It’s been almost a decade since Marlene Kirton from Marlin Travel called me out of the blue on a cold Wednesday in January and asked, "Want to go on a trip with your listeners?"
I remember thinking, "How would that work?" and "Would Brandon be a big enough city do to this in?"
After all, they had done "Breakfast in Barbados" at CHUMFM in Toronto for years, and my last stop at Z99 Regina had done campaigns with beer companies for surprise concerts in small bars, but this would be bigger, much bigger.
That first year we took 34 people to Puerto Vallarta and had the time of our lives. Five members of the original 34 have come every year since. (Although Marlene, Tracy and I have also gone every year, so technically that’s eight of the 24.) And every year we’ve gone has been unique, fun, safe and simply first-class.
This year it was back to our original spot, although we would take it up a notch by moving a bit up the beach. In Puerto Vallarta, beaches tend to be a bit rocky with bigger surf. By moving north, we took advantage of a beach that rivals the Mexican east coast, stretching 18 miles in each direction. Incredible. And the small city of Bucerias is every bit as charming as our time spent with the wonderful people of Huatulco.
Even far from home, there’s something about people in a small town that makes you feel right at home. Bucerias was no exception. Two nights highlighted our week filled with games, drinks, awesome food and incredible service. The first was an Oscar party last Sunday. As Ellen enlisted the help of a local pizza man in Los Angeles, The Royal De Cameron enlisted the help of the local policia to help with our red carpet shenanigans. Not only did they actually roll out a giant red carpet for our Star-Jetters to strut their stuff, in costume, into the resort, they also took the animation crew, dressed them in suits and ear buds (to look like security officers) and then hired an ambulance and limo driver.
Really we simply told the resort what we wanted to do, and they took it to the next level — like they always do with the service at this resort. So with police and ambulance running their cars with lights flashing, security everywhere, a roped-off red carpet and limousines to drop off our Star-Jetters at the party, needless to say we attracted attention.
What a thrill for the Star-Jetters, and it was fun to watch others on the resort try and figure out what was going on. The red carpet was followed up by a private cocktail party, watching the Oscars under the stars and fireworks: a magical evening for sure.
The second magical night was a dinner show called "Rhythm of the Night". After an hour-long boat ride into the jungle, native Mexican costumed actors greeted us, in character, and we were treated to fire-cooked steak, shrimp, chicken and dozens of other dishes on a candlelit beach. Then after the meal it was up into the mountain to a Countryfest-style amphitheatre to watch the most amazing Cirque du Soleil meets Disney meets Las Vegas show I ever seen. From trees on stilts to the live orchestra with Mexican instruments and choir, it was spectacular.
Actors in animal suits ran across the stage, looking identical to the movements of animals, as fire and sparks filled the stage with music and lights. It was amazing that we were 35 miles into the jungle, yet it felt like we could be watching this at the WMCA with millions of tropical plants and trees surrounding us. If you are EVER in the Puerto Vallarta area, you MUST go SEE this SHOW! I can’t stress it enough. Amazing.
In the end, StarJet 9 was one of the BEST EVER! The location of Bucerias is second only to Huatulco. Even then there are many things this area has that Huatulco does not, so first and second is ALMOST a tie. What a wonderfully friendly, quaint, relaxing and service-centric place to be.
But another trip has come and gone, and as you read this column, we’re eating breakfast in the warm Pacific sun, fully aware that the cold Canadian winds of winter are still waiting back home. We will pull into Brandon sometime tonight, and it will be dark, and it will be cold. But we will have the warmth of a truly wonderful people, and the great memories made, until we meet again in 12 months to do it all over again.
Planning for the 10th anniversary began months ago. And while I’ve been sworn to secrecy, if the last nine years have been any indication of what’s to come, I’m counting the sleep to Year 10 NOW.
JOKE THIS WEEK
A guy drove to the beach and parked his car close to the water’s edge — not realizing it was low tide — then he went for a long hike up into the mountains.
During his excursion, high tide came and then receded — completely submersing his car for a period of time in the process.
When he finally returned to his car, he became very concerned: he had tuna in his Mercury!
Deirdra Dawn Mary
Kelly Shannon White Hunter
Melissa Strynadka Tereck