As my last night in Puerto Vallarta comes to a close my mind I find myself thinking of things that I have seen, learned, and experienced. I am also left contemplating how my opinion of Puerto Vallarta has changed.
A place that I once associated with beaches and timeshares I now see as a society that is diverse with many layers, facets, and sub-cultures. The indigenous tribes have formed the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta with their colorful art, intense and flavorful meals, and an indomitable spirit that refuses to be downtrodden.
The art and people
The art is bright and colorful. Every aspect, shape, color, and design tells a part of a story and ties into a part of their traditions and beliefs. Some of the images they use are eagles that protect the community, salamanders that bring rain, prayer arrows, and corn which is the lifeblood.
The Huichol are pre-Colombian indigenous Mexicans that live in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain range. Ritual traditions based on the natural spirit elements of the world, such as fire, water, sun, animals, and insects make up the core of their belief system. Their faith in these spirit elements is evident in the intricate embroidery and beadwork that they do.
“Religion to them [Huichol] is a personal matter, not an institution. Therefore their life is religious – from the cradle to the grave wrapped up in symbolism.” Carl Lumholtz
Puerto Vallarta’s food scene is diverse with a broad spectrum of regional cooking styles and flavors. Local and international chefs have made Puerto Vallarta their home. They have put creative flairs on centuries old traditional Mexican dishes with fresh local ingredients from both the land and sea.
Gaby’s Restaurant has turned the simple and unassuming avocado into a mid-day feast. Blending half of an avocado with lime and mild spices then piling it with lettuce high on top of the other half of the avocado. They follow that up with a ring of steamed shrimp surrounding the avocado sprinkled with sweet bell peppers.
Chef Joel Ornelas at Tintoque has put a cosmopolitan spin on the Mexican squash chayote. Curled and thinly sliced it and artistically placed on top of a bed of fried calamari. Dollops of sweet mashed carrots add beautiful color contrast.
History is abundant everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. From the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish to the cobbled streets to the architectural flair of the buildings influenced by early Spanish settlers in the 1600’s.
Will you be the same after a visit?
Many have said that Puerto Vallarta is a place that you go to find yourself. That once you go and experience everything it has to offer – the beauty of the mountains down to the sea, the intense and complicated flavors of the cuisine, to the open and friendly people secure in their culture – it is always in your thoughts.
After my visit, I have a tendency to agree.