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Digital Nomad Life Month 82

Month Eighty-Two was a whirlwind month of Mexico travel including road trips, waterfalls, beautiful historic towns, and beach time.

We started the month in gorgeous Queretaro, somewhere we probably wouldn’t have visited if we weren’t doing a waterfall road trip but a definite highlight of the month. From Queretaro, we hired a car and spent five days driving through the Sierra Gorda mountains and around the stunning waterfalls of Huasteca Potosina.

Next up was charming San Miguel de Allende where we slowed down and enjoyed this beautiful city, then Guanajuato where we did the same, as well as visiting the famous mummies – something I regretted, and drinking the best beer in a long time.

San Miguel street

Our time in Guadalajara was more about getting some work done and cooking – such a treat after so long without a kitchen, but we did look around the downtown and trendy Colonia Americana too.

Then it was back to the coast for the first time since the Galapagos and it was so nice to see the ocean again. We spent six busy days in Puerto Vallarta exploring the different neighborhoods, walking the Malecon, and beach hopping as well as taking the boat to lovely and chilled Yelapa. 

Our last stop of the month was hippie, gringo-filled Sayulita, where we are enjoying staying with friends and having a relaxed time at the beach and by the pool.

Now onto the stats!

Charco del Ingenio view

Countries Visited: Mexico

Places Visited:

  • Mexico: Queretaro, Bernal, Jalpan de Serra, Ciudad Valles, Xilitla, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, Sayulita

National and State Parks, Monuments, and UNESCO Sites: Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines UNESCO Site, Town of San Miguel de Allende UNESCO Site.

Islands Visited: No islands this month.

Best Meals: Enmoladas from Potzolcano Centro in Queretaro; Churros and hot chocolate from Fabrica de Chocolate in Queretaro; Chicken stuffed with goats cheese and spinach with nopales and onions from La Posidita in San Miguel de Allende; Portobello Mushroom burger from Pig’s Pearls in Guadalajara; Shrimp tacos from Gaby’s Tacos in Sayulita; Pineapple, olive, and blue cheese pizza from Pizza Venezia in Sayulita.

Enmoladas

Worst Meals: Bad chicken milanesa sandwich from the bus station in Guanajuato that made me feel sickly for hours, chicken dorado tacos from Pollo Feliz in Puerto Vallarta – really bad quality chicken.

Best Craft Beer: Ginger Ale by La Bru, Berry Summer Ale by Cerveceria Zorra, and Jolly Rancher Sour by Ludica Artesanal.

Hikes/Walks:

  • Charco del Ingenio Botanic Gardens Loop in San Miguel de Allende –  3 miles
  • Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz in Puerto Vallarta – 1 mile

Watching: Life and Beth, The Bubble, Someone Somewhere, Our Flag Means Death, I May Destroy You.

Reading: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris, Impossible to Forget by Imogene Clark.

New Posts:

I actually wrote two completely new posts this month as well as updating a number of others. I’ve been busy!

I wrote a guide to the best things to do in Door County, Wisconsin after falling in love with this beautiful place last summer, and I wrote a guide to where to stay in Crete, including the best areas to stay and various accommodation options in each – another massive 2021 highlight for me.

Highlights

Wandering Around Beautiful Queretaro

We weren’t planning on going to Queretaro although I had read that it is a beautiful city, but when we decided to hire a car from there to do a waterfall road trip, we thought we might as well spend a couple of days in town as well. 

Queretaro

So Queretaro is indeed beautiful and there isn’t a load of international tourism there either so the lively center was such a pleasant place to walk around. There are so many fantastic high-quality handicraft stores and boutiques there too and we had some excellent meals.

Waterfall Hopping in Huasteca Potosina

I first read about the beautiful waterfalls dotted around Huasteca Potosina through this article on my former client’s site, and I knew I wanted to visit. We ended up visiting four waterfalls and they were all different and equally beautiful.

