Vallarta Day 1
My flight from Guatemala City to Mexico City on Mexicana Air was delightful. The plane was exceptionally clean, lots(!!!) of legroom in coach, helpful & professional flight crew, and behaved children. The flight was only an hour and 45 minutes, yet they served a hot meal. For free! And, not that I particularly care, but one tends to notice a stocked bar going back and forth down the isle. These folks don’t mess around with the minibar bottles – they’ve got the full size Bacardi up there! We departed on time and landed slightly ahead of schedule, with my bag coming off the carousel undamaged. I was happy!
The Mexico CIty Airport was a maze of hallways, ramps, stairs and narrow hallways. I imagine it’s been added onto so many times that things tend to get a bit cumbersome.
The Guatemala airport, in contrast, is quite nice. Clean with expansive walkways, helpful staff and a low-stress environment. It helps to have only 20 flights a day!
My connecting flight to Puerto Vallarta was through Mexicana Air as well, though it was handled by a regional carrier – “Click” I believe it was named. Not sure if this has a special meaning in Spanish, but in English, the name doesn’t really work (or click) for an airline??
The bar may have been set too high on the first flight, but the connecting flight to Vallarta, operated by Click, was awful. Half of the plane was filled with screaming children hitting seatbacks, running up and down the isles and emitting high-pitched screeching noises I didn’t know were possible from the human physiology.
We were held on the tarmac for quite some time before take-off. No explanation was offered. Upon taking off, the passengers in on the right half of the plane in the front few rows were treated to a refreshing waterfall! I was aghast at how much water was ejected from the seems in the overhead bins! As we continued to gain altitude, the captain kept the fasten seatbelt signs on and the flight attendants continued to hit the button prompting an automated turbulence message repeated three times in different languages. This went on for 30 minutes, during which the flight crew remained buckled in and the passengers up front continued to try to dry themselves with the cabin blankets. I hope they didn’t pay for upgrades.
Upon landing I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough – you know the feeling. As soon as I stepped foot out of the plane, a toddler rammed me with a stroller. It took all of my power to just walk along.
Leaving the airport in Vallarta, a driver was waiting for me just beyond the relentless armada of timeshare salespeople. Carlos had three kids and pointed out all of the great nightlife spots in the hotel zone that I should visit as we drove by. His English was spectacular and he told me that all of the children in Mexican schools are taught both Spanish and English from an early age.
Arriving at Basila Del Mar, the night deskman gave me my keys and showed me to my rented condo. It’s down a few flights of stairs, as you enter the building near the top, with the units themselves cascading down the mountain.
The unit is about 500 square feet. It’s one large room with a divider wall between the living and bedroom areas. The bathroom has a small walk-in shower, and the kitchen is fully equipped, minus a dishwasher. The floor is entirely made up of terra-cotta tiles and all of the counter surfaces are lined with decorative tiles as well. The north wall is lined with doors that open to a large balcony over looking the neighborhood and beach beyond.
It’s really quite spectacular and I find myself wondering if I could afford a place like this and whether I could justify the cost with rental income.
The AC provided a more than adequate reprieve from the 90 degree weather and 75% humidity. The bed was quite comfortable and the pillows and linens all immaculately white.
I learned from a traveling friend years ago that you should put everything away as soon as possible. Otherwise you run the risk of working out of your suitcase for the duration of your stay – and that’s just a hassle. An empty armoire provided the necessary storage and a mirror to boot!
I checked the wifi and while it works great for my iPhone, won’t connect with my iPad for some reason. This is probably a blessing, as it’ll force me out of the house.
In the morning I was anxious to get down to my favorite coffee spot – Dee’s Coffee Company. The baked goods are fabulous and the coffee is brilliantly tasty. Plus, Dee is a hoot and fun to gab with.
On my way there a man shouted from a shop across the street, complementing me on my shorts and asking me to come across the street. His name is Jerry. He told me something I’d forgotten about Mexico – that they generally don’t wear shorts. It’s seen as a sign of laziness, as they like to be more formally dressed at all times, requiring long pants. We chatted for a bit longer and it really didn’t occur to me until later in the conversation that he’s a sales guy, pushing the various club nights, boat cruises and other tourist attractions. He was good – REALLY good!
After coffee I stopped in at a bodega and the grocery store to purchase some bananas to munch on and various toiletries.
I dropped off my goods and headed back out to get a membership at Acqua – the gym near Basilo Badilla and Constitution in the shopping district. En route I passed a shop on Olas Atlas where a man yelled out of his shop at me, “Hellloooo!”. I turned around it was Jerry again. “It’s my birthday and you have to give me a hug – it’s an ancient Mexican tradition that you cannot break!”
Another sales tactic. This guy is smooth! I gave him a hug, but then got out of there, for fear of being sucked into a timeshare agreement!
At the gym, David, the manager there, remembered me from my visit over new years. I was quite flattered, as the guy is incredibly good-looking and straight. Why would he have remembered little ol’ me? He was excited to show me around, as the new owner had put a little bit of money into the place – expanding the workout area and adding new equipment. The expansion is nice, but I was a little disappointed to hear that the place had sold – it was my dream to buy the place, even though I couldn’t afford it.
I headed back to my place again. This time I checked in with the regular front desk lady, Alicia. I mentioned I was nearly out of purified water and she sent a man right down with a fresh 5 gallon bottle.
I rested for a bit and then headed back to the gym – this time in shoes and workout attire. It’d been two weeks since I’ve been in the gym, as there were no facilities in San Marcos. Of course I dove right into doing fast-paced supersets with heavy weights. Within a matter of 30 minutes I was dehydrated – probably a factor of my time away from the gym and the heat. I continued hydrating and working out for a short while longer, but I was wiped.
David made me a protein shake and I left for home and took a nap in the comfort of the air conditioning.
I awoke around 6:30 and got myself ready to go to the GLBT AA meeting at the alano club house on Basila Badilla. After the short trek over there, I found the doors locked. A couple of ladies were there locking up and told me that the GLBT meeting was canceled over the summer due to a lack of attendance. Bummer, I thought! They directed me to another meeting across town, but I declined – I didn’t want to go across town to a place I’d never been before. I’d just come back tomorrow.
I stopped at a small cafe on Olas Atlas for a chicken salad. There was a solo musician playing guitar and singing covers of Spanish hits. He was really good and I enjoyed it. I left a small tip in his jar and headed home to read and go to sleep.