Woodworking column: The great Puerta Vallarta salt crisis of 2019
We're back from a too short vacation in Mexico and I'm faced with having to write a travel story. I'm not proficient at such a task and have been brutally criticized over the years for not bringing the correct attitude to the task. Many years ago one of the rival columnists in the Twin Cities media wrote an annual GET OUT OF TOWN! column aimed at other members of the media.
I'm embarrassed to say that I made that list one year back in the 1990s in Jon Tevlin's column in the Twin Cities Reader. That year Tevlin asked the following to get out of town: Kirby Puckett, Susan Toth and Yours Truly.
Puckett had done something sexual, as I recall, Susan Toth had been snotty, and me? ME? I had been boring. Tevlin wrote that "Dave Wood is so boring he can make a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, sound about as interesting as central Indiana."
As a case in point, Tevlin mentioned that I had opined that the cleanliness of certain public restrooms in the slums of Istanbul were somewhat noxious. Talk about being an Ugly American!
I must admit I had a difficult time in the months that followed preparing a face to meet the faces that I met. What were people thinking? What I was thinking was that they were comparing me to the foolish hero of Anne Tyler's "The Accidental Tourist," a hilarious nerd who wrote travel books about how tourists could exercise techniques that would make them feel as if they were still at home. The colorless vapidity of William Hurt made him perfect tor the nerd in the movie made from the novel.
But enough of this back story. I have to brace myself now and write a travel piece, which will probably be boring and nail down evidence that Jon Tevlin was correct. I am a boring travel writer.
Ruth and I plus friend Barbara booked an all-inclusive resort outside Puerta Vallarta in a place called Nuevo Vallarta. Ruth and I had been there before and hoped it would be just as fine as it was three years ago.
And that it was. Its snow-white facade glistened in the sun. Its beautiful marble and stained glass public rooms glistened and were eternally swept and mopped and polished to a fare-thee-well. Our room was on the seventh floor and featured a split level arrangement that included a balcony that looked out on the roaring Pacific, a comfortable living room, a bedroom, a bathroom with gurgling spa and a built-in stocked bar with fridge full of beer, soda and water. As soon as something was drunk, a maid was there to replace it.
Each day a maid arrived to change our bed clothes, mop and polish the floor AND go out on the balcony to wash off the calling cards of last evening's arrival of condors and grackles who kept us company during cocktail hour. We called them "the poop patrol."
And we didn't go hungry. The RIU Pacifico Palace provided five ethnic restaurants for our delectation, four by reservation: Japanese, Fusion, Mexican and Italian steakhouse. The Peninsula was a huge buffet open all day and most of the night that did not require a reservation. In case we were thirsty, the RIU sported seven bars, where complimentary cocktails, wine and beer were available at all times. If the fancy restaurants bored us, we knew we could count on an informal barbeque set up each afternoon on the ocean.
The food was better this time than last because management no longer served the local beef, which last time was just a tad chewy. Our strip steaks and filets were toothsome this time, as were the sushi and the shrimp tendon served at the cunning Japanese restaurant. Breakfast was perhaps the most spectacular offering served only at the Peninsula buffet. Dozens of egg preparations, including Benedicts, one-eyes, omelets and "beaten." Fruits and vegetables and juices in abundance. Pastries you wanted to squirrel away for an afternoon snack. Breads of all varieties. And if you longed for New York, velvety lox served on cream cheese-slathered bagels was on hand every morning.
But d'you know what I longed for at each of these restaurants? My kitchen in River Falls or a booth at the South Fork where the salt shakers work.
Gentle Reader: Here's where I always make my mistake. It's called The Quibble, equivalent to my complaint about Turkish toilet plumbing mentioned above. For more information on Puerta Vallarta Salt Crisis of 2019 read next week's column (to be continued...)