The View from Here

Cristina Perez — Guest Editorial

Life in Puerto Vallarta is a bit surreal and ironic: you have the cobblestone narrow roads and the colonial architecture and cathedrals, the best seafood ever, the most beautiful beaches, the ber-glamorous clubs where the glitterati mingle, the five-star world-renowned restaurants, the celebrity-filled resorts, the outdoor jazz concerts, the mariachi playing in the parks, markets full of colorful souvenirs, the taco stands in the street corners, the beach vendors harassing you into buying cheap silver, and the like.
I love it there, I could think of no other beach town with more charm than P.V. I think that it’s necessary for me to tell you a bit about this place, in order to enlighten your lost souls with some revelations about life in Mexico, and correct any common misconceptions about donkeys, enchiladas, families of 30 living in one-bedroom apartments, and other ridiculously wrong assumptions.
First off, Mexico is not the poor, dusty, backward country some Hollywood films and random towns in Texas would make you believe it is. Obviously, people who immigrate into the U.S are poor, uneducated, and desperate. But they are a very small minority of Mexicans. I feel for them, you know? It’s got to be pretty tough having to leave your country and your culture and immediately become a stereotype (the maid, the busboy, the janitor, the brick layer, the dude with a picture of the Virgin Mary and the infamous slogan “Viva Mexico” painted on his ghetto low-rider) But it is imperative that I make this distinction: We are not them. They are not us.
By “we” I mean the educated, cosmopolitan, cultured Mexicans. Let me tell you a little something about Us: We are doctors, architects, poets, lawyers, activists, chefs, CEO’s, professors, performers, scientists, artists, engineers, travelers, inventors, designers, etc. We go to private schools, art exhibits, the opera, secluded beaches, French restaurants, fashion shows; we have the choice of studying in our excellent National Universities or foreign colleges, spending New Year’s Eve in Mexico City, New York or Paris. We participate in politics, we raise money for charities, and we are open-minded, accepting, and trustworthy.
The weekends are spent hiking through the jungles in search of a waterfall, sailing in regattas, surfing at the beach where we also eat delicious shrimp and lobster while playing backgammon. In the afternoons the caf’s and boutiques are filled with passerby, artists, poets, and locals relaxing to jazz or boleros, kids playing soccer on the streets, people taking siestas on park benches, lovers strolling through the Cathedral, admiring the pink and orange sunset. At night you can find us enjoying an excellent five-course meal in one of our 3,000 restaurants, followed by dancing to progressive house and techno or hip-hop at clubs that hold almost 2,000 people and don’t close until 7 a.m., some even 9 a.m., and on New Years Day, noon. Wait a minute! Is that Will Smith and Meg Ryan? Yep, they’re at the Four Seasons. Oh, Paul Van Dyke is throwing a rave at the beach? Yep, he decided Puerto Vallarta and Tokyo would be fun.
Needless to say, life there is great. I miss it terribly when I’m here, and I love complaining about the traffic, the lack of parking spots, and heat when I’m there. It’s a good place to raise kids, to get married, to start a business, to fall in love in.
I can’t wait to graduate so I can move back, live my life, and die there.
So, I hope with this little number your perceptions of Mexico and Mexicans have changed slightly. It’s really a great place. You should make it a point to make your way down south, and spend at least 10 good days there. Soon.