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Friday, April 23, 2010

Hola a Todos, Soy Nuevo!

First photo of my trip: an aerial view of the Sierra Madras a hundred and twenty miles east of Puerto Villarta thirty thousand plus or minus feet up. We were about to start our descent, so I ordered a last call of wine, the elixir of the gods for sore tushies and knees before having to schlep through immigration, customs and the mob of timeshare salesmen.

Five hours was a long time in the air. As our ears began to close, Honey shouted to me, "What if we still had ten more hours to go"? I winced and thanked G-d my knee became an issue and we cancelled our trip to China. I thought He could have chosen a less annoying ailment to protect me from what I wished for, but a bum knee was it and it saved my tush from having to sit ten hours longer to get to Tokeyo and four more hours after that to get to Beijing. I was grateful. As much as I had been disappointed about the cancellation: Good luck, bad luck who can tell? china may have killed me.

No drawing-of-the-day April 10th travel day though. Too much to do. The hot weather hit us in the face as we exited the plane. At first it felt wonderful. Then as we went through the rigmarole of bureaucracy, luggage handling and security checks... Did you know that there's a new procedure in Mexico where you have to go through security with your luggage when you ENTER the country? Well you do--and nobody helps seniors with bum knees lift their overpacked baggage onto the belt, or actually looks at the baggage as it goes through the x-ray machine to immediately pile up with everybody else's stuff on the other side. Hum?

To further aggravate this weary traveler, my black jeans were clinging to my legs and the jersey I had shed and tied around my neck had me wishing I had a sweat band on or had been one of those guys who squeezes into the airplane lav to change into shorts, tee and sandals just before landing. I couldn't wait to get naked, jump into my suit and ferret out the shade at the hotel pool. But wait I did. Check in at the Westin is at three PM period. We got there at one thirty without beach clothes easily accessible.

While our friends had given us lists of restaurants we had to go to, no one ever mentioned pack your beach gear separately. So my very warm black jeans and Pumas went for a very warm long lunch outside overlooking everybody else swimming in the pool. I desperately wanted to eat inside in an air conditioned space, but the only air conditioning anywhere in the hotel was in the rooms and in the Royal Club room, (pictured on the right. Note the champagne and wine bottles in the cooler), to which we didn't have access to (until three o'clock) even though we paid the extra money for the privilege. You had to be checked in precisely at three PM not a minute sooner.

The Westin is not the Ritz. BUT we weren't paying Ritz prices either. BUT the Westin Desk staff sure could learn a few things from that five star hotel about "It's my pleasure" when greeting guests. That afternoon, I took away one of the Westin's four stars. Demoted them to three being the bitchy American that I was with a throbbing knee who had been through luggage hell at the airport and was sitting in the heat overdressed. My heart didn't soften till I saw the view of Banderas Bay from the balcony of our room.

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