I love the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, although aficionados will tell you the eastern beaches of Mexico are the best: whiter sand and fewer rocks.
However, with a little due diligence I have found a spot here in the west that is perfect for me and conveniently coincides with Fendencio’s, my favorite beach restaurant.
I have never been one to spend undue amounts of time in the sea, for as a convert to the Jaws point of view I believe there is probably something pretty awful out there with a short list that has my name on it. I say no thanks.
If one of my friends insists that I enter the water, I start floating as soon as I possibly can, shouting, “This will do me fine,” even if my bottom is touching sand. I see no reason to overdo things.
Some people swim out some way but usually return, shaking their fists at drunken Sea-doo renters after almost being decapitated.
“I am going to report them! Driving while drunk! The man had a margarita in his hand, can you imagine?”
I always do my best to look serious in these cases. This is lovely Mexico. You can do as you wish, but look out, because everybody else is doing what they want, too, and it does not always gel.
The ocean on our coast drops off rather severely after a few short yards, which is why the humpback whales can come so near to our shores. It is something to be appreciated from our condo balcony with a martini firmly held in the left hand while saying something like “Oh, look, everyone,” and pointing with your free hand. But not up close.
Many visitors love to get in boats and go whalewatching, or “whale frightening,” as I like to call it. I know there are many legitimate boat businesses here, but there are also the cowboys who get too near these natural giants and worry the mother and her calf.
Stay way back, please, and reduce your engine noise. No one cares what I think, of course, but if the tourists said that, they would.
There is a woman near me on the beach who is extremely thin in a fashionable way (push stomach out and slope shoulders) and must be close to 80. One can tell that in her day she was a looker, if you know what I mean, a bit of all right.
However, she has the voice of a fishwife, which might be unfair to fishwives. I don’t know, but it is a grating voice.
She is from New York, which I am not sure is relevant. Nonetheless, her vocal cords are made worse by several generations of smoking, which she no longer does.
The interesting bit is she loves the sun and I mean a lot. She sits most of the day broiling, sounding like a mad critic: “Oh my dear, you are doomed with hips like those” and “You can see she bought that suit at a discount.”
She only stands if she wants some sun on her back. That entails turning herself away from the light and looking into the distance as if something interesting has caught her attention. I once was shouted at by her when I introduced myself and she replied, “You are in my sun!”
I was new then, so with an embarrassed look I made my getaway, to many stares by the regulars.
We have not spoken since except once when she remarked, “Who are you?” That was four years ago.
I now think she wants to die in the sun, for she has passed anything that could be classified as an attractive shade of brown. She is approaching a spotty chocolate. Her skin hangs like stringy curtains, beaten by the elements.
The other day I could hear a couple discussing their angst-ridden children. The son had just been fired from his third job in a row and his wife had been laid off from her oil job plus there were three grandchildren involved.
So my fellow beach-goers were being called upon to supply their son with $8,000 minimum per month for the foreseeable.
In passing, the female mentioned that they had not heard from their daughter in over a year and really had no idea where she was. The male, I guess her husband, said at least she did not cost them anything They sank visibly lower into their beach chairs.
It is stunning what you can hear just by being quiet and putting your face into a book, although very sad sometimes, such as the former conversation. In the week since I first overheard them, the couple involved have grown older before my eyes and less talkative. I wonder what has happened.
I also watched a twosome who had just met this season and now appear to becoming a couple. They are not young but their smiles say otherwise. I wish them well.
The writer lives under a palapa in Puerto Vallarta.
© Christopher Dalton 2016