Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Our Getaway to Puerto Vallarta: Marriott Resort and Rhythms of the Night

It Felt Like We Were in Hawaii!

View of Puerto Vallarta from the Marriott Resort

     Jon and I debated for months about whether to take this trip during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April when we were originally planning our getaway to Puerto Vallarta and to see the Rhythms of the Night show, our daughter told me, “Don’t go! This virus is dangerous!” As it happened, Rhythms of the Night canceled their shows in April due to the spreading virus, so we couldn’t go at that time.
     On June 15th, when hotels and beaches in Puerto Vallarta reopened, we discussed going again. If we would have asked our oldest son what he thought, he would probably have replied, “Do you think that’s a good idea?” Our youngest son, an adventurer like us, would likely have exclaimed, “Why not?” We thought, "Others are vacationing in Puerto Vallarta—why not go, as long as we are careful?"
The Marriott Resort Pool was Beautiful and Uncrowded

      Life is short. We never know how many days we have left on this earth. Today could be my last day. I want to live as though this is my last day on earth. I’m so fortunate that Jon feels the same way. We have been adventurers together for over twenty-five years. COVID-19 has taken that away from us for long enough!
     We decided to do it! We needed a three-day weekend getaway and decided to stay at the Marriott Resort near the Puerto Vallarta Marina, a hotel that we trusted to follow all of the protocols, procedures, and preventative measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We were very impressed and had a wonderful experience!
View of the Beach from our 8th Floor Balcony

     Masks in place, we arrived by taxi at the Marriott. A short 20-mile-trip from Sayulita, we felt we had traveled thousands of miles from home, as though we had stepped onto one of the Hawaiian Islands. The warm, humid air and the colorful tropical gardens prompted the memory of our last trip to Kauai about ten years ago when we decided our budget no longer included trips to Hawaii. This felt like Hawaii, but much less expensive.
A Garden at the Entrance to the Marriott Resort

     A friendly, masked front door attendant took our temperatures with an electronic gun-shaped, no-touch thermometer, asked us to clean our shoes in foot baths and dry them on a mat. Proclaiming us ready to enter the property, he offered to take our luggage to check-in, but we thanked him and declined, not wanting to increase any possible transfer of the virus. At check-in, we were told that masks were mandatory in all public areas except when we were seated at the pool, in the pool, at the beach, or at a restaurant.
The Marriott Infinity Pool and Swim-Up Bar 

     Seating areas were spaced well apart and the pool was not crowded, so distancing was easy. The only area that appeared too crowded was the swim-up bar—too bad. We soon settled onto lounge chairs at the pool, introduced ourselves to a man and woman about our age from Idaho who were lounging ten feet away, and ordered margaritas from the passing waiter. We weren’t the only ones who were tired of staying at home. Vacation time!
View of Puerto Vallarta from Rhythms of the Night Boat

     The next day was my 64th birthday and we had tickets to the Rhythms of the Night Dinner Show—our second time to see it. Vallarta Adventures, the company that puts on the Rhythms of the Night show, was meticulous with their procedures to keep guests safe. Not only did they follow all sanitation and health protocol, but they also used extra boats to keep passengers well-distanced from each other. While each boat is designed to carry 250 passengers, they only allowed a maximum of 100 passengers on each boat. I was surprised that there were two boatloads of international tourists and expats, two hundred people excited to see the Rhythms of the Night show at Playa Las Caletas!
Cruising by the Natural Arches (Los Arcos) Near Mismaloya

     The boat ride from the Puerto Vallarta Marina was half the fun. As we sipped our margaritas, the boat cruised along the shoreline of Puerto Vallarta giving us a tour of the city from a new perspective. We slipped between the natural arches near Mismaloya and watched the sunset as we neared Las Caletas where the dinner and show were held.
Sunset View from the Boat Near Playa Las Caletas

     During the hour-long boat ride, professional photographers mingled, taking photos of couples and families. They were careful to stage the shots so that groups being photographed were separated from other guests while they were without their masks. The memories they captured of our special vacation were priceless.
Jon Gave Me a Happy Birthday Kiss for the Photographer

     Tickets for the Rhythms of the Night dinner, cruise, and show were heavily-discounted at this time so I expected a few corners to be cut. The dinner was served family-style to minimize exposure between servers and guests, and, unfortunately, that caused the quality to be less than it had been two years ago. The show had fewer dancers and performers but was still spectacular, performed in the outdoor theater in the middle of the jungle. Guests were seated well-separated with every other row left empty and groups at least ten feet from each other. We are so happy that Vallarta Adventures was able to put on this dinner and amazing show while keeping people safe from COVID-19.
One of the Many Acts in the Rhythms of the Night Show

     We have two weeks before our next planned adventure, so there will be plenty of time to find out if we develop the SARS-CoV-2 infection. We think we had it once already, back in February (see my article Our COVID-19 Antibody Test in México), though our SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were undetectable. We are careful to prevent exposure to the virus, but if we do become infected, I feel confident that we have memory T cells that fight the virus, helping minimize symptoms. Also, doubling up on vitamin C, taking Zinc and vitamin D, as well as getting enough exercise and fresh air help build our immune system. Watch for my article about our next adventure.

