MW Cameron M. Bailey


A few folks have asked me about the dress code for our Lodge visit in Puerto Vallarta, and if they need to bring a suit.

When I have visited the Lodge in the past I did so in slacks and a dress shirt. No jacket. I was not underdressed. It will be warm in the Lodge Room, so a jacket is probably something to be avoided.

Slacks and dress shirt will be just fine.

If something changes about this between now and our trip, I will let everyone know.

Remember however that you will need to bring your own Apron. Loaner aprons are an odd custom shared by United States Lodges, not practiced in the rest of the world.



Cameron M. Bailey Past Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

Subscribe to receive posts via email.

We didn't plan the Grand Lodge trip to Puerto Vallarta in such a way that we would be notified as to people's plans. It's a much more informal, 'see you there' kind of thing. We thought in that way, people would have a good deal more ability to make their plans fit our activities. For example, if they needed to arrive later, or leave earlier.

I say this as a way of explanation as to why I am posting trip details on this platform. I've got to do it publicly, because I don't know for certain who I would need to send them to privately.

What I do know, since he told me, is that we have a Brother and his wife arriving a few days early. So, I thought that I'd better post a little something for folks who might be doing the same. A virtual tour guide if you will, since I won't be there yet to serve as an actual tour guide.

Airport: On the plane, you'll be given a piece of paper to fill out. Short and sweet, name and such. This will become your Visa, and you'll need it to leave the Country, so don't lose it.

After you get off the plane you'll go to baggage claim, then through Customs and Immigration, just as you would in the US. It will be faster than the US because it is a small airport that doesn't have to process too awfully many folks.

Where it gets interesting is what comes next.

You will leave Customs. It will be very obvious that you are leaving the Customs area as you walk out the doorway. In front of you will be a long, wide hallway, filled with people. At the end of the hallway, you will see the public area of the airport. While you are in this hallway, every single other person in it is a time share salesman. If you don't engage with them, and just keep on walking, you'll be through the hallway and free of them in 30 seconds or less. If you feel badly about ignoring them, and do talk to them, you will end up buying a time share in Mexico. Not, in my opinion, what you want to do.

Just ignore them, and make your way to the door. It's easy.

The interesting thing though, is hearing the claims they make trying to get people to stop and talk. Maybe they will say that they are the Taxi service. Once I had one tell me that he was from Mexican Customs and they had a question that I had to answer. They get creative. Just ignore it and keep on walking.

Taxi: At the airport, just walk outside. Taxis will be everywhere. Jump in the first one you see and off you go.

Tell the driver you are headed to San Marino Hotel, in Zona Romantica.

Taxis in Vallarta don't use meters. They will charge you for the ride based on a set formula. Taxis are extremely cheap. Don't worry about it. The most expensive Taxi ride you will take while there will be the ride in from the Airport. This is because there is a tax that the driver must pay each time he takes someone out of the Airport. You'll notice him stop at a toll booth thing as you get underway, that is what he is doing.

I have heard, for 40 years now, that before you ever get into a Taxi you need to negotiate the price, for if you do not, you'll be hammered when you get to your destination. Such advice is posted all over Facebook and everywhere else even to this day.

I don't care if you do it or not, but I do want you to know that it is nonsense. As I say, I've been hearing that crap about Taxi drivers taking advantage for 40 years. I never pre-negotiate or even ask, and I've never been taken advantage of. It is best to ignore such 'advice.'

Here is a true story: A few years back we were in Vallarta with some good friends of ours. They took a Taxi somewhere or another. He didn't notice it, but his wallet fell out of his pocket with all of his cash and credit cards in it while they were in the Taxi. He discovered what happened when the Taxi Driver showed up at our Hotel room, with his wallet in hand, including all of his cash. Which was a large amount.

The Tunnel: When traveling to your hotel from the Airport it is nice to go through the City, along the bay, so that you can see the sights.

Sometimes your Taxi driver will take you a different route.

You'll head out of the dense urban area, up on the hill a bit, and through some neighborhoods and a tunnel.

Don't worry about it.

If he is taking you that way he is doing so because the streets along the water are clogged to the point of not moving. This will very likely be the case if you are arriving before us because there is a massive parade through the downtown, ending at the Church, every day from December 1 to 12.

So, you'll probably end up going through the tunnel. As I say, don't worry, it's just a bypass road, and soon enough you'll be back in the heart of the City, on the water.

The taxi will drop you at the San Marino and you'll be all set. If you prefer Uber, that works great in Vallarta too, but Taxis are everywhere, so it isn't really needed. Taxi or Uber, you'll pay for your ride in cash, not through the app.

Money: Don't worry much about it. Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere. (Call your bank before you go so they don't turn it off.) I don't generally use them though, preferring to use Cash in Mexico. US dollars spend just fine. There is no need to convert them into Pesos. (This is not the case in all parts of the country, but it is in Vallarta.) Everyone will take dollars.

The only thing is, small bills only. Everything we will purchase or use in Mexico is extremely inexpensive compared to the US. You would have an extremely difficult time trying to use a $100 or even $50 bill anywhere but an extremely fancy restaurant or the like. $1, $5, $10 are best, and most places can break a $20. Expect to get your change back in Pesos.

There are cash machines in Vallarta, if you need one. I have never used one, so have no idea as to fees or whatever. Just take enough cash is the easiest way to travel.

