Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yelapa, Sayulita, and An Embarrassment of Shopping

The end of our two week Mexican adventure approaches, so this will be my last post about the trip. Soon, back to life in the good ole USA...

Although one boat ride seemed too many, I wanted to visit the village of Yelapa. The only access is via boat. It was forego the opportunity or hope for the best - no seasickness.
Yelapa water taxi
I hoped for the best and hub and I boarded a small boat - a water taxi - for the trip across the bay. Actually I misspoke - or miswrote, to be exact. There is one road that comes close to the town. People can take a bus, then walk abut one mile down the mountain into town. Should you have stuff with you - luggage or shopping bags for example - helpful young men are available to carry the items for you (for a few pesos, of course).

But you have to walk down the mountain into town yourself.

We opted for a ride on the water.

It was another hot, beautiful day in Paradise. The 9:45 a.m. water taxi left Puerto Vallarta about 10:30 a.m. Not bad for Mexican time.

I not only survived but enjoyed the ride. A canopy provided shade and, as the taxi whisked across the water, I spent time observing the rugged terrain. Mountains plunge down to the sea, sometimes ending in a cliff overhanging the water, other times a group of rocks - boulders, actually - between jungle and the sea, and occasionally a small beach separated water from jungle.

A quick note about the beaches. They do not impress. Growing up on Long Island I went to Jones Beach. Jones Beach is a wide, pristine yellow sand beach that seems to go on forever. Many beaches in other parts of the world do not measure up. They are narrow, often rocky, the sand course and gray, reaching the water challenging because rocks make walking difficult. But I digress...

Yelapa is a Mexican village outpost slowly turning touristy. There is a growing ex-pat community (we were told - and I have no idea how valid the information is - the community currently numbers about 200 Americans and Canadians) living in homes straddling Gringo Hill.
The Yelapa waterfall - a trickle this time of year (late spring/summer)!
We took a short hike through the town to a waterfall, which this time of year is not much more than a steady trickle. Then we hiked to the beach where a number of restaurants offered drinks, food, lounge chairs, shade and a breeze.
Enjoying lunch and the view - Yelapa, Mexico
We lingered over drinks (alcoholic of course - I am truly becoming a lush in my old age) and a leisurely lunch, then parked ourselves on lounge chairs on the beach, watching kids swim and small boats maneuver around the bay. We left late afternoon for the return trip to Puerto Vallarta.

Yelapa offers a hotel with bungalows, charging $50-$60 USD per night this time of year. Next time I would like to linger longer in Yelapa, but we have to return soon - before the town becomes another upscale tourist mecca.

Which is what Sayulita has become.

The public city bus ride to Sayulita, a small coastal town north of Puerto Vallarta, took over an hour with one bus transfer. It was hot, the buses not air conditioned, and they continually stopped to pick up and drop off passengers. The ride was extremely bumpy, not because of the paved road but because (I think) the bus needed shocks. I should have worn a really, really good sports bra.

I guess a less-than-luxurious ride is to be expected when we forego a $200 (US dollars) round-trip taxi ride for a bus ride totaling $12 roundtrip - for both of us.

Tourists descend on Sayulita to surf, sail, shop, and be seen. It seemed more an American outpost in Mexico than a Mexican town. The beach was beautiful and the food in the small restaurants reasonable, but the numerous shops upscale and expensive. English appeared to be the number one language. Listening to discussions around us, folks discussed trips to Acapulco and beyond, what upscale restaurant they wanted to try for dinner, and shopping.

Speaking of shopping, I encountered an embarrassment of non-riches on a shopping jaunt.

One of the most common purchases tourists make in Mexico is silver.

Hub and I walked into a silver jewelry store in Puerto Vallarta and wandered around. The store was air conditioned (first warning sign), so we were in no hurry to leave. I eyed the beautiful bracelets, necklaces, and earrings while he enjoyed a free Margarita (second warning sign).

Trying on a couple of bracelets, a salesman immediately approached me (third warning sign). Asking the price (nothing was marked - fourth warning sign), he took out his calculator and began punching keys. "This one is," and he pointed at the number 490 on his calculator.

"This one," holding out the second bracelet and punching more numbers, " is 280," and he again pointed to the number displayed on his calculator.

About $25 I thought, mentally figuring out the peso to dollar rate. A very good price. It was not as large and heavy as the first piece, but I liked it and decided to buy it.

I handed the salesman two 200 pesos notes, expecting change. He looked at me and said, "Dollars. Two hundred and eighty dollars."

Hub and I looked at each other. I sheepishly took the peso notes back and we left the shop.

Pesos...dollars...a common mistake?

It is definitely time to go home.


  1. Nothing cheap in Mexico, it seems. They all are looking for the well-heeled traveler who thinks nothing of spending almost $300 for a trinket. :-)

  2. oh, how times have changed...