Puerto Vallarta is loosely translated, in my amazing Pan-Hispanic accent, as any one of Port Vallarta or Gate Vallarta or Door Vallarta or Bridge Vallarta. Who knows, really? Not even the locals. Maybe some renowned Spanish linguist-historians, but nobody likes a self-satisfied pedant. I am, obviously, no such person. I am barely even aware of where I am staying, hotelwise. Arual, the modern Cortezian conquistador of wholesome irrigated Aztec earnestness, says we are staying at “Garza Blanca” just south of the city. Garza is Spanish for some sort of creepy bird, which is apparently white. Puerto Vallarta, or PV, as I now call it, is on the central Pacific coast situated just off the Bay of Banderas, which I think we can all safely assume is named after the greatest Spanish-American actor of our, or really any, time, who Mexican legend has it once skinny-dipped in the then-unnamed bay and so eroticized the sea off of the surrounding coastline with his untethered moon-glistening manjunk (the j is aspirated, but thrusty, and best said with eyes closed) that the fish population increased ten-fold following that one seductive night (or after whatever gestational period applies to Pacific-coastline sea creatures), and made ruffle-shirted gentry of once empty-pocketed and sun-crusted fisherman.
Sat by the pool today. And really nothing else. Became one with my lounge chair as the molten Sun pounded out and smelted down my corporeal borders to be one with the plastic surface of the chair. Drank too many margaritas, or just the right amount depending on one’s sense of propriety. Watched Arual make a complete absurdity of herself, flailing in the pool with an iPad in one hand and a giant jumbo flaming-monkey-sized multi-strawed, whole pineapples encircling the rim, cocktail in the other. By the end of the day, her doofy smile seemed entirely made of pina coloda, the top row of teeth dripping off into a gluttonous cream pool at the bottom. There was something preternatural, ancient, eternal about it……an ominous elemental bestiality. Truly a sight to behold, mock, cringe shamefully, as ostensible boyfriend, at. More than all that, practiced the craft of writing sentences with assumed first-person subjects. Sort of dominated it.
Mahi mahi ceviche flowed like wine today. Adorable Mexican waiters delivered bottomless cocktails that tasted of freedom and smelled of expatriotism. The Sun was oppressive, relentless, redundant. I imagined it wearing a tight wife-beater and acting like a bit of a dick, welcome though it was – that sweaty beloved tyrant. Sometimes, today in fact, no means yes. The resort has an infinity pool, which is probably overstating it a bit. I don’t know how far infinity runs – presumably a good bit – but this was like 50 feet and then poured off into some mildly inconspicuous recirculatory eave. Point is, it wasn’t quite as existentially bad-ass as the name implies, but it looked pretty cool and significant in a slow-witted pre-Magellenesque sort of way.
Fortunately, there are very few children at this place, which is, it goes without saying despite now being said, ideal for us. There is one six-year old token little girl, adorable as a slow-witted puppy but saying almost nothing clever or of consequence, with two friendly gay dads (actually I only know one is gay for sure), which is good so that Arual has at least someone to talk to, philosophize and compare meditative thoughts with. In any case, Arual has a friend and I have some peace of mind. Both my readers will know that, while I have no philosophical issue with children, as a notion they make some sense and seem even partially intuitive to a misguided procreative process, it’s their actual entity forms I struggle with. Not generally religious, I subscribe at least in part to Calvinist tradition of original evil, and nothing more substantiates that doctrine like these horrid little monsters, flopping about in pools, snot-soaked, loud, filthy, devoid of charms – their aimless dirty little feet and absurd arms splashing water into cocktails more valuable and life-giving than they – ironically diluting the one earthly resource threatening to make their existence tolerable. Falstaff, most lovable of Shakespearean characters, wisely said: “if I had a thousand sons, the first humane principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack [wine].” I wouldn’t go quite so far as to habitualize children to grain alcohol, but some marginal early training to, above all else, “respect the Cocktail” would suffice. There is a special circle in Dantean hell for the atrocious little beast, baptized or otherwise, that tops off an otherwise delectable pool-side margarita with beunirunated slop water where Don Julio Anejo so rightfully belongs.
We are, it must be reluctantly admitted, all too typical at this place. Thirty-something yuppies, usually from one of the “Los”s or “San”s in California. All no doubt seeking clichéd respite from their hellish realities at home. I consider myself above it all, as I can only assume they agreeably see me, but Arual is truly honored in the breach. The one violent and ciliac exception is the bronzy western European man in the lounge chair next to me. Hair, black as a Caravaggian night, and nothing like the Sun, poured from every centimeter of him (they use the metric system there). Sheaths of black spindly hair covered most of what his tiny Speedo adamantly and brightly refused to. A gold chain amulet, deeply entrenched in Black Forest chest hair, flickered intermittently whenever a fortuitous sliver of Sun breached the dense roughage, and hinted like a Lost City of Gold in a Peruvian rainforest at unlimited possibilities and deep intercalated chest muscles. Arual said he looked like a Portuguese Teen Wolf. I couldn’t help but wondering if all the hair receded when he wasn’t mad, playing basketball or generally impressing otherwise cold and disagreeable high school-mates. In any case, he seemed to have more control over some of his fur, since he was able to trim the beard portion down to just the right putting surface cut to work perfectly with the general milieu he was rocking, which also consisted of a deep celestial tan, enseamed polyester neon attire (colors making up, in inverted proportion, for lack of surface area), a mercurial pan-sexuality that seemed to invite all the world – man, woman and beast – at once to partake, and a pleasant cologne that I can only assume was Eurodouche by Diesel – “for the man just mysterious enough to make sweet love to you before gently committing petty theft from you”. I don’t know what any of this has to do with anything, nothing presumably, maybe everything, it’s too soon to know I think, but his hair, his very existence, affected me profoundly.
