Monday, March 31, 2014

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day VII - The Final Day

On our last full day in Puerto Vallarta, we decided to head into town to pick up some gifts and souvenirs for a few people back home. Of course, this task was seasoned with several stops at street-side bars. Most of the day was spent like this. Shop a little, drink a little, shop a little, drink a little.

Our only real plan for the day was to attend Mexican Fiesta Night at our resort. It’s a big event that they hold each week. Tickets are available, in advance, for about $50.00 per person. It’s a very nice all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink affair with traditional Mexican singers, dancers and other entertainment. We’ve always wanted to go, but never have. This time we planned ahead and purchased the tickets early.

We showed up on time and traded our tickets for a little badge that was pinned to our shirts. The badge was in the shape of Barbie-sized serape, but it looked more like some sort of sharp shooter’s medal from the Mexican army. Either way, it was an all access pass to all the food and drink we could consume.

And we proceeded to do both.

We stayed until the very end of the event. It must have been about 10:00 PM. And then we started our stagger back towards our room. Along the way, we passed the pool. “WHAT THE FUCK,” Jackie exclaimed. “Those fucking people and their shit!”

Sure enough, the guests who have been driving Jackie insane all week by hogging all of the lounge chairs had already staked their territory for the next day. Oh, she was pissed. But, I witnessed a calm come over her as she removed her little sharp shooter’s medal by pulling the straight pin out. And then she walked around the entire pool and inserted the pin into every single blow-up raft in sight. Justice was served. I guess.

It was a beautiful way to end the week. And a beautiful way to say goodbye to one of the planet’s finest drinking cities.

Adios Puerto Vallarta. Until next time.

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day VI

By Thursday, we had really settled into a routine. Wake up, head to the pool and start
drinking. This was no different. Again, Jackie bitched about the other guests using towels and blow-up rafts to “hold” their lounge chairs. But I had started tuning her out. It was just a peeve of hers and there was no use encouraging her by interjecting my opinions or thoughts. It didn’t matter, we found a good spot with two available chairs sandwiched between four or five of the chairs that were making Jackie so mad.

Just before noon, there was another couple that arrived at the pool. We watched them as they approach the pool area like a couple of bulls in a china shop. They were moving chairs and tables out of their way, knocking over other people’s drinks, bumping into waiters, and tripping over stray shoes. They made their way to our area and stopped. “Are these your chairs?” the guy asked loudly.
“Nope. Those towels have been there all day, but the owners haven’t been here yet,” explained Jackie, in a tone that clearly illustrated her frustration.
Then we watched the couple pick up the towels, wad them up and throw them in a nearby flower bed. Then, they spread their own towels out on the chairs and settled into them like nothing happened. I looked at Jackie and could tell she was pleased.
The couple looked at us and could tell that we were caught off guard by their actions.
“Fuck that,” he said. “It’s complete bullshit. Those people probably won’t even show up and we’re supposed to respect a fucking towel? Fuck that!”
“Yeah,” his wife added, “we’ve been coming here for too long to put up with that bullshit.”
Their names were Don and Darlene and by the end of the afternoon we got to know them pretty well. They were in their mid-forties but looked at least ten years younger, were from Detroit and come to this resort on the same week every year. They were hilarious. And they were big drinkers too. We all shared some of our favorite stories and laughed and had a great time.
As the afternoon ended, Jackie started planning our evening and invited Don and Darlene to join us after dinner at Murphy’s.
We showed up at the Irish bar at about 7:00 PM and were surprised to find our new friends already there. Turns out, they had been there for over an hour and were pretty looped already. The four of us continued to drink there for a couple of hours and Darlene suggested heading down the street to a new place she heard about. Andale Nightclub plays music from the 80’s and 90’s and is supposed to be a lot of fun. I’m not much of a nightclub kind of a guy, but I said “okay, let’s go.”
Andale is located just around the corner from the little place where we spent the afternoon drinking with Jesus and Eligio, the cab drivers, just a few days earlier.
The place was packed but we were able to find a table on the patio. The waitresses were very friendly and very efficient. As a matter of fact, I do not recall ever having to wait for a cocktail.
It was during this time that I must have really become drunk, because what seems like about ten minutes of my life was really several hours. Here are some of the highlights that I can recall:
  • Don had one of those stupid laser pointers and kept shining it on people who were walking down the street. He would focus it on guys’ foreheads, girls’ tits, asses, whatever. I don’t know why I thought this was so funny. But it was.

