Thursday, October 31, 2019

Puerto Vallarta, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween, although there is no evidence of that celebration here.  It’s Day of the Dead but I was way too occupied doing other things than to get to the Malecon to check it out. Tomorrow.

So this morning, Alberto, from now on known as Liar #1, was waiting outside my hostel, waving to me while I closed my bedroom window.  We had an appointment at 9 to go to Vellas Villas for breakfast and a tour.  At no time did he tell me there would be a presentation but I knew what I was getting into.  This all started at the airport the day I arrived.  However, as I was leaving the Canova Hostel, one of the 2 fine young men who work there told me we had a bit of a predicament.  They had a football - soccer to you and me, team coming today and I had to move out of my room, the room I paid for back in August.  I had a few options: I could sleep on a narrow couch in the “studio” which is an open air living room.  Music blares until at least midnight, so that was not for me.  Second, I could sleep in another makeshift area - no fricking way, or third, I could move next door to Vallarta Boutique Hostel and they would pay for the next 3 nights.  Done deal.  I had my stuff packed in minutes and they even delivered it later in the day because that hostel was closed when we tried at 9 am.

Liar #1 and I caught a cab to the lovely hotel.  Along the way he told me about his family - he has a wife and four kids in Chicago - maybe.  He came to PV to make some money and eventually bring them here- maybe.  He misses them and is often lonely but he hopes it’s worth it- maybe.  Once in the lobby, where they also have a Day of the Dead display-

I had to give him my invitation and then fill out another form with my address etc.  He had to see my passport and a credit card.  He reminded me what I had been promised - cab ride home ($15), breakfast and a massage.  I told him Lauretta, another hustler I met yesterday, had told me there should be some money in this for me  He lied, I think and said that no, he was only getting $25 to bring me here.  Whatever.  He’s got a family in Chicago??? and needs the money more than me.  Next we went upstairs, to eat I was hoping, but no, to meet Ignacio, Liar #2, a tall man who is also a psychotherapist in the afternoons.  We talked, well actually, he talked and while filling out another form, asked me a lot of questions including asking me to describe my last 3 vacations.  He sat there with his mouth hanging open.  I think he thought he had a sale and was spending his commission while I told him where I’ve been the last while.  Next I was introduced to his boss - Joe, Liar #3 from St. Louis, MO and then we finally had breakfast. Bacon, bacon and more bacon.  Who knows when I’ll get it again!  After breakfast, I had to fill out another form and then Liar #2 asked me about any questions I had.  I had none. I told him I had no idea what to ask because I didn’t know exactly how this worked so he came up with 8, one being what benefits do teachers get.  This was getting weirder all the time but whatever.  So then, Liar #2 disappeared and Liar #3 was back.  He wanted to show me some of the options on a computer downstairs in the lobby so away we went.  While he prepared the computer, I stared at the wall.  When the site was loaded, in order for me to see, I had to lean across a desk and get close to the screen.  That was odd I thought for a swanky place like this so I thought oh, he knows I’m not buying and we are just jumping through the hoops.  No.  After, we went back upstairs and he said so what do you think?  What do I think?  I think I need more information, like how much does it cost?  Yes, but are you interested?  Yes, it’s an interesting concept but I need more information.  So, using a Sharpie, he drew, upside down and scribbled and talked very quickly.  Now what do you think?  I need time to think about this.  Oh no, were you not told you had to give a yes or no answer.  I’ll give an answer all right.  Fuck off.  No I wasn’t.  Oh.  So he needed my driver’s license to prove I was interested and then came back with prices.  10,000 US for 5 weeks, 1/year in a Vellas Resort in Mexico, then 100 weeks in over 350,000 resorts and hotels around the world and believe it or not, 5 adults can go, during high season - January, for less than $500 US.  That is true.  I saw it on the computer.  I asked if he had this information in a document that I could study and then decide.  No.  I said I needed to think about it.  He said this is a one shot deal.  It’s yes or no.  I said I would like to talk to some people who have done it to get their perspective - he said you will hear good things and bad things.  When I finally said No, he threw himself back in his chair and said rather loudly “ You have got to be kidding me!  I thought for sure based on your past travel history that this would be perfect for you!“  I then explained how I’ve been travelling these past 6 years - in a large truck or on a public bus, where I sleep - in a tent or in a gravel pit or in a shithole hostel.  So, $10,000 quickly dropped to $8000 which quickly dropped to $6000 plus about $1200 in closing costs and that’s when I told him he’d lost me.  I told him that if he could go to $6000 just like that, how was I to believe him that that was as low as he could go.  So, I said thank you and was taken downstairs by a woman who was friendly, to get my gifts.  The gift man forgot to give me my $20 deposit back - sorry about that, and with massage coupon in hand, I headed for the spa to have it done before they phoned and cancelled on me.  It was a deep full body massage, well, not full, full body :) and I don’t think it was a full hour but it was enough.  Then when I was leaving, the boss lady barked at me - wasn’t I leaving a propina?  Okay.

