The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta
There is something about this photograph that summons up the feeling I get when I am inside a church. Sometimes I enjoy going to a service but mostly I like the silence of an almost empty sanctuary. On this hot day in Puerto Vallarta, it truly was refuge from the busy resort. The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is not a cathedral although it is often called such. Perhaps it is because of the beautiful baroque crown that is said to be a replica of Empress Carlota of Mexico’s crown.
I was utterly fascinated by Empress Carlota whose existence was unknown to me. Napoleon wanted a figurehead for Mexico – Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Emperor Maximilian married Empress Carlota (Charlotte of Belgium) in Mexico City 1864. This is a link to the Wikipedia page about the Empress which is an almost fantastical tale of the brief influence of France on Mexico.
church side door
Mexico has held me fascinated since I discovered that many generations of my Ortega family lived in various states of Mexico. Until recently I didn’t think I had any connection to the state of Jalisco (in which Puerto Vallarta is) until I found an ancestor on Familysearch, Felipe de Jesús Quintero Rosas who was born in Poncitlàn in the late 1600s. Don’t Spanish names sound so romantic? I now regret my haste to get rid of mine when I married. I so longed for an ordinary Scottish name so I could blend in. Only as you mature, do you realize how important your uniqueness is.
When I moved back to the USA over a decade ago, I was slightly surprised that there were so many Spanish speaking Protestant/Evangelical churches in Texas. Somehow I thought they would all be Roman Catholic. This car in Puerto Vallarta amused me…😇
One of the best aspects of the Hacienda Escondida, where I stayed in at Puerto Vallarta, was that it was a short distance from the river leading down to the beach. My zodiac sign is Cancer and despite my fear of deep water/small boats, I just need to be around water. Ponds, rivers, lakes or the sea – they all make me happy. The first morning, I got up early and wandered up to the bridge crossing the river. It was too early for tourists so I met many of the local people coming from the hillside down into the town to open shops and start work. On the first trip, I felt there was a distance between the locals and tourists but perhaps it was all in my panic stricken head. I greeted everyone I met with Buenos Dias and received such smiles and responses. In Texas I live in a town that attracts tourists and sometimes we get irritated with their presence but they bring in tax dollars…
Puerto Vallarta is flooded with natural beauty and it seems to encourage marvelous creativity. The outhouses above were located on the river bank. I liked this Maya/Aztec mural on a riverside building?
Maya Mural and dog
It was blissfully quiet early in the morning and enjoyed having most of the river to myself, with a few friends.
Egret on rock, heron in water
I guess they were lucky that the cat was looking for smaller prey.
Eventually I reached another road bridge where I admired this lovely cafe which was serving breakfast.
I finally reached a culvert at the end of the river and there was a mermaid!
Mexican Naval Eye Candy
Well, I have met some handsome naval guys during my life but this gorgeous specimen
took my breath away caught my eye. Can you hear the low cougar purr as I admired this young cub? He was standing outside the Naval Museum in Puerto Vallarta to draw in cougars, kittens and the large gay population of the town. Well, I assume that… Just like my mum would, I went straight up to him and starting talking to him. My mum, who had a thing for Hispanic men, would have fainted. He was charming, articulate with perfect English. He told me all about the museum but I wasn’t really listening.
Eventually, I did go into the Museo Histórico Naval de Puerto Vallarta (The Naval Museum) and what a revelation it was. It was small but beautifully created. The naval history of Mexico was quite fascinating from Conquistadors to current life. All the staff was enlisted naval personnel and it struck me that this was an excellent job in an area that had limited opportunities for young people. It was situated right on the promenade so you couldn’t miss it.
Stained glass ship
The piece de resistance was this amazing stained glass artifact in the coffee shop. What I couldn’t photograph was the light display on the ceiling which was a constellation. Wow! The coffee was also the best I had tasted in Puerto Vallarta. I was curious as to why it wasn’t busier but not all the naval staff had much English. How hard is it to ask for “Un cafe latte, por favor?” It amazes me that English speaking tourists travel all over the world without even a phrase book. On occasion I have had to resort to clucking like a chicken in restaurants but at least I try…🐔
As I sat in this beautiful coffee shop, looking at the sea, I pondered my Mexican ancestors and hoped that they were proud that their ‘grand-daughter’ was determined to visit one of my homelands and understand how amazing they were. I also realized how lucky I was to have the ability to travel the world.
Having been a nanny and no progeny, usually children are the last thing I want to see on vacation. This little cutie, in her plaid Catholic school uniform, just stole my heart. I really wanted to take her home with me but I think that is technically kidnapping… 😎 She was utterly oblivious of the busy sidewalk around her, totally focused on her drawing book. There is a beautiful Catholic cathedral in Puerto Vallarta with a school alongside it. The memory of Catholic school sometimes fills my heart with terror (don’t mention Jesuits…) but this brought back some unexpectedly happy memories. Every time I smell a fresh leather bag, I am taken back to my new leather satchel and first day of school.
Estuary meets the sea
As I wandered down the river to the sea, there were children playing along the edge of the river or swimming in it. There was a market for local vendors on an island in the middle of the river and I think the children above might have been one of the vendor’s children or perhaps a shell fisherman that I saw not far from them. They were perfectly happy playing by themselves with a bucket/tin and sand. Big sister was in charge. I was curious as to why they were on the estuary not the beach but perhaps it was for safety or the sand made better castles?
Church of our Lady of Guadalupe
I was trying to take some more shots of the cathedral when I spotted this little girl sitting like a pixie. I think her Dad was watching me protectively. Puerto Vallarta should be very proud of their lovely children.
