Welcome back to my Mexican tales series. The vacation begins, and what a busy time it was! It was a fun and social time once again seeing all the ‘regulars’ back – the snowbirds who we’d made friends with through the last few years of renting in the same place with our wintering friends. Plenty of scoop, recommends and whale watching to see daily at our ‘pool of knowledge’ as one of my Canadian friends dubbed it last year. The place where we all congregate to stay cool in the afternoons under the hot Mexican sun.
Whale season is very busy in the Banderas Bay area of Puerto Vallarta where I stayed. This area is where the whales from the north swim to safety to give birth to the babies in February each year, instinctively knowing where the waters are safe from sharks. Every morning and late afternoons we could see clearly, the whales popping up for air and flopping up and down doing a spectacular show. One day I actually saw a whale in process of giving birth, it was jumping up constantly for a time and before long, a baby whale started jumping as it made its entrance into the world. A magnificent sight for sure, sadly, despite camera ready on hand, I missed every consecutive jump, lol.
Besides all the friends we socialized with daily at the pool and some we had meals with in the evenings at some of our favorite restaurants, we also had family visit and stay with us one week, and a friend of my husband’s for another two. After my longgg trip traveling to Mexico, my Sciatica kicked in big time. After approximately 6 massages later, I was finally in fine form . . . but that was short-lived.
One hot afternoon as I entered the first step into the pool, holding onto the railing tightly, it seems all that suntan lotion accumulating in the pool made for a sheet of ice on some of those steps. Down went my one foot to step, and up in the air went the other one as I gripped tightly, but to no avail, landed with a thud on the second step – on my tailbone!
If I’d thought the Sciatica I’d been enduring since a month before going to Mexico, exacerbated by the lifting of luggage on travel day was painful, I had succumbed to a new kind of pain. For the rest of the trip there were more massages (as it had taken 5 deep massages already, to finally rid of the Sciatica pain), analgesics, and taking a good 2 minutes to stand up or sit down, no bending, no comfort sleeping, and the only place I felt fine was floating in the water. I was grateful for my blow up pillow I used everywhere. I’d originally bought it to have behind my already sore back while laying on the lounger at the pool, but it quickly became my seat pillow for a few weeks.
Many of my pool friends had witnessed my slip and rushed to me to ask if I was okay. Of course, I told them I was fine. I stayed in the pool once I slid in, for a good two hours, dreading the time I’d have to get out and assess how I really felt. I found out quickly how nicely I had immobilized my tush. My trustee friends were very accommodating the next few days as they watched me limp and walk like an octogenarian to and from the pool and offered assistance anytime I had to carry something up and sometimes just to help put on my beach cover-up. And thankfully, but only the day before returning home, did the pain subside. Lord had mercy as I had a lotttttttttt of carrying and pushing to do at the airport the next day for the return home.
What else happened after that glorious Supermoon full moon coupled with a Mercury Retrograde – that also seemed to have unleashed pandemonium on the world at this time? Oh ya, the friends whose condo we rent there, notified me that first week we were there that she needed to know right away if I’d commit to 3 months next year with a $400 US increase on top of it monthly. I asked her if I could at least discuss this with my husband, and get back to her, considering we were barely there 5 days when I was just unwinding without having to think about finances and commitments for a year ahead, even though I fully intended to NOT commit. Not 12 hours later did I receive a new message, “Sorry, we couldn’t wait, we have someone ready to commit.”
“Thanks so much for your giving a us a moment to think, not! Enjoy your new friends and remember, when you swim with sharks you get bit,” I emailed her in response. My sarcasm was in direct response to my investigations with my sleuth friend Liz at the pool who knows everyone and everybody. I’m not going to get into all the politics here – yes, there were plenty. But we’d figured out exactly what transpired with the people who mysteriously became the ‘new future renters’. This situation now left us without a place locked in for next year. And everyone who stays there knows well, it’s like finding gold when you find another availability there, and for a fair price without managers scooping extra bucks on top of the owner’s price.
I immediately put out my feelers, asked my pool friends for contacts and within 2 days, I’d sealed a deal for another unit next year. The caution is, to not get ripped off as the the real estate market has been booming in PV this past year in particular and beachfront properties are getting more greedy. Many property owners there don’t live there and hire property managers. Some are good, some are thieves with ridiculous prices and terms. The trick is to do your research on the ‘actual’ going monthly rates, asking around what everyone pays, and try not to get ripped off. This is where my friend Liz was extra helpful, lol. Also, in Mexico, we don’t need US dollars (thankfully), and our Canadian dollar was great value to the Peso. But all rentals are paid in US dollars.
The new owner I made a deal with knew I had no US funds on me and is expecting half the rental as deposit after I returned – that was before the world turned on its axis and our dollar dropped to almost 40% from 30 against the US dollar, once the markets fell in free-fall. I haven’t heard from her yet calling for money, although I had E-transferred her a few hundred Canadian dollars in good faith when we made the deal. I have ZERO intentions of buying US money at this god-awful rate. And since most of the renters there are Canadian, I’m sure these owners and property managers are more than aware what’s going on in the world. If she puts clamps on me for the funds now, she can have it. And no doubts, she’ll come crawling back as she finds that in this era of uncertainty, it’s quite likely that nobody is committing to travel anywhere till the world comes back to life.
Now, for the cruise ships. The Coronavirus was only gaining more acknowledgement in across the world as February progressed. Nobody seemed to be thinking about it in Mexico, not even the snowbirds. But I was. I was on the computer mornings and evenings catching up on world news. And my anxiety grew. We used to watch the ships dock and exit daily there – about 2-3 ships daily in the past, but 10 whole days had passed and no cruise ships. I began to smell a rat.
I was Googling daily to see if there were any Corona cases coming to light in Mexico and by first week March, there was a count of 3 or 4, said to have been detected in Mexico City – far away from where I was. Hmm, I thought, where there’s a few, there will always be more, and of course, the many cases unrecognized and not reported to consider. Then we began to see 2 ships come in 2 or 3 days a week after that. We also watched one turn around and not dock. Suspicions abounded. It seemed the only ships coming in were the ones originated on the Pacific coast, mainly from California. No big ship names like Celebrity did we see, etc. And as it turns out, the Grand Bahama Princess had in fact docked in PV just before I’d arrived, the same one that was not allowed back in port in San Francisco somewhere along its journey, tendering for days with nowhere to go until it was allowed into Oakland Harbor. Something was definitely up!
By the last week of our trip, anxiety grew within, eager to get home before the airlines started chopping off flights. My husband had also had issues with his health, and I was getting panicky if he’d be able to leave, and how the trip home was going to look like. Many ‘pool’ friends didn’t seem too concerned about the virus, but as my natural intuition antennae became raised internally to high alert, I knew full-well a Tsunami of something was coming.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode – Observations, Art and Commercialism