  • The bar has a staircase that goes upstairs. At some point, Don was curious about what was up there, so we left to check it out. The top of the staircase led to a small loft that overlooked a dance floor and the DJ. There were only a few people up there and there were just standing around like they were lost. There was nothing to do but head back downstairs. On the way down, Don decided to try to spit on the DJ’s bald head. I think he succeeded too. I started laughing so hard that I slipped on the stairs and spilled half of my Rum & Coke.

  • After we returned to our table, we ordered another round and left with the drinks. We just got up, walked to the street, got in a cab and left. I don’t think we paid for anything.
It was a great night indeed.

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day V

Generally speaking, a bad hangover is like having dog shit stuck to the bottom of my shoe. I can’t recall exactly how I got it, it’s annoying and it won’t go away easily. Through careful planning, it can be avoided; it’s through with reckless behavior that I end up with it, and it takes great dedication, devotion and determination to get rid of it.

But for some reason, the hangovers in Puerto Vallarta seemed to dissipate like the morning haze over the ocean. It simply burns off as the day warms up. I’m not sure why this is, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to figure it out. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it or something.

Wednesday morning was much like the other mornings on this vacation. We sat around by the pool, Jackie complained about the other guests “reserving” their chairs, and we consumed drink after drink after drink.

The Sharaton Buganvilias Resort sells its rooms as time shares. The reason we got our rooms so cheap was because one of the fractional owners couldn’t use it and auctioned it off. The big thing on this particular day, is the resort was holding a huge “owners reception” for all the time share guests. It was to take place at 5:00 PM and we weren’t invited.

Throughout the day, we kept hearing people talk about the reception. It sounded like it would be a great party with unlimited drinks and a pretty good size buffet. We heard stories about how fun this party is and about a raffle where everyone ends up winning some sort of gift and how nobody would miss it for the world.

So Jackie and I started making plans to crash the party. It was scheduled to start at 5:00 PM, but our plan was to wait until it really got going before we would try to sneak in.

At 5:30, we headed down without a very well-formed plan to gain entrance. We saw that an entire lawn area that overlooked the beach was roped off with a stage on the far end, a half dozen food stations, a large bar, and hundreds of chairs and little tables set up throughout the area. The guests were dressed fairly nice. The men were all wearing long pants and the ladies were wearing nice summer dresses. There were no shorts, baseball hats or flip-flops at this party. Until we showed up.

We managed to gain access by walking along the beach and coming up from behind the  
stage. Nobody questioned us and nobody seemed to care. Pretty cool. We walked across the lawn towards the bar without any hassle. Very cool. We ordered a couple of drinks. No problem. But wait…. “Sir, Madam, do you have your name tags?” a little Mexican man was running up to us. Oh shit. “No, not yet,” replied Jackie, “we just got here.”

“No problem,” said the little man, “I’ll go get them for you.” And off he went towards the sign-in table.

“Oh, fuck. What do we do?” I asked Jackie.

Within fifteen seconds he returned with two blank name tags and a Sharpie.

That’s all it takes? Great security system they have there. But, that’s all it took. With the help of two little sticky pieces of paper and a Sharpie, we were now cleared to drink all of their booze and eat all of their food.

So we got to work on it.

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day IV

On Tuesday morning, Jackie had an appointment to get a massage at the spa, which I thought was fantastic. It would give me a chance to enjoy some time alone. So I got out of bed a few minutes after she left. I threw on some shorts and flip-flops, grabbed a towel, a book and a fresh pack of smokes and headed down to the pool. It was 10:00 AM and Happy Hour was just starting.