Food: If you stand at the front lobby door of the San Marino (not the pool deck, but where the Taxi let you off.) you'll be on Rodolfo Gomez street. Turn right, you'll see that you can head to the beach. At the beach, hang a left and you'll very quickly find La Palapa Restaurant. You can't go wrong here.

Take a left instead on Rodolfo Gomez and walk the half a block to the cross street, Olas Altas. This street is filled with wonderful restaurants. Pick one, you will have a very hard time going wrong. Either direction on Olas Altas from the corner will be just fine.

If you turn left at the corner of Rodolfo Gomez and walk three blocks to Bassilio Badillo, that is considered 'restaurant row.' Again, just pick one, you will not go wrong. Loads of truly amazing restaurants run the entire length of Bassilio Badillo.

Shopping, Walking, Exploring: One block beyond the corner of Bassilio Badillo and Olas Altas, the road ends, turning into a 'boardwalk' type thing. Just continue down Olas Altas. The 'boardwalk,' Malecon begins here. Along it you can wander the rest of the way through the Romantic District, and there are good beach restaurants. If you continue walking for awhile, you'll cross over the river. You'll see an island down there, it too has some great restaurants and shopping, the River Cafe is a standout.

Once across the river, you are now in downtown. This part of town has a much different feel than the romantic district. Excellent shopping abounds, as do massive nightclubs. Explore till your hearts content.

If you hit the Hotel Rosita, turn around and head back, there is little to see or do beyond the Rosita. The Malecon is closed to cars, but taxis back right up against it, so don't worry about going too far, they will always drive you back. Melinda and I generally walk the entire distance of the Malecon, through both the romantic district and downtown at least a few times each trip.

There you go. That should keep you plenty busy, and well fed before I arrive to show you more.

All of the areas mentioned in this missive are safe. You can be out on foot at any hour of the day or night and be safe.

One tiny thing: On Olas Altas, you'll see a very nice looking restaurant called Kaiser Maximilian. The food might be good, I don't know, I've never eaten there. Please don't eat there. Calling a restaurant Kaiser Maximilian in Mexico is unbelievably tacky. Maximilian was a dictator, installed and maintained by european force, only removed through revolution.

One other tiny thing: Please tip everyone, and tip well. Mexico is a very poor country compared to the US, and in Vallarta your tips are seriously relied upon. This includes the hotel maids who should be tipped generously. Plus, once you are known to tip well, you'll find it really pays off in the level of service and care received.



Cameron M. Bailey Past Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

Subscribe to receive posts via email.

As a reminder, the Grand Lodge of Washington will be having a Christmas trip to Puerto Vallarta this year.

We'll fly into Puerto Vallarta Mexico on Monday, December 13, 2021.

On Thursday, December 16, 2021 we will visit Puerto Vallarta Masonic Lodge. Early indications are that we will be joined by the MW Grand Master of the MW York Grand Lodge of Mexico.

Please remember to bring your own Masonic Apron. Lodge owned loaner aprons are a odd American custom not followed in most other nations.

On Friday, December 17, 2021 we will have the Grand Lodge Christmas Party at my mother's home in Puerto Vallarta. All are of course welcome and encouraged to attend.

It is going to be a spectacular trip, and I sincerely hope that you can join us!

Melinda and I are going to stay at the San Marino Hotel, in Puerto Vallarta's Romantic District.

The San Marino is perfectly located, directly on the beach, immediately adjacent to the famous Los Muertos Pier.

Hotel San Marino

We reserved a Junior Suite, with a water view. If seeing the Bay of Banderas from your room is important to you, please make sure to request a water view. Otherwise you will have a view of the City.

Please note that Melinda and I frequently travel to Mexico, including to areas that are not frequented by tourists from the United States. We therefore might have more tolerance for local lodging quirks and standards than other people.

The San Marino is not a resort like millions of people from the United States flock to each and every year. Please do not expect the standards of a fancy resort.

The San Marino offers rooms, plus all inclusive packages. I would very strongly advise you to just rent a room. One of the great benefits of the San Marino is that it is surrounded by dozens of truly world class restaurants. One would miss out on that by doing an all inclusive package.

If you think that you would be more comfortable in a beach resort like most American visitors to Mexico stay in, we would recommend that you stay at the Sheraton Buganvilias. This is a decision that only you can make, but in my opinion the San Marino's prime location outweighs any little annoyances that might be found.

I have stayed at the Sheraton many times. You will find all of the standards you might expect from a high end resort.

The disadvantage to the Sheraton is its location. You will need to take a Taxi or an Uber to get just about anywhere within the City, and traffic can be a nightmare in Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Marina Vallarta offer hundreds of massive and extremely luxurious resort choices. The reason we are recommending the Sheraton is that it is the closest located such resort to the part of the City that you will want to spend time in.

Sheraton Buganvilias Resort

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the trip, or about either of these Hotels.

I notice that probably due to pent up demand due to Covid, rooms in Vallarta in December are getting very rare. I recommend that you books soon.

You will need a passport for travel to Mexico. If you don't have one, please get one as soon as possible.

I was asked recently about cellular telephones. Check with your service provider to confirm, but our cell phones (T-Mobile Unlimited Plan) work in Mexico exactly the same as if we were at home, with no additional cost.

I was also asked about Credit Cards. Credit Cards are accepted just about everywhere in Mexico, just as they are here. Often however, a better deal can be had for cash. I always spend cash in Mexico, but others use Credit Cards or Debit Cards. ATM's are common in Vallarta, as are money exchange places.



Cameron M. Bailey Past Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

Subscribe to receive posts via email.