Christmas Under the Palapa
So here we were, my wife, two children (Olivia and James) and a seething me at Christmas 2011, and still not in our condo. We had been deserted by our realtor due to a inconvenient breakdown, the developer was nowhere to be found and the ten Pepes who were working for the CFE (electrical company) to provide us with life giving electricity had left for the holidays. We were utterly alone for the near future at least.
One of our more dear traditions in our family although the children now claim they always found it boring, was the watching of Dicken’s Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. This I was determined was going to happen no matter what. With everything finished in our new home in the sky and with the best view I had ever seen, except for no power, it was too close not to make a small miracle come about.
Luckily the missing Eddy the realtor in his more lucid days had brought over a 30 metre extension cord to test all of our utilities, hooking into the stolen power the developer used to run the power tools he needed to build the place. I still had that extension cord. The only problem was I was missing the first 5 metres which one of the Pepes had lent Eddy. That man had left for the holidays and had taken his cord with him, leaving me short for the celebration I had planned. My son and I took Eddy’s extension to our penthouse and then dropped it to the pool area near where the street power box was. James then ran down and pulled the cord as close as he could to where the power source was and plugged it in almost pulling me over the balcony. By now on the 24th of December the big stores were shut , so all we had was the local OXXO store which reminds you of a 7Eleven or Mac’s Milk store in Canada. They had extension cords but 2 prong ones not the 3 pronged compatible with my 30 metre one I had from Eddy the realtor. I bought two 4 footers as that was all they had left. I realized that when Eddy and I had tested the appliances we had pulled them out onto the balcony, but now they were in place in the kitchen and much further away. So even with the extra extensions shoved together incompatibly prong-wise, it would be a tight thing. When my son and I had finished plugging and stretching what we had, the wire become as taunt as a bow string singing in the wind. We started up the fridge and then the TV. Then we plugged in several lamps, a VCR and coffee pot and waited to see what happened. There was a lot of flickering, not only in our condo but the neighbourhood as well. Several people opened their doors and looked up at us. I waved madly while grinning in a Feliz Navidad sort of way. “Greetings from Canada” I shouted in my least aggressive way. The doors shut below us, and we opened a couple of beers.
My son thankfully said, “I get why you and Mum bought this place” after staring at our incredible view. We clinked our bottles together and smiled. He had only just returned from serving in Afghanistan and I was so grateful to have him here with us. Then the ladies joined us with 4 salads from Punta V, our favourite restaurant on the Malecon (sadly now closed). With 4 bottles of red wine and a robust dinner without the turkey, we had our celebration including the story of Scrooge and I was content.
As Michelle and I held hands later sitting on the terrace, I thought of my friends back in Canada who had thought we had collectively lost our mind when I announced that we were leaving to live in Mexico. What was it about this place that made us want to give everything up and go through what were still going through buying this condo. My wife and I listened to the constant dogs barking and the roosters crowing and even the mad woman who shouted “Mama” over and over again, and yet we loved it. It, this Puerto Vallarta had become part of us, in spite of our problems. The few words of Spanish we tried out each day were greeted with appreciative smiles and helpful corrections. The children who grinned and walked beside us, trying out their English tentatively while laughing. Maybe it was the wonderful weather always warming us in spite of it being December. It was just so different and un-Canadian. I mean where was the black ice?
Just then our new friend Don called up the 10 stories from below, “Merry Christmas Chris and Michelle” a pause and then, “Welcome to Mexico”. We were home.
Next column, April 22nd: The beat goes on.
Copyright Christopher Dalton 2015