Saturday, December 08, 2007

Don't drink the water! Survivor Puerto Vallarta, Episode 3

You thought I was going to be writing here about Mexico's terrible water supply? Wrong. Puerto Vallarta's water supply is so clean and clear that you can drink it right out of the tap. And today I did my laundry -- in a Whirlpool "Lavadora Automatica". It came out totally clean. And last night I went to a wonderful cocktail party at a boutique hotel high on the mountainside, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And the swimming pools at the hotel were sparkling. And the ocean was sparking. And last night my shower was hot. Even the ice in our drinks was crystal clean.

Open bar. Margaritas. Kahlua and cream. Banana daiquiris. Presidente brandy. Orange liqueur. Pina coladas. Not to mention five kinds of beer. There's lots totally healthy stuff to drink here! And, trust me, the ex-pats drink it all. But after an evening of getting happily re-hydrated, they only get more interesting and convivial and tell stories and reminisce and charm your socks off. I love it here.

Yesterday I walked past the local health clinic. My right ankle was hurting so I went in to check it out. "How much would it cost me to see a doctor?" I asked.

The receptionist looked at me in astonishment. "Why, it's free." Even for me? Even for a gringo? "Free."

Then I got on the bus -- fifty cents takes you anywhere -- and it drove along a stretch of beach that fronts the downtown area. I spied at least TEN high-rise condos along the way. Each one was at least 15 stories high. And I talked with a real estate agent today and she said that, "at least 100 condos come on the market every day." Wow! Americans must be retiring down here in droves! Okay. So how about that Congress makes a deal with Mexico. For every American that goes down to Mexico to retire, the US allows one (1) illegal Mexican alien to come to America.

And for every American who gets free healthcare in Mexico, one (1) Mexican can get free healthcare in the US. Or better yet -- for every Mexican who receives free healthcare in Mexico, one (1) American gets free healthcare in America. Works for me.

No, the water here in Puerto Vallarta is fine. The housing is fine. And so is the medical care. However, I wish I could say the same thing about Gaza. According to Uruknet News, "The Palestinian General Petroleum Corporation reported that the Israelis have cut the delivery of fuel to a half of its normal supply to the Gaza Strip on Monday." Okay. Imagine if HALF the fuel in Puerto Vallarta -- or in the US for that matter -- just didn't exist any more. Economies would be shattered! Gaza's economy is shattered. "Only 30% of the gas needed by the households for cooking and heating is available." So much for those holiday dinners.

And the transportation in Puerto Vallarta is fine too. Plenty of buses. But in Gaza, don't count on the buses or the taxis. It's donkey carts or nothing for 1.5 million people. Collective punishment sucks eggs. But what exactly are the residents of Gaza being punished for? Who knows? For fighting back after 60 years of watching their families killed and their land stolen? For simply being alive? Not to worry about that. Like in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, the average resident of Gaza's life span is relatively short. And at the rate the Israeli neo-cons are "punishing" the residents of Gaza, they certainly won't be around long enough to retire -- let alone buy fabulous retirement condos on the Mexican Riviera. The Gaza Riviera? Yeah right.

We now know that healthcare is flourishing in Puerto Vallarta. This is a good thing. But the healthcare in Gaza is a disaster. Hospitals there don't have the fuel to run the generators if the power goes out. And the power goes out A LOT. Imagine if you are in the middle of getting operated on and the electricity goes out. Ouch! That's gotta hurt!

And apparently the Israeli neo-cons are cutting off medicines and medical supplies to Gaza as well. You need high blood pressure medicine or antibiotics? Just jump on the next jet to PV. Oops, sorry about that. Residents of Gaza have almost no access to airports.

The sewage system in PV is excellent. You jiggle your toilet handle and it flushes. No sewage runs in the street. Retire here! You will love it. But don't retire to Gaza. You will be up to your eyeballs in poop! "A spewing river of sewage and mud erupted after an earth embankment around a cesspool collapsed and killed at least five people and forced residents to flee a village in the northern Gaza Strip."

And, while in Gaza, PLEASE don't drink the water. "The Israelis decision to cut the supply of electricity and fuel will also hurt the water supply; the water pumping stations, like the sanitation systems, are operated by electricity. Again there is nothing new about this. The Israelis are already undermining the water infrastructure on Gaza Strip, and the Gaza Strip is already at the edge of a severe emergency water crisis." It's just fine to drink the water in Puerto Vallarta -- just don't drink the water in Gaza!

So. As a vacation town or as a place to retire, Puerto Vallarta is heavenly. And I suppose that you COULD retire to Gaza. But why would you want to? And after I get back from PV, I would love it if some travel magazine sent me off to do a report on the Gaza Riviera. I'd give it my best shot!

However, that's just not going to happen. Like what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto, the powers-that-be aren't letting anybody in.

Tonight I spent an incredibly pleasant evening on the beach at PV, watching the sunset with my friends Rick, Sarah, JR ( and Isobel Then I wandered home in the balmy night air, past the Mexican families eating dinner outdoors and the little girls trying to hit their Christmas pinatas. And I only got lost and wandered around in circles twice. And tomorrow I leave for Yelapa, a fishing village only accessible by a one-hour boat ride or 30 miles by mule-back. I'll be taking Spanish lessons at the Yelapa Spanish English Institute and going native. I wonder if they have an internet cafe?

The Puerto Vallarta Riviera has a fabulous beach. Gaza has a fabulous beach too! The people of Puerto Vallarta are friendly and nice. The people of Gaza are friendly and nice too. Maybe if the Gaza Tourist Association puts me to work as their spokesperson, I can help them become the next Puerto Vallarta -- that is, if the Israeli neo-cons finally get a life, stop being greedy and leave them alone?

PS: When I come back from Yelapa on Saturday, Rick and I are gonna try to brew up some ayahuasua. Wish us luck!