Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - One of the joys of living here is that I get to take folks on walks around town to show them sights, sounds, and smells they may not find on their own.
The south side of the Rio Cuale, known as Colonia Emiliano Zapata, is a delightful mixture of small family businesses, residences, and restaurants and is the second largest Colonia, or neighborhood, in all of Vallarta. It also has the most diverse population and lifestyle choices of any other area in the city. Walking around here is a delight for the senses as you are immersed in the colorful local culture.
We begin on the Rio Cuale Island at the statue of John Huston, director of the famous movie "Night of the Iguana," released in 1964. History and stories are part of this walk as we continue over the swinging pedestrian bridge into the South side, with a stop at the renovated home, now a B&B, of Silver, famous socialite and party girl from the 1970's. Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets you will notice a number of specialty services offered from local homes... seamstress, computer repairs, eateries, grocery stores, etc.
We next arrive at the large bustling Municipal Market where it is the custom among Mexican families to shop daily for the freshest of meats, fish, produce, and of course tortillas! Watch the butcher prepare meat, the juice lady squeeze fresh pineapple, or select various dried beans, seeds, and herbs from the cereal and seed store. Enjoy the "chicken lady" as she deftly wields her cleaver to custom cut your chicken. Taste a tortilla hot off the tortilla-making machine.
Continuing along the way, you will see the Colonia's Santa Cruz Church with its stunning wooden alter; taco stands that come alive at night with lights, smells of grilled meat and onions, and lots of people craving a midnight snack; the leather store where clothes and purses, belts and boots are created from hides of cow and sheep; the largest ceramic shop in all of Banderas Bay, where you can watch artists carefully hand-painting tiles, plates, bowls, sinks and vases, before firing in the large kilns; a soap store where the smell of herbs and essential oils fills the air as the owners "cook" their next batch of soaps. We end at the art gallery of well-known artist Kathleen Carrillo next to Banderas Bay Trading where you will find antiques and old-world curios that represent the lives and artisans of Mexico.
Come join me for one of my eight different Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours. See more stories and photos of local culture at YourCulturalInsider.com. Contact me at sandra.learn.vallarta(at)gmail.com.
Sandra Cesca has lived in Puerto Vallarta for 11 years. She is a cultural tour guide with her own small business: Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours. She is also a cultural photographer and writer whose work can be found on Your Cultural Insider and Sandra Cesca Photography. Contact her: sandra.learn.vallarta(at)gmail.com.