When you spend most of the day at the pool, you meet a lot of people and gather a lot of information. My friend Tim (Sudbury) dubbed our pool the ‘pool of knowledge’, a place where sunloungers congregate in late afternoons and share lots of good information on – what’s going on in town, where to buy this and that, great new restaurant discoveries, where to get your hair and nails done, etc. And of course, the pool became a gathering place of sorts in the hot afternoon sun where many conversations among people somehow wound up on the topic of politics.
The pool we hangout at in our complex edges onto the beach with the ocean mere yards away. Vendors come by daily throughout the day selling anything from T-shirts, sunglasses, silver jewelry, to fresh fruit – you name it. The trick is to always bargain. From what I found by asking each vendor how much they sell their wares for, it seems their starting prices are approximately double than what they’ll accept. Hey, everyone needs to make a living, but nobody wants to get ripped off, so a modest profit is acceptable because the vendor has to make a living too.
We made friends a-plenty and got to see friends we’d made the previous year. When hub and I would chat about certain friends we began sub-titling their names with the city, state or provinces they came from. It was easier to tell a story referring to the Minnesotas, Dakotas, Manitobas, Sudburys or the Sarnias – sometimes being easier to remember where people came from rather than having to remember their actual names when we first met them.
I didn’t note many Americans at our development, but a couple each from Chicago, New Jersey and Minnesota. Surprisingly, there were a few there from North Dakota – traditionally a republican state. I befriended a lovely couple from there and chose not to bring up politics around them, but I couldn’t believe the audacity of some other tRump lovers that were there. Don’t misconstrue my opinions with people behaving badly. These select few Americans were loud and proud tRump supporters in a country and in a pool where people were predominantly against their president. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but when someone stands up in a crowded swimming pool, shooting off her mouth loud and proud that she loves her president, and continues to chant with ‘let them build that goddamn wall to keep out the Mexicans’, I cringed in disgust. I found it distasteful and disrespectful to the Mexicans and couldn’t help but wonder why in the hell hypocritical people would even bother going to Mexico.
It was mostly cold Canadians fleeing our harsh and brutal winter storms from the provinces of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and probably the biggest group from Quebec. We missed a few of those beauties (storms) so friends and family kept us updated. Some days were minus 40! Is that even a real number?
Most of our days were spent at the pool and as always, it seems wherever we travel, we encounter ‘pool chair wars’. Because it seems there are never enough lounge chairs for pool lovers, one has to develop a strategy to get a chair, which usually entails the old adage ‘the early bird gets the worm’. But being an early bird doesn’t mean going down and throwing a towel on a chair and not showing up for several hours later to actually use the chair. The pool area is patrolled by security, and they have no qualms about doing hourly surveys around the pool to look for empty chairs with towels on them, post sticky notes on them with marked time and ultimately, removing the belongings within half an hour.
My husband as always when we travel to a warm destination, is downstairs by 7am latest, setting up our chairs for the day. He’s trained for years now on protocol. I have my chosen location, which always means I’m at the end of a row so I have easy access to be able to turn my chair along with the sun’s movement, while hubby sets up the big umbrella (even more in demand) beside his chair to stay more shady. Then he sits down there and socializes with the other early birds doing the same. In the meantime, I’m already working on the computer and getting breakfast ready for 8am when he comes back upstairs to eat for his half hour grace period, before returning back to the pool while I finish up my work and get ready to join him downstairs about an hour later. At lunchtime, we each go upstairs and eat lunch separately while the other stays with the chairs or often I’d make us both lunch and bring it down to the pool and eat. Everyone who knew us knew where to find us. Ours was a busy coveted corner.
And what of those late comers coming down to the pool in early afternoons expecting to have a chair? Well, some don’t care about a chair, while some are angry and quite nasty at that.
Even though we were lounging in paradise there were still some people who are naturally nasty. One day I came back down from lunch and was approaching my chair when I saw a woman I didn’t recognize, leaning into my husband, pointing her finger in his face. By the time I reached the chair, I heard her scolding my husband. The part I caught was that she was angry she couldn’t find an umbrella and was chewing out my husband, telling him he’s under that umbrella every day, asking him why the hell he doesn’t just stay on his balcony. I KID YOU NOT! At that point, many around were listening to the conversation and my blood pressure shot up, knowing my husband doesn’t like scenes, he stayed quiet. I suddenly just wanted to push her 2 feet behind her, into the pool. Instead, I went up to her face, pointed my finger at her and shouted F*CK OFF. I got some applause from some people behind me, and she never bothered us again.
Some other people aren’t happy unless they can boss others around, or make people unhappy. I think some people don’t know what to do with themselves with actual free time on their hands. We had those who would try and get our towels taken away by a fellow renter who tended to act like he owned the development and spent lots of time visiting the pool security people, and a nasty woman who I never knew who came up to my chair and started up with me over my husband holding chairs. But besides some of the pool BS, we had a wonderful time.
