Adventures in Tequila and Puerto Vallarta

Blue agave plants, waiting to be distilled into tasty Tequila

So I have been bad about updating for 2 reasons. I’ve been out enjoying Jalisco the last two weekends and I caught a monster cold. My first weekend here I decided to take the Tequila express since this is the land of Tequila. I did get to see a lot of the country side (it was beautiful) from the train, but the train doesn’t actually go to Tequila. It goes to Amatitlan. I did get to tour a tequila factory which was the goal, but the main point of the Tequila express seems to be to get as rip-roaring drunk as humanly possible in 6 hours. I’m sorry to say that in this respect, I did not represent the U.S. well. I and my liver were not up to the challenge, despite the copious quantities of free-flowing tequila available. I think I had a total of 2 tequila drinks the whole day. My seat-mates however, sure were up to the task! I made friends with some very drunk Mexican military auditors that were TDY like me. Unlike me they only had one day off during their entire trip. Ouch. I think they really enjoyed their day off though. Between their slurred Spanish and my not-so good Spanish, it did make for interesting conversation… Amazingly we seemed to make it work and it was quite a fun day.

Then the cold came on. I was terrified the entire week that I was going to have to cancel my scuba diving trip to Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to loads of over the counter drugs from my local Soriana, about 6 liters of orange juice and the power of prayer, I

The view from my beach chair

managed to keep the cold at bay until about 10 hours after my Scuba excursion. I haven’t really been to “tourist Mexico” so it was a bit of a shock to be in a place where EVERYONE spoke English. I heard more English in Puerto Vallarta than I do in El Paso.  Since I had limited time in Vallarta I went the organized tour route. Saturday I went to Las Caletas island which used to the be home of director John Huston. They had kayaking and snorkeling there but I decided the best way to fend off my cold was lounging in a beach chair and heading up to the spa to get a massage. The massage was great… tragically though a rogue wave caught me while I was snoozing in my chair, and drowned my cell phone in the process. My father was quite entertained when he learned of the demise of yet another cell phone. I have terrible luck with them, my first phone I dropped and it cracked into a million pieces. My second phone I lost in the gear shift my car. Yes, really,

The seahorse statue on the Malecon in downtown Puerto Vallarta

there is a monstrously large gap, I blame Honda’s engineers for that one. Technically it isn’t lost,  I know where it is, I just can’t get it. My third phone was stolen from my car along with my airbags.  So death by giant wave for cell phone #4, is about par for the course for me. Phone 5 is waiting for me Juarez. Here’s hoping it has a long and incident-free life. Anyway, other than the death of another cell phone, it was a lovely day. I followed it up by going to a ballet folklorico performance at Teatro Vallarta. It was too bad that they didn’t have much of an audience because they had a great show.

Sunday was finally diving day! The diving was out at the Marieta Islands, which is one of the spots where Jacques Costeau did a lot of underwater photography. The water was amazingly clear and warm, I didn’t really need that wetsuit afterall. I went diving in the Great Barrier reef about 10 years ago but this was my first post-certification dive. It was quite a difference from a west Texas lake! There were a number of beautiful rock formations and

The Marieta Islands, it's an eco-reserve so you can't go on the islands, but I think the best stuff is below the water anyway!

colorful fish. The highlight was though seeing an octopus and bunch of eels. The more I scuba dive, the more hooked I get. About 10 hours later I paid the price, I had a feeling breathing the dry air would re-aggravate my cold, sure enough 10 hours later I was hacking and coughing like I was at death’s door. Completely worth it though. It was also a nice break to be able to speak English. I’ve been using my Spanish a lot  in Guadalajara which has been great practice, but it was nice to be able to have conversations with people and not be frustrated by my inability to communicate everything I wanted to say. I haven’t done a lot of traveling by myself before, I usually go with friends, and I definitely prefer to travel with people but one nice thing about traveling alone is you do meet a lot more people. I met a lot of interesting people from all over the U.S. in Vallarta and I had the chance to talk with a lot of Guadalajarans. Tomorrow I head back to Juarez. It has been a great TDY, the city is beautiful and the consulate community here in Guadalajara was wonderful and welcoming, the CG even had the TDYers over for dinner along with others from the consulate, but I am looking forward to getting home. I miss my fellow Juarezidents!

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