Where will your major take you? Elizabethtown College graduate Stephanie Watts ‘93 majored in business administration with a concentration in international business management and a minor in French. She currently lives in Puerto Vallarta, a resort town in Mexico.
Watts and her husband, Conner Watts, moved to Puerto Vallarta a year after having their destination wedding there. The couple has now lived there for seven years. They had previously vacationed in Puerto Vallarta many times and loved the weather and culture. It was a contrast to Watts’ hometown of Hampstead, Maryland and to Park City, Utah, where she lived for 17 years after graduating from Etown and met her husband.
“After living in a ski town for 17 years, I was ready for some sunshine rather than snow,” Watts said.
According to Watts, her favorite part about Puerto Vallarta is everything. She enjoys the weather, culture, lifestyle, food, her group of friends and her job.
Watts is co-owner of Agave Villas, a company that provides vacation rentals for luxury villas in Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita.
Watts and her husband also own Los Muertos Brewing Company. Her husband is a brewer and a restaurateur, and Los Muertos is his focus. Watts spends most of her time working for Agave Villas.
The Watts consider Puerto Vallarta their home.
“People sometimes ask us if we have any regrets moving to Mexico,” Watts said. “Our answer has never changed: Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner.”
One thing that Watts loves about Puerto Vallarta is that it is more than a resort town; it used to be a fishing village. Families have lived there for generations, and many of the local businesses existed before tourism arrived about 60 years ago.
It became a popular tourist destination in the 1960s when Richard Burton filmed “Night of the Iguana” in the area. Because Puerto Vallarta was not built for tourism, Watts considers it more authentic than larger resort towns like Cabo San Lucas and Cancún.
“Now that it’s a tourist destination, it’s a really unique combination how the two demographics coexist and thrive,” Watts said.
Watts also enjoys the culture. Every few weeks, there is a parade or street festival, and there are fireworks every night.
“As a whole, Mexicans are friendly, hard-working, family-oriented and ready to celebrate for any reason,” Watts said.
Before moving to Mexico, the only Spanish Watts knew was from a class in eighth grade. She used Rosetta Stone CDs to prepare herself for the move and took Spanish classes once in Puerto Vallarta.
Now, Watts speaks Spanish every day, but she still occasionally takes classes to expand her vocabulary, perfect her pronunciation and learn higher levels of verb conjugation.
Watts studied French in high school and at Etown. She found that knowing French helped her in the process of learning Spanish. She already understood the basics, such as how to conjugate a verb.
Spanish and French are both Latin-based languages, so the roots of words are often similar.
When Watts first moved to Puerto Vallarta and started practicing Spanish, she would accidentally speak French instead of Spanish. This surprised her because she had not spoken French in over a decade. She would often say French words she did not know she remembered.
“It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve spoken French, and I didn’t think I remembered much more than ‘Bonjour’ now,” Watts said.
“But we’ve actually traveled to France in the recent past and I was impressed by how much I remembered. It’s amazing how the memory works sometimes.”
For more information about Agave Villas or Los Muertos Brewing Company, visit http://agavevillasmexico.com/ or http://losmuertosbrewing.com/, respectively.