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Trip Reports (Not the Falling Kind)
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The Perfect World >> A Sense of Place >> Trip Reports (Not the Falling Kind)

Trip Reports (Not the Falling Kind)

Kathy J. -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 01:35:56 PM

I love trip reports full of every single detail people can remember. This is a place for those reports and to discuss, ask questions and share memories.

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Kathy J. -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 01:37:16 PM -- 1 of 1490

I took notes of our trip to Puerto Vallarta and managed to write up the first day. Hope everyone who likes to read and write those kinds of things will post them here!(smile)

Kathy J. -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 01:41:55 PM -- 2 of 1490

Puerto Vallarta Trip Report – March, 2003

Preliminaries: We had talked about taking this trip in August when friends of ours (now living in Kentucky) invited us to spend a week at their timeshare in Puerto Vallarta. They reserved a two bedroom and invited us to spend from March 21st until the 28th with them. Unfortunately, when we tried to book airline tickets we could only get a flight that left on the 20th, so that’s the one we took. The airline in its great and glorious wisdom changed our departure times so that instead of leaving at 9 a.m. we would have to leave at 6 a.m. This meant that we had to drive up to the Cities the night before, stay in a hotel that did park and fly and get up at 3 a.m. to catch the shuttle at 3:30 a.m.

I didn’t know for sure whether or not we would be able to go until 3:30 p.m. on that Wednesday. Mom had to have more fluid drained from her abdomen and had not been feeling well since her first chemotherapy. The paracentesis went fine and they drained around a gallon of fluid. I gave my sister mom’s appointment schedule (which I had re-written three times since Tuesday evening), crossed my fingers and got ready to go.

So we packed up the car and headed off to the Cities around 5:30 p.m. The drive was actually kind of nice, as my spouse and I hadn’t really had much time to talk about anything much for a few days. It was pouring rain and after we got to the Cities, we checked in and then drove over to a near by Chili’s for a late supper. (My spouse loves all chain restaurants, especially the ones that serve steak) (smile).

At 3 a.m. the phone rang, we dressed, packed and headed down to the lobby to be greeted by the news that the bombing of Iraq had started while we were sleeping and that everyone was advised to be at the airport a minimum of 2 ½ hours before our flight left. The shuttle driver had a cousin over in Iraq and after cramming 8 people, 20 pieces of luggage and one wheelchair into the van (smile) asked if we minded him having the radio on since he was worried about his cousin.

At the airport by 4 a.m. to find the lines out the door and every single piece of checked luggage being hand searched. We didn’t get to our gate until 5:20. The flight left on time, but we had to gate check the wheelchair since it wouldn’t fit in the first class closet. It arrived right at the gate in Memphis and since we had the good sense (this time at least) (smile) to insist that the leg rests travel in the overhead compartments and not in the luggage compartment, nothing was broken or bent.

(Minor Rant)

Memphis has no actual handicap accessible bathrooms. There are no companion bathrooms, and what they call accessible stalls are too small to actually use to transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet very easily. The grab bars were located too far back to use, and so I ended up cursing under my breath and having to sit backwards on the toilet. Oh well, things could have been worse and at least this time the towel dispenser was next to the sink and close to the garbage can (smile).

Much to our surprise, the gate agent upgraded us to first class. We hadn’t asked (never do) and it was very nice of her to do that for us. The first thing the flight attendant asked us was if we would like some mimosas. My spouse said yes, and after she gave them to us, I asked him what they were. He said he didn’t know but he thought he remembered someone on Buffy asking for a mimosa. Turned out to be champagne in orange juice which did surprise both of us.

The plane flight itself was pretty uneventful, with beautiful mountains and what looked to be volcanoes. When the plane landed in Puerto Vallarta, it landed about a half mile out from the terminal. In other words, no jet way but instead, a set of long metal steps rolled up to the plane. Everyone else got off of the plane and onto one of the three waiting buses. My wheelchair was unloaded and at the foot of the steps.

I managed (with my spouse basically pulling me along) to make it to the top of the steps and I looked down at a group of about 5 Mexican airport workers who were standing next to my wheelchair. I also had the opportunity to look at all three buses that were packed with other passengers from the airplane. After trying the first step and just about pitching myself over the side, I carefully considered my options, started laughing and then sat down like a little kid and bumped myself on my rump down the steps one at a time (smile).

