Steve and I took my Mom to the airport along with her luggage and the liferaft we borrowed from our friend, Ben (Ben joined us on Week 13 for our sail from Port Alberni to San Francisco). He just bought a new-to-him boat and is planning on doing the Pacific Cup race this summer (Victoria to Hawaii!) and needs an additional liferaft on board (You can follow Fugitive Sailing on facebook if you’re interested!)
That morning I called Westjet and confirmed that the compressed gas in the liferaft were not banned as long as they went in checked luggage – but we needed to advise the staff at the airport that it had compressed gas inside. The weight limit was 100 lbs for luggage so Steve hoisted the liferaft to the scale in the deserted Paradise Village gym and found it was 70 lbs – we were in luck! We would only need to pay a small overweight fee since it was over 50 lbs. So we took it with us in the taxi and asked my Mom to check it in with her bag. When we got there I dutifully told the clerk at the Westjet desk that it was a liferaft with compressed gas in it (as advised) and then she called over her supervisor. And then…beauracratic red tape ensued.
The supervisor spent the next 10 minutes on the phone; in the meantime, we tried to explain to her that we already got it okay’d from Westjet over the phone, but since nothing was written in Mom’s file, she couldn’t verify. In the end, she rejected the liferaft saying it was not safe. Steve angrily argued that it would actually make the aircraft safer(!) because then they’d have an extra liferaft on board and that they already have similar life rafts with compressed gas! Needless to say, she was not impressed with that argument. So, Steve and I each grabbed a handle and hoofed it to the taxi stand. They quoted us 380 pesos to get back to Paradise Village, even though we had only paid 220 pesos to get there! Forget that!! We angrily (and sweatily) hoofed it across the pedestrian walkway and grabbed a taxi just outside the airport for 210 pesos. Take that, Puerto Vallarta airport!
As my Mom left to go back to Vancouver, the Buchi family vacation started to pick up momentum. We had already done the pirate ship cruise but Steve and his siblings wanted to do a few more adventure excursions. After we got back from the airport we headed to the Vallarta Adventures desk in the hotel and booked some excursions for the last days of the holiday. The lady working the desk was not impressed on how much paperwork she had to do to book all of the excursions (I don’t think she loves her job).
Paige holding the 4 year old croc at the Animal Encounter show at Paradise Village
The night before our Outdoor Adventure excursion we traded our kids for Steve’s brother Matt – Paige and Spencer slept in the hotel with Grandma & Grandpa while Matt came to the boat with us since we needed to be at the dock by 7:30 for the courtesy water shuttle. We had planned to meet Steve’s other brother Norm and his wife, Sam, on the dock at 7:15 or so. In the morning, we made a quick breakfast then headed to the dock, right on time. Norm and Sam were nowhere to be found. Steve ran to the hotel room – they weren’t there. He ran to the breakfast room – they weren’t there. He ran around the pathways looking for them, to no avail. The shuttle arrived and the guy was tapping his watch – but Matt and I pleaded “Just a few more minutes, por favor!!” Steve came back with a big, frustrated shrug and said, “Screw them, they can take a taxi!” We decided that Matt would stay and take a taxi with them to Vallarta Adventures, because if we all stayed we would have had to get two taxis. But then, we finally caught a glimpse of Norm and Sam running towards us and we all cheered! They had gone for a walk along the beach and didn’t have a watch with them. They must be on vacation!
We made it to Vallarta Adventures headquarters in plenty of time for our safety briefing and some coffee and snacks. Then we loaded onto a large speedboat and donned flattering keyhole lifejackets. The captain throttled up and we held on to our hats and sunglasses and enjoyed the fastest boat ride we’ve been on so far this trip! We pulled into Boca de Tomatlan and hopped on to the dock and walked to the truck waiting for us. We were with a few other people, and one of the women who was terrified of the whole ordeal ended up sitting on the seat without a seatbelt! Once we were all settled in we bumped along the road up for about 20 minutes to the Vallarta Adventures farm. We put on wetsuit tops and climbing gear and then each hopped on our own donkey (my donkey was aptly named Tequila and Steve unsurprisingly got the largest donkey in the fleet). Sam and I donkeyed (is that a word?) together and every time her donkey tried to get ahead of mine, Tequila would shove his butt in front of hers and we would start cantering (I wasn’t sure if my English riding lessons should kick in, but I started posting to save my butt!)