Minas Viejas Waterfall

Puente de Dios was the best adventure waterfall with multiple falls and a swim through cave, getting to Tamul Waterfall involved a boat ride 3 miles each way for just a glimpse of it, Minas Viejas was super turquoise with tiered pools you can swim in, and Micos Waterfalls were another adventure one where I climbed up the first waterfall to reach the one above it.

If you love waterfalls, I highly recommend doing a waterfall road trip in Huasteca Potosina!

Touring the Surrealist Las Pozas Gardens

We didn’t just visit waterfalls on our Huasteca Potosina road trip, we also visited a couple of Pueblos Magicas (Bernal, Xilitla, and Jalpan de Serra) and the incredible La Pozas Surrealist Gardens. The land and gardens were the home of artist and aristocrat Edward James.

Las Pozas

There are 80 acres of jungle, waterfalls, abandoned houses, and outlandish surrealist sculptures, and our tour there was so interesting and beautiful.

Loving the Grand Beauty of San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende may be full of expats and American tourists but it sure is a regal and beautiful town and I thoroughly enjoyed spending hours wandering the cobbled streets and admiring the baroque, neoclassical and gothic architecture of its numerous historic buildings and churches. 

San Miguel de Allende

I also enjoyed wandering the narrow alleyways up to the viewpoint and through the Charco del Ingenio Botanic Gardens.

Exploring Colorful Guanajuato

Although I found San Miguel de Allende to be prettier, I still really enjoyed wandering the colorful streets of lovely Guanajuato. This town felt so much more local than San Miguel and there were definitely less tourists and expats there. 

Guanajuato square

Finally Some Excellent Beer in Guanajuato

We have gotten pretty used to not having access to good craft beer the last few months, certainly not US quality craft beer at least, but all that changed when we found a craft beer bar in Guanajuato that has an incredible selection of craft beers from around the world and a lovely roof terrace overlooking the city to enjoy them on.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any sours, but I had an excellent berry summer ale and an alcoholic ginger beer from two Mexican breweries. Don’t miss The Beer Company when you are visiting Guanajuato if you love good beer.

Guanajuato fountain

We Are Moving To Washington State For the Summer!

So we got some exciting news – Toby got a job as the Glamping Manager at Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State for the summer so we will be based in the Pacific North West and only 2.5 hours drive from my favorite US city – Seattle! 

We’re going to be living in an RV on-site and both working the gigs and festivals held there, although I am going to have a couple off to do a Canada road trip with my Dad. The best part is that there are lots of gaps on the event calendar which means we will have lots of time to explore beautiful Washington State and beyond too. 

Toby will be there from mid-May till October 7th and I will be there for a couple of gigs at the end of May/beginning of June, then back from mid-July for the rest of the run. I’m going to be managing the glamping check-in and I am excited for this opportunity.

Walking the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta

I didn’t expect to like Puerto Vallarta as much as I did because it was jam-packed full of tourists when we were there and there are parts of it that feel quite Americanized and resort-y, but despite that, I fell in love with the place. And I particularly loved the Malecon and walked at least part of it every day.

PV Malecon

This seaside pathway is around one mile long and there are sculptures, stalls selling food and crafts, street performers, and epic sea views. It was always an interesting place to wander and it is a big part of what makes Puerto Vallarta special.

Puerto Vallarta Malecon

All the Kitties in Puerto Vallarta

Another part of what makes Puerto Vallarta special for me is all the kitties that live there, both stray colonies and pets. Over our six days there we came to know quite a few of the local cats and would drop in to say hi to them and give them love every day. And it was always one of the highlights of my day.

Street kitty

Relaxation in Sayulita

Lovely Sayulita has a way more chilled vibe than Puerto Vallarta and I have really enjoyed my time here wandering the small town, trying different restaurants – there are so many great ones here, and exploring the different beaches around the town.

