THE BUS

Puerto Vallarta is a town (city) of about 325,000 on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is very far down the road from all of the drug stuff up north. It was a sleepy fishing village in 1964 when John Huston and Elizabeth Taylor came down to make the movie, Night of the Iguana. They actually bought homes there. E.T.’s is in the old part of town and Huston’s is way far away along the southern coast of the Bay of Banderas. It has been our vacation place for the past eleven years.
We came down on a lark in 2002 and have gone down every year since (except for my heart surgery). We do love it there and have had some fun times and some sad times. We stay at a place called Costa Sur, which was the first time share in the area. We are on the south side of the old city. The new city, called Nueva Vallarta has all of the new hotels, the Wal-Mart, the Cineplex, the Mall and all of the other things that look like any American suburb. That is why we stay far away on the south side.
The city itself is really old style with cobblestone streets. It is still a place where you can get a haircut for 70 pesos (12 pesos to a buck) and some great food. Carol and I both say that we have not had a bad meal in Puerto Vallarta in eleven years. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it is true. We have eaten at a couple of fancy places, but mostly local joints. I have still not grown used to the heavy duty salsa, but I love Tortilla soup and huevos rancheros.
We stay about five miles or so outside of town. Our place is not a self-contained vacation club. It is a couple of old style buildings with breathtaking views of the Bay. We can sometimes see dolphins and whales while on our balcony. There are two pools (one heated, the beach, which is now enclosed and a restaurant. It had been going downhill but Moises is back from another place and it is to die for. Our first meal this year was the best meal yet.
We have grown to know some of the people. The man who sold us the time share, Hugo D’Alba became our friend. His grandparents came from Russia in the 1920’s and landed in Chile and then came to Mexico. Hugo has two children, Alexei and Irina. We have gotten very fond of them. Alexei came to stay with us for a few weeks two years ago. He had never seen snow and we ferried him to N.Y.C. in a blinding snow storm. Irina will be visiting with us this Christmas. She is 21 and Alexei is 23.
Hugo passed away a year and one half ago. We feel some responsibility for Alexei and Irina. They are both living with her mother, who was estranged from Hugo and is married to someone else and has a small child. We kind of keep an eye on them through friends of Hugo- Gil and Lucy, who own a curio shop in P.V. They are interesting people in so many ways. Gil writes funny books about traveling and Lucy runs the store and does the purchasing. They have lots of weird stuff there.
Since we live about five miles from town, we must take some conveyance into town. When we started, it cost 6 pesos to hop a rickety old bus into Centro. You really took your life in your hands riding with chickens and musical fellows, workers and young moms off to work. We went down a large mountain hill at careening speeds, holding on for dear life. Even the local people looked very uncomfortable. Now, the road is smoother, but the ride is just as death defying.
If you are there at Easter Time, the bus is packed with Mexican tourists going to the beach at Mismaloya (at one time one of the most beautiful beaches in the world until a storm chopped it up). There are still the musical people on board. They range from Mariachi singers with costumes and guitars, violins and trumpets, to young men with guitars singing and selling CD’s. Then there are the older folks who carry around smallish boom boxes with audio tapes. They sing to the audio tapes and drive everyone wild. One fellow was on our bus trip four times in two weeks. He cleared out all of the wax in my ears twice and stumbled over my feet once, even though they were not in the aisle.
I believe and I have suggested it to the proper authorities that there be tryouts for these troubadours. Some are adequate, some a very good and some are terrible. They are all trying to make a living by asking for dough. It is hard not to give it to them. I had given to the boom box man three times. The fourth time I told him that I had given at the office.

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