Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SOMEBODY needs to spend money in Puerto Vallarta

So we did. Not exactly a weekend at the Westin, but we left the economy considerably pumped up after three nights in San Javier de Marina Hospital. Kidney stones. Larry. You really don't want to know the details. Suffice it to say we're back home again, the stones are pretty much gone or going, and he's looking forward to having his life back. For people in Puerto Vallarta, it's going to be a bit longer. Caught between very diligent goverment efforts and horrific foreign press, tourist activity-- almost any activity -- has come to a screeching halt.

It's been two weeks since a cruise ship has docked. It's strange to see the marina without at least one floating city at anchor in the harbor. Usually there are two or three. Every car coming into the city is stopped for inspection. We were when we came in Friday. The guy in uniform was appeased when I said we were headed for a hospital. Then he asked me what the English word for tos was, illustrating his meaning by imitating a cough. If you don't look healthy, or have even a little tos, you are turned back to where you came from.

As we came into town, we saw lines of yellow cabs sidelined along Avenida Francisco Medina Ascensio, the long main thoroughfare that leads into town, waiting for non-existent fares. Hotels are experiencing their lowest occupancy rates ever. Most airlines have cancelled all but one flight a day. Westjet has suspended their flights altogether. Bars, movies and nightclubs have shut down completely. Restaurants might as well be closed. On Saturday afternoon I took a break for a couple of hours and visited my friend Char. She had gone to Vitea's for breakfast/brunch earlier by herself at 11:30. It's a popular bistro, oceanfront on the malecon. An easy place for meeting friends, it's usually crowded, especially on weekends, even during the hot summer months. She was their FIRST customer of the day, and the ONLY customer during her whole meal. As if she were personally responsible for the solvency of her favorite restaurant, she ordered a huge meal and left a ginormous tip.

Char's condo is in a building just off the malecon, opposite the ladder statue. When I drove to her place, I was able to park right around the corner from her entrance-- a feat unheard of on any normal day. But at least she's been able to sleep at night, with Senor Frog's, Hilo, and performances at the Arches all closed and cancelled. Even though Char was full to the gills, we stepped catty-corner across the street to Maria Gallo, where I got the one full meal I enjoyed the whole time I was in PV. Comida corrida -- or plat du jour if you were in France. It was an agua fresca, soup or salad and choice of plato fuerte, all for 55 pesos. Char wrapped hers up and took it home. I scraped every delicious bite off the plate.

As in the States, when the going gets tough, the tough go to Walmart. I headed there before going back to the hospital. I think this was the busiest place in town! Why not? It's cheap and it's air conditioned. The staff there were all wearing masks. The busiest personnel were those using squirt bottles to sanitize the handle of each shopping cart as it was returned, and then once again before offering it to a new customer. I suppose this would be an ideal time for masked bandits to pull off a job....but I haven't heard of any. Believe me, nothing exciting is happening in PV right now.

Things will change. They always do. Business will pick up again, tourists will return. The first ones back will be welcomed with open arms and phenomenal deals. Think about coming down and shoring up the economy of a country that's been really hard hit from bad press and caution. Puerto Vallarta has so much to offer -- and you're sure to have a better time than we did whereever you stay!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's really an interesting entry about PV, gosh it is weird. Some of Arturo's family were in their condo for almost 2 weeks in PV and when we went down to visit them, we, tipsy, got an incredible urge to relive our youth [sic] and visit the malecon. It was even more like a ghost town at night. What a shame. My one chance to go out dancing more than anything!

Millie x