If this place wasn’t heaven, then it had to be a close runner-up. Here we were at Villa Del Palmar Flamingos, a luxurious 5-star resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, an up-and-coming beachside community about 10 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. I was vacationing with my best friend of 30 years, Pam. She had generously insisted on treating me with this fabulous trip to commemorate my “zero” birthday.
“Hey, I don’t have a husband to indulge or kids to send to college,” she reasoned. “I make good money, so if I want to spoil my friends, let me!”
And who was I to argue?
From swimming and shopping to excursions and dining, each new day seemed better than the last. And today we were experiencing the ultimate in decadence: sunning ourselves on a gorgeous beach straight from the cover of a travel brochure. Pristine sand sparkled like sugar. Palm trees danced in the soft tropic breeze. The sky was a stunning Peacock blue, the temperature a balmy 80-degrees, and the only sound was the gentle crashing of waves. That, and the voice of our waiter asking, “Another margarita, senorita?”
Did life get any better than this?
I was nestled under a huge beach umbrella, propped up in a comfy chaise lounge. To my left was a stack of magazines and to my right, a margarita glass the size of a child’s wading pool. My feet were buried in the sand, my legs covered with a towel, my head tucked inside a baseball cap, and my eyes shielded with Jackie-O sunglasses. For double sun insurance, I had lathered myself from top to bottom in SPF 75.
“You look like a beekeeper in a burqa,” Pam snorted as she eyeballed my attire. She was sprawled outside the zip code of my massive umbrella, exposing as much skin as a modest person is capable of exposing. When I asked about sun block, she waved me off like a bothersome sand flea. “I’m wearing SPF 15,” she mumbled as she rolled over on her stomach. “Besides, I’m half Mexican. I don’t burn. I tan.” And then she fell asleep.
Now, if we freeze-frame this moment, we can see why it serves as a prime example of why God never saw me fit to have children. No doubt, the Almighty, in His infinite wisdom, foresaw numerous scenarios in which my precious little snookums would say something like, “but Mumsy, I want to run with scissors!” and I’d respond with, “Okay sweetie, but it’s dark outside, so be sure to look both ways before you cross the freeway.”
Because this is where I failed Friendship 101. In hindsight, I should have screamed, “SPF 15? Girlfriend, are you CRAZY? Why don’t you just soak your virgin skin in a nice soy sauce and honey marinade, and then barbecue your bodacious bod over a George Foreman Grill?”
But I didn’t. Instead, I gave her a nonchalant, “Okay, doke” shrug and promptly buried my SPF 75 slathered snout into the latest issue of “More” magazine. And for the next five hours, the only time I moved was to wave my hand for a margarita refill, reach for another magazine, or adjust my chair to avoid the shifting sun. It was, indeed, a perfect day.
Not so much for Pam.
That evening, when I observed that she may have overdone the sunbathing, she brushed off my concerns. Nah,” she said with just the slightest grimace. “I always burn a little at first and then it turns into a nice tan.”
But when she emerged from her bedroom the next morning, I wasn’t looking at a “nice tan.” I wasn’t even sure I was looking at Pam. She walked as if she’d been spray-starched. All I could see were the whites of her eyes and, when she opened her mouth to groan, her white teeth. Her skin, a fiery fire engine red, was radiating heat so fiercely that I swear, it kicked on the air conditioner.
“Does this mean we’re canceling our massages today,” I asked?
My, who knew the eyes were capable of spewing such venom!
And so, alas, for my best friend, heaven took a temporary turn for the worse. Still, Nuevo Vallarta in winter is one pretty hot place to visit. And if a virgin-skinned tourist happens to be wearing a meager SPF 15, the operative word might, indeed, be “hot.”
Just ask Pam.