It was a fantastic trip.
In case you are wondering about the title of this post, it is a phrase I had only ever read in a phrasebook before this trip. prettykate appears to have adopted it as her new mantra/motto.
After an ass-early flight out of La Guardia, we got to PV early (the first of the non-family to arrive) and after unpacking, went down to the poolside bar to enjoy the sun and a few drinks. The only notable event of the trip down was something which should have been a great portent: it was colder in Dallas when we transferred planes than it was in NYC when we left it. We were met by a cab driver who was half Ron Jeremy, half lead character of Nacho Libre, and everything someone could hope of a Mexican cab driver. Amongst his plethora of skills and jobs, he had an amazingly uncanny ability to mimic the whistle of a traffic cop, without using a whistle. He was quick to point out the best of local shops and services, and even pointed out the pole used by the local Voladore during festivals. Totally crazy.
At any rate, the first day in was a wonderful start to unwinding. Everyone had plenty to drink, fun in the pool, and a great time at the "welcome dinner". The resort we stayed at, Playa Fiesta, was on the southern half of the coast of Puerto Vallarta. It was a villa style multi-level right on the shore with a rock beach. The rooms seemed largely suite-centric, and the decor and service was hopelessly friendly. If the accommodations are only as food as the staff, then this place was certainly five star. Ivan, the French-Canadian ex pat manager, Charly and Aldo, the bartenders, and the other people who made it all happen behind the scenes, all of them were top-notch people. Once I get my pictures posted, you'll see more. You can scope their website here.
Up early the next day for some snorkeling (I found out I can get my scuba cert back with minimal effort, something I plan on looking into when time/funds allow for it), which was absolutely beautiful. The swimming was around three large natural islands of the southern end of the coast. There was an astonishing variety of wildlife there. I saw several needle fish larger than my arm (I mistakenly called them Gar, which is the freshwater version), a couple of eels, tons of tropical school fish, and even a few puffer fish! Mostly, it was just good to get back in the water. I need to start swimming again, regularly. The snorkeling led into a pleasant afternoon on the beach, complete with waterside service from a local cabana.
That evening was the Bachelor party, which was something highly anticipated by all the gents attending. I had spoken with techtraum prior to the event, and he noted that he had a number of things to do the next day, so we (the members of the bachelor party) could not obliterate him into non-functionality. This was accomplished largely by a regimen of no less than two bottles of water per bar stop.
The night started with dinner at a house-converted-restaurant with one of the most fantastic views I've ever had the pleasure of partaking in with a bunch of friends. The food was o.k. (we were definitely paying for that view). We got to see all the fireworks the other hotels put off nightly right from our dinner table. All said, 15 guys drank over 50 beers in one sitting. Bravo.
From there, we wandered to the first bar we happened to on the strip, after a stop at an ATM. Carlos O'Brian's owned by the same people as Senor Frogs, was a high-class drinking establishment of the finest acumen. The chief draw of this bar, aside from the cheap drinks, were the ever present shot girls, who would ply you with their trade for a small fee. Actually, as it turned out, they would ply their trade on anyone you pointed to, so long as you were willing to provide the capital. Granted, the margarita shots they poured down a person's throat were watered down, but we decided to vacate the location rapidly. This was due to two factors:
- We wanted to go to as many places as possible in an evening.
- It became obvious after the third salvo of guerrilla shot-girl incidents that if we did not move soon, nobody would move, because they would be too hammered to do so.
To add to the understanding of the role of a shot girl in this bar: First, they poured three or four shots down your throat, all the while bleeping with whistles they wore around their neck. Then, they took your head between their hands, and shook it around rapidly, occasionally pausing in the soft shelter of their bosoms. After that, they would reach their hands up/down your shirt, tweak your nipples, then spank your ass. I have some great pictures of it, I just don't have all my photos sorted out for posting yet.
