What is it about experiences that make them worth seeking out even if one may not want to repeat them? This afternoon I was a part of a group of five people who went into the center of Puerto Vallarta seeking some shopping that would appeal to locals, and the end result of this was not precisely what I would have most enjoyed but it was something that I found to be deeply worthwhile and interesting all the same.
One thing to note about the shopping that takes place in the center of Puerto Vallarta is that there are a lot of stores that sell the same kind of things. It does not take long to walk along the main road (or the road going the other way, it should be noted, that is one block north) without recognizing that there are a lot of stores that sell not only the same sort of products but even frequently the exact same products. So it is that we saw somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen pharmacies that seemed in many cases to be the same brand, selling the same drugs without prescription–human growth hormone, anabolic steroids, painkillers, and many other such drugs with some horrifying side effects. One can gather that there would not be so many such stores unless they made a considerable amount of business in such areas.
With shopping there is often a sense of interest in seeing the imperfect communication that exists between customer and vendor. For the vendor, the choices of the customer help determine what is offered. If customers like specific products and specific prices, it is easier to sell such items in the future, and more will be offered if they are available (this is a different problem, to be sure). Yet I found when looking at the stores that there were no used bookstores, for example, which would have interested me more than the 20th store to offer beachwear or clothes for small women. Sometimes one has to be aware of the fact that one does not fit the profile of what a given store or group of stores is looking for as a customer.
But even if walking for blocks to see boring stores that offer nearly identical offerings row after row with aggressive vendors is not the most enjoyable way to pass the time, it is a worthwhile adventure, crossing cobblestone streets and dealing with endless taxis calling for one’s business (and offering reasonable rates, it must be admitted, to travel). There is something worthwhile in knowing what a city is about, even if it does not offer what one would enjoy. Sometimes knowledge is a sufficient reward for the trouble and inconvenience and annoyance that it brings.