November 5, 2012
The sunny morning is quietly turning to a cloudy afternoon. The sun in a bit of a haze, the sweat of the day cooled by a breeze. It won’t rain. November 8 is my “weather turns perfect” date, always reliable. The tiles beneath my feet are still warm from the kiss of the sun. The forest is lush, green, sipping up the last moisture from the summer storms, the autumn mists. Soon it will be a dry winter, and the trees, the vines, the small flowering things will hunker down, hoping for a stray shower over the coming months.
Puerto Vallarta is on the edge of the next Season. These few months of the year – lasting until Easter – when not only the plants are trying to survive. The bartenders, the restaurant owners, the beach vendors, the maids and wait staff, the rental agents (like me) hanging on to this Season and hoping it is better than the last. Please, no fevered media reportage of problems. No swine flus, no drug cartel shoot-outs. No earthquakes or hurricanes. Just happy stories of tanned (but not burned) tourists and clever dolphins, por favor.
Everyone has their own stories for being here, for getting here. Mine has been going on since last time I left. The list of all the stuff to bring “next time”. My list expanded from the normal stuff like bedsheets, cheese, chocolate and new tank tops, and ranged into “border orders” such as computer parts and a new master cylinder for a VW bug. I get cranky as the border orders come in; inevitably describe as “compact, small, light-weight”, using up my valuable luggage space. I left behind four feather sofa pillows and an extra laptop this time, but did manage to cram an incredible amount of stuff in one “personal item” backpack, a carry-on suitcase and a Rubbermaid 18-gallon plastic box.
Much of this involves cheese, and other contraband. This is an elaborate process of buying a bunch of food items at the last minute, packing them in the plastic box, taping it thoroughly, and storing it overnight in the trunk of my car so my early morning taxi can retrieve it quickly and put it into his trunk. The box is inevitably checked for explosive cheese by the US Customs, but this doesn’t satisfy the Aduanos, who, green-light or not, will pull me over and examine my luggage. Of course I mark “no food” on the Mexican Customs form. Of course my stuff is 25% food items. They look suspiciously at my dried shiitake mushrooms, the repackaged Splenda, and the six different cheeses. I bury the alfalfa sprout seeds at the bottom of the box (tough to explain). I have on occasion put a “sacrificial sausage” on the top of the box, so they could triumphantly seize it and overlook the cheese and my other sins. I have given up on bringing cat treats and Trader Joe rice blends. The stuff of terrorists, I’m sure. Non-negotiable. The airport was busy, and a new wave of cheese-laden tourists were swarming behind me. I was waived through, given stern stares, and made it past the time-share desks to the safety of a waiting Volkswagen, waiting patiently and gratefully, for its new master cylinder.