Saturday, January 15, 2022

END OF LIFE PLANNING IN MÉXICO (Part 2)—Procedures After Death

Whether Traveling or Living in México

     End-of-life planning is never a pleasant subject. It has been very difficult for me to write this article but is an important topic to address, especially for those of us who are expats.

     Part 2 of this End of Life Planning series relates to procedures for your loved ones if you die in México, whether while traveling or living here. Some of this is specific to Puerto Vallarta, but most can be applied to other cities, as well. I recommend reading End of Life Planning in Mexico Part 1as well.

      My goal here is to summarize Pamela Thompson’s talk about this difficult subject to help others handle death in México properly. I plan to print this and place it in our safe so my spouse and/or children can find it when I die here and have a blueprint for what to do. It eases my mind to know these instructions will smooth the process for my family. I hope you find the following information helpful, too.

Sanmaré Clinic’s Entrance

     Pamela Thompsonthe Patient Service Coordinator at Sanmaré Clinic and with an office at Hospital Joya Marina in Puerto Vallarta (which are ssociated) organizes these End of Life talks for ex-pats and viistors to understand the legal process of handling death in Mexico. It’s significantly different than that in the U.S. and Canada. As Pam told us, many American documents regarding after-death processes are not recognized in México.

The Check-In Process Outside Sanmaré Clinic

     Jon and I have found Sanmaré Clinic and Hospital Joya in Puerto Vallarta and Hospital Joya Nuevo Vallarta to be very professional health institutions with extensive services. I’ll refer to these facilities in this article as "the hospital". These are the places that Pam Thompson works and speaks about from her vast experience.

     We’ve had multiple procedures, lab tests, physical therapy sessions, and surgeries at these facilities and have been happy with all of them. One important point Pam made, which I agree with whole-heartedly, is that if you are admitted to a private Mexican clinic or hospital, your chances of recovery are greater than in a public sector facility, mostly because private hospitals have more medications and equipment.

1.    What if I Die in the Hospital?

     If you are admitted to Hospital Joya with a terminal illness, the doctor will speak with the family over the phone. If death is foreseen, the hospital staff prepares the paperwork for the Mexican Death Certificate (See Part 1 for information needed by the Mexican government).

     “Do Not Resuscitate” orders and Living Wills that include medical instructions are not legal documents in México. They don't have them here and they don't recognize them from other countries. If the patient is terminal and there is no longer hope of survival, the doctors and family can agree on the steps to take.

     The hospital has a CPR protocol that they are required to follow. When death is imminent, if the family chooses, the physician can discontinue all treatments, only continuing pain medication and liquids as needed. Euthanasia is not permitted, but the physician may lower the level of care when appropriate to discontinue keeping the patient alive at the end of life.

     To ease the family members’ concerns and help manage end-of-life procedures, doctors at the hospital will email, video chat, or send videos of the patient to family members. When COVID is a concern, family members may not be allowed to visit the patient in the hospital. The phone calls and videos help family members realize that they don’t have to come to México right away, and can choose not to come at all if desired. 

     If you do not have a family member to make decisions for you and to handle your death in México, choose a “person of confidence” and complete a Mexican affidavit giving him or her the legal ability to make decisions regarding your body, including picking up the ashes from the funeral home. Pam has these affidavit forms. This is important for partners who are not legally married.

Hospital Joya Puerto Vallarta

     After death, the hospital staff works with Celis Funeral Home in Puerto Vallarta (referred to below as “the funeral home”) to handle the body, prepare the Mexican Death Certificate paperwork, and file it with the local Civil Registry. If COVID-19 is the cause of death, Mexican law requires cremation within 24 hours. Organ donation is not done herein Puerto Vallarta they don’t have the facilities to harvest and store organs.

     The hospital requires that the bill for services be paid on the day of death. This is another reason to have cash available in the safe for the family members to pay for the deceased’s expenses.

     The funeral home will require the deceased’s passport as well as all other information listed in Part 1 of this series to prepare the paperwork. They will punch holes in the passport, invalidating it, and return it to the family, as directed by the consulate.

