Puerto Vallarta

  It’s about time we tie up our Mexican Family Adventure! We finally boarded the second class bus. It did make a few stops where the first class bus would have drove straight through and it was a few years older but otherwise I had no issues at all with the bus we took. The rest of my family did have issues with the Mexican highway between Melaque and Puerto Vallarta:) Let’s just say that these roads made the Kicking Horse and Rogers Pass in British Columbia’s Rocky Mountains look mellow!! Not much of the highway had speed limits higher than 60km and the bus driver drove like he owned the road.. To me I thought it felt like a 5+ hour roller coaster! However I can see how that could be to much for most people especially if you don’t do well with motion or are a child.  

 Eventually we got close and the last week I spent a fair amount of time learning about PV and getting a good idea of the cities layout. After looking at resorts and hotels in all parts of the city we settled on Old Vallarta/Romantic Zone.  

 Next was a hotel or resort. We decided we weren’t ready to ditch the ocean so looked for an ocean front resort with a pool! Seemed the best value, location, pools, and beach was the Tropicana!! So as we made our way into town I stayed on the alert hoping to hop off rather than go all the way across the city to the bus depot and then taxi back. Sure enough the first stop we made near where I thought was very close there was a taxi right there. For $70 pesos we were at the hotel!  

 Now I couldn’t say this was the Venitian in Vegas but it honestly was what we needed. It was beach front, there were two pools, a restaurant, decent wifi on the main floor or on our balcony, and the rooms were clean!  

 The location to the malecon, tons of restaurants, markets, etc. couldn’t have been better! Now I will say within 24 hours I was missing Melaque.. The size of the city, the amount of people, the price of everything it was all to much for me! I think the kids felt the same however it was a cool experience walking all over the city during the day and then also at night. So much going on! 

  We really enjoyed lounging by the pool during the day.. Carrie and I reading and the kids playing! The ocean was awesome too however to intense for the kids.. Chanise had a pretty bad scare! I loved it as Melaque had such calm waters it was a nice change.  

 Morning walks down the streets and Malecon and also evening strolls were so nice! People watching like we haven’t been able to do in a long time. We chose to eat breakfasts at the resort as it turned out to be quite good so decided to continue that. Our other meals we tried everything from Italian to sushi! 

  Speaking of sushi we’d wanted to have in Melaque but the menus of the two restaurants there weren’t that inspiring. I don’t think there’s a lot of fresh tuna or salmon either. So I read reviews and had a place chosen in PV. We walked to it using only a map but couldn’t find it. Finally since we were all tired and hungry I asked and what do you know it closed down. There was a newer place and reviews sounded good but it was over halfway to the airport. We decided to leave it till our departure. It worked out so perfect as they let us bring in all our bags and just chill and relax. The food was so good!!!! The portions huge and compared to Canada or even the other Mexican sushi menus priced excellent! We spent a good amount of time there and were stuffed and ready to deal with the airport and the flight home.  

  Everything at the airport was smooth. The kids watched a movie and slept on the plane. Carrie and I who never are able to watch a movie together watched two back to back and didn’t like either 🙂 at least we wasted time together! Customs in Regina was mellow for once and waiting for our family was a surprise only I knew about. Our family friends Mark and his daughter Raya were there to welcome us and drive us to our van. Mark being Mark made sure to have a sign made making fun of the fact the Hawks had lost out of the playoffs haha it was very special! We stopped for our first Canadian bite to eat (kids choice McDonalds) and visited till it meant we wouldn’t be home til after 1am. It was great to be home

  

 

Leaving Melaque

The last few days have been preparing to leave. We haven’t let it take over where we’re not enjoying ourselves and this beutiful place, but just trying to have done everything we aimed to do and also be ready so it’s not a panick when today came! A couple days ago we visited a neighbouring beach town and had an amazing time with our new friends (TravelingChimps)!  

  

 Yesterday we went for a hike around the front of the mountain that juts out into the ocean in front of our beach. In the afternoon we bought fresh fish for our final dinner and this afternoon we went and had oysters and clams on the beach for our final lunch!!! We’ve been patiently waiting for that treat 🙂  

  

  

  

  

 Then we loaded up and headed for the bus depot. I’d purchased tickets for 2:00 today. Everything about today was perfect and we were looking forward to our afternoon trip to Puerto Vallarta! I even booked the afternoon bus first class instead of my original plan for morning on the second class bus. Deciding it’d be a nicer way to spend 4+ hours.. We showed up 20 minutes early just like the girl told me. Ana went in to check details and I’m sure glad she did! We had missed our bus 😦 the schedule was a 24 clock and I didn’t notice! I was bummed as it cost $1300 pesos.. Ana talked to the people there and they finally talked to me and said they couldn’t get us back on first class without us buying new tickets, also the first class bus leaves at 2am again. But we could get on a second class bus in two hours and head there at 16:00 free of charge! Obviously this was our choice as we have a hotel booked for tonight.. So even though we’re missing out on the first class experience here we go!! 

