I just spent five days in Puerto Vallarta at a lovely all-inclusive resort. I wanted a beach vacation away from all technology – computer, smart phone, texting, e mails, skyping, anything having to do with the cloud. I managed pretty well except for a few Face Book messages to my adult kids with photos of me enjoying the beauty of Mexico.
In my last novel, We’ll Find a Way, my protagonist and her husband go to Puerto Vallarta to get out of the freezing cold of a Denver winter. They’ve reunited after a few rocky years and are eager to spend time together in the warmth of Mexico. I researched the area, the city, distances, costs, all the specific details related to the story. However, when I got there, I realized I should have taken the trip before it went to print, and not a year later.
The city was so different than I expected – smaller, more tropical, more easily accessed. I didn’t visualize the Malecon well at all. The cab rides to downtown were okay, but I didn’t see a single restaurant with direct access to the ocean. Of course, I didn’t hit the night scene at all, so perhaps I missed that. It sounded good when I wrote it and it reads well. Perhaps that’s all that’s really necessary when writing about a location. But I like to make it as real as possible, and I think I fell short. I’m tempted to re-write a few scenes so I may go back and read and revise. Not that other readers will know or even care. It’s more about me being as correct as I can be.
By the way, I loved Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been to many cities in Mexico including Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, LaPaz, Manzanillo, Hermosillo and Tijuana. I was a travel agent at one time and back then properties offered what were called fam trips – familiarization with a locale. All expenses paid and a great way for an agent to see new places. I have several funny stories from those trips including the time our pilot (in a 3 seater) had to dive bomb an air strip outside of Cabo to get the cows off so we could land. That and the drunken taxi driver waiting for us at the end of that runway made for great stories.
Puerto Vallarta is smaller, very friendly and welcoming, and very tropical. I loved it and will return in the future. And next time I’m writing a novel, I will definitely plan a trip to the location to really get the feel of the place. Since I’ve been to Paris three times and England twice, either could be a good setting for a future book.