     Have you read my “Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico” true-life adventure books and my “In Sickness and In Health” novels set in México? Check them out at my Amazon Author Page.
Pickle Jar Test: A Novel

 I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.
Terry L Turrell, Author

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Our Tropical Mexican Garden Keeps Giving Surprises

Flowers and Critters Provide a Therapeutic Effect

Watching the Orange Bougainvillea Turn Pink
Enjoying Small Bees Work the Hibiscus Blossoms
Discovering A Mexican Leaf Frog on a Bucket
Collecting Hawaiian Red Ginger for a Bouquet
Waiting for the Hummingbirds to Feed
Photographing the Juvenile Green Iguana that Visited
Admiring the Large Caladium Leaves
Planting Our First Coleus
Waiting for the First Two Heliconia Blossoms
Sending the Land Crab on His Way to Mate at the Beach
Counting the Peace Lily Blossoms in the Yard
Quietly Observing the Chachalaca Eat Palm Berries
Noticing 3 Tiny White Flowers Surrounded by the Bracts
Attaching Our First Wild Orchid Plant to a Tree
Arranging My Garden Photos into this Blog Post
     I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing my version of healthy therapy on a hot, humid tropical day in Sayulita, Mexico.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books. 


Take a Look at My New Release 

     Lindsay and Jake find peace by moving to small-town Mexico. When Jake's symptoms indicate Parkinson's disease…

Author

Friday, July 10, 2020

Our COVID-19 Antibody Test in México

An Interesting and Informative Experience!

Punta Mita Hospital Emergency Room
     Near the end of February, before the COVID-19 pandemic had been announced to the world, I caught a cold. It started with a slight sore throat and a runny nose, like any winter cold. It’s always seemed strange to me that, even living in warm, sunny México, I usually catch a cold about once a year.
As soon as I noticed the sore throat, I took some Emergen-C and a Cold-Eeze lozenge. It was especially frustrating because we had been so careful when we flew down to Puerto Vallarta from Tucson in mid-February. Sitting on a plane full of people for five hours is a sure way to pick up a bug, so we took Emergen-C three times on the day we traveled to try to prevent getting sick. This was in addition to the 2000mg of vitamin C and other vitamins we take daily. But I guess we should have taken Emergen-C for two or three days to build up our immune system.
Then the cough started. The intense chills lasted a full day. I took ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the aches and headaches. The cough intensified until Vicks Formula 44 syrup had little effect. I resorted to using a Ventolin inhaler every four hours for the cough, which worked better and eased my breathing. Bed rest, Vitamin C, and zinc helped me heal.
Jon, my husband, caught my cold a week later. His case wasn’t as severe but the symptoms were similar, minus the chills. Though most symptoms disappeared in less than a week, my cough lasted for three or four weeks.
Remember, the coronavirus infections had not been labeled a COVID-19 pandemic at that point.
Ready to Go for Our SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test

     Three months later, as we educated ourselves with reliable COVID-19 pandemic information, I began to wonder if we had already had the dreaded infection back in February and March. Could we have acquired SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and possible protection from the virus? We continued to be cautious when out in public to avoid contracting or spreading this virus, but hopeful that we were carrying protective antibodies in our blood.
We recently learned that the antibody test is available in the area where we live, Nayarit, México. We deliberated about whether it was worth it to go to a hospital and have the test administered. After all, if we didn’t carry the antibodies in our blood, a hospital is a risky place to go—we might contract the virus while at the emergency room having the test done. We decided to do it.
SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test Package at Punta Mita

     Two hospitals near our home offer the SARS-CoV-2 Antibody test, St. Luke’s in Sayulita and Punta Mita Hospital. We decided to go to Punta Mita because it was significantly less expensive, has good reviews, and we could turn the afternoon into an adventure in the town of Punta Mita with lunch on the beach.
     I made an appointment over the phone for Jon and me to both have the test done. I spoke with Dr. Franco and made it very clear that we wanted the antibody test, meaning we had already had COVID-19 months ago, not the test for the virus. He assured me that they had the serology antibody test. The price was quoted as $116 U.S. dollars or 2297 Mx pesos for each test, including a 16% tax. We were told to come to the emergency room reception area when we arrived where they only allowed one person at a time. All people with respiratory symptoms that could be active COVID-19 infections entered a different part of the hospital.
Punta Mita Hospital Reception Sign

