By Victoria Schmidt
A Visit to the Beach
As I exited the airplane, I was enveloped by moisture. The wet humid air hung heavy in my lungs, and my breathing became labored. Drawing in a breath was like trying to strain air out of water. And yet, this is supposed to be the least humid time of year in Puerto Vallarta.
This was my first exposure to the tourist Mecca; I wanted to take everything in. A bus took us from the small 18-row plane to the terminal. Upon entering the terminal the frigid air-conditioning hit me like opening a freezer on a hot summer’s day. I barely remember traveling through the terminal and getting my bag, there was plenty of help. Outside I found my charter bus, and I was off to my resort.
My first vacation since 1987, the destination was not my choice, but a friend from the USA and her daughter won an all-expense paid trip, and I hadn’t seen them in 13 years. Of course, I would meet them anywhere.
The trip through the city had the flavor of a mixture of Guadalajara and southern California. It really didn’t say “Mexico” to me. It was all modern buildings and heavy traffic. When we reached our destination I was inundated with hotel staff offering baggage help, offering champagne, and then the ritual of checking in. My friend couldn’t wait for me to finish checking in, she sent me a text asking where I was, and I texted back that I was in the lobby waiting to check in. A few minutes later I was lost in her giant hug. Tears spilled from my eyes, and my heart ached for all the years we’d been apart. Her eyes and smile were the same. But much had changed due to her ongoing chemo. This was her first visit to Mexico.
The lobby oozed luxury, the staff all in crisp uniforms; eventually we made our way to the elevators and finally my room. The room was tastefully appointed, and provided a view of the pools, the beach, and the ocean. An escape from a stressful life—a short respite.
“So this is Mexico…” my friend said as she looked around. “Not really.” I answered.
We had ample time to visit, and she wanted to know all about Mexico. “This is a resort, and while it is in Mexico, it is aimed at wealthy Americans, which leaves us both out of our comfort zones.” I spent a lot of time observing the Mexican staff as they worked ‘round the clock. I could hear them washing and cleaning quietly in the middle of the night, where they raked the beach, and washed the area around the pools.
Even though I was given “coupons” when I checked in for discounted services at the Spa, when I went to use them, I found that they wanted a mere $95 USD for a simple mani-pedi. And of course, the coupons couldn’t be applied to them. Suffice it to say I avoided the constant barrage of Spa advertising everywhere at the resort. (Even an entire channel on the television dedicated to it.)
For me, the vista was unequaled. I listened to the waves at night once the band stopped playing. One night it stormed, and from the darkness of my room, I watched lighting dance on the water performing incredible choreography.
All said, the time with my friend and her daughter was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. I won’t soon forget the fun of the time in the pool, the ocean waves which knocked me to the ground and spun me around.
It was time to leave this fanciful place, and return to my home…in the real Mexico.
Column: Editor’s Page
Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. She is a graduate of Moorhead State University, Minnesota and graduated Cum Laude with a BA degree in Radio, Television and Film. At 23 she was hired at multi-national media corporation, where she worked 10 years as their Director for Operations and Finance. She then ran her own business consulting company. She has won multiple community service awards. Writing has been a passion of Victoria’s since Junior High. She has been active in the writing and publishing business for over 40 years and has been a columnist for the Ojo del Lago since 2008.