Heck, how many people can say that they arrived in Mexico on their butt! After getting into my wheelchair, the young man pushing it said to my spouse (who was carrying 4 separate carry-on bags) “stay RIGHT behind me.” And then we were off across the tarmac, circling around other jets and waiting for a jet to finish taking off before we crossed that particular part of the pavement. The buses had just finished unloading when we finally reached the main terminal building, and the customs lines were out the door.

The young man pushing my wheelchair barreled past all of the lines, weaving in and out. He asked me for our papers and I handed him our passports and the two forms we had to fill out on the plane. He handed me back one form and then gave the rest to a customs agent who stamped them without looking at them. He shoved his way into the line of people waiting for their luggage, grabbed our bags off of the conveyer belt, yelled something in Spanish to another worker who grabbed the bags and followed along. So now there was a little convoy of me in my wheelchair, the gentleman pushing me, my spouse loaded down with the carry-ons and another young man pulling our two checked bags.

At the spot where you are supposed to push a button and if you get a red light they look through everything and if you get a green light they don’t, he said something in Spanish to the person working there who then did something and the light flashed green twice. As he pushed us towards the line of cabs, I said (panicking) “we didn’t have time to get any pesos!” He said: “Senora, they will take dollars, so don’t worry.”

We were in the cab and at our hotel about 15 minutes from the time I bumped my way down the flight of steps off of the airplane (smile). Not only did I not have one single idea of what the airport looked like, I also had no idea what going through customs was like.

We arrived and checked in at the Westin Regina. I had picked this hotel because we had lots of points so that the room was free. And the room was beautiful….on the 6th floor facing the ocean with a balcony and hibiscus flowers. There was even real, live hummingbirds feeding from the flowers. The view was spectacular of the bay and since the resort had been built on the site of a coconut plantation, lots and lots and LOTS of coconut trees.

Everyone one was so friendly and helpful and no one was impatient about the wheelchair. I really hadn’t realized how impatient people can be until Puerto Vallarta. The impatience is pretty much the norm and it wasn’t until it was missing that I realized that I was always fairly tense (and apologetic) about the wheelchair.

After we got settled in, we took a cab to “El Centro” to find a grocery store and an ATM. The cab ride was kind of okay and the cab driver was very pleasant and helpful. There are some curb cuts in the main shopping streets, but the curbs that were there were very high and steep because the run-off from the rainy season means that the businesses would flood without them. Everyone was very helpful about getting the wheelchair up and down. People would ask if they could help, or make motions. They would also march out into the street and stop traffic so that we could get across.

And none of the cab drivers, bus drivers or other vehicles got impatient. No one yelled at us or tried to hurry up and get past us the way that they usually do. The timeshare sales people mostly left us completely alone (they offer tours and I think that seeing the wheelchair kind of confused them) (smile). The few timeshare people that did approach us were yelled at in Spanish (at least that is what it sounded like) by other Mexican people. That is my best guess any way about what was happening.

The grocery store was fascinating. My spouse went in the out door and it took much assistance for fellow shoppers to get us going the right direction. Again, everyone was very helpful and kind. We picked up some very spicy Cheetos, Coke Light (which is sweeter than diet Coke), candy bars, bottled water, paper towels, popcorn, chips and cookies. All of which only cost 8 bucks.

I loved looking at everything and we would have spent longer but I was starting to wear down at this point. The store had children who looked to be about 10 or so bagging the groceries. But when we tried to tip him, one of the other shoppers (a woman in her 50’s) swooped down, took the money away from the boy, scolded him (that’s what it sounded like) and insisted on giving us the money back to us. I did apologize but (according to my spouse who actually can speak some Spanish), she told me that my apology wasn’t necessary.

We got into another cab and this one was NOT a fun experience. The cab driver kind of grabbed me and stuffed me into the cab. Then he scolded us for not asking him the price before we got in, rolled his eyes and told us not to be so trusting and that we needed to ask or we would be taken advantage of. He then charged us exactly what the cab from the hotel had charged us.

His driving was, um, terrifying to say the least. No seatbelts, all of the windows rolled down and he drove like a maniac. After the first six or so near misses with buses and other cars, I buried my face in my spouse’s chest and screamed every time the cab swerved, slammed on the brakes, or the cab driver leaned out his window honking his horn and screaming stuff in Spanish to the other drivers. I had NO voice left by the time we got to the hotel and it was so darn noisy that my spouse never even heard me screaming!

