A Day at the Beach in Puerto Vallarta's Past

For more than a hundred years, tourists have been making the journey to the beaches of Puerto Vallarta. Very few things have changed; sunshine and ocean; vendors selling goods; beachcombing and swimming; fish on a stick.
Pilgrimages from the mountain towns of Mascota, Ameca, Talpa and San Sebastian arrived in Puerto Vallarta in convoys of horses and mules. They brought every imaginable item they thought they might need for their stay: tents; cots; chests full of clothes; supplies for cooking; a retinue of maids, housemen and extra hands. The journey was a minimum of two days and travelers went straight to the beach and set up their home-away-from-home.
Olas Altas and Los Muertos Beaches were main destinations, as it remains to this day. A century ago, women dressed much differently upon their arrival to the seaside. Lengthy circular dresses of fine Dutch linen were accented by short matching capes draped over their shoulders. Wide brimmed hats protected faces and throats. Imagine trying to keep cool in such garb! Bathing suits covered more than they revealed; tunics came down to the knees and elbows for both men and women. Ladies costumes were topped by chic, colorful swim caps.
Saddles and packsacks were adorned with silver embroidery and precious metals. In high style, they ventured into Puerto Vallarta through mango orchards and carefully rode their mounts across the river, where a small resort called Posada de La Selva (Jungle Inn) welcomed adventuresome guests. This area was home to more than one incarnation and eventually became the location of Molina de Agua (the watermill).
The air was scented with coquito pits, roasting fish on sticks and manzanillo (chamomile) trees that afforded plenty of shade. Lunch might consist of fresh-made tortillas and salsa to accompany the delectable fresh seafood.
After sunset, wishes were made on the green ray that often flashed on the horizon as the big red orb slipped away. Then the music would begin. Young men serenaded prospective girl friends/wives in the main square and girls would stroll in their summer dresses, arm in arm, vying for the attention of handsome boys, also dressed in their very best. On Sundays, an orchestra performed in the gazebo, just as it does today. Mariachi bands gave way to dancing with joyous music and sometimes produced a fury of gunfire, shot in the air, to show off manliness.
One popular musical group of the time was called Tres Ojos (Three Eyes) and consisted of three musicians. Melquiades was blind, Pancho was missing an eye and Prudencio was fully sighted. Tres Ojos has been replaced by Bambinos and other minstrels; swim suits have left little to the imagination but much remains the same on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.
Que es cómo es.

Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!

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