Living La Vida Local

 Yes, Love ones, we are living La Vida Local WooHoo!

liz-and-dick.jpgI have been to PV 3 times in the past – once as a 19 year old, the guest of my father. Otherwise known as “Champage Charlie”, every time he had a few bob jingling in his pocket he would think of reckless and extravagant ways to spend them. One such folly was a trip from Australia to Mexico. It was the early 70′s and Liz and Dick were probably in town, ensconced in their love nest in the area known as “Gringo Gulch”. All I can remember about the glamorous house he rented is that it came with a maid and a pool. The other two visits involved children, spring break and decisions I had little control over…where we stayed (large American hotels with tepid pools of chlorinated water and water slides) where we ate (think Tex-Mex)and what we did (keep kids happy stuff); these were holidays I survived but did not embrace and one of the reasons I now set off on my own weird, solitary adventures. On this trip, meandering off on my own, aided by some local knowledge from friends and people I have met, I have fallen in love with Vallarta.

Sitting in a restaurant perched high on a hill overlooking the glittering town, our full harbor view marred by a concrete monstrosity, Big Daddy asked the waiter if it was a hotel. “No Senor, eez condoms”!

002_640_x_480.jpgWe are staying in a condom on the glorious playa Punta Negra (which locals assure us is the best beach on the Bay) about 15 minutes south of town. It is owned by friends who have crafted a charming Mexican retreat. We have established our routines. While Big Daddy works on his laptop in the morning, I have my morning ocean swim and later my afternoon ocean swim; I share the beach with a flock of hungry Pelicans and a few skillful fishermen. I catch the local bus into town (an adventure in itself) seeking a caffeine fix at Dee’s where the coffee is at least better than Starbucks, and then I walk.

002_640_x_480_640_x_480.jpgI discovered the local fish market where we have our choice of abundance – Sea Bass, jumbo prawns, Mahi Mahi all for about $10 a kilo, as well as the farmers market where we stock up on limes for the margarita’s and avocados for the guacamole.

005_640_x_480.jpgI have the local cemetery, mainly because I got hopelessly lost one day but it was a curious, visual treat.

012_640_x_480-2.jpgI even happened upon the very bridge, a copy of Venice’s Rialto, where Liz and Dick would scurry between their respective hangouts to avoid killing each other with misdirected passion. It is now being renovated and absorbed into the incredible beautiful compound that is the Hacienda San Angels.

034_640_x_480.jpg I found my favorite neighborhood and my favorite house, Quinta Maria Cortes. Rooms are available for rent so the concierge showed me around. Every room felt like you were visiting the private home of a wealthy Mexican artist. It is a time worn treasure and I felt sure it had some stories to tell. I mentioned it to Peggy (my friend and Innkeeper) and sure enough we are connected, that crazy place and I, by one degree of separation. Peggy knew it well and told me this……

“Quinta Maria Cortez was owned by a wild Texan woman named Silver with a small rose tattoo on her earlobe. She wore diaphanous garments and floated around Vallarta for years with an entourage of eccentric friends. Rumors swirled of hauntings by a husband long passed, buried under the cross monument on the terrace. All the rooms were uniquely decorated in the gothic/mexican/hippie style that was Silver. She always had young men around and entertained the locals and bright young things in her atmospheric salon draped in mosquito nets and Indian shawls. I remember lots of statuary of saints and likely sinners too! When Silver was out of town she had me look after Quinta Maria Cortez. One time our secret guest was Raquel Welch. I was sent to pick her up at the airport and install her in her choice of suites. It was off season and I showed her each of the 5 or 6 different apartments, some with kitchens, a chapel, outdoor showers or my favorite, the green tiled Moroccan themed room which opened right onto the beach. Alas, she wasn’t happy in this strange and wonderful house and instead was scooped up by the local playboy doctor and whisked away to his generic abode. The Quinta wasn’t everyone’s taste with it’s dark and mysterious vibe of tiny stairwells and hidden rooftop terraces. Eventually, in the late 80′s when Silver could no longer maintain the property, it was bought and redone for a more mainstream clientele but still, fortunately retains some of its quirky aura today.”

