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.