I walked around the marina where there is a lighthouse as useful as Cochin’s-

Close to the spa was a place I could have my toes “gelished” for $10 and next to it was a restaurant where I had rez con jugo, complete with pepino, salsa piquante, jalapeƱos and salsa verde aka fire-

Delicioso!  And no meal is complete without just made tortillas.  From here I ended up walking to the aeropuerto- really not that far away, and took a bus to Nuevo Vallarta to check out where Jane, Nico, Andi and I will be staying January 15-29.  Wow is all I can say.  Grandma’s going to be doing a lot of subbing when she gets home!  The entrance is a roundabout with a pyramid-

and unfortunately security wouldn’t let me in.  They called the concierge for me who said there were too many people around to let me in and then I spoke to reservations because I made the booking through and they only ask for children aged 2 plus so that excludes Andi.  I didn’t want a room for 3 but for 4 so the woman made a note on my reservation.  Views from google-

Next door is a mall with a great supermercado where we can buy food.  We’ve rented a condo so we won’t be eating their meals which is fine with me, except I wouldn’t mind a fancy dessert now and then.
It took me an hour to get home and I moved into my new hostel.  Can you believe it - there’s hot water, the toilets flush, the showers work and are clean, you can put toilet paper into the toilet, they have blankets and a beautiful rooftop terrace that looks to the water and a fully stocked kitchen with a fridge. Awesome!  All for the same money too!
Tonight will be early because I’m exhausted.  My room no longer faces the busy street so I’m hoping for an excellent sleep!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Puerto Vallarta, October 30, 2019

I had a horrible sleep - too much noise coming in my window yet I didn’t want to shut it - (how much noise can one flimsy pane of glass stop anyway) and cook to death.  Hopefully tonight is better.

After a slow morning, I went exploring.  My goal today was to familiarize myself with PV and maybe find a place for when Jane etc. comes.  My first stop was the Sheraton Bougainvillaea, a very nice looking hotel but out of my price range.  I kept walking and eventually hopped on a bus which took me to Galleria, a shopping mall next to Walmart where celebrations for Dia de Muertos are in full swing with stores making displays-

It’s a voting competition.  They are also prepared for Navidad-

Tuesday and Wednesday the monsters arrive and they are conveniently parked across from the mall.  As if people need to buy more stuff-

There were two of them with about 9000 invaders loose on the streets and shopping.  Why on earth would you go on a cruise, dock in PV and go to the mall and/or Walmart?  While in Walmart, where i was looking for a cheap coffee mug, I was talking to a guy who sells tours and he said that he often has to help the cashiers sort out complaints from the cruisers.  It keeps him busy.

I carried on via bus to the Marina part of town but didn’t see much, except it was shift change so the workers, all wearing their resort attire, were getting on the bus to go home.

I ended up back in the Romantica Zone, which is where I’m staying and walked along the Malecon  Because of Dia de Muertos, there were many Catrinas-

Very cool!

I stopped for a $1 margarita and spent an hour or so visiting with a woman who is a tour seller but working ‘undercover’ at the restaurant. She wears a restaurant uniform but spends her time trying to get people to visit hotels.  She gave me some hints about my appointment tomorrow and the most interesting is that I should ask to be paid anywhere from 2000 to 3000 pesos just for attending!  She said where she works, they offer flights and a free week accommodation as a thank you gift.  And, don’t ask any questions.  Just sit there, nod and once it’s over, get the hell out!

Walking home-

there are many statues along the Malecon-

and when I went to have a look at one of a man playing chess, he started moving!  He was alive - painted a bronzie colour!  I jumped and shrieked - he laughed.

