AMPI Real Estate News: Scooters

Scooters in Puerto Vallarta

The municipality of Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara, has recently approved the introduction of electric scooter rentals, a pilot project that will start on December 2, 2019, when 250 scooters will appear for rent on the streets of Zapopan. You know something like this will soon be available in Puerto Vallarta, if it’s successful in Zapopan. GDL is also looking at joining the program. Electric scooter and bike rentals are very popular north of the border and it will be a very welcome enterprise in Puerto Vallarta.

There are four companies involved in Zapopan; Bird, Frog, Grin and Movo. The charge to unlock a scooter will be $10 – 15 pesos (50-75₵ USD), with $2-3 pesos (10-15₵ USD) per minute to ride. Scooter rental will require a phone app, and normal traffic regulations will be expected to be followed. Scooters will be limited to bike lanes or the right lane of traffic. They will not be allowed on sidewalks, and must park in specified parking zones or vehicle spaces.

Sharing is the way of the future for Puerto Vallarta. It’s working well in other parts of the world and we aren’t far behind. There are great reasons to use scooters for transportation and we have seen them growing in popularity in Puerto Vallarta over the past decade. Scooters are not like bikes in many ways. Their wheels are smaller, which makes for hopping off in an emergency stop, a lot easier. You also don’t travel as fast on a scooter, compared to a bicycle.

Parking. Parking. Parking. It can be one of the most frustrating experiences in Puerto Vallarta, but for short distance trips, when you aren’t obliged to carry anything other than maybe a backpack, you can park in the smallest of spaces. Scooters simply don’t take up much room and though you can’t park them on a sidewalk, there are lots of little nooks and crannies in Puerto Vallarta.

Fuel efficiency is certainly a primary reason. If you know anything about fossil fuels, you’ll understand immediately how efficient at scooter will be in Puerto Vallarta. Consider how much you and a bag might weigh (probably a combined measure of about 200 pounds/90 kilos) and you’re normally traveling in a 3,000 pound/1360 kilo steel machine that fills our environment with carbon dioxide in shocking volumes. Your scooter will weigh approximately 20 pounds/9 kilos and run on electricity.

We’re looking forward to the eventuality of rental scooters in Puerto Vallarta and it can’t happen soon enough, as far as we’re concerned. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Buen Fin

Buen Fin and Mexican Economy

If you were out and about in Puerto Vallarta the past couple of weeks, you couldn’t have missed the advertising of Buen Fin. Buen Fin is Black Friday in Mexico and Puerto Vallarta gets in on the act in all of their popular shopping venues. This year topped the charts in popularity and purchases. Over 120 billion pesos (US $6.2 billion) was spent in the four day event this past weekend, which was a 7% increase over last year’s sales.

If you missed it, there are still some lingering sales in stores around town and it won’t do any harm to ask them to honor Buen Fin prices, which most retailers are likely to do to make the sale in an individual store. Don’t expect Costco to do this, but many of the other big box stores will, as will the smaller, locally owned businesses. However that’s not what we want to point out in this blog.

The results of this past weekend far exceeded the expectations of Concanaco, the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism of Mexico. Known as the cheapest weekend of the year, stores were flooded with people taking advantage of the upward economy, which had an increase in growth of 0.1% over the summer. That in itself is a very good sign, taking into account the economy in Mexico showed signs of stagnating in the first and second quarter of this year. Those early predictions were depressing but it’s great to know they were incorrect. Records were broken instead!

This year, the biggest purchases were large-screen TVs, and large and small appliances. White goods, toys and tools were in the top fifteen items purchased, a sign that people are making improvements in their homes and lives. Shopper numbers were also up by an astonishing amount of 20% higher than 2018, with many using credit cards, a relatively new concept for Mexicans. Keep in mind, this type of spending is a major boost to the national and local economy.

Be ready for Buen Fin next year, when the Bank of Mexico will make it even easier to make purchases in Puerto Vallarta by employing the use of their new digital payment system, CoDi.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Coffee

Coffee for a Cold Winter Night

One of our favorite things about the winter holidays in Puerto Vallarta is the availability of the yummy drink café de olla. This delicious coffee beverage can be found year round if you know where to look but around Christmas it’s more abundant on the streets of Puerto Vallarta. We recall warming cold hands around a clay cup, many years ago, standing under the crown of the Church of Guadalupe, discovering a magical flavor to go with other seasonal joys. Café de olla is flavored with cinnamon (canela in Spanish) and piloncillo, which is unrefined whole cane sugar, a solid form of sweetness made from boiling and evaporating the juice from sugarcane. You’ve probably seen the cone-shaped brown chunks in stores in Puerto Vallarta.