    

El Clásico 

  This story starts a few weeks after arriving here and culminated last weekend! Whenever I go on a trip solo, with friends, or on a family adventure after booking the place we’re going I search out events that’ll be going on in the area. In some cases there’s nothing online and you’ll have to wait till you get there. In other cases there are events but either impossible to get to like a soccer game in England or to far away. Every once in a while the stars line up and there something right there! For this story the way it happened was I had checked online and knew futbol was their biggest sport here. There is a very popular team in Guadalajara! There was also a Rolling Stones and Coldplay concert at different times in Mexico City! Either way both cities are a long way from where we are on the pacific coast. Once we got here I quickly ruled out Mexico City and a concert as its over 10 hours away. After reading about a game in Guadalajara I had to get more into this. The next week we went to a local bar/restaurant and watched a game. It was awesome! Then I went reading and realized The Chivas have been having a terrible season but after the last win and if they could string together some wins they could still make playoffs! Next I went reading and researching Guadalajara, Chivas, Mexican Liga MX, and bus tickets 🙂 What I discovered was that the Chivas are the second most popular team in the WORLD! They have such a huge fan base in Mexico due to being a great professional team but also because they field an almost always total Mexican team which I would imagine is unique in any pro team. On top of the fans in Mexico they have an amazing fan base worldwide! They also have quite a new state of the art arena due to Mexico hosting the Pan-Am games five years ago and Guadalajara being chosen to receive the new stadium. And next I read about the Clásico match coming up in three weeks!! This right around the time that Derek and I watching the Spanish Clásico between His favourite team Barcelona and Real Madrid. However this Mexican version happens to be the oldest Clásico match in the Americas and matches the Chivas versus their cross city rivals the Atlas! The game I watched them play on tv was against the Americas from Mexico City and if this rivalry against the Atlas was more intense I had to be there! Now both the girls had played soccer as little kids. This past winter Chanise returned to soccer and Derek played his first year. Seeing Derek enjoy his first activity of any kind was awesome and I’ve been supporting his passion for soccer.. This could be amazing for him and the girls too! I started by checking with the bus stations.. I quickly found out just getting there was going to be very expensive and then there would be the situation of lodging and getting around in the city and to the game. As I asked around no one had personal experience of going. I started asking anyone and everyone if they knew anyone that would want to go and we’d help with fuel and lodging. There was a couple times I had some leads but it never turned into anything. I went and looked at the possibility of a cheaper style of bus trip but still by the time I get the whole family on there and everything else out budget would be shot. I honestly figured it just wouldn’t work. Then we met CJ and Andrea and their family (@travelingchimps).  

 We started hanging out and I think it was one morning at the soccer field we started talking about it. He was on board and thought that it’d be rad for his son Jack to check out also! Over the next week or so we talked about it.. CJ and myself are a lot alike when it comes to adventure or opportunity. We both like to go for it! So the decision was made and Sunday morning at 7 we were in his Hybrid and heading towards Colima on the route to Guadalajara! Myself, CJ, Jack, Chanise, and Derek. The Moms were making the sacrifice and staying as well as the other two daughters Tess and Aaliyah who have becoming travel besties and truthfully were gonna have the best time at their sleepover:) It was about 4.5 hours but it was cool seeing more of country and everything went fine. Even in Guadalajara where I was a little nervous every we found a Walmart and popped in and then reset ourselves. It was no problem finding out hotel which I booked so we’d be close to the stadium.  

 Next we went to the stadium to buy tickets and take a look around. The day before was the last day to get tickets at other various places today you had to go to the stadium. After looking around we found the ticket area where a guard worked with our terrible Spanish and told us the game was sold out! I was crushed but didn’t show it. Now what I read not to do was obviously going to have to happen…we needed a scalper. Oh wait there you are haha the first guy we see is this old guy in a hat and he wants to sell us. I think we’re making out okay but then another guy swings by on a scooter and what do you know he has decent English. The tickets we can get that are side by side which is rare when there five of you are the $300 peso variety. They want $600 per I talk them down to $500 really try for $400 but $2500 for five tickets is as low as they’ll go. We purchase and I pray they’re real tickets!  

 We eat, then head back to the hotel, chill, and get ready to return. We get back take some photos and get into the amazing atmosphere!  

 Then head into the game.  I’m first and when my ticket doesn’t scan I nearly die, but then it works and we all get it! After walking the most amazing stadium I’ve been to we take our seats, watch warm ups, and start drinking litre Tecates! The game is amazing and the crowd even better!! The game is scoreless at half. There is a crazy Wipeout game sponsored by Tecate and it’s something else. Lots of laughs!  