Went to the Malecon boardwalk today near the city center. Roughed up a bit, and definitely past its 60’s heyday, but quite pleasant. We avoided the Senor Frogs the best we could, and had some self-proclaimed authentic taco fare on a beach veranda. Tasty as all hell, whatever the reality of their indigenousness. Did a little jet skiing with Arual…….yes, jet skiing. A weird enterprise, but entirely liberating in a Lynyrd Skynyrdian sort of way. There is something simultaneously deranged and cosmically lofty about jet skis. They represent a sort of manifestly joyous existence that seems designed to taunt the whole of the world not then themselves on a jet ski of their own. The spray of the surf into an agape and insipid mouth, the intrinsically slow-motion-like shake of soaked hair, even the obscurity and sleevelessness of gaudy life jackets, betrays a detached escape from reality, a total indifference towards plight, hardship and the quotidian. There is, however, a palpable shame in the wake.
As with Rio, beach solicitation is pervasive here. The goods are equally obscure, and the sellers totally unaware of context or targeted marketing. Why any person would walk up to Arual and I, looking majestically disinterested in shitty arts and crafts, and offer to sell us some weird plastic parasailing toy, I no se. To be clear, this is some sort of superhero action figure that apparently parasails, using the equipment (irony of ironies, all is irony) of the organization offering parasailing excursions on this very beach. I suppose it is possible that we have a child of some kind, languishing back home in some sort of proto-Anne Frankian, sooty, Dickensian existence so squalid, austere and video-game less, that this sad progeny would actually covet this nameless and random foreign action hero, but it seems unlikely. In fact, “superhero” may be too kind, since a mildly clever villain could just take out the speedboat driver and largely anesthetize our hero, but let’s not quibble with that for now. Certainly, it’s no skin off my back to look bewildered and act judgmental while refusing the offer of these haphazard wares, but I feel bad for the sellers’ prospects generally if they are wasting precious solicitation time on us. Tequila, sure. Cuban cigars, maybe. Jumbo-sized condoms, an anatomical must needs. Even a random and clearly unhygienic skewer of barbecued shrimp in a moment of appetitive weakness and digestive regret. But fin de siècle children’s toys, embroidered doilies, wooden beach carvings of dolphins or pelicans or motorcycles, handcrafted beads or silver trinkets no doubt carrying ancient Olmecian spores in some sort of vengeful reversal of William Henry Harrison-style hospitality, not likely. I wonder how much I could reasonable charge, commission wise, to do some marketing consulting down here, maybe a little lead-gen, some industry analyses, really put reluctant beach consumer in front of creepy product, find synergies and shit.
My petty complaints aside, this vacation was truly necessary. Sure, I spent nearly six months on a sabbatical last year, but the muscle memory had long faded, the mental clarity long since clouded and become remote by the relentless vicissitudes of work-life (in that order), the jumbled crenulated barbed-wire pangs of career and the desultory exasperating triteness of reality. Work, in particular, has been utterly indifferent to human capacity and long overset any gains to soul and mind from that seemingly long-ago and temporal bliss. Roman slaves had more metaphorical back skin in tact and literal sleep than I did a week ago. It’s been a run of four months that can hardly be overstated – though referencing ancient back-whipped slavery is a pretty good attempt. I am finally coming to and it’s almost like a portion of my life has been simply rubbed out, deleted by an accidental key stroke or a computer crash that leaves me bewildered, ashamed of myself, and with little idea of where I even was when I last recorded some evidence of my earthly effort and existence. An unhealthy reminder that we are far too brittle, our lives are fleeting, our bodies crumbling, our minds slowing. We are becoming deracinated. A week ago, I was the personified lingering distress of the most homeless part of town on an early Sunday morning, where bedraggled human zombies slouch over the earth toward Bethlehem methadone clinic, where crumpled, grease-lucent cheeseburger wrappers flitter across the streets like urban tumbleweeds and when the air is thin, deoxygenated and a lymphatic sickly blue. During these sorts of months, I can barely pay my bills, I don’t speak to family or friends for weeks on end, and see Arual as little more than a vestigial shadow of a lump of sleep lying in the bed I crumble into early each morning before rising a couple of hours later to divide the pile in half again. Were it not for her tremulous, grunty, first-time-conversion-to-werewolf-like musings under the comforter, her existence would hardly register in my day (actually, that isn’t true, our dwindling bank account testifies like a Jonathan Edwards sermon most resoundingly to her “living”). In any case, as I sit idly by this pool under the full-bright Sun, sipping delicious blender-made drinks, typing these truly idiotic words, I can put myself back together for an instant. Become real again. To cease, if only briefly, as Proust said, to “feel mediocre, contingent, mortal,” all too aware though of the inevitable rainfall to come.
An aside: Arual, apparently, has read the Argentinian blog posts, and is now curious as to why I have portrayed her as “evil” – her word. I hope that I haven’t. I want to be clear that although Arual does evil to the world, and certainly to me, in Biblical proportions, she is but unwitting centurion torturer doing her duty in whipping my, and the world’s, back on our long arduous trek towards Golgothan death. She has no malice in this, and would, could she, do no harm. Unfortunately, even a seemingly likeable and tiptoeing Godzilla terrorizes the good Japanese citizenry as its big indiscriminating sloppy foot stomps crushingly upon the good earth. I am but the human version of the innocent and heroic children’s hospital made rubble under the clumsy fall of her giant lizardine big toe. A bumbling Godzilla in a sun dress, a whore of Babylon with a heart of oro, the lovable Scourge of Dios that picked up the flickering torch of global annihilation wherever that rascally Hun had fumbled it. Even rib-contrived Eve was the consummate sweetheart when she, hungry vegan that she was, pulled that damn apple down and spoiled the world.