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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by Lounge Trekker on 15 January 2011 9:38pm
My visit to Mexico was amazing, enlightening and humbling. I went
there to add to my learning of Spanish, see it from the ground after watching Puerto Vallarta from satellite for three years, and to see if Cheryl and I could get the relaxation we need. I would return to the very all-inclusive resort I stayed at. I arrived on Tuesday during the final week of the Mexican Christmas vacation and the guests were about 70% Mexican nationals. I only exchanged hellos and very brief conversations with a few of these people. The rest were Canadians.

The food for the first few days was made from a menu favoured by Mexican nationals. I found it to be low-sodium, high in vegetable content and rather bland...until I learned how to use the salsas.

These were pureed and very flavourful, ranging in colour from green through reds to almost brown. The buffet featured a range of vegetable dishes that were very fine with a salsa, and offered some taste combinations I enjoyed very much. Along with these, were meat and fish dishes. The meats I tried were chicken and pork, all tasty and tender.

I heard about beef but didn't actually see it. The fish was usually mahi-mahi, I was told, with a white meat whose preparation was excellent; moist, tender, flaky and fresh. I could have survived on that wonderful fish. The coffee was spectacular in the mornings, although being an early riser, I think I was a bit of a pain to the great people setting up the restaurant for the day.

I was at a three star resort called Las Palmas and it is everything I need and want. More glitz and abundance could not have improved my experience. The people were fantastic. I could always talk to an employee whose mother tongue was Spanish. Those who enjoyed me, with my childish way of speaking Spanish, were very good people.

The culture values children, family and people in that order, and physical stuff fades in importance. 'Tiene hijos?' asks if they have children. You will make friends with this prase alone. (Pronunciation: tea-en-ay ee-hoce)It is amazing what some of these people don't have, yet it is equally amazing what they do have. If you are considering travelling to Mexico with your children, I encourage it.

Having your children with you will open doors...and the hearts of the local people. Teach your kids a few words of Spanish they can use with other children, and don't give out candy. I brought some dollar-store toys for the staff to give to their children and they were gratefully recieved. I'm sure these kids have other cheap toys, but it's the thought that counts. We might say that, here in Canada, USA and Britain, but in Mexico...it IS the thought that counts.

I met some people I consider friends. Now I need to uphold my end of it, by getting some mail to them with photos that I took. If you go to Mexico and take pictures of local people, epecially their kids, send them a copy. Most people don't have cameras. After I took pictures of them, people would crowd around to see them. I used my batteries up a few times looking at pictures and missed chances at other photos because of it.

One afternoon I walked the Malecon, a paved path beside the beach and older part of town. Many people walk this, and vendors and buskers provide diversions. I met a woman who speaks a few words of English, and I, a few sentences of Spanish. We laughed, teaching each other a few more words in our own language. She invited me home. We took the city bus and rattled and banged our way to her house. I met her parents, her husband and 9 year old daughter, her brother and sister, two aunts, a cousin and nephew Luis. After we ate, we cruised the Malecon and downtown (Friday night!) in the backseat of Luis' convertible Mustang. It was an amazing experience...the highlight of my trip. I'll do it differently next time: I'll bring my passport, my tourist card and more cash, but I wasn't even a little nervous...I was with friends.

The Mexican culture is lovely. children, family, people. Everything
else is just physical stuff. Where I live, a person might say their kids are
number one to them (and of course, they are), but that just means the kid gets the most stuff.

I am a better man having met a few of these people.


Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by suzulu on 16 January 2011 1:03pm
Thanks for the interesting account of your trip, Pete.
Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by Loretto on 16 January 2011 3:24pm
That's a great point about the candy Pete. I initially gifted fun size m & m's to the first classroom of kids that we visited in Jamaica 8 years ago, and immediately regretted it! I mailed on classroom supplies when I returned home.

Glad you and the family enjoyed Mexico. The Mexicans have gotten such bad press here in the states with the border violence and drug trafficking, there is more to Mexico than the border.

We visited Cancun a few years back and saw the pyramids at Tulum. I was shocked at how primitive the "mall" was at the site. Then I think we've become accustomed to excess here in the US and elsewhere.
Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by Ken Dunn on 16 January 2011 4:58pm
Very interesting, LT. Of all the places we've been to we found the Maltese culture similar to the Mexican that you describe.
Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by Lounge Trekker on 16 January 2011 7:05pm
Yes, candy is alway nice for kids, but it will only make them need dentists...most people can't afford a dentist. Their income is a fraction of what ours is. I bought 3-4 kg of oranges for 15 pesos from a guy who drove them in from Veracruz. I had more oranges than I wanted to carry and offered them to everyone I had an excuse to talk to.

I think the people I visited are below the median of income/poverty. After Anna cooked a few sopas for me she told me she had no cultery. While enjoying the meal, with juices running down my arm, I realized a gift of cutlery in the mail would be a good thing.

I think these people must work hard just to survive.

I'll be trying to line up a dental visit and hopefully the next week, get the work done for about a tenth of what we pay here. Two weeks of sun, paid for by the savings on dental work...it must be done.

As for danger...I didn't feel unsafe at any time...I was with friends. I believe that regardless of what you see on TV, the number of good people that get caught up in violence is very small. If you hang with people drinking as much alcohol as they can and trying to 'improve' their level of impairment, and this is happening late at night...you are at risk...anywhere.

I alway knew we had it good here; now I agree with you Loretto...we live in the land of excess.

Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by kazzzz on 21 January 2011 8:13am
Thanx for sharing your story Pete, sounds like you had an eye opening trip.
Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by tucsonmike on 22 January 2011 1:07am
I am willing to meet Pete down there and break my moratorium on traveling to Mexico.
Re: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 2011 by sighthound on 22 January 2011 10:55pm
Ooooh, can we get a meeting down there? The last time I was there was when I was a tot in the 50's, long before Taylor and Burton turned it into a vacation destination. I'd love to go back to see wht it has become.

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