Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Our next destination is La Penita RV Resort. It is 60km from Puerto Vallarta. La Penita is a really nice little town right on the coast. Our friends from the caravan George/Donna and Kerry/Tracey were staying at this big campground and recommended it. Two days before we were to head to La Penita, I got a message from Kerry/Tracey saying that a RV next to theirs had an electrical fire while everyone was at dinner. No one was hurt but the RV was burned to the ground. Kerry/Tracey’s rig got so hot that the whole side melted in some way or another. His motorcycle was damaged pretty bad as well. They can live in it but it will need to be towed back to the states for repairs. It was a tragic story and I felt so bad for the couple living in it who lost everything.
The drive was a long and harrowing one though…...just because of the narrow winding roads and many topes (Mexican cement speed bumps). I haven’t felt comfortable driving on these roads yet. They also make a third passing lane right in the middle and it’s a bit frightening when big Semi Trucks are heading right at you. It all seems to work out in the end. I choose not to play that game...yet. Larry is in charge of the driving. From Isla de la Piedra to La Penita is about a 5 hour drive...which turned into 7. Larry was pretty strung out when we got to La Penita.
We still weren’t sure if we were going to stay at the same park as our friends. Donna told us about a sweet little park, right on the beach but with less spaces. It is called Little Big Rig Boutique RV Park and they have only 7 spots for campers. Donna thought we might like it better as we prefer smaller campgrounds, less busy. It was supposed to be like Villa Celestine in Elota. We very much enjoyed the cosy feeling of that place. We felt like we should go by Little Big Rig when we got into town just to see if there was space for us. So at the end of the very long extremely difficult drive, we attempted to find the tiny little campground.
Again this is where google driving directions screws us over badly! It told us to turn one block too late down a one way street the wrong way! The street off highway 200 was super steep and Larry miss-judged the road or missed seeing a manhole that was sticking up too high and BUMP!!!! SCRAPE!!!! I really thought we had just ripped the bottom of the trailer off! We got level and inspected the damage. Only the metal stairs were smooshed backwards a bit. Score! They saved us, I guess. We continued down the wrong way to Little Big Rig. Next we were directed to a street with a school. It was super busy and Larry wasn’t sure which way to go, I told him to just park and put the hazard lights on. Go walk to the campground and figure a way to drive there. When he got back, he reported that he felt like he wouldn’t have room to turn our truck and trailer into the driveway, too narrow. We made a decision to go to the bigger La Penita RV Resort.
It was much easier to find and the driveway was wider. We saw Kerry and Tracey right when we drove in. They showed us where to check in and we found a spot a few spaces down from them and the burned RV. It seemed like all of the neighbors walked by to say hi within the first hour we were there. It made for a longer set up time but this place was super friendly. We walked down to the beach and around the park a bit before it got dark. I found an amazing spider right away so that was cool. The park is terraced on the hill and the beach is a 3 minutes walk. I didn’t see anyone swimming but I heard it was safe to swim. Someone showed me where they had caught a boa constrictor more than once. They would relocate it and it would end up coming back. The story was that it tried to eat a pet cat one time and the campers were able to get the cat away from the big snake. Unfortunately, we did not see the snake.
Later we saw George and Donna from our caravan crew. George had taken his Razor that morning and had gotten in an accident, He had been going up a blind hill(too fast according to his wife Donna) and hit a COW! His razor had some damage and the cow seemed to have shaken it off and walked away. Ironically George is a retired butcher, the joke was that the cow had his revenge with him! Lol
We really enjoyed the 2 days/nights we spent at La Penita RV Resort. It felt like a real community. The majority of the campers were annual snowbirds. They had formed friendships over the years, kept in contact during the rest of the year and organized activities at the park. They had Spanish lessons a few times a week in the game/reading room. They had taco nights with free margaritas once a week. We got to go and it was fun. We talked to some folks that had been traveling to Mexico for 30 years. We got a lot of advice and some interesting stories too. They had water volleyball every morning at 10 am. They were even organizing a thanksgiving dinner/potluck for November 28th. It seemed silly to me because they were mostly all Canadians and the November thanksgiving is an American holiday. Canadians observe it in October.
Larry was able to figure out how to drive to Little Big Rig Park and we moved there on the 3 days. We were only half a mile to go see our friends at the other park too! We had a cute little space under a coconut tree with lots of beautiful plants and flowers. They had an amazing gardener named Sergio. He was very helpful with anything we needed. He also had a restaurant that he ran after work starting at 6 pm. We promised to come one night before we left. It was only 3 blocks away. La Penita is a nice town to walk around in. Most things you need are only a short distance. I don’t think we drove anywhere during the week we were in town.
