Wow ! There must be another Puerto Vallarta, a different one to the town I’ve lived in for the past 8 years or so !? Ex-pat Yorkshireman here, living literally 5 minutes drive from Dreams, the all-inclusive hotel Graeme stayed in. Yes, Dreams has a high level of security, but so do all/any of the better hotels, especially when located outside the town boundary on an un-lit section of the coastal highway. That security also ensures that itinerant holidaymakers simply do not wander into what is after all a very upmarket resort hotel, trying to use its facilities.
“It (the downtown) looks to be a rough place….” The Zona Romantica abounds with international quality restaurants and bars, many of which would do credit to places back home, but at a fraction of the cost. On the 15th May we will be celebrating the start of the 10th annual Restaurant Week (it’s actually a fortnight!) when businesses throughout PV stage special menus at fractions of the usual cost, attracting many visitors from afar. In November we will see the 20th annual International Gourmet Festival, when over 30 guest master chefs from around the world take over the kitchens in various established restaurants sharing their talents, secrets and techniques for the benefit of returning diners year after year.
The number of art galleries in PV is legion, and the South Side Shuffle, where the downtown área in the evenings becomes a mecca for visitors mingling with wandering musicians, thronging into the many galleries, many of them offering wine and canapes, and has become an institution in this multi-cultural city.The city opened a new 1,000 seater theatre a couple o fyears ago, wjich has seen performances by touring European opera and ballet companies amongst others, while there are several other stage venues now offering a plethora of live performing arts. Oh, I should also mention there was almost a riot here when Enrique Iglesias (THE Enrique) performed FREE concert here on the Malecón to accompany his friend Alejandro Fernández, another internationally acclaimed artist. (this pair of old fogies got within half a mile of the venue, saw the crowds, and went home for another G & T on the balcony!).
“The Mexicans live in poverty for the most part……” Yes there is poverty here as in many many countries, but the reference to an average wage here in PV of $5USD per day is highly erroneous. In one of Mexico’s main coastal tourist towns (such as PV), one of the most common forms of work for women is to be a maid, either in hotels or working for property management companies who look after the homes here of ex-pat gringos. The wage per sessión is around $200 pesos ($16usd), and a decent maid can clean 2 or 3 condos in a day – we know of maids who are taking home $2,000 pesos per week ($160 usd) and are VERY happy with that, especially if their kids are also bringing in that level of income. In addition their employers also pay social security for them, ensuring they have access to health care and medication when required.
“The drug trade is huge…..” – yes ilegal drugs are on sale here, but it is no more overt than in any major town or city in the UK from what I read in the “home” press…..and “yes” there HAVE been killings, notably of North Americans, but in each case it was later disclosed that these folk had been attempting to muscle in on the dealing scene here (and for “here” I mean Mexico at large, as at least 2 of the reported killings a couple of years ago were of Canadians in the Yucatán on the east coast,). My drug of choice is a G & T (which may be my demise ahead of what other folk prefer to ingest), but quaffing a Tanqueray and tonic on the balcony as the sun goes down is what retirement is surely about (?!). I do however watch closely what goes on around me, and the cartel problems one reads of in relation to Mexico are to be found well away from Puerto Vallarta.
In conclusión, if you DO indeed pay a return visit Graeme – look me up mate, and I’d be pleased to show you the REAL Puerto Vallarta !!