Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PUERTO VALLARTA MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY BEACH


             Sunset over Puerto Vallarta on the Bahia de Banderas

I think it is only appropriate that one of my first blog postings shall be about Puerto Vallarta where our “journey” began seventeen years ago. After many years of visiting Mexico as tourists my husband and I finally made the decision to move to Mexico. And since Puerto Vallarta had always held a special place in our hearts, it was only natural that “PV” would be our new home. We were very naïve and maybe more than a little loco, but we took the plunge and have never looked back. So here we go on a mini introduction to this beautiful town. Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!


  Can you locate the state of Jalisco which is home to PV?



We quickly learned that Puerto Vallarta was much, much more than just a pretty beach. And despite the growth and modernization over the last seventeen years, Puerto Vallarta still has maintained its generous heart and soul which defines the culture of Mexico.



Church of Guadalupe, the heart of Puerto Vallarta, with its iconic crown.



The Charro parade, during the September celebrations of Mexican Independencia, reflects the strong cowboy tradition in the state of Jalisco.    

  Looking north from Old Town to Centro and beyond.


The excitement of setting up a home in a foreign land with a different culture, a different language, different traditions, etc., etc. was intoxicating to me! Each day was a new challenge and I found the experience thrilling.


A traditional Huichol family from the Sierras comes to Puerto Vallarta to sell their amazing art and to enjoy the beach.


Man, burro, and dog - traditional scenes still to be found in Puerto Vallarta.


As I am writing this post one early weekday morning I can hear a lively Mexican ballad being played over the loudspeakers at the Emiliano Zapata Elementary School. This "wake-up call" for the students precedes the principal making the daily announcements.  I don't know about you, but I never started the day in this wonderful fashion!


This public school is in the area commonly referred to as the "Zona Romantica" in Puerto Vallarta's "Old Town." And all of this is located less than one block from Los Muertos Beach, the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta. How incredibly special! But I digress ...


Emiliano Zapata Elementary School in Old Town.


Puerto Vallarta is naturally blessed with being located on La Bahia de Banderas, the bay of flags, which is a beautifully large bay with endless beaches and surrounding mountains covered in dense tropical vegetation. It is truly magical!

One of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta is Los Muertos Beach which is located in the "Old Town" (aka Zona Romantica) section of the city. It is where locals and visitors alike congregate to enjoy the beautiful blue waters, the many beach activities, and the many restaurants which are available both day and night.


Los Muertos Beach with its Boy and Dolphin sculpture.



Los Muertos is where the action is and during high season it is very busy and very fun!


         Up, up, and away! Fly like a bird and enjoy the sights!


The new pier at Los Muertos Beach - gorgeous and functional for both locals and visitors.



Hot action and warm ocean in the Bay of Banderas - a perfect combination!


The pelicanos taking a fishing break on one of the local fishing pangas.



    Fantastic sand sculptures!


The new Muelle (pier) at Los Muertos Beach at night is a definite WOW!


Not all the "locals" hang at the beach! This handsome one would rather hang in the trees!



But as the title of this posting says, Puerto Vallarta is much, much more than just a pretty beach! The newly reconstructed Malecon promenade has been totally redesigned and is the focal point of Puerto Vallarta. This pedestrian walkway runs along the beach from Old Town, crossing over the two Rio Cuale bridges, and continuing north through the shopping, dining, and entertainment center of Puerto Vallarta.  It is a beautiful walk during the day, but also a vibrant and happening place during the evenings.  It's where locals and visitors come to enjoy Puerto Vallarta's beauty, friendliness, and action and it's not to be missed!


The beautiful new Malecon promenade is a huge success!



A walk, a view of the bay, an art stroll, live entertainment, food vendors, artists, and music, and you can even dance with Michael on the Malecon - something for everyone!


The "Lovers" is one of many bronze sculptures on the Malecon and it has received many "good luck" knee rubs!


The plaza on the Malecon has live music and entertainment for everyone.

More bronze sculptures to be enjoyed on the newly designed Malecon "boardwalk."  

 
Cool new additions to Puerto Vallarta's Malecon.


Bravo PV for one of the best Malecons in the entire country!


And if the beach and the action on the Malecon and Old Town are not enough, another wonderful aspect of Puerto Vallarta is its extensive art scene. Art is not only found in the many art galleries throughout the city, but also outdoors as exemplified on the Malecon with its incredible collection of bronze sculptures and with locals artist showing their work. Sculptures and murals are also found in other outdoor venues throughout the city including the beaches. It is very much like walking through an outdoor museum and everyone can enjoy.


Makes you want to dance the night away, yes?



     Artist Evelyn Boren captures the magic of Puerto Vallarta in oils.



                                   Can you find the public phone?

       

This gorgeous iguana can be found on the Rio Cuale bridge near the Municipal Arts and Crafts Mercado in Old Town and he is a favorite.  


There is so much to see and do in Puerto Vallarta that words alone are inadequate, but hopefully my photos will help. I look forward to posting more in the future about Puerto Vallarta and the many nearby areas worth visiting including Sayulita, San Pancho, Boca de Tomatlan, Yelapa, El Tuito, San Sebastián del Oeste, the Puerto Vallarta Zoo, and the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens.


I remember many, many years ago hearing that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I am a believer so click on WEB ALBUM for additional photos for this posting. I always look forward to hearing from my visitors so do not hesitate to contact me with any comments, suggestions, or questions. Until next time, saludos and gracias, Laura




                                          Memories are just a click away!

