Paradise is like a time warp. I drive with amazement at what is around me. I grew up in Southern California. I was 5 when my family came to the land of milk and honey in the mid ‘50s. To the booming metropolis of Lancaster and Palmdale and then, by 1961, it was San Diego.
We stayed at the Stardust hotel in what was Circle 7. It was a loop around Highway 80. It had seven hotels, thus the name. That was Mission Valley. There were dairies up the river east to the Mission.
I’ve watched San Diego grow. I’ve seen some of the scrubbiest unimaginative landscape turn into tree-lined communities. Little towns become big towns. Freeways. I remember how spooky I-5 looked just before it opened. Sort of like being alone after an atomic bomb aftermath. 1950s and 1960s. I saw an enormous county with dots of civilization blossom into America’s Finest City and surrounding burbs.
Now I’ve bailed out of America’s Finest City (part time), away from those frustrating fog and gray skies for the warmth and fabulous shores of breath-taking Puerto Vallarta. I fall asleep to booming thunderstorms and wake up to blue skies and the beauty of the Bay of Banderas.
Eventually I find myself driving the 45 kilometers up the coast to Punta de Mita on a twisting two-lane road with tree canopies only a stones throw from a turquoise ocean.
They call Punta de Mita the Mexican Malibu (don’t believe it? Go to my website). I drive through little funky towns that mirror what any old town in the heartland of America once was. Little Santa Fe, N.M., comes to mind. Very cool. Once old and run down.
Heck, take a drive up to Redlands in the heart of Riverside County someday. Right there adjacent to I-10 is this really quaint rebuilt downtown. Here, the little towns of La Cruz and Bucerias have that old as-you-would-expect Mexico-to-look look to it. Electric poles and wires, potholed side streets, hodgepodge of taco shops mixed with farmacias and llanta (tire) shops just waiting for a redevelopment agency.
There are new subdivisions going up on farmland less than a mile from the beach here. Everyone works. You walk through downtown Vallarta and it is Santa Barbara in the ‘50s. Everywhere you turn you see growth and opportunity. Time warp.
Even the schools are ‘50s’ish down here. They don’t have delinquency and gang problems here. Families are close. The schools require uniforms. All the young girls wear those doggone pleated skirts with knee high sox. The boys wear black pants and white shirts.
I swear I’ve been dropped into “Leave it to Beaver” land. People here take care of each other. Yet here they also have WalMarts, Home Depots and Costco’s with a bazillion acres of farmland eastward towards Guadalajara. There is so much opportunity down here it almost makes me want to be a young ambitious roustabout again.
But, those perfect rights off Punta de Mita in 80 degree water just seems a lot more fun right now. Then again it feels like I stepped into a time machine with advanced knowledge. Like I know who wins the World Series.
So, who knows, maybe there is something to that “if I could do it over again” phrase. I don’t know. Do I really want to get ambitious again? I’m supposed to be retired living on Social Security (one more month to go!!). Ah, to be a Baby Boomer. God only gives us so many days, might as well enjoy them for the gift they are.
Tonight, there’s a fiesta going on right on the beach. I can hear and see it rocking away and it’s Thursday!! I do live in a resort after all (on an Social Security budget). Wow, gotta go! They’re shooting off big fireworks right outside my balcony over the water! So cool.