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Getting to Know Casa Rana


Concerto in Hotel Saint Angel. Four hours earlier we were winding our way over the mountains to PV. Mexico has always been a land of contrasts for us.

Taking the fast lane to the a new life. We drove to Puerto Vallarta on August 9, 2010 to move Karen and Lilly into Casa Rana.  It was the second of our moving trips and the Iron Duke, our 1996 136,000 mile Jeep, was stuffed to the gills this time as well.  We covered 1500 miles and were in PV by 4:00PM on day three.  We threw our stuff in Casa Rana as fast as we could and two hours later we were at a mini-concert in PV’s most exclusive hotel, three blocks down the street.   Later we had dinner at my favorite restaurant, Barcelona, four blocks in the other direction from our house.  We swayed our way back to Casa Rana that night, feeling that we were in the middle of  everything.  The next morning we found out  that “everything” included a far away rooster, a way-too-close barking dog, and a neighborhood that liked to get up early on Sunday mornings.  After an all day shopping trip the next day to the Walmart, CostCo, and the Sariana market, I was on the plane back to Los Angeles and my girls were starting their lives in Puerto Vallarta.  If the first couple of days were any view to the future, something told me that KR’s life in PV would be anything but leisurely.

The following pictures are the “before” pictures, showing Casa Rana as it was when we bought it and immediately upon moving in.  It’s going to change pretty rapidly.

Five easy blocks to the beach, its five tough blocks going up to Casa Rana

My motto: "Happy wife, happy life." KR in front of Casa Rana. This view is of Calle Corona, toward the beach.

Looking north on Calle Miramar. Casa Rana is on the left. This street is one of only two ways to get to the house.

KR and Lilly go for their first walk together around the neighborhood.  This is looking south on Calle Miramar.

KR and Lilly go for their first walk around the neighborhood

Looking at the dining room and kitchen from the living room

Living room

The living room, with a view onto Calle Corona

KR marks her territory with two horses in the window

The kitchen. Previous owner was into minimalist design

FW's office

The Propellant Group's Mexican branch office

In the center of the house is an open courtyard. When it rains, one needs an umbrella to get to the spare bedroom and office

Looking up the stairs towards FW's office. Above the office is a sun deck

Master bedroom.  Guest bedroom is similar, except it opens into the courtyard

Master bedroom. Guest bedroom is similar, but opens onto the courtyard.

Lilly after her first walk to the neighborhood Starbucks

Figuring Out How to Make Work Conform to My Life(style) and Not the Other Way Around

One of the most important challenges in trying to reorder the priorities of one’s life is figuring out how to reconfigure how you make a living.  The question is not so much changing what you do, but changing how you deliver it and to whom.  For many people, I suppose, this isn’t an option.  An electrician needs to go where the electricity needs to be.  A secretary needs an office.  A bus driver needs a bus.  But for many, reconfiguring delivery is doable.  Herein lies a case history.

Getting Back in the Saddle: Your Basic 7-7 Job

Demoing Snap during its introduction in New York. I'm the guy on the right:)

My trek from the normal really began in early 2005 when I reentered the “normal” world, becoming the COO of Snap.com, a next generation search engine and advertising platform owned by Idealab.    Snap was my first “job” in quite some time.  For the ten years prior, I had been an entrepreneur in one fashion or another.

For the next 2 1/2 years I went into Snap’s office for 12 hours a day and usually part of the weekends.   The work was great fun and challenging as we were building something difficult and potentially important.   After a while, though, I began asking myself, why am I doing this? It wasn’t the long hours of hard work that bothered me as I’ve always been a workaholic, nor was it the nature of the work.  Rather, it was the lack of flexibility in doing the work.  My daily agenda was set by my boss or the umpteen meetings that I took every day.  I found it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue the things that I really cared about.  I just didn’t have the time or energy to do what I wanted after I came home in the evenings.

