Interview with Tom Flusty

Tom and Karen in their<br />Arco Iris apartment<br />Photo: Barbara Joan Schaffer
Tom and Karen in their
Arco Iris apartment
Photo: Barbara Joan Schaffer

¡Viva Puerto!: What brought you to Puerto the first time? Not a ouija board I assume?

Tom Flusty: In 1968 I spent several months in Oaxaca writing, working on Spanish, reading, smoking pot, and making friends, some of them lifelong. One of the common discussion topics since we were all travelers was favorite places we’d visited, in Mexico and throughout the world. Puerto Escondido was often mentioned and having a love of the ocean I felt a pull to it, except I was looking for a spot with fewer people. So when I returned to Oaxaca a couple years later I chose Puerto Angel/Zipolite over my now beloved Puerto Escondido. The road was not passable to Puerto at this time or I surely would have checked it out and my love affair would have started earlier.

VP: C’mon Tom, cut to the chase. What brought you to Puerto?

TF: Sorry, Barbara. 1982. Very stressful period. Needed to get away and I remembered the stories of Puerto. Flew in from Oaxaca with a girlfriend. She is long gone but Puerto claimed my heart and soul as Mexico had 17 years earlier.

VP: What made you come back again and again?

TF: When you’re in love with a person or place you spend as much time with them as you can. Over the next 10 years my affection grew and grew through the course of many short trips of two or three weeks. Then in 1992 I tumbled into a cross-country relationship with a college sweetheart. We travelled to Puerto Escondido shortly thereafter, she fell for Puerto and me, we bought wedding bands at a silver store on the Adoquín, 22 years ago. The Adoquín is still here and so are we for our 3 months each winter.

VP: What brought you to your present living situation in Puerto?

TF: Our nephew recommended we try the Arco Iris so we did. Again, love at first sight, or in this case, first stay. Two of the studios climbing up the hill and overlooking Zicatela had just been finished and we chose one of them. Our second day or so I was admiring the view, the landscaping, the artistry and engineering in the design of the place. Another person was doing the same. We began chatting. I started raving about the beauty and elegance of the place. He agreed and thanked me since he was one of the founders, owners, and was instrumental in the design of the buildings, gardens, walkways and rock paths winding through the lush landscape. And so our friendship with José Luis Mendiola Farfán began. We chatted over the next several weeks and the next several years and committed to renting our apartment for 3 months a year. When José Luis started building a larger apartment further up the hill he asked for our input on the finishing touches since we would be living there. The collaboration produced spectacular results. Our casita, with its 180-degree view of the entire bay, is a thing of beauty.

An important part of why we chose the Arco Iris, and Puerto, are the people. So many of them became friends. Whether people were born in Puerto or moved here from other parts of Mexico there is a live-and-let-live attitude and an almost instinctive ability to savor the moment, the here and now. I think this welcoming style and spirit of openness is why so many foreigners choose to live here.

VP: Puerto has changed a lot since you started coming here in 1982. What changes do you like best? What do you miss?

TF: I like the fact that Puerto has not changed more than it has. I first travelled to Puerto Vallarta in 1968 and it was an exciting place, a town of under 30,000. Fifteen years later it was a congested nightmare of 300,000. In the 30 plus years I’ve been coming here the population has perhaps tripled to 45,000 and the town is still totally livable… I miss the days of not one stoplight in town.… It’s great to see the group of well-trained life guards watching out for folks and holding classes for the local kids who learn to treat the ocean with respect. Some of the kids are now lifeguards themselves.

… There is a better choice of music now and nightlife in general… Having the Cinemar is neat… Having various types of cuisine but the same good ole fresh fish in seemingly a hundred different sauces… Not thrilled with the Caracol Plaza, but all in all Puerto has kept its integrity and personality. And now, “vamos a ver”.

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