Celis Funeral Home Brochure Page 2

     A member of the funeral home staff will take the family member to the Civil Registry office to report the death and obtain the Mexican Death Certificate. There will likely be a long wait, especially when COVID deaths are numerous. It’s important to review all information on the form for accuracy as obtaining changes will be next to impossible. Request at least twenty notarized copies of the Mexican Death Certificate, which will cost 20 pesos each (about $1 US). The family member will sign all twenty copies and then the certificates will be endorsed with an official government stamp.

Celis Funeral Home Brochure Page 3

     A member of the CELIS staff will take the family member home or back to the funeral home, as desired. It will require 24 hours for the deceased’s ashes to be ready to pick up. The ashes can be transported on an airplane, which might be best in carry-on luggage. While it’s not legal to spread ashes in the bay here, talk to Pam Thompson or a CELIS staff member about where it can be done.

     A family member doesn't need to go to the consulate. A hospital staff member will call the consulate and request fifteen copies of the official “death of a citizen abroad” document (different than the Mexican Death Certificate) which may be needed for banking, attorneys, insurance, estate management, etc. in the home country. For Americans, the document is called “Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad” and may take four to six months to receive from the U.S. Consulate. This process is expedited if the person has registered with their consulate when traveling or moving to México, a very important step in end-of-life planning (See Part 1 of this series).

2.    What If I Die at Home in México?

     If the death at home is from accidental or violent causes, it's considered a crime scene, so don’t touch anything, stay outside, and don't get involved. Call Pam Thompson (322-252-1711)or CELIS Funeral Home (See brochure below) where an authorized representative will guide you through proper procedures. (I recommend adding these numbers to your contact list on your phone.) The police will respond. An agent from the Ministerio Público (Public Ministry) will go to the home and determine where the body will be taken.

     If the patient dies from natural causes, a chronic illness such as cancer, cardiac disease, etc., call the funeral home for assistance. The Ministerio Público goes to the home and determines whether the body will be released to the funeral home or taken to the morgue. If the cause of death is questionable, the body will go to the morgue. Suicide is considered a crime so, in this case, it may take about a week to get the body from the morgue. If a family member can’t be located immediately, the morgue may hold the body until a family member is found, for up to four years before burial.

CELIS FUNERAL HOME Brochure Page 4

     CELIS Funeral Home is very helpful in guiding people through the legal procedures required. Some funeral homes are less hands-on with the process. CELIS can take care of the funeral services for burial or cremation. Their brochure spells out the steps to take and how part of the funeral home's service is to guide people through the legal and functional process surrounding death. 

     Bodies can be flown to the United States or Canada, but the process is cumbersome and expensive. Since 9/11, legal restrictions state which Mexican city the body can be flown from and where it can enter the other country. The COVID pandemic has made this even more difficult. The majority of expats here choose cremation and can prearrange and prepay with CELIS funeral home.

     If you live or travel in areas other than Puerto Vallarta, I recommend contacting a local, reputable funeral home near you for an explanation of their services and fees. In some cities, such as San Miguel de Allende, there is a private service to assist expats in arranging end-of-life plans. 

     I urge you to read Part 1 of this End-of-Life Planning series. This is equally important, providing steps to take before you die in this country.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.

     Book #3 of the "In Sickness and In Health" series, For Better or For Worse, is in the works and will be published this year. Set partly in Mexico, these three stories revolve around love, life, and medical care for an expat couple.

          

     When Lindsay and Jake fell in love, it was magnetic and powerful. Then health issues complicated their lives, tested their love, and stress took them to the breaking point. 

     Will moving to Mexico save their health and their relationship? How will they get the medical care they need living as foreigners south of the border?

     Read more on Amazon at In Sickness and In Health novels.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As a self-published author on Amazon worldwide, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books. 

     Happy reading and traveling!

Terry L Turrell, Author

Sunday, January 2, 2022

PURIFIED DRINKING WATER—Bottled Water versus an Inline Filter

 Don’t Drink the Tap Water in México!