I started to think about taking back control.  Could I make a living in a more flexible manner?  What I was good at and who would be interested in it?.  My answer boiled down to the same thing: I’m good at building things:  teams, groups, companies, products.  I like the process of creating and getting people working together.

Couldn’t I do this in a way that gave me more control and freedom?  I didn’t know, but I was willing to find out.

Taking Back Control

In the Spring of 2007 I resigned from Snap and in September of that year co-founded The Propellant Group with two other C-level entrepreneurs.  Our mission was simple: help early stage companies grow and succeed.   From the very beginning, we built TPG to be flexible, low-cost and high-impact:

  • Simplification to the extreme:  TPG has three elements:  Clients, Partners and our Work.  That’s it. Everything else either gets in the way or takes money away from profits.   We didn’t really need much accounting or legal support either.  From revenue, we subtracted a few costs, set aside a little money for future expenses, and divided the rest by three and made out three checks.
  • No offices: We decided early on that TPG would operate out of our individual houses.  No formal offices which means… no personal lease commitment, no extra overhead, no furniture, no maintenance, no…. ANYTHING!  We thought this would be a big problem for clients.  It wasn’t, our clients seemed to embrace the idea that quality doesn’t necessarily only come from big and structured.  Especially for our clients.
  • No infrastructure:  We had a bank account and that was it.  No stationery, no copy machine, and no administrative assistants.   No hard lines and no faxes.  We each had a cell phone, access to the Internet, and business cards.

This took a little getting use to, even for three guys who had  built companies from scratch.  We had to jettison our belief that self-worth and potential impact were tied to nice offices and a recognized name.  We had to go down the stairs, or across the hall, or sit at the dining room table and do the work even if we were in our jammies.  We needed to feel confident in meeting prospective clients at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and not let it bother us.  This isn’t for everyone. Over the past three years, TPG has gone through a number of partners partly because the unstructured nature of the business was uncomfortable.

My work regimen changed over night.  The first thing one notices is that the 2 hours each day lost in commuting is re-found.  So, immediately my 12 hour day is down to 10.  Next is time lost in frivolous meetings and around-the-office meandering and stuff:  probably another four hours.  Now we’re down to six hours without a noticeable impact on productivity.  And that folks is the payoff:  work 1/2 the time, accomplish the same output, and gain a life-changing amount of control in your life.

For Adults Only

There are significant downsides to my configuration, as one might expect.  Downside #1:  there are no viable excuses for not getting something done.  The dog ate the homework doesn’t cut it.  Sometimes you just have to put your head down and get it done, no matter what else is going on.  Downside #2:  There are always lots of other things going on:)  Distractions can be well…. distracting.  Downside #3:  You have to get use to working anywhere, and I mean anywhere.  Boat, plane, motorcycle, Starbucks, on the side of the road, at the kitchen table, at the client’s office, at a restaurant, or wherever.   This is where most people get confused:  this isn’t a vacation, its a different way of organizing one’s life.  And work is and will be the engine that drives it.

The Cost and Value of Flexibility

Here’s the bottom line audit of this move:  my income has gone down about 45%, the amount of time I devote to work has gone down about about 50%, and the amount of flexibility in my life is up 1000%.   As a result, the last three years have been some of the happiest of my life.  I wouldn’t (and won’t) change a thing.

How Far Can “It” Be Pushed?

My quest is to be able to make a living while  “on the road” for long periods of time.   So, here’s what I’m going to try:  (1) Continue to live in Los Angeles (in Steve and Rita’s basement just as long as they will put up with me) as a my homebase;  (2) Work while we take a motorcycle trip through South America; and (3) Work from Los Angeles and our Mexican headquarters in Puerto Vallarta upon return.  Repeat sequence as often as possible.

Will this work?  I have no idea.  I’ll keep you posted.

Transition to a Working Nomad…

Last of the Mohigans? Office at the Idealab, an incubator of tech company startups. Snap was housed in this office.

First world headquarters of The Propellant Group -- our house in Hollywood.

