Puerto Vallarta III

A few last thoughts about our visit to Puerto Vallarta:

There was a dart contest that Tobin invited me to enter with him and Owen, his oldest son. We’d just finished our lunch and were wondering where the dart board might be as we’d not seen one in the bar area. When Tobin asked, someone just pointed in a vague direction and said, “Over there.” In a few minutes the dart board was hard to miss as the inflatable target filled with air to become a circle that was about twenty feet in diameter. The darts were sand bags with plastic colored tails. There must have been magnets inside. When the bags where thrown against the target they would stick.

The red team, that was Tobin, Owen, and me with red headbands, were in the first round. We quickly lost to the green team, but those bastards were just lucky.

The second round included two men and a woman from Finland. Never had anyone seen such white skin. They eventually won. The reflection of the sun off their skin blinded the opponents. Some of their competitors actually threw their darts straight up into the air so that the spectators had to duck out of the way to avoid being brained by the falling sand bags. One woman’s throw was so weak that her darts never reached the dart board but landed several feet in front.

Stinkin’ Finns.

On another day there was a mechanical bull riding contest. There were probably twenty entrants, but no one was aware that the guy who eventually won had experience. Owen, age eighteen, had been on much more challenging mechanical bulls at the Pendleton Round Up for several years in a row. Owen had developed his style into an art form, and the others had not a chance.

The other contestants were greenhorns.

The other son, Nate, fourteen, while he didn’t win any official contests demonstrated another sort of finesse. When his dad came up with three shots of tequila, one for himself, one for Gladys and one for me, Nate quickly grabbed one and downed it before anyone could say anything.

His eyes didn’t even water. No Gringo. Maybe that is when he decided to get dreadlocks.


Six women, aged somewhere in their fifties, came up from the beach wearing identical tee shirts over their swimming suits. On the shirts were stylized images of thin female torsos wearing bikinis. Turns out that the women from Wisconsin (pronounced WisGONsin)  had been coming to Puerto Vallarta every year since the nineties.

That’s real friendship to commit to coming every year.


That is all from Puerto Vallarta.


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Puerto Vallarta II

Outside of the resort walls the sidewalks are uncrowded as I jog along a main thoroughfare of the city. Every so often someone, Mexican always, will cheer me on and wave as I pass. On the other hand, the few tourists that venture onto the street look past me, avoiding eye contact as if I might be mad and could infect them with insanity.

I don’t blame them for avoiding me. What they see is this old man wearing a tattered, blue tee shirt and bright green shorts that have a label that says Guinness on the side. His shoes are a brilliant red and his beard is white and unkempt. The wispy, blond/white hair is too long and flies uncontrolled around and back of his head. HIs scalp and forehead are pink from sunburn, and he is soaking with sweat. He is obviously nuts.

Still, I enjoyed my slow run in the balmy weather of Puerto Vallarta, especially when I thought of the frozen streets in Missoula. A bridge crossed a small stream of clear water where I could see a Snowy Egret that stood on one leg, still, waiting for a fish or frog to appear within spearing distance. A tangle of vines with green leaves reached down from the bridge and dipped into the water. Further downstream a pair of children ran along the sand, in and out of the grass along the bank.

Most of the the view during my jogs was not of nature but instead on one side of the sidewalk more resorts or shopping centers and on the other the busy street filled with buses, taxis, cars and trucks. At the end was a large harbor where a huge, monster of a cruise ship was docked. A long line of passengers who’d just disembarked were passing through a gate taking advantage of the port of call to do some shopping at the nearby mall. This was my turn-around point.

The round trip distance of my jogs was about two and a half miles, just enough to give me enough exercise to sweat out the toxins of tequila from the previous night. My reward was being able to jump into one of the pools at the end of my run and then sit in a jacuzzi for ten or fifteen minutes.


It was always a pleasure to watch the pelicans as they hunted for fish. The awkward looking birds with short, round bodies and wide wing spans actually looked graceful as they floated above the water’s surface. They would follow each other in a line of three or four as they hunted. Suddenly one would fold its wings and dive down into the sea where it would submerge and swim under water and then come up and fly into the air with a rubbery pouch filled with water and fish.

High above the pelicans the black frigate birds would soar, barely moving their long wings as they caught the rising air currents. Bright crimson badges could be seen on the male’s chest while the females had white heads and chest patches. The bodies resembled crows but the wings were long and slender. The tails were elongated and forked like swallows.

It was mid morning when a young mother and two children were close to the ocean when a man came down the beach with a pail of entrails, no doubt from one of the restaurants. When he threw the mess of guts into the surf, the area was quickly filled with diving pelicans as they fought for the treats. The children thought the birds were great fun and they ran to get closer to the action.

The riot was soon joined by frigate birds as they wanted their share of the treats in the water. They were at a disadvantage as the pelicans could carry large chunks of intestine in their pouches while the frigate birds could take pieces into the air only to drop most of their prize after snipping off a bite.

Both pelicans and frigate birds are large, almost as big as eagles. The sight of the small children among the feeding frenzy was unnerving, almost like a horror movie, but the kids just laughed and threw sand at the birds. They ignored their mom who was clearly concerned about the commotion. But, the calamity eventually calmed down as the food was either devoured, carried away or swept out to sea where it sunk to feed the fish.


