Puerto Vallarta – Wrapping Up Mexican Tales – La Cruz Market and Punta Mita Beach

Today I’m wrapping up my Mexican tales. Our La Cruz group – Patty, Jamie, Shelley, John, Lucie, and me headed up one Sunday to La Cruz Sunday market located about forty minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. We did this last year too, only Lucie wasn’t there with us. Jamie rented a SUV for the day, we all pitched in and he drove. Last year we did this day trip and had lots of adventures, laughs, and mishaps. This time, never a dull moment either.

We all met in the lobby at 930am and piled in with our beach bags, water and snacks. Shelley and me were in the very back row – barely enough head room, but we fit. It was a super hot day. We drove up and this time we found the Marina/Market parking lot which we hadn’t seen last year, cutting a twenty minute walk to get to the kiosks, the booths lined up along the peninsula, surrounded by water.

La Cruz Market walk up Marina. This market must be a mile long as the lined up booths align the marina sidewalk.

Artist at work with many variations of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most iconic artists and empowering women.

x

The musicians are warming up to play at the market

The market is known for its handmade artifacts, art, clothing, shoes, gadgets, jewelry, and food. It’s only opened on Sundays and it’s always busy with people. But this time I saw a woman with her pet pig strolling along. Only later to be sighted at Punta Mita beach where we went to for lunch.

After a few hours we decided to go back to the smaller market before you reach the Marina market. We all got in the car to go back to the other part when I heard a grinding noise as we drove up the sandy parking lot. I shouted out to Jamie to stop the car, something weird was going on – and it was. Thank goodness Jamie kept driving until we all got out at a spot just before approaching the small market. There was a HUGE spike stuck in between the tire and the rim. Oye! Thank goodness we had two men with us who knew how to change a tire, Jamie the structural engineer and John, retired military. Us girls walked up to the small market and left the guys to put on a spare tire – that was thankfully, in the trunk. It took the guys about an hour to get everything sorted and in the meantime, Shelley and me did some walking around.

x

This booth caught my eye, I loved the name – Not Made in China. Beautiful cotton dresses and jumpsuits, surprisingly more expensive than in my favorite cotton store – Luisa’s, where I ultimately bought a turquoise jumpsuit like the pink one hanging here.

After the market we got back in the car and headed out for our lunch reservation to Punta Mita beach, ten minutes away. Before heading to there, we stopped at the tiny town shops and beach bars to look around town.

Beach bar

x

Jesus Rays pouring in sunlight

x

Quaint garden restaurant

x

Hotel spa outdoor lobby

x

Outside lanai of a hotel spa room rental

x

Our beach/lunch at El Barracuda restaurant. I found it a bit pricey, but the Margs were delish! As we were sitting down and getting comfy for our three-hour beach lunch and swim, the pig from the La Cruz market seemed to be enjoying the festivities as its owner wound up at the same restaurant. What are the odds? How did I know? Because it wound up off leash and snorting around our table. No thanks, I didn’t sign up for the zoo. I had the waiter return frilly dressed pig to where it belonged.

x

Unusual art

x

Our Beach table with two umbrellas kept the blazing sun off us and the ocean breeze was divine

x

x

xxx

Hungry traveler friends studying the menu

x

A fun time was had by all!

It appears like everywhere else in the world, everything is changing. Inflation is getting us globally, condo prices are quickly escalating now in Puerto Vallarta. Many locals are finding any way they can to make a buck. Tips, tips, tips, everyone wants a piece of us. Even some of the grocery stores will have a young boy pop out of nowhere to get you a cab for your groceries – even when the cab is right there in front of our eyes. The young boys will grab at your bags to put them in the trunk (that’s what the cab driver usually does), so he can get a coin off tourists. And speaking of cabs, just beware of prices. Before you enter a cab, always ask for the ride fare before getting comfortable. Even though I know the rates I always ask, there are some cabs out there who think you are a newbie and will try and charge more. I’ve surely got in and out of a few cabs myself while there because of crazy fares quoted. Also, if you ever come to Puerto Vallarta on a cruiseship and wish to go downtown where all the action is, do yourself a favor and walk out of the port to catch a cab. It should only cost MAX $10 (130-150 Pesos), and I know for a fact cabs are charging tourists $25 US for rides. Greed is still everywhere.

When travel day to home came around, I was ready. Many of my friends had left a day or two before me. Shelley and Patty were staying til April 6th. I was apprehensive about the travel home – as always. I was worried about leaving on a Saturday, usually PV airport’s worst crazy busy day, and end of March break. But the ‘travel gods’ were relatively kind to me. My flight was to leave at 1130am, so I was in a cab to the airport at 8am. I’d heard nightmares from others nearly missing their planes because of long checkin lines and then security lines.

I arrived at the airport within ten minutes and the checkin wasn’t open yet. A lovely teacher with a group of young teens were the only ones ahead of me traveling to Toronto for a school trip. Because checkin wasn’t yet opened I was confused as to where to tell the porter to drop my heavy bags. The teacher told me which gate would open for us, so I parked myself and luggage down to wait half hour. The line changed three times! I could not move lanes with my two big bags and equally heavy carryon, plus a huge carry bag. The teacher asked her boys to help me move the three times the checkin line changed. And because there were more than a dozen of them, they let me go ahead of them.

By 845am, the lineups were growing huge, but I was on my way up to the gates and security. I whizzed through with barely anyone in line. I had to toss my water bottle and as always, went to buy another once I crossed security. What? Twelve Canadian dollars for a bottle of water??? I went to four different kiosks and as though they all planned their ripoff price together, there was nothing cheaper. I settled for a $7 SMALL bottle of diet Pepsi. The flight was ON TIME! Another rare occurrence for me. The plane flew home making excellent time.

One hilarious moment on the plane. I had my nose deep in a book when a stewardess came on speaker with a note of caution warning people emphatically that “This is not 1976,” she elaborated her statement by sharing that someone had been caught SMOKING in the bathroom. Fines will be in enforcement. In all my years of flying since smoking was banned on planes, I couldn’t believe in 2023 somebody actually smoked in the bathroom thinking they wouldn’t be caught.