Café de olla is a traditional coffee drink of Mexico. Café de olla should be served in a clay mug, the type sold in souvenir stores in Puerto Vallarta. You can find these collections of dishes ranging from large platters to tiny shot-glass sized cups. In the past the mugs were a part of the purchase, brimming withhot liquid, but it’s doubtful vendors can keep up with that kind of demand these days. Now café de olla is served in a disposable cup.

The streets of Puerto Vallarta at Christmastime offer so many tasty treats and we can’t recommend café de olla too much. Though it is served year round in some restaurants, including the one that bears the name, the café de olla we purchase during the holidays seems to be richer, made with the blessings of the season.

Surprising to many, the main ingredient of café de olla is Nescafe; Mexicans know how to make it taste delicious. To make our own version at home in Puerto Vallarta we use the following method: In a saucepan, add a short cup of fresh ground coffee of your choice (the darker, the better) to a quart of hot water; a couple cinnamon sticks (essential ingredient); and the equivalent of half a cup piloncillo (use brown sugar if you’re in the north and have no access to piloncillo; about a third of an orange peel (yes, just the peel). Bring this to a boil. You can also toss in a pinch of nutmeg or cloves. Boil for about a minute, remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and serve.

Get some of those beautiful clay mugs; you won’t regret it.

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AMPI Real Estate News: New Years

New Year’s Eve in Puerto Vallarta

Our first visit to Puerto Vallarta was during the holidays. This time of year brings back the best memories. We’d never heard of some of the traditions observed here and now love to celebrate year after year, learning our way as we go.

We still have trouble making twelve wishes while eating grapes as the clock strikes the midnight hour on New Year’s Eve. We started our own tradition of bringing a bag of popcorn to the beach on New Year’s Eve. Instead of eating grapes, which are very filling (after consuming a huge dinner), we pass the popcorn to our group of friends, who have been previously informed and can get a little head start. About ten minutes before the bell begins to ring at the Cathedral, we think about those twelve wishes, count out the same number of popped-corn kernels, one for each month and by midnight, we’ve achieved our goal!

Mexicans like to eat late and holidays are an excuse to stay up as long as possible, children included. In Puerto Vallarta, there are many choices for New Year’s Eve. Plan a place for dinner, which is the priority of the evening, either at home or out on the town. Keep in mind that traffic will be snarled to put it mildly; taxis and Ubers will be running fewer and farther between from about 11 pm on. If you want a table down on the beach at Los Muertos, you might consider making reservations for the entire evening.

At midnight, the fireworks go on for well over half an hour. The inventiveness and creativity are incredible, becoming more so with each passing year. Firecrackers aren’t part of the celebration and are, in fact, illegal in Puerto Vallarta. We do recommend going to the Malecón a couple days before New Year’s Eve to watch the construction of how the fireworks displays are made.

Please, don’t take your dog to the beach. The fireworks are incredibly LOUD, packed in a shell that’s launched from a mortar. To a dog, it sounds like a war zone.

When the festivities have ended, there’s a street dance on Olas Altas with hoards of people. It’s fun but crowded. Bars stay open later, and taco stands are swarming. DON’T DRIVE if you are drinking. There will be checkpoints at both ends of town, and it’s simply not worth the consequences of being pulled over, under the influence. Arrange for a ride, have a designated driver or wait for taxis or Ubers.

Have a fantastic night, and we wish you the very best in the New Year!

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AMPI Real Estate News: Geckos

Love Our Geckos!

Our first experience with geckos in Puerto Vallarta began as an annoying clicking that we thought was someone monkeying around with our window latch. We got up and stumbled around in the dark, saw nothing disturbing and went back to bed. Not to sleep. The clicking continued. In time, we learned the annoyance came from a tiny creature called a gecko. Now we sleep through the night with the same comfort as Grandma’s ticking clock in the echoing foyer, knowing that everything is as it should be. Geckos are out hunting in the dark and still of the night, capturing mosquitoes and other bothersome bugs.

