Friday, February 06, 2009

The Flying Blind Faith Tour -Part One

This was one of those sort of unplanned, "the opportunity was there," type of vacations. Amy's parents invited us to join them on a trip to"old" Puerto Vallarta where we could stay for "free" at an apartment which Amy's Uncle Bobby has been renting for a few weeks over the past several years.

Ignoring all the news stories I had recently written about Americans being warned by the State Department not to travel to Mexico...we went for it - especially after Amy managed to book us on an amazingly low cost "promo" flight. It just worked out that exactly when this idea came up an airline called VivaAerobus was initiating service from Austin to Puerto Vallarta. I think we spent more money at the very limited snack bar at the airport terminal than we did for our tickets.

Usually on family adventures I've grown accustomed to having an itinerary, but for this trip it was different...we not only lacked an itinerary, there was a certain vagueness about exactly where we were staying, the airline was certainly an unknown entity, and we weren't in constant communication with our "host" fact we really hadn't been in communication with him at all since we agreed to visit. So we winged it....thus the moniker "Flying Blind Faith Tour."

It was wonderful but like all had some twists and turns.

Unlike other popular resort areas in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta - at least in the area where we stayed - was very low key. We weren't constantly barraged by guys hawking time shares, probably because the city has actually leased a big chunk of the airport to time share salesmen. You can't get to a taxi without running the gauntlet of these very determined individuals who will say just about anything to get you to stop. I tried to rustle our little band of "touristas" past them and was mercifully only delayed briefly by one huckster who claimed he was a "Government Agent" and insisted I must stop to discuss our travel plans. I've actually been in jail in Mexico (another story for another day) but once I eyed the porpoise on the guy's badge we fearlessly sidestepped him without dredging up any "Midnight Express-type" memories.

We weren't like other folks going to resorts, we were going to an apartment and all we had was a street address. Our cab driver, whom we quickly discerned was a novice at driving a standard transmission, gave us a thrilling ride across the cobblestone streets of the city and managed to sputter to a stop "near" the address we had in hand. He couldn't take us to the exact address....because of his driving skills, and "the hill."

That photo doesn't do it justice. It was a steep climb, especially with luggage.

Dripping with sweat Slightly invigorated, we managed to make it to the door of the apartment units, only to find several notes taped to the gates from Uncle Bobby who evidently expected us to arrive several days earlier. The notes had a slightly distressed tone to them, "Waited for you for a while...went to the beach."

Bobby did leave us instructions in one of the notes on how to get a gatekeeper to let us in and we eventually convinced her we were not marauding burglars carrying luggage. She let us into his apartment.

It was gorgeous.

As we scoped out the view and made sure there were working bathrooms, we came upon another note from Uncle Bobby. This one was rather long and had a distinct lack of that laid back "Jimmy Buffett" tone. I won't go into details, but it essentially said that Bobby had to leave immediately, go back to the states and we were on our own. Enjoy and "Hasta la vista."

I had never met Uncle Bobby so I wasn't certain whether this was expected behavior or if we should worry that he took those State Department travel warnings more seriously than we did. I didn't have time to ponder that idea because within minutes we discovered his passport and other necessary travel items were still in the apartment. He couldn't have left the least not under his own name.

Suddenly I felt like I was a character in a bad Kinky Friedman novel.

Where was Bobby? And was it okay to flush the toilet paper?

To be continued....when I get around to it.

Alas I still have a lingering of that "manana" mentality.