Monday, March 19, 2012
Today is a holiday in Mexico; the observance of the birthday of Benito Juarez. We are back in Puerto Vallarta; this time in a very different place. This time we are joined by Pat and Helen Gookin for our one week visit. We are staying in a condo on the 5th floor of a 10-story building. We overlook theBay ofBanderas. More importantly we overlook the main pedestrian way directly on the beach. The parade and variety is endless. So are the sounds. Always in the background is the sound of waves upon the shore. Retired Americans and Canadians pass those selling their wares on the beach, sidewalks and byways of town. The faces of indigenous mountain people mix with the eager, healthy young locals.
Pat is much more comfortable here than she was in the place we rented last year. This place is cleaner; there are no dead bugs (or live ones so far). In addition, the place is staffed with a doorman, security guard and cleaning service.
We recalled that when we arrived at our place up the hill on Jacarandas last year our instructions were to call up to Gisela on the 6th floor. She would come down give us our key and open up for us. After an unnerving search for the address, the cap driver deposited us in front of the building with 2 large suit cases, golf clubs in a carry bag and assorted lesser bags. We had enough to stay for a month and enough gear so that I could set up an office. We did meet Gisela and even bought a bottle of wine from her. Seems she kept her wine in the trunk of her car; this arrangement was designed to make the wine a bit less accessible to slow her consumption.
Last night was long. The room was too warm with the door closed. With it open the growling of the waves was just a bit too loud for a peaceful sleep. I ached in various positions; a different bed and pillow perhaps don’t suit my needs. It was relief when 6 AM arrived; I ducked through the curtain and into the darkness of the deck. In the distance a brilliantly lit cruise ship slipped quietly through the night in steady determination to reach its brief berth at Marina Vallarta.
I am up before everyone as usual. I ran the Malecon in the dark for the second day. Both mornings I saw the remnants of the evening. Dingy men picked through oily trash, lovers leaned into each other on stone benches, revelers laughed hard from an upstairs bar as though they were trying to preserve the fading night. People like me jogged and walked through the party marking the change of night to day once again.
Pat and I went out for our morning walk before Pat and Helen were up. We headed south along to the end of the beach where we came to a steep and twisting staircase. A few people were using the stairs to exercise by climbing up and down. We estimated the height at 6 to 10 stories. Of course the stairs were typical of this town, uneven stair heights and surfaces, changing slope and pitch all with little concern for safety. It was delightful.
This morning we all took a stroll after breakfast to the Isla in the middle of the Rio Cuale. The first section is lined with scores of small stands selling local produce: jewelry, clothing, pottery and handcrafts of every description. Helen savored the experience as she slowly made her way through the maze of shops. And then it happened; she was way-laid by a seller of bracelets. After trying on several she bought one for 50 pesos – about 4 bucks. It does look good on her wrist.
We made our way along the Isla through the tranquilArtsCenter(closed for the holiday) and visited the Café Bolero, a delightful riverside restaurant. Pat and I had several peaceful dinners sitting at a table by the edge of the river.
Pat has proposed going up to the Casa Isabelle tonight for a drink with Pat and Helen. Casa Isabelle is perched on the hill overlooking town. It is about as high up the hill as our condo so Helen will be able to get a sense of where we stayed last year.
Pat Gookin, Pat and I hiked up to the old neighborhood yesterday after a visit to the open air market Last year we didn’t discover this wonderful and vibrant market until the day we were leaving. We bought an assortment of brightly colored vegetables including cactus. I made a vegetable sauté with pasta for dinner last night. The market is rich with life. The fruits and vegetables are colorful but less so than the shopkeepers and shoppers. Mostly it is locals here with a few of us mixed in. Children squirt through the narrow passages between boxes and displays. The children are less fawned over here, more independent. Perhaps it makes them older sooner.