Friday, February 5, 2016

Puerto Vallarta and Chicken Goonie

A pretty little Puerto Vallarta beach

Puerto Vallarta is the place in Mexico every American has 
heard of, but practically noone has ever visited

When I was a kid,  we never missed The Love Boat every saturday night. Their ports of call every week were Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. 

And in the 60's, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton bought a vacation home here

Dick and Liz aboard Taffy off of Puerto Vallarta 

They were the toast of the town for awhile down here. It was truly the glory days for 'ol PV.

But sadly, once Dick and Liz broke up for good, you know what that means -- all of the houses get liquidated, they both go their separate ways, and the PV dream was no more.

I was surprised to see this souvenir "Liz and Dick
 in Puerto Vallarta" pillow for sale in a gift shop. I wondered if it had been 
sitting in that same shop for 50 years...

And then there was this "Liz and Dick" tribute 
statue standing in the corner of a restaurant

Since the glory days of Liz and Dick,  PV has fallen out of favor with American tourists who fear Mexico's water and tropical diseases.

But just because middle American has stopped visiting, that isn't stopping rich celebs from firing up the Lear Jet and zipping down PV way.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West walking north on a PV beach with their 
baby South (or is it "walking South with their baby North?")

Justin Bieber, Sophia Vegara and Lada Gaga have all been spotted on PV beaches in the last couple of years. I'm not so sure this actually means Vallarta is becoming more popular with average Americans, though. I suspect the more likely explanation is that constantly jetting off to the Turks and Cacos, the  French Riviera and Monaco over and over again gets rather tiresome. So the ultra-privileged elite probably take out the globe every once in awhile, spin it, cover their eyes and blindly point to their next exciting destination. 

Actual conversation overheard at Justin Bieber's house:


 OK. Close your eyes and spin the globe, sir.


OK, alright. Let's do this. (Excitedly rubs his hands together, spins the globe, covers his eyes and stops the globe with his index finger)

JEEVES THE BUTLER: (puts on bifocals and peers close to the globe) You've chosen Puerto Vallarta.

JUSTIN BIEBER: (confused face) Never heard of it. Where is it?

JEEVES THE BUTLER: It's in Mexico.

JUSTIN BIEBER:  (crickets, crickets)

JEEVES THE BUTLER (mildly exasperated): Um, you remember The Love Boat?

JUSTIN BIEBER: What's that? Is it something cool that I should buy?

JEEVES THE BUTLER: How about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Have you heard of them?

JUSTIN BIEBER: (now terribly bored with the tedious conversation) No, no. Never mind. Just book the trip. Wherever it is, I'm sure I've got countless fans there!


Chris and I recently hopped on the bus in La Cruz for the hour 
long ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta. Both Chris and I had been feeling slightly ill 
and feverish for a day or two, but we bravely soldiered on to explore the city.

This is our view of Puerto Vallarta from the deck of Espiritu on the other side of the gigantic Banderas Bay in the La Cruz anchorage

Bogenvilla, VW bugs and cobblestones -- things you see all over PV

We had lunch at a cute place which featured old 
boat sails as sun covers over the terrace (look at the top of the photo)

A river slices right through the middle of the city, and on it's shores 
is much of the old world charm of Puerto Vallarta 

Adorable little street market along the shores of the river

Of course, Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo is much beloved, and her image is everywhere in Mexico.

Anime style Frieda t-shirt

Hipster-nerd Frieda

Taking a quick break from walking with Mark and Laurie of Trovita

Roadside produce and pinata

Mexican boy on horse

Communal water fountain for anyone's use in the central market

Giant bamboo grows all along the river. I loved these handmade bamboo NFL beer steins. Very original! (For that certain someone who has everything)

We picked up this giant mutant avocado, and suddenly this tall blonde American woman came out of nowhere and (unsolicited) told us all about this variety, basically saying "Don't eat them, they taste bad." Okee dokee. She then said really loudly and excitedly: "I'm a shaman, and my office is right across the street!" She then tried to hand us her card but we turned and ran so fast I think we left a 5 knot breeze of wind wake behind us.

"I'm a shaman! My office is right across the street!"

