People and Faces of Puerto Vallarta. No. 13.

Sad to say, our stay in Puerto Vallarta will come to an end in another week. But before we leave for our next adventure, I want to leave you with a few words and pictures. We found that being  here nearly 4 months has had a very enlightening  affect on both of us. The people of Mexico are not rich by our standards, but they are rich in so many other ways, and are anxious to share this wealth. It never is forced upon you, it just grows, until you come to the realization that something is different in how you feel and view your world around you.

They have so much they want to share; their wares, their stories, their culture, their way of life. But it doesn’t end there, they are also interested in you as a visitor to their country, where you are from, how long staying, what part of town, are you enjoying your stay. They go out of there way to make you welcome and comfortable. You become their friend, their amigo, you find yourself interacting with them. The following pics are just a small example of the opportunities we had to try an capture this.

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This gentleman with a great face was selling hammocks.
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More street music.
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This lady was selling hats, fans, and tiny hand made dolls.

There is a texture here that just has to be experienced, to be absorbed. But that takes time. A couple of weeks here just wets your appetite. Hospitality is spoken here. It is a universal language, one that we all could experience and learn from. I am looking forward to home and our new adventure, and plan on bringing a bit of Mexico with us. We will be back next year. Until then, adios.

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A dancer who will be participating in the 11th Puerto Vallarta Folkloric Dance Festival.

Wanderlust

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Living Statues of Puerto Vallarta. No. 12

With Semana Santa (Easter Celebrations) in full swing in Puerto Vallarta, the Malecon is full of vacationing Mexican families, and a diversity of the weird and wonderful sights that are always a part of the celebrations. For those who are willing to participate, there is a surprise at every turn, some very imagitive, some wild and scary .

My ventures there with Maggie over several days produced some very interesting encounters. Enjoy.

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Surprise

Puerto Vallarta’s Architecture. No. 10

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La Iglesia De Nuestra Senora De Guadalupe, 1929.

The pictures above are just a small example .of the varied building styles to be found in and around PV. It is an eclectic mix of Hispanic and contemporary styles, helping to retain  the old world charm with that of current design. This can be seen in the Spanish influence on domes, courtyards and arches.

Construction today is designed to be earth quake smart and only sway and not crumble. Materials used are usually cement and steel, but some adobe materials can still be found in rural areas. These materials also act as a deterrent to termites of which a number of their nests can be seen in and around PV.

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Teatro Causedo, 1922.
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The arch is a prominent feature in many structures

 

Malecon Sculptures in Puerto Vallarta. No. 9

One of the major attractions in Puerto Vallarta is the Malecon. Originally constructed in 1936 and called Paseo de la Revolucion, then changed to Paseo Diaz Ordaz, and later just El Malecon, which is Spanish for “Esplanade along a Waterfront”. It runs along the water front on Banderas Bay for about 2k, and on the town side, it sports many stores, restaurants amphitheatre, and bars.

The lower picture was taken in the 1930’s, The top one as it looks today.

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One of the main draws along its route are the sculptures, many of them whimsical and all created by Mexican artists.

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Boy on the Seahorse, Caballito de Mar, by Rafael Zamarripa. 1976
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Roundabout of the Sea, “La Rotunda Del Mar, by Alejandro Colunga, 1996.

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Not too sure that this qualifies as a sculpture, but I couldn’t help not including it in my blog.

These creations are fun, and some of them allow interaction by sitting or climbing on them. This is just one example of the many attractions that are here in PV. Come on down, pay us a visit, we haven’t run out of sun yet. Cheers.

Cobblestone Streets of Puerto Vallarta. No. 8

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Cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta lend to the charm of the historic city center. Although some would call them dangerous due in part to their uneven surface and ability to form potholes, the original use of cobblestones during the early days was quite practical.

Paving with cobblestones allowed a road to be heavily used all year long. It prevented the build-up of ruts often found in dirt roads. It had the additional advantage of not getting muddy in wet weather or dusty in dry weather. Shod horses or mules were also able to get better traction on stone cobbles. The natural materials or “cobbles,” a geological term, originally referred to any small stone having dimensions between 2.5 and 10 inches (6.4 and 25.4 cm) and rounded by the flow of water; essentially, a large pebble. Although the noise of riding over cobbles may seem annoying, it was actually considered good as it warned pedestrians of oncoming traffic….horse, mule or automobile!

Cobblestones are typically either set in sand or similar material, or are bound together with cement or asphalt. Cobblestones set in sand have the environmental advantage of being permeable paving and of moving rather than cracking with movements in the ground.

In Vallarta, the making or remaking of a cobblestone street begins with the leveling of the underlying dirt. Then comes sand. Next parallel lines of larger stones are laid in rows, sometimes with cement holding them in place. Rows are them filled in with the smaller stones. Finally, sand or cement is packed around all the stones and left to settle with gaps filled in as needed. Repair of potholes tends to be a mixture of stones, sand, cement, pulverized terra cotta, or asphalt. In the historic area, the original streets are required to remain in keeping with the original construction, the stones having come from either the Rio Cuale, beach, or nearby quarries.

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Today, walking on cobblestones has been considered good exercise depending on the distance, frequency, surface and grade. Author Via Anderson in a recent article in the Vallarta Daily News (November 4, 2014) wrote, “Find and walk on the many cobblestone walks here (in Vallarta). Walking on cobblestones a few times daily with bare feet (preferred) or minimal shoes (to protect from debris) provides stimulation to the foot musculature that in turn adapts by becoming stronger and better able to handle these forces for longer periods of time…. and may be significant in reversing aging.”

puertovallartawalkingtours.com

A little back round on the origin of the word cobblestone is needed here.

