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Fireworks over Puerto Vallarta

Fireworks over Puerto Vallarta

It often seems that life’s most memorable moments are unplanned. Case in point: New Year’s Eve — last night.

The condo next to ours is owned by a large Mexican family. Most of them live in Guadalajara; they come here to Puerto Vallarta and Los Tules (often) to vacation. Last night, it seems as if they were all here — thirty-five happy people, laughing, loving, and toasting their good fortune.

It was our good fortune to be invited to their celebration — the only non-family members, two gringos embraced by Mexican hospitality.

Following our ritual watching of Love Actually, we walked the five feet to our neighbors’ patio. Caterers had been hired: a rack of lamb on a vertical spit scented the air.

Something else was in the air: sky lanterns, a Mexican New Year’s tradition. Our neighbors offered one to us, we wrote our wishes on it, lit the fire, and turned it loose. It joined scores of others, drifting and bobbing like fireflies over the bay.

Sky lanterns on the beach

Sky lanterns on the beach

Tacos were served amid a sea of happy Mexican chatter. Beverages were consumed (lots). Someone cued up some Mariachi. Tres Leches Cake for dessert.


Midnight. We all walked to the water’s edge and looked south toward the city. The fireworks lasted half an hour. The shrieks of delight continued for most of the night.


The movie was our only plan. The happy company, the sky lanterns, the tacos, and the fireworks with friends were as unexpected as the first bite of Tres Leches Cake. But that has been our life for the past nine months: unplanned, infinitely rewarding, and brimming with new friends — generous, kind, and nonpareil. If the wish that we floated into the sky last night comes true, 2014 will be more of the same, for us and for all those we know.

Hapy New Year, everyone!