Sunday, April 05, 2009

Further South Than I've Been in Years

The fellow who looked at my boarding pass last Monday as I entered the passengers-only zone at O'Hare couldn't have been older than about 23, a lad in the new uniform of the Transportation Security Administration. But a good-natured lad at that moment. He took a look at me in my traveling clothes, a gray suit with a blue shirt but no tie.

"Going to Puerto Vallarta on business?" he asked, more in an conversational tone than an interrogational one.

"Yes, I am."

"That sucks."

He waved me through. Often enough "business trip" means a few days in climate-controlled meeting rooms struggling against yawns and heavy eyelids, and that would have been bad. But that isn't the kind of business trip I took. I went to look at properties about 20 miles up the coast from Puerto Vallarta, and write about them later.

Not just any resort properties, but exquisite Mexican-flavored residences overlooking wide views of the Pacific horizon, enlivened by frequent flights of seabirds, the sound of the ocean thumping the rocks below, and regularly scheduled sunsets. That describes my villa, at least, but all of the properties had considerable charm, and sometimes arresting designs.

Other writers had been gathered to see the properties as well, three from Canada and one other American -- an amiable, well-traveled group. Comparing destinations was a continuing subject of conversation, but hardly the only one. Besides touring resort- and second-home properties, we participated in the slow-food movement at a number of fine restaurants, mostly open-air establishments.

One afternoon a boat ride was on the schedule, too, taking us near offshore islands that functioned as seabird cities, complete with the smell of guano. I'd say that was a first for any business trip of mine.

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