Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thank Goodness for the TACOS

Sayulita, Mexico April 2011
Now that our stomachs have settled, nerves calmed down a bit and the fears and rumors of "Drug wars in Mexico and kidnappings of tourists" put to rest, I am ready to recap Spring-Break in Nuevo Vallarta. Oh, and we even managed a trip down to Sayulita! A wonderful seaside, hippie, surfer, fishing village that despite having been "discovered" by tourists and investors, still has the charm of authentic, low-key Mexico. Thank goodness we made it here, where we found delicious food (sadly we only spent a few hours) and amazing Tacos around every corner. Because without Sayulita, the only place where the vibe and the food was worth oohing and aahing about, I would sadly have nothing delicious to say about the all inclusive we stayed in.

We booked Dreams Villamagna in Nuevo Vallarta for spring break because it was a short 2.5 hour flight from LA, all-inclusive (easy with kids). I should have known by the way the trip started out that this vacation would not be exactly what we were hoping for. Let me explain as things were a tat bit rocky from the start.

Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta April 2011
Upon check in at the United Airlines counter, my husband discovered that his Passport was EXPIRED! Oh joy! My heart sank to the pit of my stomach as the "friendly" airline staff at the counter "attempted" to sort out the situation. After what seemed like eternity, it was clear that I was to make this close but International trek solo, with 2 kids and way too much luggage I am used to hauling alone. The sinking heart was replaced by tears of frustration (yes I cried and so did the kids) and the reality of saying goodbye to my hubby as he turned and walked out of the airport made for a sad flight. Yes, we do not travel apart EVER. We agreed to cross our fingers, take a deep breath and figure out a way for him to renew his passport and join us in Mexico as soon as possible.

My kids and I made the bittersweet walk/run to GATE 86 (of course it was ALL THE WAY AT THE END OF THE HALL), barely made the 11:30 flight, and 2.5 hours later were greeted or should I say pulled in different directions by overbearing taxi drivers at the PVR international airport. They all seemed to know me, they all said "Mrs, we been waiting for you, come". Honestly after the morning ordeal I almost believed them, but decided to stay focused on locating my shuttle rep in the orange shirt. Not the easiest thing to do in a sea of orange shirts of varying shades, tons of tourists and shouting cab drivers.

You see, my mind was still clouded by the recent stories of Mexican drug wars and the shocked looks on peoples faces when mentioning our upcoming vacation. My husbands voice resonated in my head "Find the guy with the orange shirt, no one else"! I took a few deep breaths, continued to pull 2 huge luggage, 2 kids, a backpack full of electronics and 2 kids back packs, I swear for a moment I grew another arm from all the adrenaline. Eventually the man in the orange shirt found me, and a short 20 minute, comfortable, safe air-conditioned mini-van ride later, my kids and I were resting/recovering in our hotel room. On a happier note, my husband and friends with kids flew up 24hrs later, and our vacay began.

Can you spot the Lizard :)
The kids LOVED the Lizards living up in the
trees all over Syulita
To quickly sum up this Mexican Getaway 1. It was an ABSOLUTE BLAST for the kids 2. Involved tons of sunbathing, terrible all-inclusive food (still not sure how this place made the "preferred" hotels list) and 3. Over-consumption of sugary, watered down, still-not-certain-there-is alcohol in this drink feeling. You know which ones I am referring to if you've ever stayed at an all-inclusive resort. I sometimes think the bartenders take a class on how to make these concoctions in a way that will ensure the obnoxious tourists keep coming back for more. Because regardless of how many Electric Long Island Iced Teas (A bright turquoise drink the bartender ensured me was "super strong" ...... well it wasn't) or Dirty Monkeys (a creamy, chocolaty drink that allegedly had Kahlua-but may as well have been an ice-blended from Coffee Bean) neither drink tasted nor did what alcohol is intended to do.

Thankfully, on day 3 of our trip, we decided we needed a break form the all-inclusive, so we piled up in to a van and headed to Sayulita. This is where I had the taste of Mexico I had hoped for, and the best tacos I have had to date, anywhere! I mean I have had or at least thought I have good tacos before, but honestly these were the BEST. The unassuming little place called "Fish Tacos" was where we pretty much tried every single taco they had to offer. Shrimp, fish, carne asada and chicken. The Fish was my absolute favorite. Made in their tiny kitchen, the freshly caught mahi mahi (it is a fishing village after all) was served on a buttery tortilla (I have never had a tortilla so soft), with shredded red cabbage, fresh chopped tomatoes, cilantro and a touch of crema. Perfection in my mouth. All the tacos were delicious and the meal at "Fish Taco" was by far the most memorable from the entire trip.

Generally, Mexican food is not at the top of my list of favorites. However, I have learned from this trip that the reason for that is because I have never really tried "authentic Mexican food" before. Thankfully, Sayulita gave me the "authentic" experience and opened both my mind and palate. You can say now have the desire to explore this colorful and flavourful cuisine some more (my husband will be thrilled as Mexican is at the top of his favorites list). And although I won't be flying to Mexico anytime soon as I need time to recover from the "expired passport adventure", I think its about time I head down to Grand Central Market in downtown LA I have a feeling I may find just as great of a Taco as the one I had in Sayulita or close enough for now!


All the Tacos we Tried

The Tacos were served with 4 Salsas/Sauces
My favorite was the Bright Orange (Peanut and Chipotle)
as well as the Green (Pineapple Jabanero)

Sayulita Fish Taco April 2011

Woman Selling Spicy Shrimp Skewers
On the Beach

 Local Woman Grilling Amazing Smelling Meats
Stalls like this are THE BEST in Sayulita for an
authentic taste of MEXICO

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