Our Drinking Water Dispenser in Sayulita

     Living in México, most residents and visitors alike drink only purified water, as there’s no guarantee that the tap water is safe to drink. Most purchase 5-gallon garrafónes (refillable bottles) of purified water for drinking—we did for the first six years that we lived here and it helped keep us healthy.

     We also carried several garrafónes of water while traveling in our RV and planned to continue the practice no matter where we live, even in the U.S. Who knows what comes in through the pipes!

     One of our Mexican neighbors in Sayulita recommended that we purchase Ciel® water produced by the Coca-Cola company, telling us that it was the best water. We were skeptical since it was a little more expensive. One Ciel bottle costs 32 pesos rather than 26 pesos for locally purified bottles, about 30 US cents more per five gallons—that adds up over a year. Is there really a difference in bottled water? But we took their advice. It did taste better than the drinking water prepared by the local purification plant, but probably due to the minerals that Ciel adds to improve flavor.

Bella Playing by the Garrafones of Ciel Water

     When we moved to our condo in Puerto Vallarta, we decided we wanted to eliminate the weekly purchase of several bottles of purified water from the truck that delivered it to our doorstep. It was a hassle and physically challenging to lift those heavy bottles and insert the garrafón neck into the water dispenser. I couldn’t do it unless I pumped half the water out first. Once Jon started having back pain, it was time to find another purified water source.

Ready for Ciel Water Delivery in Sayulita

     We refuse to buy single-use bottles of drinking water. Our planet is polluted with too much plastic as it is. We needed another solution.

     A condominium administrator told us people drink the water from the refrigerator water dispenser and they haven’t had complaints. When Jon looked at the type of filter used in our refrigerator, we realized that they do not filter out heavy metals, which can contribute to causing cancer, or other microscopic particulates.

Drink the Water from the Refrigerator Dispenser?

     We viewed a YouTube video by the Two Expats Mexico titled, “Is It Safe to Drink the Tap Water in Mexico?”. I was convinced by the segment about city water pipe conditions and repairs not to drink unfiltered city water. Knowing how broken and old pipes affect water purity, we decided we didn't trust the Puerto Vallarta water to be pure enough to drink.

     But a quality water filter can be used to purify tap water. Jon started researching inline water filters that filtered more. He came up with a plan to purchase a Waterdrop® filter from Amazon Mexico since they now stock them and ship to Puerto Vallarta.

Waterdrop Inline Filter for Under the Sink

     Jon installed a single Waterdrop®, a five-stage water filter to the cold-water line under the kitchen sink of our Condo in Puerta Vallarta to provide us with our purified drinking water. With a filtration accuracy of 0.5 μm, the Waterdrop multistage filter improves the quality of drinking water by reducing contaminants such as lead, mercury, fluoride, chlorine and chloramines, taste and odor, sediment, and rust.  The system also retains minerals that are essential to your body, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium.

Jon Installing the Inline Water Filter Under the Kitchen Sink
Jon Checks for Leaks in the Connections

     We don’t have to worry about the safety of our filtered water now.  When used with municipal water, each filter has a maximum service life of 24 months or 16,000 gallons. We will err on the side of caution and install a new filter cartridge every year. If the cold-water flow slows significantly, the filter cartridge is clogged with particulate and can be backflushed or replaced.

     Currently, the Waterdrop 17UA-UF Under Sink Water Filter System, with an improved filtration accuracy to 0.01 μm (a micrometer is one-millionth of a meter), and a larger 19,000-gallon service life, is available from Amazon.com.mx. The total price for a complete system is around $150 US plus shipping. The replacement filters are about $82 US with shipping on Amazon.com.mx. That costs us about $7 US per month when we change it yearly, about the same as buying Ciel drinking water in 5-gallon garrafónes, but much more convenient. In the U.S., you can order these items at Waterdropfilter.com.