Predictably, my spouse and the cab driver found this amusing (sigh). My spouse told me later that the cab driver had looked at me cowering in the back seat, looked at my spouse and my spouse told him in Spanish that I was “very tired.” I then told my spouse that I would NOT ride in any other cabs unless the drivers slowed down. Being a wise man, he chose not to argue with me at that point(smile).

After putting the groceries away in the room, we strolled (well, my spouse pushed and I rode in the wheelchair) (smile) around the grounds which were just beautiful. I felt like I had fallen into a travel video of some sort, as it was lush and green, beautiful flowers, clear swimming pools and little curving paths (with ramps!) all through the pool areas. A very nice young man (Miguel) invited us to a breakfast the next morning for a timeshare presentation. Since our friends weren’t going to be there until 2 p.m. or so and since we wanted a late check-out which Miguel guaranteed, we said yes.

Then went to the patio, had some appetizers and a couple of margaritas before heading up to bed. The food was wonderful and sitting out looking at the ocean and the palm trees was just so darn different from sitting at home watching the snow melt(smile).

catling -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 02:56:10 PM -- 3 of 1490
The best wedding sparklers are the long-lasting #14 Gold. They are also very effective in exorcisms. All sparklers are wonderful for bringing and ridding curses.- sparkler sales web site

Rubbernecking at Democracy in Action

November 22, 2000. Tallahassee, FL.

Okay the plan had been to head from our neck of the swamp in the Panhandle to Orlando for a couple of days of fun spent Not Going to the theme parks. We just wanted to get away from home for a couple of days.

So we're heading down that long dull stretch of I-10 in a rental car with no CD player, and were at the point where the only radio station is the bazillion watt spanish language salsa one out of Tampa. We hit Tallahassee, decide it's lunch time, and pull in to something close to the highway for fast food.

"You know how nothing ever happens in these parts."

"And we've got reporters from around the world camped out five miles south of here."

"Let's do it."

When you get down to it, there's a certain sameness to mid-sized state capitols. You've got the old state capitol building, which is quaint and historic and pretty, and is purely ceremonial these days. You've got the new state capitol building, which is minimalist ugly but is where the work of the state legislature and their minions gets done these days. Just off to one side, you get the large middling-to-good state university, and the whole town is awash in earnest civil servants.

Think of Tallahassee as Madison, but with palm trees, or Lansing with much better weather.

So head five miles into downtown. Both the old and new capitol buildings are on a bit of a rise in the middle of things. In Florida, we'd call the location on the hill. By Colorado terms, it's probably a speed bump. As we go past the center of Florida government, I'm reminded of why the newsies have been cropping their pictures of the capitol complex. You see the old capitol building (standard three story bicameral looking thing) is directly in front of the new capitol office building (tall skinny thing looking like the Washington Monument) and the effect is rather phallic.

So we circle around that image in search of parking, and go past a whole bunch of satellite trucks from exotic places like Tampa and Pittsburgh, cut in front of the state supreme court building, and voila!- parking garage. First hour free-$0.50 per half hour after that. Ben parks the car as I praise cheap parking in the name of urban renewal.

So we walk back to the capitol complex. The supreme court building is down the hill and across the street from the legislative chambers. In between, the newsies have stashed themselves in what is normally a garden area. The state police stand watch in front of the supreme court building, on guard for what I don't know. A Lone Protestor marches back and forth in front of the building, careful to not get too close to the cops, and at the same time trying to not block off the sidewalk for everyone else. We discover we aren't the only tourists there. Ben takes a couple of pictures. It's a real mix from the stereotypical Florida Geezer down to parents who have brought their kids down for a gawk so that they could have thier chance to see Democracy in Dysfunction.

Walk around a bit more, and circulate among the newsies. Their camera pit area isn't a garden, it's actually a large fountain area that's been turned off for the winter, Tallahassee being far enough north that it actually has noticable seasons. Ben takes a couple more pictures. Mental speculation involves how much I could sue for if I had a trip and fall accident because neither CNN or Fox has done anything to secure their 250 miles of cable to the pavement. I also wonder how many newsies they'd lose from electocution if the fountain got turned on, and whether that would necessarily be a bad thing if certain talking heads got a bit of inadvertant electroshock theapy.