     We masked up and entered the emergency room reception area. They allowed Jon and me to come in together but others were asked to wait outside. After the technician tested our blood oxygen level, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and asked if we had any symptoms of COVID-19, we were declared healthy and could proceed with the test.
Jon Having His Finger Pricked to Draw Blood for the Test

Jon's Blood is in the Well, Serum Wicking Up the Test

Jon's Test Shows Negative for COVID-19 Antibodies

     We were impressed with the staff, the procedures, and the facilities at Punta Mita Hospital. The technician explained that Jon’s serology test results for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Antibodies was negative because the line stopped at the “C” on the stick, meaning he has not had the COVID-19 infection in the past.
If a line appears at the M, it indicates the person has IgM antibodies. If a line appears at the G, it indicates the person has IgG antibodies. From my reading, I have learned that if a person tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, meaning they have had the COVID-19 infection at least two weeks previously, giving the body time to produce both of these antibodies, a line will appear at the G and the M.
My SARS-CoV-2 serology test was negative for antibodies also.
As we left the hospital, I told Jon I was disappointed. I had felt sure that we had Covid-19 back in late February and early March. I had been hopeful that we had developed antibodies against the virus and, therefore, most likely had protection against getting it again. Jon agreed with me. He was discouraged, too.
It’s possible that the test results were false negatives, meaning the tests themselves were faulty. I have read that not all SARS-CoV-2 Antibody tests are created equal and many have been found to give false readings. But we will trust the results. We will assume we do not carry any protective antibodies in our blood. We will continue to be extra careful when we are in public, washing our hands often and distancing ourselves from others. We still plan to live our lives as close to normal as possible while avoiding the risk of spreading the virus. We will still dine out at reputable restaurants, enjoying life every day. We believe living in fear is unhealthy.
Entrance to La Pescadora Restaurant in Punta Mita

     We walked the half-mile from the hospital to “restaurant row” on the beach in Punta Mita and had a wonderful meal at La Pescadora where the staff followed all precautionary steps to keep us safe from the dreaded virus. We enjoyed the cool ocean breeze on that hot afternoon, the view of the sea, and the entertaining wind-surfer getting a wild ride in the strong wind, as we were on the fringe of Tropical Storm Cristina.
The Bay View from La Pescadora Restaurant in Punta Mita




     Thank you for reading my books and blog articles. If you are interested in reading more about Serology Testing for COVID-19 from the CDC here's the link 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/serology-testing.html

Living and Traveling in Mexico is becoming popular again!
Healthy Living in Mexico Book #2
New Release on Amazon!
Read more about traveling and our expat lifestyle in México at www.HealthyLivingandTravelinginMexico.com

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.
Terry L Turrell
Amazon Author

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico June Newsletter & New Book Release


Beaches in the Mexican State of Nayarit Are Closed, But…

The Ocean is Full of People Playing
     In Sayulita, the ocean is often full of people, locals and visitors, playing, cooling off, surfing, and paddleboarding. Some people sit on blankets having picnics. It’s wonderful to enjoy a meal at a beachside restaurant with an unobstructed view of the ocean as umbrellas and beach chairs are still prohibited at this time.

     But once every week or two, groups of police and National Guard or Marines come to the beach and ask people to leave. It is a peaceful yet sad scene as disappointed beach-lovers slowly pack up and head into town. We don't yet know if our governor will open our beaches in July... likely he won't.

    
     Thank you for reading my books and blogs. To see my new release, click Pickle Jar Test: A Novel.
Follow me on Facebook at 
and 
Thank you for leaving a brief review on Amazon when you read my books.
Author Page

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Life in Sayulita During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Beach Scene Picks Up in the Afternoon Lately