                                    

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE: THE HEARTLAND OF COLONIAL MEXICO


I have a confession to make. I am having an affair. I do not make this confession lightly without having taken the consequences of said statement seriously. I am probably not the first person who has come out publicly with this confession. Let me try to explain before you hit the escape or delete button on your electronic device.

This affair I am having is of the heart and is with a place, not a person. Maybe you are feeling a little bit better with this clarification and I have gotten your curiosity aroused. My affair of the heart is with a small and enchanting town in Mexico and its name is San Miguel de Allende. There, I have said it and I feel so relieved!



The iconic parish church of San Miguel

The seeds of this affair of the heart were planted in the late 1990's when my husband and I visited San Miguel for the first time. We were retired Americans living full time in the beautiful Pacific beach town of Puerto Vallarta. At the time of our first visit I recall thinking that this was a very pretty place and charming in a colonial way. We did not jump ship, however, and move to San Miguel.

We spent the next ten years exploring and living in many different places and countries in the Latin American world. We continued to hear about San Miguel and there was a lot of buzz about it. Much of that buzz however seemed along the lines of "it's too this and too that" and what we heard did not appeal to us.



 Well, we eventually learned a lesson that changed our thinking. We met an elderly couple in their 80's who were on their honey moon in the funky surfing beach town of Montezuma Beach in Costa Rica. When we asked what they were doing there in the mostly unlikely setting considering their age and demeanor, he replied, "If you want to know about a place, go there!" And we have tried to follow this wise advise ever since. And because of that we revisited San Miguel de Allende and I fell in love with the town, the people, the culture, the history, and all it has to offer.

        A view overlooking the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende.

So let's get started. San Miguel de Allende is located on a high plateau in the mountainous area of Central Mexico which is known as the "Bajio." It is located in the state of Guanajuato whose capital is also named Guanajuato. San Miguel is approximately a four hour drive north of Mexico DF (the capital of Mexico). It's relative isolation has helped preserve its charm and beauty.




Can you find Guanajuato, the location of San Miguel de Allende, and one of thirty one Mexican States?



 


A view of the church of Saint Michael the Archangel in San Miguel de Allende.




The burros of San Miguel deliver necessities and smiles!




The striking colors and the colonial architecture are stunning!


        The cobblestone streets can be a real challenge, but so worth it!



The virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

Now for a little bit of history. San Miguel was founded in 1542 by a Spanish Franciscan monk by the name of Fray Juan de San Miguel and he named the town San Miguel de Grande. After the War of Independence from Spain, San Miguel was given city status in 1826 and renamed San Miguel de Allende in honor of Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the War of Independence and a native of the city.


      Ignacio Allende, immortalized on the Civic Plaza in San Miguel de ALLENDE!  



    San Juan de Dios Church is one of eight Spanish colonial churches in San Miguel de Allende.









And in spite of the fact that San Miguel is a tourist destination, an art colony, and a retirement community for foreigners (mostly Americans, Canadians, and Europeans), it is still truly a Mexican town with the heart and soul of colonial Mexico.


           The vibrant colors are just stunning in San Miguel!


Street vendors are a part of the life of San Miguel de Allende.


           No town in Mexico would be complete without their local dogs! Isn't he handsome?



Singing troubadours serenade before the weekly San Miguel Biblioteca (Library) Home Tours.

In addition to all of the wonderful colonial architecture in San Miguel, the heart of Colonial Mexico is especially evident through the numerous cultural events including the parades. These events may be either of religious origin such as Christmas with its posadas or the Good Friday and Easter celebrations during Semana Santa. Or they may be of a civil and historical nature which includes the Revolution Day parade, the Children's Spring parade, Ignacio Allende's birthday parade, the Charro (or Rodeo) competition, and even a Dog Festival. Yes, something for everyone!


Mexican posadas take place before Christmas with children and families walking the streets singing carols and looking for shelter for Joseph and Mary.



San Miguel's new twinkling Christmas tree on the Plaza - que lindo!



       Jesus is honored annually in the Aztec tradition of music and dance every Spring.



Good Friday is a grand procession through the streets of San Miguel.



 The annual regional Charro ("cowboy") competition is held in San Miguel each Spring and it happened to fall on my birthday.  


An annual baroque music concert is held "on the rocks" in the canyon of the Botanical Gardens above town.  Simply magical!



        

Dia de la Revolucion (Revolution Day) is celebrated by parades and dances during the month of November.

Walking the cobblestone streets of San Miguel is like walking through the history and culture of Colonial Mexico. As a visiting friend of mine said on one of our meandering walks, San Miguel is "eye candy" and I completely agree. I rarely leave the house without taking my camera with me since there is always something that needs to be photographed to be shared and remembered. Spanish colonial churches, Spanish style plazas and parks, theaters, museums, traditional mercados (markets), and historical residential properties are to be found everywhere.



      Now this is a great way to get around town for both human and canine in San Miguel!  


The traditional Mexican market is alive and well with everything needed to satisfy a resident of San Miguel.


     Pork a la pastor tacos at the giant weekly travelling tianguis mercado are a must!






Traditional cantinas co-exist with more upscale establishments - something for everyone! 


Flower delivery puerta a puerta "door to door" in San Miguel.  Que lindo y bueno!
.

San Miguel de Allende represents to me the heart and soul of Mexico and I loved our time there.

I hope you have enjoyed this very brief introduction to San Miguel de Allende. And you may be assured that there will be many more posts in this blog relating to this wonderful and charming colonial town!

I remembering many, many years ago hearing that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I am a believer so following is a link to my WEB ALBUM which has additional photos for this posting.  



Memories are only a click away!