After 27 years I had to service my car for the first time on my own, and first, find a place to do so.
For 27 years I didn’t have to worry or think about gassing the car, oil changes, car washes, tires, or brakes. My Puppy was the car man in every sense of the world. Then that ‘service car soon for oil change’ light began flashing. Where was I to go? The last time I took my own car in for a oil change was somewhere in the era of 1995. I paid $29.99 at a Speedy Auto – 30 minutes or it’s free. Ya, those were the days!
Back in the day, just pre, my husband, we were just switching over to self-serve gas stations. Gasp, I have to put in my own gas? Gone are the days when after another human put gas in our cars, the attendant would then bring a squeegee and wipe down all our windows. And maybe, if we were lucky, they may even open up the hood of our car to make sure we had enough wiper fluid. Yes, those were the golden days and how I grew up. The sudden switch over to self-serve didn’t have me liking the advance with the times. I learned quick to stop letting my cars go down to empty before a fill, and when the gage was hitting a quarter tank left to hit the gas station on a good weather day.
So, last week I returned from the gym and when I turned off the ignition, I saw that flashing message reminding it was time for an oil change. Oye! What a dilemma. Where should I take my car now?
I made some inquiries with friends. Most gave me warnings instead of suggestions. Don’t go here or there because they’ll rip you off and try and sell you things you don’t need. One friend offered me to call the auto garage she uses and didn’t even remember how much she pays there. I called, the person who answered the phone was kind of quick and rude, ballparking me anywhere from $80 – $130. Are you kidding me?? Did I mention the last time I took my own car in I paid $29.99? Had prices gone up that much??
I thought about taking it to one of the two dealerships my husband worked for. I know for certain the first one where he worked for 48 years, they charged too much because even when my hubby worked there, he’d take my car elsewhere for certain work or pay a service guy cash to do the work on his lunch hour, and all those ‘elsewhere’s’ I remembered, were no longer around. Then I considered where he last worked up until 2020, but that was a half hour drive away. So I then proceeded to visit my friend ‘Google’.
I knew for certain there were some automotive garages in an industrial area five minutes from where I live, which is incidentally, five minutes from the first dealership my hubby worked at. I know he did business with some of these places, and picked one to call, based on the many, many, five star reviews they were rated without a complaint in the bunch. Fair, honest, great, don’t try to upsell things, were just a few of the common themed comments I’d read. Bingo!
Before calling, I had to educate myself about information I’d come across that people were now changing over traditional oil to ‘synthetic’ oil because of better performance and longevity for the engine. I wanted to learn why that price was practically double than the traditional oil, and learned it had something to do with the refining process, and that once upon a time, when oil was discarded, the automotive places got paid for discarding their oil, and now, they have to pay for discarding it.
So, I decided my best option was to call Mr. Automotive, based on the fantastic reviews, close proximity, and maybe they knew my husband?
Nikki answered the phone. I asked a few questions, and before a few minutes passed, we were laughing together like old chums. She’d asked me for the make and model of my car so she could quote me the accurate price. Yes. I learned each model of car has different engines and oil requirements. But when she asked me more about my model, my response was, bwahahahha, are you kidding me? I don’t know such particulars. We laughed, and after two call backs of her checking the possibilities, I went down to my underground to search out the extra fancy initials and numbers beside the model name of my car for her. She then called me back with the quote – at which I gasped, but after doing my research, had kind of expected. And after checking with a few friends, they’d all converted over to synthetic oil.
Nikki gave me the price and assured me that besides the oil change they’d check all my car’s vitals: fluid levels, belts, tire pressure, wipers and more. And gratefully, they filled up my wiper fluid, because I don’t even know the difference between the wiper fluid and anti-freeze compartments. The car was remedied in an hour and the report came back that my car was still in mint condition, now with converted to synthetic oil, and all vitals reported fine. I felt peace of mind about my car, and that I now had a place to take my car that I could feel secure about the service and integrity and honesty and friendly service at Mr. Automotive. Sadly, nobody there recalled knowing my husband, but I’d landed in the right place anyway.
I live in a condo complex owned and run by a Property Management company, not by individual owners. When hubby and I sold our last home in a hot market, the last thing we wanted was to rent someone else’s condo so we’d be at their mercy about if they decided to sell and we’d have to move, or that they could raise rents till their heart’s content. This complex was erected, some time in the early 1970s, and back in the day, this complex was touted as a luxury property, where most renters came as empty nesters after their homes were emptied and became too big for them, as well as a lot of divorcees.
The complex is well known in the northern part of my city, and although there are some quite large units, comparably to today’s ‘closets’ passing for condos here in my city of Toronto, these three buildings were never particularly promoted as a place for children. Many mid-life people moving here from their homes liked that aspect.
