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2004-08-13 - 11:12 a.m.

La Playa

So the main reason I stayed in the hostel in Zacatecas (and not for free with Armando) was not for the amazing views of the Cathedral, but so I could meet other travelers, in the hopes of finding someone I could travel with for a little while. Some long bus rides were awaiting me, and it's just no fun to take long bus rides alone. Also, it's really nice to have someone watch your stuff when you go to the bathroom (twice on this trip, I paid my two pesos to use the bathroom, but was unable to get through the turnstile with my backpack on my back). So first I met Lisa (English, 25 years old, on a ten-month trip round the world), and then Matt (American, 25 years old, reluctant future law student), and before we knew it, we had plans to take the overnight bus trip to Puerto Vallarta, getting there at 5 am in the morning, where we hung out in the bus station until a decent hour in order to find a hotel.

And I guess this is the part of the trip where I really learned something about myself. I mean, isn't travel just another opportunity for growth? Number one: I'm not a big fan of decision by committee. When I want to do something, I just do it - no debates, no hassle, no compromises. I just go out and do it. And when you have traveling companions, every little decision somehow becomes a decision by committee. Number two: When you live someplace warm (Austin, Texas), and you go on vacation, the last place you want to go is someplace warm (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) - if you're me, that is. Particularly if the aforementioned vacation place is warm, humid, without air conditioning, and overly touristy. Which brings us to number three: I don't like touristy destinations.

Puerto Vallarta wasn't bad, actually - look, here´s the view from the balcony of our hotel:

See? Not so bad, really. Nice cobblestone streets. Colonial style buildings. But the beach was dirty, and the boardwalk was crowded with tourists (and a Hooter's, and various other American style restaurants), and it was just too hot to walk around. So for lack of anything better to do, I actually sat down and wrote my research paper (the Internet cafe was air conditioned). And I saw "Spiderman 2", in the air conditioned movie theater.

Luckily, Matt and Lisa were none too enamored of Puerto Vallarta either (despite the amazing shrimp burritos that we ate every day that we were there), so after two nights, we were off to San Patricio-Melaque, a small beach town a few hours south of Puerto Vallarta. Melaque was a touristy town as well, but only Mexican tourists, all families on vacation. It was tiny, and hot, and, being smaller than Puerto Vallarta, there were no air conditioned Internet cafes or movie theaters to escape to. Every morning, I got up early and went to the beach and sat in the shade and went swimming and was perfectly happy for two or three hours. Every afternoon, I complained about the heat, and dreaded my daily trip into town to the un-air conditioned Internet cafe with the slow connection to work on the final for my online class. Every night, I woke up at about 2 am, completely drenched with sweat, unable to sleep, and I would roam the terrace and courtyard of the hotel, sometimes bringing my sleeping bag outside to sleep for a few hours, just to catch the breeze. I had no idea how acclimated I had become to air conditioning in Austin, or how I've totally revolved my summertime Austin life with staying out of the heat as much as possible. I wanted to be happier there, really I did, but mostly I was looking forward to the 13-hour overnight bus ride to Mexico City (in air conditioning!).

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