Good Morning Travelers of the Other Side,

Puerto Vallarta is certainly a nice place but one can’t help wonder what’s behind the façade of brown dirty beaches with neatly groomed palm trees and thousands of tourists buying trinkets and tee-shirts. A day doesn’t go by without being pitched for wine, photos, jewelry, golf outings with someone I’ve never heard of, and every entertainer has CD’s available at the end of the bar! I’m not complaining mind you, I’m just saying the marketing scheme to a captive audience is something I’ve not witnessed before and couldn’t have imagined! I assume by city ordinance the peasants and those unfortunate souls living in hovels are hidden away. The obvious absence of such poverty is no doubt brought about by threats of imprisonment. Well that’s my theory anyway.

My objective yesterday was to find someplace a bit off the beaten path I could drink using pesos as opposed to dollars. The Princess has warned her passengers to be wary of places that spike your drink with pure grain alcohol so they can easily have their way with you. She recommends you stick with beer or wine as mixed drinks can easily disguise the deadly spike. This of course was not a problem.

After spending the first few hours combing the not so white beaches nursing a Mai Thai I ventured into the marketplace asking anyone that understood where I could find a good local bar without thousands of ‘Gringos’ hovering about. A fellow tourist overheard my question and seemed all too happy to be the all-knowing stranger and directed me to “PePe’s Hideaway” about four blocks from the main tourist circuit. It sounded as though it would be perfect!

I was relieved to discover the establishment was clean and well maintained, but more importantly though it was air conditioned! It was about 1:00 PM so there weren’t many there but couldn’t help but snicker because ‘PePe’s’ looked to have a version of curmudgeon corner as four older Mexicans were holding court at the end of the bar. I was disappointed to see a few tourists also shared my desire to get away from the ‘boat people’ and sat at the well worn tables to view street traffic. I grabbed a bar stool (no back support) and ordered a Pacifico (brewed by Corona) and charged me 20 pesos or about $1.75 per bottle. EUREKA!!! I had two hours before I had to be back on board and settled in to drink my fill.

I drained the first beer within minutes and ordered another when I noticed the curmudgeons had drifted from their places at the bar to sit at both sides of me to surround. They were smiling and in broken English welcomed me to their city. The biggest asshole asked the bartender to buy me another round so I raised my bottle and toasted all of them thanking them for their hospitality. Two beers later the good natured laughing and ribbing took an ugly turn. Big asshole got in my face and said, “Senor you seem to have forgotten your manners…you can’t buy your hosts a round?” Again I was trapped by my situation and hoped they’d just go away but that was not the case. Damn it….I wanted to drink alone but felt threatened enough to order a round for my captors then excuse myself after slugging my beer in a Dv’ant-like fashion.

Having been extorted for that day’s budget I got back on board and found my favorite bar tended by Sabo from the Philippines. He kept asking me how I was doing “with the ladies” and I regretfully had to explain I hadn’t done as well as I’d hoped, but there was three days left.

The one bright spot for that day was being able to sit down poolside with my Sister Julie. Ironically she’s the youngest of my five other siblings and the only one never to embrace Mormonism. In the 40 some years I’ve lived away from home we’ve never got drunk together. Due primarily to lack of opportunity and the 12 year difference in our ages this bonding just never took place. She wanted to do this and paid for an afternoon of Vodka Tonics and one hell of a good time. God bless her.
The boat pulled away at sunset headed for Mazatlan where El Cid awaits.


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