PUERTO VALLARTA, A City of Romance and Adventure
Ever thought what the perfect combination of romance and adventure would look like? Imagine being surrounded by mountains, a jungle, and beaches? Trust me when I say, look no further; for this exhilarating combination lies in the state of Jalisco and is known as Puerto Vallarta. But don’t just take my word for it; go see it for yourself at htt://www.patawalk.com!
It is believed that Puerto Vallarta was at one point owned by the Aztatlan culture, whose presence was prominent in this state as well as the state of Nayarit and Michoacan. The Spaniards took over in the 1500s, when it was but a small valley. Interesting is that fact that Hernan Cortes named this place “Banderas” (Flags) due to indigenous arrows that aligned against them in battle, which were decorated with colored feathers of different types, it appeared to him as an array of flags. In the 17th century, due to its location on the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta’s importance grew. It was the perfect place for cargo ships to land. What attracted these cargo ships was the ability to avoid customs, thus avoiding taxes. Puerto Vallarta’s population grew steadily and it wasn’t until 1859 when it officially became a village. Almost 60 years later it became an established municipality and earned the named of Puerto Vallarta. It was named after Ignacio Vallarta, who was a governor of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta experienced a surge in population from the 1920s to the 1960s. For instance, in the 20’s, entire families left their mining lives in the mountains and settled in nearby Puerto Vallarta. The 1930’s witnessed the installation of an airplane service, something that facilitated outsiders visiting this port. In the 1940’s transportation into Puerto Vallarta became even more accessible with the construction of roads. The 1950’s saw an increase of Americans leaving their country disappointed by the politics of the time. This particular group created their own neighborhood as it is still known today: Gringo Gulch. The last catapult of Puerto Vallarta’s popularity took place in the 1960’s with the filming of John Huston’s film “The Night of the Iguana” starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. It wasn’t necessarily the film, which made Puerto Vallarta popular. It was the torrid affair between two Hollywood greats, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which brought about all kinds of media attention and popularized Puerto Vallarta as a spot to romance and adventure.
The waves of tourists brought about the construction of luxury hotels with every thinkable amenity readily available to the customer. But you need not worry, for today Puerto Vallarta is not all upscale luxury hotels like the Sheraton Buganvilias; although this is a nice place to spoil yourself. Hotels range from the modest to the opulent. If you’re looking for something more private then there are condos available for you to rent as well as villas (like small apartments or cabins). Whatever your need or want, Puerto Vallarta has it.
Once you’re here you’ll want to delight the palate with some of Puerto Vallarta’s staple dishes. So, why not start with something simple such as Grilled Marlin. This dish you can find anywhere including right on the beach on the corner taco stand. The Marlin fish is grilled over blistering hot coals and it is served with hot sauce and a touch of lime. Now if you’d like to try something fancier, then take an indulgent bite of the Huachinango Sarandeado (marinated red snapper). In this delicious plate, the red snapper fish is first marinated with birria sauce, which is a sauce consisting of peppers, garlic, and a few other spices, and then it is grilled to perfection. Lastly, if you’re truly daring then you must try the ceviche. What’s most interesting about this dish is that the fish is “cooked” naturally by marinating it in pure lime juice. The cooked fish is then mixed with an array of vegetables including jalapeno peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, cilantro and served over a tostada. Just thinking about it is making me hungry!
With a full stomach you’ll surely be filled with energy to take on the adventurous side of Puerto Vallarta. You can start by sightseeing some of the most popular landmarks, such as Pulpito and Pilitas (pulpit and baptismal font) which are two natural rock formations (one on top of the other) located at the end of Los Muertos Beach (The Dead Beach). There is a statue of John Huston, which was created in honor of his film. If you’d like to visit a museum, then go to Cuale Archaelogical Museum, which features an extensive display of pre-Hispanic art. You could also just take a stroll down the Malecon (boardwalk) where you’ll not only enjoy the cool ocean breeze but can also admire a collection of sculptures by contemporary Mexican artists. You can also buy a souvenir or just be in awe of the small shops. Speaking of shops, you have to visit at least one of the two public markets: Mercado Isle Cuale or Mercado Municipal Cuale. Both markets feature an incredible variety of souvenirs, small restaurants, and other local goods. Puerto Vallarta has an incredible garden, known as Zoological Gardens. What’s so incredible about this place is that is has over 300 animals and it is located in a forested setting; definitely a must-see.
Of course you can’t visit a port without visiting its beaches! I suggest you start with the biggest beach, Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead). But don’t be scared because of the name. This beach gets its name from a local legend that tells of a battle between local miners and pirates. If you’d really like to swim in the ocean, then Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) is perfect for that. Although it is named after “high waves,” the waves aren’t really that high. The best part of this beach is that after a nice swim, you can refuel your body by enjoying a delicious meal in one of the outdoor eateries. If you’re of the curious and daring kind, you must visit Playa Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes Beach). The name might be funny, but what happens there isn’t. There are rocks that come ashore and due to its closeness to the Ameca River, don’t be surprised to see a crocodile swimming next to you. Playa Gemelas (Twin Beaches) is a much more tranquil kind of beach. What’s best is that it is undeveloped, thus you’ll find less commerce and less people. Playa Las Caletas (The Coves Beach) is truly a remarkable beach. It used to be John Huston’s private beach, but now it is a wildlife preserve. And lucky you, when you’re there you’ll get to do some top-quality snorkeling. In Playa Quimixto you can take a tour on horseback, now how incredible is that! Not only will you ride on the beach, but the guide will take you through a canyon all the way to a beautiful waterfall. Truly the epitome of romance and adventure!
Among the many other activities to enjoy in Puerto Vallarta is the annual event of a lifetime: the birthing of humpback whale calves! This is one tour you cannot miss. Puerto Vallarta is filled with other natural activities such as freshwater fishing in various beaches, bird watching in the jungle, observing sea lions on the bay, or you can even visit a dolphin center. This port city also boasts of cultural events starting with bullfighting, wine tasting, and even ballet.
But before you start packing your bags, why don’t you get a complete preview right in the comfort of your own home: visit http://www.patawalk.com!
About the Author
I’m an English instructor. I love my career because it allows me to work with students of all ages (from children in kindergarten to mature adults in college) and walks of life. I have a B.A. in English from San Diego State University and have recently obtained my M.A., also in English, from National University. During my free time I travel and write short articles for the Patawalk Virtual Tours website (www.patawalk.com). This site takes visitors into fully mapped virtual tours in 360 formats of amazing places such as Cancun, Mexico. It’s like being there!
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