I dreaded the mile walk from the plane to Canada Customs, but was again, pleasantly surprised to find we were the only plane that had landed, and zipped right through customs to baggage, where my bags were out in a jiff. The only problem was, I realized my superpowers had limits. My first bag came around the carousel and for the life of me, I could not lift that bag off. I looked around at the waiting crowd, hoping a gentleman would offer me a hand. No such thing left anymore. My bag was coming around again, a lovely athletic looking woman beside me, maybe a few years younger than me, bent down to help me pull off my bag. As I was thanking her, my other bag was coming. I asked her if she’d help me again, she told me not to worry, she’s got it. And she did! I sailed out the exit doors, hopped in a limo and stunningly, I was home in my apartment a mere 45 minutes after landing! The travel gods were very kind to me.

For your viewing pleasure, if you’d like to see a mini tour of Puerto Vallarta highlights, I found this fanastic 20 minute video of beautiful Puerto Vallarta to give you a toured sense of the town.

©DGKaye2023

Mexican Tales – More Stories, Observances, and Outings

Welcome back to more Mexican Tales from my winter vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. As I’ve shared in earlier posts, I have quite a few wonderful friends in PV, and I had numerous outings with all of them – some group outings and some with smaller crowds. I love that I introduced all the friends I made to each other and we became a group of friends.

I did a few shopping trips with the girls. Usually, other than Mexican artifacts, beach coverups, and silver jewellry stores, and tequila, of course, there isn’t much to shop for there. I was never one to do any real clothes shopping while there. But last year I discovered a wonderful island cotton store, and then Patty introduced me to another she’d found. All the clothing is made in Mexico, and there’s an array of styles and colors from pants to tops to dresses and more. I happen to love real cotton, and it seems harder and harder to find here at home, and more expensive. Not to mention, the price of island cotton if bought in the islands, can be quite expensive. But we found some great and reasonable stores.

One day, Lucie and I went downtown to shop at Maria of Guadalajara’s cotton store. We both bought the same dress (in different colors) and Lucie did some power shopping. Another time, Shelley and I went down there and decided to walk all the way downtown and grab some dinner. On our way we discovered another cotton store that caught both of our eyes. Luisa’s was a smaller store, but packed with beautiful things. And the best part was if she didn’t have your size, she’d have one for you in a few days. Needless to say, I went to Luisa’s a few times, and the other girls were probably there more than me, for other orders and a few alterations. Yes! No charge for the alterations, and seamstress on site while you wait. Let’s just say, my summer wardrobe is topped up.

x

After cotton shopping, Pat, Shelley, me and Lucie walked up to one of our favorite pitstops, El Patron, a great stop for before or after shopping. You have to walk up a lot of narrow stairs, but you can’t beat the view and the breeze in this section. And the Margs are always good there. It was about 2pm and we were surprisingly, the only ones there. It’s always busy later, especially at sunset.

The first weekend I arrived, it was the last NFL playoff game of the season before the Superbowl. Brenda and Saul had a nice big 2 bedroom condo on the ground floor with a comfy patio and a small backyard. Everyone’s internet and cable seemed different. Some people could only get the game in Spanish. Some like me didn’t have any cable, but with my VPN I could watch most anything on my laptop. Saul had the game on his huge TV but only in Spanish. I brought my laptop and we used the sound from my computer. It worked. Oh, and we also had many drinks. I think that was when I took a break from Margs to Bloody Caesars. Shelley and John came over and we had a ton of fun. We of course, repeated the even two weeks later for Superbowl.

Me with Brenda and Shelley

The clan came out for a sun break. It didn’t last long because it was hottt!!! But we were always laughing.

Valentine’s Day came while my girlfriend Alyson was down visiting me. We spent a lot of time gabbing with Brenda. The three of us decided to go downtown the day before Valentine’s Day, before it was over-crowded and over-priced, and make that ‘Galentine’s Day’. We laughed a lot. As usual, we began at a bar and we walked much further downtown and had dinner in a little charming Mexican place Brenda had suggested. The place was tiny, on the second floor of crickety stairs; the drinks were cheap and the balcony view was fun. After, we walked back to the top of the boardwalk and grabbed a cab back. We’d left around 3pm and it was 945pm when simultaneously, the taxi was pulling into our complex, and Saul texted me asking if we’re okay because he’s worried about us not being home yet. “Brenda isn’t used to staying out that late,” Saul texted me. I showed Bren the text and we burst out laughing. Of course Brenda asked him if she had a curfew. The jokes about that one went on for awhile. Saul is a sweetie and a good sport.

x

Brenda, Alyson and me at first bar pitstop, La Terraza di Roma

x

Brenda gave me a plastic flower on Valentines Day. There was a little cub below the flower.

One late afternoon, Lucie and I headed downtown to Luisa’s to pick up some things we’d asked her to order for us. Then we walked downtown to one of my favorite restaurants, La Dolce Vita down in the Romantic Zone. We finished our delicious drinks and meals after getting there early enough to get a good table outside without a reservation. It was only after 7pm and still early, so we crossed the street to go for a drink or two at the Margarita Grill – a popular outdoor bar downtown. We were surprised it wasn’t crazy packed, but not surprised being near end of March and many tourists had left. We decided to sit at the bar instead of a table. We ordered the ‘small’ chalice sized Marg and Daquiri. We had the sweetest young bartender who graciously offered to take a selfie of the three of us (and my shopping bag from Luisa’s). The house band is really good there, especially when they play oldies hits of some of the best bands.

x

We laughed there for hours. We met some interesting people as the bar filled up. We talked to a few people, drank, and sang to the band. It was getting loud in there – even though the place is open air. A new young French/Canadian couple sat down beside Lucie. The band played ‘Take on Me’ by Aha. Lucie and I were singing along, pretty loud, when the guy beside her got up and switched seats with his wife. Luce and I burst out laughing. She asked the guy if her singing chased him away and he said his wife was singing too in his other ear so he thought it best if she sat beside us. LOL.

