Jeff Reese plans to move to Mexico. He travels to Puerto Vallarta to get the lay of the land, consider opportunities, and wonders if he’ll be able to find a place to live.
I know I started this column as a venue for political rants and I promise they’re forthcoming. I’m also writing about the whole process of emigration to Mexico to explore how difficult or easy it really is in case Trump somehow wins and y’all wanna flee for saner pastures. I gotta get the jump on y’all before opportunities become unavailable.
I’m writing this on a cell phone during my flight home.
A friend’s wife and I went to Puerto Vallarta to scout out the move. It’s not as scandalous as it sounds, they’re thinking of making the move also and she wanted to check out the city. I went along as her bouncer/translator (funny, she ended up being my bouncer, but more on that later).
We arrived in Puerto Vallarta early afternoon and since our hotel room wasn’t ready we went to lunch. I had brought some gear for my fly-fishing guide for my next trip (hopefully tons of fish porn in my next dispatch). Chuey met us at the restaurant and the first sentence out off his mouth was, “You’re moving here?” He had no way of knowing my plans as we’ve never communicated directly before that moment. I guess I exude “future expat.” He then told us plenty of awesome stories about how he ended up guiding in Alaska for fifteen years and soon enough we were sitting on the pitch of his house drinking beer, eating jicama and watching birds, iguanas, and other fauna in the trees around his house. He showed tons of pictures from his years in Alaska and I gave him the fly rod and reel I bought as a gift for our trip next month. Chuey discussed some awesome business ideas that we can do together and he has an apartment that is for rent. Not a bad start, two hours in country and I have a potential job and a place to live.
That evening, we had a beachfront, sunset dinner at La Palapa restaurant. Amazing margaritas. Cranberry & basil, mango & passion fruit, hibiscus & one more I can’t recall. Awesome pot stickers, then mahi-mahi as a main course; my companion had chicken. All so tasty. Probably the most expensive dinner in Puerto Vallarta and it was $60 U.S. We wandered and the neighborhood we were staying in, Zona Romántica, it was quickly apparent that it’s a predominately gay neighborhood, which is a bonus. Cool art galleries, quirky bars, and great food. Ended the evening with the best pastor tacos I’ve had in my life. PV Day One was amazing and did nothing to dissuade me from my plans.
All photos by Jeff Reese (click the scroll to see other pictures)
The next morning, breakfast. If you’ve never had Chilaquiles you’re missing out. It’s a staple Mexican breakfast that can be difficult to find in the U.S. Thankfully that’s not the case in Puerto Vallarta. They were everything I could have hoped for and then some. We then explored the area north of Zona Romántica and Playa de los Muertos. The Malecón is a bit more touristy with a Señor Frog’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, but in the middle of all of that is a Cuban restaurant that’s highly recommended. Four mojitos, ceviche, and paella and I was ready to walk some more.
We wandered the neighborhoods in the hills above the beaches and everywhere there’s art, sculpture, and interesting buildings all over. From the road we could hear Duran Duran being played on a restaurant sound system, so a stop for margaritas and water was required. Continuing our walk back to Hotel Yasmin in Zona Romantica, we could see the main cathedral in town from an angle I’m sure most tourists never experience. We arrived at the room and my companion needed to rest up for adventures later. I walked down to the Playa de los Muertos, took a short swim, and headed back to the hotel, showered, and watched the final quarter of the Broncos game, then headed back to La Palapa for some margaritas.
While walking to the bar, a tour bus full of Canadians let out around me and I overheard a couple talking. Well, barely heard, as they were slurring a bit, but I did hear the words “tattooed faggot” … as a straight male completely comfortable in his sexuality I wasn’t offended at being called gay, however, I was offended at the slur. Having a six-foot tall, 200+ pound man turn to you and say, “Excuse me, what did you say?” I guess is somewhat unnerving as the woman who said it almost tripped over a cable. I was denied the instant karma of watching her fall flat on her face, but I’m sure somewhere somehow she’ll find it.
I laughingly posted about the interaction on Facebook and joked that maybe she was more my bodyguard than I hers. When she awoke, she jokingly posted to see if I was okay. My response of “I’m good, drinking a mango passion fruit margarita and eating raw tuna” made me think that the Canadians may not have been that far off base. I decided to consider it a compliment as most of the gay men under the age of 60 in the area were definitely better looking than the straight ones.
Dinner at a hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant was next and did not disappoint. Mahi-mahi again … heaven. Margaritas and beers. I really was settling into this Mexico thing. Walking around we overheard disco music and went into the Andale bar for some dancing. (I really swear I’m not gay.) There’s a ton of cougars on the prowl in the bar that I don’t think realize they’re in the wrong hunting ground. Before dancing, we split a margarita and met “Doc.” (More on him later.) We danced to a few disco songs and then she decided to go check out more bars.
We ended up at club Blondies (again, 80s music is like a siren’s call for us). Blondies is very much a gay bar. Awesome art, cool music, and a gay couple buying us tequila shots. They were a friendly couple from San Francisco who had been in Mexico for a month. We sat, talked, and they bought another round of shots. Then, when it was time to settle their bill, one of them (the barely conversant in Spanish one) had an issue with their bill. He threw a fit, got calmed down, and then somehow became convinced that we were somehow working for the bar and part of the nonexistent scam that was going on in his head. They left, one being apologetic and shaking our hands, the other throwing a fit and refusing to. We ended up talking to the staff for another half an hour where I was offered another place to live by the bartender. (Although, I think this offer would come with conditions that I’m not really into as he apparently likes bears.)
Back to Andale for more dancing and of course more tequila. Doc was still at the corner of the bar and we sat and chatted a bit. He’s ex military, has some awesome stories, and he and his wife moved to Puerto Vallarta four months ago and strangely enough they also have an apartment for rent. So, in less than 72 hours, I have a potential business partner with expertise in fly-fishing the area and a line on multiple places to live. Not bad for the initial scouting trip to see if this whole moving to Mexico thing is something I’d be realistically capable of pulling off. Stay tuned here if you’re interested in finding out what happens next.
All photos by Jeff Reese (click the scroll to see other pictures)