Finding a lounge chair near the pool was impossible. It’s not that it was crowded or anything. Hell, there are hundreds of chairs in the area. But most of them have been reserved by people. They “mark their territory” by leaving their towels, blow-up rafts, magazines or other personal items on the chairs at some point before dawn. Many times, they don’t even show up to use their chairs until well after noon. It seems a little rude to me, but I can live with it. I don’t really care to be located right next to the pool anyway. Jackie, on the other hand, HATES when people do this. It absolutely drivers her crazy. But she wasn’t there. So I found a nice lounge chair located a few rows back. It was nice. Less noise and distraction back there.

It was perfect. The waiter was bringing me two Rum & Cokes at a time – for the price of one, John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces was shaping up to be a great book, no one was around to complain my smoking, and the weather was a perfect 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sometime after 1:00 PM, Jackie finished up at the spa and found me in my lounge chair. “I’m going to head up to the room to take a shower and change clothes,” she informed me, “I’ll come down in a while for lunch.” There was a snack bar that prepared delicious bacon-wrapped hotdogs, nachos, club sandwiches and shrimp cocktails. We were both a little hung over and were looking forward to some greasy food and a relaxing day by the pool.

By the time Jackie returned, I was starting to feel a little drunk. It was about two in the afternoon and I had been making a serious run at it since eleven.

We ordered some nachos, had a few more cocktails and decided to head to Murphy’s and, eventually, to a grocery store and pharmacy. We wanted to purchase some breakfast food which we could prepare in our room. The rooms were all suites, but we just weren’t taking advantage of this amenity. We also wanted to get some prescription-strength Benadryl. You see, some drugs available for over-the-counter purchase in Mexico are only available with a prescription in the US. Benadryl is one of those.

We stayed at Murphy’s too long. It was only 7:00 PM, but we were both finding it difficult to walk, talk, or make sound decisions. We decided we would do our shopping and head back to the resort.

The pharmacy was an interesting place. It is clearly set up for tourists wishing to take
advantage of the lenient national drug policies of Mexico. The place was tiny – about 200 square feet – and there were all sorts of things available. We saw Modofinil, Valium, thyroid medicine, drugs for high blood pressure, prescription strength Tylenol, low-dose Xanax, Cialis and a whole variety of other boner pills. I thought it would be a great idea to purchase some Viagra so I could take some the next day while I was at the pool and just lay around all day with a massive hard-on. It seemed like a hilarious idea. Jackie didn’t think it was as funny as I did and the pharmacist wasn’t amused at all. In the end, we only purchased the Benadryl. Too bad.

The grocery store was our next stop and it turned out to be a real hoot. It was a true Mexican establishment and we had issues trying to read the labels printed in Spanish. We ended up purchasing some breakfast items, Margarita mix, Tequila and some large blue plastic cups. We figured we could make drinks in our room and take them down to the pool, thus saving about $40 a day.

Remember, I was pretty drunk. I guess that’s why I thought it would be funny to knock stuff off the shelves as I walked around the store. I would casually bump into boxes of cereal, cans of soup and bags of rice, causing them to fall to the ground. I don’t know why I thought this was funny, but sometimes when I’m drunk, I just find things that need to be broken.

When we finally managed to stagger up to the gates of the hotel, we noticed a big sign which listed the activities and special events happening there. This was Karaoke Night in the lounge. We decided to go. Neither one of us are huge fans of Karaoke. As a matter of fact, we both agree that the word “Karaoke” is Japanese for “Shitty Bar”. But for some reason, we both really wanted to go. Probably because we were both so polluted.

The lounge was not very crowded; there were only about fifteen people there and nobody could sing worth a shit. So, I thought it would be funny to pick a few songs and change the lyrics to, what I believed, would be really funny. For my first song, I chose Take It On The Run by REO Speed wagon.

The words are:
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you been messin' around
They say you got a boyfriend
You're out late every weekend
They're talkin' about you and it's bringin' me down…

You take it on the run baby
If that's the way you want it baby
Then I don't want you around
I don't believe it
Not for a minute
You're under the gun so you take it on the run

I changed them to:
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you take it where it’s brown
They say you got a boyfriend
Who doesn’t like your rear end
Well me and some boys are gonna take you downtown…

You take it up the butt baby
Cause that’s the way you want it baby
Then I don't wanna let you down
I ain’t gonna cum yet
At least not for a minute
I’ll pull out my cock and watch you try to walk….