 It end scoreless at the end of regular time.. We can’t believe our luck we’re seeing a scoreless draw for our first pro soccer game. Then in the three minutes of penalty time with 30 second left a corner kick and a header and the Chivas have scored!!!! A full riot erupts! (I have posted the video on Facebook and Instagram – Look for Aaron Kienle or @kienle)  

  

 Such a great experience!! We eat at a local little restaurant behind our hotel after and then catch the highlights on tv before going to bed. On the drive home a couple wrong decisions are made by me which costs us some time but gets us on a not so busy off the main highway road that was pretty awesome. After 5 hours we’re home and have a lot of stories and memories.. Chivas are in playoff spot and they’ve gained some new fans!! 

       

Earth Day🌍

Today is Earth Day and while I did go online do a little social media and some reading that was as far as it got. The kids were not up yet.. Then as I was thinking about the fact we have less than a week left in Melaque and all the little things we want to do the thought dawned on me.. Nearly every second day we head down to this area that has a skate bowl, soccer field, tennis court, basketball court, and walking paths. We use the soccer field and I get in some time skating this tight little bowl!  

  

 The whole place is hardly used from what we see and more so since lots of the “gringos” have left town. The soccer field still gets use but what has been happening a lot more is the whole place getting much dirtier as garbage has been accumulating!  

  

 I’m thinking the town had someone cleaning up weekly or something when the town was busy but now maybe it’s not on the priority list. Anyhow I’ve been saying for a few weeks before we leave we should do a cleanup as thanks for being able to use the place. So now you see where my thoughts went and came together early this morning 🙂 I talked to Carrie and we thought what a perfect thing to do today! The kids were on board and I biked to a store to find large garbage bags. Then we loaded up and off we went!  

 Originally thinking we’d just do around the soccer field and bowl we just couldn’t stop and we had extra bags! The kids we right into it and doing a great job!! Even as I was getting close to one house I though you know what maybe once the front of the yard is clean maybe these people will be down for keeping it up. And maybe not but who cares!  

  

 Once we were done we have a little team meeting in the jeep which was stuffed with bags of garbage.. We discussed the reasons we did it: 1.For the earth 2. For ourselves (giving back feels great) 3. For the community (maybe it’ll make a change and they’ll want to keep it clean) 4. To make memories together  

   

  Once we were done it was off for ice cream! 

Having a plan!

Even though we like to live slow when we’re away and take each day as it comes and not plan to much.. We’ve found some plans need to be made and discussed and revisited just to make sure we’re staying the course. An example is prior to the trip I wrote the reasons why we extended travel as a family. Then prior to the trip and a couple times during the trip during devotions or a family meeting. We revisit and see if we’re accomplishing what we planned! I think I’ll come back to this after the trip and give you some insight into those reasons we do trips like this but for today I thought I’d share our meeting last night. We are currently at one week left in Melaque! It’s crazy how the time has went.. Truthfully feels like a year 😉 that’s why travelling slow is so rad! I feel like we’ve hacked time by just slowing right down and removing the distractions of most of our life back home. Anyhow the two things we discussed after devotions last night was making a list of any souvenirs we need to purchase so we can shop for those this week especially since there’s only one market left while we’re here. The second thing was a “Week Left Wishlist”, is there anything anyone of us would really like to do before we leave. Today the kids are thinking and writing on a list that’s been posted on the fridge! Even though we’ll continue taking each day slow and as it comes we have a few little plans 🙂 

   
 

Meeting families while travelling.. 

I have to say finding friends while travelling is so amazing! Our trip could never have been as good as it’s been with out people like Adam, April, Pedro, Ingrid, Jordan, and then there’s Les and Ana!! Wow it’s been awesome! The same thing in Nicaragua with meeting William, Gord, Elisha and then especially Pat and Gene! But there was something really great when we connected with another travelling family.. In Nicaragua it was Cameron, Ashliee, Lilah, and China-Mae.. Such special times!!  

 And the last couple weeks we’ve been blessed to meet CJ, Andrea, Jack, and Tess! We met them while shopping and after a little chat on what we’d found and what they were up to we really hoped they’d email. We told the kids about their family and I secretly couldn’t wait to pick their minds about something I’ve read a lot about, “house sitting”! They’re living here watching a beautiful home for the next eight months. They have been on the move for a while and also are unschooling their kids which I’m also incredibly interested in! On top of all that Jack is into video games, soccer, and skateboarding. And Tess and Aaliyah well watch out they’re full on travel besties:D Chanise as we found out before gets kinda ripped off as it seems there are less older kids out there travelling with mom and dad. I know they’re out there just we have yet to run into them. Maybe better we don’t because with my luck it’ll be a boy and I’ll never see Chanise again! 😉  

 Over the last two weeks we’ve been to their house a bunch as they have a great outdoor pool, out to the beach, the water park, the bar for a Hawks game, and this weekend the biggest adventure yet!! I remember from my time as a homeschooler everyone always commenting on “social skills” and how we “won’t be able to get along with other kids” well just like we proved that wrong, the travelling kids we’ve met over the years again show that alternative education works just fine! And personally I love to see it!! 

