We just got back from Puerto Vallarta on the west coast of Mexico. The place has been a pleasant interlude in our lives for fifteen years. When we got there in 2002, we were struck with the people, the traditions and the real Mexican flavor of the area.

Why would I say that a Mexican city has a Mexican flavor? The old town, as it is called, is more in the Mexican tradition that the new giant hotel, Walmart, Costco part of the city. If you want to visit Mexico why go to the section of the city that is a duplicate of the U.S.? I can’t really answer.

We have three weeks of a time share in a place called Costa Sur. It has had other names, but that’s what it is known as. The people who work there treat us as family. It feels more like a second home than a tourist place. Their treatment of us is in stark contrast to the “Welcome Tourist” lines from other hotels and time shares. They have treated us properly and have been amazingly helpful.

Therefore, when we went there the first time, we were greeted by the salesperson with great thoughtfulness and equanimity. Hugo D’Alba became a friend of ours. When the property was sold, Hugo found himself out of a job. The new company had a different way of doing things and Hugo was not a fan of the high pressure sales.

We became friendly with Hugo and his two children, Alexei and Irina. Fifteen years ago they were twelve and ten. We visited with his family, went out to restaurants and made home visits. Later on, when the kids got older, we brought them up to PA and to New York City. They were so anxious to see snow.

Irina is a card, so we brought along two of our scholarship winners from rural areas to hang around with Irina. We knew that something was wrong the first day they were together. We had them ensconced in a hotel, while we slept in a hostel in Washington D.C. When we went to pick them up in the morning, Carol and I were informed that we were not going to the Air and Space Museum, but that we were going to an outlet mall. Irina needed jeans and they were so much less expensive here than in Mexico.

Through the years we visited with Hugo and his children. During the early part of our relationship, Hugo and his wife Connie separated and divorced. She had been going to law school and met a professor and got involved. Their relationship produced a son, Ian, who is now nine years old.

Of course Hugo was divested, as were the children. They continued to live in Puerto Vallarta, while Connie and her husband lived in Guadalhara, about five hours distant from PV. Eventually, things started evening themselves out, as Hugo got a job in a curio shop in town, run by some of his friends.

Hugo’s living conditions were less than acceptable. We visited him often and wondered why he and the kids were living there. We found out later that was because the house was owned by a friend who either did not charge rent or very little.

Hugo passed away about five years ago. We visited him at a time when he was not in good shape. Hugo was not accepting of any kind of help, but we insisted and took him shopping and suchlike. He hinted that we should keep an eye on the children when he was gone.

The kids lived with Hugo’s friends for a while and when their secondary schooling was done, they moved to Guadalajara and lived with their mom. We are still not clear about that time in their lives. We tried to help out with some resources and kept in touch with both Alexei and Irina.

Things worked out well for both of Hugo’s children. They completed what we would call a college education (so much less costly than in the U.S.). They now have great jobs; Alexei is a computer person who travels around for his company. Irina is an expert at medical equipment and advices hospitals and medical facilities about such things as MRI’s and other electronic gizmos.

Alexei introduced us to his steady girl Daniela, a few years ago. She is a sweetie and is presently working toward her PhD. She is a perfect combination of kindness and gentleness and a wonderful intellect. She speaks English very well, as do Alexei and Irina.

Last year, Alexei notified us that he and Daniela were going to be married in December of 2017. We usually go to PV in March, but we changed our times and came down in December of 2017.

The wedding was at a beautiful place, trees and flowers and open air. We were delighted. Our appearance there seemed to be welcomed by both friends and family. There were about 80 folks there. The wedding was not religious (Hugo had always described himself as a heretic). It was done by a government official. Each wrote their own vows.

The most surprising thing, to us, was that we were seated at the family table with Alexei and Irina’s mother and step brother, aunts and uncles.  Carol spent most of the night talking to Connie, the kid’s mom. She was not with her professor anymore and when he showed up she kind of disregarded him. The bride and groom sat alone in the front of the gathering. We were introduced as Alexei and Irina’s god parents. That was a surprise to us.

The evening was a blast. There was lots of music, singing and dancing. At one point Alexei broke up when the DJ played “The Piano Man.” That was Hugo’s favorite song. His wife, sister and mom comforted him and he was o.k. after that.

We sat next to Irina and her friend, who was also an attorney. Irina is still the laughing silly person she was always been, with a mature veneer layer over. We love her dearly and invited her to come up and visit with us. We hope that we will continue our relationship with both of them.






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