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Survivor Puerto Vallarta, Episode 1: Flying down to the Vallarta Wal-Mart

By       Message Jane Stillwater       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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December 4: Can you believe it? I'm actually on my way to Mexico!

I get bored just hanging around the house in Berkeley and love to travel -- but right now Puerto Vallarta is the only place I can fit into my budget. $198 round-trip airfare and the offer of a friend's couch once I get there? I can't afford to stay home!

Right now I'm sitting in a plane next to two semi-rich American bitchy ladies who are conversating about their mutual funds and the rental condominiums they own. But they can't be TOO rich. After all, they are sitting in economy class next to me!

"I just had knee surgery," said the one lady. She looked about somewhere between 50 and 70. It was honestly hard to tell her age. And she wore diamond earrings to die for.

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"I try to work out every day," said the other lady. Yeah right. What exactly is her idea of a workout? Lifting her martini glass up and down? Now, Jane. Stop being catty.

"When my hip gets fixed," continued Lady # One, "my back pain will go away." I want my knee pain to go away. And my ankle pain. And the endless nagging pain roaming around in my brain that keeps shouting at me about how I need to start dealing with the future or else. To heck with that. I gotta learn to live in the moment. And right now the moment consists of flying over the blue Pacific Ocean's amazingly beautiful beach-and-surf coastline.

"My daughter-in-law does nothing all day but take care of my grandson and chain-smoke," said Lady # 2. "My son works so hard and they tried so hard to get pregnant."

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"Were they able to do in-utero fertilization or did they have to implant the eggs?" Too much information! Welcome to the world of the upper-crust Puerto Vallarta American ex-pat.

Apparently there are 50,000 Americans and Canadians living in Puerto Vallarta right now. I'm jealous. I want to live in Puerto Vallarta too. "And our condo only cost $250,00!" Scratch that idea.

Guess what? I used somebody's frequent flyer miles to get a hotel room for my first night in PV. It's out in Nuevo Vallarta's hotel row where all the big luxury tourist resorts are. Can I get a bus to Nuevo Vallarta? Our plane is about to land. I'm about to find out. "Welcome to Mexico, Jane." Gracias.

Once inside the airport, a bunch of con-artists tried to sell me this and that -- tours, dinners, gold cards. "We'll get you a taxi to your hotel for only $30!" Thirty dollars? No way! So I went outside and crossed the street in order to catch a bus.

"I'll take you to your hotel for only $18," said a gypsy cabbie as I crossed the street. Nope. Then I met this really nice Mexican man who helped me find the right bus. And guess what? Everyone down here knows how to speak Spanish! Even the bus drivers and the little kids. Aren't they smart.

After approximately 45 minutes and approximately 45 buses had passed, my new friend finally found the right one for me. And it only cost me $1.25.

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At my hotel, I got a whole big room to myself. But I was hungry and the nearest street-corner taco vendor was miles away. Maybe I could buy some chips or something at the hotel gift shop? I asked an older Canadian couple on the elevator if they knew any place where I could purchase a snack. They laughed. "Didn't they tell you when you checked in that everything at this hotel is free to the guests?"

"Even the food?"

"Even the food." Then they took me off to the buffet and you can pretty much imagine what happened next.

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Stillwater is a freelance writer who hates injustice and corruption in any form but especially injustice and corruption paid for by American taxpayers. She has recently published a book entitled, "Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips For Touring (more...)

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