There's some fixing of hair and make-up, and someone does their hourly "The Florida Supreme Court is still taking a smoke break" report. Walk around a bit more, and look at the satellite trucks up close. More pictures for Ben. Listen to some complaining about how the journalists got kicked out of their hotel rooms because of the football game over the weekend. I understand the hotel owner's point. Election messes may come and go, but if you've got loyal customers who spend 5-6 weekends at your inn every season as they make the pilgrimage to Doak Campbell, those are the people you want to keep happy.

Circle back around to the side of the new capitol building, and come across an Asian news crew shooting an update to the backdrop of the first three floors of the new building. More pictures for Ben, and we resist the urge to sneak in back of them and flash a peace sign or a John 3:16 sign, or don rainbow wigs or something. We see someone making their way down the sidewalk with a bunch of purple and silver baloons. Fortunately, it's not someone attempting to embarass one of the state troopers on guard celebrating a birthday, and it turns out the Lone Protestor now has someone else marching with him. Ah, happy companionship, the fellow no longer has to march alone in the biting 50F cold.

Watch a bit more of producers trying to line up a guest for the cameras in an attempt to create the illusion that something is actually happening, and suddenly we realize that our hour of free parking is alomst up, and that we've got a long way to go before getting to Orlando that night. So Ben uses up the last of his roll of film, and we're in the car, and back on the way.

Kathy J. -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 03:03:33 PM -- 4 of 1490

catling, that sounds like such an interesting day! How fascinating to be there and describe what it was like. I've never seen a picture of that state capitol, but I expect I would recognize it after this description:

You see the old capitol building (standard three story bicameral looking thing) is directly in front of the new capitol office building (tall skinny thing looking like the Washington Monument) and the effect is rather phallic.

Thank you for taking the time to share your trip report!

catling -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 03:06:41 PM -- 5 of 1490
The best wedding sparklers are the long-lasting #14 Gold. They are also very effective in exorcisms. All sparklers are wonderful for bringing and ridding curses.- sparkler sales web site

It was something I'd meant to write up for a while, but nver got around to recording my impressions. But today has been so slow at work, and a nice shiny thread, and it was time to put it down before I forgot it. Big vivid moments in history are often surrounded by a lot of dead space.

Kathy J. -- Saturday, March 29, 2003 -- 03:16:02 PM -- 6 of 1490

catling, I like having the trips written down too. Mostly because even though I think I will remember most of the details, I have found out that I don't. My spouse and I have a fun time re-reading some of my older trip reports and talking about the stuff that happened.

jaybird -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 04:30:40 PM -- 7 of 1490
Reading a Bush transcript is like watching a landed fish gasp for air. (MC Gusto)

Kathy, the Westin Regina in Puerto Vallarta sounds even nicer than the one in Cabo San Lucas, where we stayed once on a free trip from my then-employer. It was huge, but didn't feel that way because of all the gardens and pools sprinkled throughout the property.

Kathy J. -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 06:03:39 PM -- 8 of 1490

jaybird, we were told that the Westin Regina was built on what was a coconut plantation and that they tried to leave as many trees as possible when they built it. And for such an enormous hotel/condo complex it was amazingly well-ramped, multiple pools and areas to sit and just enjoy everything.

(And I have not had time to work on any more of the trip report and don't know when I will get to it!)

Stephanie D. -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 06:58:23 PM -- 9 of 1490
"La, sir!" cried Fatima, striking Abdul with her fan. "Is that the first cuckoo I hear?"

I look forward to hearing more, Kathy. I was telling my fiancé about your experience and he was really interested, especially about how patient and accommodating people were compared to the U.S.

aussiegirl -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 09:01:52 PM -- 10 of 1490

Yep loved your story so far, Kathy, we spent 3 months lying on a beach in La Paz and loved every minute of it.

Kathy J. -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 09:13:17 PM -- 11 of 1490

Puerto Vallarta Trip Report – Day 2

Both of us slept 11 hours and didn’t wake up until almost 10 a.m. We got cleaned up and packed up some of the stuff in the hotel room. After checking with them downstairs, we found out that Miguel had gotten us a 2 p.m. late check-out time.

Down to the lobby we went where we met Miguel and then Maria, a college student majoring in marketing (which she called “merchandising”). She is going to spend a year in Canada next year doing an internship. She doesn’t know where she will be yet, but is hoping it is not too cold.

