Anticipation is building. Time to get packin’. It’s snowing again in Chicago. I want to be back in – Puerto Vallarta!
As I work my to-do list, I find myself breaking out in song, thanks and apologies to Carmen Miranda and the Andrew Sisters. Gotta get goinin’, where are we goinin’? What are we gonna do? We’re on our way to PV; we’ll see you there real soon. What’ll we see there, who will there be there, what’ll be the big surprise?
Will Abraham still be smiling and juicing oranges from his cart near Los Muertos Beach? Will “Grandpa Jose” still be managing the beachfront at La Palapa? Will my books still be stacked on the “local author” shelves at A Page in the Sun?
Last March Lindsey Leyva, co-owner of the café and bookstore, offered to display the biography of my parents’ marriage, “Still Having Fun, a Portrait of the Military Marriage of Rex and Bettie George, 1941 – 2007.” She did this on faith, before the book garnered Gold, Silver and Bronze medals from nationally recognized contests. And now she and business partner Gaby Gomez have reserved Thursday, March 6 for me to do a reading and discussion. This year may be the best Puerto Vallarta visit ever.
I have so many happy memories of Puerto Vallarta and have been excited to see the many renovations and improvements the city has made over the past few years. The new pier on Los Muertos Beach is now a tourist destination as well as the launch pad for water taxis to remote mini-paradises. Some of the sidewalks in the Romantic Zone, aka Old Town, are artworks inspired by indigenous cultures. Some even have poetry embossed in the concrete! Sunsets continue to be knock-outs and watching a full moon disappear over the edge of placid Banderas Bay is always one of the highlights for me.
But the real reasons my husband and I keep going back to Puerto Vallarta are its gracious and welcoming people. People like waiter Rogelio who last year surprised us on our last night with a stunning dessert platter decorated with flowers and our names written in chocolate. Helpful and generous people like the woman at the corner store where we stop for bolillos.
One morning, when my husband had an upset stomach, I showed up at her tienda alone. “Where is el senor?” she inquired. When I told her he wasn’t feeling well, she rattled off instructions for a potion guaranteed to cure him. It required steeping fresh garlic in chamomile tea. She wouldn’t take my pesos for the recommended ingredients. “I am here to serve you,” she insisted, refusing to accept payment for everything but the bolillos.
Over the past forty years I have experienced similar acts of kindness and goodwill wherever I’ve traveled in Mexico and am confident that this year won’t disappoint. If you happen to have the good fortune of being in Puerto Vallarta, please join me on Thursday, March 6 at 6 PM at A Page in the Sun, Lazaro Cardenas #179. I can guarantee you’re gonna have a happy time.
We’re on our way, we’ve packed up our pack. And we might stay, and never come back. Oh yes, we’re going, and we’re gonna have a happy time. See you there!
Candace George Thompson – Author is an Air Force brat whose family moved frequently. By the time she started 10th grade, she had changed schools 13 times. Her first introduction to Mexico was in 1964 as a student in Guanajuato, followed by a 3-month job as a live-in tutor for two grade-school children in Mexico City. After graduating from Antioch College, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela.
Candace’s essays and stories have been published in anthologies sponsored by the Military Writers Society of America, the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group and Off-Campus Writers Workshop.