Through the years and decades, the buildings were always well kept with lots of amenities at our doorsteps without having to walk outside. These features obviously became draws for seniors to move here. And for many that have moved here from their previous homes – they never leave. I have to say that this gives me the creeps when I think about the reality that for many, it becomes the last stop before the final stop. My own father moved into the complex in the mid 70s after he FINALLY divorced my mother. He lived here for approximately fifteen years before his untimely death – his last stop before the final stop.
The grounds are vast and beautifully manicured with gazebos, fountains, and walking trails. I am literally a three to five minute drive to three major highways. Within our complex we have a convenience plus store, a dry cleaners, a library, tennis court, pool table room, swimming pool, sauna, gym and security at the gates. The biggest bonus of all is that they don’t build condos like these anymore, tight building budgets and cheap materials preferred over better now, the golden days are gone. These buildings also have what we call ‘rent control’ on them too, as our government deems any buildings built before 1990, eligible for rent control, meaning the rent can only go up so much annually without gauging, as dictated by governmental rate increases. These units are practically soundproof because the walls are made of plaster. In fact, anything heavy to hang on the walls must be drilled with a cement drill just to get the screws in. But the size of these units are often the sizes of some people’s houses. My husband and I moved here after selling our last home, for the same reasons many seniors do – let go of the home responsibilities and be able to travel through winter without house worries. For six years we lived in a 2000 square foot three bedroom unit. I recently moved to a one bedroom in the same building with 1200 square feet. The smallest place I’ve lived in since leaving home for the first time, but still, huge comparatively to today’s builds where a brand new condo penthouse will typically get you at most 1200 square feet, and the average one bedroom around 500-600 square feet.
At first when my husband approached me to move here I didn’t want to. I think it was the stigma I had set in my mind – the last stop thing I told him I couldn’t shake from my mind, but eventually, I succumbed. Admittedly, I feel like a ‘baby’ in this building because it is predominantly seniors who live here, most of them living here for years and decades. But I have made friends with several older folks here who always have advice to offer and helpful tips. And because I’ve been here a few years myself, already comfortable with my surroundings, and knowing anywhere else I’d move, I’d be living in a shoebox, I decided to stay here and move to another unit after my husband passed, instead of looking elsewhere.
But there are more perks. Besides all of the above, the management looks after the building well. Throughout the year we get notices to enter to fulfill each unit’s maintenance such as: drain cleaning, checking air vents, fire alarm testing, and we make maintenace requests for anything requiring fixing. Each unit is renovated before new tenancy – including wood floor resurfacing, new floor tiles and cabinets, new appliances and painting. When we first moved here we had put in granite counters in the kitchen and bathrooms, new light fixtures and draperies, and paid the painter to paint colors of my choice. I did the same when I moved into this unit. My friend Vinnie was our longtime real estate agent and a builder, so he got me a great builder’s deal on granite, and he switched out all my light fixtures and draperies from my other unit and installed them where I am now. What a good friend!
And still there are perks! What I love about living among so many seniors (besides the peace and quiet), is that we have a great guy as our member of parliament who looks after the district I live in. That would be the equivalent to an American person’s Congressman. Because there are three buildings to the complex with approximately two hundred units in each, we have a sizeable senior community right here. Because of this, many government programs are brought right to our doorstep! First and foremost luxury – a voting station is set up in our library for our elections. We don’t even have to step outside! Typically, when we have our elections, one can find a place to vote, virtually, almost anywhere near where everyone lives, most within walking distance in Canada, but having one right in the building is so convenient. We also had Covid vaccinations, boosters and flu shots organized to have done here too. We received emails inviting anyone to come down to the library last fall to have our QR codes validated for our vaccine passport, made into a business card size code and laminated so that seniors who weren’t familiar with digital would be able to carry the card in their wallets. Of course I went down to get one!
Why not? Yes, people who use phones as appendages may not be interested, but I can tell you that last fall, while my bestie was visiting from UK, we went out to restaurants quite a few times and had to show our QR codes in order to enter. I can say with certainty, when it comes to my phone that feels as though it’s been possessed by Google and Microsoft with the shenanigans going on with it, it takes me a moment to first dig up my phone out of my bottomless purse, punch in my password code, then go looking for the icon where I downloaded the code to, only to find once again, my icons have been moved around, it is literally faster for me to grab my wallet (so large and easy to spot) and pull out my QR code card! Okay, I know not everyone is thrilled about vaccines, but for me, it’s been a thrill not to have to drive far in my congested city and stand in lines to get vaxxed.