From there, we moved on to a dance-club named Zoo. The prices were higher, the crowd was thicker, and the group was a bit more drunk by the time we got here. One of the party goers danced for the crowd, unprompted, in a cage set up for just that purpose. Shortly thereafter, a group of girls jumped in. wangch61 met up with a girl with whom he had shared the flight down with, and tried valiantly to bring the bachelor crew into contact with some single ladies. Unfortunately, he took action too late - people were already looking to move on.
We ended up at some other bar down the way (I cannot remember the name for the life of me, named for the Mexican artist who makes portraits of fat people) wherein techtraum threw down the gauntlet on his level of inebriation. Many tequila shots later, and an order of fries which the remaining folk caused to evaporate faster than water in the sahara, we were stumbling on our way again. It was, I believe, at this point, my flask of 12 year scotch was kicked. I was proud to see it go.
After the sexual assault of a bronze statue of mermaids, something I mentioned earlier comes into play. For those who don't know much about Mesoamerican history, you probably have never heard of the Totonac Indians. Though they were from the Gulf coast, their major cultural impact on Mexican society was the ritual ceremony they partook in annually. After their people were dispersed due to the Conquistadors mushing the Aztecs, the "The Dance of the Voladores" spread throughout much of Mexico, and managed to become a point of historic pride in a people whose ways were lost so often to the priests and despots of the conquest. The dance is an event wherein five men ascent a sixty-odd foot tall pole. One of the men stays at the top of the pole, singing and playing a flute. The other four are all wearing rope around an ankle, and proceed to jump off the pole, spinning outwards to the ground below. Each of the men represents one of the four chief elements. The man at the tip of the pole represents the spirit world. If all four men made it down safely, the ceremony meant the spirit world and the real world would be in harmony.
As I mentioned above. PV featured an aluminum version of this item, complete with a convenient built-in ladder for quick ascent. At silly-drunk o'clock in the morning, an inebriated techtraum, along with one of his other friends, decided climbing this thing would be a good idea. Well, outwardly, that is what it seemed their plan was. In reality, it was a ruse to get everyone agitated. It worked on me. I handed my camera off to techtraum's dad, and hopped off the 10' sea wall onto the beach, trying to head them off at the pass. Though I lived to tell the tale, my knees were certainly none the better for it. I am still kinda walking like an old man because of it.
After wandering all the way down to Hooters at the end of the downtown strip (which was blessedly, closed) the vote was made to end the evening at a strip bar, which we did. I have to say, it was one of the nicer establishments I have ever had the pleasure of being entertained in, aside from the flagrant second-hand sex trade taking place in back rooms. An on-stage lap dance was procured for techtraum, which was delivered con mucho gusto by the prettiest girl on stage that night.
We got back to the hotel via taxi, and most people turned in. Some of us stayed up and enjoyed a few drinks before the sun came up. I was up for 8:30 breakfast, which, much to my chagrin, had been changed to 10:00. This day was largely spent recouping/ffing around by most people. I played through almost a whole scenario of CivIV, proving conclusively that hit-and-run tactics against superior tech do not work in that game (though they do work in real life).
The following day was the wedding. Lots of prep-stress, with techtraum spending most of the afternoon freaking out in my suite, which was shared by his brother, tstrange, who did a bang-up job as best man. The highlight of my day came after the wedding mass (in a beautiful church in downtown PV), when we discovered a frightening bit of information: the play list which techtraum and cercaria had labored over for ages was trapped on a computer that time forgot! No working USB2, no working sound port, 1/4 on board usb ports working. We had to get all the lists, intact, off the machine, onto something that could be jacked into the poolside speaker system.
Some people know me to bash Apple's products at times, particularly in cases where people put them on unassailable technological plateaus. For the record, the most stressful hour I spent on my whole vacation was completely the fault of iTunes and iPods. Granted, I was working on a subpar laptop as far as specs were concerned, but every time I did ANYTHING while trying to transfer items to and from the iPod, either iTunes or the iPod would crash. Consistently. To the point where, by the end of the hour, I could anticipate it happening, like that feeling you get right before the roller coaster cars in front of you go down the slope ahead of you, but you haven't gone yet. Every time that happened, it was a 5 minute 47 second reboot routine. My heart rate was like a flamenco canasta by the end of that hour.