There are many definitions for gecko sounds and logical explanations for them. Scientists have had a lot of fun observing geckos and attempting to explain their social interactions. The geckos you hear in Puerto Vallarta chirp, bark, click, etc to deflect other males, attract females, fight, flirt, announce and claim their territory, and perhaps throw a fiesta for reasons known only to geckos. We have turned on the light at night to see as many as a half dozen on our ceilings and walls.

Geckos are only fearsome to the insects they devour and we are eternally thankful for this. Though one mosquito may do great harm to us, a gecko simply sees him as an appetizer. Geckos eat insects much larger than themselves and if you’re interested in going beyond the images of your own imagination, check out youtube for dramatic videos.

We have been startled during daylight hours when moving furniture or art on the wall, to have a gecko run out with great urgency to locate another hiding place. It is our nature to apologize. Cats will go after geckos, and since cats have nocturnal tendencies, we try to keep Fluffy cornered in bed with us, though it doesn’t always work. Cats will only eat the bodies and leave the head of a gecko for your astonishment in the morning. Geckos in Puerto Vallarta can be seen during the day; they are not strictly nocturnal, but it’s a rare occurrence to see them on a bright sunny day.

If you try to catch a gecko, we must advise against keeping them as pets. Instead consider them your own personal pets who are allowed to roam your home, much like cats do, with no boundaries. You will, in fact, most likely be left holding a wriggling tail, while the rest of the gecko escapes. Not to worry. Geckos are built to be able to release their tail along an actual predestined line, which allows them to flee quickly with nominal harm to the remainder of their body. In their own milieu, the continued thrashing of the tail provides distraction from a predator and allows the gecko to hide once again.

Geckos can live a long time in Puerto Vallarta, up to five years in the wild. So keep them around; they are considered good luck and nothing seems better than old wise geckos protecting us at night.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead in Puerto Vallarta

Our first Day of the Dead experience in Puerto Vallarta was long before 2008, when UNESCO recognized the holiday on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, those traditions that are passed down from generations. Día de los Muertos is an occasion of the reaffirmation of indigenous life and is celebrated by all Mexicans, regardless of religious or ethnic or origins. You will be fascinated by the ofrendas, magical altars covered in marigolds, emanating with their rich earthy scent, multitudes of candles, and intriguing offerings to the dead.

While we walk along, admiring the ofrendas, moving from one display to another, most of us miss the meaning of this important day for the locals of Puerto Vallarta. The entire purpose of the Day of the Dead is about honoring those who have passed beyond this world and in doing do, asking their guidance for when it’s time for us to follow such a pathway. Ofrendas are found in various plazas, in private homes, on doorsteps, and in the cemeteries. The expectation is that loved ones will pop in for a visit and to lure them, friends and family place photographs of those who are gone, plus items they loved when they inhabited this world. It’s not unusual to find cigars, a pack of cigarettes, a favored lighter and matches, shot glasses with tequila, bottles of alcohol and cans of beer or soft drinks. Books, letters written in this realm, candy, food, perhaps a piece of clothing they wore. Chocolate, a cup of tea or coffee, fruit, tamales, lipstick, a pipe, jewelry; an unfinished crocheting project, embroidery scissors, thimbles, a pack of cards, dice, dominoes, musical instruments. It’s sad to see toys, well loved dolls, small trucks and cars, but we must remember the whole purpose is joy. Candles are everywhere, to help light the way back from the land of the dead to that of the living for this one night of the year.

Recently in Puerto Vallarta, people have taken to having La Catrina painted on their faces. The Catrina, a symbol of death itself, is a reminder that no matter who you are, how much money or social status you have, we all end up dead; the great equalizer. You can paint your own face (there are great tutorials on youtube) or pay a small fee to have someone with talent do it for you. It’s fun and a safer way to costume yourself than wearing a mask and a welcomed new tradition in Old Town Puerto Vallarta.

You won’t want to miss the procession along the malecón, a presentation of creative costumes, mariachi bands and minstrels, dancers, riders on horseback and decorated cars, marching down the street and winding in and out of revelers.

The Day of the Dead grows every year in Puerto Vallarta to expand on the traditions and invite more celebrants!

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Hey Vallarta… What is That in the Water?

We actually have very limited reports of crocodile attacks in Puerto Vallarta. There’s a simple reason for this: crocodiles rarely attack humans.