We then met with the timeshare salesman, Mark. He was from Texas and has lived in Puerto Vallarta for three years with his wife and children. They all loved it there (his wife is Mexican) and he is the only one who doesn’t speak any Spanish, just Puerto Rican. He (like many sales people) spoke very, very quickly, but we told him a bit about why we were there and about mom. He had just lost a brother and a father to cancer too.

Now, I don’t expect salesmen to be anything other than salesmen. Getting mad at them for using sales techniques is kind of like getting angry with your dentist for using dental techniques(smile). Plus no one is ever going to talk my spouse into doing anything he doesn’t want to do.

Mark told us that we should have gotten more for agreeing to come to the timeshare presentation than a couple of drinks and a $50.00 gift certificate for the restaurant on property. I told him that if we hadn’t wanted to come, we wouldn’t have and since we did want to be there it didn’t really make any difference to us what the incentives were.

We took a tour of the property and the various studio, one and two bedroom units. At the end of this I was not feeling well. He wanted to talk about us buying and I needed to lie down since I couldn’t listen or focus on anything he was saying. We rescheduled for the next morning after our friends had arrived.

As we were heading back to our room, our friends met us in the hotel lobby. So we packed everything up, checked out and headed next door to the Mayan Palace. It was a two bedroom, with two patios, both ocean views, a large living area with two full size couches, coffee and end tables, an only slightly smaller dining area with a table and chairs and a kitchenette.

They gave us the larger bedroom, so we had a balcony, tub and shower, vanity area and spectacular view of the bay. It was very spacious and the colors were muted blues and browns. The floor was tile and not at all slippery. Altogether a lovely resort with very spacious timeshare units and a nice, compact pool area. All with ramps! I rested for a bit while my spouse and our friends walked around and explored the grounds a bit. We were going to meet for supper with some friends of our friends (a lawyer and his CPA wife) who were on their last night at the Mayan Palace.

Everyone we met from the people at the hotel desk on were very easy to deal with and were not upset about the wheelchair. They focused on what they could do to make sure that I got where I was going and had the assistance I needed and not on the amount of time or disruption that the wheelchair can cause. It was all kinds of little things...from holding the elevator doors when they saw the wheelchair coming instead running ahead to get on first, to moving the chairs away from the table so that the wheelchair could take that space.

It mostly felt like they didn’t see the wheelchair as an obstacle for them but just as another thing to deal with that wasn’t a big deal. I really hadn’t realized how tense I was when I deal with people who aren’t used to wheelchairs and how easy the Mexican people made it for me to just do or be helped to do the things I wanted. They were very polite, and if the wheelchair bothered them, I sure didn’t know(smile).

Fred is a personal injury lawyer, who after I told him about my fall at Disney World and my mom’s mis-diagnosis told me that while he as a human being was really, really glad that there were people like me in the world, that as a personal injury lawyer it was absolutely painful to listen to these kinds of incidents(smile). I told him he was a sweetheart but that I really believe that we call this kind of stuff “accidents” because no one meant to have anything happen.

His wife is about 6 months pregnant with their second child, and thanks to everything I’ve learned from people here, we had a nice conversation about their oldest daughter, daycare and pregnancy stuff. Their daughter is disabled, with a hearing deficit and other difficulties caused by problems during labor and delivery.

We had a wonderful dinner at the Argentine Steakhouse. I had spinach ravioli (which was good, but not as good as Jennifer R.’s!) and everyone else had steaks of various kinds. They bring all of the different kinds of steaks (raw) to the table and everyone picks the one they want. I had to get into the restaurant through the kitchens, which meant that I got to see the cooking in action, which was kind of fun. Everyone was very helpful about making sure that I could get to the table and not have any problems that way.

We ate, laughed, talked for hours and got to watch yachts coming and going in the marina harbor. A three piece group serenaded us in the restaurant, and we even got to see one of the big cruise ships head out to see all lit up! A few days later I would get to see one more close up and MY, those ships are huge!

After eating, we walked past one yacht where a couple was having their meal served to them while they looked out at the bay. I really felt as if I had fallen into a travel video(smile). The stars were out, there was music drifting across the water, a gentle breeze and the smell of hibiscus and azaleas everywhere.

Back at the Mayan Palace, we said goodbye to Fred and Jennifer (who were leaving early the next morning), and Fred lectured me again about malpractice type stuff. I finally told him that I had gotten what I considered to be some of the best legal advice around right here on-line(smile). We sat up in our room on the balcony just listening to the ocean and talking with our friends until well after midnight.