All I am saying, is that if I could deal with the files as files, instead of abstracted XML meta data locked behind some arcane front-end, that decided it was more important to verify the DRM of the files on the 30 gig iPod than do what I was telling it to do (and no, I don't want to update the blessed firmware, for the 1800th time), the whole thing would have taken me five to queue, and whatever was left to copy. As it was, everything was up and running for the appearance of the bride and groom, and ran well thereafter. Thank the gods for small favors.
The wedding party itself was the ultimate example of what a wedding party should be. So raucous and rambunctious that we gave the bloody pool a hangover. I'm not kidding. It still was not clear when we left a few days later. There were fireworks and cake and booze aplenty. Good music, great laughs, and fun times for all, on a scale some people never see, and most people don't see often enough, even secondhand.
In the midst of the festivities, at the point where people were starting to get in the pool, cercaria's brother and I lost our cameras when their designated guardian was tossed, bodily, into the pool. I managed to save my memory card, and what was on it, so no loss there, but no pics for the remainder of the trip for me.
The following day, nobody had any endorphins left. People nursed hangovers and whatnot. I was up early for breakfast again, and hung out poolside until the eats came to be. Later that afternoon, we wandered into town for some sightseeing and shopping, and had a great time. I picked up a new ring, and a luchador mask. I haven't decided my lucha libre name yet. I am torn between "El Escarabajo" and "El Tonto".
Got some seafood at a local joint, went in for a nice quiet evening. At this point, my knee injuries of the previous day were at full roar, and I was walking around like an 80-year-old. It was kinda funny, in a painful way.
The last day in, and we not only flew late, but flew out of Dallas. Back when I was making the ticket reservation, I assumed any midwinter shenanigans which would wreak havoc with air travel would be based out of the mid west or the northeast. Wow was I wrong. Dallas had ice and snow, and people, generally, were acting like the end times were upon them. I have little pity for people with this mindset, and had even less pity after this last evening.
Basically, our flight out of Mexico was two and a half hours late. We were told in Mexico that we may or may not be able to make our connecting. That was a not. We shared the flight with obifu and prettykate, whose flight into Newark they made by the skin of their teeth. We were told that we, too, could make that flight, but some incredibly unhelpful and unfriendly attendants. In reality, what ensued was a 30 minute shit-show, wherein we lost out non-carry-on luggage, were closed out of security access and the little tram which circumnavigates Dallas airport, and ended up being ripped off by a cabby (who claimed "no change" after I handed him a 20$). Once we got to the correct gate, they closed the security station there, so we had to run up 6 gates, go through security, then run back. Needless to say, the flight had left by the time we made it.
We flew out 8am the next morning. We made it into LGA after a lovely night in the hotel IN the airport, and our bags were actually there. When we should have gotten into NYC around midnight, we didn't get there until 1ish THE NEXT DAY. I am totally sending a letter to AA, complete with the hotel bill, wherein I will use the word "incompetence" far more often than the word "the".
All in all, it was a fantastic vacation. The return could have gone way better, but what can you do. The warranter on my camera covers "incidental damage causing mechanical failure". Initial contact with the warranty providers (from a phone number not my own) suggests that full submersion in a body of heavily chlorinated water does not count as "incidental damage". I am pursuing the matter formally now, but it looks as though a new camera is in my future.
Overall, frustrations and material losses aside, I would never do it any other way. I was proud to be invited, pleased to help where I could, and, ultimately, satisfied in a very solid emotional way to attend the whole week. cercaria and techtraum are awesome people, and I am a better person for having them in my life, much less being there for the week they hosted.
The short version:
Unbelievable good time. My camera did not make it back, and it took over 17 hours to get from Dallas to NYC. cercaria and techtraum rule.
In other news, Burning Crusade rocks my, your, and your momma's socks off. I am drowning in work, but at least I have a great vacation to muse on whenever the waterline goes above the nose line.
Happy belated b-day to my mom and gefiltebitch