We build our PV life, and they come. Friends and family wanting to see sights, experience culture, eat at highly rated restaurants, bake like a beach bum, get fit or slip into a slur of multiple margaritas.
Gloria’s nasal voice cuts though my morning fog on an early phone call. ”Greg wants to get out of New York in January and come to PV,” she says. “I thought you’d had it with Vallarta,” I say, remembering her negative outbursts on recent visits. “Oh no,” she says. “We want to see you and Carl.” I plead with Gloria, “OK, but we’ve got other visitors. Please come after January 15.” Two weeks later, Gloria emails she has flight reservations for January 4 to 11. “It’s the only time I can come,” she says. “I can’t miss one lecture on Ancient Ruins. Help me find a rental in a quiet area in Old Town.” “It’s noisy everywhere,” I say, “That’s why you don’t like it.” “It was only the roosters that got me last year,” she says. I put the filter in my mouth and say nothing. With high-rise condos under construction all over Zona Romantica, searching for a quiet area is like looking for a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol.
One week later she writes they are bringing Greg’s brother and his wife, Tracey, who “always get sick.” Billy is charming, big and cuddly, with a booming voice enhanced by his deafness and Corona consumption. I make a list of places where the noise will erupt from more than our table.
As January looms closer, I reluctantly turn into a travel guide. There’s Gloria who can’t stand too much noise, and Susan and Dale for whom “high maintenance” was first coined as a description. I send out ideas for activities from Fat Bike Tours to tastings, IFC Home tours, tribute shows and of course restaurants rated high on Trip Advisor. Susan and her husband, Dale, will be with us one day and night, stop- ping in PV on a cruise. “I don’t like Mexican food,“ she says. Avid cruisers, Dale gains ten pounds every year from addictive eating at ship buffets. “This year I’m going to write a book about the best shipboard desserts called, ‘One Sugar Fix At A Time.’ We opt for hanging out at our condo pool and going to one of the ‘safe places’ with supersized hamburgers. They love it and agree to come back.
Candy, Thomas and her quivering Chihuahua, ‘Ditzy,’ arrive from Chicago on the 6th. They had a PV condo for ten years and have lots of friends. We book theatre and an ‘after glow’ at Dante with late night desserts and artistic ambience. “You look so different, Candy,” I say. “It’s my new hairdo,” she says, the most often used excuse for a face- lift. “Whatever, it looks great,” I say, eager to know her plastic surgeon. “Actually, my entire body is highly inflamed,” she adds.
Juggling visitors is a game of chess. I make a reservation at Si Senor for Gloria and her family. These are the visitors who should see smiling Mexicans at the airport with signs saying “Welcome to our land of love” rather than time share sharks with open jaws for a sale. That night I envision a walk on the pier, the sound of crashing waves, and candlelight casting its magical spell on our table. After several sips of the house margarita, her sister- in-law begins to cackle louder than a rooster. A few more gulps and she could be heard in Bucerias. There was no sound of crashing waves. We order flaming coffees and ooh and aah at our fiery spectacle. That night I’m awake till 1:00 am from caffeinated chaos, vowing never to do it again.
With no free time left for me, along comes Sam from San Francisco who prefers to be called, ‘Stud.’ He arrives in high spirits with two boyfriends, all overserved tequila shots on the plane. He has his own favorite hangouts, and wants to know if ‘that place with the burro’ is still in business. We pick them up at the airport after stocking their condo with two cases of beer and a bottle of tequila. Being busy is a blessing, limiting ourselves to one night watching grown men released from the bondage of rising careers turn into testosterone driven teens.
Surviving January, we prepare for February when we’ll host my cousin, her daughter and grand- daughter for a week in our times- hare penthouse. We’ll eat out a lot, but will need snacks for hanging out. “Send me a list of your favorite snacks and drinks,” I email. “I only eat organic,” wrote Molly. “I’m a vegan, but I eat salmon if its farm raised,” wrote Hannah. Izzy has been on a low carb, low calorie diet for years. “I have to lose the two pounds I put on in Italy,” she wrote. They agree to buy their own beverages knowing I’ve lowered my standards for “good wine” and Carl likes “the finest Diet Coke.”
The closer it gets, the more frantic our texts. “I’m panicked, I don’t know what to pack.” “I can’t get it all in one suitcase.” “This is not St. Tropez,” I insist. “You can wear anything as long as your nipples are covered.“ Each one is a beauty, with ages ranging from 22 to 62, toned and abbed and ready to display. What is the DRESS CODE?” Molly texts in caps. “Tattoos and flip flops,” I answer. “Stilettos if you want to be air lifted after breaking your neck on cobblestones.”
They each arrive with one overweight suitcase and a carryon with enough cosmetics to stock Liverpool. Hanging around our Jacuzzi, the penthouse dorm works like a dream and the hotel path to the beach is a glorious runway. We revel in family stories, laugh, love and support. Out one night to dine ‘where the locals eat,’ we find the hidden gem everyone is whispering about and are told, “tonight is a special menu, our Abuela is making pierogis.” No one wants carbs and we leave. At the next ‘find’ we are greeted by a waiter with halting English, the drink and dinner menus are only in Spanish, and lighting is too dim to read. “Better mañana,” he says as we leave. Enough of the new, we settle in a highly rated restaurant laughing at our experience, delighted there still is still a local “up and coming” side to PV.
Visitors come and go, leaving us relieved when some stay too long and excited for others to return. We eat too much, drink too much, spend too much and miss our PV friends. But we connect, laugh, and make memories, and have the opportunity to share the unique magic of PV and the Mexican spirit. And as abruptly as they arrive, they leave, and once again we hear the sound of silence.