I got a good night’s sleep despite the presence of a chirping gecko on the wall of my bedroom (I think it was trying to sell me car insurance). I woke up, had a breakfast of bananas, tortillas and 14 kilos of sugar, and set out for a morning run along the malecón. There were a few other runners out in the morning, and I did about 25 minutes before running out of smooth concrete. The cobblestone streets here are seriously, aggressively cobblestoned. I tried running a half block on the street and found it more dangerous than trampoline dodgeball.
Returning home back up the hill (I have a habit of staying in places on hills — I like views), I took a shower in the condo’s semi-open-air shower (i.e. it has windows, so you can choose between privacy and “Hey, Mexico, meet my penis!”) and then put in a good day’s work. Once again I’m taking a working vacation, and thanks to the magic of the Internet and Skype I’m fairly sure that half people in my morning phone conference were unaware that I was calling from south of the border. Technology is grand.
After work (and the requisite siesta) I went out to explore the malecón at night. It was jam-packed with people. Some tourists, yes, but mostly Mexicans, both locals and tourists. Thousands of people stretched out over the mile and a half, plus food vendors at every stretch, children playing tag, lovers sitting on the benches overlooking the ocean and large bats swooping down occasionally for bugs.
After about a 10 minute walk I reached the main square near downtown. Here there were many street performers, mimes, human statues, hawkers, ice cream carts and locals selling artwork. It’s a giant carnival atmosphere. The downtown main plaza is filled with booths selling food and jewelry, crafts booths for kids and sugar as far as the eye can see.
This was also the last night of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival, which Puerto Vallarta celebrates every year from December 1-12, so downtown was extra-packed with people in a lengthy parade to the Our Lady of Guadalupe cathedral. There is singing and floats and tubas and every time a new group reaches the cathedral the bells ring. It’s a quite the hootenanny.
Directly across from the cathedral, there’s an amphitheater where each night a different cultural act performs. I saw a mime who used an audience volunteer in an hilarious motorcycle riding act, a fantastic mariachi band and a group of traditional dancers. I’m pretty sure if I go back every night I will see something new every time. Awesome!
I finished the evening by eating five tacos from a street vendor. They have a giant chunk of meat on a vertical spit, and a pineapple above that, all roasting on coals. When you place your order they heat tortillas on a grill, then slice off meat and pineapple onto the tortillas. If you order them “con todo” you get onion and cilantro, and then you can add hot sauce, radish, cucumber and lime to taste. Total price for five tacos: $3.61.
So morning walks, evening arts and taco time, and daytimes with warm ocean breezes, sitting on the patio overlooking the ocean. I could get used to this. I leave you for tonight with a giant sand sculpture, one of many alone the malecón.