There was one table of people who thought this was hilarious. The rest of the room was fairly indifferent.

For my next song, I chose What’s Up? By 4 Non Blonds.

The words are:
Twenty-five years and my life is still
Trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination
And I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man
For whatever that means...

I changed them to:
Twenty-five beers and my ass is still
Trying to get over the big ordeal last night
At the fucking gay bar
I realized quickly when you bought me that drink
That all you wanted was to sink your cock
Just a little too far…

As I mentioned at the start of this series, “There comes a moment in every man’s life when they realize that it’s time to grow up. I have not yet reached that moment.”

Clearly, it was time to go.

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day III

On Tuesday afternoon, we decided to tour a small Tequila factory located near Mismaloya; a town located about 20 miles south of PV.

Mismaloya is most famous as the site where the 1963 John Huston film The Night of the Iguana was filmed. The set and crew quarters rise up the hill on the south side of the Mismaloya cove. Sadly, the set is only ruins now. The movie made Puerto Vallarta famous, but the set has been forgotten. On the other side of Highway 200 from Mismaloya is El Eden, a jungle setting where parts of the movie Predator were filmed and the location of the Tequila factory that we were going to visit.

We found a driver who agreed to chauffeur us around for about $35
… for as long as we wanted! So we jumped in his cab and headed south. To the Tequila factory.

The ride down the coast isn’t an easy one. It’s full of twists and turns through the jungle with a sheer cliff on the west side of the two-lane road during most of the journey. And our driver, Jesus, drove like a maniac. I think, maybe, all of the cab drivers drive this way. Maybe all of the locals in Puerto Vallarta drive like that. Who knows? But it’s pretty scary.

When we arrived in the little village of Eden, I was surprised at how it looked. It was just like something out of a movie. Dirt roads, adobe buildings, old men sitting on the sidewalks drinking beer, dogs wondering around, kids with filthy clothes and dirty faces… It was a different world.

Finally, we reached Mama Lucia’s Tequila Factory.  
Good thing Jesus knew where it was because I would have never found it.

What the hell, “Come with us,” I said to Jesus before climbing out of the car and onto the dusty sidewalk in front of the dilapidated building. Honestly, I was afraid he would abandon us out there in the middle of nowhere. At the same time, I figured that he might be able to serve as an interpreter since neither Jackie nor I speak Spanish.

So there we were, just the three of us sampling, sipping, and swigging Tequila for about two hours. When we were finished, I was certainly in no condition to drive. Neither was Jackie. And neither was the driver. But, it was his job, so he did it.

The ride back to town was an adventure. Jesus saw that Jackie and I were terrified, and this pleased him to no extent. He kept giggling like a lunatic every time the bald tires on his shitty taxi cab screeched while he took a curve at a high rate of speed. Fuck. That was one scary ride.

As we pulled into Old Town Puerto Vallarta, I asked Jesus when his shift ended. “One hour ago,” he told us. We felt terrible that we kept him out for so long and, to make it up to him, we invited him to have another drink with us. He gladly accepted.

He parked the car and the three of us ducked into a dark and warm bar that only served warm Pacifico. We downed one each and headed across the street to a little place with a restaurant in the front and a cool little bar located off the alley in the back. We stayed there for at least two hours. Drinking and laughing and singing and drinking. Besides the bartender, who kept running out to (I assume) buy more beer, we were the only three people in the place. We were having a great time.

Then, a huge man with huge ears and huge lips and a huge head of black curly hair walked in and started to make his way toward us. With purpose. I looked at Jesus and saw that his face was bright red. Was this big guy some sort of enemy? Was he going to rob us? Was he going to kill us? A million thoughts ran through my mind.

“Eligio,” Jesus yelled.

Thank God. The know each other. But the big man didn’t seem too happy. He was cursing and yelling at Jesus in Spanish and Jesus remained pretty quiet. Eventually, Jesus handed over his car keys to Eligio.

Turns out, Eligio was Jesus’ relief driver; Jesus was supposed to turn the cab over to Eligio at the end of his shift. But he was drinking with us instead.

