This is how good it can look in an aerial view of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
This is how good it can look in an aerial view of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. iStock

Making the most of Mexico

To bail or not to bail ... that really is the question. I think we've all been there: booked a holiday, looked forward to it for a year, paid for it, arrived full of excitement only to find our travel expectations smashed, our holiday dreams shattered.

It could be anything from being in a glamorously foreign place that happens to be in mid-hurricane where hurricanes have never occurred.

Or arriving at a tropical resort to find the sprawling pool you have swooned over for so long in photos is shut for repair and instead of palm-tree oases and little bridges in the middle of the sparkling water there is a bunch of burly men with jackhammers.

Holiday disasters usually involve disappointment in accommodation. The ocean view you were promised is only a sliver of blue and for that you are obliged to stand on the toilet in the tiny bathroom and look out a teeny louvred window.

It brings me back to the question. To bail or not to bail? My experiences have been not to bail. This is due to a husband who has great respect for money earned hard and services paid for in advance.

He will put up with any amount of discomfort rather than forfeit money, get out and move on. I have respect for money too, but there have been times when I think it would have been best to cut our losses.

One such place was in Mexico and I still quake when I think of it. Puerto Vallarta, a resort town on Mexico's Pacific Coast is a much-lauded place. Cruise ships love it.

Friends had been there and raved. We can't bear our friends to experience something fabulous we have not, so we booked flights and accommodation for Puerto Vallarta without doing any research.

Endless jugs of icy margaritas, an overload of quesadillas and enchiladas, sunshine, beaches and blue skies. What could go wrong?

Instead of one of the unappealing high-rise hotels on the beachfront, we opted for a boutique place up on the hill, small but with wide views, a pretty pool, decent veranda.

And it did have all that. The problem was, we were completely alone in the place, but for a caretaker, a casual bookkeeper and a magnificently mangy dog.

The place was perched on top of a steep hill with a difficult and rocky track down to the beach, which made every outing miserable, even dangerous. Getting back up? Let's not talk about that.

It was obviously off-season, everywhere quiet, shops empty, bars desolate, restaurants and cafes deserted, no-one on the beach, the bucket-of-prawn specials at bars wilting sadly, waiting for customers who never came.

It was as depressing as it gets. But we had booked and paid for 14 days, we were going to sit it out. Then the rain came. And came.

The mangy dog visited us each day as we peered out through the mist and despaired of trying to make it down to the empty beach.

The casual bookkeeper took pity on us and said she'd take us on an outing to show off the town, especially the newly opened hospital. Very proud of it she was.

So instead of icy margaritas and empanadas on the beach we found ourselves touring hospital wards. "What the hell are we doing here?" I said to the husband as we faked interest in technologically-enhanced beds and gleaming new bedpans.

Day after long, boring day it went, until we discovered Puerto Vallarta is gay-friendly and there were drag shows on at night.

Down the dangerous track we went in the dark to watch fabulous men in gorgeous drag lip synch for an audience of gay men.

It wasn't what we went to Puerto Vallarta for, but it beat looking at bedpans.

Read Ann's musings at annrickard.com


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