Being able to concentrate has its challenges. This is Little Big Sur.

Who says an office needs walls? This is my office at Little Big Sur.

TPG has thousands of branch offices worldwide. My vote for best company on earth is Starbucks. Now with free Wi-Fi. It doesn't get any better than this.

Having clients that worry about the product, not the package is a good thing. Here's my "office" in a conference room at United States Artists

Working at the kitchen table in a house in Fiambala, Argentina. The kitchen also served as dining room, living room and den:)

Basement Beauty. Current offce in the basement of Steve and Rita's. I've spent a lot of good times on the keyboards right here.

In Which We Try to Take Advantage of a Real Estate Tsunami

When we began going to PV in 2006, it was in the midst of a building boom hard to describe.   For years PV had been a relatively small tourist town best known for fishing, good beaches and lively nightlife.  Nestled against the mountains, it was never going to be as big or commercial as Cancun or Acapulco. Then us Baby Boomers must have found it and the go-go days began, with new hotels, condos and shopping centers springing up all along the Banderas Bay.   Every trip down brought new arrivals:  Walmart, CostCo, Home Depot, Office Max, a high end shopping center, more super mercados and FIVE Starbucks.     Finding a new finished condo was nearly impossible, so people began putting down pre-construction deposits on planned paradises.

We flew to PV on our anniversary in 2006 on a whim and a prayer of finding some place on the beach we could eventually call home. That thought was quickly killed as prices for anything with “beach” in it were $500K and up – and I mean up!  Spending a couple of million was not unusual. There were lots of villas in the high seven and low eights.   We were shocked and depressed until we stumbled on Little Big Sur (or what would eventually become LBS) in the jungle south of PV.  We had found our beach place at something we could afford.  Granted, it wasn’t exactly a house since it had no walls, but that’s another story.  None the less, we made PV our home away from home.

None of us knew it, but PV (and Mexico) was about to be hit by a Perfect Storm of economic disaster.  First up was the tsunami from the US housing market earthquake.  Pre-construction deposits stopped, construction was slowed on most of the developments, and “Se Vende” signs sprung up everywhere.   Then the H1N1 virus scare pretty much stopped all tourist traffic (and was probably the nail in the Mexicana Airlines’ coffin).  Finally, Americans and Mexicans read daily newspaper stories on the escalating Narco Wars.  Add all this up and you get restaurants that are half empty, condos that are half built, streets that you can cross without fear of being run-over, and shops closing for the off-season never to return.

The mood amongst Vallartans was never grim, however, as Puerto Vallarta is and always will be a party town. But the exuberance that once flowed through everything was gone.  Vallartan’s were quietly holding their breadths, hoping that it would all blow over – and soon!

Into this Perfect Economic Storm, Karen and I came looking to buy a place.  I admit that I was pretty exuberant having been on the other end of the stick  just weeks prior.  This was our opportunity to find our perfect place at a price we could afford and I was pretty obnoxious in expressing this goal.

As usual, KR and I approached buying real estate from different perspectives.  I was open for a bigger house in a borderline neighborhood, so I could store all our vehicles.  I wanted to build a Man Cave.   I was also in no hurry and definitely in the Manana frame of mind about buying a place.  I felt that the market was going south, not north, any time soon.

Karen wasn’t into fixing a place up, didn’t really care about a garage, wanted to be in central PV so we could be close to the action, and definitely wanted to find a place yesterday so she could start making a new nest.   Our negotiated Want List included a pool, view, at least two bedrooms, a garage and a price less than $350K.

Karen flew down to PV in mid-May to begin looking.  First thing she did was one of our best moves — we hired Harriet Murray as our Real Estate Agent and How-to-Live-in-Puerto Vallarta Expert.  Harriet not only knows real estate but she’s worked with enough Gringos-in-a-Strange-Land to be a walking encyclopedia of how to make The Move.

