Category Archives: #puertovallarta

Affirmation

People who find God under every rock can be annoying to me. They like to tell you, “God told me to do this … God told me to do that … God showed me this … God showed me that … God told me to say this … God told me to say that …” Sometimes I think that kind of talk is more a show of self-righteousness or insecurity than it is God’s guiding hand.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that God is everywhere present, I do believe that God is sovereign, and I do believe that everything that happens in this world God either causes or allows. I also believe that we can sense God’s presence, and be guided by God’s Spirit. I just feel that we need to be very careful about telling others what we think God is doing, and that most of the time we should use that form of sharing to encourage and support others. For example, we can build someone up by pointing out virtues that we see in their life, and follow that up by saying something like “God really shines through you in that way.”

So I am always hesitant to mention where I think I see God showing up in my life, but I will make an exception today.

One of the things I had planned to do in Puerto Vallarta was watch how people respond to beggars. In old town PV beggars often are young mothers who simply sit on the sidewalk with a plastic cup in front of them. My plan was to watch from afar for a half hour or so and record how many people walk by a beggar without giving anything, and record how many actually drop some money in the cup.

It just so happens that today, the day I left for Puerto Vallarta, there was a feature article in the Salt Lake Tribune entitled, “Can Believers Really Pass by the Beggar?” A Tribune Writer and Photographer spent 30 minutes documenting how people responded to a beggar in downtown Salt Lake City. The man sat there with a plastic cup in front of him, and during the next 30 minutes 34 people walked by him without giving anything, and 2 people dropped some money in the cup.

Now the fact that that article appeared in the newspaper could just be a meaningless coincidence with my plan to participate in the same social experiment here, or it could be an affirmation of my intention for this trip. In fact, I’d just like to accept that as an affirmation from God, and thank God for emboldening me through that coincidence.

God is near you, God is with you, God is for you, and God is in you.

Also posted in #beggar, #poverty

I Will Take Your Money

Lord willing, I will leave for Mexico on October 24th to volunteer for a week at a few different charities. I will be blogging while I am in Mexico, so I welcome you to join me on this journey. You can find my blog at http://fotopala.com/blog/.

If you would like to donate to this effort, I would be happy to assist you with that gift. My wife and I are paying all my travel expenses, and God has already provided us the funds for the trip, so we do not need your help in that area.

However, here are a few different ways for you to give:

Option 1: There are many indigent women and children who sit on the sidewalks of Puerto Vallarta with a plastic cup in front of them. I suspect that 10 pesos (approx. $1 dollar) would be enough to feed a family like this for a whole day, and when I walk around the streets of Puerto Vallarta I would like to give away as many 10 peso coins as possible. If you would like to give in this way, send me the money and I will carry it to Mexico and give away every last peso.

Option 2: In Puerto Vallarta the following charities are providing some wonderful services:

Also posted in #nonprofit, #poverty

Puerto Vallarta – Day 11

It is Sunday, January 4, 2009 … this is our last day here, and we are sad to be leaving.

This morning we went for one last swim in the pool, and lay poolside until 11:30 AM. After we check out of our room, I walked the two blocks downhill to the center of old town and hailed a cab in no time flat. I suspected we might be in for a wild cab ride to the airport, for this particular taxi cab looked a little different than the hundreds of other yellow Nissan Sentra taxicabs around town. The muffler had been modified to sound like a sports car, the driver had a small pinata hanging from the mirror, and there was a scantily clad seniorita posted to his rear view mirror. He dipped in and out of traffic, blew through at least 2 stop signs, stopped and checked traffic but then proceeded to drive right through at least 2 red lights, and otherwise put the pedal to the metal. I want to find this guy the next time I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.

Checking our bags and passing through Security went very smoothly, and now we are at the gate waiting to board our plane. It looks like our flight is delayed about 30 minutes, so we still have an hour before we are scheduled to depart. We started talking about this trip 3 years ago, and we decided to take a 10 year anniversary tip instead of a 50th birthday trip because our anniversary came sooner. Seems logical, eh? Now we can take a trip in 2 years to celebrate our 50th birthdays … or even better, in about one year to celebrate our 49th birthdays.

