Mexico Bound - My Second Life in Spanish
Spanish the Puerto Vallarta way
Story By Carly Milne
I've actively wanted to learn another language for at least two years now. I say "actively" because in the past I have both fought the opportunity, then later lazily thought about it.
But now? Now I'm being active about it! Now I'm actually making an effort! Now I'm writing down the web address and phone number when I see those Rosetta Stone ads! Come hell or high water, I will learn to speak a language other than English!
I'd expressed this desire to a well-traveled friend - who speaks several languages fluently - over dinner one night, and she advised me that the best way to learn another language was to immerse yourself in the culture. Shortly after that arose the break in my schedule that I needed to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta. Apparently, the universe wanted me to start with Spanish... and so Spanish, I would learn. Some of the phrases that are now a part of my repertoire:El vuelo se ha demorado Translation: The flight has been delayed.
And delayed. And delayed again. I was starting to wonder if I was going to get the opportunity to call myself a seniorita in an authentic Mexican setting, but finally the travel gods smiled upon my plane and allowed me to get one step closer to breaking down one my language barriers.El cuarto es increíblemente magnífico, y lo que una vista! Translation: The room is incredibly gorgeous, and what a view!
After an uneventful flight and a quick taxi ride through town, I arrived at the doorstep of Hacienda San Angel, located on a quiet cobblestone street overlooking downtown Puerto Vallarta. From the outside it looked relatively nondescript, but walking through the front door was like entering paradise.
Hacienda San Angel is actually made up of three neighboring villas - one of which was formerly owned by Richard Burton - and connected by gardens, making it an incredible interpretation of the traditional boutique hotel. I walked past the open air kitchen to the pathway leading to my room, taking in the view as I went - gorgeous statues rescued from demolished churches in the 1930s, tile floors, and little tea lights illuminating my way as I walked up the stairs to my room.
My room... oh, my room. Situated on the second floor, I had two mini-balconied windows that looked out across Puerto Vallarta, right across from my bed so I could watch the city as I relaxed. Then there was the marble bathroom with a giant tub, which looked out onto the terrace that held a table and chairs. Beneath it, a pool with a fountain created the kind of white noise that lulls you into a state of relaxation. On the wall next to my bed was a large painting of Our Lady of the Rosary (or Nuestra Señora del Rosario) from the 17th century, right next to an English armoire from the early 1900s. On the nightstand next to the bed was a hand carved Mexican statue of the Virgin Purisima from 1780. I couldn't have been further from my English-speaking norm if I'd tried. I would've been happy to stay in my room forever, except...Querría dos margaritas, por favor. Translation: I would like two margaritas, please.
Every afternoon during cocktail hour Hacienda San Angel entertains its guests with a mariachi band, appetizers and delicious drinks. Guests are invited to mingle in the commons area next to the open air kitchen and enjoy the music, along with their tasty libations. (Seriously, theirs is the best margarita I've ever had the pleasure of drinking.)¿Cuán distante al mercadillo y super mercado? Translation: How far to the flea market and super market?
Hacienda San Angel is conveniently located, so it's easy to get down to the main tourist drag featuring restaurants, churches, and more silver jewelry stores than you can shake a stick at. But the best flea market is over the bridge on the other side of the river (ask anyone - they'll know where you're talking about.) There, you'll find a bevy of treasures from the knick knack to the exquisite - and bargains galore. The super market is great for no other reason than to take you out of your element, but be aware - when you ask for directions on where you're going, you'll always hear the same response:Es tres bloques aquí, y dos bloques eso allí. Translation: It's three blocks that way, and two blocks that way.
Always, without fail, these were the directions that were given to me. Even if I'd gone the three blocks and the two blocks, it was still another three then two. Just trust that eventually you will get there - wherever there is - because you will. At least you'll have a fantastic walk through town (when you're not walking right next to the ocean.)¿Podría traer usted nuestro almuerzo a la piscina? Translation: Could you bring our lunch to the pool?
Of course, you're going to work up an appetite buying Mexican wrestling masks and high-end tequila - I did. So I hightailed it back to the Hacienda and placed an order with the kitchen - ceviche, naturally - and asked them to meet me by the pool. Few things beat the heat like laying poolside with all of Puerto Vallarta laid out beneath you, chowing down on some of the freshest seafood available. There's only one way to make it better...Yo me sentía enfatizado, pero ahora, no tanto. Translation: I was feeling stressed, but now, not so much.
That's right - an in-room massage. Though the Hacienda doesn't have an on-site spa, they do have connections with incredibly talented masseuses that set up shop right in the comfort of your room and give you a rubdown to end all rubdowns.Estoy repleto, pero tengo todavía el espacio para el postre. Translation: I am full, but still have room for dessert.
Hacienda's outdoor dining area faces south, giving diners an incredible view of the city, ocean and mountains while they digest... and there will be a lot to digest. The dinner menu is an incredible mix of meats and fish dishes, including smoked salmon Carpaccio, roasted yellowfin tuna and rack of lamb, but make sure you save room for dessert. The warm chocolate cake is to die for, and the cheesecake made with ricotta runs a close second.¿Tenemos que salir realmente nosotros? Translation: Do we really have to leave?
Take the above itinerary and multiply it by two - that was my weekend in Puerto Vallarta, and I was distressed to see it end. Staying at the Hacienda was the perfect way for me to disconnect from my Angelino lifestyle and immerse myself in a new Spanish-speaking reality. It's something I hope to do again sometime soon.
I can't wait to start practicing Italian.
For more information, visit Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta. Carly hopes to learn at least 10 new languages before she moves on to the next life.
Got a question for Carly Milne? Email us and she'll answer them and likely throw in a few freebie tips as well.
Read more of Carly's articles on GoGirlfriend:
- How to Completely Relax
- 8 Great Detox Spa Treatments
- Tahiti - Why You Should Go, Even if You're Single
- Mexico Bound - My Second Life in Spanish
- Navigating Royal Caribbean's Wellness Program
- 5 Reasons Royal Caribbean Rocks Girlfriend Cruises
- Finland - Dancing Under the Midnight Sun
- Las Vegas Spotlight - Shows!
- Las Vegas Spotlight - Sleeping
- Las Vegas Spotlight - Food!
- Las Vegas Spotlight - Playing!
- Seattle Fast Facts
- Vancouver Fast Facts
- Fairmont Hotels - Luxury + Green Travel