Saturday, 1 February 2014

Trip to Tonala

We are like a couple of kids on Christmas eve every time that we take a trip. Every hour, one of us is up checking the clock, silently asking; “is it time to get up yet?” Finally, at 5:30, we allowed ourselves to tumble out of bed to get ready for our trip to Tonala. “If we get an early start, we will be there early enough in the day to enjoy the city. Tonala is a small town just outside of Guadalajara, about 4 ½ hours drive from Puerto Vallarta. With any luck, once we had our breakfast and got on our way, we would be there around noon.

The bells wake everyone up at 7:00 am sharp!


Dressed for the cooler weather!


The church in the town square

The police getting ready for a day's work.


Having researched the route the day before, we were confident that we knew our way, but as anyone who has used MapQuest or a GPS knows, these things are not always accurate.
After driving around in circles just north of Puerto Vallarta for an hour and a half, we finally stopped at a gas station and explained that we were trying to find the road that ran directly east to Guadalajara. We showed the map to the attendant, and she just shook her head when we showed her the road we were trying to find; “bad road” she said in her very limited English. She pointed to the highway that ran north, back toward the U.S. for about 2 hours, before turning southeast toward Guadalajara. Why is it that the hardest part of an adventure is figuring out where you are going?
Fortunately, the highway that runs north is a lovely, tree shaded road that passes several lovely beach towns that are frequented by those who want something a little quieter than PV. Once we turned east, we travelled through lovely sugar cane fields, a moonscape-like lava field, and eventually acres of agave farms, leading into the legendary town of Tequila where the famous drink originates.

Rooftop garden

Narrow streets; all one way!

Hmm, which one should I buy?

 Finally, we arrived in Guadalajara, but rather than taking the freeway that we were on all the way to the town of Tonala, we somehow misread the signs, and ended up travelling right through the center of town. We had to stop every 10 minutes or so to ask for directions in our very limited Spanish, and managed to make ourselves understood. The challenge, of course, is trying to figure out what the heck people were telling us when they answered us! After another hour of driving around in circles, we finally found the town, but again had to repeat the entire frustrating process in order to find our hotel! After 7 hours of driving, we were finally at our hotel!

Casa Las Palomas was a delightful little hotel, very clean, quiet and safe, with friendly, helpful staff. At only $40 a night, this was a real bargain, and they happily welcomed Ricky dog!
The town of Tonala is like the Mexico of years past, with few people speaking English, and the prices for everything from food to crafts at a fraction of the price that people are paying in the more popular tourist towns. We had lots of fun trying to converse with the locals, and they were patient, helpful, and kind. We ended up buying more glassware and pottery than we will ever use, and are wondering how we are going to get it back to Arizona, never mind White Rock!
I highly recommend this trip to anyone who has the time while in Puerto Vallarta or any of the other popular tourist towns that are within an easy day’s drive. However, you might want to take a tour, as it will definitely be less stressful!

Bryce wanted to buy the quintuplets, but there was no more room in the jeep!


Mama's family wagon!
Princess dress, anyone?


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