Puerto Vallarta – Day 6

Sheri sprang out of bed to go to our fitness center, while I opted to journal and watch ESPN. Now Sheri is off to yoga at 7:00 AM, and I will try to stay out of trouble.

I stopped by the local fitness center to see what kind of accommodations they had. The steam room was inviting, but the aerobic machines were nothing special — so, instead of spending 120 pesos to use the facility, I just went back and used our fitness center, and swam some laps in the pool afterward.

I picked up Sheri after yoga, and we went to Planeto Vegetariano for a yummy breakfast. On our way back from breakfast, we took a different route — we have done that often since we’ve been here … let’s see, what is down this street, what is down that street — and we just happened to pass by the office of the property management company that manages the villa we are renting. Our laundry key has not worked since we’ve been here, and we have asked for a replacement a couple times … but to now avail. Well, we just happened to find the founder and president of the company at his desk, and low and behold we got a laundry key. So we spent the day laying by the pool and doing a few loads of laundry.

We’ve been curious to learn a little bit more about the real estate market here, we are having such fun that we’ve wondered what it might be like to retire here. I asked at the office about whether there were any units in the complex for sale, and they gave me the name and number of a local realtor. So, we walked down to his office, and the next thing we know we are in his vehicle getting a tour. It was actually nice to get a tour of town, we did not rent a car here (and would not want to in light of the liberal traffic laws, skinny streets, and seemingly crazy drivers everywhere), so we enjoyed the free tour that only required us to listen to his subtle sales pitch. John the realtor is a transplant from Seattle, and has been here full-time about 5 years. One place was kind of intriguing, a new high rise being built about 10 minutes from old town. We looked at the model, which of course was gorgeous and complete with a stunning view of the bay. If we had $400K to kick around, we may have just plunked it down right then — who knows?

We had a nice dinner on the boardwalk at Daiquiri Dicks, the name of the restaurant sounds kind of goofy but it is actually an upscale restaurant with an excellent reputation.

An interesting aspect of life around here is referred to by our neighbor as the “Mall of Mexico” — legions of street vendors that seem to come in waves, especially on the boardwalk an in the old town area. They carry for sale just about anything you can imagine — sunglasses, dresses, rugs, trinkets, jewelry, colorful plates and bowls, wood carvings, hats, shirts, towels, candy, roses, toys … you name it. And though the restaurant you might be eating at has a hedge between you and the boardwalk, the vendors reach over the hedge and display their merchandise to you. “Rose, Amigos?,” or “Do you want to buy something?”, or whatever broken English sales pitch they know. At dinner we were solicited no less than about 20 times during our 90 minute dinner. (We could have chosen a table inside if we wanted to). And if you dare make eye contact, or express even the slightest interest in what they might be selling, some of them are relentless and will not leave you alone. Our oft-repeated phrase has been “No gracias!,” and coupled with a firm “no” head shake they quickly move on.

You’ll also see some people around town begging (or panhandling, or whatever the PC term is), but surprisingly not that many. Almost all of them appear to be aboriginal (I think that is the correct term) women who simply sit on the sidewalk looking up at you sadly while holding a plastic cup, some of them with a nursing baby in the other harm. They have darker skin, and I expect are descendants of those who lived in this land stretching back centuries. Or, perhaps they are Guatemalans who immigrated here from the South, I believe I read somewhere that they are much poorer than most Mexicans (who are themselves poor by American financial standards). How can you not offer them a few pesos?After the first day when I was caught off guard with no change, I always collected my change and never left the villa without a pocketful of change. During our 10 days in PV, I may have offered pesos on 50 different occasions … which probably totaled less than $50 US dollars — a pittance compared to the thousands of dollars we spent on this trip.

I hesitated to share our giving in this blog — the Bible talks about giving in secret, and that the God who sees all things will reward your secretive giving and reward you — but I shared it to encourage anyone reading this blog to also carry change with you wherever you go, whether you are on vacation here in Mexico or walking in your downtown where panhandling might occur. So what if they use it for alchohol — that is between them and God — the quarter in your pocket that lands in their hand might just be the small gesture that completely changes the trajectory of their life.

I got on a little soapbox there, but I’m not done talking about the panhandling in PV. Only one time did I get approached in a way that I did not respond … an obviously drunk older teenager asked for 5 pesos, saying something like “Come on, Man! Help me out!” … but I said no. For one thing, I really did not happen to have any coin in my pocket at the time. Was that karma? Did the Universe empty my pocket for just that unwarranted request? Also, I surely was not about to open my wallet and offer him a 20 or more peso bill when all the others had asked humbly. Another time I saw an older blind man begging who shuffles along the boardwalk with that signature white cane and red tip; he is not faking it, you can tell he is blind, and when you drop some coins in his cup he makes the sign of the cross and launches into a lengthy Spanish language blessing for you.