For now, it doesn’t look like I’m moving anywhere soon. But in my head and my heart, I feel I have more living to do and it isn’t here in my city. My bucket list is long, and before my husband took ill, we were considering moving to Mexico. Now alone, I don’t have quite the courage to continue that plan without my husband, but if I keep putting it out into the universe, I believe something is going to give. For right now, the grass isn’t looking too much greener anywhere else.
So, I often write about some of the goings on in my life and in my head/heart. Last Thursday was probably the best day I’ve had since I was in Mexico with my new wonderful friends.
Today, (the post goes live) is my ‘something’th’ birthday, and I probably won’t be answering your comments till much later tonight, because it will be my new best day because I’ll be spending it with my bestie, Banan, known as Bri in my books.
But getting back to Thursday – weeks previous to Thursday, I’d come up with the decision that I have to start expanding my horizons and decide what kind of group activity I’d like to join. The time is long overdue.
I’d thought about joining a grief group where I could be among ‘my people’, or joining a gym, women’s fitness – no men as I’m not interested in getting hit on. I couldn’t find anywhere close that had an actual, non online grief group. I’m at the point where I need to be around way more people, to find new friends that don’t live far away and whom I have things in common with – not necessarily grief – but a human or two I can connect with, someone who I can look into their eyes when speaking as opposed to chatting on a computer screen.
I talk to my friends online often in chat boxes, but there’s nothing better than real talk with humans face to face. I’m a people person and feel myself shrinking by spending too much time left to my own devices. I promised my two besties I was seriously going to join something when I decided where I’d feel most comfortable, and I decided to email a contact form for a Goodlife Fitness Women’s Gym, only ten minutes away, and went for the tour last Thursday.
Asal showed me around with a guided tour for over an hour. She was a sweet young girl. It felt great just to get out and talk to Asal (whose name that took me three tries to pronounce, and we laughed together). She asked me a short questionnaire – my goals, what I was wanting out of joining, any classes I’d be interested in. I told her my husband died a year ago and I’m taking my first steps in trying to rejoin civilization, mainly joining to take part in some classes for social interaction – Zumba and Yoga.
I’ve pushed myself to commitment and went back yesterday, to use the free pass to try out whatever equipment I wanted in the gym for however long I wanted, and they had great special plans to choose from at reasonable prices, and Asal was dropping the ‘joinup’ fee of $100, if I signed up then. I figured I’d try the two classes a week and use the treadmill and some of the weights, before I dived into machines. So I told Asal I’d like to use my free pass day Monday, (yesterday), and that I’d come while she’s on shift so I could sign up with her. So now I’m a member. For approximately $20 a week I can go whenever I want and to however many classes I want. I liked midday because there were people but not so many. I figured I’d eventually strike up a friendship with someone, it’s close to home, it’s only women, so what do I have to lose. And who knows, in the process, I could get in good shape. Sounds like a win/win. So this is my progress.
So, getting back to Thursday, before I got to the gym. I was on my way to the gym waiting for the elevator on my floor, where this attractive older woman was standing. I’d never seen her before, but then again, I’m picky who I want in my close circles in the building where I live, lol. I have a few friends from upstairs on my old condo floor, neighborly friends, but not real close. And there were many lovely greetings from what seemed the, ‘widow’s floor’ I’d moved on to, but nobody I felt a connection with. But today, there was ‘Marsha’.
My condo is, unfortunately, close to the elevator. I came out, locked my door, turned around and walked ten steps to the elevator. I saw the back of her and her pretty blonde bob before she turned around and asked, ‘Does it bother you living close to the elevators?’ I replied, not really. There’s no noise. I just feel like my door is vulnerable for quick break-in getaways if there were any, and have to remember not to talk on the phone near the door for fearing of being overheard.
We laughed while waiting for the usual long elevator wait. She told me she just moved in last month and gave me a short synopsis of her being twice a widow. She’s very attractive, and we shared a similar humor. I took her for her early 70s. I gave her my short synopsis, and after we got off on the lower level together, while I was going to the parking lot and she, to vote in our library, we both finally took a breath and were about to go our parting ways, when she told me her apartment number and added, ‘knock on my door around 645, I’ll show you my place then we’ll go sit outside in our park.
After I got back from the gym, my new good friend from Mexico, Shelley, Whatsapp video called, and we had a two hour catch-up and planning when I’m going to visit her and stay at her place for a few days. She lives in Brighton, Ontario, about a two-hour highway drive east of me. Me, anxiety highway driving woman. But, I made up my mind. I am driving to Shel’s. I’m not taking the train. That, my friends, will be an adventure.
We laughed about all our antics this past winter, and the things we’re going to do together next winter in Puerto Vallarta- definitely heading up to the best market in Bucerias. And we’re looking at late June for my first summer visit, as soon as it warms up to swimming weather again, as typically, our hot summer is now feeling like the cool of spring, and it looks that way on the weathermap for the next few.
