I did something I never do. I took a 3 day break and went to Puerto Vallarta for some fun in the sun. I hadn’t seen the ocean for over 10 years, and that was a working trip to the Caribbean. A good friend from Indy came down and met me in Guadalajara, and we bussed over to the resort town. It was a lot of fun, and a much needed break. To be honest, being in middle Mexico, and the only gringo in town, all while trying to navigate the customs and strange business practices, can be tiring and frustrating. In PV, however, I was surrounded by Canadians, Germans, Americans, Brazilians… it was a mash up of tons of cultures, and a very relaxed environment, in which to clear my head.
My traveling companion was my buddy Sara, who is cheerfully laid-back and always up for any adventure, which is a great quality to possess in a country that tends to spring surprises on you at any moment. Her only downfall is that she likes to play the “Slug Bug” punching game with unsuspecting cab drivers who don’t speak much english, and are confused why she’s hitting them all the time. And there are SO many Volkswagen Beetles down here, it’s crazy.
We had a wonderful time. Some of the highlights were soaking in the rooftop pool at our hotel, and finding this amazing little beachfront restaurant, in which we could hang out in a cabana all morning, get served the best seafood brunch ever, swim in the ocean, sun on the beach, drink micheladas and coconut cocktails and have our every whim catered to for the best beach day ever – all for about $25 US each. We stayed in a place on the section of the city that was literally called “gay beach”, and it was a very heavy homosexual community, which meant all the best bars were on our block. One of which was like a cantina from Star Wars – there were fist fights, drunks falling down at the bar, people of every origin, all having tons of fun. It was a blast.
At the end of the weekend, we chose to spend a day in Guadalajara to change up the scenery a little bit, and hopped the earliest bus back to the city, even though it wasn’t the “premier” bus line that I normally used. Big mistake. The bus smelled funny, was a little crowded, and stopped a dozen times in tiny towns to let more and more people on. And then we had a flat tire.
Stranded in the heat, in the middle of nowhere, we were wildly fortunate that there was a small garage across the road, and a bunch of dudes came to our rescue. It took some time to get back moving, but in the meantime, we wound up making a friend. Sara had opened a little packet of cookies that we brought with us, and ended up giving some to an adorable 6-year-old sitting with his mom behind us. We all wound up watching “Guardians of the Galaxy” on my laptop the rest of the way back, and even though the 4-hour ride took nearly 6 and a half hours, it wasn’t too much of an issue. (It also didn’t hurt that we picked up a couple of valium at the pharmacy in PV before leaving, and were able to ride out the bus trip relaxed and sleepy.)
We returned to Guadalajara and wandered the city for most of the night, checking out the amazing markets and all the great little artists and distractions that the city is famous for. All in all, even with the crazy mishaps, it was a wonderful weekend that got my mind off of all the details of my fall launch that were keeping me up at night. We got up the next morning, and nearly locked ourselves into the gated courtyard of our AirBnB, but fate intervened and got us back on track. A quick nap on a short bus trip, and I was home, only to find out that it’s High Holy week, here in Mexico.
During the course of this week, almost all businesses are shut down, and people tend to spend time with their families and have cookouts and big brunches and relax in the perfect weather. That’s great, unless you’re a small business guy who doesn’t know all the customs yet, is way behind deadline and over budget, and relies on things like Uber and restaurants to get around and… ya know, eat. To be honest, I was getting pretty cranky for a while, since a lot of irritating things happened, more than just a flat tire on a crowded bus. For one, I made the trek out to a big tannery to pick up samples that were weeks late in getting to me, and because most of the factory was on leave, it took 2 hours to track down the lost package. Eventually, with the 40 pound roll of leather in hand, I had to walk about 4 miles in the heat until I was in range of any Uber drivers that were working during the week, because there was definitely no taxi service. Top top it off, Ive been living off gas station food for days, because markets are closed, and I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart for a lot of reasons.
I’m actually on the third revision of this blog post, because the last few times I’ve sat down to write it, I’ve been so frustrated that it keep turning into a bizarre rant about cultural issues, and I wore myself out. Lucky for me, I have a massive cadre of wonderful friends that reminded me that I made the choice to come down here and do this, and that if it became too much, I always had the option of coming home, even if it was for a break. They also reminded me that if this was an easy endeavor, everyone would do it, and that I’m at my best when I’m challenged. Fair enough, and I calmed down a bit.
The thing is, that it IS hard. The people and their customs can get confusing, and even though I’m working hard to learn the language and getting better at it, the rift is still massive. I stay in touch with buddies back home through texting and sometimes video chat, but 99% of my time is spent alone, in my shop, working to make a lot of choices about my designs and my company and doubting myself. I have so much still to do, and some days I get almost nothing accomplished.
Despite the beautiful weather and the ceaseless adventures, it can be hard to not get a little depressed sometimes. I don’t really have a social circle down here, and even though I’ve been blessed with a few visits from friends, I’m feeling a little homesick and alone in a city of millions. At home, I’d pop out with a couple pals to see live music or just go hang out and make dinner, kill a bottle of wine and have some laughs – maybe even meet new friends, too.
But down here, that’s not really an option. I’m so used to having my own truck to hop in and go wherever I want, whenever I want, and I especially miss being able to ride my motorcycles. Which is why, with any luck, I’ll be buying a little motorcycle down here before too long. It’s my therapy, for sure, and besides, I need one to be able to do test mountings for my bags.
I’m hopefully going to get a lot more work done in the shop over the weekend, and be ready to jump back into the swing of things on Monday, provided everyone’s not hung over from Easter cocktails and gets back to work as scheduled. However, it’s Mexico, so there’s no telling.