Off to bed with the patio doors open so we could listen to the waves.

Brooke -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 09:42:15 PM -- 12 of 1490
I should have remembered that I don't like people. Why would I want to meet more of them?

Kathy, I am really enjoying your account of your trip. You're a great storyteller - keep it coming!

Kathy J. -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 10:29:40 PM -- 13 of 1490

Brooke, Stephanie and aussiegirl, I'm glad you're enjoying reading them, as I am having fun writing them up. Just re-living the memories kind of gives me a break from reality(smile) and today has been one of those days when I've really, really wanted a break! I have day three sort of started, and if the phone would just quit ringing, might get a chance to finish it up yet tonight.

Kathy J. -- Monday, March 31, 2003 -- 11:01:55 PM -- 14 of 1490

Puerto Vallarta Trip Report – Day 3

We slept well, and were up by 9 a.m. to another picture perfect day. It was sunny, a light breeze, blue skies and the heavenly smell of flowers. I spent almost half an hour watching the sailboats and parasailors until it was time to head next door (with our friends) for the rest of the timeshare presentation.

We walked back over to the Regina (went in the back entrance for deliveries and trucks because it was MUCH more accessible for us) and then proceeded to get lost on our way to the place where the timeshare stuff was done.

The front entrance to the Westin Regina is a very steep, cobblestone hill. While it was possible for all of us to make it up it, this wasn’t very easy for anyone except me and that was because I was riding not pushing or walking(smile). Going through the back way was kind of interesting and I have to say that the people in the guard house would just lift up the gate for us and wish us a good day/afternoon/evening and didn’t seem to be upset with us for coming in the “back door.”

The service people driving were all very good about waiting until we were out of the middle of the street (only place that wasn’t too rough to push the wheelchair) and not the least bit impatient. When we would thank them for their patience, they were all smiles and would say “da nada” which my spouse tells me means “it is nothing.” This was our experience with all of the Mexican people we met during our trip...very polite, did what they could to make things easier and didn’t seem at all upset about the wheelchair.

This is in contrast with one of the chain hotels that we stayed at in Chicago a few years ago when the only way for me to get to the meeting area was to go outside and come in past the garbage cans through a side door. Even though we had been told to go in that way by the manager, we were always stopped and people were always upset and angry that we were where we weren’t “supposed” to be(sigh).

Anyway, enough ranting!(smile) Mark was with another couple, so we had a leisurely breakfast and then took our friends up to see the units. One of the things all of us liked about this particular timeshare was the flexibility with how the units could be put together or broken apart. Basically all of the units are studios of different kinds. One studio has a king size bed, the usual bedroom furniture, TV, a bathroom with a tub and a shower, a separate vanity area and a full balcony with a table, chairs and hot tub. The other studio was a large room with no balcony, but with two full size beds, small table with two chairs, TV plus a very nice kitchen with a full size fridge, breakfast bar, stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, toaster, blender, food processor and mixer. The bathroom was behind the kitchen with a stand up shower and no tub. The third type of studio is similar to the second type but with a pull out queen size couch and table and chairs instead of two full beds. To make a one bedroom you combine the types of studios you want and to make a two bedroom you combine the three types of studios you want.

The décor was very nice with lots of bright, primary colors, tile floors, blue and white tile in the kitchen and lots and lots of light. When we came down after showing the units to our friends, we met with Mark and discussed purchase prices.

While we are novices at timeshare stuff ourselves, our family and friends are not. And they had basically told us exactly what was important, what wasn’t important and we had checked the prices the units were selling for out on the web before we came to Puerto Vallarta. Plus friends we were staying with had purchased two other timeshares before they bought at the Mayan Palace. After going over the figures and having time to talk with our friends about the prices (and comparing them with the ones we already had), we decided to buy.

I asked Mark if he had thought we were going to come back to meet with him and he told us “No.” Which did surprise me a bit. He seemed to think that we were not getting stuff that we should be getting (not knowing that we had researched this pretty thoroughly before we had decided to listen to him), and kept adding all kinds of stuff that I have no idea if we will use or not.