Hurricane Nora was Coming—Time to Stock Up On Water

     Hurricane Nora caused widespread flooding and broken pipes in August shortly after we moved into our condo. Repairs to water lines in Puerto Vallarta are still underway four months later. We were glad we had a few garrafónes of drinking water to tide us over until our Waterdrop filter arrived and Jon could get it installed. Now, while we brush our teeth with tap water, we only use filtered water for drinking and cooking.

     This is part of Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter", published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     Have you read the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series, Life in Mexico Never a Dull Moment, a collection of stories? Available worldwide, it's FREE with kindleunlimited. Here’s a helpful review for this book:

"Useful Info, Entertaining Anecdotes

This book is packed with useful information on traveling in northwest Mexico. The author’s style is casual and easy to read. Well worth the time."

     Are you interested in Medical Fiction? Check out my second book in the “In Sickness and In Health” series, “Pickle Jar Test: A Novel”. In this love story with a little romance and information about Parkinson’s disease, follow Jake and Lindsay as they adjust to living in México with a new diagnosis and treatment.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. Jon and I co-wrote this article, Jon being the expert on anything technical. As a self-published author on Amazon worldwide, I love it when readers leave a brief review of my books.

     Happy reading and traveling. Cheers and Happy New Year!

     Terry and Jon


Terry L Turrell, Author

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

OUR MONTHLY BUDGET LIVING FULL-TIME IN PUERTO VALLARTA—More Expensive Than Sayulita?

 A Luxurious Life for Less

Living in Mexico
     Now that we’ve lived in Puerto Vallarta for five months, we have enough history to update our budget. The last time I worked over our budget, we lived in Sayulita—a slightly different lifestyle. Comparing the differences is interesting. The bottom line is surprising.
     In 2016, I wrote the article, “INEXPENSIVE TO LIVE IN SAYULITA, MEXICO? TAKE A LOOK AT OUR BUDGET...”. Life sure changed for us this year! 
Upstairs in Our Simple Sayulita Casita
     Six years ago, we purchased a relatively inexpensive, rustic casita in Sayulita (no dishwasher, garbage disposal, oven, clothes washer, or dryer). We lived there about nine months per year and traveled in an RV during the rainy summer. Living this simple life was much less expensive than our life in the United States, but what about comparing it to this fancier life in Puerto Vallarta? 
     Five months ago, we sold the casita and made 100% on our investment, which helped allow us to upgrade to a 1200 square foot two-bedroom, two-bath condo unit in the Romantic Zone. The rooftop infinity pool was one of the selling points for us.
Upstairs at Our Condo's Rooftop Infinity Pool
     Our monthly budget below is for two people living in a condo unit, one that we own. This home was a big upgrade for us, not much in size but much more in amenities. It’s a few blocks from the beach, though we kept the cost down by purchasing a unit without an ocean view. The HOA (Homeowners Association) dues added a big chunk to our budget but covers quite a few of our previous expenses as well as many services. 
     Paying cash for a home in México is an important factor in making it affordable to live here. We have no monthly mortgage or rent to pay—following the example that our parents set for living comfortably during retirement. 
     We save by not owning a vehicle. We sold our motorhome over 2 years ago which eliminated that expense. We sold the golf cart when we moved from Sayulita (setting aside the funds to upgrade our condo air conditioners to energy-efficient Dual Inverter mini-splits and to install a Waterdrop inline water filter when we moved in). We walk a lot, take the bus whenever possible now that we are vaccinated against COVID, and use Uber and taxis when needed, keeping our transportation costs down.
Our Golf Cart Days in Sayulita were Fun, Even for Bella
Some Expenses are Less

     We have a washer and dryer now so we’ve eliminated the laundry service line item. Without a messy yard that brought in leaves, dust, insects, and geckos we can now keep up with our housekeeping, eliminating the weekly housecleaner expense. 

     The Home repairs/Maintenance line item is much less because our condo is newer and has fewer interior systems to malfunction. Jon won’t be nearly as busy as a handyman here.