Looking at real estate is different in PV. First off, there is no one source of all things for sale – an equivalent to the MLS—but rather several privately aggregated lists and the listings from the various real estate agents.  The best way of finding out about new places is to always be looking, talking with other agents/owners, going to events, and monitoring web sites.  New places were being discovered every day.  Between the three of us – Harriet, Karen and me – we looked at dozens and dozens of places either virtually or figuratively.   At the end of each day KR and I would have a Skype call comparing places and talking about  pros and cons.  My favorite metric for any house was “Days on the Market”.  It wasn’t unusual for this number to be way over 300 days – easily into the 700 day range.  Can you see the smile?

Once KR had a “short” list of possibilities, I flew down to PV to close the deal.

Moving to a new city is full of surprises, even if you think you know the place pretty well.  We thought we knew the town pretty well, beyond just being tourists, as we had spent a lot of time scouring the back streets looking for stoves, cement, beds, furniture, tools and the like.  We’d gotten around via buses, land and water taxis, and rental cars.  One of the reasons we had selected PV was we were comfortable there

Yet, we were to find out there is a big difference between visiting a place (even often) and living there.  In a little more than three days, Harriet drove us through more of PV than I’d seen in all the years coming down.  I got to know all the little neighborhoods, appreciate their quirks and nuances, and came to see even more of the non-tourist part of PV.   Verseilles, Conchas Chinas, El Centro, Amapas, Romantic Zone, Marina, the Hotel Zone, Las Gaviotas, the Marina, Gringo Gulch, and many more.

Some of these neighborhoods were mostly Gringos or other foreigners, some were mainly Mexican, and many were a combo.  Conchas Chinas, for example, is informally known as the Beverly Hills of PV.  Located in the hills immediately south of Old Town and along the coast, Conchas Chinas was quiet, secluded, and features condos and villas with breathtaking views of the Bay and the City.  Because of the downturn, we could afford to look in Conchas Chinas and it was very, very seductive.   One of the finalists in our search, “Casa Romantica #5” (all homes have names in PV), with stunning views, a gorgeous pool, a garage, outdoor grill, a beautiful kitchen and well…just about everything.

But like its namesake, CC was insulated from the rest of PV.   Reachable only by car because of the steep hills, the CC lifestyle meant days and evenings hang’n at home rather than an easy walk down the street.   Could we live the vacation lifestyle 24/7?

We learned that when someone describes a neighborhood as Mexican, it’s a code word for loud.   As in people, kids, chickens, cars, and music all at high volumes, at all times of the day and night.   It usually also  means dirt streets and unfinished houses (this sounds a lot worse than it is, these are often charming places, but just rough around the edges) and far from the beach.

We weren’t ready for “Full Mexican,” but were up for a mixed neighborhood of Gringos and Mexicans like El Centro.  As its name implies, El Centro is the center of PV and is one of the oldest parts of town.  We liked the El Cerro section quite a bit – in the hills above the main town.  It had cobble stone streets, a mix of Mexicans and foreigners, a few restaurants and hole-in-the-wall shops, and was close to everything.

KR (and I admit me too) fell in love with a converted 100 year-old adobe house named Casa Rana in  El Cerro.  It had been totally redone to make it a charming mini-hacienda with all the modern conveniences on the inside, yet it looked like a small, old adobe house on the outside.   At 2100 square feet, it was huge for all standards, with two bedrooms and an office.

Of course, there were significant downsides to Casa Rana.  No air conditioning, no pool, no view, no garage and it was was going to be loud.  It was on one of the main north/south routes through PV which meant there was traffic at all hours of the day.  This problem was made all the worse as this “main thoroughfare” was less than a car width wide, meaning it was impossible to keep tiles on the roof as trucks keep knocking them down.

Before we got on the plane back to LA, we’d made an offer on Casa Rana, had back and forth counters, and made an offer on Casa Romantica in between.   We finally made a deal on Casa Rana a few days after getting back.

