David next to the tour bus
David and I decided to go on the city tour as we wanted to learn more of the history have a guide tell us what we were actually seeing. We choose a tour called "Tropical & City Tour in Paradise" (with Tropical Adventures company). We picked up the tour in front of our hotel. There was a nice guide, Jun, who quickly told us what the town used to be like before. We drove through the town area and went past the malacon board walk. We didn't stop or even slow down ....... the guide, Jun, told us the history of a few of the sculptures... David and I were very glad we had gotten there the day before or we would have been upset.
The first stop was at the Lady Guadalupe church. It is the beautiful church with the ornate top that is often in the Puerto VAllarta photographs.
I was disappointed to find the church was built in 1951. The steeple is shaped like a crown. It was modeled after the 19th century crown of Empress Carlota who went insane after her husband was executed. We went into a side room of the church and heard some of it's history. A darling elderly man came out with an old black and white 8x10 of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor when they were god parents to a child being christened.. He was in the picture as a young man and was so proud. We took quite a few pictures of the inside of the church from the back although we had been reassured that photos were alright.
The second tour stop was at a jewelry store. We were invited to have free drinks and go upstairs to see the master jewelers at work.
.. Athough they had Squirt margarita type mixes we got a bottle of water each. We had rushed out of the motel and didn't have time for breakfast. We walked up the stairs and saw three young men grinding stones and putting them into ring settings. Hmmmmm ..... where the heck are the master craftsmen and why didn't the junior guys have on safety glasses. We looked at the stations that were empty but they appeared to be staged items (like wax ring molds that had a layer of dust) that were probably not done at this store. We walked back down stairs and stood next to the door. As we stood I looked at rings on a large table.... then I made the fatal mistake.... I picked one up. Instantly a salesman materialized next to me.
... He wanted to tell me all about the masterpiece I picked up..... It seemed to be the most rare one there...Opals. (I have always heard Opals are unlucky unless they are your birthstone-October) I put that one down and picked up another.... another long story about how rare it is and the history of the stones.... I asked the price. $375. That was simply ridiculous for a silver ring. I put it down and continued looking... The saleman moved smoothly with me... talking the whole time..... He was pretty certain I needed a ring. any ring.... right now.... he tried to show me several and wanted me to try them on... His taste was not mine and I was irritated that he was pecking at me like a duck with a june bug.
Looking back at church from across the street
.. I finally stopped looking at them and moved to the other side of the table that had pendants with no chains. ... I looked at several and asked a few prices but found them also insultingly high. I walked back to the rings and picked one up..... He rushed over with a pendant I had been looking at and informed me that I had wanted this pendant and it could be bought with the ring for only $800.00. I started laughing and told him I didn't like the pendant and why did he think that?.... because I picked it up..... (I had picked it up because I thought it looked unbalanced with the stones they had and I wondered why they combined what they combined.... and he had the bad luck to choose that one.....) I told him no thanks and the price began to fall.
... no thanks.....what about two rings.... no, no thanks....Finally I took a quick walk looking for gold jewelry and finally ditched him...
David just stood in one place and watched.... he knows how I hate to be badgered by sales people. I rejoined David and we walked to the side area where it was quieter.... There were a group of pendants there.... I noticed one had a fingerprint on it and shined it on my shirt. I was quite annoyed when a prong from it snagged my Tshirt.... crap...... their merchandise was cheaply made and over priced and we decided to wait outside..... Once outside we spotted a coffee shop across the street.... I ran inside and bought two coffees and a muffin.
yikes.... do you see the guy diving..how did he keep from hitting the rocks...
...... I finished with not a second to spare as the bus was reloading. We were really happy to get the coffee.... ... The muffin was a bit of a pain to split and eat on the moving bus. Thankfully they had given us quite a few napkins.
We next went to the town of Pitillal where we toured the new age church. One of the least favorite things for me in a tour is moving from one point to another in a long line. Of course we parked across the street and made the traffic wait as we ran across to the church. Jun, the tour guide said it is dedicated to a woman and therefore unusual. It was very warm feeling inside. We spent only a few minutes looking at the church and we ran back across the street to the bus (groan.
Wishing you were here...
...)..... some of the people were missing so David and I photographed the park next to the bus. It was very well maintained and appeared to be heavily used by the local families.
The bus trip continued to the area where the Night of the Iguana was filmed. The Night of the Iguana changed Puerto Vallarta as it bought thousands of people to see the area and the stars. We couldn't get close to the filming area and could just see the buildings far off. They are not open to the public. Coincidentally (not!) when we stopped a man had an iguana that he tossed around your neck to photograph for a few pesos....
close up of iguana
Of course I had to do it but David declined. They had the little guy's mouth taped.... I didn't find out until later but I guess I wouldn't have appreciated getting bitten on the nose either.
Our next stop was at a Tequilla factory: Dona Chanita. After hearing about the Agave plant growing and harvesting we were shown how they roast them. The juices are extracted then they are distilled. I am pretty certain it was just a come on and they did not actually have a distillery although there were quite a few stainless steel vats standing around. We were in a semi circle and all of us got small shot glasses. We were told the difference between good and bad Tequilla... They said Jose Cuervo is swill and not drinkable.
... The bottom of the barrel in Mexico. We tried six different tiquella..... six shot glasses full..... and David and I had only had a half muffin for breakfast. Luckily by the 5th one we felt less worried. .... We decided to buy the Chocolate tequilla for ourselves and for Ray's birthday. We stood in line and finally got to buy two bubble wrapped bottles marked with a "c" for chocolate. (All of them were wrapped except for the display ones>>>) I closely questioned to make certain it was chocolate and happily paid the 30 dollars.... **** Here's the part that stinks..... when we got home we found out they sold us Licor de Cafe.
.... we were really unhappy because we can buy Kahlua anywhere!!! Do not buy the products at these places unless you can see the label. (our new rule for ourselves.....) ......... but we did not know until we got home so it's waaaaay too late for us. ***** so .... back to our story.... we used the restroom and took a few more pictures then we loaded up and headed to lunch....
We went to Chico's for lunch. David and I sat on the balcony and looked down at the little boys swimming next to a waterfall and some huge rocks... It was such a lovely setting for a meal. We ordered beers and lunch .... An amazing young man did several dives that were seemingly impossible from the rocks.
... The last one he did blind folded.... yikes. It stopped my heart to see him flying blind out over the rocks... then... He trucked up to the restaurant and walked around dripping wet and spoke to people collecting tips. What he lacked in English he made up for with charm and smiles. We thought he might make about $20 on a slow day and maybe $100 on a good day. We gave him a couple of dollars then tried to figure out how much he averaged... It was a good living but very dependant on the weather and river conditions.
We loaded up again and headed back to town. The driver was definately a taxi driver in his past jobs... Once a Taxi driver = always a taxi driver!!!.
a little town we lumbered through
we were flying around the curves on the way back..... yikes.....No wonder he has a St Christopher on the dash.... We arrived safely back in Puerto Vallarta... and... We tipped the driver and the guide and got dropped off at our motel again.... Although we are not wild about tours it is certainly one way to see everything... As tours go this was not too bad.