My Bestie, Banan called while I was talking to Shel. I declined her call, texted her that I was on the phone with Shelley. I did call her back much later, almost dinnertime, of course no answer. I left her a text to listen to my long message about my surprising day. I told her to call me tomorrow because I had to make some dinner and I was rushing to meet Marsha. Banan was thrilled.
We caught up the next day. And I will end this here, and then I will reveal more about my outdoor meeting with Marsha and our walk to the coffee shop on Sunday, in next week’s episode.
I’m being bold and stepping back into civilization – baby steps, but it’s happening!
It was a year April 7th that I lost the love of my life, my husband, Puppy. And today is his birthday. I’ve been busy painting new rocks to place around his gravestone for his birthday visit. And went over to the garden center to pick up a lovely spring planter.
The sun’s rays were shining brightly in this photo
This past year has been one of The most difficult time of my life. Many days I find myself not coming to grips with anything. When you love deeply, you will grieve deeply. I am on my own way too much it seems and I know with certainty getting away for the winter was my saving grace, being around people – company, always someone to talk to.
Most of my days are spent reading, researching various things from the spiritual to online grief groups, and writing. It may seem I haven’t published anything for quite some time, but the writing has been plentiful and has given me much material to work with from my journaling and the many poems I have written. My procrastination, because of my newly acquired short attention span hasn’t permitted me to do anything concrete with any of it yet, but I’m slowly working on that as I struggle through each day with what feels like a never-ending grief who is my constant companion. I know though, that one day soon I will have much of my writing to share. My grief doesn’t just pop up randomly, but walks with me every minute of the day. Some days I can deflect it off ’till later’ and some days it just gets the best of me. So I continue to live in my mantra of ‘One Day at a Time.”
In my moments of distraction, I find myself running to Youtube listening to angel messages, Mediums, poets, from inspirational things to talks on the afterlife. I’ve been watching a lot of Youtube videos, getting lost in the 70s and 80s lately too. I can listen to that music because it takes me back to some of my most happiest times – the times before I met my husband, so those songs couldn’t set off yet another fresh round of grief. Somedays I find myself having to do anything to distract myself from doing anything productive as my grief is a staunch companion. I find myself always trying to gauge my emotions and watch where my mind goes. If I feel the need to abandon doing something constructive (like writing and getting back to edits so I can publish I book I wrote two years ago), when the weight of my grief reminds its presence, I need to do that in that moment. This is my coping mechanism taking over, and I must listen.
If my soul craves the need to jump over to Youtube to watch a video on the Afterlife, or a music video to take me back to a happier time, I do it. I’m alone much of the time and I thank goodness I’m resourceful because let me tell you, I loved living on my own when I was younger. I had the time of my life in those days with a very active social life. But this time ’round, both the calendar and the couch are equally empty.
I’m okay with music prior to knowing my Puppy, but not yet ready for hearing ‘our’ songs. I passed on the Luther Vandross video – So Amazing, that popped up on the playlist, the one I walked down the aisle to when we married.
I’m getting acquainted with, but not quite used to living alone. Being single in grief at a certain age is nothing like being single in my 20s and 30s, especially when you’re still trying to digest being in the digit ‘six’ club. If I didn’t have my writing to keep me sane, who knows where I’d be. Writing is my sanity, as it seems to have been my ‘go to’ since I was a child. I feel like I’m in a new learning phase of my life where I allow myself to follow my whims instead of putting them on the back burner for tomorrows – those tomorrows that sometimes never come.
But I’m always writing. I probably have enough writing for three new books. The only thing I haven’t yet got back to is my desire to do something with my words. So in the meantime, I keep writing. And I’m actually considering putting some of my writing in podcast that will eventually become part of the book on grief that I’ve been journaling about. The universe will guide me when the time is right. My heart is far from ready yet to reread the thousands of words I have written in these past two years.
My circles in life are considerably smaller. I am grateful for the friends in my life, especially those who’ve ‘stayed’. And equally grateful for my online writing friends here who keep check on me and keep me motivated, informed and entertained. I feel as though I haven’t found a direction yet, so I remain coasting along to whatever the days ask of me without putting pressure on myself. Grief is a strange animal that takes hold of me in a moment’s notice. It distracts, it chokes, it hinders, and somedays it’s just emotionally crippling for me, and it works on its own schedule. Too much alone time is not healthy for a griever. I am trying to work on that too.
I will finish off by saying that procrastination is a well known thing for writers as we often will look for a distraction when the muse isn’t fulfilling. But sometimes, in other aspects of life, procrastination is the very thing that soothes our insanity, and a diversion is just what the doctor ordered.
