Growing up in the Southern US, most of my Spring Breaks were spent with my best friends on Folly Beach, SC for a week of sand, surf and sunburns: why wander too far when all you need is close to home? During college, I experienced Spring Break on a myriad of levels in different locations, ranging from Savannah, GA (pralines on River Street) to New Orleans, LA (shrimp etouffé on Bourbon Street). No offense to the Great South, but nothing I’ve seen compares to Spring Break in the #2 location of choice in México: Puerto Vallarta.
Now that I live here, tourism takes on a whole new perspective. I appreciate the giant beach crowds, the long lines at the OXXO and the 30 minute wait at Sea Monkey for an oceanside table. I walk the Malécon thankful for the families that have chosen my new home as their destination for Semana Santa, and I graciously welcome friends who want to visit, assuring them that Vallarta is beautiful AND safe. In fact, a few of them took me up on this welcome and we had a blast.
First, Holly and Eva visited from Guadalajara, two beautiful smiles to get the Spring Break Party started! A few days before, I met Beto near Los Muertos Pier and we were inseparable during his visit. Later, Jhonathan joined us for a fun evening out in the crowds of el Malécon, Finally, I spent 8 fun-filled hours laughing and catching up with my wonderful, scooterific friend Allison, visiting as part of a cruise from San Francisco along the Méxican Riviera.
As a primera celebrator of Semana Santa, I have summarized it to include everything from additional church services to late night parties with family and friends. In the first week, I was introduced to Mangos Beach Club, where I soaked up several sunny days listening to a dance-ready playlist including Pitbull’s Don’t Stop the Party. Between laughs, I struggled with the tongue twister lyrics “Que no pare la fiesta, don’t stop the party!” Ah, Pitbull, I love your Cubanglish – like Spanglish with a Cuban accent. “Zig-a Zig-a Zig-a Zow!”
To my delight, a friendly Mangos waiter named Angel introduced me to a delicious drink – El Jimador’s Vampiro, A savory combination of Tequila, Sangrita and toronja juice, the Cabrito Mix refresca became my new favorite after a few icy sips. The best part of my Mangos experience happened when I returned a day later to enhance my already burned skin. Angel remembered, and this time offered the popote he had forgotten the day before. Hospitality… and with a smile to make the whole day great. Gracias, Angel!
Admittedly, I took a few breaks from hosting guests to dedicate myself to an important cause: my occupation. Several days of my Semana Santa was spent as other teachers’ probably are, planning lessons and writing syllabuses for future classes. I truly appreciate my wonderful job in a great school, and remembering this helped me make time for my students, who I hoped were having as much fun as I was (responsibly, of course). I thought of them reveling in the generous time off.
It seems it’s been said 100 times already, but I am truly grateful for this new vivacious life. Although at times it is a struggle to understand what is happening, or where this is all leading, living in México feels right. As I sense my life balancing a sandy beach blanket, a career in teaching, and a prosperous creative business, I believe I’ll know when I am there. One thing is for sure, I will certainly celebrate… perhaps with an icy cold Vampiro. Popote, anyone?