Another Day in Paradise

Vallarta Day 4

After rising I see my friend under the overturned glass on the kitchen counter and decide it’s time to free him. I go back and forth on killing bugs, but for a couple of reasons I decide to set this one free:

a. He’s huge. If I smash him, I’m going to feel it, and probably hear it. These elements seem to bring more reality to the killing.

b. I re-learned in San Marcos that we’re all connected – everything and everyone is a part of the same system.

I open the window and toss him out, but he won’t let go of the paper he was sitting on. He starts crawling towards my hand and I freak out – shoving him off the paper with the glass. He lands directly beneath the window and is still on a runaway pace to who-knows-where. I rush to close the window and realize the gap between the top of the window frame and the bottom of the window itself is nearly an inch thick. So much for energy efficiency or keeping out the bugs. Thankfully my buddy decides to head south, out of sight.

After that little fiasco I head for breakfast at Coco’s Kitchen. I have a hankering for the Ensalada de Fruito at LaPaz and order the equivalent at Coco’s. Its okay, and had I never had the LaPaz or even just the generic Guatemalan equivalent, I would have been greatly satisfied, but I wasn’t. The granola was quite plain, where LaPaz has their own variety with different seeds and raisins thrown in. The serving size was much smaller – small bowl, vs large bowl and a smaller portion of granola as well. Banana and honey doesn’t vary much, so those elements were comparable. I will say, however, that Coco’s presentation is impeccable – for all of their dishes. And the service at Coco’s is spectacular. Almost too good. You take a sip of coffee and a busboy will stop by and ask “Mas cafe?”

Next stop is Dee’s. I’m beginning to get to know the regulars a bit. Michele owns Michele’s restaurant on the corner down the block. He’s Swiss. Polite, but exudes a general air of apathy. He has a mother and son Jack Russell couple. They’re cute, smart, and love attention. If you begin petting them, they won’t let you stop – rubbing their noses into your hand, or if unavailable, your shin, then looking up at you with a cocked head and puppy-dog eyes.

The lesbian couple run the artisan chocolate shop next door. (Ex-pats)

Gary, a gay man, runs the little shop in the other direction. (Ex-pat)

Real Estate Assistant Guy (REAG), also an ex-pat, starts work at 10:00 every morning after his morning coffee and chitchat at Dee’s. He’s an ex-pat and lives in Vallarta with his Dad and his Dad’s girlfriend. He’s often talking about his Dad, his Dad’s health, his Dad’s new car, his Dad’s road-trip to Florida.

Heavy-set surfer lady. She kind of looks like Dee – with longer blond hair, but probably a little older. By her skin, one can tell she’s spent much of her life in the sun. Like Dee, always has a smile on her face and exudes happiness. She’s got a surf board tied to the top of her mid-90s Camry and I’ve never seen her in anything other than a pair of shorts and a swimsuit.

There are a couple others, but the above group can generally be counted on every morning. I’m usually engrossed in my writing during this time and don’t elect to go out of my way to meet anyone, but a few of them have become friendly with me.

I’m at Dee’s when a Facebook message comes in from a guy, B, who used to live in Minneapolis, but has since moved to New York. He had attended treatment at Pride Institute with a common friend of ours – Chris. Chris had since moved back to Virgina Beach and I hadn’t heard from him in a while, but occasionally he’d pop up on Facebook. B’s note tells me that Chris took his own life this morning.

Both B and Chris had left AA and returned to a life that included alcohol and / or drugs. I still cared for them, but with these circumstances, and the distance between us, we were no longer close.

I was sad to hear about Chris. His story is frighteningly common. Though I’ve only been in recovery for 6 years, I’ve lost track of the number of people I know who have died. The program teaches us that if we choose to continue in our disease, we will ultimately face jails, institutions or death. This is the 4th or 5th such death I can think of in the recent 12 months. Chris was always a kind-hearted person and freely shared himself with other addicts while he was here in Minneapolis trying to practice a recovery program.

It’s sad to think that he gave up, ultimately choosing death over trying to recover again. It’s things like this that remind me to always extend a welcoming hand-shake or hug, and a listening ear, to the newcomer at meetings. You never know – it may be their first meeting, or they may be coming off a recent bender. Or perhaps they’re just having a bad day. It’s not difficult for me to show a little love in the rooms, and it may help the recipient more than I know.

After finishing up at Dee’s, I head back to the condo and change into some gym clothes. I head north towards Acqua.

There are two or three others in the gym, plus David, the manager. I get a good workout in and 20 minutes on the bike. David makes me a shake and I head home again.

