As I type this from the counter of the Puerto Vallarta Airport, awaiting my flight back to the states, I reflect on my two week stint in Mexico and, if I’m being honest, it mainly consisted of sex, drugs, and ukulele.
I mean, I also volunteered for 25 hours/week doing reception and management of a hostel, but I had to do something with my free time.
I usually spend my free time in these situations exploring, hiking, hitchhiking, adventuring, rock climbing, making friends, going to the beach, maybe going out at night to bars. And I did some of those things on my first day in PVR — I found a river on Google Maps (the Rio Cuale) that snaked up into the mountains from the beach in the Zona Romantica.
I followed the adjacent road and scouted for hiking trails or boulders (I’m obsessed with rock climbing right now). I followed a small trail up into the trees and stumbled upon this cozy little waterfall, offering 10-15 feet of easy and grippy, if a little wet, climbing:
The next day I took the bus south and hopped off just before the town of Mismaloya. The hill along the road had some rock, and I hopped on to test out the rock and get stoked for a long day of hiking and scrambling and checking out the nearby beaches, and not 5 seconds later, I pulled a chunk of rock off the hill while climbing a few feet off the ground. I looked down behind me and was relieved to see that the rock had not rolled into the street. I looked down at my leg to see the damage, as I had felt the rock scrape against me, and I saw this:
So yeah, I got 5 internal stitches, 11 external, and I was unable to climb, hike, or swim for the remainder of my two weeks in Puerto Vallarta. I needed a plan B!
I was prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and told I was certainly unable to drink. This limits the social options when you’re staying in a party hostel. But the hostel was almost entirely empty anyway. It’s the rainy season in Mexico, meaning the beachside resort town of Puerto Vallarta is not a huge destination for backpackers at the moment. We had a few guests, and a few other volunteers, and I spent some time with them, but when it came time to go out to the club for the night (we’re talking about nightclub clubs here), I realized I wasn’t so interested in going to a place where it was too loud for intelligent and intelligible conversation.
Long story short, I was certainly interested in meeting Mexican women. And I did redownload the old Tinder/Bumble combo, and I got very lucky to score a date with a girl named Lupe (name changed), and we hit it off instantly. She was very sweet and taking time off from law school. She grew up in Mexico City but had been living in PVR for a couple years. We met at a beachside bar called Solar, and we spoke some Spanish, and at one point she smiled very earnestly and said, “We can speak English if you want?”
And we spoke English and Spanish and Sweet Nothings for the next 10 or so days until I had to leave Puerto Vallarta. I took my antibiotics, and I also took Ibuprofen with Codeine to help my aching leg, and I took Mexican alprazolam (Farmaprama) because… well, why not? It was cheap and didn’t require a prescription, just like the codeine ibuprofen.
So I spent my days at the hostel playing my ukulele and learning jazz guitar on the acoustic that was laying around the office. And I spent my nights watching movies in the hostel TV room, eating the rice/beans/avocado/cheese meals that I cooked for myself for the equivalent of about $2USD per meal.
I couldn’t live without the adrenaline and the excitement of exploring and pushing my body physically. But it can be nice to slow down as well. And, after witnessing some of the hostel guests get blackout drunk and make poor decisions and feel wretched the next morning while I’m waking up with the sun at 8am… well, maybe I shouldn’t have to feel guilty about indulging in a little bit of Xanax and Codeine. Would it be better to give up alcohol AND all other vices? Yes, but… here comes the honesty again: it’s easy for me to be the friendly, outgoing person who confidently makes new friends, has fun, and feels comfortable around beautiful, engaging women when I’ve had a beer or two. But it’s harder sober. So maybe the Xanax was a lesser of two evils, but still a bad idea, but maybe it’s what I needed to be able to just simply sit still for 2 weeks (and still feel confident to get to know a wonderful Mexican woman without greasing our conversations with booze.)
I’m back in the US to work for a few weeks. Feel free to come see me – I’ll be tour managing for the greatest band in the world: Slothrust, as we tour the US and Canada from July 30 – Aug 13.
I’ve been invited back to work at the hostel in September, and Lupe is a big reason why I might just accept.