Living in Puerto Vallarta
There are Local Customs that may seem strange to a visitor, here’s a guide to some of them.
Siesta in Mexico is traditionally from 2:00PM to 4:00PM and you will find a few businesses (not bars & restaurants) closed during those hours, but they will stay open after siesta till 8:00 or 9:00PM. Siesta is becoming far less common in this tourist town.
After sundown on Sunday families, groups of boys and separate groups of girls, dressed in their best, will promenade up and down the Malecón (sea front walk). The groups of young people will be making eyes at each other as they pass. This was the tradition, seen less in our more modern city. We have ballroom style dancing in the Plaza from 7-8pm, usually preceded by music from the Municipal Band.
This is also a time for families to get dressed up and go meet their friends, sit , chat and watch others walk by. There will be vendors selling anything from roasted corn on the cob to brightly coloured windmills and balloons.
There is also, on weekend nights, usually an event going on at the small amphitheater at the end of the Malecón by the three arches, Teatro de Los Arcos.
Further south on the Malecón, towards the southside of town, you’ll find many food vendors, don’t miss the crepes! ?
When you see bags of garbage on the street corner, don’t think that this is a sign of a trashy place. The garbage is now collected three days a week the days vary from one Colonia to the other. It used to be every day, until the city privatised it. Before it was like this:-…” you put out on the street corner when the sound of a ‘cow bell’ is heard.” and, you’d see this guy who runs, and I do mean runs, down the street ringing a ‘cow bell‘. This guy used to come by my bedroom window at 6AM EVERY morning! I kinda miss him… NOT!
The truck now comes by every day in the restaurant areas but without the cow bell.
You are certain to be accosted by young children selling ‘chiclets’ and other things, some can be pretty pushy as well. Some of these kids are being exploited by their parents or some other adults nearby. We have in Puerto Vallarta support programs for these children in need. Please help by not giving them money or buying things from them, this only encourages the problem. You will be helping them to stay off the streets and away from exploitation.
I guess I must confess in having friends, very young and awful cute, who you’ll find around the Los Muertos Beach area in the evenings, and I sometimes buy things from them, They have some very strange, weirdly painted, animals made from ‘who knows what’ with bobbing heads. That was the season before and still some about, the latest I saw was an egg shaped thing with a hinged lid, containing a spider with moving legs, all brightly painted for 15 pesos. Also some very young and cute flower sellers.
You’ll also see the ‘Marias’, indian looking, older women squatting on the street begging, just what you expected to see in Mexico, Right? Wrong, these women are well organized and are brought to the edge of El Centro by van, then they go to their spots, sometimes with kids, who may, or may not, be theirs.
Read what another resident of Mexico says:
“Mexico isn’t a culture of poverty, it is simply a different culture. Though poverty indeed exists it is relative to the socio-economic culture in which it exists. Using that measuring stick there is a lot less poverty here in Mexico than is being inferred. Poor but happy, translates into not so poor for Mexicans who believe that they are better off than many people with more money. The poverty problem by U.S. standards is more closely related to economic opportunities, of which Mexico has had very little in the past couple of decades in particular. But many Mexicans look at the problems the U.S. and other “superpowers” have and they feel very fortunate to be Mexicans and sorry for the first-worlders with their myopic vision of the world.
Straying a bit, contrary to popular belief the U.S. is NOT the center of the world and most of the rest of the world does not aspire to imitate the U.S. Here in Mexico we are generally proud to be Mexicans, as U.S. citizens are generally proud to be ‘Americans’ “.
Quoted by kind permission of Zihu@Rob
The Spanish sailed the West Coast of Mexico in the 16th Century and passed this part of Jalisco on their way to Baja California, which they called the “Island of Pearls”, not knowing it was a penisular. In 1644 two boats, used in this exploration were built in Mismaloya, where timber were available and some protection from the seas.
Then the notorious Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, a Spanish conquistador, traveling over land from the south encountered a large band of ‘Indians’ in the wide and fertile valley of the Rio Ameca. The ‘Indians’ carried sticks with sacred feathers tied to them and the Spanish mistook these as flags and named the place Valle de Banderas (Valley of Flags), later the adjacent bay took on the name.
During the 18th Century it was referred to by whalers as ‘Bahia de Los Jorobados’ – Bay of the Humpback Whale.
Lots of sensational and romantic stories abound about pirates in the bay, but in reality this isn’t so. There was little for them here, maybe some fresh water.
Not that there were very few pirates or privateers around our bay.
One English privateer was Thomas Cavendish, who used to like hanging out at Punta de Mita, waiting for the bi-annual Spanish Manila Galleon. He succeeded in 1587 with the capture of The Great Santa Anna off Cabo San Lucas, which he set fire to after removing all the treasure he had space for, he had landed the Spanish crew earlier, who eventually quenched the fire when the galleon drifted ashore and repaired it enough to get to Acapulco. Debatable if this was in Baja or close to Bahia de Banderas.
