My friend Rio is a curator of life. He is one of those rare individuals who facilitate adventures otherwise left undreamed, bringing people together who would likely never meet. Like a hummingbird he flits around the world, collecting friends, ideas and experiences to share as he goes.
I don’t normally enjoy groups—being on the introverted side—but when Rio invited me and another friend of ours from college to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I immediately accepted. It involved all of my favorite things: friends, travel and adventure. In the nearly two decades I’ve known Rio I have learned two things for certain: I will never know what to expect with him, and it will always be worth saying yes.
Living on separate coasts, Michelle, Rio and I met up at the airport in Puerto Vallarta and headed to Rio’s friend’s boutique hotel in Zona Romantica to meet the rest of our group. Our five-day itinerary was set and I was along for the ride.
The ten of us were chefs, entrepreneurs, artists and technology and law professionals who were well traveled and up for anything. From the start of the trip to the end, our whole crew got along great, despite two battling intestinal illnesses and one with a broken pinky toe. Despite those setbacks we enjoyed wonderfully rich conversation, food and drinks. When a local sets the itinerary, you know you’re in for a treat. Raul did not disappoint.
We started at the touristy poolside cabanas at a nearby resort. The three girls in our group were the only ones there and our rare presence garnered a lot of complimentary and utterly non-threatening attention, which I have to say, was pretty much perfect. Our first full day ended with sunset dinner and drinks beneath an incredible tiered palapa built into the cliffside. A handful of hungry animals joined the fun as someone threw bread down to a lower balcony and they clamored to claim theirs. Our waiter told us they were lemurs, raccoons and mongoose, his answer changing each time he was asked. We consulted Google and discovered that they were actually Coati Mundi.
The next day we took a boat about 40 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta to an eclectic beach resort nestled in a little fishing village. Apparently they are famous for their passion fruit margaritas, growing the passion fruit right there on the property. Their reputation is well deserved. So. So. Good. We all agreed that the food and drinks there were unparalleled. It was like having our own private beach with 5-star service. What more could you ask for?
Next up was another boat trip, this time west to Las Marietas: a hidden playita in the center of a donut shaped island. In order to get to the beach you swim through a cave, waiting for the ocean swells let you through. It’s not a long trek but it does require being a decent swimmer and more importantly, comfortable in the water. It’s about an hour and a half boat ride each way, but it was worth it.
After some much needed napping, we headed to Café des Artistes. From the cobbled street outside we entered a lounge with a violin/piano duo playing “New York, New York.” I had no idea what to expect, but had I tried, I couldn’t possibly have envisioned it. The dining area was unreal—like dining in a rainforest surrounded by trees and fairy lights. I tasted the best octopus of my life and all of my senses left happy. A perfect treat to end the trip: food, friends and ambience. Followed by dancing.
A truly perfect trip curated by my dear friend, Rio.