x

The Sunday before I returned home, Shelley and I spent the day and most of the evening together. She came over to my pool then we got changed and went back downtown. We thought we may pop our heads into the cotton store again then go for dinner. When we got downtown it wasn’t so busy, especially for a Mexican long weekend. We also noticed none of our favorite stores were open. That was fine. We’d already done enough damage, lol. So we walked down to the Dolce Vita and sat in the bar with the open patio doors and had a few drinks. Had we known how crazy downtown traffic got and that the restaurant we specifically wanted to eat dinner at, was also closed, we wouldn’t have gone that day. We decided to keep walking down the main beach street and ended up where Brenda, me and Alyson ate on Galentine’s Day. We had another drink and Mexican food. After we finished we walked up the mid of the malecon to grab a cab, when we saw so much traffic and cabs weren’t stopping – or moving. This I’d never experienced. Sunday night around 730pm. The main drag that runs parallel in front of the malecon/boardwalk and ocean is a one way south street. You’d have to go over a block to catch the northbound street. I told Shel we’ll walk over to the next one since we’re going north anyway. It was gridlock! WTH? We couldn’t figure out why the streets were jammed, blocked off, and a parade coming down could be heard. It was exceedingly hot that particular day, and still at 730pm. Shelley was sweating up a storm. I told her we’ll take our time but we had to just keep walking till we got out of the Malecon zones. Along the way I must have approached seven cabs, stuck in gridlock, not even taking passengers. We kept walking, and about half hour later of walking north, we FINALLY got a cab when we were literally a twenty minute more walk to home if we’d kept walking. That journey that’s usually a ten minute cab ride took us over two hours to get back. It was a Sunday night on President’s Day long weekend. Who knew?

x

I’d be remiss if I left out my venture back to my wonderful Mexican denist duo, mom and daughter Lourdes and Lourdes Flores. For those who didn’t read last year’s adventure, my friends Jerry and Wendy (who weren’t in PV this vacation) recommended their dentist to me. I went for a cleaning last year and paid $40 Canadian dollars for the best cleaning I ever had, instead of the $280 I pay at home. I’d also had a nightguard made for $90 CAD dollars, which was way better than the $500 one I have from my dentist at home. And I’d made instant friends with mamma and daughter. Mamma is the dentist and daughter is the surgeon.

This year I went back for another great cleaning, plus I wanted advice about my bite that seemed to shift. We had a fun half hour visit with the three of us before I even sat in the chair. Daughter said she wanted xray to see what was going on below the gumline. These were special xrays that weren’t done in her office. She gave me a slip of paper to take over to the xray building, which was a five minute walk down the street. I was taken within five minutes of arriving and taken in a room with high-tech gadgetry. Five minutes after I finished, they handed me a large manilla envelope with the xray film to take home to my dentist, and told me they’d send one to my dentist duo. The cost? Fifteen little Canadian dollars (equivalent to pesos). I also ordered another new nightguard for my bottom teeth while I was there. When I went back to pick it up three days later, daughter looked at the xrays and reminded me how important it is I wear it at night and gave me a prescription for some fancy toothpaste and mouthwash, made in Spain, to use for my gums. Both coming in at the hefty price of $25 CAD for a tube of toothpaste and $30 for a small bottle of mouthwash. When I saw the prices I decided not to stock up. I bought one of each. Once again I didn’t get to go for a drink with those women because they were taking vacays soon after – mamma was going home to visit back to her second home in Vancouver, Canada, and daughter to her other home in Guadalajara.

dentist

x

The Marina area is a five minute cab ride north of where I stayed. Every Thursday night there is a big market there set up along the Marina, about a mile long. Restaurants and bars are very busy by 7pm those nights, and the sidewalks are crowded. For me, once a vacation is enough to visit that market. I went with Patty and Jamie, who invited a few more of their friends, and Shelley, John and Brenda. We ate early to avoid the big crowds, at Route 66, usually a good burger and Marg place, but it was a bad night in the kitchen as all orders were mixed up. The Marina has some great restaurants, but much quieter when not on a Thursday Market night. I went back another night with Alyson, Brenda and Saul and their daughter and son-in-law who’d come to visit for a week. We went to Bacha’s, Mexican Seafood. As usual we had lots of laughs and I snapped a very short video there so I can give you a glimpse of part of the Marina, the noisy restaurant, and the musicians who travel around to your tables.

Shelley, John, Brenda, me, the others at another table at Route 66

x

Here’s a few seconds of video of Bacha’s at the Marina with Alyson, Brenda, and her family.

I hope you enjoyed snippets of my Mexican tales and outings. Next episode I’ll share my day at La Cruz Sunday Market and Punta Mita in part 2 after last year’s visit there with the same crew, Jamie, Patty, Shelley, John, and this year Lucie joined us.

©DGKaye2023

More #Mexican Tales – More Puerto Vallarta – Fun and Foibles

Welcome back to my blog. I’m slowly making my way back into blogland and catching up as I go along. Part of the winter escape was intention to do less with digital. It was so nice to be away in the warmth with friends, sunshine and Margaritas, and mostly, off the computer. Admittedly, most outings involved a Margarita, except when I got on a Bloody Caesar kick because I found places were making the Margs too sweet with fake Marg ingredients in a pre-mix instead of just lime juice, and then my friends Lucie and Liz, both told me to ask for a ‘skinny’ Margarita – apparently that meant the non sugary stuff. During the day while out at the pool I drank mineral water. Okay, maybe there were a few Margarita’s involved at the pool too- some days. My friend Liz enjoyed hers at the pool, and some days I joined her.

x

Me and Liz assuming our chair positions. She dislikes wearing hats but when the sun got too much, she wore her shorts on her head. And yes, you will most certainly see my husband’s Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Towel on my chair.

x

Me and Lucie

x

Shenanigans

One day, Lucie was in the pool and came out and said there was something possibly gross in the water and she wanted to find something to swoop it up with. Patty Girl was in the pool with her. Lucy came out of the water and grabbed a plastic cup, got back in, and plugged her nose and went under water. In that moment, Patty was looking down over her. I was laughing in hysteria and grabbed my phone to snap a photo of my ‘shit inspector’ friends. We were cracking up around the pool, watching. Turns out, it was a short piece of wood that somehow found its way into the pool. Thankfully, not the gross thing we thought it was.

x

x

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of my beach seller friend and a.k.a. business associate – Juan Valdez. You gotta love the name. As soon as he introduces himself emphatically as Juan Valdez, you immediately get that visual of the TV commercial ad of Juan Valdez coffee beans, lol. Juan was a great hustler on the beach. Because I typically enjoyed a lounge chair at the end of the pool where I had a good lookout post and no umbrella obstructions, I met Juan. Juan came by daily, and once I bought a coverup (and ultimately, 5) from him, I stayed loyal to him and helped him sell a dozen more to women at the pool who’d ask me where I got my coverup and how much. The deal was, a fair price, same as I paid to save everyone the haggling. He thanked me for getting him more business then dangled a carrot and said if I get him ten customers, he’ll give me a free coverup. Of course I got him over a dozen. He’d pop by ‘my office’, as my friends referred to where I sat on the deck.

