When we first arrived in Puerto Vallarta, our destination for groceries (and many other things) was Gutiérrez Rizo. If Rizo didn’t have it, you didn’t need it! Rizo, located in the heart of Old Town, had two levels with a broad staircase in the center of the store that allowed one to climb partway and peer throughout almost the entire lower floor to see if you could find that item on your list that seem to be hidden from sight. At the bottom of the stairs racks of magazines lured English readers who were often disappointed to find that People Magazine was published in Spanish and they wouldn’t recognize a single photo.
The ATM machine at the front of the store was occasionally reliable and if it ate your card, you could come back the next day, meet with the owner in the office just inside the entrance and she would return it, if you could properly identify yourself.
Upstairs were aisles stuffed with sundries and dry goods, hodgepodge, odds and ends. A toy section at Christmas overflowed with dolls, trucks, games, beach pails and an abundance of playthings that often became shopworn from children sampling the wares while their parents stood in line at the deli below, ordering fresh ham, bacon, cheese and cold cuts.
We recall the rich scent of freshly delivered local oranges; bins of chiles of all shapes, sizes and colors; and melting ice cream in a freezer that could never quite keep up with the exterior heat.
The skeleton structure that was a beloved shopping location for locals and many visitors alike, has sat empty for years, gossip swirling, creating a misty beachside graveyard, strewn with soggy cardboard, collapsing shelves and imaginative chitchat.
Jokingly referred to as “jungle drums,” rumors consistently raise hopes about a new supermarket to take the place of the long gone treasured Rizo. Just as easily those same hopes are stifled when social media raises questions about high rise condos in different stages of development. The drums beat out the sound of plans and permits at City Hall, with little determined or confirmed.
Crossing the river on the suspended foot bridge, picking up tortillas from the tortillaria at the corner and shopping at Rizo were followed by grabbing ice cold Modelos across the street and hailing a taxi back home. Slowly the area is changing, growing more modern and reaching high into the sky.
The people, however, are still there; the Mexicans, the ex-pats, the tourists; none of that has changed. After all, someone has to beat the drums.
Que es cómo es.
Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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