Editor’s note: After a hiatus of several months, Chris Dalton is back with his reports on the trials and the joys of buying his condo in Puerto Vallarta.
I forgot to mention something that happened when our furniture was being moved into our condo in December 2011. My friend Fred reminded me of the time people were having fun in our living room before we even got there.
Our semi-finished place in the sun was trudging along in late 2011, with us still imagining (estúpido) that we would be able to have a family Christmas, as if the electricity and elevator would be ready in a few days. We were blind to the reality of the situation, or should I say the Mexican situation.
All the Spanish-speaking players were telling us that would be the case. “Just buy a turkey at Costco and all will be well,” they intimated. You see, they honestly wanted us to be happy before they became “out of contact” in Guadalajara for the entire Christmas season.
But back to what I started to say: Someone was using our condo, now full of our new furniture, before we had moved in.
After Christmas was over, with no sign of electricity and the children back in Canada, I would visit the condo as our contractor finished up the little things. Of course, with no elevator I still had to trudge up the happy 10 floors while holding my chest.
One late afternoon, as I walked back down the stairs, I spotted two shadows darting along the fourth floor. I knew we were the only ones who had taken possession, so who were these two? There was only the security chap with his family who lived in an unfinished apartment on the first floor, but this was something new.
I stopped on the second floor and listened to my hard-beating heart, while staying in the growing shadows to see what this specter might be. All was quiet, so I walked back to the hotel, still slightly unsettled.
The next day I returned to our condo with the huge bottles of Coca-Cola that seem mandatory to fuel the workforce. I once offered cold water with ice, but this was met with sad smiles until I suggested pop, and all has been well ever since.
It is a strange diet, tacos and Coke, but when in Rome, etc. However, it seems to me, this would raise eyebrows among urologists and first responders.
Anyway, as I walked around our place in the clouds, I could not help but smile at our good fortune, but then my blood ran cold. The couch had been moved slightly.
It might not sound like much, but I knew every square inch of that place and my wife Michelle and I had carefully placed every piece of our living room. I brought our contractor down from the terrace and asked whether his laborers had used the downstairs area.
He was outraged that I thought he would allow that; after all, he had made sure that the Coca-Cola was only available on the terrace upstairs.
There was no arguing with an airtight rebuttal such as that. However, if it was not our sugar-buzzing workers, who was it? I was not happy. After all we had been through to lift that stuff to the penthouse, it was infuriating to find someone else was enjoying our home!
I staggered down the stairs in a sullen mood, I can tell you. The unfairness of it all really got to me. I was determined to find out who was enjoying what we could not.
The next day I went up to the condo and again I found evidence that others had been there. This was unacceptable. I spent the rest of the day serving Coca-Cola to our workers and looking for clues.
The youngest of the tilers was a handsome 20-year-old who spent an inordinate amount of time watching my circuitous wanderings about the place. His name was Rubin, as I came to find out. He was pleasant enough and worked hard like the rest, but he had a slightly furtive look around the eyes.
At 6 everyone stopped working and began to clean up, putting their tools under tarps for the night. I saw them out and locked up. Suddenly I saw the security guy’s daughter walking up the stairs, stopping at the fifth floor and looking at Rubin wistfully, as only lovers can. But the girl was not yet 14!
Rubin stopped at the same floor as the girl, waiting for me to go by. What could I do? The girl, Carlotta, lived in the building with her father. But I did give them the hairy eyeball, and I mean it was hairy.
I walked down to the fourth and looked back up. The suspicious pair stood looking back sulkily. I walked slowly down to the third. They had not moved. I carried on to the second and quickly turned around, but they were gone.
That was it. I started to run up the stairs in pursuit of my proof of trespassing with intent.
I was doing pretty well as I rounded third, but by the fourth floor I wondered what I was doing. I was going to die on a stairwell, that’s what I was doing. I sat down trembling. I looked up and the dreadful duo were looking at me from the sixth floor with laughter in their eyes.
“Hey,” I whisper-shouted, “I am watching you.”
They came dancing past me as I clung to the railing, headed for the first floor, which I managed to reach about 10 minutes later on a slow trudge to the street. As I passed their grinning faces and turned my back to conquer the last stairs, I heard them softly running up the stairs, no doubt to their love nest in the sky, thanks to my wife and me.
What could I do? One more step before a good night’s sleep and I would be a goner.
I take no joy in reporting that I saw the little girl Carlotta, now almost 19, with her three children a few days ago. When I asked a local shopkeeper about her, he sadly answered that she had been left by her young man and was now destitute.
The writer lives under a palapa in Puerto Vallarta.
© Christopher Dalton 2016