In this photo is one of Juan’s best sellers, as I sold six more for him after buying. When our gang went up to La Cruz market, Lucie, me, Shelley, and Patty, we wore our same dresses in different colors. We were very popular and got stopped a lot that day by other women at the market. Also, it was easier to find each other. These are the dresses. And more about La Cruz in the next edition. One size fits all!

x

x

There was some residual hurricane and earth quake damage done in PV. The last hurricane caused the river next to my condo, which used to run directly into the ocean, to hang a left and run across our part of the beach. Plus, the tides had made the shore a ten foot drop from the washed up beach. It was gravelly to walk on. I only attempted that once. Once when I thought I had a shortcut that turned out not to be. My friend Shelley was staying in the complex next door this year. From the pool, without the new river in the middle blocking the exit gate, it would be a three minute walk on the beach over to Shelley’s place. But walking there on pavement involved walking down out the gates to the street, down two blocks (across the river), and the same quarter-mile walk back down to Shelley’s entrance. This is a fifteen- minute walk. Shelley invited me and Brenda to come to her pool to join some other friends there. I told her we’d try to walk a bit further down to the far beach exit of our complex, and come by beach way. Wrong! Brenda and I walked long way around then bypassed the river, by walking a few feet on the shore, then back up the sand over to Shelley’s pool. By the time we walked out the far gate and around and back up the hilly beach in 90 degree heat in gravelly sand, we were huffin’ and puffin’ and laughing and sweating, and took a good twenty minutes. Lol, we learned to not take that route again.

This was Shelley and John’s beautiful balcony where Brenda and my trek finally brought us. From left, John (Shelley’s hub), Brenda, Shelley, Patty Girl and Jamie

x

The earthquake that hit Mexico City last fall, tremored all the way to the coast, sending tremors right through Puerto Vallarta. It appears after meeting a few owners, I found out that the buildings shook and misaligned the heavy, wooden front doors to many of the condos. Three owner couples I met and befriended, told me they had to put new locks on their doors because of the shift.

One day I was trying to get in my front door after the pool. The door would not unlock. The batteries were flashing, rendering the combination lock pad useless, and the key wouldn’t turn. Unreal. It was boiling hot and me and my friend Alyson had an hour to get ready to go out with friends. No dice. I texted my manager/agent and he sent a locksmith. He put a new plate on the doorframe and dug out the hole where the deadbolt goes in a bit more. He told me to get new batteries – again, which shouild have been looked after before I got there. Another time it happened again. I tried for an hour to open the door, then I called for the locksmith. Of course, it opened when he came, as it jams randomly, particularly when it’s extra humid out. The manager told me that the owner said, next locksmith call, I have to pay because there’s nothing wrong with the door. I told him how many door stories I’d heard from owners already that had same troubles, but it was fruitless, then told him I’ll be sure to take a course in ‘door opening 101’ when I get home. Then, for the last few weeks, I’d got locked ‘in’ every time I was going out. I’d have to turn the lock and wait about 10 times till I could get out. My friends couldn’t believe it when they’d come over and ‘try’ to leave, lol. Nope, there was nothing wrong with the door. The same door I had trouble with the year before and nothing changed or was looked after. The same door that STILL didn’t have a handle on the inside of the door because my friend John had graciously moved it to the outside of the door, LAST YEAR, when I couldn’t close it from the outside.

As you can see, there is no indoor handle. Thanks to John for fenagling the pull tab from a water bottle to attach to the door latch so I didn’t have to continue to rip my finger to open the door.

Then there was the flood from last year that came back. Last year, one day, I came back from a massage to find my front hall ceiling leaking. I’d called my agent. An hour later, maintenance came up and went back and forth between my place and the penthouse with the swimming pool above. I don’t know what exactly was done, but that’s all I heard of it. This year, when the manager came over, he told me that leak was repaired last year and they went through the linen closet to fix a pipe. He opened the door and there were no shelves or towels, which is when he told me they fixed the leak, and nothing about the lack of bathroom towels.

One day, this visit, I heard that old familiar water leak sound. Sure enough, the exact same spot it leaked from last year, was the same spot again. I was almost ready to go to the pool when I decided that since I don’t know how to open a door, I may not know how to detect leaks. I put a mop bucket under the spot and went out. Every few days it would leak for a bit. I left a beach towel on the front floor with a bucket on top and went on with my day. Finally, I felt a bit guilty, so the next time it leaked, I texted the agent to ask him to let maintenance know. I said it was the same leak spot as last year. That was a week before I left. Still never heard a word about it. He didn’t bother responding, or sending maintenance. I cleaned up before I left, and left the bucket under the leaky spot. Enjoy!

Shelley’s condo complex is right in front of what has become dubbed, ‘the cartel club’. It’s no secret that the cartel have investments in many clubs and properties, which helps when it comes to wanting to keep tourism safe there as they have legitimate places to laundry money through that they’d like to keep up and running. But a few years ago, a piece of land from Shelley’s rented condo land was sold to build this island nightclub that is only opened Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the hellacious, loud, techno music blares from 2 to 9pm. It echoes across the beach, and the higher you’re up on floors, the louder it is if you leave your balcony doors open. Being on the 25th floor, it blared right in if I opened my doors, and could still hear it with it closed. And nobody can do anything about the noise. Shelley and John make it a point to go out and eat on those days. But, despite the noise, people want to stay in the central location on the beach. And the craziness that goes on trying to find a next year rental while on current trip with some of the ripoff prices and bad management, has made finding a place a daunting task. Some managers are pulling exorbitant numbers out of the air, and instead of wanting to rent for a few months, putting them on AirBnB and making more by renting for the week, and with fees, becoming very expensive. And sadly, many owners of these condos who hire managers to look after them because they don’t live in PV, trust them blind, often not even knowing how much more they are charging for rentals without the owners even knowing. I’ve heard plenty of stories.