A pod of pelicans
Just after Thanksgiving last year, Teddy and I went on a lovely trip to Puerto Vallarta…except it wasn’t. What I didn’t reveal is what really transpired. We have been seriously considering a retirement move to Mexico because of the cost of health care in the US. Our first trip was to Baja – wonderful but some current cartel problems in the state. Puerto Vallarta always seemed like a low possibility because it is a tourism town but it also has very good medical facilities and is safe. Nonetheless we were looking forward to a vacation. The first problem was at customs where the officers wanted to look inside the Pelican case containing photography equipment. Silly Teddy had locked it but didn’t tell Bunny the combination… One was a little brusque but generally they were just doing their job. When we left Customs the timeshare people attacked… sigh.
Art at the beach
Our driver from the hotel was waiting for us (wondering why there was a delay) and things got much better. We arrived at the Hacienda which was utterly beautiful in the heart of the old town. It was surprisingly ‘real’, busy with buses taking workers in and out of the city. The cobbled streets amplified the noise of the traffic, open market and other businesses. It was a short walk to a beautiful beach and we had a lovely lunch with perhaps too many margaritas. There was a water feature running into the pool next to our room (the noise was making me anxious) and something just clicked in my brain. A panic attack was starting and Teddy had gone off for a couple of hours. By the time he came back it was fully fledged panic attack and I HAD TO GO HOME! This happened once before in Scotland and I seem to have no control over it.
After much reflection, I think there was just too much riding on this trip and I would really prefer to stay at our home in Texas if we can afford it (and we likely can). In February I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Vallarta on a solo trip and this time it was so much better – Mexico, take two. I could even envision a partial retirement there, if needs must. I stayed at the same Hacienda where I made some new friends and got to know my host a little better. They have many repeat guests who enjoy the familiarity of a real home from home. Within moments of entering my guest room, I tripped and twisted my ankle. WTF? Are the Gods out to get me??? Fortunately, I had been practicing my Farmacia Spanish and I strapped it up. More posts to come with some wonderful photographs.
Isn’t he handsome – a perfect choice for Khaleesi! He was a few feet long and gorging on the Tamarind fruits that you can see next to him (and falling out of his mouth). If we turned up the hill leaving Hacienda Escondida, we headed towards a more local area with the river dissecting the two areas. It was a haven for wildlife – and they were all new to us!!!
Rivera del Rio
There is a bathing area and we saw local children having fun swimming in the river. The bridge across was the major route from the hillside down to the south side of the Old Town of Puerto Vallarta. If you stay at a resort, you will miss all of this, including a wonderful fresh market. I was told that despite the cobbled streets, the water from the taps was safe to drink. I drank it and it tasted good.
I think this is just a plain old Grackle, above, but I love his silhouette against the trees and hills. I don’t know the name of this little yellow bird, also enjoying tamarind fruit, but he was as little as the iguana was big.
Tiny little yellow bird
Simple Mural at Rivera del Rio
It wouldn’t be a travel blog from Kerry without a church – ‘Nana, I hope you are proud of me!’ The church was celebrating mass when we took this shot but were able to go into the side chapel at anytime to pray. One of the local street vendors showed us where to go. I said my usual prayers but there were no candles to light. My favorite part of this shot was the parking stances with the crosses on them. Who would DARE park there?? I can see the lightning bolt now…
The church was not far from the beach and I loved this shot of the vendors on the beach. Those skewers looked really tasty.
This was a typical view of the streets of Zona Romantica – wealthy tourists in a real town. You could see that local people really benefited from the tourist money and many traveled down in local buses from the hills to come to work.
Autoshop and Taco Stand
I love everything about this shot, close to the river. There is your local family car autoshop and next door a taco stand that has rainbow flags to indicate it is gay friendly. What a fantastic place!
Los Muertos Pier
Our Hacienda was located in the Zona Romantica and this beautiful pier was just a short walk down the hill to the beach. The sands are almost white despite how they look in this shot. I liked this area because you could see locals along with tourists enjoying the beaches which are all public. Shouldn’t all beaches be public??? As you approach Puerto Vallarta by air you can see dense jungle and hillsides and suddenly the most beautiful coastline much of which is taken up by resorts.
The view right outside the Hacienda
I love this shot – it takes me straight back to Cairo. Cobbled streets, flags across the street. It was a curious mixture of a wool shop here, a gay nightclub there, beautiful small hotels, street food and exquisite small restaurants. The mixture was tantalizing. When I chose the Hacienda, I noticed it was aimed at the gay community but welcomed straight folks. Even more intriguing… When I researched the area, the guides said it was particularly safe, with a strong police presence. Teddy and I went out to a lovely little restaurant called Casa Naranjo. I think we were the only straight couple there but we were all the same age. My appetite had disappeared and the host went out of his way to cook some mashed potatoes and also some buttered home-made pasta just for me.
Isn’t there always a little yellow dog wherever you visit? There were many in Cairo and Istanbul. This one resided at a restaurant and was well cared for.
Teddy and the cat
…and then there are the cats. This one was not a stray as you can see from her lovely red collar. She looked just like Katniss.
Teddy and Bunny with funny hats
Her real name is Polydamus Swallowtail – not a variety we see in Texas. We were intrigued that most of the flowers and bushes were the same as we have in the sub-tropics but much more lush. I buy my plants from a nursery and the owners come from Guadalajara and for some reason, they never die. It helps that they are actually grown just a few miles from my home.
Band celled sister
Isn’t this one a beauty. We get a similar zebra stripe in Texas but it is so exciting to see new varieties.
I had to put in a shot of a Ponsettia – it was Mexico and Feliz Navidad! The chili peppers below were just so tempting…
One final shot of Miss Julia Heliconian, wearing a beautiful yellow outfit. I have that little coral bush in my garden but it very rarely flowers.