On New Years Eve we got a call from our good friend Wendy asking if we would like some airline tickets. Of course we said,"Yes!" The only thing was they had to be booked right then and used before March. Peter started searching the internet and also found an unbelievable deal for an all expenses paid resort in Puerto Vallerta for only $250 for four people, but it had to be booked before the 2011 year. We only had a couple of hours and many decisions to make. We decided Mexico would be the place and that we'd take Eben and Kivi, who have been learning Spanish with Miss Mary for two years now every Thursday. Obviously we would also have to take Pella since I'm her source of food. So we booked both the airline tickets and the resort and prayed that we would be able to come up with some passports for the kids fast.
God is so amazing! Not only did the passports come in time, our friends the Schocks said they would watch Opal and the Raykovitzs said no problem to watching both Berg and Jasper! We are so very blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.
So at 5:00 am on 26th of January we got on a flight to San Francisco and then onto Puerto Vallerta!
The kids did great on the flights. On three out of the four, Peter, Pella and I had a row to ourselves and right across from us Kivi and Eben had a row to themselves - not bad for a free standby flight! (Well, not totally free, you have to pay the taxes on international flights, but still.)
Eben and Kivi loved the hotel and were so excited to see the fountain in the middle.
There were also surprised to see the hotel had their own parrots.
We took a quick stop dropping our things off in our room and then went to see the rest of the resort and have dinner on the beach. It was Fiesta day!
This was a super fun beginning to our little trip! We walked all around the beach collecting food from all the different tables.
We sipped virgin pina coladas and ate our dinner while digging our bare feet into the sand and watching a show. The resort workers danced to different latin style music on a stage set up on the beach and then we all did a congo line right into the...
Limbo! After the "fiesta en la playa" we went swimming in one of the pools. The kids were dying to go in and amazingly I joined them!
The next day we rose bright and early to attend an "Alternative Homeowners Club" presentation. We were told many times that this was NOT a timeshare. It was in fact exactly a timeshare. And though we knew we had to spend 90 minutes at the presentation. It was definitely worth it. $250 for all of us to stay for four days in Puerta Vallerta + eat all the food we wanted for free and all we had to do was go to a free breakfast and hear the guy talk about his vacations all of his family members get to do because he is an "owner" of this club. We said, "no" quite easily and were on our way. The only thing we got suckered into was another presentation the next morning. Actually, we were lied to. We were told we could have a free tour and zip lining for me and the kids for only $20 if we just went on over to "see" another hotel the next morning. It ended up being a whole other presentation and wasting our whole morning, but we did end up going zip lining afterwards. In retrospect, we should've just said no thanks and gone zip lining ourselves. We didn't even go on the free tour.
But after the first presentation, the one we knew we had to go to, we went swimming in the pool again. It's really all the kids wanted to do the whole time. I sat with the cute little Pella.
We had the best flautas and tons of guacamole right by the pool. And we had ice cream every day!
Then Eben and Kivi got a free scuba diving lesson! I thought for sure they were going to come up gasping for air and spewing water all over the place. I was wrong. They stayed under water breathing just like normal and didn't come up until the instructor motioned for them to surface! I was really amazed!
Now Dada is excited to have some scuba partners!
After a nap we ventured on our own and took a walk the see the homes of some of the people who actually live in Mexico and get away from the resort atmosphere. Our hope was to actually have Eben and Kivi see some Mexican culture and practice their Spanish. But we couldn't even find a taco stand. The whole area was pretty changed to cater to tourism. Everyone we met spoke English better than we could speak Spanish. English is taught in schools starting in kindergarten there. We did find a little shop and bought a coke and some candy for only a peso. It was the best candy ever and I have no idea what it was. We had walked so far out that it was dark by the time we were heading home so we took a bus back. It was obvious tourists don't usually ride the bus. Eben and Kivi loved standing up but they didn't get to very long because the locals were so courteous in giving them their seats.
