...And We're Back!
14 December 2021 | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
We are sitting at an outdoor restaurant on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta. I am eating a grilled vegetable quiche with greens and Jay is having Ricardo Zarendeado; red snapper, marinated and grilled whole. Hibiscus tea with ginger and lime is our drink of the day. Jay takes a bite and I can tell by his reaction, he is delighted by the taste. He shares a bite with me. The fish is tender and fresh. "What do you think the spices are?" I ask. It is covered in an unidentifiable red sauce. Jay is not sure. Whatever it is, it is quite good. It seems the recipe will remain a mystery as I am sure the chef would approve; enticing us to come back for more.
It is Sunday afternoon and the Malecon (what we Americans call the boardwalk on the eastern shore) is filled with pedestrians. There are many tourists, of course. There are two cruise ships in port. But many are Mexican nationals. Sunday is a work holiday for most and the Malecon with its beautiful beach is a popular spot.
People watching is a great lazy-day sport. All sorts of people stroll by. Three generations of a family pass, each finding something unique to amuse them, whether it be a souvenir, an ice cream cone, or watching the native performers from Vera Cruz as they unwind and swing upside down from a three-story pole, attached only by ropes on their feet. Others are mesmerized by the rhythm of the surf as it gently caresses the sand. A tattooed couple crosses our path as does a gay couple with their two dogs, one of which has only three legs.
But it is the two men who stand across from the restaurant that capture most of our attention. One is dressed as a Mexican revolutionary with a bandolier across his chest. He stands very still. At first you might think he is a statue. That is his play to bring you close but just as you begin studying him, he moves and you jump! He gets a great laugh out of this and invites you to join him for a photo. (For a few pesos, if you please.) We watch as he plays his game over and over. Today he is having so much fun, he comes out of character frequently, smiling and engaging with the tourists.
Next to him is a table and chairs with a chess set and another gentleman standing next to it. The entire set-up looks like a sand sculpture. Including the man. He, too, does not move, hoping to lure his victims only to surprise them with his movements. He is not so lucky. The Mexican revolutionary is much more popular and I'm afraid the sandman will go home with only a pittance of tips for his day of work. Hot work as we notice the sand and make-up melting off the faces of the two men.
"Would you like to buy some silver?" A man with a slight accent asks interrupting my thoughts. He is carrying an open briefcase filled with jewelry. It is attached to his neck by a strap to lighten his load. "No gracias." I answer as he moves along to the next table. He is just one of many such vendors that walk the Malecon in hopes of earning a living.
I turn my attention back to Jay. After all, it was I who invited him out for a date. We have been here two full weeks and he has been working non-stop putting Cadenza back together. After being gone almost two years, we were worried what we would find. It's a boat. And it sat through two hot and humid rainy seasons. Would the electronics work? How much mildew would we find? How many critters had made Cadenza their new home?
I am happy to report that all in all, she is in very good shape. Sure, there are always things that don't work. Inevitably that is the head. But the electronics are good. The engine is running. The dust and mildew had taken residence but no critters. Cadenza is now cleaned up and ready for a test drive/sail this week. Meanwhile, I needed a little attention from my husband. Thus, this date.
After lunch, we took a walk down the Malecon under the warm sun and light breeze. We visited an art show where I coveted a colorful oil painting depicting a fisherman on his panga with the city in the background. Unfortunately, I have no place to hang it on the boat.
We continued along the river where there are many local merchants selling their wares. I bought a beautiful handmade Christmas placemat to put on the center of our table.
It was a lovely day and good to be back in downtown Puerto Vallarta with its cobblestone streets and varied architecture. In Puerto Vallarta, we are much closer to the mountains and some of the houses and apartment buildings populate the sides of the hills. The lush, tropical foliage competes with the concrete and sometimes wins. Bright pink bougainvillea drapes over crumpling cement walls painted with graffiti. It is quite a mix of poverty and wealth, city landscape and rugged jungle. It is rich in cultural diversity and has a thriving LGBQT community. There is something for everyone and everyone is welcome. It is good to be back.