I received the invitation to travel to Puerto Vallarta on a Thursday. Friday I had the Aeromexico tickets ready to roll. Saturday, a trip to the emergency room in extreme pain. Wednesday travel across the country, three flights and four airports, with a bag packed with more meds than anything else. And so began my press trip to the fabulous tourist destination of Puerto Vallarta.
My physical health was NOT going to stop me from enjoying this visit, I grit my teeth, smiled through the pain and met my fellow travelers at the Casa Velas boutique hotel for our first dinner before crashing out after a long day of travel.
We had an early start the next day and I was mega excited about the agenda. The adrenaline-junkie in me was ready to take on the Sierra Madre mountains on the "Outdoor Adventure" tour with Vallarta Adventures. I took my antibiotics and skipped the pain meds (wanted to be fully alert) and we headed to the marina for the first leg of the trip on an inflatable boat.
I'm on a boat!
As the boat approached Boca de Tomatlan, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain. I jumped up and down and clapped like a hyper little girl, ziplines in the rain, extra fun! (No sarcasm, really!) After landing on the beach, we transferred to our next mode of transportation, the military-style Mercedes Unimog that would bring us up the mountains. We passed through small pueblitos, drove up narrow bumpy roads past waterfalls, through mud and floods, seeing the lush green mountains peeking through the mist and fog.
We arrived safe and sound though a bit wet to the base camp of the Outdoor Adventure. I had a good giggle when one of the tourists with us mentioned her extreme fear of spiders and the guide pointed to one huge web and its weaver, then another, and another. He told us that these were "Golden Orb Web spiders" and that the golden-coloured silk of their creations is so strong it can be used in body armour! The girl with arachnophobia was less impressed than I.
The Extreme Press Team
We donned our gear, the typical harnesses of zip-lining (note, always wear LONG shorts, the gear can chafe and ride!), helmets and a chest harness. Oooh, chest harness. Did I mention that my health issue was a large abscess in my boob? Yeah, chest harness. Suck it up girl.
My girl Pistola in the misty mountains
We still hadn't reached the peak of the mountains, the only way up was on the back of a mule. The friendly guides told us they chose our mules based on our personalities, they made a good match with me and my spunky "Pistola". She and I had a long talk about life as she trod through mud, over tree roots and around boulders. A lot of wisdom in that sweet girl, you take the load life gives you and you keep moving up and forward. Stop to eat the flowers once in a while. I'll never forget those moments together dear Pistola...sniff...
Upside down, tandem, rainy day zip-lining aka Heaven
Rappel down a 35 meter waterfall
The rest of the day was pure exhilaration. Some of the longest and highest zip-lines I have ever experienced, going FAST and getting pelted with raindrops. Rope bridges and wooden bridges that creaked and swayed as we crossed over rivers. The incredible rush of rappelling down a roaring waterfall. (I screamed "Otra vez, OTRA VEZ!" when I reached the pool at the bottom, I wanted desperately to do it again). We finished up with a water slide so extreme we had to wear a hockey helmet with a face cage to do it.
The boat ride back was a wet one, pouring rain and getting dark, we all huddled under rain coats and kept our heads down. In my little tent of shiny yellow poncho, I took some time to think about the experience. And I smiled and my heart raced and I forgot all about the pain in my breast for a while. And my relationship problems, money troubles, life complications, they all slid away. These are the kind of days I live for, when I am happiest and free. Exploring new places and embracing challenges like a warrior princess damn it. And Life. Is.Good.
I am home in Cancun now and recovering from the emergency surgery I was forced to undergo on my return from Vallarta. And feeling like a champion for not only pushing through the pain in Vallarta, but enjoying every minute of the journey, fevered and vomiting but living on FULL. What was supposed to be a "work" trip to discover the Pacific side of Mexico turned into a life event that changed my view of who I am and what I am capable. of. I will always be grateful to Vallarta, muchas gracias, there will forever be a "pata salada" part of me now, and that is a marvelous gift indeed.