Crocodiles are, however, very interested in four legged mammals and we are personally aware of incidents where pets were taken by these large prehistoric-like reptiles. It’s difficult to refer to such events as attacks. Snatch and dash would be more descriptive. Crocodiles don’t make a habit of hiding. If there’s one in the vicinity, they are sure to be noticed, but they aren’t super visible, don’t make noise and prefer to hang out just below the surface in the water. They’re primarily found in fresh water but have no problem drifting out to sea for a short cruise, especially during the rainy season. Crocodiles can be found inland by up to twenty miles.

Crocodiles are often mistaken for logs floating on the surface close to the shoreline. We’ve seen this strange phenomenon and can attest to the fact that from afar, it’s hard to distinguish. We can also say the main result has been a test of speed-swimming skills for those in the water; and for those on land, an assessment of foolishness in regards to photography proficiency. Remarks of “how big do you think he is?” are clearly audible, rather than statements making sense, such as “let’s put a distance between ourselves and that thing that looks to be about 16 feet in length.”

It’s interesting to know the only natural predators of crocodiles are the two-legged type. They have no other enemies on land or sea. Though they aren’t particularly swift when walking on land, they can swim up to speeds of 20 mph (30kph), especially if pursuing prey or escaping perceived danger. Mamas, of course, are more aggressive than male crocs, for obvious reasons. Though they do lay eggs, they are unlike turtles in that crocodiles must help their baby hatchlings out of the ground, digging a hole for their release. Baby crocodiles are about 8 inches (20 cm) in length and several can have a ride at once on mama’s back to the safety of water.

In Puerto Vallarta, there are two destinations for viewing and learning more about crocodiles, which we highly recommend. They are the University de la Costa Preserve, just south of Flamingos (where the huge golf ball can be seen from the highway). The other is the Estero el

Salado Sanctuary, just north of the large mall – Galeria Liverpool. Both are a quick turn off the main highway – Carretera Francisco Medina Ascencio.

Be wise and keep your pets on a leash when walking by the rivers or sea.

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 Thanks to our Guest Blogger Adam Garcia for this great article!

Harriet Cochran Murray, Director of Cochran Real Estate, is a seasoned Real Estate professional both here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and in the United States. Harriet has served in many capacities as a board member and President for the local Real Estate Association AMPI (AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals). She is also a member of FIABCI and NAR in the United States. Harriet’s expertise and experience in the Real Estate and especially in the Mexican market makes her Viewpoint blog articles both informational and intriguing. Harriet is a Buyer’s Agent who specializes in getting the best deal on the right property for her clients.

AMPI Real Estate News: Potholes

Potholes Keep the Economy Going

Sometimes the potholes in Puerto Vallarta are so big, we are afraid to drive over them, lest we disappear into their black depths. The big ones, however, are outnumbered by thousands, possibly millions of smaller potholes that can make for a rough ride, especially once the sun goes down over the horizon and we can’t spot them as well. Taxis don’t seem to notice potholes but when you’re riding in the back, you tend to hang onto those oh-hell-handles above the windows and raise yourself a bit on the seat.

Why don’t they just pave the roads with asphalt or concrete?

It does seem like a good solution, yet it would put a lot of people out of work. This is because those holes get repaired year-round by a crew who are skilled and adept with a wheelbarrow, shovel and cobbles. These workers spend hours on end in the hot sun, picking rocks out of the road and replacing them into grooves that are master puzzles. Some concrete, a bit of mud and sand, a lot of sweat, keep our roads bumpy and quaint.

There is an argument as to whether Puerto Vallarta has cobblestone streets. Those with self appointed authority might tell you that cobblestone streets are made with even stones of the same scale. Actually, those are called pavers. The true definition of a cobble is a stone one that is larger than a pebble, yet smaller than a boulder, so we are happy to make the claim that Puerto Vallarta is, indeed, paved with cobblestone roads. These handmade roads also have an environmental benefit of actually being permeable, so that normal rainfall is absorbed, avoiding flooding. Cobbles move under the weight and constant pressure of vehicles and beasts of burden. Shod horses, which are still quite common in Puerto Vallarta, get better traction on the cobbles than they would on smooth pavement. The same goes for carriage wheels of any size. Cobbles move around, rather than break and crack and can be repaired easily, without huge machinery and expense.

