Bus Rides, Bucket Lists & Bougainvilleas

Well, we ate our way through Puerta Vallarta and discovered that if we lived there we would loose weight. (I know, I say that about every place I visit). Because the shrimp and lobster were so delicious and it was easier to walk than try to run to catch a taxi, we actually lost a couple of pounds on vacation. The bus rides were so rough, due to the cobblestone streets, it seemed that it shook some cellulite off my rear end. Not enough to wear a bathing suit in daylight, but enough to allow me to not come home and need to buy elastic waisted pants. So it truly was a win-win vacation. Randy loved it because the bus ride cost 15 pesos for both of us to ride which translates to less than a dollar per couple. I loved it because I bought cute little capris for $15/pair and painted blouses and silver jewelry.

It has always been on my bucket list to travel to foreign countries and get immersed in the community around me. To experience life as a local.  We discovered that there was nothing like riding the buses in Mexico to help you feel like a local. Sometimes we were the only Americans on the bus. Sometimes, we rode an hour longer than needed because we couldn’t read where the bus was headed and yet, it was delightful to sit and watch the people of the community as they got on and off the bus. I could sit there on the rusted metal seat of the bus and try to imagine what their lives were like. Were they headed home from work or school? Were they going home to a family or to an apartment alone? We encountered several locals who had moved there from the states and for various reasons decided to stay in Mexico and never left. We met Americans who had gone down to visit and decided that they liked it so much, they now lived there part of each year. As we would arrive back at our hotel, the bright color of pink bougainvillea welcomed us into a world which still separated us from the majority of folks  who worked and lived there. As we shopped in the markets, or ate in restaurants, the mood was always the same. The precious people we talked with were happy and content. They laughed with us about a wall being built and told us we had better hurry and get home or we might not be able to get over the newly built wall. One waiter/owner of a small little eatery, kidded us and told us that he had moved from Southern California because there were too many Mexicans there. (He himself was a Mexican) By the time the week was over, we felt that we had changed some of our perspectives. Yes, we are such a blessed Nation of freedoms and choices. Most of us have wonderful places to live and plenty of food on the table. We have cars to drive and too many clothes in our closets. Yet, there was a feeling around us as we walked the streets of PV that taught me that there are millions out there who are truly content with what they have. The people we encountered had a smile for us as we boarded the bus. Some of the men would get up, if there were no seats left and give them to Randy and I.  One of the young men on the bus actually helped Randy off the bus and then got back on himself. It was a joy to eat at restaurants off the beaten path. The food was truly amazing and we experienced the best flour tortillas (bar none) we had ever had. The shrimp and guacamole became a daily “must”. If you are ever in PV, you have to go to El Patron. When we talked to the owner, we were asking why his prices were so reasonable. He told us that he likes to keep it that way so the locals can afford to eat there. It was that type of attitude which seemed to flow throughout the city.

The young were waiting tables and working hard. They were so thankful to have a job. We came away feeling like they were the ones who blessed us. Their attitudes were gracious, yet gentle. They didn’t ask anything in return. Both of our hearts were warmed by not only the Tropical Sun, but by the outpouring of friendliness and gratitude of a listening ear or smile which they received most graciously!

The trip was so wonderful and we are so excited we were able to experience one of our bucket list wishes.