     Much of Sayulita appears quiet, at least on the surface, since the beaches are technically not open yet and many businesses are closed. But when we get out and take a walkabout, we see people socializing and construction going on as if nothing is happening in the world. Pandemic?
Volleyball on Fisherman's Beach (No Masks)
          In Sayulita, most of the internationals are gone, having flown away as soon as they could get flights. We see very few people wearing masks here. The locals walk around to do their shopping and errands, few wearing masks. Most restaurant employees and food delivery people wear masks, as required. A few Norteamericanos who remain here wear masks when out shopping, but most don't. Most cashiers at the tienditas (little grocery stores) do not wear masks. The bank has signs posted at the ATM requiring masks, but most people don’t wear them, though people in line do space themselves apart. It actually looks odd when we do see someone in Sayulita wearing a mask.
     We think we may have already had COVID-19, but we may never know for sure. That nasty cough and cold with chills Jon and I had in late February before the label of "COVID-19 pandemic" was used? Thinking back, we had flown from Tucson to Puerto Vallarta on February 17 and then gone to Nuevo Vallarta on February 19 to have INM fingerprint me for my Permanent Residency visa. Who knows where we picked up that infection, or what it was? Does it really matter? Once the symptoms started, we stayed in bed, took Cold-Eeze and Emergen-C to build our immune system, Tylenol for the aches and pains, and used Ventolin inhalers for the cough. I hope we’ve already had the coronavirus infection so we're finished with it. Though we are careful to wash our hands often and distance from people in public, we don't plan to live our lives hiding behind masks from the virus. This worldwide infection could go on for years.
Intercam Bank ATM has Signs Requiring Masks
     A trip to Home Depot in Puerto Vallarta revealed that businesses are taking the pandemic more seriously. Signs are posted, masks are required, people in line stay separated, and sometimes temperatures are taken. Only one person per family is allowed into the store at a time unless you are elderly or handicapped. Jon was told we couldn’t go in together, but he quickly informed the security personnel that he is 70 years old so I was allowed to go in with him. The Mexican people give extra care to those of the "Third Age"--anyone over 60 years old. I guess I was allowed in as Jon's helpmate, though he doesn’t seem elderly or handicapped to me!
Masks and Separation at Home Depot in Puerto Vallarta
     We’ve stayed home a lot, as recommended, doing home projects, yoga classes with Jim Gallas through Zoom or with Adriene on YouTube, and Zumba with Debora P through Zoom to keep our mental and physical health good and our weight down. We're happy that we have a large garden patio for exercise. We exercise at home four days a week and walk around town every other day.
Practicing Yoga is Good for Jon's Parkinson's
     It has been a good time to hire the locals to help us with projects at our home since they are in need of work. They don’t wear masks and neither do we. Some would say we are irresponsible in this behavior, but as a pharmacist who has been coughed on for 30 years, I believe exposure to viruses and bacteria, in general, is how we build our immunity, not hiding from it. (Don't get me wrong--we wash our hands more often than most people and practice safe distancing) Our housecleaner still comes to clean once a week. She doesn't wear a mask and neither do we. This is common in Sayulita.
Painters Paint Our Golf Cart-port Wall (No Masks)
The Painters Give Our Garden Wall a Fresh Coat of Paint
Our New Air Conditioners Were Installed (No Masks)
     Condo construction in Sayulita has continued throughout the pandemic, giving men jobs. Most don’t wear masks. One shocking construction project popped up unexpectedly at Playa Los Muertos, piers poured right up to this popular beach at the ejido cemetery. A peaceful demonstration was successful in shutting the job down, but for how long?
Condo Construction Filling Every Available Space
Another Condo Stair-stepping Up the Hill with Ocean Views
Construction at Playa Los Muertos Up to the Beach
A Peaceful Demonstration Shut Down the Job!
     Some restaurants are opening for sit-down service and we eagerly go there for dinner, partly because we miss them, partly to support the many families who depend on the jobs in this tourist town. Some of our favorite restaurants are closed permanently.
El Break Cafe is Open with a Nice Ocean View
This is All That is Left of Miro Vino Restaurant
     We have donated to the food bank in town twice and they expect to need to feed families here at least through July. A free food line serves food to the needy every afternoon at 2:00.
Free Food For the Needy People Out of Work
Fisherman's Beach is Full of Idle Boats
     Fishermen's Beach is usually full of idle boats since there are no tourists here to pay for fishing trips. Some fishermen can be seen going out at times to feed their families.
     Our biggest home project was to order an adjustable bed with a Memory Foam mattress from Lunela. While we waited the two weeks for it to arrive from Leon, Mexico, we had the bedroom repainted. We were so excited when it arrived, as it will help minimize some of Jon's Parkinson's disease symptoms, particularly pain and restless legs. 
Jon Unpacking and Preparing to Assemble the New Bed
Testing the Bed with Its Zero-Gravity Position
Waiting Two Days for the Memory Foam to Expand
Bella is Happy that We Are Home So Much
Take a Look at My New Book Release!


(In Sickness and In Health #2)
Canada: Amazon.ca
United Kingdom: Amazon.co.uk
Mexico: Amazon.com.mx
Australia: Amazon.com.au
     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, published monthly with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.
     Follow my two Facebook pages at Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico and In Sickness and In Health Novels. Thank you for reading my books, blogs, and newsletters!