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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkTales of Retirement in Paradise 

Chapter 19: Nostalgia Ain't What it Used to Be
email this pageprint this pageemail usPolly G. Vicars

You can visit one of the dozens of fishing villages south of Vallarta that take you back to "the good old days."

El Faro, the lighthouse that stands at the southern entrance to our bay, remains as it did before John Huston put Puerto Vallarta on the map.

Taco stands are still one of the many choices we have when we want to dine out.
Not everyone agrees with us that Puerto Vallarta is still a paradise. Some of the old-timers spend their time lamenting the passage of time with its inevitable changes and dwell on, "how it used to be." (Still true today, but with a new group of "old-timers." Remember this was written in 1994-95.)

"You should have been here when there was no bridge across the Cuale and we had to ford it when we wanted to get to Los Muertos." That sounds like fun for a once in a lifetime adventure, but think about having to ford the river every time you needed to go to the bank.

"Remember when the only available telephone was at a hotel in town and we had to go there to get messages or make calls?" Imagine having to ford the river to get to the hotel to use the phone to talk to Mom in the States? Don't even think about a medical or police emergency during the night!

"Remember when there was only electricity a few hours in the evening?" Sounds romantic, but who wants to stumble into the bathroom or crash into the door in the middle of the dark night? Come to think of it, who wants to miss the Oscars or a wonderful old movie that comes on far into the night?

The fond "remembrances" come from the "old-timers" who have lived or been coming to Vallarta twenty years or more. They get together and wax eloquently about the passing of the "good old days." As an "upstart," having lived here only a few years, I listen politely; I never challenge their yearnings for the past. But the more I hear, "You should have seen Vallarta when..." the more I feel the need to stick up for Vallarta today. Somehow Vallarta has been able to maintain the unique appearance and ambiance of a pueblo, while adding the newfangled inventions associated with a city, and I think they should get credit for that.

When I walk to town to do my errands, as on our morning walks, I make a dozen stops along the way to chat with friends. Mostly we exchange "¿Cómo estas?" and go on our way, but that small town, warm feeling that someone knows you and cares how you are, travels with you through the day.

When dedicated El Capitán picks us up in El Viejo, we can take off for yesteryear. That panga is our magic carpet to the "good old days" - the fishing villages that ring our bay. Most of the villages can only be reached by boat, have no electricity or running water and are as primitive as Gauguin (or the Vallarta "old-timers") could want. Visiting these villages is relaxing and fun for a day, or even a week, but for all times, I prefer indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and paved roads.

We can venture to the uninhabited Marieta Islands for fishing. snorkeling or scuba diving. These islands, which mark the entrance to the bay, are still surrounded by the same unspoiled waters that have always surrounded them. We can go south to El Faro, the lighthouse, where everything remains in yesteryear. It stands overlooking beaches that have seldom experienced human visitors.

Immersed in the wonderful small town ambiance of Puerto Vallarta, I am still able to live with the latest of electronic equipment. We receive our bank statements and Visa bills by fax. (Wonderfully, the world wide web extended to Puerto Vallarta a little later and now we do everything on the Internet.) We watch "Good Morning America," "Regis and Kathie Lee" (of course Regis and Kelly now) and the University of Kentucky basketball games in real time via satellite. We can catch a convenient and quick flight to anywhere in the world, any day in the week from our modern International Airport. We can call on dedicated doctors who will administer care with a large dose of love along with medications.

If we feel the urge, we can put on the Sunday-go-to-meeting outfits, dine and listen to topnotch entertainment in an up-scale restaurant or in a five star hotel that wouldn't have to take a back seat to any other restaurant or hotel in the world. Or we have the choice of dining on tacos from the stand on the corner, fish-on-a-stick from the beach vendor, or corn-on-the-cob hot off the brazier on the Malecón.

We love Vallarta as it is today. We have everything! We have the same climate, the same sandy beaches, the same sparkling sea, the same generous and loving Mexican neighbors as those old-times had. But we also have the international flights, telephone and fax service, overnight express mail, modern supermarkets, satellite television, American movies, discos, sophisticated five star hotels.

Maybe those who yearn for the past really are not yearning as much as reminiscing. One of those old-timers recently took a trip to Huatulco, the new ocean resort in the extreme southern tip of México. Upon his return, when asked how it was, his reply was, "There was nothing to do there; it was just like Vallarta twenty years ago."

The good old days are now!

(I say "DITTO!" Even with all the changes that have taken place in our more than twenty years of living full time in Puerto Vallarta, it is still Paradise to us!)

Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 57 years, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.

Click HERE for more articles by Polly Vicars.

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