|Puerto Vallarta from the boat. The perfect viewpoint.|
So the first thing we saw when the five of us disembarked the boat was a giant Walmart. This seemed like an easy way to ease in to the Mexican culture, so we headed over to the megastore, along with what seemed like an inordinate number of our fellow passengers. I guess the visions of diving and ziplining would have to wait until after they'd stocked up on Twinkies and Fruit Loops. Strangely, it was in Walmart that I found my calling for this port venture. Prices in Mexican Walmarts are marked in pesos and the exchange rate when we were there was roughly 16 pesos per American dollar. If you want to see people looking confused, tell them that they have to divide the marked price by 16. Now math just happens to be my thing, so I spent my time wandering around the store, and every time I saw somebody looking puzzled by the price of something, I would convert it to US dollars and shout out the new total for them. This entertained me for quite a while until I happened to wander a little too close to the women's lingerie department. Apparently shouting out $50 US at women holding up negligees can be misconstrued in foreign countries, and it was decided that we should probably gather our purchases and make our way back out in to town.
|The only real local store we could find.|
The Disney Cruise Line has plenty of options available for you at each port. I counted 23 different outings being sold for Puerto Vallarta at the Port Adventures desk on the ship, some of which looked almost interesting enough to tempt me away from my buffet fantasy. The advantage of buying your tour from Disney is that they will take care of everything for you, and you are guaranteed to be back in time for departure or they will make arrangements to get you back (most likely holding the ship for you). The disadvantage, of course, is price. You will pay more booking a port adventure through Disney than if you booked it yourself, but if you book it yourself and something goes wrong, you're on your own. I leave these decisions up to each of you, but again I encourage you to plan something.
We actually got to spend two days in Cabo, so on the first day we went ashore just to take a look around. You can get away with this here, as there is a line of shops and restaurants as soon as you step off the docks. We spent the day wandering, sampling some authentic Mexican cuisine (Dairy Queen) and checking out some local stores (the leather whip store was my favorite) before heading back to the ship. While making our way to the docks, we came upon a booth called Cub Paradise for Help, which advertises itself as a wildlife preservation agency. Their deal is that for $25 you can get a picture taken holding their baby tigers. Both of my girls are crazy about animals, so we decided to give it a go. It occurred to me later that real animal preservation agencies probably wouldn't have live tigers in a baby crib on a sidewalk in Mexico, but it seemed reasonable to me at the time. They set us on a bench and grabbed the two animals (I think it was one lion and one tiger) out of the crib and handed them to us. I was hoping for just a quick picture and then put the animals back, but the people running the booth seemed to have a specific pose in mind, and were attempting to get the animals to look at the camera. When the jingling of keys didn't accomplish this goal, they pulled out the heavy artillery, and started showing the animals the ice cream cones they had. This seemed to appeal to the lion's basic instinct to stalk and prey upon waffle cones, and he became very focused on the soft serve treats that the people with the cameras had. The tiger, however, had decided that he was all done, and started to growl in that "It's time to put me down" sort of tone. My daughter, who was holding the tiger, didn't really know what to do, as dropping a tiger doesn't seem like one of those things you should do, even if you want to. I could have helped her out, but I'd joined the lion in being fascinated with the ice cream that was being waved in front of me, and I was trying to work out if we had enough time to double back to the Dairy Queen before the last tender back to the cruise ship left. Eventually my wife convinced the people running the booth that we would be fine with just one animal in the shot, and we got our picture taken, collected the print, and headed back to the ship.
|The Final Shot|
|They gave us a copy of the two lion shot. Can you tell I'm watching the ice cream?|
Please understand that our family doesn't have a particularly strong sense of adventure when it comes to these kind of activities, and our choices should probably be viewed as the mildest of options. There are plenty more things you can choose to do such as sport fishing, whale watching, horseback riding or regatta yacht racing. You can make the story of your port visit as exciting or as relaxing as you like. Of course if you really want something to tell the grandchildren about, tell them about that time you took on the buffet on the Disney Wonder all by yourself.