Welcome to Part 3 of my winter away in Puerto Vallarta. Today I’m going to share more photos and a few video clips to give you the vibe and describe a bit more about interesting facts and observations about vacationing in PV.
I’ll start with shopping. In stores, the price is the price. But when visiting outdoor markets or buying from beach vendors, don’t forget to bargain or I promise you’ll be paying too much. Typically, when a beach or market vendor offers you prices for their wares, I’ve discovered that they will usually double the actual price of what they will eventually accept. They are crafty sellers and they know there are many new tourists who they can snag in at too high prices, often not taking into account the many repeat visitors who know the game.
Often the vendors that peddle their wares along the beach aren’t always selling their own hand-crafted goods, but they are selling for other people’s stores. They have a price they must get to both, pay for those goods and make a small profit. I know this game well, especially as a seasoned shopper. I may not always be buying, but I look and always check prices. Let’s say someone is selling beach covers on the beach. Typically, if you go downtown to markets and such you will see these same covers going for $250 to $400 Pesos (range of $12-$25 US dollars) but you can be sure if you ask ‘Pedro’ on the beach, how much, he’ll ask you for $800 Pesos. That’s when I laugh and joke around and say things like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And I’d say I can get the same thing downtown for ‘x’ amount. Then the negotiations begin as ‘Pedro’ will rebutt with asking how much would I be willing to pay. It’s just the way the game goes. I know that if they are asking $800, it’s really valued around half. If I want the item I’ll offer $400, usually never accepted right away. He’ll come back at around $600 and I’ll say I don’t need it that bad for $600 but I’ll take it for $400. After all is said and bartered, I’ll walk away with the item for $450, $500 max. I get what I want, and I know he got to make some profit without ripping me off.
Above is the perfect demonstration of waiting for the right price. I saw this unique hat downtown in an over-priced store near the beginning of my trip and fell in love with it. It came in various colors and the brim was all hand embroidered. When I first saw this hat, the store wanted $60 US dollars for it! And they didn’t even care to bargain so I left it and kept my eye out for it in my many travels, but everywhere I did manage to find this style I found it too over-priced. Until I went out for the day with my friends Jamie and Pat to Bucerias and we walked through the market, and there they were again. The goods were cheaper up there than downtown PV. I didn’t even bargain when I found this beauty, the young girl was so sweet sitting outside her little kiosk in the sun. I asked how much and she told me $380 Pesos – equivalent of about $25 Canadian dollars. Sold!
My friend Shelley and I went on a few shopping jaunts together, but we also went grocery shopping together a few times too. I can tell you that grocery prices have gone up there like everywhere else. The food in PV is delicious and freshly made in restaurants, and to my knowledge and taste buds – without preservatives, a refreshing change from North America. I felt my grocery bill had gone up about ten percent since 2020, and definitely noticed the upcharges in restaurants and bar drinks. I used to be able to eat a dinner out for $12 that became $15, and sometimes upwards of $20, depending on where I went out to eat at. Fish is relatively cheap in PV and brought in fresh daily to many restaurants. Shrimps are cheap and plentiful on every menu and marlin, mahi mahi and snapper are always on menus.
The bar drinks went up quite a bit too, considering alcohol is relatively cheap to buy there. Drink prices almost doubled for the most part in most restaurants and at the pool. Beers were typically a dollar, now three dollars. Mixed drinks that used to cost about three dollars became six, seven and eight, depending where you went. I used to like to order the odd Pina Colada at the pool in the afternoon (a little easier to handle during the day than margaritas), until they doubled the price while I was there. Instead of paying eight dollars for a drink I decided to replenish my own bar in my condo and bought a bottle of rum, crema de coconut and pineapple juice, all for under $18 and made myself many afternoon drinks for less than a dollar.
Shelley and I went downtown to the factory where they sell all the beautiful blown drinking glasses and accessories. I wanted to buy so many things but wound up only buying two giant martini glasses and two shot glasses because the glass is heavy and I had no room to spare in my carryon bag. The margarita glasses weighed more than the martini glasses. They do the safe wrapping there too. The only danger were the rows and rows of shelving full of glassware we’d walk up and down through the aisles looking at. I had my big beach shopping bag slung over my shoulder and had to hold it close to avoid being a bull in a china shop.
Of course we had to stop for a libation in between shopping.
This a photo of the famous ‘Our Lady Of Guadalupe’ church near the center square down by the boardwalk/malecon. Many church-going folk tourists go there for Sunday morning service, and it is often referred to as a meeting point when people make plans to meet downtown.
Below is a short veryyy amateur video I took of me, Shelley and our new girlfriends from Alberta, Carol and Sharon. The four of us were crazy together and somehow we had created alias names for ourselves. Carol became Pat McGuilicutty, Sharon was Marge Simpson (because she piled her massive hair two feet high on her head most days at pool, except it wasn’t blue. I dubbed Shelley, Shirley Shelster, and I was named Sheila Tequila. We went downtown for Happy Hour and a pub crawl.
