Monday, January 27, 2014

Travel Journal: Puerto Vallarta Jan 10-18: Downtown PV

If there was a need to decide what the most famous landmark was in Puerto Vallarta, I think it would be the beautiful crown atop the Cathedral.
HERE is an even better shot of the stonework in the crown...so beautiful!
Seeing the crown this trip caused memories to flash back of two other trips I had made here: once in 1973 during a three week trip through Mexico with my parents in a VW van and once during a cruise ship stop back in the late 1990s.
My mom purchased a silver charm of the crown; it is now on her charm bracelet that she has since handed down to me.
The crown was my clearest memories of PV.
I was looking forward to exploring the old town area again this visit.

Our resort was about a fifteen minute drive from north of downtown.
The drive downtown was quite easy on a divided roadway.
We drove by Walmart and Home Depot; like in American, modern big box stores are not found in the heart of the old cities.
 
American hotel chains are found in PV too.
I thought the giant flat fan shaped palm form was beautiful.

We were in PV in mid January.
American Christmas trims have long since been removed from public space.
In Mexico...eh, what's the big rush?
The angle can be blowing that trumpet for a few more weeks just fine.

The other "famous" PV scene is the sea wall wharf arches.
I remember taking photos there on other trips.
Funny how I had forgotten all about them until I saw them again this trip.

The streets are cobblestone and parking is tight in town.
This was a sleepy "never heard of it" port until the late 1960s when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were filming "The Night of the Iguana" here.
They fell in love and began their scandalous affair that made the news world wide.
Suddenly little Puerto Vallarta was on the map as a tourist destination.
At the same time some ticklish property ownership issues were resolved and for the first time non-Mexican citizens could safely invest in property to build resorts.
Miles of luscious beach front, a sweet little coastal village, and name brand hotels:
Bingo. Instant resort location!

There is something for everyone in PV.
The rich and the not-so-rich can both find things to buy.

This dress was tempting...
 
And this dress even more so.
Held off...no granddaughter or great niece to outfit yet.
We did buy Luke a linen guayabera or wedding shirt and pants set.
Should be cute on him come this summer.

Frankly, if this dress had been in my size I think I would have been buying it for myself.

Shouldn't all little girls dresses come with a matching hat?

Again...if this was in my size I'd happily wear it on hot summer days.

Back in the late 60s-early 70's every Southern California girl had loads of hand embroidered Mexican tops and dresses in their closets.
I still have a couple of those items...the handwork is just too wonderful to give them up.
And who knows when I might wake up and weigh what I weighed in high school again.
(I can dream can't I?)

The likelihood of that sudden weight loss is constantly decreasing.
Oh look...ice cream bars!!

The ice cream bars filled up an area about 12 feet long.
How on earth can anyone decide which flavor to try?

I went with coconut, Bernie went with raisin.
I wanted to try a few more but found the coconut bar quite filling.

Every Mexican town has a small to large plaza in the center of the town, usually right in front of the Catholic church.
Shoe shine booths are set up there and sometimes newsstands and other one-man business.
During our 1973 travels we got to see the traditional Saturday night plaza walk where the girls walk around the plaza in one direction, chatting and giggling with their girlfriends while the boys walked in the opposite direction with their guy friends.
The smiles, eye catches, flirts and comments made very clear who was interested in whom.
Such a very sweet and safe way to court!

Out in front of one of the plaza buildings a traditional dance class in in progress.
The girls ranged in age from around five to nearly adult.
They practiced swaying as they danced and at one point the teacher demonstrated how to pull the full shirt out to each side then how to fold the hem into the middle of the body.
Another dance step went with that skirt styling.
I imagine the girls are in training for resort "fiesta" shows; this class was being held on a Saturday morning so it wasn't in conflict with a usual school day.

Again...Christmas is still going strong in downtown, or at least wishes for a Happy New Years.
Have to smile at the big silver snowflake at the top of the festive design.

Here's how the Cathedral looks from the plaza.
Note the twin flanking towers and the bell below the crown under the clock.

One could easily walk from the seawall to the Plaza and then to the steps of the Cathedral in a straight shot.

A bit of information about the Crown.

Inside the church was so light and airy!
Bernie stepped inside about two minutes ahead of me and got to see the baby being baptized.

(Love those chubby baby thighs!)

I imagine this princess is about to make her first communion.

Remember the bell I said to note?
Outside the bell ringer manually pulled the rope and rang the bell.
(All the American churches that I know of have recorded bell ringing.)
There seemed to be a particular pattern he was after; one of my big questions about Catholic church bell ringing is what the various patterns mean.
I used to work across the street from a Cathedral and I could figure out time related patterns but occasionally bell ringing would just start happening and would ring non-stop for like 15 minutes.
No idea what had happened.

A closer look at the crown.

As you can see, the was a gentle breeze blowing through the town.
The weather was absolutely perfect for me.

During my 1973 Mexican travels we found a shoe shop that sold the BEST leather sandals in every color and design imaginable, for about $4 a pair or so back then.
I bought about five pairs, one was turquoise I remember.
 I wore those sandals for years and years.
For some reason I didn't try on any of these sandals.
Kind of wish I had bought that red pair with the orange flower in the top row.
(I don't do thong sandals anymore after learning how thongs can cause repairable nerve damage to feet...a few friends have experienced that shocking development and I don't want to risk having that happen to me.)

So we were just gawking around, looking in windows and checking out the various shops when a taxi pulled up to the curb and four young women, dressed to kill, piled out and headed in different directions.
I thought maybe they were going to a wedding until they split up.
They all looked so nice for a Saturday afternoon.

I had noticed a few items being hawked at the beach seemed to be from India.
Turned out there was Indian fabric and some metal work...I suppose that says something about Mexico's economy that Indian goods are cheaper than locally made items.
I didn't see anything made in China though.

One shop offered masks, wall art and sculptures created with tiny seed beads.
Those are still locally made I imagine.
Don't you love that blast of color?
I wish I had taken a photo of the silver jewelry shops.
 
 
I restrained myself and only bought a small silver ring with opal insets, a silver bracelet and stud earrings.
The upside of a short trip: One can't spend too much money.
The downside: After  you get home, you wish you had bought more.
Some passed by items are remembered with wistful regrets.
 
(And some items will be remembered as being passed up with laughter.
Banana smuggling wear anyone?
Oh my!)
 

3 comments:

Lorrie said...

Oohing and aahing until the very last photo when I snorted.

Vee said...

You!

Oh I would have been tempted by the same sandals...no flops for me anymore. I have old feet. Well, I suppose the rest of me is old, too.

Beautiful tour!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

You funny girl!

I would have picked a coconut ice-cream bar as well. Raisin? never.

Now I would like to hear more of your 1973 trek through Mexico in a VW van. Interesting, I'm sure!