2015 MAR – PUERTO VALLARTA

Strolling the malecon

Strolling the malecon

Stone statues

Stone statues

PUERTO VALLARTA (PV) is a city in Banderas Bay, the bay of flags, so named for the tribes in the valley that carried brightly colored flags. The first known history of PV dates back to the 1500s when Spain took an interest in the bay but were challenged by the local tribes. Undeterred the Spanish stayed and mined gold and silver in the Sierra Madre mountains and used the bay as their harbor.

By the 1800s merchants had colonized the area, and by the 1900s PV was an official city and the Mexican govt started serious work on the infrastructure of the area by building roads, producing pure water, and electrifying the area.

Transportation around the area is simple. You jump on a bus heading in the direction you want to travel, and when the bus detours you jump off, and clamber onto another bus heading in the desired direction. Most travel is around the length of the Bay, with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, so it’s almost impossible to get lost. And if you do, Mexicans are incredibly helpful and polite and will gladly point you back in the right direction.

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There is so much to see and do in the area that I imagine I will be here for some time still, exploring and sightseeing. Plus Francisco makes my life so much easier.

It is truly a pleasure having Francisco on board as crew. Firstly he is young and muscular which helps enormously with carrying heavy water jugs, and dropping the dinghy in the water, and manhandling the outboard onto the dinghy’s transom. Having a set of muscles on board is such a help. And he has such a pleasant personality to go with the muscles!

Secondly, Francisco is a local, born in Mazatlan and mostly educated in the States where he lived with his sister in Nevada. So his English is fluent, as (obviously) is his Spanish. It is so useful having him to translate everything, and get us from point A to B swiftly and with a minimum of fuss.

Thirdly, he is smart and knowledgeable. He knows the history of Mexico so everywhere we go he has an added historical tidbit to share. And he tells the story with such passion and insight so that I understand what happened and why. He loves history, as do I.

And lastly, he is just so damn funny! He keeps me laughing with his comments and observations. Plus he is a great cook – my least favorite activity.

Today we went to Downtown Puerto Vallarta (PV) and strolled the malecon in the area called the Romantic Zone. I love this Mexican concept of having a broad promenade running alongside the beach with statues, restaurants, and shops to beguile the eye.

Flying Papantla

Flying Papantla

There are also demonstrations of local customs. The Voladores (flying) de Papantla (a small village) climb a tall pole, tie themselves down, then all 4 of them flip off the high tower and swing in a circle all the way down. They are all dressed differently representing Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. One of the swingers plays a flute and bangs a drum all the way down while twirling. While I admire the action, you wouldn’t get me 10-foot up that pole…!

Then when we were having lunch in a restaurant, a group of dancers in tribal dress arrived and danced for the patrons. Their costumes were very dramatic, very Mayan.

As Francisco and I strolled along the malecon, he complained that there weren’t any pretty women in PV. And I had to agree.

Mayan dancers in elaborate costumes

Mayan dancers in elaborate costumes

In Mazatlan it seems that every other woman is absolutely gorgeous, with a slim, curvy body. And they are always beautifully dressed. Even the matrons, somewhat past their youthful prime, are always beautifully made up, hair neat or braided, and elegantly attired.

In PV, on the other hand, the woman are mostly unattractive, with short squat bodies. The contrast is very marked.

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So Francisco was complaining that there wasn’t any eye candy. He said that in Mazatlan when you saw 10 women then 9 of them are gorgeous… and the 10th is probably from PV, he added as an afterthought. I had to laugh; he was so morose. And so he started counting pretty women, and by the end of day he was only up to 12. He was not happy, and I was highly amused.

And so we strolled the malecon, admiring the sculptures, eating ice cream, and gazing at the spectacular views

Posing with the Mayan dancer

Posing with the Mayan dancer

Exquisitely carved SAND sculpture

Exquisitely carved SAND sculpture

– while Francisco counted pretty women.

Francisco dimpling as he finally spots a pretty girl

Francisco dimpling as he finally spots a pretty girl

Under Francisco’s tutelage I am trying all sorts of foods and drinks that I would never have thought to try on my own. He said I should try this rice drink that looked very unprepossessing. I told him I would try a sip of his. It was delicious. Who knew rice would produce such a delicious drink?!

Later he saw another vendor selling a local drink, tejuino, made from corn. The tejuino drink take from 5-7 days to brew a batch. Again I took a sip of Francisco’s drink first, then ordered a large drink for myself. The splash of lime, and the crushed ice, was so refreshing in the cool corn drink as we meandered in the afternoon sun.

I also had a glass of Jamaica water made from the red Hibiscus flower. It tasted like cranberry juice.

Then he had me try chocolate tequila, which I didn’t care for. We also bought a bag of small yellow fruits which initially tasted to me like blue cheese, but the taste grew on me and I finished half the bag.

Francisco insisted that I take specific note of various statues that, he said, were famous in Mexico and everyone would recognize the photo immediately. I dutifully snapped away.

When we got back to the boat, we decided to watch a Brad Pitt war movie. Francisco made popcorn. He put ketchup and salsa on his popcorn, while I put condensed milk on mine. To each his own…!

Cool plaza on the malecon

Cool plaza on the malecon

Dancers statue on the malecon

Dancers statue on the malecon

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