As I step onto the jetway the air wraps itself around me like a moist blanket. It feels so thick it seems if I drug my nails through the air they would come away with grit underneath them. I breath deep, it’s warm and oppressive, but I love the feeling of the heavy air in my lungs. We make our way through customs and security checks. There’s a relaxed feeling to it, which will be utterly different when we return to the States. I let myself relax as we make our way through the airport. I smile as we’re assaulted by salesmen and women trying to throw timeshares at us…as long as you’re 30 years old that is. We make it through to the taxi booths where people wave yellow signs with the word TAXI printed across them. Perhaps there is where we get a taxi? I chuckle to myself.
We are driven to our hotel. I don’t feel the need to put on a seatbelt, even though the driving is more chaotic here and I have no idea what the traffic laws here. But it seems no one else does either. Even though the cars and taxis flit around the street it seems less scary than six years ago. I gaze out the windows drinking in the sights. While I recognize very little of it, it still feels familiar. Then we get to our hotel and that is one thing I couldn’t forget.
Almost nothing at this hotel has changed. In fact the only difference I notice is there are iguanas living there now. They’ll come up and eat your leftover food if you leave it by the pool.
We spend time by the pool, in the sun, playing beach volleyball. We go into town, we eat dinner, chips & guacamole, we drink Corona’s and margaritas. It’s very similar to the trip six years ago, but the town feels different in very subtle ways.
It feels less authentic, maybe a bit more run down in a tired sort of way. There seems to be more English speakers this time, I notice a lot more children this time. The clubs are all different, even the Malecon feels and looks different. But it’s still the same Malecon I walked down six years ago.
The Malecon reminds me of my life. It looked so different six years ago, but it’s still the same path. As I walk through this city and recognize things and recognize the differences I feel a twinge of sadness. I feel the empty place in my heart ache as I remember. A few times I feel it threaten to bubble up behind my eyes and leak out. The whole trip is a bit out of body. It feels as though I am calmly watching myself walk through this trip while I float nearby.
The one floating nearby was the girl that stayed. I feel so deeply the loss of not staying. Six years ago Jordan and I wanted to stay in Puerto Vallarta. I wonder how things would be different if we had stayed. Perhaps we would have stayed for a year and come back. Maybe we would have stayed longer and raised our children there.
I loved my vacation. I loved the relaxation, the heat, the monsoons washing the whole earth clean each day. I loved being cut off, away for awhile, really away. But I couldn’t shake that melancholy, that epic regret, I couldn’t stop wishing that things were different.