Ordinary Days in Paradise

When people find out that I live in Puerto Vallarta, they often exclaim over the fun and excitement I must experience every day. I’m almost afraid to tell them that our versions of “excitement in Puerto Vallarta” probably vary a little. Or a lot. 

The name “Puerto Vallarta” invariably conjures up a tropical paradise; palm trees, sun, and beach. And that’s the reality – it is a sandy, sun-shiny wonderland. At first, I took full advantage of all this city had to offer – beaches every weekend, hikes through the jungle to hidden waterfalls, scuba-diving in the ocean. You name it, I swam it. 

But I’ve been living in Vallarta for nearly twenty-four years, which means I’m not a tourist anymore. And I’m also (a little) older. I still love adventure and fun, but my definition of each of those has changed a little bit. 

Take this weekend, for example. I am sitting here, typing this on a Saturday evening, looking back on my day with utter satisfaction. If the weekend ended tomorrow, and I was expected to stand before my five-year-old students in the morning, I do believe I would feel completely fulfilled. Why?

Well, let’s see. I started the day with a gentle workout, after which I had coffee with my husband in my little garden, under the tree with the yellow flowers. I started a really good book. I made one meal for eating today and another for the fridge for Monday after school. I did a load of laundry at the same time. Then I talked to my son in faraway Canada.  

After that, I took my daughter for a sub and then on to the grocery store, where we we found (drum roll, please) SUGAR-FREE ice cream that tasted sugar-saturated. Amazing. We ended the day watching a very scary movie, just the way we like it.

I did not clap eyes on the beach once today, although I did see the ocean from the balcony at the mall. I admit that I got a little thrill that, even in the most mundane of places in Vallarta, you can get a view that will take your breath away. 

But when I sat down to write this post in the evening, I realized that my day sounded pretty ordinary. Most people who do not live at a beach destination could have a day exactly like this one. And yet, I can’t imagine a better one – not only productive, but filled with my favorite things to do and my favorite people. 

And the truth is, Vallarta has given me all of that. I have a little house with a flowery garden. I have a very tolerant husband and two kids who spent their babyhood on the beach, eating mouthfuls of Vallarta sand. 

It’s a lovely discovery to make—not only that life is generally pretty ordinary but also that the ordinary is often quite satisfying. 

No, I’m not finished with the beach, or jungle hikes (although I am happy to say that I’m definitely done with scuba. Claustrophobia and deep water do not seem to make very good amigos). But I am happy for these quiet, ordinary days in paradise. Because paradise is everywhere, if you’re really looking.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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