Our days started with walks on the beach. La Penita had a small malecon. The beach did have a lot of glass in places. I was disappointed about that. We didn’t have glass on our beach in front of Little Big rigt so that was nice. We just had to be careful on our walks. One day we walked through the town, over this really cool bridge to the neighboring town of Guayabitas. We wandered around until we found the beach. We decided to go inside a fancy hotel to have a coffee. Two coffees for 30 pesos ($1.57 US). A nice young girl was selling pastries and came to our table. One for 10 pesos or three for 20($1.05 US). Larry got three, of course! We finished our walk on the beach back to our site. We walked a total of 7 miles that day.
In the afternoon, we decided to take our kayak out and try to paddle over to an island close by(Isla Coral) They have water taxis to the island and a restaurant. We didn’t plan well or we could have gone for a beer when we got there. Larry didn’t bring money though. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the island. It wasn’t hard but now we had to paddle back. Larry was getting a bit whiny until we spotted the dolphin! He took his paddle and slapped it on the water. He said that would attract them. And it did!! There were at least 3 dolphins that swam alongside us for about 5 minutes. It truly was a magical experience. It cheered up Larry and we made it back to shore. Unfortunately, we had a hard arrival. No one was injured and no phones got wet. It was all good.
We spent a morning at the big Thursday mercado in the center of town. We were able to get lots of fruits and veggies for under $10. Larry bought a cool hammock too. We rode to the market on the bumpy cobblestone road. Bike riding was limited here. We mainly walked from here on. We also took a big walk on the other side of highway 200 up some super steep hills. We snooped around alot too. Larry would hop fences of abandoned houses while I took pictures of the areas. We did find this amazing place that looked like a church on the very top of the biggest hill. It was empty and for sale but had a locked fence. It was too cool to stay on the other side of the fence! We were able to find a way in to get a better look. You know, in case we want to buy it. The house had the most amazing views. I could have easily lived there. Ha ha ha
We enjoyed the beach and the pool at our cute little campsite. We talked with Robert the owner each day and met his wife, Suzanne shortly before we left. They were a very nice couple from Canada. We will definitely come back and stay here again. It's a great location with plenty of things to do that we both enjoy.
I was able to use the washer there to do some laundry. Sergio helped me. Unfortunately, the water pressure was very low. It took hours to wash the clothes and it seemed like they didn’t spin out well. We hung up the super soggy items on the clothesline to dry. They dried fast in the heat of the day. I wasn’t very confident they got clean though.
We had some exciting nights at this place too. Our Airstream is 25 ft long and the only place it would fit nicely was in the front. It was snug but Larry parked it up against the fence and landscaping. No room to walk around the back. It was fun being tucked back with all the foliage and trees. Doesn’t the coconut tree in the back look great? Our first super exciting night started at 3:30am when we heard a loud BOOM!! It woke us both up right away because it sounded like a bomb just blew up. Larry went outside to look. The only thing he thought might have made the noise was a coconut falling. He looked all over the ground but didn’t see it or the big dent in the top of the trailer. It was too dark. We saw it the next morning and were sad. Our first dent. We learned a painful lesson that night, Never park or sit under a coconut tree. They seem to drop those things whenever they want. We mentioned it to Sergio and later that day he had the coconuts removed.
We were recovering from the coconut incident that happened when we had another bigger catastrophe!. I sleep with a water bottle by my bed. Sometimes I knock it off the little side table. I got up at around 3am to go use the potty when I stepped in an inch of water!! First thought was my water bottle, But no. This is bad!! “Wake up Larry!! We have a FLOOD!!.” I checked the shower and our gray water had overfilled the tub and was leaking onto our bedroom rug. We had to figure out why this was happening. I found the water spicket in the bathroom opened a teeny tiny bit. It had been running since 9pm. Our tank must have been full. Now we had to clean this mess up in the middle of the night. I grabbed all the towels from the laundry I did the day before and threw them on the soaked rug. That didn’t really do much. I threw more of the semi clean laundry to try and soak up more water. Larry got our small Shop Vac to vacuum some of the water up. He did the rug 3 times before us going back to bed. We decided that we would deal with it in the morning. I can’t believe I flooded the Airstream!! We spent the next 3 days vacuuming the rug and having a fan blow on the carpet all day. I felt so bad. Larry wasn’t even mad. We just said to “Gidder done!”
La Penita has been our biggest adventure so far. With all the crazy stuff with our friends in the other campground (RV fire, cow accident and boa constrictor) and our misadventures and magical luck especially with the dolphins. We met tons of friendly and interesting folks. Being able to walk 3 blocks to eat at Sergio’s restaurant and meeting his family. Seeing a typical mercado where people from the area bring everything to sell and socialize. We feel that this stop enriched our lives and taught us a few things too (growing stop).
We have no idea where we will be heading next….I hope we figure it out before we hit the road tomorrow!