x

The ‘cartel club’

x

Some other interesting snapshots:

There is literally a pharmacy on every corner. All will welcome you with big signs ahead and sandwich boards outside, letting you know the smorgasbord of drugs available WITHOUT a prescription. And if you don’t notice, no worries, pharmacist will be only too happy to offer you a variety features.

x

Found this guy lounging in the swampy river under a bridge on way out to dinner one night.

x

Lol, had to take a picture of this sign over one of the Marina bars.

x

This one took the prize. I was cracking up one day walking downtown with John and Shelley. The sign on the door listed some things they carry. We all wanted to know what on earth ‘nun farts’ were. LOLOL

x

I had my share of condo errors this trip and it really showed me that I wouldn’t want to rent that same place again. Starting over and looking for a new ‘honest’ manager is a tedious journey. I’m not sure what I want to do yet next year, and I’m okay with that. I feel it may be time to try some new horizons.

Stay tuned for some shopping and market outings next week!

A Few more Beautiful Sunsets:

x

x

x

x

©DGKaye2023

D.G. Kaye Returns from Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico

I’m back! I’m going to be sharing some info, pictures, highlights and observances from my winter escape away to Puerto Vallarta. As per my usual, I’ll begin with ‘travel day’ – never one of my favorites.

What a trip! I left home in a blizzard and minus 30F with zero sleep because my plane was to leave at 6:30 am, which meant I had to leave home at 3am to allow for airport madness. It turns out that I was lucky to have that early flight because it was the early flights that were getting out of Dodge that day as I noticed most other flights on the board all listed as cancelled. It took us 45 minutes to de-ice the plane, and gratefully, I was off to the sunshine and warmth, leaving behind what has been consequently named ‘the worst winter in eighty years’.

x

I took this photo from inside the plane as they were de-icing the plane.

x

I’d learned from my previous year’s flight, to never fly in to Puerto Vallarta on a Saturday – the airport is just too busy in high season. I left on a Thursday, and after once again having to disembark on the tarmac to pick up bags and proceed through the antiquated customs system, I was asked to open a suitcase there for the first time ever. Most likely that was because the universe must have heard me bragging to a fellow passenger how I’d never caught ‘the red light’. Yes, Mexican customs agents have booths set up before where we exit to the outside. There is what looks like a stoplight at each booth that we must press the button – if the light is green, keeping walking, if it’s red, you must open up whatever bags they want to search. My bags were HEAVY, and one was soaking wet when it came off the carousel, undoubtedly, left out on the tarmac at Toronto airport during the blizzard until it was loaded on. With no sleep for almost 36 hours and the mile walk at Toronto airport to the gate, and no strength left to carry another bag, the agent asked me to lift my suitcase onto the three foot high table. I told him that if he wanted to see what’s in there, he’d have to lift it himself. And he did. The usual time suck and I was out in a cab to my rented condo.

Ten minutes later I arrived at security gates of the condo in the blazing hot sun and the cab driver proceeded up the quarter mile drive up to my tower and helped me put my bags on the luggage cart I’d borrowed from the lobby. I was to meet my condo manager upstairs, but when I finally finagled that heavy luggage cart in and out of the elevator and down the winding hall to the condo, nobody was there. The door was locked and my manager was a no-show. As I sweated in my travel clothes from the sun’s rays beaming directly on me from an open hallway window, my mind was rolling with how I was to get in, and how was I to try and phone him while my mobile was turned onto airplane mode and I hadn’t yet got my Mexican Sim card, not wanting to turn on my phone to track a missing manager and cost me $20 just to make that call from my Canadian Sim card. Then an idea sparked.

I remembered that the previous year, the manager had Whatsapped me the wifi password for the condo unit. I inched right up to the door, scrolled through his old messages, and found the password. I hitched onto the condo’s wifi from outside the door and messaged him. His reply told me that he was sorry he couldn’t be there but he left the key at the quarter mile away security gate and advised me to go get it. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I told him I was not leaving my luggage, nor was I walking that far pushing a luggage cart, and asked him to give me the digital combination to open the door. He told me the owner had changed the code, and I told him he’d better call the owner and GET IT! And so he did, and ten minutes later texted it to me. I was finally in.

Not ten more minutes had passed when my friend Shelley, who was already there for two weeks with hubby John, texted me to tell me she’s on her way over so she can walk with me to the grocery store and get me a Sim card. I opened my luggage, changed into shorts and a Tshirt, left it all and headed out for a hot walk to the supermarket. By the time I got back, finished unpacking, and had something to eat, it was evening and I still hadn’t slept. All I wanted was a hot shower and bed. I got in the shower and turned the dial to hot water, only to discover – there wasn’t any. I knew it! Once again my manager was ill-prepared and didn’t instruct maintenance to turn on the hot water tank. I literally thought I was going to freeze to death, but I needed a shower and bed, the hot water tank turn on was going to wait till the morning.

x

This is a picture of me and Shelley, a.k.a. Shelster, on one of our later shopping expeditions with a Margarita pitstop.

x

The next morning, I had hot water. Although I noticed the condo was missing face towels, face cloths and kitchen towels. The safe had the same corroded batteries that were there last year, so I once again replaced them with my own I’d brought from home, knowing what to expect. The wicker chairs on the balcony were in bad shape. some broken right through the seats, and the living room furniture looked like it was long overdue for a cleaning, so as I did last year, I covered one of the couches with a clean sheet so I had a place to park myself and my laptop without sitting on the unknown. I made a note to buy some towels on a Walmart walk with my friends Brenda and Saul, and remember to take the towels back home with me when it was time to leave.

x

My friends, wild woman Brenda And her husband Saul

x

I noticed how much the prices had gone up in the stores and restaurants. Quaint little PV is fast becoming a big Americanized tourist town. Condos are going up quick, and I know Covid has put a hit on costs globally, but I also know that Mexican local cost of living could never afford such prices. The tourist areas were catching up with prices back home. Alcoholic beverages used to cost $3-$4 Canadian pre-Covid that are now $10. A restaurant meal for $15 now with a tip was costing $30. Grocery prices have doubled too, and not to mention, our already crappy Canadian dollar was down from 16 to 13 Pesos to the Canadian dollar – costing more, and getting less at the bank machine. But still, it was cheaper for me to live there for two months than what I spend at home to live.

