Getting Out of Town

(This post is an article that didn’t sell, but I like it so here you go.)
The aluminum albatross/shark lumbers down one of San Francisco International Airport’s runways, her fin cutting raindrops, and hangs a left. Breathtakingly, she morphs into an eagle screaming into the stratosphere toward Puerto Vallarta (PVR), Mexico.  The sunseekers’ stress lifts with her climb.
About three and a half hours, a movie and a little light reading later, passengers gaze under thunderclouds at the green rainforest between the Sierra Madre and Banderas Bay. The eagle lands in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Passengers clear customs and take deep breaths before they navigate between the timeshare barracuda/buzzards caged inside taped-off floor areas. Pretending one is deaf works well. Outside, touristas head for white taxis whose natural air conditioning introduces visitors to PVR’s warm humidity. Comfort is now in the expert hands of the people of “mi casa es su casa,” who make every visitor’s whim their directive. Under coconut and banana palms, relax while the taxi races from Jalisco to one of the many resorts that have been meticulously researched, chosen and reserved online.
Paradise Village in the state of Nayarit, its Riviera catering to many international tourists, luxuriates just ten miles from the airport. Mayan-appointed Paradise Village can provide everything legal one might want. Their all-inclusive plan covers meals, drinks, boogie boards and kayaks. A fine Monkey Around under a pelapa (frond-roofed table with lounges and beach chairs) on the beach is relaxation personified.
A note of caution: make tour or fishing reservations with the travel agent, not the concierge, at your resort if it is a time share. The concierge will offer reduced rates if you listen to a vacation-eating presentation. Should you refuse, she may intimate that your fishing captain could be Black Beard. Spoils the relaxed mood.
Let the fun begin! Since vacation time is limited, consider options in advance, then prioritize. Days in Mexico pass mas rapido. Let’s indulge a poquito preview. Swim with dolphins. Parasail right from the beach. Go deep sea fishing. Beach comb with bikini clad beauties from all over the world. Kick off your shoes and relax under a pelapa with a cocktel de camoron or some sweet ceviche. Purchase a lovely velvet sombrero, a polished wood marlin, or have your hair corn rowed by strolling beach vendors. Take a tour to a secluded beach, a jungle canal or offroading in the rain forest. Ride the trolley tour into downtown. However, whatever you do, don’t miss a Mexican fiesta’s feliz atmosphere.
The fiesta begins under the stars to the romance of Mariachi violins. Hombres and senoritas offer tequila shooters or your favorite rum concoction. The chile rellenos taste better in Mexico, and they’re accompanied by Mexican quisine that flows with salsa from the buffet and graces the plate. Then the Ballet Folklorico begins, with raven-tressed senoritas twirling skirts beribboned in rainbow colors and caballeros dancing the Prehispanic stomps of yesterday. Sometimes, there’s a boat race in the pool. Funny, no one feels certain how they became part of the conga line around the swimming pool in balloon hats. A little more tequila and it’s time for the diving board contest. People wander back to their suites unable to stop smiling.
Smiles return with the sun when anglers head out on a fishing boat in search of that line-breaking marlin, dorado, skipjack or bonita. The captain knows this secret spot near the islands at the bay’s northern end. Pescadero hunters can go solo or share, fish a couple of hours or all day, and if lucky, the captain prepares ceviche with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chiles and … your catch!
The United States dollar is worth twelve pesos in PVR, so don’t forget to shop. Stores offer brilliantly colored bowls, plates, even Christmas ornaments made by Latino artisans in Mexican villages. Or choose a stone chess set, leather huarache sandals, wallet or belt. Merchants offer  intricately designed blouses and swirly skirts. Tourists hear, “Gracias for coming to Mexico,” over and over. Or as one taxi driver put it, “When the United States’ economy has a cold, the Mexican economy has pneumonia, and we very much appreciate you traveling here for your vacation.”
On your last noche in Puerto Vallarta, dine under the moon, laced by palm fronds, to surf sounds and the caress of a Mexican breeze. The corizon may long to stay, and long to see home all at the same time, but even divided hearts return refreshed. Tourists lucky enough to sit on the eagle’s Pacific Coast side, gaze out the window at the rainbow the setting sun paints on the horizon behind Catalina Island. Perhaps manana will bring return, but for now, Vaya con Dios.
Side bar:
Safety in Mexico
1.      If you plan to use your cellphone in Mexico, arrange for an international plan before you leave the States. It’s nigh on impossible if you wait until you are in Mexico. $900 phone bills are no fun.
2.      Use sunblock. The sun is more intense in Mexico.
3.      Book inland tours only through your resort because Mexico is having issues with drug cartels versus American tourists.
4.      Siesta in Mexico probably began because from about 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. the sun and humidity may overwhelm either young or old. Take a time-out in the middle of the day for a little nap, a card game or chess, or perhaps a little television.
5.      Stay hydrated. Bottled water is your best choice.
6.      Do not drink anything outside your resort that hasn’t been poured from a bottle, or eat fruit or vegetables that do not have to be skinned. The warning about avoiding undercooked meat in the States goes double in Mexico.
7.      Experienced touristas suggest a swig of Pepto Bismol each morning to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge.
8.      And on that note: “Donde esta los banos?” means “Where are the bathrooms?”
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