We may complain sometimes, wishing roads were smoother but we also like to see the local economy thriving with people being provided with meaningful employment and putting ancient skills to work.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Pet Sitting

Pet Sitting in Puerto Vallarta

You’re going out of town for a few nights, maybe on a small getaway or back to your home country for a holiday or family emergency. You don’t want to bring Fido (Arf!) and Fifi (Meow!), so what do you do? Pet-sitting is just as important as child sitting for most folks whose pets are considered members of the family. So it’s vital the little creatures are looked after in the manner in which they are accustomed. This can be done in their own home and there are other options available in Puerto Vallarta. We’re going to talk about of some of those.

Posh Puppy Care can be found on Facebook under @poshpuppycare. This dog care service gets rave reviews, takes care of your pup in her own home and will do as short as a day or lengthy stays. Posh Puppy sends photos, videos and updates, is connected to veterinarians in Puerto Vallarta and is very knowledgeable about canine care. She takes in all sizes and breeds, and gives long walks around the area where she lives, Zona Romatica. Located at 258 Francisca Rodriguez, you can find Posh Puppy Care on Facebook to set up arrangements.

Trusted Housesitters was recommended to us but at this date, there were no listings for Puerto Vallarta. That could change, however and we would continue to check their website, as they’ve had listings in Puerto Vallarta in the past for both pet and house sitting. They have a stringent vetting process, which is something we always look for, of course.

If you’re looking for an individual, Facebook is an excellent place to start and we suggest joining the page Puerto Vallarta; Everything You Need or Want to Know to find great contacts.

Bonnie’s Pet/Casa Services is the kind of service you will find on such a site. Bonnie’s, like many individual pet-sitters, has various options. She is skilled in administering pills, giving injections, liquid meds, and other special care. Though she doesn’t stay at your house, there are those who will. Bonnie’s does a no-charge meet-and-greet with you and your pets; rates are determined by needs and travel distance. She is happy to board dogs in her home, as well, as long as they are accustomed to cats. She also fosters animals so your little Fido will have playmates.

We highly recommend interviewing and getting references, as there are some pet care services in Puerto Vallarta, as there are in any city, where your expectations aren’t met. We are aware of kenneling where there is no one onsite through the night and dogs are left in crates/cages for up to fifteen hours at a time. Do your due diligence for Fido and Fifi.

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AMPI Real Estate News: What Time Is It Here

Time Changes

Spring ahead, Fall back. That’s how we’ve always remembered the method of changing clocks. Daylight Savings starts in the spring and ends in the fall, this year on October 27th in Puerto Vallarta.

A little known fact about Daylight Savings Time or DST, is that Canada was a leader in this time-change trend. Austria and Germany were the first to employ DST in Europe in 1916, but in 1908, Port Arthur, Ontario, which is now Thunder Bay, began to turn their clocks forward by one hour on July 1st of that year. It didn’t take long before it had spread across the northern part of the continent.

Two years into World War I, on April of 1916, clocks were turned ahead in Germany and Austria by one hour in a rationalization to minimize the use of electric and gas lighting. Saving fuel in the war effort was extremely important. England, France and other countries followed suit, but most turned back to standard time after the war. World War II brought DST back to Europe.

Amazingly, the original plan for setting clocks forward and back was much more complicated, and comprised of switching ahead twenty minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and doing the same with a switch back in September. Imagine changing a total of eight times a year; what we do now seems simple.

Although the European Parliament recently voted to discontinue the use of DST, all Union members need to agree to pass it into law and that has yet to occur. It’s been a continuing discussion for several years in the United States to abolish DST. There are way too many opinions about what and how changes should be made, with states like Florida going in the opposite direction, wanting to institute it all year long. Hawaii doesn’t observe DST at all, and only a tiny slice of Arizona does.

This past summer in Washington State, a bill was signed by Governor Jay Inslee, and passed both state House and Senate to change permanently to DST but it hasn’t been instituted into law as of this date. Oregon and California followed Washington’s lead, and British Columbia, Canada is making plans to authorize the same.

Given all this, it won’t be long before Mexico makes the same decisions and we no longer have DST in Puerto Vallarta. Airlines have made it clear that it will be vital for everyone to be operating on the same clock. In the meantime, we still turn back on October 27th, 2019.

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