Here’s a small sampling of downtown Malecon. Me, Shelley and John spent the day downtown one day, walking, shopping and of course a few drink pit stops.
Here’s an interesting picture I took while we were at a red light on the way back from downtown. You never know what you will see in PV for a hand out.
They come in all shapes and sizes there, geckos, lizards and salamanders
On my last night in PV, Shelley and John, Wendy and Jerry, had already left the day before. Brenda and Saul were already home. Thankfully, Jamie (Ukranie) and Pat were leaving the next day also, we were the last of the diehards left and we went downtown for dinner. Jamie left early because he had to attend to a Zoom conference, leaving me and Patty Girl to our own devices. So we walked over to the Margarita Grill our favorite landing spot when going downtown for a good margarita.
After margaritas and a tequila shot, Patty and I walked across the street to the always busy Dolce Vita restaurant and sat down at the bar and finished off our night with Spanish Coffees before heading home.
This vacation started off as a slow burn as I was apprehensive in going solo, discovered friends who I thought were friends, weren’t really, then ultimately, meeting some fantastic new friends who made my time in PV very special. These are not just PV friends, these are all new good friends that I keep in touch with and will not only be meeting up with again next winter, but I plan on taking Patty and Jamie up on their offer to visit them in Vancouver this summer, as well as my pals Shel, and John because they live right here in Ontario about an hour and half away. I will also be visiting them this summer. A great gang of people and blessed to make all their acquaintenances.
Thank you all my new wonderful friends for making my trip so much fun!
I hope you all enjoyed reading and watching slices of my winter escape to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Welcome back to Part 2 of my fun trip to Puerto Vallarta. In the first part, I gave a brief introduction to some of the new wonderful friends I met while there. I left off in Part 1 with our day trip to various small towns we visited north of Puerto Vallarta.
Jaimie (Ukranie) rented a car and the five us squashed in for a fun-filled ride. Our road trip barely started before we were all in search of a bank machine to get some shopping Pesos. Some of us had been having problems with certain bank machines that kept spitting out our cards and wouldn’t give us money. Finally we were all set. We piled back into the car and Jamie announced, “Everyone in?” Before he heard me say that Shelley was only half in, the car jerked in forward motion. I screamed stop as Shelley hobbled to keep up with the car. Thankfully, she was fine, but we did laugh our heads off after the moment.
We headed north to La Cruz where it’s been touted to be one of the biggest and best markets in Puerto Vallarta. It was located around a marina where all kinds of things were sold from home made goods to eco-friendly goods, to leather, hats, dresses, art, food and more.
After spending around four hours at this fun market, Jamie chauffered us to nearby Punta de Mita, a quiet gem about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta where there are many hidden getaway spots for the rich and famous, spectacular golf, and so quiet as though nobody knows it’s there. We stopped into a little area for a pitstop Margarita and beers.
After that pitstop, we drove over to Sayulita, an old fishing village turned into a surfer paradise, big gay community and artist hangout.
Shelley me and Pat headed to have a look at the beach, and laughed as we saw people wearing the dreaded ‘Speedo’ bathing suits. As we were entering the beach, it seemed someone parked their horse there. The town is very small and narrow roads so not surprising to find horse transporation along with many driving golf carts. When we came back off the beach it seemed when I took that photo, I stepped in horse shyte. I got off the beach and was puzzled at what on earth is stuck to my sandal – stinky black and full of straw. Pat offered to take a closer look and announced it was horse shyte. And the good friend she was, proceeded to clean it off my shoe as I remained laughing out loud and ultimately grossed out. In the end, when I got back to the condo, I just threw out my shoes.
After leaving Sayulita, Jamie gave us a quick driveby tour on the way back to Puerto Vallarta, to Bucerias, another small, yet, bustling tourist town. Then we drove by Nuevo Vallarta, Paradise Village where there are many all inclusive resorts and time share rentals. We had the day together, lots of laughter, a few drinks, good sightseeing and of course, shopping.
I hoped you enjoyed reading about out little daytrip. Next time I’m going finish with Part 3, which will include more stories, random photos, trip to Bucerias and a few video captures.
Hello Everyone! I’ve recently returned from my two-month getaway to sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was a whirlwind trip to say the least, as usual – beginning and ending with horrendous travel day experiences to both start off and finish off my vacation.