Sayulita Beach

We are so lucky that Toby’s friend Noah and his family live here and that we are able to stay with them. They have a fantastic spot with a pool overlooking the beach – definitely a step up from the cramped hostel we stayed at in Puerto Vallarta!

Attending a Women’s Group in Sayulita

Noah’s wife Sayulita (named for the town she was born in) invited me to her weekly women’s group that her and her sisters host in their family home and I thought it would be nice to spend an evening with a group of women because it has been just me and Toby for so long.

I didn’t really know what to expect but it was a deeply moving evening delving into anger and why we feel it. It was like a group therapy session with a very spiritual bent and it was exactly what I needed. 

Sayulita

Lowlights

Google Leading us Astray on our Road Trip

Google has let us down quite a few times on this trip but the biggest letdown was when it sent us on a “shortcut” in the Sierra Gorda mountains that turned into a dodgy dirt road over a mountain pass.

We were already halfway through the shortcut when it turned into a dirt road, otherwise we would have turned back, and there were a couple of times when we thought we might have to turn back anyway because the road got so bad.

Luckily we made it out the other side in the end but it actually took longer than it would have had we taken the main road, so Google put us in a dangerous situation for no reason.

crazy road

Taxes

This year was the first year I did the taxes for Toby and me (he has done it in the past) and it was a very confusing and stressful experience. The tax system in the U.S. has got to be one of the most complex in the world – especially if you are self-employed like we are.

Actually paying taxes is also not straightforward and was actually more stressful than trying to figure out what we owe. We paid part of our taxes through a third-party site that is recommended by the IRS and after paying, we read all these bad reviews saying that the company was a scam and had stolen people’s money which completely freaked me out.

So for the past week, we have been trying to get hold of the IRS to make sure the money made it to them but have spent hours on hold before giving up. Very stressful and unnecessary for the process to be this hard. Luckily we finally got through yesterday and sorted everything which was a massive relief.

Guadalajara

The Mummies of Guanajuato

There is a small museum that displays the naturally mummified bodies of local people that were disinterred because no one was paying taxes on their graves.

The environment and soil composition naturally mummified the bodies which is interesting, but I found the museum to be very voyeuristic and I felt so sorry for these people, who probably wouldn’t like that their remains are now a sideshow attraction. 

If I had the choice again, I wouldn’t go.

Dealing With a Smelly Room

It was hard to find a place within our price range for easter in Puerto Vallarta but we managed to find a private room with a bathroom in a hostel behind the Zona Romantica.

The hostel was simple but friendly, and the room was pretty basic but comfortable enough, the only problem was that is smelt like a sewer due to gases coming through the shower drain. We ended up buying Pinol disinfectant and pouring it down the drain a couple of times a day and then covering the drain with plastic, which did the trick, but I was still awoken early on a couple of occasions by the disgusting smell.

Puerto Vallarta beach

Crazy Easter/Spring Break Crowds

Traveling to a coastal destination in Mexico during Easter is not a good plan, and we knew this was going to be the case but we couldn’t really change our timeline because of the wedding next month. It was expensive to stay in Puerto Vallarta and really hard to find a decent place, and the crowds on the beach were insane.

Luckily the first couple of days weren’t too bad and we just avoided the main beaches during the weekend. It has been busy in Sayulita too but we are lucky to be staying with friends in a chilled villa complex with a pool right on a quiet part of the main beach.

Varicose Vein Pain

I have had varicose veins my whole adult life (thanks, genetics) but I have been lucky enough to not have any pain associated with them – until now. Over the past two months, I have started feeling tightness and pain in the back of my right leg where the varicose veins are, sometimes to the point where it is making me slightly limp.

It worries me because I am planning to do a lot of hiking this summer to prepare for my big 40th hiking trip in November and I really hope this new occasional pain doesn’t stop me from doing that. I don’t have health insurance so I can’t afford to get them removed in the US, and I am never back in New Zealand long enough to do it there.