I enjoyed another taco on the street for 90 cents-

then headed back to my hostel past awesome street art-

I had a good day and am looking forward to a quiet night!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Puerto Vallarta, October 29, 2019

Jane and the kids drove me into Saskatoon after Jane’s work Monday.  After supper and a visit they went back to Edam. I am very lucky to have Jane and her two monkeys-

Andi was crying because Grandma Alli’s leaving - not!  Nico’s smug look says - finally getting rid of her!

It was -18 Celsius this morning when Dad drove me to the airport.  WTF I thought, glad I’m on my way!  I’m also very lucky to have Mom and Dad living in Saskatoon.  I get to visit them lots, spend nights with them and have personal delivery service!  The flight was fine - my seat partner is a psychologist for Alberta Health in Red Deer so we had a good discussion about addictions and responsibilities.  Just before we disembarked, the waitress suggested we not stop and talk to anyone in the airport!  I thought that was kind of funny but whatever.  Every plane in the universe must have arrived at the same time as us so there was quite a line up.  Eventually I was through the first part but then had to go through customs.  An elderly couple from Vancouver were both being pushed in wheelchairs and one of the lackeys just took off, leaving the other with the job of pushing two chairs as well as pulling a huge suitcase.  I can never understand why people think they need to bring huge suitcases on a 1 week trip.  Oh well says the woman who travels to sunny climes with one pair of shorts and two pairs of panties!  I was standing behind them so I started to push the gentleman’s chair because we were both heading the same way anyway.  I thought he realized what had happened but I guess not because while we were visiting he told me I spoke ‘very good English’.  I laughed and told him I hoped I did.  He still didn’t catch on until he finally turned around and realized I was Caucasian and not his initial wheelchair pusher.  We were directed to a separate line which took forever and then the customs official didn’t even take my card, nor did I tap on the green light, so hope when I try getting out of this country the light doesn’t flash red and sirens go off!

What a great airport!  There were free Margaritas everywhere and by the time I got out I was feeling loopy!  Welcome to Mexico!  And, I didn’t listen to the ‘warning’ and stopped to talk at a counter and ended up with a free cab ride to my hostel, a free massage, 30-50% off of activities- I’m not doing any, and an appointment to visit some Villas October 31 at 9:30.  I know it’s a timeshare but I’ve never done this before so thought it would be interesting to see how ‘others’ spend their vacations.  And speaking of that, my room is..... okay.  There is a fan - thank God, a bunk bed and a huge open window to a very noisy street.  Oh well.  I’m only here 5 days.

After getting checked in, I went walking - looking for cambio and a small kettle.  I’m close to the Malecon and found a booth with a guide to-

I was very excited to see such a detailed and busy schedule and so many of the activities are very close to where I’m staying. This is the main reason why I wanted to be here at this time of year.  It will be interesting to see how these celebrations compare to those in Guatemala.  That’s going to be hard to beat.  

Jane also finally bought flights for her and the kids to come here January 15-29 so I’m looking for an acceptable place for us during that time.  I’m also looking at Air BNBs for me in case I decide to stay here awhile.  With Jane coming in January, it changes my plan for now until then.  I won’t end up going to Mexico City, but after the Copper Canyon train ride to Chihuahua, I’ll return south through villages, Leon and Guadalajara.  That’s all fine too.  

This was the funniest thing I saw on a t-shirt-

I also visited Ley, which is a mini Walmart and bought a 1 litre kettle.  I’m not sure if I’m going to really need it but I have it now.  Of course I have my French press along and enough coffee to hopefully last a month.

I found a few street stalls selling juices and tamales- which I don’t like and then finally found a sort of taco stand-

And for $2.20 I had a deliciosa cena-

Tomorrow will be a walking around discovery day of PV in the warm beautiful sunshine!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

On the road again! October 27, 2019

I’ve had a great summer spending a lot of time with my grandchildren-

golfing - oh oh - orange face-

visiting family-

and friends-


working a bit, going to the gym, volunteering and riding my motorcycle unfortunately very little.  Today it’s -15 with the wind chill so I guess I should have been gone awhile ago!  Tomorrow Jane, Nico and Andi will take me to Saskatoon and Tuesday I fly to Puerto Vallarta to explore Mexico for the next four and a half months.  
Looking forward to it!

  Cancun, Mexico to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,     December 31, 2023 I was up at 4:30 and walking to the bus depot by 5:30.  I wore my headlam...