   

April Fools

We almost forgot to write a post about our April Fools day!! Not only was it a great experience but it was pretty funny too.. And there was even a message in it at the end as well 🙂

  Les our landlord started concocting this plan a week early. He told the kids that as the full moon was coming he was starting to feel strange powers! This has been happening to him since his youth and one of the phenomenons that goes along with these powers is the ability “to change cold water to hot”!! He would mention this on occasion throughout the week. Eventually the day came! Him and Jordy headed off early to this certain spot, and later as we were nearing dark we all hopped in to Ana’s SUV and off we went to find Les. We told the kids that something was happening to him! Either he had drank to much alcohol or it was something to do with the moon and these powers he was always talking about! We drove for about a half hour and then we got off the road and under a bridge and we were at some hidden spot on the shore of a river. There was a fire going and Jordy was there but no Les!!  

 As we gathered around the fire up sprang a crazy looking dude with green hair a white beard and blood/paint all over his chest! As he spoke the kids understood.. Something had happened to Les! While he continued speaking he led us down the river and eventually showed us the temperature of the river changing until the point where it was so hot you could not place you foot in the river! On the walk back we spent some time in the hot but not crazy hot part of the river checking it out.  

 By the time we made it back to the campfire Les was there and all cleaned up and back to normal.. What a crazy adventure and April fools 🙂 As we say around the fire and talked there was one more thing Les had to tell the kids, the morale of the story.. “Don’t let adults or anyone fool you in life”. It was an awesome evening and experience for us all!  

 

Semana Santa Mexico 2016

So we’ve done Semana Santa in Nicaragua! The week long party was pretty unreal!! Our little beach town going from an average of ten people per day to thousands and two stages with live music being played, etc, etc. 

Now we were going to experience it Mexican style! Keep in mind there had just been a week of partying for San Patricio and now here we go straight into Semana Santa.. The tour buses lined the streets and the vacationers and party people had all arrived! New camping grounds had been set up in every empty lot and there was new street vendors everywhere!  

 The downtown was more of the same from St Patrick’s WEEK minus on Easter Sunday on our walk home from church we got to see a live reinactment of the passion of the Christ!  

 But the beach…. Wow the beach! Totally gone crazy!! We’d still head down and catch some rays and go for a swim, but mostly we were there to people watch! I’m not sure if this lasted a week or ten days but it was pretty crazy around town.. Honestly became a bit much and we’re happy having things back to normal now! 

The beach so full of activity! So many different vendors  

And lots of live music on all sides which was pretty cool!   

Routines..

  I like getting into routines! And that doesn’t change when we are away.. For the first month every morning I would rotate in a skate and/or soccer at the field that’s right next to the skate bowl with picking up fresh tortillas, eggs, and bananas.  

 Also every morning I did a workout! In our trips to Nicaragua I did a program called Rip60 it was perfect we were there for sixty days and it was a sixty day program! I don’t usually do home workout programs when we’re at home as I have a gym and find home workouts difficult to keep up with. On the road however I love it!! This time someone suggested  . It was awesome and this along with an evening routine of going for a 3km run with Aaliyah was awesome!  

 Probably almost two weeks ago playing soccer with the kids I did something to my left ankle/foot and I’ve been unable to get back to my fitness routine however we’ve gotten even more consistent heading to the soccer field in the mornings and latelygetting  some laps in the bowl in daily too 😉 

    

Rancho Aurora Waterpark!!

  On our first trip to Bara De Navidad a couple weeks ago we noticed on our way down the highway a water park on the right side! We asked around and everyone gave it pretty good reviews. We decided it was on our list of things to do this week and man are we glad we did it! So fun!! We all enjoyed it!  

 And great value at $40 pesos for adults and $30 for kids it cost us roughly $13 Canadian dollars.  

 This park is situated in an area full of beautiful palm trees which makes for a great view all around you. It has a huge area with a bunch of slides for little children.. 

  Then three large slides for the bigger kids, as well as three pools. One for the the slides and two of different depths for swimming or relaxing in. All around is shaded areas and tables, chairs, and BBQs to use. Also in the centre there is a concession and restaurant! 

  We had a great time and the kids played themselves right out!! Derek actually passed out next to the pool after dragging himself out haha