Day 5: It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Navidad

Someone turned on Christmas overnight. I woke up to lights and displays hung over the streets in the heart of Old Town, a giant Christmas tree-esque monstrosity near the main plaza, and today was apparently schoolchildren singing day, because I stumbled onto not one, but two school concerts on the malecón. Or possibly the same concert for 12 hours. That is not out of the question.

I also woke up to a surprise visitor — a wookie-sized, dying cockroach on the floor in the living room of my apartment. I though it was dead, as it was lying on its back in the manner favored by deceased insects and recently-passed Soviet heads of state, but every once in a while it would wave its legs or its antennae in a manner that suggested it was only waking up groggily from a very intense nap. (I would experience a similar sensation around 4:30 p.m., only with slightly less antennae-waving.)

Eventually I believe the cockroach fully expired, although I have not yet had the wherewithal to actually attempt to pick it up and throw it off the balcony. For all I know it’s playing possum and will eat my lungs if I get too close to it.

Not to scale, unless you are reading this on an IMAX screen:

After my Morning Cockroach Encounter I went out for a run, which lasted all of 13 minutes before the gentle call of the ocean and a profound laziness had me sitting on the malecón and enjoying the morning breezes. I eventually wandered over to the main plaza, where a group of schoolchildren were singing Christmas songs for peace. The songs were all recorded, with vocals, and the kids were singing along and adding backup. It had a slight Milli Vanilli quality to it, but the kids get a pass because they all wear school uniforms here which makes them 700% more adorable.

My favorite weird sculpture on the malecón:

On my way back home I discovered a fresh-squeezed orange juice stand just blocks from the apartment. (Note to grammar sticklers: “Fresh-squeezed” modifies orange juice in this context, not the stand.) The woman who worked there told me it was the best orange juice in Puerto Vallarta. I asked her if she would be there again tomorrow, and she told me yes, in fact she had been in that same spot for 20 years. It’s the best orange juice I’ve ever had. Fifteen pesos for a tall glass. I’ve got a new morning routine, and it’s spelled O-J!

I spent the rest of the day working, and then went out before sunset for a long dusky walk on the beach. I started by heading south to the gayest of the gay part of the beach (I spent a summer in San Francisco, and this makes the Castro District look like a Michele Bachmann rally), then winding my way north along the shoreline. The waves crash hard on that part of the beach, and it was a spectacular sunset walk with my toes in the sand, dodging the surf.

At the north end of the beach I sat for a while enjoying people watching and people-with-dogs watching, before wandering into town for a longer stroll.

Everyone seems to have a dog here, and of those dogs, approximately 99.99% are chihuahuas with sweaters. Many people have multiple chihuahuas (which still does not equal one normal dog). I have easily seen more chihuahuas in the last four days than the rest of my life combined. I think they must have a chihuahua vending machine at the airport. I don’t mean to speak ill of people’s four-legged companions, but if your dog requires a sweater in MEXICO you might want to rethink your choice in pets.

There was another (or perhaps the same) schoolchildren concert back at the main plaza tonight. I got to enjoy a particularly screechy rendition of “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” (in English), as well as whatever the translation of “Jingle Bells” is in Spanish. (It may be ”Tiny dogs, tiny dogs, let’s all have them spayed…”). 

The other highlight of my day (and this should give you an idea about how languid a Mexican vacation can be) was taking my laundry to the lavanderia down the hill to have it washed. It felt like a delightful splurge to spend $4 to have my laundry washed, neatly folded and returned to me in a bag. Considering that I packed three days worth of clothing and reached day five before doing laundry, that may account for why my apartment is attracting enormous, rapidly-dying insects.

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