I’ll just mention the day before and travel day home. My province conveniently lifted Covid airline testing – the day after my return. I had to pay $40 Canadian to have a rapid test I was already doing free, myself, a few times a month. I had to fill out an ArrivCan app with Covid vax info, etc., that nobody even checked for. I went to check in online and discovered the upgrade seat I’d paid $54 for last May when I booked the trip wasn’t showing and proceeded to award me some new random seat and auto sent me the boarding pass. There was no way to contact them. I’d already been warned to get to airport now 4 hours early instead of 3. I knew I’d have a problem at checkin. Online didn’t even let me fill out how many bags I was checking. I knew I had to pay $50 for the 2nd bag. Somewhere in the kerfuffle, they did forget to charge me.
The airline wasn’t lined up yet but the airport was packed. Thanks to only having two days a week our airlines fly out on, instead of the old daily flights. The agent apologized, even with the confirmation email I showed her on my phone, for my paid seat. Plane was full, nowhere else to sit, and take it up with Air Canada for my refund was all the sympathy I got. Which of course, I am currently waiting for some response from them before I have to go on another Air Canada rant. This flight wasn’t assigned a gate – the only flight in the whole airport which NEVER got a gate listed on the board. There are two floors in PV airport. I dragged my carryons up and down and back again, and I was far from feeling friendly. Finally, after inquiring for the umpteenth time, I was told a gate – back downstairs, and boarding in 20 minutes! I stood in line to get the bus that would take us to the plane. I stood in front of a lovely family of three, who happily told me they all had the Covid two weeks ago. I was glad to be wearing TWO masks. Naturally, the plane was late forty minutes. I landed into an absolute craziness and archaic system at customs, after walking about another mile from the hangar to customs. Seriously, there was a moment I thought I was going to pass right out as I trudged along with two carry bags. I can’t imagine older people with mobility problems being able to travel the unbelievable distance, only to arrive at zigzag lines set up to wait in for the automated kiosk to fill out life story, then to join a smiliar set up in new lines to actually pass through a customs officer. WHY the 90 minute lineup crap twice? Then, finally off to get baggage (porter -$15, limo $72 to get home.)
I’ve taken many photos on this trip which I’ll be sharing here in various posts of highlighted moments of my trip, but since my SIM card holder in my phone cracked while replacing the Mexican one with my home card, and my storage card full of pictures included, I’m now awaiting a new one that apparently, will take a week delivery from Amazon, I’ve been busy trying to fish out copies from the cloud download. It seems technical woes are like a magnet with me. So I can presently only be contacted by Whatsapp call and texting, while home on my wifi, until I can get my SIM card working
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About the beginning… I was very apprehensive about even taking this ‘solo’ trip, and for the first two weeks of it, I was contemplating coming home early as I learned old friends really weren’t, until I met some new, ‘real’ friends.
Travel day was hard. Of course I had to play, the ‘weighing the suitcases’ game. Without my husband, this was a whole new travel experience in many ways. I had a lot of things to bring along and with 50 pound max per bag, I had to do some fancy footwork, as well as ultimately, having to leave some gluten-free food items behind because there was no way I could pack it all. I had finally opted for a carryon bag WITHOUT WHEELS, because it was a good size bigger than the one with wheels, and that became an albatross on my back.
As usual, the gate to my boarding upon departure was the furthest gate. After all the checkin and security longggggggggg lines, I must have walked a good mile, plus. Wearing a mask and gasping for air, about halfway, I’d finally decided to drag the carry on by it’s shoulder strap, like a leash on a dog as I could barely walk anymore. I was running out of steam. No sooner did I sit down at the gate, they announced GATE CHANGE….the complete opposite end of all the gates. After two flight delays, I finally landed.
The driver I’d hired to pick me up at airport was long gone and/or nowhere to be found. No surprise as I’d spent two and a half hours in Puerto Vallarta airport between immigration lines, then customs. Who would have even thought there was a pandemic going on with soooooooo many people. I must have landed along with ten other flights! Hence, my driver had vanished and I was standing in the hot sun, new lineup for a taxi. Thankfully, the agent was at my condo rental when I finally got there.
The condo: Up very high, 25th floor, beautiful view, could tell a man owned it, kitchen supplies were sparse. Grateful for the height when it came to not having to hear the crazy music on weekends from the ‘shady’ club the next building over.
Long elevator waits, especially when one is constantly out of service and never anything being done. Rinse, repeat, at least three times a week. But was happy to see mask protocol signs on the elevators. The Mexicans are mask abiding citizens, which made me feel that much more comfortable.
I came back from my first massage in two years, to a flooded front hall. Had to call manager to get maintenance up there pronto, but pronto is the complete opposite of manana time.