Steve and his giant donkey
Once the donkeys took us up to the top of the hill, we gave them a friendly pat goodbye and then the adrenaline pumping adventure began. For the next few hours we went down zip lines (some into freezing cold water – yes, I screamed like a banshee), jumped off 4 meter platforms into more freezing cold water (more screaming), did sheer rock rappelling and free rappelling (slightly less screaming), went down insane waterslides (I was ghostly silent for this one because I was too busy trying to stay alive – especially since we had to trade our climbing helmets for full-face hockey helmets!). All the while we were walking on paths and suspension bridges through the most gorgeous rainforest. After we all took turns at bull riding and archery back at the farm, we hopped back in the truck and boated back to Nuevo Vallarta.
The Crazy Buchi Adventurers
The truck missing a seatbelt
In the meantime, Steve’s parents and sister, Laura, had kindly taken care of the kids during the day. They took them to the play area at the mall (which is awesome to change things up), and then they played lego all afternoon while Logan and Owen (Norm and Sam’s two littles) took turns napping.We were all pretty exhausted so we were happy to veg in front of the TV that night and watch Wreck It Ralph with the kids.
Steve, Matt and Laura wanted to go scuba diving out at the Tres Marietas islands at the mouth of Banderas Bay. Steve and Laura hadn’t dove in a few years so they needed to do a refresher session the next morning in the pool at a nearby resort to get recertified and to remember how to, you know, stay alive while they’re 50 feet under water (can you tell I’m not into the whole scuba diving thang?!)
I offered to take care of Kaiden (Laura’s 7 year old son) on the boat that morning so the kids could share their toys. It was an epic fail because I was quickly coming down with some kind of flu. I texted Steve’s parents in defeat and they came and took all the kids while I took a multi-hour nap – maybe I’m getting a little too old for these adventures!
The next morning Steve, Matt and Laura headed off for their scuba diving adventure. A nice perk was that they were on the same boat as the whale watching tour, so they saw the most amazing displays of whales breaching, doing spy hops and flapping their fins (it’s mating season so the male humpbacks were on their best behaviour to try to attract the standoffish females). Their scuba dive was also lots of fun – even though Steve almost got snapped at by a Moray eel (yikes!). Unfortunately, all the pictures and videos taken with our knockoff Go Pro at 50+ ft under water turned an ugly shade of green. When they got back we took the kids to the beach for the afternoon and Uncle Matt helped bury the kids in sand, then Trudy and I headed to Costco in search of some delicious seafood to make for dinner.
Since Steve and Matt both did two excursions, their third excursion with Vallarta Adventures was free! So Matt excitedly (and Steve reluctantly) chose Fly Boarding. Steve was worried about his ears since he had just gone scuba diving, so he kindly smuggled Norm to go in his stead. Steve and David (Steve’s dad) hung out on the panga boat to watch the spectacle. Norm is really athletic and Matt is a skateboarder so they took to it very quickly and by the end looked like pro’s!
The next day, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Steve’s family. They came over to the boat for a hot dog BBQ lunch since they had to be out of their room by 11 am. Steve used the opportunity to take turns with Norm getting hoisted up the mast to help change our masthead lightbulb. Unfortunately we didn’t have the right bulb there in the first place and the chandlery at Paradise Village didn’t have the right one.
After lunch we said our goodbye’s as the rest of the Buchis headed to the airport for their flight back to Prince George, BC. We spent the afternoon recovering then grabbed an easy dinner at the nearby mall.