Some Expenses are More

     Since we moved here during the hot, humid month of July and live here year-round, air conditioning our home during the warm months, we expected our electricity bill to be significantly higher. Surprisingly, with the efficient Dual Inverter mini-splits, a well-insulated condo unit, and all lightbulbs changed to LED’s, our electricity bill hasn’t been much higher than our average in Sayulita and may drop after more winter month history.

     We splurge by dining out more often in Puerto Vallarta, about twenty times per month, sometimes breakfast or lunch, but usually nice dinners. Quality restaurant food and wine are more expensive here than in Sayulita, but still significantly less than in the United States.

     Veterinarian costs have increased for us here because we go to a clinic that is well-liked by Canadians and Americans for the quality of service and English-speaking staff, so their rates are higher. Wolf’s Veterinary Clinic is well worth the 30-minute bus ride to get there.

     We no longer go back to the U.S. for doctor appointments or to load up on vitamins, nutritional supplements, or OTC and prescription medications. Health care is very good and relatively inexpensive here. Medicare doesn’t cover medical care abroad and we’ve chosen to live here without supplemental health insurance. Now that we pay out of pocket for medical treatment and supplies, these Health Care line items are higher. In the past two years, Amazon, Costco, and Farmacia Guadalajara have become great suppliers for most of these items.

     Now that we’re older, we have additional medical and dental issues, all paid out of pocket, so I’ve significantly increased the budgeted amount for these line items. Jon’s Parkinson’s disease treatments have increased these line items in the last two years. We keep enough IRA investments to draw from if we have a major medical event.

     We no longer travel by motorhome but allocate funds for travel by other means. Usually, we hire a driver to take us on adventures in México which is convenient for travel with our small dog. We hope to fly somewhere in the Yucatan this year so have budgeted for that.

     We pay for everything in pesos, but I’ve converted the expenses below to U.S. dollars for ease of comparison. I’ve used 20.5 pesos per dollar as the exchange rate, though it’s sometimes over 21, making our dollars stretch even farther.

     I didn’t include Medicare insurance premiums because they are deducted from our Social Security income. Our net monthly income (pretax) from Social Security will be $3436 in 2022, providing a luxurious lifestyle in Puerto Vallarta. It would be impossible to live this well in the U.S. on our income. When our IRA investments do well, we splurge on a special purchase such as home improvements or a nicer vacation. Since we live in paradise, we’re happy to “vacation” here at home most of the time, taking day-trip adventures near PV about once a month.

Budget Line-Item (2 people)                          Expenses in US Dollars

Groceries & Wine                                                            $ 350

Restaurants (Yes, we splurge here)                             $1000

Waterdrop Filters                                                           $    7

(Rather than Purified Water--More about this later)

Condo HOA Dues                                                            $ 520

            (This is one of our highest monthly expenses, but includes a lot of services, replacing several expense line items from our Sayulita budget. Included are gas, internet, water, sewer, landscape maintenance, common area cleaning and maintenance, swimming pool, rooftop bar and café, gym, security, and building maintenance.)

Electricity                                                                          $  70

Fitness (Zumba Gold & yoga classes)                              $  20

            (We save by using our condo’s gym and free YouTube classes)

Health Care—Medical                                                   $ 120

            (Physical Therapy $30, Doctors $30, Procedures, Lab tests, etc. $60)

Health Care—Dental                                                      $  40

Health Care (Prescription Meds—OTC in Mexico)   $ 250

Health Care (OTC Meds, CBD, Vitamins, Suppl.)     $ 320

Personal Care                                                                   $ 245

(This is where we splurge more than we did in Sayulita for much less than in the U.S. Weekly Massage $155/mo., Hair Color & Cut $90)

Pet Food, Supplies, Vet                                              $  40

Home Repair/Maintenance                                     $  30

Phone and Skype                                                          $  30

            (2 Telcel Amigo sin Limite Plans + 2 Skype Numbers)

Property Taxes                                                              $  10

Property Bank Trust Fee:                                         $  44

Transportation (Local--Bus, Taxi, Uber)            $  60

Kindle eBooks                                                               $  50

Entertainment and Netflix                                       $  50

Clothing                                                                           $  30

Charity and Donations                                              $  30

Travel and Vacations                                                 $ 120

Total Monthly Budget for Two People               $3436

     Some people rent out their condo units for much of the year to increase their income. We were landlords for over twenty years during our “rat race” time in the U.S. and don’t plan to ever do that again. This is our home, not a rental. We may not earn rental income from this condo unit, but it will be a good investment in the long term if we ever sell it, or if our children sell it.

