A Weekend in Puerto Vallarta

Mexico

This post was contributed by Diane Park

Where in the world did time go?

It’s been 5 months since I’ve arrived here in Puerto Vallarta to teach English. Arriving here at the beginning of February, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve got to admit that most of my time was spent working when I really could’ve been on the beach slurping margaritas. Is there a reset button?  
My last weekend here, I was tired of working, so it was time to enjoy myself. My classmates and I got together to figure out how to make our “official” last weekend memorable by running away and saying adiós to our responsibilities.   

Friday, February 23

4:00PM
Friday…oh Friday! My classmates and I were looking forward to the weekend, even though some of us had teaching practices in the afternoon. We went to Casa Hogar (an orphanage here in Puerto Vallarta) for our teaching practice. 
It was bittersweet in a way, because it was one of our last days with the kids. Casa Hogar loves having volunteers come to spend time with the children, so we were greeted with large smiles and a welcome that could warm an avalanche. 
Before gettin’ turnt in PV for the weekend, definitely give back to the local community (if you have some extra time). From the central area (Las Glorias), take the blue bus that says Ixtapa on the front. Tell the bus driver you are going to Casa Hogar, and they will drop you off in front of the orphanage!
Seriously though, you won’t regret it!
7:00PM
Kiyomi, my teaching buddy, and I took Uber back home, and we asked our Uber driver for some beach recommendations that only locals go to. The internet is amazing for this info, but there’s nothing like someone who has lived in the city for 50 years to give you advice. We live for these experiences!
He recommended Playa Colomitos. He said it is one of the smallest beaches in Puerto Vallarta with little or no tourists. I love people, but dang, we all need some personal space after a long week of working. 
When Kiyomi and I came back home, we decided to get sushi for dinner. I know…getting sushi in Mexico? We were craving it, and we decided to go to the restaurant that was right around the corner from our student housing. The restaurant is called Sushi in House in Versailles/Las Glorias, and they had a special. The special was getting 2 beers for the price of one…everyone who knows me knows that I love a good 2-for-1.
We said hola to this special (2 for her and 2 for me…duh!), along with ordering our food. I decided to get the tuna roll, and you guys…it made my Asian self so happy that I could use chopsticks for the first time in weeks! I didn’t think little things like that would fill my heart with that bit of culture that I had been missing.
The food satisfied my tummy, even though I miss the sushi back from home in New York a bit more. The food in Sushi in House was a bit bigger than the ones in New York. It tasted a bit different, but not in a bad way. Kiyomi got a miso soup with her sushi, and there were avocados in the soup. We don’t usually do this back home… but hey, I’m always down for something new!
Dirt cheap drinks and sushi? That was the best way to end the night.

Saturday, February 24

10:00AM
You ever have a looooong week, and you’re so relieved to pass out from joy when Saturday comes? Well, that’s me all of the time.
Some of my classmates and I decided to go to Playa Colomitos, which the taxi driver recommended. Always take recommendations from locals… seriously! My 2 roommates (Eric and Kiyomi) and I decided to go to Oxxo, Mexico’s response to 7/11, and get some snacks and mixers (vodka straight is a nuh huh) before meeting our other friends.
Eric and Kiyomi are 2 of my roommates who took the TEFL course with me for the month of February. Eric is from Dallas, Texas and Kiyomi lived in Southern California. She has a dual citizenship, and also lives in Michoacan, Mexico with her family. We have a couple of inside jokes, stressed out on things we shouldn’t stress about (lesson planning and the TEFL course)…even ordering Pizza Hut at 9:00 at night just because we were hungry. Honestly, they were the best roommates for a couple of weeks, and I now call them 2 of my besties after spending only month with them.  
12:00PM
Our Uber driver was super nice (he reminded me of my grandpa), and  he even made a pit stop for us to take pictures along the way. I tried not to make eye contact with him while we were posing because my friends and I go hard when it comes to our photoshoots!
The Uber ride was about 30 to 40 minutes away, but as long as you have some buddies or a fun driver, you won’t even notice!
1:00PM
We decided to hike to the beach instead of taking the water taxi ( 50 pesos ($2.70USD) per person), and it was so worth it. The view of the beach was ready to be captured for Instagram. Sometimes the beauty of nature can slap the words out of your mouth!
There were a couple of bridges and stairs we had to take, along with a lot of steep hills. I’m not the big hiking person, to be honest, but I guess I could deal with the 20-minute walk for a sick beach view. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes for this hike to the beach because sandals sinking into the sand is no fun!
We just had to walk through a jungle (yes, literally a jungle) to get to a beach that was ready to invite us to soak our feet into its luscious sand! 