q1_640_x_480.jpgThe crazy place, now seen from the beachfront, cascades down the bank about 7 levels….

q2_640_x_480.jpgone of which houses the pool…

quinta_640_x_480.jpg all of which have secret nooks and balconies with views of the beach…dreamy little Quita Maria……

Hiking in Heaven

bolg.jpgI have made a local friend, thanks to the generous heart of someone in Vancouver who connected us. (Thanks Janice) Barb revolutionized the fitness world of Vancouver back in the 80′s and now lives an idyllic life in PV for 6 months of the year. She included me in her regular Thursday hiking group and we walked from Boca de Tomatlan (about 16k south of PV) to Las Animas beach which is only accessible by boat (or hike). We caught the local bus to Boca, found the trial head near this creek and set out.

021_640_x_480.jpgThe trail meandered along the shoreline at times…

hike.JPGwith some more challenging moments crossing gullies..

020_640_x_480.jpgBut on the whole the trail was very well maintained..

024_640_x_480.jpgwe walked…

031_640_x_480.jpgand walked..

water-taxi.jpguntil we found the little seaside village that is only accessible by boat and caught one back to town.

038_640_x_480-2.jpgThere is a vibrant ex-pat community here and it is always interesting to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lifestyles of people who actually live in a tourist destination. On one of my long walks exploring the residential areas of PV I happened upon a street, high above the noise and hype of the Malacon, where the stately residential architecture could have been from any number of European towns….

016_640_x_480-2.jpgExcept of course some of them are painted “Mexican colors”.

barbs.jpgLittle did I know that night I would be invited to dinner in one of those very homes.


023_640_x_480.jpgFor nightlife, we do exactly what the locals do too – we sip Margarita’s and feast on seafood on our deck, listen to the music of the waves crashing and watch the theater of the sunset which explodes off the mountaintop..

053_640_x_480.jpgstreaks across the bay

056_640_x_480.jpgand gently fades…and when that is over


13 Responses

  1. suzy birstein Says:

    absolutely stunning and inspirational!!
    gorgeous photos.
    i LOVE reading about your adventures!

  2. suzy birstein Says:

    It would be so amazing to have you join us in Skopelos, Greece for “Mytho Muse” ceramics workshop, this September!!

  3. To The Max Says:

    Wow Peg – I want to be just like you (and Barb) when I grow up! XO Janice

  4. Bob Hodgkinson Says:

    Good for you to weave such a romantic thread. Hope you two are having a ball.
    Have a few friends that have stayed at the beach at the end of your walk. They still talk about it.
    Do travel to the north end of Banderos Bay to Punta Mita. Not the eclectic charm of your photos but visually exciting. And of course you are on the edge of the Cost Alegra (sp). Think you need to have lunch and a swim at El Careyes.


  5. Peggy Says:

    You make that Paradise your own!

  6. Ruth Says:

    Thanks Peg, for the glorious peek inside your world. You just expanded my love of Mexico.

    We will miss you as we cross planes, and catch up in March. Love, Ruth

  7. Rachel Says:

    Fantastic!! You need to do one of these on Kerala! R:)

  8. To The Max Says:

    What a lovely treat to receive this morning – thanks so much for the escape and the fabulous pictures! I really enjoy your postings…you are a natural writer.
    Diane F

  9. To The Max Says:

    Did you say you were “living in a condom”? What exactly is that like? Jim

  10. Netty Says:

    Hey Peggles – looks and sounds divine – love the architecture – good to know you are having such a wonderful time – much of the Mex embroidery that Mum bought still around ?

  11. Ted Lederer Says:

    Doesn’t Liz look gorgeous? When thinking of her (and more importantly my own missed steps) the last few lines of Shelly’s Ozymandias come to mind
    “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

    Peggy, continue to prove the cynics wrong.


  12. To The Max Says:

    What a gorgeous blog!!! I was feeling a bit depressed by weather and my injured back and this made me a bit envious but it was soooo beautiful that it cheered me up.



  13. Brillante Says:

    When I did visit Liz house I could feel their presence, what an enchanting place. I can see you are making the most of this holiday and enjoying every minute of it. Go Peg go…wish you were here, no just a second…wish I was there! Besos.

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