Most days were spent at the pool, except for a few shopping and Margarita trips downtown a few times for the day with my galpals, and another group trip north to La Cruz Sunday market and Punta Mita beach for lunch (which I’ll share later). My good friends, Shelley and John were staying next complex over, and Brenda and Saul were staying in my building. I’d get my exercise many days walking to groceries, Walmart, Costco, and/or the fish market where I got some delicious Sea Bass for about $3 a fillet, now that was a good deal. I don’t eat shrimp, but you could get a kilo, fresh, and hand cleaned while you wait for $14 Canadian dollars! There seemed to be a mysterious week or two where no store had any gluten-free bread – or coffee creamer.

x

I took this short video clip of the Fish Market

x

Fresh Catch of the Day – Mahi Mahi

x

x

I saw a lot of familiar faces at the pool and spent the afternoons in the water gabbing to them all, as well as made a few new friends. My friends Patty and Jamie were there too, although Pat came a few weeks late because of a host of health issues. It didn’t help that a week after finally arriving, she got Shingles. Oye! Poor Pat. She had to stay in, out of the sun for two weeks, and even when the blisters healed, she was, and still is suffering lingering nerve damage on her back. I also made some new good friends to add to my roster, Lucie, Liz and Grant, and the last week, I met Liz’s sister, Chris. And my girlfriend from home here, Alyson, also came down and stayed with me for ten days – more girl time!

x

Me and Alyson, Al, as I always call her, out on the town

x

Pat a.k.a Patty Girl, and Jamie out at a fancy restaurant up in the hills

x

Me and Lucie at Margarita Grill Bar (More about that to come)

x

Me and Liz and my water float

x

Grant and Liz – my new friends and chair savers

x

x

x

Liz’s sister Chris took this selfie of us three. Clearly, she has been fired from selfie photography. LOL.

x

Now that I have introduced you to some of my friends, you’ll be able to put the names to faces in my stories.

I also had good intentions to read a lot of books while away, but February was a write-off for that activity because the socializing took precedence. But I managed to get through ten books in March, despite my busy schedule, and a few of which were added into my reading roster when a friend offered me two books she finished at the beach, which sparked my fancy. I’ll be posting my reviews for those books on Goodreads and Amazon as I finish editing my reviews from rough written notes, and I’ll be sharing each book on my Sunday Book Reviews here, each week. A few great reads to mention were books by: Lauren Scott – More Than Coffee, The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle, and Frank Prem’s latest book (not sure if it’s out yet), a powerful interpretation of the war in Ukraine, From Volyn To Kherson.

For now, I’ll share a few more pictures below of some of my favorite scenic captures – from my balcony. I’ll be sharing more pictures, outings, happenings and mishaps here, weekly. Stay tuned!

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

xx

x

©DGKaye2023

I’m Back! Puerto Vallarta – The Trip

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

~ ~ ~

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.

The view from my living room/balcony with a cruise ship coming in

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.

Jackie, me, Kathy
Fred and Paul

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.

My Valentine’s flowers

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.

On the malecon boardwalk, margariting with a galpal

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:

Sunset from my balcony
Sunset taken down along the boardwalk
Stellar sky at sunset from my balcony
Another beautiful sunset
Sunrise capture from my bedroom balcony – mountain view

Stay tuned for next week’s continuation of friends and fun!

©DGKaye2022

Time for an Update – U.K. Plans and Mexico

Like many things, our intentions don’t always come to fruition.

 

I know for months now I’ve been talking about my plans to go the U.K. as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my bestie to get here for a visit and my plans to fly back to the U.K. with her after. But sometimes plans change, and in my case, I’ve rearranged my plans and wanted to update you here, especially since I’ve chatted about my plans with several of my British and European friends in anticipation of meeting up with some of you.

 

So why the change of heart?

 

After losing my husband in April then moving in June, exhausted both mentally and physically, and full of grief, the only thing I wanted to do was to jump on a plane and get the hell out of Dodge. But Covid restrictions hampered those plans. Our airports didn’t open up to foreign travelers until early fall, and that kept my friend from getting here until late October.  She will be leaving back for the U.K. without me, later this week. Besides the fact that U.K. is experiencing higher Covid numbers again, and that my intentions of staying in U.K/Europe for a good month or two would have had to have been cut shorter because it’s so late in the year already, the upcoming holidays, and my having to prepare for my winter vacation in Mexico beginning late January, my husband’s gravestone is not yet erected and I’ve been anxiously awaiting that to happen so I can plan a celebration of life gathering for him with our friends because he was ripped off of a proper large funeral gathering at the time of his passing.

 

I’m feeling very unsettled about the headstone going up without my being around to acknowledge it and my plans for a small gathering to honor my husband’s life once the stone goes up. It seems that even headstones are in delay due to the Covid. So with all those factors rolled into one, I decided it’s best for me not to take off right now. I can’t even believe that in two months I’ll be on my way back to Puerto Vallarta!

 

I’m already dreading the holidays here and wishing away December. But I’m very much looking forward to a winter escape to a familiar place where I can somehow still feel like my husband’s spirit will be with me. As a newly minted widow, the thought of going anywhere else this winter gave me anxiety with first time being alone again traveling after a quarter century of traveling as a couple. But I decided to go back to PV and stay at the same location as we always did because we have many Canadian snowbird friends who stay at the same location annually, and at this time in my life I’m grateful for the familiarity I will be in and I won’t be alone there. I’ll have friends to gab with at the pool and to join up with for outings. I’ll also be having a few of my friends from home come down for a stay, so I should be quite comfortable back in PV in the land of wonderful people, sunshine, the ocean and beautiful sunsets. And I will have new plans come next spring for visiting both the U.K. and Europe. So just know my friends, I will get there. And hopefully by then, the Covid will be less of a worry, and I’ll be traveling in a warmer season.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

Mexican Tales – Leaving Puerto Vallarta – Wheelchair Madness

Anxious to get home, virus-free, I’d taken the best precautions I could with what I had. The Coronavirus wasn’t ‘a thing’ really mentioned or dwelled upon yet in Puerto Vallarta on that 12th day of March when we said goodbye to our winter friends. But I’d been keeping up with world news and knew it was going to be something real big, real soon.