The word ‘cobblestone ‘ derives from the English word ‘cob’, which means a small, round lumpen shape. Stones of a similar shape were taken from streams and rivers and referred to as cobbles. Eventually these stones were called cobble stones. Recorded history has all this happening around the beginning of the 15th century.

Later ‘cobble’ came to mean any rounded stone between 2.5″ and 10″ inches across. But, no real measurements were taken. The laying of the stones was all done by eye and fitted together like a jigsaw.

So lets go back a little further. Apparently the Romans were using this method of road construction as early as 250 B.C., where over 50,000 miles were layed down. More info can be found at steptoesyard.co.uk/history-cobbles.

This weeks photo challenge is The Road Taken
. During our stay in Puerto Vallarta we have had the opportunity to walk many of the cobblestone streets and roads; it has become part of our journey.

Time has shown us that life’s journey can be taken on a smooth or a rocky road. The course travelled depends on ones attitude, take on life, and how well we play with others. Do you approach life with a positive attitude, or do you let it beat you down; blaming others for your lot in life.

We only pass this way once, so why screw it up, hurting yourself and others close to you. Life is not fair or a walk in the park. We will fall on rough ground; we will make mistakes. It is how we deal with it that will make a difference – to yourself and others. I speak personally, I’ve been there.

Making  an effort to be positive, though not always attainable is the healthy choice. You will be rewarded, not overnight, not just when you would expect it, but over time your life will be enriched and also the lives of others close to you. According to Dale Carnegie, “attitude is everything”.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”. If we choose to, and, the choice is ours, the effect can mire,and bog us down. If that path is taken, we carry the pain and bitterness around inside, and that can have a bad effect on those closest to you.

Look around you. Life is to be experienced, not just endured. As we weave our way around the potholes, it is important to keep a grip on what is honest and true. The world is still a beautiful place. Smile at it, laugh at it and embrace it. It will feel your “joie de vivre”, and smile back. Cheers.

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Day of the Dead, A Celebration of Life. No. 7

Many cultural rituals and “celebrations” are misunderstood and shunned by those who do not participate. I have to admit that I fell into that category. Being in Mexico for four months, and being exposed to many strange figures around town, I became curious and needed to know the story and origin of a three day happening ( Oct 31, Nov 1, 2) called The Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos.


A little history is needed here.

Day of the Dead, called Día de Muertos in Spanish, is a Mexican holiday that falls on November 1 and 2 of each year. On the Day of the Dead, the boundaries between life and death begin to blur. Men, women and children of all ages honor and celebrate their loved ones who have passed away, participating joyously in a festival that has roots nearly 4000 years old. The holiday has spread in recent years from Mexico to America and beyond. It is now celebrated by Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and countless others, spawning a colorful and distinctive artistic tradition that continues to inspire.

“Part of our tradition in Mexico  is not to be scared of death and to smile at it. It is a celebration of our ancestors as they were when they were on the earth, alive. It was never a sad thing or a scary thing.”  Gennaro Garcia.

I have to wonder if viewing death as described by Gennaro, would give you a different take on life. Would you be a happier person? I pose that question based on what I have observed of the people here in Puerto Vallarta. They strike me as being a content and happy lot; many smiles and much laughter. This is not what I see at home. Just musing.

Frances Ann Day summarizes the three-day celebration, the Day of the Dead:

On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.
— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature[14]

 The Catholic World Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico and the Catholic world… Italy, Spain, South America and the Philippines all celebrate All Souls and All Saints Day on November 1st and 2nd. Special Masses and perhaps cleaning of the cemetery tombs are part of the traditional activities… it’s only in Central and Southern Mexico where the colorful parties take place in the cemeteries and elaborate ofrenda altars are built in the homes to honor specific family members who have passed on. – See more at: http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/support/dodhistory.html#sthash.PT6EQPdT.dpuf

Even in death, people around the world are celebrating life. Unfortunately I will not be down here when this happens, but I hope that in the two months  I have left here that I will allow their zest for living to be a part of who I am. I want to take that home with me.

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Art installations are a big part of the festivities in Mexico City.

Leanna Garfield – businessinsider.com

Signs, Shingles and Sillies. No. 6

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The store signs of Puerto Vallarta are as varied as the business found inside. No cookie cutter commercialism here, all are original and hand done.

Most of these establishments are family run. Walking into one, you are greeted with a warm smile and invited to be as much at home as you a comfortable with. No indifferent sales people here. A number of our North American retailers should take note.

Most of the retailers here are either a clothing store or a restaurant. The second pic, “OXXO” is our 7-11 mini mart, and they are on just about every street corner.

“La Vaquita” means little cow, and is a swinging hot spot at night.

As far as that last picture goes, other than put a smile on my face, I wonder just how long that would last in my neck of the woods before the “righteous  right” stepped in. Every corner holds a surprise, every street beckons to be explored. You only have to let the magic of the people take over. ‘Till the next time, cheers, or as they say here “salud”.

The Wheels of Puerto Vallarta. No. 5

Getting around in PV, other than by Shank’s Mare, can be interesting, challenging and fun. Taxis and buses abound, and will give you a ride to remember,  especially the busses. I swear they race each other to the next pick up point. But if you are trying to cross the street, they and the taxis are the first ones to stop.

But the real eye catchers here are the vehicles that in some cases, defy the rules of longevity, or get full marks for creativity. Or just plain outlandish.

Most of the vehicles shown here are modified or repurposed  VWs, or Vochos  as they seem to quite popular around town. A number of them have been converted to all wheel drive, with a powerhouse under the hood. While taken a photograph of the pink and yellow one, a gentleman came up to us and told us of a VW rally that takes place in November in PV where beetle owners come from around the country to show off their shiniest, most original, or most tricked out Volkswagens.

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This final picture is  typical of many of the repurposed vehicles and creativeness of so many of the locals who travel the streets every day.