Wow, I guess we’re really doing this…

 

The Complete “Little Big Sur” Users  Guide

What is “Little Big Sur”

Little Big Sur is a 1500 sq ft palapa on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. This view is toward the front door and looking at the back patio, which faces the mountains. The ocean is on the other side.

“Little Big Sur” (LBS) is our palapa in the jungle about two hours south of Puerto Vallarta in a village called Los Chonchos.   It is only accessible by water taxi from a beach town called Boca de Tomatlan (about 45 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta).   LBS is totally off the grid, but has electricity, full kitchen, full bathroom and enough room to sleep anywhere from 2-8 people.

You will be visiting a place of paradoxes.  LBS is miles and miles away from anything, yet you’ll be able to see civilization pass you by each day and night.  You’ll be living OUTSIDE, affected directly by the weather, insects, animals, ocean, and everything that crawls around; but you’ll have ice, electricity, indoor plumbing, and your Blackberry will work.  After the first 30 minutes on the water taxi towards LBS, you’ll think, “What have I got myself into?” After the first 30 minutes at LBS, you’ll be thinking, “Oh, this could be good.” If you’re like me, you’ll be worrying that there’s nothing to do out here, but you won’t be bored for one minute.

Because LBS is in a remote location, one generally has to cart in food and everyday supplies.  For this reason, we recommend staying the previous night in Puerto Vallarta to do your shopping.

This Users Guide will make more sense once you’re there.  In the meantime, print this for reference.

Getting to Puerto Vallarta and the airport

Many airlines fly to Puerto Vallarta either directly or indirectly.  Indirect flights via Phoenix (the best alternative), Dallas, Guadalajara (a great little airport) or Mexico City (to be avoided if at all possible) are all available.  Prices range widely by season and we recommend booking as far ahead as possible.

PV’s airport is modern and compact.   You’ll go through Immigration first and then walk to baggage claim, pick up your luggage and go through Customs.  All luggage is x-ray’d at customs to see if you’re bringing in undeclared items.  If you are one of the unlucky ones and get a red light at customs, your bags will be searched.  This is not a big deal as we’ve literally brought in tons of stuff to PV and only once paid a 100 peso fine.  If you’re bringing in any new items, we suggest taking them out of their boxes and keep your receipts.

Once past Customs, just walk through the doors and keep going despite a bunch of official looking folks aggressively trying to get your attention.  They are all time share salespeople.  Just ignore them or tell them you live here.  Go out the door on the right and look for a white taxi.

If you’re staying at the Corona Adobe, tell the Taxi driver “Corner of Corona and Miramar in El Centro.”   Ask what the cost is ahead of time (there are no meters on taxis, rather they charge by zone).   Fare is about 230 pesos.

Your Stay in Puerto Vallarta before going to LBS

IMG-20130929-00434

The Corona Adobe is located in the hills of El Centro in the oldest section of Puerto Vallarta.

More often than not, you’ll end up staying a night in PV prior to going out to Little Big Sur.   We offer combination packages of our Bed & Wine and Little Big Sur.   When you arrive at Corona Adobe, just ring the bell and you’ll be let in.  You’ll be shown to your room and given a set of keys.

  • Everything you eat and drink needs to be brought in with you, including booze, food, HB&A, water, bug repellant, etc.  LBS has a fully operational kitchen and solar refrigerator.  All kitchen utensils are included.

It’s easy to get around in Puerto Vallarta as there are taxis everywhere.  You will need to walk down the hill from Corona Adobe to get a taxi.   Tell the driver where you want to go and always ask what the cost will be before getting in.

There are many, many things to do in Puerto Vallarta.  Go to http://www.coronaadobe.com website for some ideas.

Getting to Boca de Tomatlan and the water taxi ride to Los Chonchos

The first step is a 45 minute land taxi from Puerto Vallarta to a beach town called Boca de Tomatlan south of PV. Walk down the hill from Corona Adobe and flag a taxi.  Tell them you’re going to Boca (the charge should be around 200 pesos).  Since you’ll probably be carrying a lot of stuff, have the taxi go back up to Corona Adobe to get your things.

then

The taxi loading up at the Boca pier. It can sometimes get crowded. The good news is that the more people there are, the smoother the ride.

