Valle de Banderas, a small town 33 kilometres north of Puerto Vallarta with a population of approximately five thousand was our choice for New Year. We chose here as it was in close proximity (10 miles) to the larger town and beach resort of Bucerias but quiet enough, for Hamish, to avoid the forthcoming New Year celebrations and the fireworks that comes with every social occasion in Mexico.
Our accommodation saw us stay on the edge of town with the lovely Brett and Perla and their two dogs in their new build two bedroom house. Our private room with en-suite was comfortable, had its own entrance and access to the rooftop patio. The deal also included breakfast, cooked by Perla, and we gorged on fresh fruit, juice, eggs and an bounty of healthy accompaniments to the above. Brett was a Yoga teacher and we attended his class a couple of times during our stay.
Cooper, MoJo and Hamish
For Hamish, this was the ideal place. Other dogs to play with and an abundance of walking off the leash. He loved it here and soon jostled with the other dogs in an attempt to gain alpha status. Quite difficult when up against a Doberman Pincher…. but he tried and lived up to his Scottish Terrier status pretty well.
The sleepy town with no other tourists or travellers that we could see, at times, looked like it was born out of a spaghetti western (without the violence) with cobbled roads and dirt streets. We’d see cattlemen in straw stetsons roll past on horseback driving their stock to and from nearby fields. Most residents either worked on the outlying agricultural land, at one of the many ranches or at the tourist resorts of Bucerias or Puerto Vallarta, making it almost deserted during the day. With only a sprinkling of grocery stores, shops, restaurants and street vendors, the town didn’t really begin to waken until late afternoon and was mainly concentrated in the town square. We enjoyed the serenity and the tranquility away from the resorts, found a couple of good taco stands and a Café selling fresh juice.
The only tourist attraction on TripAdvisor was the Taco Factory. Really just a small bakery churning out tacos. As we passed by we were given a couple to sample, hot off the press and very tasty.
The town also used to host a prison. Currently being converted into houses, the guard on duty showed us round and told us it had been closed and relocated to Bucerias about two years previously. Judging by the size of the building and with an inmate population of about 200, the conditions would’ve been cramped and harsh. Rough justice for those falling foul of the law.
The locals here were super friendly and would happily give us a wave and a smile as we passed. We attended a street party between Christmas and New Year and were fed snacks and tequila until the early hours. Hamish mingled with the many street dogs as well as well as the dogs that worked at farms and ranches with no issues. None were aggressive towards him and they seemed very timid and frightened of people if approached, suggesting life is tough here for man’s best friend.
If we wished our hosts would drive us into Bucerias where we’d spend some time on the beach before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the various eateries. For our return journey we’d use public transport and ride the Combi bus back to Valle be Banderas.
After sunset, its Disco time.
Combi busses are mini busses that stop at most street corners to pick up passengers. Most are in reasonable condition but others barely make road worthiness and are no more than motorised Charabancs. They often drive at speed along bumpy country roads and should possibly come with a public health warning, a recommendation that women and overweight men wear sports bras for comfort and all passengers padded underwear for rump safety…. That said, they are very frequent, cost effective and stop just about anywhere you wish. Also a great way to visit other small towns in the area. My description is perhaps doing them a slight disservice.
All in all an excellent two weeks and as our visit here sadly draws to a close, our plans are a return to Puerto Vallarta for ten days before catching a flight to Mexico’s second city, Guadalajara.