Our Lady of Guadalupe

Vallarta Day 12

I venture out of the rental around 10:00 AM and head directly to Dee’s. I feel like I’m starting to get a bit lazy, as I’m sleeping in later. All-day coffee intake is likely the culprit, as I got up 4 times to use the bathroom during the night – a personal record.

I can also feel myself getting antsy to return home. I try not to think about “real life” and enjoy my time away, but with each “real world” email I read I hunger for more news to consume. I begin reading my google feed reader to catch up on the news and checking Facebook for the latest happenings.

So here I sit, at Dee’s checking Facebook.

I pound out my shortest blog entry to date. I didn’t set out to write a shorter entry, it just turned out that way – perhaps, in part, because my days are becoming more uneventful as my trip winds down.

After Dee’s I make way for Acqua and get in my workout. Again there are a new few faces there, so I’m happy the business seems to be doing well. David is out of Bananas and makes a big deal out of needing to run to the market when I ask for a shake. I tell him it’s okay – I can get a shake elsewhere, but he runs out the door anyhow, exaggerating my request, as if I’m the neediest customer he’s ever had. Aaron and I discuss where to go for dinner and he quizzes me on what kind of food I like. My only request is that they have something healthy. He has to think about it and tells me he’ll email me later.

Heading home I run into Jerry on the street. He’s the one who stopped me on my first day in Vallarta, yelling out from across the street, “I like your shorts!” and then urging me to come over. As it turns out, he’s selling timeshares and the compliment was simply a ploy. I notice him today because he’s yelling across the street at somebody, “I like your hat! Where did you get it?” He’s a genius sales person – great initial hook with a bounding personality that’ll talk you into anything.

Though I see him several times a day, he seems to have given up on me. He’ll smile and wave, but he knows I’m not interested in what he’s selling. It almost seems like a game among the various storefronts this operation runs. If its a new guy working, or somebody I haven’t seen before, they try to grab my attention, but Jerry’s smarter than that and knows he can’t make a sale with me.

Seeing him pull the same trick on another guy with the compliment, using the exact words, the same facial expression, speaking at the same volume, with that same big ear-to-ear grin, ending with a the same question that forces the guy to give some sort of response. I stop and tell him, “You’re terrible! I thought you were genuinely complimenting me, and here you are using the same tricks on everyone who passes by!”

I say it all in a manner half joking, half serious, but from Jerry’s reaction, silence, I am worried that he thinks I am 100% serious.

I continue walking and think back to C, the guy in the AA meeting who talked about how he couldn’t be honest with himself and try to sell timeshares at the same time. How it’s all a racket. They’ll promise you the world but what you receive varies widely from your expectations. I think about what it must take for somebody to be in this line of work. Are they in denial themselves? Do they realize what they’re doing is ethically questionable? Or do they do it with the full knowledge of what’s going to happen to the people they successfully sell to?

Jerry tells me that he’s been in the business for 7 years and it’s been very good to him. Beyond his smiling face and bubbling personality, I wonder if he’s happy.

I stop by the laundry and pick up my clothes, neatly folded in a plastic bag and charged only half the cost as the previous provider on Gomez. Score!

At home I shower and check my email to find Aaron has set a time and place to meet – Cafe San Angel at 7:00. I take an hour siesta and then head out to meet up with him.

He is 10 – 15 minutes late. Normally I’d be offended, but I cut him some slack because this seems commonplace in Mexico. We have a coffee at the cafe, and set out on foot in the light rain to the Malecon (boardwalk), taking it north towards the town center. I’m ashamed that I haven’t come this far north during my entire stay thus far. It’s a beautiful walk and you get to see the city and the locals socializing and kids playing. I have grown too content in my little Amapas bubble.

Aaron points out a couple of restaurants and homes he’s designed. He’s apparently been very busy in his 2 and a half years in Vallarta.

We walk just past the Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral and the night is just turning a little dark – enough that the lit display inside the church glows. The open-air church is beautiful and an air of magic seems to surround it.

Just down the block we step into La Cigale Bistro where we’re immediately greeted by the proprietors, Catalina and Christophe. They are friends of Aaron and freely show their affection with smiles, kisses and hugs. Christophe is French, by way of New York City and Catalina is Panamanian.

The restaurant is in a two story building situated on a corner, with Christophe and Catalina residing in the apartment upstairs. The ceilings are roughly 12 feet, with tall, rather narrow windows. The floor is a beautiful tile. WIndows are open and a few ceiling fans enhance the crosswind coming through either side of the restaurant. There is a full bar with an large and elaborate brass light fixture. The kitchen is visible from the restaurant, though not in an intentional, presented format – just off to the side, towards the rear and visible. I find the restaurant beautiful, but Christophe tells us that he’s closing for the month of October to remodel.

Christophe pulls the slate chalkboard from the front door to show us the menu at our table. Aaron gets the French Onion Soup and Flank Steak with Bernaise sauce. I get the Warm Goat Cheese Salad and Tuna Steak. For dessert we split a traditional French item, though I forget it’s name – small baked items served with ice cream and mint leaves. It’s all wonderful, and the prices were so reasonable. The entire dinner came to only $50 with lemonade and then coffee with dessert.

Aaron told me a bit about himself, having gone to graduate school in Milan, he moved around a bit but settled back in Chihuahua, where he’s from. He and a partner owned a furniture factory where he designed many of the products produced. He tells me that he often designs furniture custom for each job he works on.

Three years ago he fell asleep at the wheel and woke up in the hospital 24 days later. He decided to slow down and try to appreciate life more, so he sold his share of the factory and his home, purchasing a home in Vallarta and moving his business here.

We talk a bit about how his experience with his accident mirrored my experience getting into recovery, as both took a significant event to create change in our lives, and both involve a sense of spirituality.

We walk back down the Malecon and take our separate ways home, happy to have gotten to know each other better.