I guess time will tell and I will just have to see what happens.

San Miguel park

Laptop Keyboard Sticking

My new laptop keyboard has started giving me issues the last couple of days with some of the keys sticking when I type. I didn’t spill anything on it so I have no idea why it’s happening and why sometimes it seems to work fine. Very frustrating!

Spending

A lot of these costs are my half with Toby paying the other half. I also don’t include international flights in my recaps.

Total: USD$1633

Not bad after an expensive month in the Galapagos last month. Next month will probably be pretty similar if not a bit more with all the family wedding events coming up, then traveling in the US which is definitely more expensive than Mexico – especially for gas when you are driving an RV from 1980!

Accommodation $377

My 26 nights of paid accommodation for the month consisted of three nights in a hotel in Queretaro, two nights in a hotel in Jalpan de Serra, two nights in a hotel in Ciudad Valles, five nights in a private room in a hostel in San Miguel de Allende, four nights in a hotel in Guanajuato, four nights in a hostel private room in Guadalajara, and six nights in a hostel private room in Puerto Vallarta.

My five nights of unpaid accommodation for the month consisted of five nights staying with friends in Sayulita.

Food and Drink $576

Pretty average month for food and beverage spending. We mostly ate out but did cook a few meals in Guadalajara.

Puerto Vallarta malecon sculptures

Clothing $63

  • Heeled sandals $19
  • Flip flops $24
  • Sarong $20

Transport $252

  • Taxis & Ubers in Queretaro, San Miguel del Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta $49
  • Bus from Mexico City to Queretaro $19
  • Five-day car hire from Queretaro $50 (my half)
  • Gas $36
  • Road tolls $3
  • Bus from Queretaro to San Miguel de Allende $4.50
  • Bus from San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato $6
  • Bus from Guanajuato to Guadalajara $31
  • Bus from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta $37
  • Bus and boat from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa $13
  • Bus from Puerto Vallarta to Playa la Gemelas $1
  • Bus from Puerto Vallarta Airport to Sayulita $2.50

Activities $55

  • Puente de Dios Waterfall entry fee $6.50
  • Tamul Waterfall boat fee $10
  • Micos Waterfalls entry fee $5
  • Mina Viejas Waterfall entry fee $5.50
  • Entry and English Tour Guide for Las Pozas Gardens in Xilitla $10
  • Entry to Charco Del Ingenio Botanic Gardens in San Miguel de Allende $5
  • Entry to Guanajuato Mummies Museum $5.50
  • Funicular in Guanajuato $3.50
  • Entrance to La Valenciana Mine in Guanajuato and guide tip $4

San Miguel at night

Other $253

  • Hulu $7.50
  • Phone plan $35
  • Toiletries $61
  • One Month Travel Insurance $42
  • Laundry $5.50
  • Hand Bag $17.50
  • Earrings $17.50
  • Donations $3
  • Silk eyemask $14
  • 128GB USB $15
  • Silk pillowcase $30
  • Decorative balls $5

Website Costs $32

  • Monthly payment for Keysearch $12
  • Website Domain Renewal for One Year $20

Van/RV Costs $25

  • Van Insurance $25

Micos Waterfall

What’s in Store for Next Month

The first half of next month will still be spent in Mexico before we finally return to the US after five months in Latin America – I’m sure it’s going to be a big culture shock!

We will still have three days left in chilled Sayulita before flying to Mexico City where we will have nine nights. The family starts flying in for my brother-in-law’s wedding from the 27th, including my Dad who is flying in from New Zealand! We have some pre-wedding events from the 3rd of May and then the wedding is in Cholula a couple of days later.

A few days after the wedding, Dad and I are flying back to the US and have a short time in the Denver area before starting our ten-day road trip over to Gorge Amphitheater through Montana. I am excited to see more of Montana including mountain towns, hot springs, hiking trails, and hopefully some wildlife.

To read additional Monthly Recaps, you can find them here

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