For whatever reason, I’ve not been out of the country much. My brother took me to Club Med in Martinique once — a present for graduating from college (and it was also retroactively a present for graduating from high school, and getting a full-time job, and moving near him, and having 15-odd birthdays that he had overlooked). That was nearly 20 years ago, and I hadn’t left the U.S. since.
I came close: We went to the Virgin Islands a few years back and I got so excited to renew my passport — finally, another stamp! — but it turns out we were in the U.S. Virgin Islands the whole time, so the passport wasn’t necessary. I never really even made it in to Canada; I drove up once with my neighbors, but at the border they discovered they didn’t have their dog’s tags and our Neighbors to the North kindly declined to let us enter the country. (We made it far enough in to turn the car around and go home.)
“How is this possible?” Smarmy Bastard asks incredulously. It’s the same reaction people have when I tell them I’ve never been to Disneyland, or Disney World, or any of those theme parks. “What did your parents do for vacation?” Drove us to North Dakota or eastern Montana to visit our grandparents, for most of the years. The only exception I can think of was 1974, when we went to Expo ’74, the World’s Fair in — hold on to your hats! — Spokane, Wash.
By the time I was old enough to travel on my own, I … didn’t. Or, following the familial pattern, my trips were back home to visit family, or more often to see friends who had moved to now-far-flung parts of the United States. I spent one holiday in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Sharyn, whom I later visited more frequently in Austin. (I was in her wedding, even.)
I also got used to traveling on the cheap — most of my previous trips to Hawaii were based off CPOS’ military duties there, when his per-diem covered most if not all of the hotel room. I saw Vegas only because Funny Michael and I helped a friend backstage during his trade show, so our room was comped. Always stayed with friends in Long Beach, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, San Diego …
Smarmy Bastard was so appalled about this egregious lack of travel that he insisted that I join him and his friends on their almost-annual trip to Puerto Vallarta. That’s how I ended up sharing a three-bedroom condo with five other guys, only two of which I knew fairly well.
I’m not gonna lie: I spent a lot of time wondering how we’d all get along. We were a varied pack, ranging in age from 29 — now 30! — to mid-40s, quiet to “cray-cray.” And I was sharing a two-bed room with the guy I knew least of all.
“Am I going to survive spending so much time with these people?” I wondered. Sure, I have two roommates now, but Mr. Brooks is gone every other week, and Tyra Sanchez spends so much time at his boyfriend’s that sometimes the house is mine for days on end. And here I was about to embark on eight straight days with five other people.
I was, and remain, delighted at how much fun it was, and in an effortless way. All my worry was for naught — and it wasn’t like we were all walking on eggshells for sensitivity’s sake, either. I think my tolerance for hanging around other people is a lot higher than I give myself credit for.
And Puerto Vallarta — at least the Zona Romántica where we stayed — was a dream. Sure there were a lot of people pushing chicle and wind chimes and pot pipes, but “no gracias” went a long way. We chartered a sailboat for a day — about $400 for six hours — and motored alongside a mom humpback whale and her two calves as they headed out to sea, then saw a sea turtle, and snorkeled among colorful fishes. They cut the engines and sailed us back to the marina, which was a great way to spend a day.
I’m not even going to try to document what we did, because I didn’t take a lot of photos. The point is: It was incredible, it was affordable, and it was something that I already want to go back and do again right now. (And it’s not just because of Cristiano.)
So, a quick roundup of links to places, if you’re so interested.
- El Palomar de los González: One of our two “grown-up” dinners.
- La Palapa: Where we had actual birthday dinner, and site of “sexy coffee“
- Coco’s Kitchen: No, not the chain — a family-owned restaurant where we had breakfast pretty much every morning.
- Café de Olla: Very good, but not superspecial-event-worthy.
- Casa Soltar: Our condo. Amazing view, washer/dryer, close to everything.
God, just typing those links made me homesick to go back.
I took this photo on the last morning from our balcony, mostly because this guy was so obscenely tan that I wanted to shout, “Put down the baby oil and come out with your hands up!” But the more I look at it, the more I like it because it reminds me of some Edward Hopper-style scenario: It’s a picture snapped at the moment when he’s just killed his boyfriend (lying crumpled at right) and he’s like, “NOW what do I do?”