Puerto Vallarta: Part Uno

If you are one of the few lucky readers of my book (you’re so lucky), you already know that I have been to Puerto Vallarta once and it was horrible. One bad thing happened after another until I finally just left the city with my tail between my legs, mostly because the city made me feel like I literally had a tail.

But nothing lures me in like a good deal (especially on travel) and earlier this summer, when we found some cheap prices for Puerto Vallarta, it piqued my curiosity. That, and the fact that whenever anyone goes to Puerto Vallarta, they can’t ever shut their taco holes about how amazing it was. Between good prices and my strong sense of FOMO, the time had come to make amends and have a do-over with this city.

To fall in love with Puerto Vallarta, I hoped to find some clothing-optional activities. It’s not that I have to be naked all the time, but nude recreation still (to a small degree) feels a bit vulnerable for me, which makes it all things exciting: daring, adventurous, bold, titillating, etc. It’s an escape from my day-to-day life. Plus, naked people are just way more friendly.

The irony in this was that a clothing-optional experience had contributed to the miserable/embarrassing weekend I had in PV before (one of my favorite chapters of the book). But that was a time in my life where I assumed that being vulnerable felt awful, so I approached it with fear and ran away from it. Things are different now. 

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While my attachment to the curious nature of being naked invigorates me, it doesn’t seem to do the same for my partner, Luke. Out of all the people I’ve gotten to experiment with the thrill of being nude, he is like one of the 3% who doesn’t take to it. He doesn’t hate being naked. He will strip down for a day spa and maybe a nude beach. But just being socially nude is too weird in his mind. 

In my body revealing research for Puerto Vallarta, I came across an LGBT boutique hotel with a clothing-optional pool called Casa Cupula. This would still work for Luke for a few reasons. One, whenever we travel, we tend to stay with family, friends, and (my personal favorite) total strangers. So, a hotel feels like a luxury. Two, Casa Cupula looked absolutely gorgeous. And three, their clothing-optional pool was “optional,” not mandatory.

Of course, there was no way we could afford a place like this. It had to be outrageously expensive. But I decided to check their rates anyway and, to my absolute shock, they were running a special and the standard room was only $90. Sure, it was non-refundable, but we could actually afford this! And that was it: the straw that broke the burro’s back. We booked the trip right then and there.

Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for Luke), I also discovered an excursion called “Jet’s Naked Boat Tour.” A naked boat tour?! How awesome is that?! The answer is “very awesome” seeing as how Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have any nudes beaches, which is totally ludicrous.  

The idea of a naked boat excursion made Luke feel awkward. He awkwardly asked me to email them and ask the awkward question of whether he could wear a swimsuit. They awkwardly replied that it would be fine, but it might be awkward for him since everyone else would be naked. It was a whole lot of awkwards, but it got him to agree to do it.

Fortunately for Luke (and unfortunately for me), we also discovered an excursion he would love: an ATV/zipline tour in the jungle. I didn’t like this idea because it triggered my acrophobia (the fear of heights) and my motoflipophobia (the fear of driving a small motorized vehicle that could potentially flip over and crush you to death).

But since Luke agreed to the naked boat excursion, I had no choice but to agree to ATV/zipline excursion. That is the root of any relationship: compromise. And now our exotic beach vacation was becoming a challenge for both of us to get out of our comfort zones.

Then, less than a month before the trip, we discovered the reason the trip was so affordable. July through October is the off-season for Puerto Vallarta. And what made it the “off-season?” Rainstorms. Lots and Lots of rainstorms.    

As the trip got closer, we kept checking the weather on every site and app we could. The collective info from all of them told us to expect a 60% - 80% chance of rain during every hour of every day of our trip. I couldn’t believe Puerto Vallarta was fucking me over again, for fuck, fuck, fuckety, fuck’s sake.  

What about the clothing-optional pool? What about my naked boat tour? What about Luke’s ATV ride and ziplining awfulness? We couldn’t do any of these things in the rain. We wouldn’t even be able to sit on the beach. This was bullshit.

A couple of days before the trip, we debated whether or not we should cancel the whole thing. What fun would it be if we had to stay indoors all the time? We could do that at home. Yes, we would lose the money on the cute hotel, but at least we could get our 50,000 airline points back.

I decided to call Casa Cupula and ask their thoughts. A very nice trans woman answered the phone. I explained to her that we had seen the crappy weather forecast and, while we knew the booking was non-refundable, if it would just be better to cancel the trip.

“No, it is sunny out,” she said with her broken-English accent.

“Yeah, I get that is sunny now, but the forecast says it will rain all day over the weekend,” I said.

She apparently didn’t understand my concern. “It only rain in the afternoon.”

“So, you don’t think it will rain all weekend like it says it will?” I asked her.

She paused. “I looking out the window and it sunny.”

I gave up. We weren’t getting anywhere. But our circular conversation did give me a little hope. Also, I had recently seen someone else’s PV trip just the week before on Instagram and it was, in fact, full of lots of sunshine. Even though that didn’t seem to be the cards we were getting dealt, it helped us decide to take a chance and still go.

The afternoon we arrived, the weather was, at most, a little overcast. Other than that, it was hot and humid and I was perfectly fine with this. When we got Casa Cupula, I met the woman who I talked with among the desk clerks.

“You’re the one who call about the weather,” she laughed. But by no means was she laughing at me. Despite the fact that I was a tad self-conscious about how overdramatic I might have been on the phone, it felt like a warm welcome of comradery.

