Afternoon of the Iguana

Vallarta Day 15 & 16

I drop off a last load of laundry on my way to Dee’s in the morning, where I get the breakfast bagel with my Grande Americana. Both Dee and one of the regular ex-pats make a comment about how my sunburn looks much better today. Dee goes on about how the Vichy product alters the genetic makeup of your skin cells or some such scientific technobabble. I have no doubt it helped, but I can’t be sure, since this burn wasn’t all that bad – it may have just gotten better on its own.

Some of the Kansas City guys were planning on meeting me at Dee’s so I could show them where the gym was, but I get an email from Garrett saying that they’re going to take advantage of the weather and enjoy the sun on the beach. He extends the invitation to join them, but I’m fearful that my sunburn is still a bit too fresh. That, and I’ve already had my piece of chocolate cake for Breakfast Dessert and need to burn it off at the gym!

I head over to the gym, taking the “secret shortcut” that Aaron told me about. Walking up the staircase next to The Swedes restaurant I hear something move on a step up ahead. I pause to see if I can find the source of the noise and there it is, three steps up – a GIANT iguana! Ok, maybe not giant, but probably 15 – 20 inches from head to tail. I pull out my iPhone and snap a photo of it. Then I step up a bit closer and it takes a leap off the edge of the staircase – a good 10 feet down onto a bed of rocks. I hear a solid thump and some more scurrying.

Anxious little fucker.

My heart has settled down a bit after initially being amped up upon seeing the monster. I continue up the stairs, over the hill and then down the second set of steps to the bottom of the hill. I’m about 30 feet into the second staircase when I see another one clinging to the wall of the staircase! It’s not moving, but it’s watching me. I pull out my iPhone again and begin to inch closer, but it’s watching me and sees me coming. It suddenly disappears, crawling into a drain pipe built into the wall. I approach the drain pipe, armed with my camera, and as I come into view of the pipe I can see the iguana’s tail inside. It’s not moving so I begin talking to him, “Come out, come out, Mister Iguana!”


I conclude that should the monster actually decide to come out, I’d likely scream and run. I decide not to find out if I can succeed it maddening it and carry on.

At the gym I tell Aaron of my encounter with the two iguanas and how these are the first iguanas I’ve ever seen outside of the zoo! He responds with simply, “Welcome to Vallarta – land of reptiles.” He goes on to tell me that he sees snakes and iguanas on that trail every day.

“EVERY DAY?! And you told me to take that path?!” I’m alarmed he never warned me of the trail’s hazards, but I figure he’s probably so accustomed to them that he didn’t think to mention it.

I make a mental note that I won’t be taking that trail for the remainder of my stay.

Aaron takes off I say goodbye and thank him for his hospitality. He invites me to dinner again in the evening, but I’ve got plans to go out with some folks from the Alano club.

Rikard, the owner of The Swedes stops into the gym and we chat a bit. I plan on asking the Alano crew to hit up his restaurant for dinner that night, but I can’t be sure I’ll get a consensus so I don’t mention it.

After finishing my workout, David makes me a shake and acts as if he’s crying and how he misses me already. I laugh at him for at least making the effort to look like he’ll miss me. He and Aaron have been a joy to see every day.

I stop by the laundry on my way home and pick it up. 55 pesos and it’s all folded nicely. I could really get used to this – now if they only delivered…

I shower, read a little and take a nap, getting up in time to make the AA meeting. On my way over to the club I stop in at The Coffee Cup and say good bye to Angel. He’s such a sweetie. We chat a bit and I give him a hug.

While at The Coffee Cup I see Jose – the cute vodka-loving timeshare sales guy, walk by with an older gringo. The last couple of times I’ve seen him has been at one of the bars on Olas Altus in the company of older drunken fellows. I suspect he won’t stop into the rooms of AA for some time … or at least until his looks begin to fail him.

The meeting is really nice. A lady, D, received her 3 year medallion and told her story. There were some really unique parts of her story, and she shared very genuinely and openly. She and her husband are new residents in Vallarta and new to the club, but they’ve been very welcoming to me and seem to have adjusted quickly.

Bob isn’t at the meeting, but Art, Dudley and myself head over to The Swede with a new guy, David, in tow. David is actually a part-time resident of Vallarta and known to the club, but new to me. He’s a nice enough fellow, but spends much of his time during the dinner texting his lover back in Vancouver who’s been recently diagnosed with MS.

Dinner is wonderful. I ordered the meatballs again and enjoyed them just as much as the first time. Rikard and the staff are wonderful hosts. Its so nice to eat at these small restaurants and be greeted by the owners and the people who actually make the food.

After dinner I head home and make it an early night. I encounter the whiny prostitute on my way home, but he’s learned to look the other way when I come by. I’m in bed and reading by 10:30 pm.

Day 16 begins back at Coco’s. I decide to treat myself to an order of her apple-cinnamon pancakes and they are just as wonderful as I remember them from 7 months prior. While enjoying my breakfast I watch the farmers’ market getting setup across the street. One of the lesbians who runs the chocolate store next to Dee’s seems to be directing traffic, parking, unloading and general ordering about of things while she looks a bit harried running around smoking a cigarette, pointing and yelling at everyone with her short spiky hair and glasses. I am a bit amused.

I stop in at Dee’s next and ask her to use her printer to print out my boarding passes. She says she doesn’t normally, but she makes an exception for me. I thank her and order an Americana and piece of Carrot Cake, deciding I can be doubly bad and reward myself ahead of time for the long day of travel awaiting me.

Boarding passes in hand, I head back home. I shower and pack everything up, saying goodbye to the small, poorly decorated condo at Brassia Del Mar – my home of the last two weeks. I hope I never see another pastel yellow, green or blue again.

I’m at the airport my normal two hours in advance, avoiding the anxiety-inducing rush I see as the alternative. Of course, this gives me time to write again and take in a little piece of Vallarta before I leave, as they offer massages here in the airport – right at your gate.

My major take-aways from my time in Guatemala and Vallarta:

1. Love more
2. Live simply
3. Lessen my consumerism

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