31 August 2010

sometimes you simply need a coffee, sports bar, sunset and a smile

Chances were slim I was going to go on Friday night’s 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. turtle patrol. Especially with a 1:42 p.m. flight out of Puerto Vallarta the following day, which would first require a one hour car drive to Las Varas then a two hour bus ride to Puerto Vallarta and a brief taxi ride before ever stepping foot in the airport. I thought maybe I’d meander down the coast on Friday and check out something new instead of stressing myself out with overly complicated travel logistics on Saturday. Then the thought occurred to me to end this sea turtle conservation adventure at the source of its inspiration – CasaMagna Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.

Last December, I was one of nine journalists selected to partake in the first annual Blog Paradise, a three-day blog fest sponsored by Marriott. I was assigned to play social media goddess from CasaMagna Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, where I’d give friends, online followers and anyone craving a mid-winter dose of Vitamin D the play-by-play of my oceanfront antics.

There, General Manager Dennis Whitelaw filled me in on CasaMagna’s charitable involvement with the local community, including the Youth Career Initiative for disadvantage youth and an onsite turtle conservation program. This was way back when The Global Citizen Project was in its first month of fundraising and actual project logistics were still being worked out.

One night during my stay, hotel guests got to release hatchlings at sunset. As I held a teeny tiny, barely a day old turtle in my hands, I was hooked. I’d witnessed my fair share of nesting Loggerhead turtles while summering in South Carolina as a child, but this was an entirely different level of science nerd cool. I made a mental note to return to this stretch of Mexico to work with some sort of sea turtle conservation effort, and eight months later, it came to fruition volunteering with Campamento Tortuguero Platanitos.

When I put the idea of coming back down the coast a night early to the powers that be, CasaMagna kindly offered to host me for the evening. Thank you, Lourdes and Dennis 100 times for extending such gracious hospitality (once again). Sure, the thought of air-conditioning and a bug-free environment sounded heavenly, but I’m all about significant moments of time, place and personal meaning and it seemed too perfect to end my Mexican adventures at CasaMagna. Plus, I still had 25 postcards to purchase, write and mail to The Global Citizen Project donor recipients. Thankfully, I was able to make all of that happen without stepping foot off the property.

Despite an all too short stay, I was able to decompress and reflect upon what I’d experienced over the previous 10 days in the comfortable, quiet digs of room #6030. I’d never been so grateful for a cappuccino (Deli Los Mangos operates an espresso bar), to watch some NFL preseason, a picture-perfect sunset and to fall asleep in one of the comfiest beds known to (wo)man. I still had flights to Denver, then home to Seattle ahead of me, but checking in to CasaMagna Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, even for one night was exactly what this wearly volunteer needed. It felt a lot like coming home.

Full disclosure: CasaMagna Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa hosted my one night stay.

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