Wisdom from Experience

I’ve been living in Puerto Vallarta for about twenty-four years now, which means I’ve acquired a great deal of Vallartan life experience. I am happy to share some of the wisdom I’ve gathered because it’s been so helpful to me when others have done the same. 

Some of that experience is rather recent, unfortunately for me, because it was unpleasant. However, if it helps someone else, let me say that if you find yourself standing on the side of the road, looking sadly at your smashed-in car and waiting for the insurance company to arrive, you should definitely follow these steps:

  1. Find a time machine.
  2. Go back to approximately one hour before the accident, and don’t leave your house.

This advice might sound implausible, but let me tell you that it’s absolutely more possible than getting your car fixed in the near future. 

You see? Life experience. A few other things I can offer: 

  • Take the bus. Even if you have a car, you need to take the bus sometimes. For one thing, you can avoid the scene beside the road that I just described. For another thing, the bus is a great way to see the many varied neighborhoods in the city.
  • Want to try a street taco stand? One of the first pieces of advice I received was to visit the taco stands that are busy. Crowded taco stands mean lots of people find their food delicious. It also means that there’s a lot of product turnover, and fresh food is being constantly prepared.
  • Try to speak Spanish. When I arrived in Mexico, my Spanish proficiency percentage was about – 8. My first goal was to learn to order my food in Spanish. I thought I had gotten pretty good until I went to Guadalajara and began ordering the quesadillas con frijoles, and the waiter ran for the manager. But hey, I tried.
  • Wear the sunscreen. Everyone who visits me is determined to get that base on day one. They figure they’ll just lay out in the sun without SPF 50 for the first day and then cover up after that. THAT WILL BE YOUR LAST GOOD DAY, I promise. You don’t realize that the tropical sun is trying to teach you a harsh lesson (that no one seems to learn).
  • Hydrate. Swimming in salt water, drinking margaritas; these are fun, yet dehydrating activities. Do you notice that a lot of locals are drinking electrolytes like soda? No, there isn’t a rampant outbreak of influenza around here, they just know how important it is to stay hydrated in the topics. For every shot of tequila, one liter of water should be consumed. You’ll thank me tomorrow.

I could go on and on, believe me. I could write a book about the mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned, like when the waiter at the taco joint advises you that a salsa “pica un poquito” means pull out the antacid before ladling it on your quesadilla. 

I still haven’t found a time machine, but if I did, I’d probably do it all over again just for fun. Life is about the lessons, even if they aren’t easy to learn.


  • 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.

Previous article
Next article

Most Popular