Our first year fees were waived and we are the owners of a total of four certificates for completely free one week stays during the next two years at any of these resorts: Club Regina Cancun, Club Regina Puerto Vallarta, Club Regina Los Cabos, Hotel Villa Vera Acapulco, Casa san Felipe Hostal Oaxaca, Cimarron Golf Resorts California, Kona Reef Resorts Hawaii, Whiski Jack at British Columbia and the Teton Club at Jackson Hole Wyoming.

They also included a 2 for 1 cruise (use in the next two years) and yet another free week at any of the RCI resorts listed which take up an entire book! Like my spouse said, I guess we won’t be paying for our rooms anyplace we decide to go for the next few years(smile).

Oh, and Mark stopped by the hotel gift shop and picked up an amethyst necklace and bracelet for me! Which was fairly amusing, as I am really not the kind of person who wears a whole lot of jewelry. He increased my entire jewelry collection by 1/3(smile).

The whole thing was kind of strange, as we had talked to at least three other couples that we had met who had purchased their timeshares there and no one got anywhere near the amount of stuff that we did even though we all paid the exact same amount. I will never understand how salespeople work!

The paperwork took a couple of hours and then we went back to the Mayan Palace and spent the rest of the day at the pool. I had my first pina coloda at happy hour and had the fun of watching all kinds of little ones play in the pool. All of the kids were having so much fun and were so well behaved. One of the parents told me that they had been surprised at how much the Mexican people loved kids and how nice it was to be in a place where kids were treated so well.

After getting cleaned up, we strolled next door and used the $50 gift certificate (which Mark had increased to $200!) at a wonderful seafood restaurant called “Garibaldi’s.” The seafood was incredible. So fresh and everything was absolutely wonderful. According to the travel guides, the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are located in the resort hotels, which is kind of different from what we have usually found (that the hotel restaurants are not very good). This was an outdoor restaurant with a grass roof that sat right out on the beach and the musicians were a harpist and a guitarist who were just wonderful.

There was a wedding party going on next door so we got to see all kinds of well dressed Mexican guests and listen to some of the music there. The bride was lovely and the kids were just delightful. It was a perfect night with a gentle breeze and lots of stars. One more time I felt like I had fallen into the middle of a travel video(smile).

Back at the Mayan Palace, our spouses went for a walk on the beach while we sat and got caught up on each others lives. Then off to bed with the patio doors open so we could listen to the ocean. Tomorrow is going to be another pool day and then we are going down to El Centro to watch people on the Malecon.

Stephanie D. -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 12:46:40 AM -- 15 of 1490
"La, sir!" cried Fatima, striking Abdul with her fan. "Is that the first cuckoo I hear?"

Kathy, I've got a huge grin on my face, picturing you having such a good time. Thanks for the great reports!

madtownvoodoo -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 01:37:20 PM -- 16 of 1490

Kathy - thanks for writing these reports. It sounds like you really enjoyed your experiences in Mexico!

jaybird -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 01:58:41 PM -- 17 of 1490
Reading a Bush transcript is like watching a landed fish gasp for air. (MC Gusto)

Kathy,

I'm really enjoying your trip reports. I sounds like a great trip. You're making me want to go back to Mexico soon.

momma_tiger -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 02:54:58 PM -- 18 of 1490

You're making me want to go anywhere soon. Except to Maine for a Blueberry Wrap like my kids stepmom did. What a waste of blueberries.

Anywho.

Kathy J. -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 06:21:45 PM -- 19 of 1490

Puerto Vallarta Trip Report - Day 4

We woke up a bit earlier today, so maybe we are finally catching up on our sleep enough so that we won’t feel so tired. There was a lovely champagne brunch at the restaurant downstairs with well over 100 different items to choose from. It was about a 50/50 mix of Mexican people and non-Mexican people.

From what others told us, the period during Lent is when a lot of schools are not in session in Mexico and the kids are on vacation with their parents. Lent and the other Christian holidays are also very busy at the resorts, as usually the Mexican people vacation at a much different time than the Americans do bit are there at the same time during those dates. Normally, the busy months for Americans are January, February and March and for the Mexicans it is June, July and August.

This meant that there was a mix of Mexican foods and non-Mexican foods at the buffet. There was a dozen types of fresh fruit smoothies, large plates of fresh fruits (pineapple, bananas, mangos, strawberries, grapes, grapefruit and oranges), different cheeses and meats, bagels, toast, an entire Mexican area with tortillas and all kinds of fillings to have the chef grill, an omelet/scrambled eggs station, different kinds of sausages and bacon, fresh squeezed pineapple, grapefruit and orange juice and an entire pastry bar with all kinds of different chocolate and fresh fruit pastries. We sat outside under the canopy and talked, laughed and listened to the ocean a few feet away.