I had the hand-sanitizer and disinfectant wipes I’d brought down with us, at the ready in my purse. I slipped 2 masks in my pocket for us and we were leaving, heading down to the lobby with the luggage cart Hub had brought up from the lobby to load our many bags onto. No gloves, but fully protected by the plastic bags I put on my hands to navigate that cart to the elevator and out to the cab to protect from invisible germs on my hands. I was leaving beautiful Puerto Vallarta where the sun shone, the birds sang and the ocean beckoned, all appeared as though all was right in the world. We were off to the airport, which gratefully, had yet to get busy as we departed days before the spring break and Easter crowd were to invade, and the Coronavirus had yet to become ‘a thing’ yet in Mexico, so all was calm at the airport crazy.

Grateful as always in that airport for the great check-in service and the immediate wheelchair assistance to help push my husband across what seemed well over a mile to our Toronto departure gate, a bonus was having his lap to pile more bags onto. We went on our way, walking, walking, and as usual, a long security check line that I smiled inwardly as we bypassed the crowds into the ‘special services’ lane. Bonus!

After putting ourselves and our belongings back together off the security belt, we continued on to the journey to our gate. Then we stopped at the elevator. I questioned the young man pushing the wheelchair in my broken Spanish, ‘why are we going down’, and before he could answer in broken English, I knew. Once again, we were taking the bus from the street level to the tarmac. Oye!

We had over an hour to wait for the bus boarding and our section with passengers to both Toronto and a flight to Montreal was getting busy. I’d remembered the year prior when the wheelchair assistant was assigned to someone, they were to come back before boarding to help on the bus/plane. But I never saw him again, yet, I saw other helpers standing by the passengers waiting to assist them. So off I went.

I  dashed over to the boarding gate desk to ask for an assistant, but that never came to fruition. There was no way I could carry everything and assist my hub, so off I went again to ask an assistant helping another passenger to please radio for someone to help us. Finally, someone showed.

We finally made it off the bus and I grabbed what I could while the assistant grabbed another of our bags and the arm of my husband and walked him up the airplane stairs. I was grateful. We couldn’t snag a first class seat on the return flight, but I did manage a comfort row, which offered better legroom and food included, plus 2 bags each at no extra cost. I made friends with the lady, Janice, in the middle seat between Hub’s window and my aisle seats, and it seems we blabbed almost all the way home. Once we landed, my new friend Janice was kind enough to grab our bags out of the above bins, as it seems I’m iust a tad to short to reach them, happy to have the good samaritan to the rescue. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her and she was gone, she exited the plane and I never saw her at baggage pick-up again. Definitely an earth angel who kept me company and helped out then slithered away like those kind of people we meet for reasons and seasons.

As Hub and I exited the plane there were no wheelchairs on the ramp. What? Oye! I loaded up the bags onto my tired shoulders and pulled what else I could, gave one lighter bag to hub, and dashed ahead as Hub followed and caught up to me at the end of the ramp where there were several folded wheelchairs. I picked one out. waited for hub to amble up on his cane then sat him in it, re-piled the bags on him, and as I began to push us out of the congested area, I asked a rep where wheelchair assistance was. I was told to wait with the rest of the (many) wheelchair passengers in a designated area and staff would help with chairs in about half hour. Lol, you know that wasn’t happening. I don’t do waiting well.

I have to add that pushing someone in a wheelchair with almost 100 extra pounds of baggage on me and hub’s lap, and a cane that somehow kept getting stuck in our path, is no piece of cake. And I will admit, you didn’t want to be in my way as I blazed my way through a crowd and alas, spotted ‘the’ elevator that led down to the next floor where customs was located – only about another mile or so once off the elevator.  I pushed the button, loaded us in and landed on the lower floor. The door opened with a thud to a barricade.

The door opened but there was no place to exit because it was blocked by approximately 30-40 wheelchairs! They weren’t in any organized order, just left in one huge pile in a disarray blocking the elevator door. What could I do? There was no way I could even get off to sort out that mess. No way was I going back up and waiting. I told hub to hang on tight and keep his feet tucked in as tightly as possible then proceeded to bulldoze our way through the wheelchair madness. It was like a demolition derby but a few moments later we were victorious and we were out! We laughed together as my husband kept saying I was a madwoman and he was scared of my ambition and of being on the frontline of my bulldozing. We continued to laugh.

I pushed and pushed for what felt like miles on my worn out bones and cursed my airport as usual, for having the longesttttt walks from any gate. About 20 minutes later we arrived at customs. The room was crowded and despite our advantage of going through special services and avoiding the long lines, we still had to wait first to put our passports through a kiosk security machine before approaching customs agent. Bad instructions, not a soul to help anyone, and after 10 minutes of fiddling and retrying numerous times, I finally got our clearance slip out of the machine we were to hand to the customs agent.

I was observant of the airport staff, keeping an eye around to see what my airport was doing with the emerging Covid19 problem, which had yet to be declared a pandemic for another day or so after our return. I noticed quite a few airport employees wearing masks, others not. I may have bypassed a few signs warning to wash hands and sanitize, but nothing much. The customs agent  had on no mask. He asked us where we’ve been and for how long. I handed him the form spit out from the kiosk machine that quite frankly, asked the same questions. No further questions, not even asked if we had been ill while away or anything to declare. Wow! And we were on our way to baggage pick-up.

The airport was exceptionally busy. I found a porter to come fetch our bags off the belt and take us to a limo. The luggage from our flight had already come down the belt and was placed in a section on the floor as flights were coming in fast and furious and the next flight’s luggage was already on the belt. The porter pushed our bags and I pushed Hubby out through the gates of freedom once we handed our customs slip out at the exit doors, and gratefully, we weren’t selected to go through inspection.

The cool wind was welcomed once we arrived outside and entered the limo. It was almost the middle of March, usually still in the depths of winter here, but there was no snow to be found and much warmer than the morning we left for Mexico. We’d come home to an early spring.

