Monday, April 24, 2017

Puerto Vallarta

Our week in Puerto Vallarta was at the Mayan Palace.  Not as nice as Pueblo Bonita in Mazatlan but it was still nice.
A tip for the maid netted two towel swans!

The beach
Mayan Palace from the beach

We came across the "new" timeshare racket here in Mexico.  Since timeshares have a bad name, they are now called Vacation Resort Clubs now.  You don't buy a week, you basically buy a month and pay maintenance fees for the time you stay instead of a fixed yearly maint fee.  Typically they usually are where you stay a week or two and they rent the remaining weeks out paying you back.  So one can have a one week stay and up to US $6000 per year income for a modest investment of roughly US $12,000 to $40,000.  In some cases the Mexican government is giving tax incentives to the developers.  That is all straight forward and in some cases the ownership trust (max 99 yrs) is set up and insured by a bank in London. 

The racket is getting potential customers in front of the real estate companies to make the sales pitch to.  So they pay up to Mex $7,000 (pesos) for well qualified victims.  These hawkers in turn will offer day excursions, free breakfast and may pay up to Mex $5000 if you meet the qualifications (2 credit cards each with at least $5,000 available credit, own a US time share etc.) and survive thru the presentations. 

At Pueblo Bonita, Emerald Bay, Mazatl├ín we attended a 3 hr breakfast/presentation and got a nice breakfast, US $200 resort credits for the week and free valet parking.  At Mayan Palace, Puerto Vallarta it ended up being about 6 hrs (just short of water boarding!) and all we got was free valet parking (Mex $380) and a 10% discount on meals which they said was valid for all 3 of the Mayan resorts we are staying at (but that was a different story when we checked into Grand Mayan Acapulco - we needed it in writing and on paper!).  The trick is, if you are promised anything; make sure you get it in writing!  This is Mexico! 

All of the Mayan resorts (Grand, Palace, Luxe and the list goes on...) are owned by Vidanta corp which is the largest corporation in Mexico.  They also own all the Oxxo convenience stores in Mexico plus who knows what else.  In Vallarta Nuevo (north of Puerto Vallarta) they own many thousands of acres including beach front and are building a huge resort that will make Disney World Florida look small.  There is a small and hundreds of yrs old village in the middle of this that they are slowly buying up and trying to force the people out.  As the sales rep said "if they don't sell now they will later when the noise from the theme park drives them out".  Nothing like the big corporation stepping on the poor peasants squishing them like grapes.  

Another thing we noticed is that there is a huge demand for US time shares.  They will pay you good money for a US based time share which they resell to non US people.  We asked why and the best explanation is they are used to help non US residents get visas (and maybe green cards ???) - if you own US property it makes it easier!

We were talking with one of the sales reps that is renting a house in the above mentioned village.  He pays about Mex $100 every two months for electricity and has air conditioning.  But others a few blocks away pay about 10 times that.  The reason is a grandfather clause for electric rates.  Older buildings and older villages may be at extremely reduced rates.  So before you rent, if you will be paying electricity, ASK what the electricity costs!  New construction will always be at the current high rates.

Both of us ended up getting sick while in Puerto Vallarta, Rosalind got the Mexican stomach bug (even the locals were getting it) and Gerald started getting sinus congestion that has been hanging on for over a week now.  Everybody here says the best way to get over a stomach bug is more tequila but that did not work this time.

Our favorite place in PV was the Marina, it is a great place for a peaceful time, for a nice quiet breakfast, walking around or for supper or even just for getting the laundry done and buying 'non' prescription meds.  We say super awesome boats and tiny boats, we saw lots of people, had some great meals, visited Starbucks for the occasional internet connection (buy a drink get a code) and enjoyed the Thursday flea market - in the evenings the place is hopping.
Cruise ship docked near the marina entrance
Breakfast at the marina

Nogalito Ecopark Zip Lining  
On our last full day in PV, we did a jungle canopy zip line tour out on the south end of PV.  They were a great team and were very patient with Rosalind to help he overcome her fear of heights.  She was a trooper and did all but 3 of the highest and longest zip lines.  If you are ever in the Puerto Vallarta area, there are lots of zip line tours but we highly recommend these guys!  The picture is of us with Jimmy the great guide that helped Rosalind so much!

In Puerto Vallarta the rainy season is from July to end of October.  Since its mid-April and in the dry season, a lot of the trees are dormant without leaves.  So in the zip line pic's you don't see many leaves on the trees.

Ready to start flying
Rosalind getting some help from Jimmy

Upside down is FUN!
Thanks Jimmy for a great time and helping Rosalind!

 While on the zip line tour, they asked if we had ever seen a termite nest, we were looking around on the ground and they pointed up into the tree!  The termites have tunnels running up the tree to the nest.  Parrots will burrow into the termite nest and lay eggs.  The termites keep the nest at just the right temperature which incubates the parrot eggs and when the young birds hatch, they have plenty of food - termite eggs!  Not only parrots eat the termite eggs, the locals consider them a delicacy and nope, we haven't tried that yet!
Termite nest about 4 feet tall and almost 2 feet in diameter up in the tree.

Termite tunnels from the ground up to the nest.

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