We didn’t have to pay for whale watching tours because we saw some daily not far from shore. They love to stay near the little boats and sometimes put on a flop show. Apparently, mid December through March is calving and feeding season for the Humpback whales who have their babies in that part of the bay because they train and feed them there knowing there are no sharks there in the secluded bay area of the ocean. I also found out from my Sudbury friends who did go on a whale watching tour, that when the whales leave, they head up to Vancouver Canada. Imagine the miles, not to mention what smart navigators they are! Sadly though, I never really caught the whales flopping up and nosedive back down into the ocean on my camera, or their wonderful displays of fountain when they spewed up water. My timing was never good, lol. I’d keep the phone in my hand waiting, and if I did catch the moment, the seconds between where I press the camera button to when it actually takes, were always the missed moments. We did see many ships coming into port though and leaving, which we enjoyed watching no matter how many times we’d seen it.
And the sunsets – my favorite time of day. I loved to sit on the balcony, or at least pop in and out for the last 45 minutes before the sun set because the horizon was gorgeous with color. Every night the sky told another story and I tried to capture some of the best parts.
It was amazing how the color of the sky changed many times over in one sunset.
By day I was a lounge lizard – save for the morning or afternoon walks to Starbucks or picking up some groceries. I cooked a few dinners during the week, the other nights we went out for dinner to some of our favorite haunts and tried out a few new places – courtesy of the knowledge from the pool.
For the first month of our trip we had rented our Mexican friend’s gorgeous luxury condo with the million dollar view and plenty of bedrooms. This enabled us to have visitors, my cousin D and my sister-in-law R came to stay with us for a week, which was fun having a little girl time. We went for walks and to a few markets – mainly the Saturday morning market downtown by the Malecon boardwalk and to the Thursday night market at the Marina. These are two of the more popular markets where you can buy anything handcrafted and food. There are a few popular eating spots in those markets, and the most popular is the ‘Bagel Man’ who is known for the best bagels and cinnamon buns in PV. The lineups start early for his goods so we’d get there in plenty of time while he sets up to avoid long waits. I befriended Peter the owner while there asking if he had any gluten-free bagels. He told me he could make me some and bring them to the Thursday market for me. When I went to pickup my bagels, he forgot them! But the nice guy that he is, he promised to deliver me a dozen to my condo the next day and he did!
My step-daughter and son-in-law came down for a different week to spend with us in January and we also went to some markets, down to the boardwalk for a meal and had a good time together as we always do when we travel with them. And my author friend John Maberry came down with his wife for a lovely meet and greet for a few days and stayed next door to us in a hotel. It was busy times in January.
Then came February, when it was time to leave our first class accommodations because it was already rented out for February. I’d gotten us a one bedroom unit in the complex, which felt like a cottage, sparsely decorated and missing a lot of things such as: kitchen utensils, frying pans, chairs on the balcony, a crappy view, no coffee table or additional chairs other than the 4 at the kitchen table. I wasn’t impressed and told the girl I rented it from who I’d rented from the previous year. She managed to buy me some frying pans and promised some lounge chairs for the balcony which we never received. I made good use of those kitchen chairs – I pulled one in front of the couch to put my feet up on so I could use the computer, one went in the bedroom to be able to have something to place an article of clothing on, and they were all used when I had to hang up laundry. For the price we paid for that unit it was a huge disappointment. And I didn’t hide my dismay from anyone. But at least I was still in the warm weather and missed some terrible winter storms back home. When we checked out before leaving, the girl came to give me back my security deposit and chuckled and said, “Oh, I have your lounge chairs for the balcony.” I was not impressed at what she thought would be a humorous statement. Again, I let her know.
A few notable photos for fun:
Pharmacies sell many drugs without prescription. Some notables are: Valium, Codeine drugs, Viagra, antibiotics, Ambien – just to name a few. This sandwich board of menu specials was outside the restaurant we were dining at next door to the pharmacy
I found this T-shirt at the market and had to get it for hubby. I almost had to beg him to wear it, lol, but he got a lot of chuckles at the pool:
Malecon by night with some art and sculpture I took photos of:
We had a fabulous meal at the top of the hill off the boardwalk – Barcelona Tapas, where you could see the city from
All in all, we had a fabulous, relaxing and fun time away. It was great to see our old friends from the previous year and make friends with new people who we will no doubt see again next year.
I recently posted my travel column at Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord where I write monthly, all about Puerto Vallarta if you’d like to learn more about that beautiful city. The article is chock full of information from history to dining, and next month’s edition I’ll be getting more into personal experiences, recommendations and caveats, so stay tuned!