As I write these words, we are in the air headed back to Utah. It was 85 degrees in PV when we left, and it will be in the single digits in Salt Lake City when we arrive in about 2 hours. We’ll definitely feel the cold when we are dropped off by the shuttle bus, and then have to schlep our 5 pieces of luggage the rest of the way to our cold truck sitting in the dark in the parking lot. But experiencing the cold climate in Utah is just part of the deal if you want to live in magnificent Utah, and we chose to live here. We could have picked Dallas, or Florida, or California, but neither of us wanted that. So, cold and all, it will be home sweet home … and we are looking forward to being welcomed home by our sweet doggies, Maple and Mocha.

This trip has been everything we hoped it would be, and more. Warm. Sunny. Fun. Relaxing. Enchanting. Adventurous. Invigorating. Enriching. Rejuvenating. The Good Lord willing, we shall return one day to beautiful Puerto Vallartamuy bien!

Puerto Vallarta – Day 10

We had yet another great meal to start the day, breakfast at Freddy Tuscans … which was followed by some 11th hour shopping. We found some great stuff at a local pewter artisan shop, as well as at the local tile manufacturer. At the tile plant and store we could watch the craftsmen and craftswomen hand painting the pieces before they are fired in the kilns.

We also enjoyed strolling through the well-heeled “gringo gulch” area of PV, where a number of gringos own property which start at about $500K.

We again spent the afternoon at the pool, and we are going out for sushi tonight.

We are sad that our 10 year anniversary trip is coming to an end, but we hope to return here before too long … perhaps for our 50th birthday celebration in 2 years.

Puerto Vallarta – Day 9

We slept over 10 hours last night, maybe closer to 11 hours. It’s 8:15 AM … I’m enjoying some hot tea, but we need to get in the shower soon. We are going to breakfast at 9:00 AM with our next door neighbors Randy and Charlie. It will be interesting to learn how they became partners.

Earlier in the week Randy had told us about a small little family owned cafe “east of the tracks,” where you could buy breakfast for about $4 U.S. dollars. So the 4 of us set out on foot to find it, and soon found ourselves being greeted at the door by a smiling face. It felt like walking into someones kitchen and being seated at their table, which just may be the case … for the steps in the corner of the room probably led to their bedrooms and living quarters. Breakfast was delicious, and the bill for the 4 of us was less than $20. Just for fun, we decided to give her a generous tip of $10, and she tried to give some of the money back … but we refused. The big smile on her face and the hearty “muchos gracias” was definitely worth it.

We learned a lot about Randy and Charlie on the breakfast outing. Charlie is 54 years old, Randy 50 … they met in a bar while “cruising” (i.e. pursuing) the same guy, and they have been together for 22 years. Randy is an attorney who specializes in representing low-income housing development, and Charlie made his living as an IT Consultant. It seems that most gay guys are highly educated (Randy has a dual MBA-Law degree from Case Western), and high income earners. And because they generally don’t have children, they have plenty of expendable income … and any smart industry (like travel and tourism) would be smart to cater to their buying power.

It was also clear by the way Charlie spoke that he has some health condition … and he told us that he found out 11 years ago that he has Parkinsons Disease. Interestingly, it progressed so rapidly that as of 4 years ago he could barely speak and only shuffle along slowly to walk. So he underwent this fairly new procedure called “deep brain stimulation” whereby the surgeon implanted signal receivers in his brain, which respond every 60 milliseconds to signals sent from metal devices in his chest. The procedure was done years ago (which has a 5% total failure rate), it was tremendously successful, and now he can talk almost normally and walk fairly normally. Evidently, as many as 25,000 people have had this procedure done.

After some afternoon shopping, including the purchase of a small oil painting by a Mexican master painter named Manuel Martinez, we spent the afternoon by the pool. Then we showered and got ready for the big game.

This year’s Sugar Bowl pitted our hometown Utah Utes against the powerful Alabama Crimson Tide. Though the Utes came into the game sporting an undefeated 12-0 record, none of the prognosticators gave Utah much of a chance. We watched the game at a sports bar that has multiple big screen TV’s in an upper open-air eating area. AND WHAT A GAME IT WAS!! Utah won the toss and elected to kick-off, held them on defense, and proceeded to score 3 straight unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter to lead 21-0. It seems that the huge, but slow, Alabama offensive linemen were no match for the smaller, quicker, tenacious Ute defense … and the inexperienced Alabama secondary was no match for our senior class QB and our 4 fast and highly skilled wideouts. I could go on and on, but the final result was a convincing 31-17 Utah win, an undefeated 13-0 season, and what will probably be a season-ending final ranking in the top 4 of the country.

This trip has been fantastic, made even better by exciting bowl victories by our two favorite teams — the West Virginia Mountaineers, and the Utah Utes.