It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon with a lot of sun left in the day, so I hop into my box cuts and head down to the beach. On my way out the cleaning lady arrives for the first time! This is very exciting to me! I tell her she can have the change on the counter, but it seems she doesn’t understand a word of English and I return later to find the change still there.

At the beach I settle in at Blue Chairs and lie on my stomach, hoping to even out the sun I got yesterday. Clouds begin to move in and I fall asleep, waking around 4:00, when the sun is completely clouded over. I head up the hill towards home, meeting a “masseuse” halfway up the hill. He tries incessantly to sell me a “massage”. I am amazed at the number of masseurs in this town. I suspect they are drug addicts or alcoholics and I have some compassion for them – wanting to tell them there’s another way to live, but I know there’s nothing I can do to make somebody want recovery.

I take a shower and a quick nap, waking at 6:00 to head over to the Alano club for an AA meeting. Diane is reading The Keys to the Kingdom – the first story I ever read from the big book during a book study in treatment. Following the story, she shares a bit about her experience in relation to the story and then opens up the floor for others to share.

After a couple of the locals share, I talk about what the story meant to me. The narrative ends with “… in exchange for the bottle and a hangover, we were given the keys to the kingdom.” Or something close to that. That’s really been my experience with recovery. I got into recovery to get sober, but through active participation, working the steps, the grace of a higher power, and good people in my life, I’ve been given so much more. Today I have a life I never dreamed of. It sounds cliche, but it’s really true.

I also relate to continuing to take one step at a time, and doing the next right thing. It’s still that simple for me – I just keep moving forward and continue to grow spiritually as I do. That process, somehow improves my life. I don’t know how, but it does, so I continue moving forward.

I chat with a few of the other meeting attendees after the meeting and depart for Olas Altus, where I’m supposed to meet Jamie for dinner. I meet up with Jose on the street. He had tried to sell me a timeshare a few days ago and I thought he was cute, so I stopped and talked with him. We’ve now gotten to know each other a bit more and it’s clear he’s got a problem with drinking. Every time I see him he is sitting in the shade and sweating – the smell of vodka that I know so well is oozing out of him. I ask him about this and he tells me that a little alcohol is good for your health.

I laugh a bit at him and say, no it’s not.

He corrects himself, “Well, a glass of wine is good.”

I ask, “So you drink so much vodka that I can smell is sweating out of you, and you do this for your health?”

“No,” he confides. Sometimes he “Over does it.”

I tell him that I stopped drinking 6 years ago, but used to drink much like him. I tell him that I attend AA meetings. That’s all I can do. I can’t force him to a meeting – he’s got to want it and ask for it himself.

Jamie shows up and walks me up the hill to his home. He lives with a roommate, who owns the condo. It’s a great location – a block off Olas Altus. We meet up there with his roommate and a few friends and head to The Vista Grille – one of, if not the nicest, restaurants in town. I am horribly underdressed and in the company of all new people, but I make the best of it.

Robert, Jamie’s roommate, is in his mid-forties and retired from Microsoft. Another friend a Spanish Teacher, another works for American Airlines. At the restaurant we meet up with their friend Don, who as it happens, owns the Casa Cupula – the “Gay Four Seasons” of Puerto Vallarta. He is also retired from Microsoft.

In booking my stay in Vallarta I had come across Casa Cupula, but their price was double that of any other hotel – though I have to say, it looks spectacular, and the Trip Advisor reviews were some of the best I’ve seen.

Don arrives with two young Columbians. One of which, David, is his partner. Just prior to the dinner, the two of them had been at the lawyer’s office, signing papers for Don to sponsor his VISA, or some such immigration papers. It was, as they put it, as close as they’ll be to getting married. Though as some pointed out, homosexuals can now legally marry in Mexico City.

Our discussion varied, but we kept circling back to gay cult classics. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Clueless, etc.

I had a mixed green salad, the Pork special and a three-chocolate mousse for dinner.

It was a very nice night. New people. Lots of laughs. Fabulous food.

6 thoughts on “Another Day in Paradise

  1. I’m sorry about your friend. All we can do now is pray for his soul. Eternal rest grant him and may perpetual light shine upon him. Today is Tuesday and also my home group meeting in a few hours. Time to go do set up. I love your presentation and the way you write. It’s like going to a meeting in Mexico. Stay safe, and enjoy.


  2. It’s a small world. My partner was friends with Chris’s partner though FB and Live Journal. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing, but didn’t know he had any Minneapolis connection.

    I other news. I LOVE your travel updates. I am vicariously visiting Puerto Vallarta through your updates. I’ve been there many different times of the year, but never in the summer. What is the weather like?

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