A Griswald-Type Vacation in Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

The breakfast orientation
In the winter of 1982, my husband, George, and I decided to take our daughters on a week’s vacation to Puerto Vallarta. Our oldest was then aged 12; our youngest 9. For the first few days we did the usual tourist things including, to our later chagrin, signing up for a “breakfast orientation” to a new condo development. This exposed us to the world of high pressure sales techniques in which anything short of producing your last income tax return seemed to agitate the salesmen. We finally escaped and received our reward which was a seasickness inducing boat trip to Yalupa, a bit further down the coast.

Tour on horseback
Around day five we went out on a horseback tour of the surrounding countryside. We lined up for our horses. I was matched with a slowpoke, at my request. George opted for a larger and faster horse. Our youngest, a novice rider, got a tiny horse named Jet (which should have been a tip off; she shot to the front of the pack and was not seen again until the break, when the ride was over). Our twelve-year-old daughter, a more experienced rider, chose well and managed to have some control over her horse.

Shortly into the ride I was trailing the pack as expected, when my horse’s reins broke off. It seemed to take forever for the guide to notice my absence and circle back to find me astride my nag who was happily grazing off the road. He rigged a new set of reins and hurried me along to catch up with the group. We rode into a small dusty town and came upon a crowd on horseback standing around, gaping at something on the road. That “something” turned out to be George whose horse had collapsed and was not willing to get up again. The guides were loudly accusing George of having ridden the horse into the ground, threatening dire consequences. Not to be bullied, George was loudly denouncing the health and general state of the horses and hurling his own threats. I wondered whether we would see Puerto Vallarta again. The horse was finally persuaded to get up and George was assigned another horse for the return ride. At the end of the journey we were reunited with Farrell, who had experienced the entire ride as a somewhat traumatized nine-year-old leader of the pack.

As we flew out of Puerto Vallarta, we felt that we were rivals for the Griswold’s in “European Vacation”. As you might have guessed, when we returned to Vancouver, we all came down with a kind of “tourista” tummy problem, which took some time to clear up.

Would we advise other families to take such a trip with children aged 12 and 9? Yes, for sure, but do as much research as possible to ensure that you will be able to select the best accommodation for your needs. And take day trips with reputable guides. Puerto Vallarta is teeming with salespersons for time-shared deals masking as tour organizers. Avoid them like the plague.

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