It has been a hard year so far with work taking over life, literally. 12-16 hours days stretching into weeks. Luckily I was able to manage a hike or a walk on most of the weekends. At long last, once the user acceptance testing got over, things started to look more manageable and I took the first opportunity to get out. My wife had earned a retreat at the beautiful ocean-side city of Puerto Vallarta – pronounced porto vai-artha – in Mexico. For those new to the word or the pronunciation, Mexico is pronounced Mehico. The city sits on the country’s west coast with a population of about 255 thousand.
We started early on a Friday morning with enough time for a sit-down coffee. It is not often I can do this as I keep rushing out to catch my flight out to work on Monday mornings. The drive to the Philly airport was busy for an early Friday morning, but we got there in time. The Philadelphia airport, as I have written before, is probably one of the worst designed and managed airport given the amount of traffic it generates. In the busy international terminal A, with two wings – east and west, only the East wing has TSA pre-check. And those getting into the airport for the first time will have no clue which wing is equipped with the pre-check. I thought it was the west wing and headed there only to find the line was way too long and busy. We walked to the east wing and glad we did. Already I was counting 1000+ steps for an early morning. We breezed through security and took our seats at the gate. I had gotten first class upgrade for both my legs, the first to Dallas and the second to Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to the hundred thousand plus miles I flew last year, it came with some perks. Knowing it would be a short stop at Dallas for lunch, we tried to make the best out of the breakfast offered on the plane.
Dallas Fort Worth is a huge airport. It took nearly 15 minutes of taxing to get to the gate. The plane taxied over an expressway beneath which was a first for me. Think of the huge load the overpass needs to take to let a jumbo-jet taxi over it! The airport is well-lit and lined with shops and restaurants. There are kiosks that help you find a five or a ten minute walk if you have the time. It is much livelier than the Philadelphia airport. The flight out to Puerto Vallarta left on time. Again getting in early on a first-class upgrade helps. The plane was strikingly older compared to the domestic planes. You would think an international flight would have a better airplane than this noisy Airbus 320. As we approached the city, we got a glimpse of the terrain which was mountainous and dry. We had to step down the stairs to the tarmac to be shuttled to the terminal. Immigration was easy enough with some very pretty women manning the immigration booths!
Our ride to the resort was in a – thank god – air-conditioned mini-bus. It was a short seven minute ride to the Marriott. The huge resort hotel had impeccably manicured landscaping and a modern building. We got a great room overlooking the ocean. As we entered the room, we could hear the roar of the waves crashing onto the shore just a few hundred yards away through the glass door. It was sunny outside, but we were tired. It was late however and we wanted to get some food. The resort has about five restaurants and we headed to the one overlooking the beach. fajitas – all vegetables – stacked between buns were our only choice, but we happily munched these. A mango/banana and pineapple smoothie helped cool us down.