     Anyone who boasts of living for under $600 per month in Mexico is probably not enjoying many of the inexpensive perks of living here. I’ve tried to give a more accurate impression of expat life in México. Of course, many people live on less than we do by sacrificing some of the benefits we splurge on. Monthly tours or days trips provide the adventures we crave, expenses that are well worth it. Enjoying being pampered is part of the fun of retiring here. A weekly massage—why not, as the Mexicans say. A weekly trip to the salon for a hair wash and style—I love it and can afford it here but not in the U.S. Dining out because I don’t feel like cooking—we’re helping the economy. Budgeting for a vacation or two each year is important to us.

     Yes, I like to justify being spoiled. Why not? Life is good as a foreigner retired in México.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it at Feliz Navidad, a Puppy, and a New Book.
     Have you read my book, Retirement Before the Age of 59:Healthy Living in Mexico #2? I love it when readers leave a brief review on Amazon. Check out this 5-Star Review:

     “Being a writer, living in the Pacific Northwest, roughly the same age as the author, and having long a goal of retiring and living at least part-time in Sayulita, MX, THIS was exactly what I was after. And it did not disappoint. Her frustrations as a career pharmacist, getting hit hard in the real estate market of 2008 (boy, I can relate there,) the decision to downsize, to travel, to retire to Mexico, Terry writes about it all in a style that's very readable and very helpful. Her pros/cons list of various Mexico locations is golden. We have another exploratory trip to Sayulita coming in a few months, and I'm now much more prepared to see it with "new" eyes than I was before.”

     Thank you for reading my books and blog articles. Happy travels.

Terry L Turrell, Author, with Sophie

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

MY DECEMBER NEWSLETTER HAS BEEN PUBLISHED: Feliz Navidad from Puerto Vallarta, a Puppy, and a New Book

Feliz Navidad from Puerto Vallarta

     Last week, Jon and I attended a fund-raiser/Christmas photoshoot for The Sula Society, a dog rescue center in this area. What a fun event! It was for people to have Christmas photos taken with their dogs, but we attended knowing there were puppies available. When we held these two 8-week-old Chihuahua-mix pups, we were hooked!

     To continue reading, click HERE.

Terry L Turrell, Author

Sunday, December 12, 2021

OUR 12 FAVORITE PUERTO VALLARTA RESTAURANTS--So Far! (Part 3)

 Mexican Food Tonight or Something Else?

Searching for the Best Baja-Style Fish Tacos in PV

     Before we branch out to the Puerto Vallarta Marina area, we’re still evaluating restaurants in Old Town, also called the Romantic Zone. We love that we can safely walk to and from our home to any place in this tourist area. The Mexican name for this neighborhood is Colonia Emiliano Zapata, a central area of early Puerto Vallarta. Spanish-style family homes and local businesses are interspersed with new condominiums, art galleries, and restaurants.

     With a large number of restaurants serving Mexican food here, the competition is stiff. There are so many good ones, it’s difficult to choose the best, so our choices will change as we try others. But, for now, these are our favorites.

     Once a week, we choose a Mexican restaurant. On our next evening out, Jon usually wants an Italian or a good steak place. For our third choice of the week, I often select an Asian or seafood restaurant. By then we have enough leftovers in the freezer for a delicious meal at home while watching the sunset and the world go by from our balcony.

