Extranjera Update: January 2020 (Puerto Vallarta & Mayto, Mexico)

January was yet another jam-packed holiday month.

Highlights: celebrating my best friend’s birthday and taking my first solo trip in a loooooong time / first-ever solo road trip in Mexico.


Jess Bday Puerto Vallarta

From the very first “date night” we had at Barracuda back in September, Jess and I became fast friends. If I could describe what it felt like a la Youtube – it’d be this moment from Stepbrothers. Like, did we just become best friends? Let’s go do ALL the activities [across the Bay].

Jess has been an amazing friend to me, welcoming me into her family (including for Christmas), and always there for me when I need her. I feel so incredibly grateful for our sleepovers and I have more fun with her getting ready and the morning after going out, just laughing in bed until we cry and eating brunch and/or having a glass of bubbly, than I usually do on the actual night.

For her birthday, we spent the day at Blue Shrimp with another girlfriend, and her best friend Zac from Canada flew in and surprised her (it was admittedly a total friend fail on my part not to video the moment Zac surprised her!)


Mayto Solocation

While the holiday season was super fun, I’d been feeling really personally lost. I had made some choices that I regretted, I’d fallen into some bad habits, and was living with a lot of guilt.

What to do? I sent my naughtier dog Felix to the trainer to get a bit of discipline and socialization in, and Mickey and I headed to Mayto for a weekend solo-cation of relaxation, journaling, reading, and alone time.

Mayto is the PERFECT solo getaway. Just a few hours of beautiful driving from Puerto Vallarta, yet it feels like another world.

I watched every sunrise and sunset, and spent long hours wandering the completely-empty beach or just sitting in the sand, thinking about what I want my life to be like.

I returned to PV feeling much more centered and at peace, and with a renewed sense of direction.



Madalena’s house salad is one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. But seriously.

I went to the restaurant with Jess and another friend, and we were all exclaiming over how good it was, and I swore it was so unusually good that there must be some meat hidden in it (fingers crossed it doesn’t, though!)


PV Blind Tiger pox drink

I visited the Blind Tiger for the first time with a visiting friend, and was thrilled to find that they had a pox (pronounced like posh) cocktail on the menu. I’d first tried this “moonshine”esque liquor in Chiapas, and had never tasted it since, so I was super excited to be able to enjoy it again.


Soft sand, gorgeous water, and almost always completely empty. Mayto’s beaches are incomparable! Mickey agrees.


The Water Cure – creepy, dystopian, and psychologically twisted… exactly the way I like my books 🙂


Mayto January flat tire

On the morning I was supposed to leave Mayto, I noticed that my tire was flat-ish. I was told that someone in the nearest little town (about 10 minutes away) had an air compressor, but when I got to his house, he wasn’t there. I tried to keep going, but the tire blew out completely and was clunk-clunk-clunking.

I didn’t have any cell service, so I was left up to the mercy of whoever happened upon me in that lonely stretch of road. Luckily, a family in a pickup truck tumbled by, trying to fix the tire themselves (I should’ve had a spare!!) before offering to bring me to someone who might be able to help.

They drove me down the road to an elderly mechanic, who then took me back to my car, removed my tire (with the help of passing Marines), and drove me all the way to El Tuito to get it repaired, before bringing me back to my car, replacing my tire. In total, it took about 4 hours. He even tried to refuse my payment, insisting he wanted to help.

While the experience could have definitely went in another direction, it left me feeling deep love for this country and this city I live in, while at the same time deepening my decision to change the path I’d been taking. There is something seriously wrong with who you’re choosing to surround yourself with if total strangers are more willing to come to your aid than your “friends” ever would.

Post is part of a new low-key series, designed to give a behind-the-scenes look into an expat life which, honestly, isn’t usually that much different than a “regular” life! I spend time with my friends, study/work, and still have to do the dishes… even in paradise.

The Extranjera Update series is laidback and uncurated – sort of the opposite of everything going on in blogging right now. The photos are all taken with my iPhone (or, a friend’s phone), and unedited (though I do sometimes go a bit collage-crazy).

With this series moving forward, I’m aiming to talk about a few main components/themes of my life that month, some favorites and at least one “reality check”, and what I’ve discovered here in Puerto Vallarta (or, wherever I end up moving forward). If you’ve got another idea for a section I should include – let me know!!

As always, let me know what you’d like to see more (or less!) of by sending me an email. I love to hear from you and I ALWAYS respond to emails.


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. 6 years later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Puebla, Steph is on to her next adventure and living in sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She is traveling and living around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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