At noon, our friends went to the pool with their books and my spouse and I went over to drop off a thank you note for Mark for the necklace and bracelet. I also told my spouse about my feeling uncomfortable about the gift of jewelry, as I had been raised that only a woman’s father or husband should give a woman jewelry(smile). (Except for the children, who are allowed to give their mother anything they think is beautiful which is why I still wear a bright pink cat with pink rhinestone eyes pin that my oldest gave me when he was 6 years old).

We came back to the Mayan Palace, put sunscreen on and gathered up our books to join our friends down at the pool. I don’t tan, so was under the umbrella most of the time. I have so little pigment that I don’t even freckle! We walked down to the beach area to see what the vendors had to sell. In Puerto Vallarta, all of the beaches are public property that anyone can be on. The vendors buy licenses for certain areas of the beach, and are not allowed to come up onto the hotel grounds to sell things. This means that you have to go down to the beach (or to the sea wall) to purchase things.

There was nothing there that I couldn’t live without, although my friends bought a large white polyester lace tablecloth. They had purchased a couple of these a few years ago, and they wear like iron, never wrinkle and don’t stain. She goes to the fabric shop and has them cut a length of fabric in the color she wants under the lace tablecloth, which looks truly lovely.

After getting cleaned up, we took the bus to El Centro to look around and have supper. On Sunday evenings, families dressed in their Sunday best will walk up and down the Malecon (kind of like a boardwalk only wider and made of concrete). There were children doing traditional Mexican dances in the amphitheater at one end and they were really fun to watch. There were jugglers, street musicians, fire eaters and parents with their children all dressed in traditional Mexican Sunday best walking up and down talking with their friends. It was more of a family type carnival and very fun to watch and participate.

None of the timeshare people would approach us, probably because of the wheelchair. I have to say that I didn’t really miss them one little bit(smile). We ate supper at a restaurant called Los Palomas. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, as there were about three steps into the restaurant. It was kind of funny having all of them rushing around, giving instructions to each other in Spanish about the best way to help me up the steps(smile). And again, they were very decent about the wheelchair.

Part of the problems with wheelchairs is that the “footprint” of a wheelchair is so darned big. Human beings don’t seem to have a lot of problems tripping over each other when we are in groups, and it is probably because our brains register where the other person’s head is and assumes that the torso and feet will be straight down. In a wheelchair, my legs and feet are out in front of me and the big back wheels are behind me. Which makes tripping over one end or the other much more likely. But they understood that making sure the wheelchairs back wheels were out of the main traffic areas (where the servers are working) makes things easier for everyone.

The meal was wonderful. Full of traditional Mexican foods with a lot of seafood (which Puerto Vallarta is known for). I do have to say that I think it would be difficult for me to ever get used to throwing toilet paper in the garbage cans though. But the bathrooms were clean, even those in the older buildings.

About 10:30 (no buses after 11 p.m.), we caught another bus back to the Mayan Palace. The bus driver was very patient about my (very slow) making it up the stairs and my spouse’s lugging the wheelchair on. He was also quite even tempered. When he was cut-off by another driver, he leaned over and spoke his piece without raising his voice or swearing at the other driver. He also pointed out a lot of the hurricane damage and told us a bit about it. From what he said, it sounds like the entire Malecon is brand new as the old one was destroyed in the hurricane. The curb cuts are also new, and they are trying to get them on every corner in all of the shopping areas. I know that they certainly made my life a LOT easier(smile).

Back at the Mayan Palace, my spouse and I strolled around their reflecting pool and waterfall before heading off to bed. We really hadn’t purchased anything at El Centro, but knew we would be going back there at least one more time before we left for home. We had a nightcap with our hosts and headed off to bed for a bit earlier night.

Brooke -- Tuesday, April 01, 2003 -- 06:42:34 PM -- 20 of 1490
I should have remembered that I don't like people. Why would I want to meet more of them?

Kathy, I've never been to Mexico, or any big resort area really, and I'm curious about your references to the timeshare people. Are there salespeople hanging out in the streets or something, approaching tourists to sell timeshares?

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The Perfect World >> A Sense of Place >> Trip Reports (Not the Falling Kind)