2:00PM
You guys, this beach was so small but so pretty! The beach is really small, not going to lie. The water is so clear and blue, there are no tourists…only locals. It reminded me of The Jungle Book (live action), where Baloo and Mowgli were singing The Bear Necessities in the river and there was a jungle around the water. There are a couple of big boulders where people can jump off from into the water (it is completely safe), and the water connects to town (where the hike starts). So yep, get that camera gear ready!
It was nice to shed off that layer of responsibility, and just CHILL! My friends and I decided to stay there for a couple of hours just to talk and drink, do tarot cards that Eric brought with him, and just enjoy each other’s company. There are too many moments in life where the love of simplicity is missing. It was also our last weekend together before we all part ways the following week, so we had to catch up and give each other our twelves hugs and kisses because we probably wouldn’t see each other for years to come. The beach does get packed a bit, only because it is the smallest beach here in Puerto Vallarta. But that’s okay –– let it all hang out and enjoy the beach. !Mi playa es su playa!
9:00 PM
Later this evening, Kiyomi and I got a message from Maya and Kassia if we wanted to go out for drinks. Kiyomi was getting ready, but I wasn’t sure if I did want to go out. I decided to go and actually do something that is out of my comfort zone. Besides, when am I ever going to go out to a club/bar in a foreign country? The four of us decided to Uber to the Malecón (the boardwalk here in Puerto Vallarta). We went to a bar called Cheeky Monkey and got $1 margaritas. It wasn’t lip-smackin’ worthy, but who could say no to $1 margaritas? Besides, the margarita was HUMONGOUS!
About an hour later, we decided to go to a liquor store and get some beers. We walked around, drinking, and just enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes it’s so refreshing to be in the presence of people who make you laugh until your stomach hurts. 
11:00PM
It was time to shake the stress away, so we went to club Mandala. It was packed with super loud music, people taking IG pictures in the corner…pretty much a typical club. After we showed some face and had our drinks, we left and went next door. This club is called the Zoo. Let’s just say that it was an experience. We got drinks, free light up headbands, and some kind of ritual the workers had to do. From what I remember, the ritual was taking a shot, and the worker makes you do some type of dance. I’m all for a little dancing, but part of the ritual was the hostess touching your chest area. This part made me a little uncomfortable. So if you go, definitely ask her to not touch you if you like your personal space, like I do! 
We left right after the ritual and went to the last club called the Vaquita. This club had a swing that customers can go on, which I would’ve done, but I’m always so nervous about busting my behind. So, I had to nonchalantly decline the offer. My friends and I weren’t sure if we should get a drink or not, but the bartender gave us free shots. Free drinks? You don’t have to ask me twice!
I woke up the next morning, in a blur, thinking, “Damn, that was a good night.”

Sunday, February 25

We ended up not doing much this day, as reality sets in and get ready for our class the next day. My 2 roommates and I ran some errands and had a good lazy day together. Of course, I was stressing out what I am going to do after the course (“Am I going to make new friends?” “Am I going to find a place to live?” “Am I going to get a job right away?”), but I told myself to shut up and enjoy these last moments with my buddies!

Thinking Back Now

Thinking about this weekend 5 months later, I wish I had more time with my classmates. We put so much time into are TEFL course that we didn’t make time for ourselves. Sometimes being the best “you” with your friends beats anything else.
Like Damon and Jo always whisper in our ears, just shut up and go! Move to a different country, take those moments for yourself, and kill the game with your friends. #noregrets

Diane Park is 25 years old – born and raised in New York, but currently living her best life in Mexico as an English teacher. She is Korean-American and super proud of it! Keep up with her teaching adventures on  IG.

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