Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reflections on Vallarta

It’s funny how the nature of a place can change drastically based solely on what’s happening in your own life rather than anything about the place itself. I have been coming to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for eight years and over that period my perception of this Pacific resort has changed from Paradise to Land of Disappointment to something in between.

The first winter I came here I really didn’t want to come at all. I had booked a hotel room by myself based on something I had heard about Puerto Vallarta becoming the newest gay hot spot. I planned my trip months ahead solely because I was dreading another endless cold winter in Rehoboth Beach. But by the time April arrived, spring was already in the air and I didn’t relish going by myself to a place where I didn’t know anybody.

Perhaps it was inevitable that with such low expectations I had a fantastic time. Under the mentorship of a seasoned traveler and gregarious new friend from Alaska, I discovered that young men in Mexico are very open to relationships with older Americans. There was nothing sordid or contractual about it, provided you offered “taxi fare” for your young companion to get home. So I met Carlos #1 and spent most of that week in a romantic haze. Carlos #1 must have lived far out in the suburbs because his taxi fare was 400 pesos. As it happened, he stayed in my hotel room with me and never needed to use his accumulating transportation fund.

The following year I met Carlos #2. We saw each other several times over the next two years. He never had any money but he never wanted taxi fare either. For my 59th birthday, as a present to myself, I took him to La Perla, a fabulous gay boutique bed and breakfast in Guadalajara. It was all very romantic. But I grew weary of Carlos #2 when he persisted in seeking my aide in getting him (illegally) into the United States.

And then came Luis. My two year on-again-off-again partnership with Luis included living together in Puerto Vallarta, New York (legally), and Mexico City. Just prior to breaking up, I had been seriously considering buying a condo in Mexico where we could live happily ever after. For two years I had voluntarily suspended disbelief and had convinced myself that two people, 30 years different in age, one with a secure, if not large, retirement income while the other was yet to hold a job for more than a few months, could have a stable and loving relationship.

When the illusion shattered, it shattered hard. Today as I walk through Vallarta, it does not shine with romantic possibilities but rather reflects a time past in my life. The places I pass by are like holiday snapshots from a long ago vacation. The memories become dimmer, but so does the pain. I no longer see everything in relation to Luis. This is not the spot where we first met or the café where we always had drinks with friends. I now see everything here as it really is.

This place that ex-pats and regular visitors call paradise is nothing more than a Mexican fishing village that has grown rapidly and wildly beyond anything that can sustain itself. It is polluted, noisy, the infrastructure is crumbling, the tourists are misbehaved and dressed inappropriately, time share vendors are aggressive to the point of hostility, nobody speaks Spanish and nobody sees the abject poverty that lurks just beyond the edges of the tourist zone.

As I sit on the shaded patio of my favorite Vallarta condo, a refreshing breeze comes up the hill from the Pacific Ocean. This condo that should have so many memories is now just a place I am staying, a pleasant place to be sure, to enjoy some fine weather as I wait for spring to arrive in New York. I’m looking forward to going home.


  1. You sound very sad.

  2. I'm not called the Bitter Old Queen without reason, but there is a difference between sadness and acquiescence.

  3. Life should be so bad for everyone... you Bitter Old Queen!! :-) I enjoyed reading your blog very much.
    It looks like you have finally, after 8 years, come back down to earth, Welcome back!

    No life is perfect...hell if it was it would be totally boring. Not living more would be a shame, not in the literal sense but in the
    take more risk's and live some more sense.


    "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
    ~Joseph Campbell

    Keep writing and sharing...

    Live free or die, Michael

    Fight for: Limited Government, Individual Liberty and Free Markets

  4. Why don't you try finding someone your age or close to it to share your life with? I will never understand why gay men of a certain age think that someone 30 years younger than them will stay in a relationship with them for the long haul. I am 53 and have been in a wonderful relationship with another 53 year old for the last 12 years. You should try it.

  5. Why are you,all of a sudden, noticing the "lurking abject poverty" in Puerto Vallarta? It was right there when you first arrived in town in the forms of Carlos #1, Carlos #2 and then Luis. Your realization "I discovered that young men in Mexico are very open to relationships with older Americans" sounded like you were going through some old book that you haven't touched in years and found a hundred dollar bill that you had placed there years ago and had completely forgotten about. Now that would be a surprise. But young men selling their youth and bodies to rich old/older tourists for a little something in exchange in poor third-world countries.... come on now.

    My partner and I have been coming to this wonderful place for a few years now and with each trip our fondness and appreciation for this place keep growing more and more. We enjoy the stillness and relaxing atmosphere of the town. We love swimming in the warm ocean and hanging out on the beach. And I think the best part is the people that we meet during our stays. We talked with other gay couples who have been coming to Puerto Vallarta again and again and appreciate the place just as much as we do. I guess things are different when you are going there just looking for "relationships" with young Mexican men.

  6. Anonymous incorrectly assumes that the young men I refer to came from poor backgrounds. While I don't really know much about the financial background of Carlos #1, I can tell you confidently that the other Carlos and Luis both come from solidly middle class families. Luis' father is a successful civil engineer in Veracruz and Luis attended college in Mexico City.

    I did not come to Vallarta looking for "relationships". They happened and I'm glad they did.

    If you love your life and you love Vallarta, I'm happy for you. We all have to find our own happiness and some of us take a more circuitous route than others.

  7. In reply to comments above " why don't you date someone your own age?"-it isn't that simple. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to younger and the straight population has been doing it for years so it's not a "gay issue". I date someone much younger and, by far, best relationship I have ever been in. The difference is he is a lawyer and I didn't meet him at a beach bar. If you meet a bartender in a beach resort, younger or older, it shouldn't come as a surprise if it doesn't work. Is the issue that he/she is younger or more that he/she is a player working in a hustler environment such as PV?