By Lois Ellison
When we think about how lucky we are to live here in Puerto Vallarta, it’s easy to list the big reasons why we feel that way: unbelievably good weather, outstanding restaurants, a myriad of cultural offerings, sunsets worthy of Cecil B. de Mille, good cost of living, and so on. But if you take a closer look, it is really the little things that stand out.
Last week was Valentine’s Day, or as it’s known here, Dia de Amor y Amistad (Day of Love and Peace). I really like that; so much more all-encompassing. Anyway, as always, we start our day with an early morning walk on the Malecon. One of the first people we see is an older Mexican woman who we don’t know but see almost every day. As we pass her, she smiles and calls out “Feliz dia de Amor y Amistad”. Wow, how nice from an almost total stranger. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, what will? Further on a man we often see, but with whom we’d never exchanged more than “Buenos Dias”, flags us down, shakes our hands, and says “Have a Happy Valentine’s Day”. The big smile on his face tells us how hard he’d been practicing in order to get it just right in English.
Crossing the pedestrian bridge, we stop to admire the proclamations of amor written with stones carefully arranged in the sand. “Te Amo Yessica”, and other messages with big hearts around them. We hope that he has won her heart forever, or at least for the day.
Later in the morning, our maid arrives and proudly presents us with some luscious tamales and a big hug. With her boundless energy and optimistic philosophy, she embodies the spirit of so many of the Mexican people
These things don’t just happen on Valentine’s Day. On any given day, there are many moments that can warm your heart. There’s the elderly passenger on the bus who gives his seat to a young pregnant woman. Or the bus driver who gets up to help the disabled woman down the steps. The musician on the bus whose efforts are rewarded by coins given by those who can least afford it but who share generously with those even less fortunate.
And then there is Juan, the kindly old abuelo who sells toy birds and miscellaneous trinkets. He starts his day around 7:30, carefully sweeping up a large area around his table near Lazaro Cardenas Park. His eyes always twinkle and he smiles as though he harbors a deep secret that amuses him. He’s still smiling twelve hours later as he packs up to go home. A simple life, but one that serves him well. How lucky to be content with what you have. We can all take a lesson from Juan.
There are so many little things here that bring joy to my life. Vibrant yellow egg yolks; the lady down the street selling fresh squeezed orange juice from a table outside her front door; tantalizing aromas from the food carts; really ripe tomatoes and mangoes; happy children honing their soccer skills, content with just an empty plastic bottle to kick on the cobblestones; secret gardens and courtyards; our mozo greeting us like long lost family every time we see him, even if we just saw him minutes before; church bells pealing; clowns at Los Arcos; parades the materialize without notice; trees laden with colorful blossoms; roosters crowing right in the heart of town.
But wait, this is my list. What about yours? Next time you are out wandering around, open your eyes, your ears and your heart. In no time at all you find an abundance of little things that make being here so extraordinary.