Happy Easter from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The weather is a wonderful 24 C. (75 F.) with some high thin scattered clouds this evening. We arrived yesterday afternoon. Esther flew in from Lima on Delta through Atlanta on OnePass miles. For some reason she got Business Elite all the way which is a great deal for me at only 17,500 miles. I lucked out and got First Class on Continental from Houston, as well.
This is a much needed vacation for me, after a wonderful trip to Hamburg last week, I returned to Houston to a tough week. I am re-financing my house which means getting bunch of old house and income documents together. I spent 4 days tearing my house apart looking for the file with the surveys and previous closing statements on the house. As I went through the old paperwork, I shredded the things I didn’t need and sorted the stuff to keep. I should have done this years ago, but there never seemed to be a pressing need until now. What a mess! I ended up with 4 trash cans and 4 huge bags of shedding. Thursday morning, I finally found the file I needed at the bottom of a box of junk that hadn’t been touched in 15 years. The rest of the day Thursday, I worked cleaning the mess I had created. Then on Friday, I decided to both shampoo the carpet and cut the lawn. All was going well until I went to get a beer before going cut Linda´s (my neighbor) lawn. The beer and everything else in the refrigerator was warm. I quickly dispersed my critical items like meat and fish to the garage freezer and the neighbors. I soon discovered that the coils were frozen because I left the door open a couple of nights earlier. While everything turned out OK in the end it cost me a lot of time and I only got 2 hours sleep Friday night.
The next day Puerto Vallarta, things started off a little rough as my apartment at the Sheraton is undergoing renovations. I was surprised to discover we had been moved to an apartment with no balcony and overlooking the trash filled vacant lot next door. After some discussion with guest services, they changed us to the apartment directly below the one I own. While this was a perfect solution, they needed an hour for cleaning and preparation. We went to the lobby for free tequila and guacamole. I drank 6 shots while waiting, but then I slept until 8:00 PM when Esther woke me up to walk to the market. She is very understanding.
Easter Sunday we when to the old church just off the central plaza in the old part of Puerto Vallarta for a traditional and very beautiful Easter service. Esther suggested we go to lunch above the old central market. The market has moved and the tourist oriented stalls selling tee shirts and souvenirs have taken over. Upstairs the traditional restaurants remain to feed the locals who come to find good food and the memories the past. We had a lunch of shrimp soup and grilled fish that was outstanding. With drinks and tip, the price was less than $14.00.
The impact of the recession and the drug war publicity is apparent by the number of people at the pool and in the traffic in the tourist shops. In past years, there were lots of families escaping the late spring cold weather as well as many Mexican families enjoying their Easter vacations. But, this year there plenty of extra lounge chairs by the pool and the small shops seem to be empty. It’s too bad because this city’s economy relies on the visitor’s trade for survival.
It is evening now and the sun is settling below the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. I have been careful to use sun block, so I am not suffering with my standard first day sun burn. Tomorrow morning, we will go to the obligatory timeshare presentation so we can get the free and discount stuff at the resort. We both like the Mexican Fiesta and dining at the hotel, but it is very expensive. This way we get a free buffet breakfast as well as half price tickets for the Fiesta and a half price dinner. Also, I like to match wits with the timeshare sales people.
Our plans this week include a day at a small village about an hour by bus north of here called Sayulita. The beach is sandy and the water is comfortably warm for swimming. There are just enough people to support good restaurants as well as shopping, but it is still quiet and relaxing. Another day, we are plan to go to San Sebastian del Oeste which is a 3 hour bus ride into the mountains above Puerto Vallarta to a quiet crossroads. From here we need to hitchhike the last 12 kms to an old mining village. The village, which was founded by four Spanish families 400 years ago, has been isolated until recently. We were there several years ago and it is like going back in time. I will tell you more about this later. Now I want to post this, so you can follow my travels.