Since that travel day home, little did I know I came home to a new world in the making. Despite at that point there were no new rules made, no pandemic declared til 2 days after our return when our country clamped down just before the spring break weekend, we took it upon ourselves to isolate for 14 days. I did get sick on Day 5 with many symptoms of the Covid – high fever, dizzy, painful bones, freezing cold. Ironically, my fever broke the very same night of that one sick day. I woke to a sweat-soaked bed and have felt fine ever since. Gratefully, Hubby didn’t get whatever I had, but I’d kept my distance from him as much as possible. I slept with a mask on too and I’m armed and dangerous with gloves, Lysol wipes and anything I could dig out of the storage cupboard.

My Mexican vacation, only a few short weeks ago, feels like it was so long ago now. I’ve been in touch with my real estate friend who emailed me the other day to inform me that the price has already dropped on the new construction condo we’d been eyeing. The Peso is falling. While I was there it was hovering around the usual value – 1 Canadian dollar = usually at 14.5 – 15 Pesos. Today’s value was almost at 17.5 Pesos to the Canadian dollar. Like I told my real estate friend, there’s no way I’m buying anything until the fallout of this global disaster has found a place to land and our own falling dollar makes a comeback.

I have no idea what will be next year. I anticipate a lot of despair, losses, real estate falling, terrible unemployment and devastation because of the isolations and loss of jobs and businesses. Undoubtedly, this anticipation isn’t mine alone, and the reason I haven’t heard a peep since my return from the woman whom I’m supposed to be renting her unit next winter. I’m sure all those that rely on renters for their properties are very concerned what will be next year for tourism.

As it stands now, one of our Canadian friends who winters at the complex with us has sent me a photo a full-time resident friend of his has sent him of the now desolate pool and beach where we all had just spent a lovely and lively time together. Truly a very sad sight, especially at Easter when this beach should be covered with wall to wall people celebrating 24/7 for a week.

 

pool
Hubby on a floatie in the pool

 

Now desolate beach and pool
Now desolate beach and pool

I feel as though next winter is a lifetime away from us now. Who knows where we will be in the world. Nothing is certain right now for anyone. The one thing I do know – I won’t be traveling anywhere again until there is a vaccine for this virus now controlling our lives.

 

happy hour

 

Stay safe!

 

©DGKaye2020

 

 

 

Mexican Tales – Part 3 – Observations and Commercialism

I’ve been spending part of the winter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the past few years now. It’s a beautiful port town with friendly natives and Mexican charm, gorgeous weather, and good value for our Canadian dollar. But I’ve also noticed commercialism making its way into the way of life there.

 

Like everywhere else in the world, prices have gone up in PV across the board – food, taxis and housing. As many tourist destinations hike prices I noticed that PV seems to be going in that direction. Typically, the average working Mexican could not afford to eat or shop in the tourist zones as their earnings are on par with their cost of living. The tourist areas have been growing in price. Similar to how Cancun has become so Americanized in recent years that some say it’s lost its Mexican charm, but not quite there yet. I hope it doesn’t lose its Mexican charm. But it’s definitely the North American expats – both Canadian and American that are surely driving up the prices with all the growth PV has been enduring, particularly in buying up real estate there.

Bartering on the beach or market has become more of an educated procedure rather than a fun past time. It used to be sellers would start a bit higher on pricing, knowing they had to leave room for haggling, which is something they expect. But there seems to be a new theme now in educated guessing if you’re a savvy bargainer – which I am. Seems to be the trend for these items when you ask the price they will charge double the price they’ll ultimately accept, plus maybe a few hundred Pesos on top for good measure. Since I love to go to markets and look at price tags, I have a good idea of how much I should be paying for something. For example, I’d bought a beautiful silver elephant pendant encrusted with colored rhinestones inlaid, at a pop-up market for something like $25 Canadian dollars. The asking was equivalent to $35. A week later I saw the same pendants at another market asking for $80 equivalent. I said thanks and walked away, and the seller was snarly when I told him I already had one for way less money. I couldn’t help but notice how the market sellers  have raised prices on everything, leaving me feeling as though something in the art of markets has been lost. Mexican prices are fast becoming North American prices, taking away part of the allure of market shopping. But it’s fun to visit the various markets just to see some of the wonderful artists and their creations, regardless if I’m purchasing or not.

I realize that everyone has to make a living, but hiking the prices more than double on items you can find cheaper elsewhere is a tad greedy. I find the fair pricing system I abide by when buying from those sellers is to offer half of what they ask. maybe even 100 or 200 peso lower than asking with leaving negotiation room. And that’s what we should be paying.

Below are some pictures of some the artwork downtown on the Malecon (Boardwalk)

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

 

art broom

donated art bench
You will find several of these beautiful mosaic art benches donated

Heart exhibit

Heart love

Cactus sandals

Cold beer humor

 

As far as taxis and restaurants, they’ve gone up a bit too, but not drastically. For example, If you ordered a beer at the pool last year it was 20 Pesos, about $1.25, now it’s 30 – $2. Mixed cocktails at the pool were 50 Pesos – about $3, are now 80 Pesos, now more like 5 bucks and change. Short taxi rides remain at 50 Pesos, but rides to downtown or marina have gone up a buck. You can’t blame them, besides cost of living inflation, when it’s the tourist area, this is where they make their seasonal bucks. But real estate has gone up 20% since last year!

In the last few years North Americans are buying up condos in PV. The construction is ongoing. Pre-sale construction is hot. Here you can purchase a property (if any left) before they’re built with 20-30% discounts. Hub and I looked at a few with my new friend Gabe from Boardwalk Realty, who I connected with when I started looking at real estate online and signed up to receive MLS listings a few months before we got there. He showed us around the trending areas and we found a lovely location we would love to buy in, only that’s on hold as the economy is in a global tailspin and our already crappy Canadian dollar has nosedived to disgusting value. But, I have no doubts that this global declining economy will be just that – global, especially after this Corona madness, and I don’t plan on doing any real estate transactions till our dollar gets healthier and the housing market gets hit again as it seems to be on its way.

As the end of our vacation neared and my husband was unwell, along with the growing threat of the Coronavirus, I was anxious to get home.

DGKaye
In our lobby going to the ‘last supper’

I always miss the most beautiful sunsets.

sunset nite

orange sky sunset

sunset

 

Stay tuned for the last post on my Mexican Tales. Yup, it’s the travel log of our journey  home!

©DGKaye2020