Eligio didn’t speak as much English as Jesus but somehow we convinced him to join us for a beer before he started work. He accepted and the four of us continued to drink for another hour or so. Then Eligio got a call to pick someone up at the Marina. Off he went. Drunk.

A day in the life in Puerto Vallarta.

Drinking Puerto Vallarta, Day II

On Sunday, we started the evening at Murphy’s and then moved on to a Cuban Bar where
we drank a variety of crazy Cuban cocktails. Dark rum, light Rum, Infused Rum, flavored rum. Shit. We drank a lot of rum. And in the process, we struck up a conversation with a crazy Canadian who was spending a solo vacation away from the cold January in Nova Scotia. He was funny and smart and entertaining. I think. Honestly, I can’t remember anything about him except that I don’t know if any of us ever paid for a drink. What I do know is that when Jackie and I stumbled out of the bar, we found a cab right around the corner and immediately got in. At that exact same moment, the waiter from the Cuban bar came running after us yelling “WHO GOING TO PAY FOR THOSE DRINKS?”

I rolled down the window and yelled toward the waiter “That Canadian guy,” as I pointed back toward the bar.

“What do you want me to do?” the cab driver asked, sounding not one bit concerned.


And he did. Fast.

Here’s the funny thing about the streets of Puerto Vallarta. They’re all made of true cobblestone and they are very narrow, with very high curbs (about 14 inches (35cm)). So, when you peel out like Jim Rockford, you don’t actually peel out. You bounce. From side-to-side.

So here there we were. Drunk. With a wild man as a cab driver, fishtailing our way through the streets of PV with a pissed-off Cuban waiter running after us yelling “WHO GOING TO PAY FOR THOSE DRINKS? WHO GOING TO PAY FOR THOSE DRINKS?” with the rear bumper of the cab scraping against the curbs on both sides of the street and, at one point, hitting a parked car.

He returned us to our hotel in one piece and we tipped him handsomely. Best cab driver ever

Drinking Puerto Vallarta

There comes a moment in every man’s life when they realize that it’s time to grow up. I have not yet reached that moment.

On a Saturday morning, back in June, my wife, Jackie, woke me up with some sort of announcement. I was pretty hung-over and was surprised that she was so fucking chipper at eight A.M.

“I was looking on sky auction dot com and found a trip to Puerto Vallarta for only $27,” she exclaimed.

“Who? What? What are you talking about?”

“We have five minutes to bid on this auction…”

And that was that. We won the auction. There was no catch. It was $27 for the whole week at the Sharaton Buganvilias Hotel and Resort in the Hotel Zone of Puerto Vallarta and we had seven months to prepare.

For those unfamiliar with PV, it’s an emerging international tourist destination located on the west side of Mexico’s mainland, 335 miles (535 km) below the Sea of Cortez. The weather is always warm, the people are very friendly and the drinking culture is one of the best in the world.

On January 25, we arrived in Puerto Vallarta beat-to-shit after a day of air travel and we were ready for a drink.

We walked into town, which is only about a half mile, and stopped at the first street-side bar for a couple of authentic Margaritas. We could have stayed there for several hours but knew that there was much more to see.

Just a few blocks, and a few more bars further and we stumbled upon Murphy’s Irish Tavern. An Irish Tavern? In Mexico? Indeed! Is was exactly what we needed. We weren’t in the mood for a bunch of fiesta-time hoopla. No ARRIBA ARRIBA ANDALE ADELE bullshit. Just a nice, comfortable Irish Bar. Perfect. So we started to drink. And we continued to drink. And we drank some more. The owner, John Murphy is a young ex-pat from Minnesota who moved down to Puerto Vallarta three years ago after serving eight years in the US Coast Guard. He’s a really nice guy and he gave us the total rundown on the drinking culture in PV. But I knew it was time to move on after puking in his trough-style toilet in the men’s room. I felt like an asshole, but we still vowed to make Murphy’s our home base for the rest of the trip.

Most mornings and afternoons were spent poolside where there were several happy hour specials throughout the day. Posts from the highlights throughout the week will follow…