Puerto Vallarta

The view from the tenth floor (12th if you count the lobby and mezzanine) is mostly ocean. Near the horizon there are several fishing boats, or perhaps they are whale watchers. Sheila reported seeing a whale on the day we arrived. To the south, curving around the beach are sharp green hills partially obscured by the morning haze. Between the hills and the sea is the city of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

We checked in to our room at Friendly Resort on February 17 to stay for a week with our middle son, Tobin and his wife, Gladys, their two sons, Owen and Nate, and Piper their daughter. When we left Montana, snow was falling. The winter weather back home made the balmy temperature in Puerto Vallarta seem even nicer. In fact, every time we checked the temperature in Missoula we felt even better, even smug. The high was just approaching eighty, and at night it drifted down to the sixties.

But, despite being in the state of Jalisco, it’s really not Mexico. During the taxi ride from the airport the town looks like San Diego, California. The fast food places are the same, but the 7-11s are replaced by something similar in Spanish, XOXO. The shopping malls have signs in English advertising Rolex, French designer clothing and upscale jewelry. The cars are mostly German with a few Volvos, plus some American brand pickups. Every so often an old Beetle can be seen.

Ninety-five per cent of the other guests at Friendly Resort were Canadian. It was unnerving to discover that Canadians are just as obese as Americans. Given the amount of rich food available at almost any hour, it is safe to say that no one was going to lose weight here.

And then there was the booze. I discovered the delight in taking a shot of tequila followed by a bite of lime, and after several rounds I began to feel almost clairvoyant. And since this was an all inclusive resort, I could sit at the bar and down one round after another until I either floated to the ceiling or fell onto the floor. By some accounts I did more of the latter than the former.

We visited a tequila factory here in Puerto Vallarta. The plant from which tequila is made, agave, is entirely different from what I expected. It’s not a cactus, but more like a yucca plant. The part of the plant that is used looks like a huge pine cone, about five feet long and three feet wide at the thickest part. It is hacked apart with a special axe, roasted and then soaked in water. The solution is then boiled and distilled into a wooden barrel and aged.

We learned that the agave for tequila grows at a specific altitude and area in the mountains around Guadalajara. Mescal comes from a different type of agave that is more abundant, and (this is my own impression) is turned out with less quality control. The taste of Mescal is (again my opinion) harsh, more like kerosene. Mescal is not to be confused with mescaline or mescalito, a mind bending drug (Not that I find anything wrong with that).

We also learned how to determine if a tequila is pure and not doctored with other alcohol or even methylene. That shit can kill you.

We dabbed a few drops of the drink on our palms and rubbed it around before smelling it. The first whiff was the odor of the evaporating alcohol (what a waste!), but with the next sniff one could detect a light fragrance of olive. Finally there was a delicious mixture of wood and olive. Those three steps confirm the liquor as genuine, top notch tequila.

There were attractions other than the bar at the resort to be explored later.

There are four swimming pools and three hot tubs within fifty yards of the ocean, and, at first it seemed a bit strange to have a pool next to a beach. However, after watching Sheila being rolled around in the surf, a nice, quiet pool was quite attractive.

The Pacific Ocean off Puerto Vallarta was deceptive in that it looked quiet and gentle with waves seeming to slowly move to shore. The color was not blue, nor had it the pastel colors of the Caribbean. The water was green and it was more turbulent than it appeared.

One morning, while Tobin and Nate took out paddle boards, Sheila took out a kayak. They all were successful in escaping the bounding surf and soon were happily exploring the water far from the shore. In the meantime I watched a young man repeatedly try to launch another kayak from the same point. He couldn’t even get on the kayak, and it was fortunate that he was required to wear a floatation device. The instructor tried to load this guy on, but the man was totally without a sense of balance. Eventually he had to give up and let his buddies go on without him. Later, I noted that the instructor took him out in a paddle boat.

The next day Sheila and Tobin took out boogie boards, sort of mini surf boards. Once again I declined to join them [I’d had an unpleasant experience with those horrible little things in Hawaii], but I did wade out into the water with them. I watched as Tobin helped his mom catch the waves toward shore and she did get a few good rides. The last ride took her all the way to the beach. Then, as she tried to stand up a wave knocked her down and rolled her in the sand. But the water took her with as it retreated back toward the sea. Then it rolled her back toward the beach again.

It was scary as I couldn’t even see her in the surf other than a glimpse now and again as she rolled back and forth. Fortunately Tobin was close enough he could grab his mother and pull her up to a standing position before she got rolled again.

In spite of everything, Sheila was laughing.


Welcome to Mountain Time Now

The old blog “Lookin for a Home” has served its purpose, and it is time to move on to other ruminations. Sometime the lines may be as simple as a meal or a trip. Politics, well, it would be nice if the topic could be avoided; but then almost everything is political. Plus, at my age, 75, everything becomes harder to understand; but then it’s also apparent that humans have never understood anything.

So, much of what goes on these pages will be my opinion or my interpretation of my perspective. I’m constantly trying to learn, so my opinion can change by the hour. I’d love to hear you side of the story, too.

My New Blog, Mountain Time Now

The old blog “Lookin for a Home” has served its purpose, and it is time to move on to other ruminations. Sometime the lines may be as simple as a meal or a trip. Politics, well, it would be nice if the topic could be avoided; but then almost everything is political. Plus, at my age, 75, everything becomes harder to understand; but then it’s also apparent that humans have never understood anything.

So, much of what goes on these pages will be my opinion or my interpretation of my perspective. I’m constantly trying to learn, so my opinion can change by the hour. I’d love to hear you side of the story, too.