The morning taxi leaves at 9:00AM.  You should be in the land taxi on the way to Boca no later than 8:00AM.

Once you arrive in Boca, tell the driver to drop you off at the pier (there’s only one, but its way to the right as you drive down the hill).  There is one water taxi that goes to Los Chonchos and its called “Nayalit II”.   You load onto the taxi at the lower platform at the end of the pier.  You can pay 50 pesos to one of the kids to help you cart your stuff to the end of the pier.

At 9:00AM (or 3:00PM in the afternoon) they start to load the taxi. The taxi drivers will load your belongings.  SIT AS FAR BACK IN THE TAXI AS YOU CAN. for a smoother ride.  This should cost anywhere between 125-150 pesos.  If you have lots of stuff, its nice to tip the drivers 50 pesos each.

The water taxi ride to Chonchos is either one of our favorite or least favorite parts of the trip, depending on how much stuff we have and how rough the Bay is.   The ride hugs the shore going south and the view is spectacular, with the jungle mountains coming right to the water’s edge.   The taxi stops at little villages along the way and you’ll be amazed that people of all ages and health climb in and out of the boat.   This should give you encouragement that you, too, can do it.

Landing on the beach at Los Chonchos

Ass over tea kettle: CB mounts the taxi on the way home. He’s the one in the green shorts.

Unloading the taxi at the Chonchos beach

We unload the taxi from the front.  Which means that once you get close to Chonchos, you’ll crawl toward the bow and get ready to jump off the boat into the surf.

  • Off-loading Hints to Keep in Mind. (1) You will jump/slide off the boat in the surf.  You will get wet.  Everything in your pockets will get wet.   Anything that you value should be put in a Ziploc bag – wallets, passports, watches, etc., etc.  We’ve never lost anything to the water, but we’ve seen it happen.  So, just assume it’s a Normandy-style landing.  (2) Get off the boat as it goes down in the surf, not up.  The driver and his helper will signal you when to jump off.  (3) Don’t carry anything when you jump off, or else you’ll probably lose your balance.  Once in the surf, we’ll begin the process of grabbing stuff off the boat and carrying it up the sand to safety.

Finally, don’t bring a lot of stuff because you’ll end up carrying it up the Mule Highway. No nice suitcases.  Preferred luggage is an old duffel bag that has wheels so you can pull it up the hill, rather than carry it.

then

Artemio and Pamela can be used if you have a lot of stuff.  Cost is about 50 pesos

Once onto the beach, you’ll be greeted by one of the men and taken up to Little Big Sur.  LBS is high on the cliff overlooking the bay, about 1000 yards from the landing beach.  The path to LBS meanders in through the jungle and requires something other than flip flops to negotiate safely.

The weather and what to wear

The official Season in PV is from November-May with the weather usually in the 80’s during the days.  It sometimes gets a bit windy/chilly at night, especially in the Feb-March timeframe.  Since we’re in effect living/sleeping outside, one “dresses” for the weather.

Shorts and a swimsuit, no long pants are required.  I would bring a couple of  tops– t-shirts, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and a fleece jacket/vest for night.  For a couple of days last March, we had on every layer at night as there was a 20+ mph winds etc.

Shoes are the hardest to figure out.  Flip-flops are the shoe of choice in PV and once at LBS.   I use water-shoes for the trip out and back, but bare feet are fine as well.  You’ll probably want to bring a hiking sandal – something that’s open, has straps and is waterproof.   Flip flops don’t work for hiking.

Sleeping Accommodations

There are three beds and two couches.   Only the master bedroom has walls.   There is a Queen size bed upstairs, which is the second best place. There is a King size bed outside on the lower deck.  This has the best view and ocean sounds, but is totally outside.  Bundle up. There is a big couch in the living room.   And another smaller couch on the outside deck that is large enough for sleeping.