1821 Independence from Spain.
In 1851, one Don Guadalupe Sanchez Torres, a trader, started to bring in salt by sea from the area around San Blas, to supply the gold and silver mining towns in the mountains behind the bay, where it was used in the refining process. These towns, such as Cuale and San Sebastian sent their precious bullion by land to the East Coast for shipping to Spain, which was much safer and easier than by sea, so don’t believe all those exciting descriptions of Puerto Vallarta loading silver bars onto ships in the bay, it never happened.
In 1851 Don Guadalupe established a settlement, at the mouth of the Rio Cuale, with his extended family and named it Las Peñas de Santa Maria de Guadalupe.
The small settlement expanded with workers from the mining towns, when production slowed at the mines, (mostly because of the price going down with discovery in Nevada) they turned their hand to agriculture, cattle and fishing.
On the 6th of May, 1888, a pot of grease which was being heated over a charcoal fire in a Palapa, burst into flame and set fire to the structure. The fire spread destroying more than half the houses in the town. According to folklore the fire would not have done nearly so much damage if half the town’s male population had not been attending a cock fight.
In 1918 the town became a Municipality and the name was changed to Puerto Vallarta in memory of a former Governor of Jalisco and well know lawyer, Don Ignacio L. Vallarta.
The Saucedo Theater was built around 1923, a French style building. The building hosted social parties, civic celebrations, plays, silent screen movies, boxing matches and other events for a long time. You can see this building on Calle Juarez on the corner of Iturbide. Map
In 1925 the American business Montgomery & Co., grower and exporter of bananas, began more than a decade of operations north of the municipality, purchasing about 70,000 acres in the Valle de Banderas close to Ixtapa.
Vallarta began to boom due to the surplus of jobs available on the new banana plantations.
They also built a railway to transport the bananas from Ixtapa to El Salado estuary, the site of our Marine Terminal, where they were loaded onto ships to carry them to the United States.
This operation ended in 1935 when the Montgomery Fruit Company had to leave Mexico because of the new agrarian law that had just come into effect.
Other products were raised in the area such as corn, beans, tobacco and small coconuts used for their oil that were shipped to the national market.
On the 3rd of December, 1931, the first airplane arrives in Puerto Vallarta, piloted by Charles Baugham, who was nicknamed “Pancho Pistolas.”
After eight years, in 1939 the first hotel in Puerto Vallarta, the Hotel Gutiérrez, opens its doors above the Saucedo Theater.
In 1948 one of Puerto Vallarta’s more traditional hotels, the Rosita Hotel, is opened.
After the World War II, several GIs moved down to Puerto Vallarta, perhaps to recover from the affects of that engagement. Some sent up businesses and some just retired, many to the north bank of the Rio Cuale, which came to be known as ‘Gringo Gulch’.
Our first international airline, Mexicana de Aviación, is established in Puerto Vallarta In 1954.
On November 10, 1956, Puerto Vallarta’s Fishing Club organizes the first International Sailfish Tournament. This tournament is still going, one of the events with the a long tradition here.
The same year the Hotel Gutiérrez changed ownership, becomes the Hotel Océano and relocates to the corner of Galena and the Malecón.
In 1959, the first masonry bridge over the Cuale River is built, and stands as an example of solidarity among the people of Puerto Vallarta in solving a transit problem; it is finished in 90 days.
A few years later, in 1962 Puerto Vallarta’s airport officially opens.
Night of the Iguana
Richard Burton and Liz Taylor stayed at the Oceana Hotel at the beginning of the filming in 1963.
This is the event that turned the world’s attention to Puerto Vallarta, when John Huston decided to film Tennessee Williams’s story at Mismaloya, south of town.
Among the cast were Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon and Richard Burton. Also here was Elizabeth Taylor who was having a very public affair with Richard Burton, while still married to Eddie Fisher.
The paparazzi descended on the town and Puerto Vallarta became famous all over the world.
1964, the first modern hotel, the Hotel Posada Vallarta, is built.
A year later, in 1966, the Bridge over the Rio Ameca is built, connecting Puerto Vallarta to Nayarit.
In 1969, the Hotel Camino Real opens its doors, becoming the first chain hotel in Puerto Vallarta. This business stands out because of its cultural commitment to the community, by carrying out an artistic event of importance each first Thursday of the month, open to the public.
That same year the Compostela-Puerto Vallarta highway is opened to vehicles, bringing Puerto Vallarta out of it’s isolation.
1970 the official opening of the Maritime Terminal.
In February 1971, the Regatta Marina del Rey-Puerto Vallarta takes place for the first time, an event that now happens every two years.