Friday, June 3, 2016

Puerto Vallarta - The best and worst Part II - Time Share Gamble

 Time Share:  Did we win the gamble?

At our Grand Mayan Resort, the very first thing they ask us is, attend a  Time Share presentation,  the very first thing, next morning. 

“We can’t.”  We protest.  “ Any one catched  you at the airport and want to meet at Walmart?”  The robust manager barks.

 “ May be!” my husband admits.

 “ No señor! Why did you do that?”  His brows are knitted.

“ Any way,  we’ll match whatever he promised and give you mucho  more.   Right now you have a cheap studio  unit with view of the construction site.  No good, senorina. “ This time he looks at me crinkling his nose. 

“ I will upgrade that to a one bed room with kitchen and a great ocean view….. and ….” 

“ Thanks, but no thanks. We are  fine with the studio.  I am not going to any presentation.  Please give the key for my room.” my husband demands.

The guy ties a yellow- red- aztec design bracelet  on our wrists that looks more like a friendship bracelet that little kids make. This is the key he explains,  and made a face that scared the heck out of me  that we’d end up with a stinky room with a lousy view. 

With that strange key when  I opened the room we were pleasantly surprised.  It’s   a beautiful room  on the fourth floor with a  balcony  view of a cute wooden bridge in a lush green forest.   The room has a  king bed and enough room to do all the yoga moves I want to,  on the floor.  The bath even has a jacuzzi. We are quite happy.

Next morning I get a  text message from Marco that he is on his way to Walmart. Even with our very limited Spanish when we informed the taxi driver our destination,  he understood immediately. “ To meet a person, señor ?” he nodded his head.

At Walmart the taxi driver spotted Marco before we did, who paid our fare and took us to Flamingo Resort. We are still not sure if we won the gamble,  yet.  I am kind of enjoying this little adventure, the way  it is unfolding.  What the worst can happen? 

Flamingo Estate is not as big or grandeurous like the Grand Mayan, but charming enough. 

At the gate Marco hands us to the next Welcoming Guide,  John Smith.  John Smith speaks very good English and he looks  more American than Mexican.  Indeed! he  is from San Diego.  Born and brought up there. 

“I can’t speak Spanish. No man!” he confesses.  “John Smith, like apple pie, what can be more American, right?’- he chuckles.

 “ I consider myself a guide, a mentor, rather than a sales person.  Try to show people what to do with life…how to do it.  Life is short. Vacations are so so important.  But you need a plan.”  John says in one breath. Then as he shows us the path through the meandering walkways, he looks at my husband.  “ “What do you do sir? “ 

 “ Retired.  Taking a vacation.” he replies.

 I look at my watch.  We have spent about three hours talking with him.  He had taken us to a grand buffet  and introduced us to several  special Mexican dishes,  “ This lady will make you an empanada with your choice of fillings and don’t forget to try the roasted poblanos.” 

 In the mean time he told us his  life story, may be, tapping  our needs. May be he thought  it will make us  feel comfortable  to open up,  But,   in the process  John Smith,  unconsciously  was confessing how confused he feels about what to do with his own life.  He had changed careers many times, been to several places and wore many hats.  “ This 15th July I’ll have my 50 th birthday!”  he adds.

“ How do you plan to celebrate?”  I ask.

 “ I think I’ll celebrate it becoming a Mexican citizen and give up my American passport. I hope my Mexican papers will be done by then”. He keeps his fingers crossed. 

“ Really!  While everyone wants to go to the other side?”  My husband could not hide his surprise.

 “Yes Sir. I’ve seen both sides. Been there, done that.   My mom lives in San Diego. I go there.  But this is my home.”  He slaps on the table.  

“ I was an adopted child.  No clue of my biological parents.  I grew up as a single child with no siblings.  My  mom,  as a single parent, raised me  with much care. She is kind and generous. She did a lot for me.  She was stern too.  But you know …when I go there, I feel restless, anxious to return here.  I don’t feel comfortable. Family… home… you know…!”  John squeezes his shoulders, wiggles, trying to find the right word.

 “ Last winter I was terribly sick.  Dengue…from mosquito bite. I was dying. You wont believe what these people did for me. That is home.  That is family. “ 

John met his soulmate, Jaxmen here. “ She is also a single mom raising her twin girls .. with so much love.  Very caring.  I’d miss the girls much when they’ll go to college after this summer.”  John takes out his smart phone to show the pictures of his family.

“ Life is much relaxed here., much slow- paced, with much less needs. I am enjoying what I am doing  now,  and I feel I am giving back.  Over there I was only concerned if it was giving me enough, I was only counting  my profit..  I was tired of running, running… running the rat race and getting stuck at  Los Angeles traffic. 

This place survives  by serving people.  Tourism is what brings food on the table, so people go out of their way to make you happy.  There is no crime.  There is a prison, but it is not needed.”

John could not sell us anything.   But we enjoyed knowing each other.   

Along with several tours and perks that they had promised, John’s story was the most precious gift in this deal, to me.

An iguana
 When I go visit a  new place,  with its flora and fauna and the superficial  charm I  crave  to know the  real people who live there. I wish to understand their ways of living, their values and culture.

A show o the beach where they were thanking nature for her abundance

 John gave me an authentic picture of that: an endorsement of the character of the people of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.  What could I expect more?   I think the $50 gamble was not a loss.