The deck, with the outside lounging bed on one end, and the built-in couch on the other.

The deck, with the outside lounging bed on one end, and the built-in couch on the other.

The living room, looking out toward the deck. “Dining room” is on the right. Kitchen is further right out of camera view. The

The living room, looking out toward the deck. “Dining room” is on the right. Kitchen is further right out of camera view. The

Primary outdoor activity at Little Big Sur is laying on the outside bed and watching the whales. We spotted whales every day, with the record being a gaggle of more than 30+ swimming by.

Primary outdoor activity at Little Big Sur is laying on the outside bed and watching the whales. We spotted whales every day, with the record being a gaggle of more than 30+ swimming by.

then

LBS front yard

The Kitchen and Cooking

In most ways, this is your standard kitchen, except it has no Microwave.  And its outside so the wind can blow the flames out of the burners.  And you never, ever leave anything out, as all sorts of animals will have a midnight snack.  Equipment includes oven, range, solar refrigerator, and Mexican Weber.  All the pots and pans you’ll probably need are also there.  If you have a question, ask for it.  There’s full electricity, but we’ve never used a plug-in appliance except for a blender.   We have lots of light.  Drinking the water is fine.

“Open air kitchen”. Like everything else, the kitchen is open air. The most important feature? The solar-powered always-mak’n-ice refrigerator.

“Open air kitchen”. Like everything else, the kitchen is open air. The most important feature? The solar-powered always-mak’n-ice refrigerator.

Daytime Activities

The number one activity is lying around and reading.   We have a lot of books and magazines, but I suggest you bring reading material of your own. You’ll probably hike around some.  You can go swimming and snorkeling (we have snorkeling equipment).  There are kayaks if you’re brave enough.  And, of course, there’s lot’s of fishing, but of a different kind.  The locals use a line and some bait thrown into the surf.  You may not believe me, but you won’t be bored.

Entertainment

There’s no TV, VHS or DVD player. Bring a computer if you want to watch movies and stuff off that.  If you have a favorite DVD, bring it.  Music is like important. We only have a flimsy portable CD player with aux speakers.  If you have an iPod, stuff it and bring it.   There are plenty of wall sockets if some of you want to bring your computer, etc.  BUT, make sure its adequately covered in multiple zip locks in the unlikely case it is dropped in the surf.

A Few Rules

  • Never walk around at night in your bare feet.  Always wear open toe shoes (like flip flops).  While most of the things you might step on are harmless, one – a scorpion – is not.  They like closed-toe shoes, etc.
  • Never put toilet paper down the toilet (this goes for most of Mexico, not just LBS.)  There will be a trash bag for used paper.
  • There is no medical help out here.  We have some basic first aid stuff.  So, if you fall over the railing and break your leg, we’ll have to carry you to the taxi and get you back that way.  I would avoid edges when drinking.
  • We have no personal injury insurance, so give up on that idea as well.

Packing Up and Catching the Water Taxi

Taxis back to the mainland run twice a day (about 11:00 AM and about 5:00PM.) These times can vary by as much as an hour – if you miss the taxi, you’ll have to wait for the next.   Sometimes the taxis don’t/can’t stop because of rough seas.

Packing up LBS is a lot like packing up a boat – everything needs to be put away, out of nature’s reach.  All perishable food should be given to neighbors (unless  someone is coming out in the next few days).

Getting Back to the Airport

It’s possible to catch a plane out the same day you leave LBS, but its difficult. You’ll need a late afternoon flight (from 4:00PM+) so you can catch the water taxi the same day.  Here’s a rough guide for planning purposes:

  • Catch the taxi (11-11:30AM)
  • Water ride (1 hour)
  • Unload, find a taxi/private car at Boca (30 minutes)
  • Taxi ride to Old Town PV (45 minutes)
  • Taxi ride to airport from Old Town (30 minutes)

It’s good to be at the airport at least two hours before your flight.