Our welcoming to Casa Cupula only got better from there. Once we checked in, we got to leave our bags behind while the concierge gave us a personalized tour of the entire place. The grounds boasted a pretty comprehensive gym, a nice restaurant, and three different pool areas, all of which looked out onto the ocean.

Panoramic view of Casa Cupula’s Pool Club. (If you zoom in you can see my little head in the pool.)

Only one of the pools (known as the “pool club”) was clothing-optional, but this was fine because it had a full bar and the most social atmosphere of all the pools. And wouldn’t you know it, our room was the closest one to this pool. Maybe Puerto Vallarta didn’t hate me after all. 

When the concierge took us to our room, our bags were there waiting for us and all of this made me feel really fancy, which by some standards may sound somewhat sad. But no one had ever given us such one-on-one attention before. It felt pampering.

And not to drone on like some advertisements (I swear this isn’t), but the room, which was stated as the smallest, seemed pretty large. Even the bathroom was spacious with a shower that could fit like five dudes… not that we had plans for that (fingers crossed).

After getting settled, I grabbed a book, went to the pool club, took off every article of clothing, and kicked back on the lounge furniture to relax and nakedly fill my brain with someone else’s words. The sun decided to fully expose himself too. Dewey spots of sweat formed on my forehead. It was perfect.

The next morning, my and Luke’s excursion-compromise kicked off with Jet’s Naked Boat Tour. The 5-hour adventure would begin at 11 a.m. and the attendees had to check in 15 minutes beforehand. Even with this reasonable start time, we still managed to run late, but nothing some brisk walking couldn’t take care of.  

Our guide was a young man named Daniel - the same guy from the poster. In-person, he was simultaneously handsome and adorable with a quiet charm that made him seem humble and kind. While his good looks made the guests excited to be there (who doesn’t like eye candy), his gentle demeanor made us all feel comfortable.  

The tour began with a forty-minute boat ride to our secret destination. We all stripped down to our swimsuits and Luke and I got to know the ten other guests over the roaring boat engine and beautiful views. Even with just twelve of us, we still had a variety of ages, ethnicities and body types. You didn’t have to look a certain way to be here - another factor that also helps everyone feel comfortable.  

Once we pulled up to what would be our private beach, I knew the entire vacation would be worth it for this one afternoon. That sounds over-the-top, but seriously... the place was like out of a freakin’ movie - an incredibly gorgeous cove that was filled with lush trees, fresh sands, and stunning rock formations. I couldn’t believe I was about to get naked here.

Panoramic view of the cove from Jet’s Naked Boat Tour.

And naked we be. Once tour guide Daniel stripped off his speedo, the rest of us followed suit (ironic word choice intentional). Then, to my immediate surprise, Luke, who claims he doesn’t like being naked, stripped off his board shorts too. This monumental moment alone is a testament to Jet’s Naked Boat Tours.

Aside from the cheaper hotel rates, another benefit to the off-season in PV is that the water is its clearest and warmest. This made it so much easier to enjoy swimming around, although some minor shrinkage still occurred. But all of us are prone to that, so who cares?

Daniel busted out the snorkeling gear and this is why I am so adamant about bare recreation. You get automatic bragging rights. How many people can say they’ve snorkeled in the nude? Swimming without suits among the vibrant and exotic fish made you feel like you were one with the ocean. And also there’s something oddly sexy about watching naked guys snorkel.  

Being in this paradise made every cell in my body feel grateful - not only because we didn’t cancel the trip, but also for remembering to cut my toenails before we came. Always cut your toenails before a beach vacation. Trust me on this one. You won’t regret it.  

The drawback to being in paradise is that paradise knows no time. The minutes slipped away and the three hours we spent there had come to a grinding halt. Luckily we got to remain naked for most of the ride back. They stopped the boat so we could jump in the ocean one more time to get any remaining sand off our bodies.

Back at the pier, the clouds came in and we got a little sprinkle, but no major rainstorm. We exchanged contact info with some of the other guests to trade pics from the trip and even connected with a few of them on facebook. Alas, I suck at the old Facebook and accidentally forgot to approve their friend requests until three months later. They were gracious about it.

After dinner, we met up with some guys who I chatted with on Instagram who also happened to be in town. When they asked about Jet’s Naked Boat Tour (their own curiosity had been piqued), we launched into all the details of the extraordinary and serene excursion we had. This set the tone for the next few days. Whenever we met someone new and they asked about our trip so far, this would be the first thing we brought up.

Luke confessed to each of them that part of his hesitation was because he thought we would just be riding around naked in a boat for five hours. It wasn’t that at all. And right when he thought this whole “naked thing” wasn’t for him, he gave it another chance with and found an unforgettable experience he truly loved. For the remainder of the trip, he was a little more open to the “optional” factor at Casa Cupula’s clothing-optional pool.  

In a couple of days, the tables would turn and I would be the one who had to get out of my comfort zone for Luke. But before we could go out on that ATV/zip-line excursion, Puerto Vallarta didn’t let me off the hook so easily. Something else would happen that was so obnoxious and awful, it would nearly ruin an entire part of our trip. And it was less about facing fear, and more about facing one of my biggest faults. To be continued...

Please note: Neither aforementioned company paid to be featured in this essay. This blog post is unsponsored.

 

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