The next day, after our second presentation that we were tricked into going to (which lasted until 11:00!), we went zip lining. We weren't allowed to take pictures but Peter got a couple on his phone before we went zipping all around the canyon.
Peter stayed with Pella while Eben, Kivi and I went on the most fun, fast, exciting zip lines ever!
He snapped this picture as he settled down to relax and wait for us to finish our adventure in style with Pella and a good drink. But the comfort didn't last long. Poor Peter said that he only got about five minutes of relaxation and then Pella scream-cried the whole rest of the time we were gone, and we were out there a long time. It was us and a group of 20 college students. So it took a while. But it was totally worth it! (I mean the waiting for the 20 people - not having Peter deal with crying baby, sorry, Babe.) There were 11 zip lines and most of them were long. One of them even went through a tunnel!
After our zip line canopy tour we went back to the resort, had some lunch, and then went out on the town. This time we took the bus to Old Town. We walked all around the little shops, bought some popsicles and more candy (not as good as the night before, we couldn't find it - pobrecita!). While Eben and Kivi were on a mission to find their siblings presents from Mexico, we found a cool old church.
After walking a bit further we found little gifts in this market. Eben got Jasper a wooden lizard and Opal a necklace. Kivi bought Opal a purse and Jasper a lollipop. Dada bought himself and the kids the use of a very disgusting bathroom.
Even though we were right on the beach the whole time, this was as close as we got to it. We never swam in the sea. The kids collected a ton of interesting rocks and driftwood while I fed Pella on the board walk. This is also the only place they successfully spoke Spanish to some children who were also playing at the beach.
When we got back from our walk, the kids of course went swimming - in the pool. That night we set Kivi and Eben up in separate beds in our hotel room with a pizza of their own and a movie and Peter and I went on a date! We took Pella with us to an amazing Italian dinner in one of the resort restaurants. Then we put Pella to sleep in a little nest next to the hot tub and went hot tubbing. It was so great to have older kids with us that we trusted and knew would be fine without us for a little while.
The next morning we packed up our stuff and went to breakfast. This is next to the Italian restaurant we went to the night before and in back of us is a pool and the beach.
After breakfast we took a taxi to the local zoo. It was the most amazing zoo ever! Nothing like this exists in the U.S. When you enter, they give you a bag of food - to feed the animals! On the bag is printed what animals eat what food. One of the first animals we saw - lions! And they were extremely close! Less than a foot away and only two chain link fences between us were three lions, two females and one male. We didn't let the kids get too close. You could've stuck your hand right through the fences and touched them/got your hand bitten off! When the male started roaring Eben was ready to see the next animal.
We saw so many amazing animals so close! And we fed almost all of them. Not the lions. We loved the hippo. We threw corn right into his huge mouth!
We all let an ostrich eat right out of our hands!
We pet the zebra and fed him carrots.
The giraffe was our favorite! As soon as he saw us he came right over and leaned his long neck down and tried to see what we were going to give him from our bag. He let you pet him knowing you were going to feed him. And his blue tongue was so long and cool! You don't realize how big their heads are until you see it up close.
After our trip to the zoo we came back to the resort and of course, swam one more time before we had to head over to the airport. We learned our lesson the hard way on a vacation in Cancun before we had kids that you can never wear too much sun screen. We all did a great job of wearing it, and since it cost us $20, (no, we didn't find any travel size to bring with us so we knew it would cost a lot) we passed it on to another family at the resort and spread the non-burning love with others.
Pella and I watched the swimmers and took pictures.
This was my view most of the time the kids and Dada went swimming. I did get in the pool three different times however, so I wasn't a spoil sport.
I only went down the slide once though. It was really fast and made you go underwater.
Eben, Kivi and Dada went under water many, many times. And their multiple bracelets didn't even fall off. In fact they still have them on today. I think it was a good memory! A very fun, spontaneous vacation to Mexico with our two oldest and our new baby girl was a great decision!