Trip Start Oct 26, 2009
23Trip End Nov 15, 2009
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Where I stayed
(Happy Birthday Sis!)
Headaches are the worst. Especially when they are associated with a hangover. Not that I am hung this morning, but that last Sambuca shot must've put me over the edge. I am somewhere between hangover and cranky. I make my way, sunglasses protecting my fragile eyes, for my morning coffee, only to realize I didn't bring my travel mug. So, instead of heading back to the cabin, I head to the Explorations Café and a grande mocha! Mmmmmm, coffeeeeee! I cannot wait. It comes at a premium, but is faster than going back for the travel mug. And Michael is at the gym already? How does he do it?
Out on deck six, the lower promenade, my mobile phone searches for a signal as I try to revive myself with the extra hot concoction
On the opposite side of the ship I see Puerto Vallarta in the distance. Its graceful white buildings dotting the shore and rising into the foothills. This is the view I had been expecting to see, not WalMart! Below they are just setting up the gangway. Soon the masses will be disembarking for their tours and shopping excursions. The grounds of the dock area are immaculate. I can hear the screech of Parrots in a cage and see armed guards patrolling the dock area. All in all, it looks promising. At elast better than the other side of the ship!
We’ve been told the walk to the old city is about a mile and a half
I find Michael up in the gym, and discover you can go out on deck from there to a small observation area under the bridge. As I look out from there, sipping my coffee and praying for the caffeine rush to hit, Michael finishes up his walk on the treadmill. The humidity is something I was not prepared for. I am second guessing walking into the city, but decide it is what Michael wants and I am determined to do it.
Breakfast is next in the Lido Restaurant. It always amazes me that HAL has such beautiful orchids on the tables up here. (see photo). We can see people getting off the ship, and prepare ourselves with water bottles and a backpack to do the same.
Michael still has to grade papers, so the plan is to use the internet café on shore for a nominal fee so he can finish uploading and sending in his grades for an hour or so
We finally head off towards the city around 11:30. We are asked several times if we would like a taxi, senor, and we decline.
"Are you sure you want to walk?" Michael asks.
"Yes" I reply, thinking it is what he wants. We trudge on, my stomach grumbling and churning in the heat and humidity. What the hell was I thinking? Yes I want a taxi! We should’ve talked about it before hand and said what we each wanted. Only later did I discover he hadn’t wanted to walk, he’d thought I did!
About a quarter of the way into “town”, we are drawn in by a lovely young lady selling time-shares
I am slow on the uptake today, but once I tire of being “polite”, I start the offensive, which Michael picks up on and we are once again on our way. We so totally should’ve taken a taxi, senor!
About thirty minutes later we make it to a very pleasant Puerto Vallarta, again what I was expecting. Not the sprawl we had walked through to the charming city. We walked along the boardwalk, poking into shops and buying funny, fruity soft drinks. We make our way towards the old part of town, looking for a Mexican “football” jersey for Michael. There were lots of people about, yet one taxi driver I spoke with said it was dead comparatively. Lots of gay men, we must have passed at least four or five groups of as many, discussing everything from their party the night before to the great buy they’d just gotten on jewelry. Other shoppers, including a tour group from the ship, vie for sidewalk space.
The first shop Michael goes into the jerseys are 120 pesos, the second 195 but he would sell it to him for 130
They haggle and finally settle on a price of 140 pesos, about 10 US dollars. Michael is happy, I am beat, the humidity is God awful, and we are both ready to head back to the ship. We walk back to where the cute taxi driver who had chatted me up earlier, but he is gone. There is no way either of us is walking back. We hop into the next taxi we come across and within minute are back at the ship. Why had I insisted on walking? Oh, yeah, I’d though Michael had wanted to. Once we clear security ashore, then security aboard ship I head straight to the cabin for a nap. Michael goes back ashore to finish grading and to converse with his family back home via Skype. I am beat. The nap is needed and well earned I feel.
I awake in time for sail out. I shower and head up on deck after conferring with Michael as to the evenings plans
I hang out on deck as we sail out, the comfortable breeze whipping at my shirt. I love sailing out, watching the port you’ve just visited shrink in the distance. But I am also thirsty. 80’s music trivia is playing in the Crows Nest, just steps away from where I’ve been standing. And, if I remember correctly, the LGBT get together is there as well? Hmmm, is there something about Matt the D.J. that the unsuspecting and oblivious cast of characters called passengers hasn’t caught onto?
I sidle up to the bar and order a coke
He goes to walk the Promenade and I beg off deciding to read my book instead. About fourty minutes later there is an announcement over the P.A..
“Bright Star, Bright Star, medical bay deck four, Bright Star, Bright Star, medical bay deck four”
We all know “BRIGHT STAR” is the HAL code for a life threatening medical emergency. I read another half page and then head up to check on Michael, just in case. Of course he is okay, but I always want to make sure.
Another casual evening, except we dress in ties and jackets as usual. We are discovering we are not the only ones, but the majority of the other guests are too casual for our tastes. Drinks in the Ocean Bar, dinner in the dining room, our usual table of eight, which is quite pleasant. Conversation abounds and is always engaging and interesting. I wasn’t sure of Nancy at first, but I am coming to like her more and more. I ask if it was indeed Paul and Francis who came aboard at the last minute. They laugh and tell the story. Apparently the “Captain” was telling the crewmember ushering them on board to tell them “Do they know how much this is costing!”. In their defense, I had originally thought, as they did, that we were sailing at 5, not 4:30. They thought they were back in ample time.
I had a light dinner, indulging in the blueberry soup Michael so enjoys and a blackend Chicken Cesar salad. We have eaten so much, and my stomach has been so tentative I did not want a heavy meal.
Afterwards, we wandered into the Explorers Lounge to listen to the string quartet. Michael has been experimenting with his alcoholic beverages. Thus far he’s had a Manhatten, a cosmo (with mint, sweet but good), a “sidecar”, and in the Explorers Lounge he ordered a coffee drink. I had a scotch on the rocks as we listened to the quartet play.
Towards the end they played some songs from TV shows and movies, asking the small audience (there were four of us) if we could name them afterwards. First was the theme to MASH, and when they asked the actual name of the song, I impressed them with the correct answer “Suicide is painless”. Next, they played one I don’t remember now, but beautiful none the less. They played “The Love Boat” theme, and when I asked them who recorded the song they were stumped! Last, they played “Can you read my mind”, which they were sure no one would get. I knew the title of the song, but could not place where it was from. One of the other members of the audience knew it was from Superman. They said it was a first that anyone had gotten all the answers correct, and/or stumped them! They were charming and play exceptionally well. I will be sure to visit them again tomorrow.
They played until 11, another 15 minutes or so and then we were off to the casino. I started out on a five cent machine, quickly loosing my money. Michael played on as I went over to the Wheel of Fortune machine. A quick 10 minutes and I had turned my 20$ into 97$, so I cashed out and headed to bed. Michael soon joined me, I popped in a movie, he read his novel. A pleasant ending to a great day! We were both asleep, the movie and book put aside in less than an hour.
MICHAEL’S CORNER: Puerto Vallarta—what can I say—I felt like Tennessee Williams in The Night of the Iguana. We saw some of the major resorts, but primarily walked the streets like tourists and I was in search of the quintessential football jersey from Mexico (and by football—I am referring to Soccer for you Americans). The prices for football jerseys were as myriad as the shades of blue on a color wheel—some were 120 pesos, another was 190 pesos. The final shop that I found quoted me 525 pesos, which I quickly knocked down to 140. At 140, I procured my jersey and promoted the Mexican economy. I hope to receive a jersey in Guatemala and Columbia as well.