Maybe this is wrong, but if I were looking for a shaman in Latin America, most certainly I would look for one of Mayan or Incan descent. I mean, a blonde American expat shaman? No, thanks.

Jane Lynch? No. Leonard the Shaman? Yes.

Leonard the Shaman from TV's Northern Exposure

There have been a serious uptick in hurricanes here in recent years. As PV is built 
up into the hills, the water has got to go somewhere.

Mark and Laurie stand on the sidewalk above the double-decker curb, ready to drain the deluge of water down to the sea after hurricanes and tropical storms

Look! They have bike lanes in PV!

Guess where Woolworth's went to die in the early 70's? PV!

Talk about nostalgia. Chris and I both have fond memories of hanging out at soda fountain at the South Coast Plaza Woolworths when we were kids. 

No soda fountain. But we did nostalgically partake of the Woolworth's popcorn and candy! 

The next day we caught up with some recently arrived cruising friends we had originally met in Honduras. As we caught up and swapped stories, "John" (name changed) told us the following strange tale:

While at a marina in El Salvador, he began feeling quite ill, feverish and faint, with diarrhea and vomiting. He went to a local village doctor (an actual Shaman, perhaps?) who said his diagnosis was something called "Chicken Gooonie" (What? We all broke into unintentional giggling when we heard him say it. What kind of crazy tropical illness was this? Do you get it from being pecked by wild chickens? We had so many questions...) and that he needed to get right to the hospital. He found a local Salvadorian friend who volunteered to drive him into the capital, San Salvador.

He lay down in the back seat of the car, counting the moments until arriving at the hospital in San Salvador. But halfway through the drive through the jungle his driver pulled off the road, popped his head back between the seats and said he had some quick "business" to take care of and would be back in a few minutes.

John lay there sweating and feeling quite ill.  (NOTE: When you're in the tropics, you're so hot 24/7 that it is literally impossible to know or even notice that you have a fever at all.) A half hour went by and his driver was still not back. Popping the car door open, he looked up at the sign of the establishment his driver (and supposed friend) had entered now almost an hour before.

It was a bordello. Or whatever they call "bordellos" in El Salvador.

Ha! Some friend, huh? 

Well, the friend finally "completed his business," came out and drove John to San Salvador, where he was officially diagnosed with an especially severe case of "Chicken Goonie" (snicker, snicker) and was admitted to the hospital with dehydration.

Well. And we were already worried about the Zika virus, which is mild in adults and older children but is causing severe birth defects to the children of pregnant women all around the world.

As soon as I got back to La Cruz I looked up "Chicken Goony" on the CDC website.  The correct spelling is:


Turns out it is spreading rapidly through many countries, including Mexico. The primary symptoms are malaise, fever and sudden onset of severe joint pain, often in the extremities. 

I woke up 2 nights ago with severe joint pain in my right thumb, my right shoulder, several ribs and my right clavicle -- the last being extremely painful to touch. I had no history of injury. As an RN I feel I have the credentials to diagnose myself: 

I've got Chikengunya.

But, don't panic. The worst is over. As it's a virus, there is no treatment. It's self-limiting. I've made it through the acute phase. And it's not transmitted human to human, so I'm not contagious. It is spread via mosquitos.

I never got dehydrated because as anyone who knows me can attest, I drink what seems like a few gallons of water a day, which appears to have served me well this time.

But don't worry. If I get worse I'll head to the local doctor here in La Cruz. Who knows, maybe HE'S a shaman too. No worries. As long as he/she doesn't look like Jane Lynch, I'll listen to what he has to say.

And how was YOUR week? 


  1. Love your sense of humor and rhythm. Wonderful camera. Beautiful rich photos. I knew celebrates visited PV, but your collection of their pictures was impressive. I wonder if Chikengunya and dinga fever are the same disease with different names.

  2. I noticed there were no Broncos bamboo beer steins. Sold out, no doubt! ;)

  3. Such a creative girly you are. Sorry to hear about Chikengunya. Amazing that we didn't get this in our travels -- where Chikengunya mosquito spray!

  4. The blog is created in essential English with no longing towards composing.