Pleasant Decor in Archie's Wok

7. Archie's Wok

     Archie’s Wok has long been a favorite of ours when we’re craving Asian food. During high season, by the time we arrive at our usual dinner hour of 6:00, the restaurant is packed and there’s a waiting list. They don’t take reservations, so this week we decided to go at 5:00 to get a table and I’m glad we did.

     We discovered they have a Light Lunch Menu available from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. For 169 pesos (about $8.00US), you can choose one item from each of the three sections. Jon and I each selected the same items, a Lumpia Filipino Eggroll, Pancit Filipino Pasta Stir-Fried with Vegetables and Mushrooms, and Grilled Beef Skewer Korean Sesame Marinade. 

Our Archie's Wok Light Lunch Selections

     Delicious and a great value! We’ll be going back again soon to try the other options on that “early-bird” menu, especially the Singapore Chicken and Calamari Fried in Light Beer Batter.

8. Joe Jack's Fish Shack

     When we’re hungry for fresh seafood served in a fun atmosphere in the heart of Old Town, Joe Jack's Fish Shack is one of our favorites. The service, food, and prices are excellent, so be prepared for this restaurant to be packed during high season. Joe Jack’s serves one of the best fish and chips we’ve had in México. Occasionally we share an iceberg wedge salad when we’re craving the mingled flavors of bacon and blue cheese.

     Fried chicken is one of Joe Jack’s specialties when it’s not too busy here in Puerto Vallarta, usually on Thursday and Sunday. A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to arrive on one of their last fried chicken Sundays of this year's low season. We asked for one order with an extra piece of chicken, a total of four pieces split between us. It was more than enough food—each of us had a side of mashed potatoes with gravy, corn on the cob, and coleslaw. We order fried food here in Mexico extra frito, so the chicken came well-fried and crispy. Everything was delicious and satisfied our need for some American food!

Split Order of Fried Chicken--Extra Crispy

     We’ve learned that during high season (mid-November through April), we need to make a reservation for Joe Jack’s, especially if we want to sit upstairs at a table next to the railing overlooking the street. It’s always entertaining to watch the action on Basilio Badillo street and across the street at Margarita Grill. People watching while sipping a glass of cold wine or beer is half the fun.

Fried Chicken Will Return... Mas Tarde

9. Canto del Mar

      We’ve dined at several of the beachfront palapa restaurants along the Malecón. After two visits, we decided that Canto del Mar (Song of the Sea) is our favorite, so far. The seafood is fresh and a good value. The Baja-style fish tacos are the best we’ve found on the beach along the south end of the Malecón. (El Barracuda in colonia 5 the de Diciembre also has wonderful fish tacos).

Sorting and Slicing Fresh Fish in the Clean Kitchen

     The Gourmet Habafuego habanero ranch salsa our waiter suggested makes the tacos extra tasty. We raved about the delicious spicy flavor and asked where we could buy it. He told us it was a special order from Guadalajara, not sold in stores here, and offered to sell us a bottle. We’re glad we had him add it to our check—it’s delicious on quesadillas, Mexican eggs, salads, and sandwiches.

     Canto del Mar is a great place to watch the amazing Bahia de Banderas sunsets. I look forward to another relaxing evening watching the sky change colors while sipping a Cielo Rojo—a clamato-beer mixture that I’ve recently discovered is a refreshing alternative to wine on a warm afternoon.

View Part 1 and Part 2 of Our 12 Favorite Puerto Vallarta Restaurants--(So Far)

     Check out this New Release!

     The pre-order for the Kindle ebook THE INSIDER'S GUIDE TO THE BEST OF MEXICAN HOLIDAYS is live, available wordwide! The release date is 17 December. Order your copy on Amazon.com HERE.

Celebrate life, death, and everything in between!

     I’m honored to have two of my stories in this anthology, including the first in the Introduction. I hope you enjoy this book about Christmas in México, Mexican Independence Day, Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Celebrations of the Virgin), Día de Muertos, and much more. Thank you to author Carmen Amato for putting this collection together.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. If you’d like to take a look at my recent newsletter, you can read it HERE.