Monday, January 14, 2013

Puerto Vallarta, Part One

Travel almost never happens when and how you want it to. Don’t get me wrong, travel has come a long, long way from the days of the stage coach, but to get anywhere today, you need to be willing to inconvenience yourself some. Our plane left at twenty past six in the morning, and required us to be in the airport, ready to do security check-ins and the like at four. Which meant being awake at three. Which meant going to bed pretty much immediately after getting home from work and hoping to get some solid sleep in before we had to get our butts out the door.

I don’t really sleep on planes, or any moving vehicle. I’ve always had to wrestle with sleep to get it to do the things I want, and even then, sometimes it wins the fight.

The travel portion went more smoothly than I’m used to, though it took over fourteen hours to get where we were going and we were all pretty exhausted by the end of it. We took off from Edmonton Intl. at twenty past six and arrived in Phoenix, which is the worst airport in North America, about forty five minutes early. 

Phoenix has never been my favorite in any of the occasions I’ve had the pleasure of laying over there. They’re gods-awful for gate changes, the waiting areas seem negligently short of seating and the place constantly feels as though it’s run by people who have never run an airport before. It makes the Edmonton International feel metropolitan by comparison. So spending an extra 45 minutes there was not nearly as pleasant as it could have been; we ate bad pizza, I tried to write this blog post, the others slept. We had to get our passport re-checked and our boarding passes stamped, which is a pleasure unique to Phoenix; I’ve never had to do it anywhere else, and it means getting in line twice.

The second half of the trip was by far the more difficult. Everyone was tired, and even I managed to doze for a few minutes. The landscape beneath us was unrelenting red mountains, there was nothing to watch or do (US Airways flights do not have entertainment centers; not even an in-flight movie). Still, traversing a continent is never easy work and is made simpler by flight in ways I cannot even imagine, so the fact that I’m typing this from a balcony above a beautiful marina with Mexican mountains in the distance the day after my departure is nothing short of a modern miracle.

Puerto Vallarta is gorgeous. From the moment the plane set down, I was immediately impressed. Jungle borders a clean, professional airport, and the well-maintained roads are a picture of Mexican beauty. I remarked to N that the key difference between Mexico and America is that, while both seem ready to fall apart at any moment, Mexico is somehow charming about it. Many of the buildings are ragged and unkempt, a few are just falling apart, but there is a sense of aesthetic about it in Mexico, almost as though it were intentional. Where America is strangely arrogant, boasting claims about being the greatest nation on earth, while sweeping under the carpet their crumbling buildings and broken streets, Mexico embraces that nothing lasts forever and humbly accepts the broken with the shiny and new.

And there are shining moments of incredible beauty in Mexico, sometimes in strange places. There are sudden arches or perfectly groomed gardens that pop out from the broken pieces and remind you that you’re on vacation here for a reason.

The first person we talked to tried to sell us time-share.

The first thing we did was take a nap.

N and I don’t nap lightly. When we go down for a quick nap, that’s a three-to-five hour investment. For some folk, that’s a full-night’s sleep. But we hadn’t slept much before the plane, and we weren’t planning on wasting an adventure on our state of exhaustion. The bed was huge and comfortable and we found no trouble falling immediately into a great slumber, much to Z’s dismay, as he has an explorer’s spirit and wanted to hunt out experience and gold at first opportunity.

When we woke up, Z went to bed, and we spent the evening with a walk along the beach, playing in the waves like children do.

Game Stuff
No game stuff today. I’m on vacation. One of those relaxing ones where you spend a lot of time on the beach and get a sunburn. Maybe I'll make a note about travel being crazy and never happening on your schedule some day, but for right now, I'm relaxing. 

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