Nueva Italia de Ruiz
Having not aforementioned this, Rosa’s car was actually playing up: burning oil and having some power issues, although, it had just come out of the mechanic’s the day before we set off. In Acapulco we visited a mechanic who assured us just putting more oil in it and taking it easy would get us back to Mexico City for a repair. It became now a game of pulling over and checking oil levels constantly with the car.
As we left Papanoa, we had no real objective location to get to for that evening, I was not able to drive because of my eyesight and from what I recall the only place that jumped out at me to stop for the night was Nueva Italia de Ruiz. It was a nothing town, frankly, nothing to see, thankfully the first thing I saw on google maps (which for the record doesn’t work in Mexico that well, a shoe shop can be listed as a restaurant just like a hair salon can be listed as a mechanical workshop, so everything has to be taken with a pinch of salt, but what I did see was) was a hotel. We gave it ago, and to our surprise it was a clean, modern, civilized and empty hotel… and above all, not expensive.
The following morning after a yoga session by the pool, a brief and painfully freezing swim, we hit the road. The good news was that my eyes at this point were feeling much better, the burning pain had gone and my vision was much clearer. In my life I’d never had such an unpleasant experience being blinded like that.
We headed north toward to Guadalajara, we felt the car was getting worse despite the oil being topped up regularly. Rosa found a hotel online and booked it before we got there so it was one thing less to worry about in a big city. Our hotel situated on a busy roundabout on appearance gave us no hope, but upon entering it, it was a motel layout, and was a tiny oasis, you could hardly hear the traffic noise outside and covered with palm trees and a pool really gave a sense of tranquillity. We stayed a couple of nights owing to the car being repaired. It worked out that Rosa’s mechanic had in short: covered the leak with a tonne of silicone to hide the problem.
And the problem was a small rubber gasket on the return valve to the engine from the turbo had degraded, and instead of replacing it, the mechanic just covered the affected area with instant gasket. Which in turn, when it heated up, became unstable and loose and caused all manner of issues, aside from the whole of the underside of the car being now covered in oil, we also had some other issues to address with transmission and the turbo.
The amusing thing is, the repair to the car in a genuine Volvo dealer wasn’t expensive, in fact it was cheaper (parts and labour) than the charge at the other mechanic. Admittedly, we only repaired the leak as without that repair it would be impossible to diagnose further damage.
Not only was it cheaper, we were treated like VIPs with those fancy coffees while we waited for a quote, a chauffeur drove us back to the hotel and when we got the car back it was valeted inside and out, with complimentary cookies. I still to this day still wonder where does a con-artist mechanic gets off on his abysmal jobs.
From Guadalajara we headed to Puerto Vallarta, mum had been in touch with a friend of my sister Liana and her and her family were out there on vacation at Puerto Vallarta.
We arrived in town without any hotel reservation; and in no time (despite it now being 24th December) we managed to find a decent hotel, sure it was expensive but we were in Puerto Vallarta and it was Christmas the next day.
We met Liana and her husband Hussain and their two kids; we had a nice supper in the marina followed by a walk to a ice-cream parlour for some choice ice-creams, and by that point the kids were getting tired so we walked the family to their hotel and caught a taxi to ours.
The following day (Christmas Day), we had plans of a casual day of nothing, but worked out to be an impossibility. We were in desperate need of laundry was one item, second was that nowhere was open so to get breakfast we had to drive into the old part of the town to find somewhere. Driving into the old Puerto Vallarta wasn’t necessarily a bad thing; we had probably the nicest experience we could have ever imagined, a lovely sunny bright restaurant full of cheerful (probably still drunk from the night before) waiters, which bended over backward to be as pleasant as possible, and succeeded at making our Mexican Christmas experience great! The atmosphere and the décor and authenticity of the place really made the whole breakfast thing fantastic. Not sure why we were so amazed by it, but it was lovely. Latter that day after some sightseeing in the old town, we re-met with Liana, and family for another supper.