The condo door swelled on humid days, requiring a tug upon closing…only there was no outdoor handle on the door. The door lock is automated and won’t sense the door closed. The first episode had me standing in a hot outdoor hallway trying to devise ways to tug on a handleless door. After wasting two of my precious sun hours, waiting for assistance, it was a temporary remedy. The second time it happened, I thankfully, already had friends. I called my friend Shelley and she sent her husband John with mini tools. He took the handle off the inside of the door and put it outside the door – where it belonged! No more problems with that.
Wifi is always wonky in that building, this time, no exception. I magically managed to lose the capability to connect to the bedroom TV, after being able to for the first week. Thank goodness the TV connection worked in the living room, as I needed my night time Netflix. The Wifi sucked when it came to video calls on Whatsapp, but at least worked without video.
My apprehnsion about even going on the trip was a mixed bag of emotions. I was going somewhere familiar where I thought I’d had friends I’d spend time with, but I quickly found out, once I had become a single from a couple, there was no room for me.
People my husband and I knew previously acknowledged condolences and then pretty much disappeared. I became nothing more than someone you’d casually pass on a lounger and say a quick hello to. Sure I talked to people. Everyday I’d sit at the pool and chat with whomever was sitting beside me. Casual chat and company to pass the day with until lonely nights came along and I had nobody to pal around with except one funtastic night with our old ‘Dakota’ friends, Kathy and Fred, and Jackie and Paul. We’d known them for a few years and the guys were pals with my husband. They had a lot going on and visitors at different times and I was never one to impose on other people’s vacation. But they had kindly invited me out with them for an evening of dinner and a tribute live show to Gladys Knight. We had a blast! We also drank too many Margaritas that night and were all a bit hung over the next day. That was week one.
We laughed a ton and enjoyed ourselves at the pool together.
A few more days rolled by and suddenly it was Valentine’s Day. The girls were out shopping when I noticed Fred (Kathy’s husband), walking across the length of the pool carrying roses in a vase. I shouted out to Fred about how beautiful the roses were as he seemed to be making his way over to me, and he then handed them to me, gave me a hug, and he whispered, “George asked me to give you these.” I had never felt so touched by someone’s kindness as in that moment as tears welled. It seemed the whole pool of people were watching where those roses were going, and once Fred presented them to me, there was applause from the spectators. It was quite a moment.
That day will stay in my heart forever. And not long after that day, the universe had sent me some new wonderful friends – Canadian friends, it turned out, who I laughed with all the rest of my vacation days. My social life picked up big time and some great friendships were made. And soon enough the days were turning into nights. Up early daily by 7am, outside all day, back up for quick showers and out again, that’s how my days began to pass. I made great friends with 5 different groups of people, and before long I’d introduced them all to one another and let’s just say, there were plenty of Margaritas to be had – some better than others.
Next time, I’ll be sharing stories about my other new friends, places we went to, and observations about what had changed there since my last visit in 2020. Needless to say, my writing time evaporated, condensed to journal notes, and not nearly enough books read when busy blabbing all day and night.
In the meantime, I’ll share a few more photos:
Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of friends and fun!
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Today’s a great day to blog, and the Bloganuary prompt is:
Promote your blog post on social media, using the hashtag #bloganuary.
What Does It Mean to Live Boldly?
I hopped on to this prompt because it felt appropriate as I’ve been struggling with my decision about going on my long awaited winter escape to Mexico. I’ve eagerly been awaiting this much needed escape, despite my being a Covid hermit for much of the last two years. I avidly follow news reports, Covid reports, country alerts etc. and even though my airline has canceled my flight a few times and my managing to book new flights, the apprehension looms with my anxiety of braving the elements while also hoping my new flight will remain.
I’ve spent a lot of time battling my two minds, or my mind and my heart, and after all I’m seeing and hearing with Covid reports, it appears as of now, Mexico is doing better than my own country! So I’ve decided, Covid here, Covid there, minus 20 here with grey skies and seclusion, sunshine and 88 degrees and several of my friends have already arrived there, what am I fussing about?
With all my weighing out, and despite my biggest fear of passing my Covid test to get back to Canada when the trip is done, I can mask up there as well as I mask up here. So yes, I’ve decided that I’m going to live boldly and go ahead with my travel plans. If I spent the rest of my life worrying about what could happen, I’d never do anything. This virus is heading into its third year. Nothing is going to change for a very long time as long as the world doesn’t reach herd immunity. It’s every man for himself to stay protected no matter where we go. If we wait to get back to living, when will that actually be? Years more, no doubt and more spikes and mutations to be had. Another day of living life is no guarantee. Every day is a gift. If we keep pushing off plans for living, who knows if we’ll be capable of traveling next year or the next year. Tomorrows are never guaranteed.
So yes, I’m going to live boldly instead of cowering behind my fears. I’m going to head for sun and sea with best efforts and begin to loosen the load of worry and act like the excited going away person that I should be savoring at this time instead of dreading. Ole!
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