Leaving Puerto Vallarta for the drive up the coast to San Pancho, the billboards and banners almost blot out the azure sky. Buy into this! Buy into that! The signs for Los Amores (The Lovers) show an impossibly beautiful couple, retirement age, smiling at each other as though the Viagra shipment has just come in. Another announces: You’ve Been Good—You Deserve It. An older man grins like the cat that got the cream. He deserves that infinity edge pool, those lounge chairs…possibly that swimsuited beauty, too. Life Built Around You. Life! The whole enchilada. Resorts, spas, beach clubs, residences, condominiums—Invest! All this is for people with Lifestyle Addiction. Could that be us? Those ripped bodies outlined by gauzy white cotton in the ocean breeze? We no longer care for the environment, the common good; we’re not our brother’s keepers—it’s 365 Days of Me Time, 24/7.
It was August when I wrote that; now it is December. The sky is an even deeper blue and the temperature has cooled to perfection, but The Crisis has come upon us. On the drive, I count 127 empty billboards. Only a few bother to plead Disponible (Available). About 40 others wait to be put out of their misery, so faded and tattered that their messages are no longer legible. Everybody said they were overbuilding condos…Now, no matter how good you’ve been, perhaps you don’t deserve a second or third home. In fact, you’d better hope you can live on love.