Searching for a New Life “Under the Palapa”

Before the autumn of 2010 I had only been to Mexico once, and that was to supervise the production of a movie in 1986 called Remo Williams starring Joel Grey and Fred Ward for Orion Studios.

I spent the entire time either at the studio complex in Mexico City or clinging to the side of a volcano a hundred miles away. I admit that that was not the best or most normal way to be introduced to a country. Furthermore, the movie was a financial disappointment, although it now has an avid following amongst film enthusiasts.

Cut to 2010, when a friend of my wife announced that she had two extra tickets to Puerto Vallarta at an all-inclusive and would we like to go? Once I was assured that I would not have to swim with dolphins or sit on endless boat trips throwing up my lunch, I agreed. My wife and her friend should do all those things while I and the other husband would read our spy novels and watch the inebriated (mostly) Canadians snore by the giant pool.

We arrived and the 10 days flew by with, as advertised, complete relaxation, except the part where the time-share people attacked us at the airport. I have not had so many hands touch me since the army.

Our suite was perfect, and so was the view. However the one thing I found odd about the hotel was that every dinner would be transformed into a different culture with the appropriate food.

For instance the first evening was Hawaiian Night, with some crazed hotel workers trying to dance, followed 24 hours later by Italian Night with the same workers dressed as what seemed to be gyrating prostitutes and gigolos, with an out-of-control motor scooter carrying a petrified priest (the guy from the front desk). Next came Polynesian Night, which, surprisingly, reminded us of the not-so-long-ago Hawaiian Night with the now familiar cast.

Many nations were portrayed but with some, we could not put our finger on who they were exactly. Lots of guesses, though (Latvian?). All our table really wanted was a Mexican Night, but there was never any sign of that.

The French equivalent arrived with more women of the night and sleek escorts, but this time the food (coq vin) took out fully half of the guests. It was a poorly attended breakfast on what was our last day. We drank only tea before making a dash for the airport. I thought I would never return.

Cut to spring 2011 on the set of a movie, Girl in Progress, in Vancouver, where the worst rain on record poured down upon us daily. The U.S. cast and producers were furious at me because I had promised them weather not unlike Los Angeles. I pointed out that I had not exactly said “sunny” weather, but this was met by angry shouts about “filthy Vancouver floods.”

It was also the time of the National Hockey League riot, when hundreds of fans rampaged through the streets after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins.

Somehow I started looking online for real estate in Puerto Vallarta, that being the last place I had seen the sun. I sat depressed and alone in my trailer (I was the co-producer), scrolling through condos and rentals with beautiful pictures of the sea and sand. I phoned my wife one day and suggested a real-estate romp in PV when the movie was finished.

When she recovered consciousness – she thought I had hit my head or was delirious – I told her I had found a Canadian realtor in PV and he was standing by. “I’ll book the tickets!!!” she roared, and that was that. We were on our way to what was going to be our greatest adventure, buying our dream home in Puerto Vallarta.

Unfortunately I did not ask the realtor, a great fellow by the way, “Will you be having a breakdown while we are there?”

I recommend that for the opening question to any house hunter, because ours did. But I will save that for my next column.

Copyright Christopher Dalton 2014
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