds worked for them too; they jumped in the waves, sheltering from the random thunder storms with nachos and yet more Mariachis.
Another thing that Puerto Vallarta is famous for is being the LGBT capital of Mexico. We wandered through this district flocked with rainbow flags everyday. The bars were beautiful and quirky and we felt completely at home.
One day, we were lucky to be shown round Puerto Vallarta by some ex-pat locals who took us to their favourite restaurant. Our Spanish is poor- and for the first time on our trip NONE of the menus were in English! We got talked though a typical Mexican menu and tried new things, i liked the stuffed peppers best. Then out of nowhere, friendly iguanas came down from the trees to eat a taco at your table.
The markets were a riot of colour and sounds- NOTHING in Mexico is quiet or dull, I realise which is great for us! No more worrying that your boys are screaming too loudly whilst chasing pigeons, as they are being drowned out by the sound system at the underwear stall! Hooray! As an aside I have no idea how a person with sensory issues would cope with this... maybe some Mexicans just can't go shopping...?
Walking along the riverside market area, we saw a crocodile in the river. An actual wild crocodile! There was street art and sculptures all along the Malecon or seafront which were great for breaking up the walk with photo opportunities.
Somehow our week here flew by, in our beautiful Air BNB just pottering around the place, eating at our favourite restaurants and trying not to buy things at the market. This ex-pat/ tourist enclave was a perfect introduction to Mexico. Next stop: Mexico City which we knew would be harder, but we were ready.
Where we stayed:
Tradicional Hotel Villa Del Mar was £37 per night for a family room. There was no AC or fridge so we moved to.....
Air BNB our house had its own Facebook page and is called Casa Orquidea del Rio. It was insanely quirky, unique decor. It was worth the £44 per night with its own rooftop mini pool. Across the river in a safe, leafy area and a 15 minute walk from the beach, it was less touristy and quietly charming.
What we did:
Walked around, looking at the Huichol craft shops and perusing the Rio Del Cuale market. The market runs all along the riverside and is a vibrant hotbed of beautiful things.
All along the waterfront or 'Malecon' are sculptures and statues. This where the nightclubs are, if you are interested. Unless you want LGBT clubs, they are in a different district. We loved seeing all the rainbows.
There were a lot of beach sellers, their wares were not cheap! A kind American lady bought me a pair of earrings as she said they were so cheap they were basically free. They cost £17 and were not even silver. It is easy to see how prices get pushed up....
A lot of the beach sellers, especially the cigar vendors were also offering 'extras' but were not persistent or pushy.
How we got around:
Walking! Uber is also cheap for getting to the airport.
Flights to Mexico City were approx the same price as the 12 hour bus journey. We chose to fly with Volaris at £65 each.