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THIRTY-THREE
The camioneta pulled out of the Bella Vallarta and turned right onto Calle Albatros, circled the golf course and wound its way up to Francisco Medina Ascencio Boulevard where the driver turned right. The road split and southbound traffic hugged the beach while northbound was a block farther eastward. At Basilio Badillo the driver turned westward and wound his way to the intersection of Pilitas and Amapas where the driver pulled over and put the minibus in park. “This is where we will pick you up,” he said as the Gunnarsons filed out. “The bus runs until nine-thirty.”

“Thank you very much!” Beth said.

“Yah. Thank you,” Joe reiterated. “Brian? Can you say thank you?”

“Thank you!” Brian replied, stepping carefully down the tall step.

“Da nada. You are very welcome. Have fun, telenovela,” he added with a wave.

Standing on the sidewalk Joe and Beth scanned the area and then Beth nodded up Pilitas saying, “Beach has got to be this way, huh?”

“Well, the closer one at least,” Joe teased, adding, “and look who’s coming. Isn’t this your New York friend from the hotel?”

“Oh, God,” Beth whispered, slightly deflated. “Yeah. Maybe they won’t see us?”

“Unlikely. They’re waving.”

“Great!” Beth replied, rolling her eyes and raising her hand in salute. “Into every life a little rain must fall.”

“We could make a run for it? Too bad we don’t have an umbrella, we could use it like Sean Connery in that Indiana Jones, Last Crusade movie.”

“I don’t think we’re going to be saved by Charlemagne’s army of birds in the sky,” Beth replied out of the side of her mouth. “I’ll be fine. They really were quite nice.”

“Good news,” Joseph deadpanned.

The stately older woman smiled and waved as she approached. “Are you heading back to the hotel too?” she asked.

“Pardon?” Beth asked, “Returning to the hotel? Uhm, no, not yet. You’ve been down to the beach?”

The older couple looked at one another from the sides of their eyes as the man replied. “Yeah. Since this morning? You enjoying your day, Bryan?”

Brian slid behind his mother who replied, “So far. Really just getting going. Anyplace in particular that we should look at? We’re probably going to rent a couple of chairs and an umbrella. Did you spend time on the beach?”

“Yes,” the man replied, making the word sound sibilant. “There’s a rental stand just to your left as you hit the beach proper. They have bottled water as well. Good to see you again,” he added. “Probably see you back at the hotel,” he concluded, nodding slowly as he held his hand out to his wife. “Pat? Let’s grab the bus before it heads north.”

“Good idea, Keith. Bryan? Don’t get sunburned!” she added with a finger wave.

Joe turned to Beth, his brow furrowed. “They are rather strange aren’t they? Come,” he added, jerking his head toward the beach, “let’s find the umbrella stand, yah?”