The week of Thanksgiving is a typical week when gringos and locals alike migrate to the beaches, before the kickoff of high season and higher rates. Who were we to argue with this, so away we went to Puerto Vallarta!
Before I provide a glimpse into yet another lovely Mexican city, I must first apologize to my friends in the colder climes up north, particularly in the Yellowstone National Park area, for the timing of this post. We happened to notice that the temps during the week of Thanksgiving plummeted into negative figures, with plenty of snow to boot. Suffice to say, we thought about all of you when we were basking in 80 degree temps during the day and 65 at night.
For those who have never been to Puerto Vallarta, it is on the Pacific Coast side of Mexico, on one of the largest bays in the world – Banderas Bay. North to south, this expanse of water extends 42 kilometers (roughly 26 miles).
Puerto Vallarta became an international destination with the filming of The Night of the Iguana in 1963, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The home that they purchased during filming is still on one of the tour routes.
In 1973, the construction of the big hotels began and PV was labeled as a mecca for water sports, one of them being parasailing, and no, this is not me.
Many locals still make their living from the sea. Terry was able to get a photo of some men readying their nets in the hopes of capturing some of the ocean’s bounty, while a pelican alights in a tree nearby, anxious for a free lunch.
While Terry was snapping these pictures, I just happened to be looking out into the bay and saw two beautiful manta rays project themselves from the depths again and again, fly through the air, and dive back down into the bay. What a miraculous sight this was but unfortunately, I had no camera in hand!
The malecon here is probably unlike any other in Mexico, as it is lined with restaurants, nightclubs and fine shops, a tourist’s heaven. It does have the obligatory plaza with gazebo and church nearby.
The Church of Guadalupe was constructed in 1951, right off the main plaza and has a magnificent crown balanced on top of her steeple, fashioned after the one worn by Mexico’s 18th century Empress Carlota.
Intricate and unusual sculptures and statues lined the malecon, many of them displaying mermaid-like creatures.
The malecon’s first statue was that of a little mer creature.
The next sculpture is that of Angel de Esperanza (Angel of Hope), washed away by Hurricane Henna in 2002 and replaced in 2007.
We stood and looked at the next statue for some time, trying to determine what in the world this man was going to eat! Looking down at the base of the statue were the words “Come Piedras”.
One of the more colorful sculptures depicted a celebration of the Xiutla Folkloric Ballet.
A sculptor by the name of Bustamante, whose trademark is to create statues of people with triangular heads, has a sculpture displayed by the name “In Search of Reason”, where it appears the mother is calling out to her children who have climbed high onto the ladder. Wanting to experience this thrill myself, I had to be the tourist and have my picture taken!
Along with the famous bronze sculptures were less permanent pieces of artwork being fashioned by locals, those created in sand or by rocks worn smooth by the movement of the tides.
These look like some very sophisticated cairns. Terry watched as this man stood sans movement for the longest time to balance the final rock.
The final product…
A very exciting performance that took place on the malecon was that of the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), a ritual that has its roots in the pre-Hispanic period, associated with the town of Papantla, Veracruz and was dramatized when asking the gods to end a severe drought. Five indigenous men scale a pole, via a ladder, 42 meters (138 feet) high. The piper, the first up the ladder, sits atop the pole on a small platform, playing a drum and flute, while the others encircle him, securing themselves with ropes. They launch themselves backwards off their tiny perches, as they spin upside down until they reach the ground. This would certainly not be for the faint of heart!
Puerto Vallarta is such a popular beach destination that many very large cruise ships enter her port on a regular basis. As we were waiting to hop onto a catamaran to take us to the more secluded beach of Las Caletas for some snorkeling, sea kayaking, and a sumptuous lunch, the Mariner of the Sea made her approach.
On our trip out to Las Caletas, we passed by two large rock formations jutting out of the bay that served as bird sanctuaries.
As our boat docked at Las Caletas, a beautiful macaw swooped in to welcome us. Her timing was impeccable!
And the cove was beautiful!
Our week at the beach ended with a very comfortable bus ride back to the Lakeside area. We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Stay warm and we will see some of you up north very soon!