Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Papantla Flyers

We stumbled upon these guys on the Malecon in P.V. We had no clue who they were and had to wait til we got back home and had Internet access to find out. I refer you to another website that tells the whole story. In a nutshell, it was a religious rite performed to deliver a message to the god of fertility. Later, it was camouflaged as sport so that the Spaniards would not punish the participants or banish the practice.
With each revolution around the pole, the rope would feed out and the upside down twirlers would be lower to the ground by another few feet. The gentleman at the top of the pole would beat his drum and blow his flute as the twirlers descended. Very puzzling if you didn't know the reason. When they reached the beach, they stood around for awhile, I imagine to get rid of any dizziness, then they climbed the pole, retracted their ropes, and did it again. Amazing.

In this picture, the gentleman on the far left has just inverted himself and gotten ready to touch down.

Friday, March 19, 2010

We Shall Return

This was the view from our condo in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, where we spent the past couple of weeks. Our place overlooked the old part of town, known as the Zona Romantica, an area of shops, restaurants and hotels and condos. The weather was beautiful, warm with a cooling breeze, not at all hot and almost the same temperature day and night. A nice change from frigid Colorado where we missed out on a major winter storm. Off to the right side of the photo is a church tower that I mistakenly thought was quite old, but was actually built in the 50's. And therein lies the problem with Puerto Vallarta. It's really too new to be truly interesting.
But of course the major attraction is the sea and the beach, and they were beautiful. The waves crashed noisily but the area was not really good for surfing. It was great for sunbathing and relaxing, ordering beers from the seaside restaurants and watching the tourists go by. P.V. is loaded with tourists from the U.S. and Canada, and even though spring break was on, the bulk of the tourists are quite old, 60 and up. The other thing to note was that there was no shortage of gringos. Someone told us that upwards of 65,000 gringos were in P.V. at any give time between November and April, which accounts for about one third of the population. Many of them were full-time or seasonal residents, resulting in the overwhelming prevalence of English being spoken everywhere a tourist buck was being made. The patrons at the restaurants spoke English because they were generally Canadian or American, and the waiters spoke English because of the overwhelming number of gringos. Tourists were everywhere, on the bus, in the shops, walking the malecon, sitting on the beach and it would not be an exaggeration to say you heard more English spoken than Spanish. The menus, magazines, signs and advertising, were in English,... or both me new found respect for the French and their reluctance to prostitute themselves and their language for the almighty dollar.
The Malecon is a walkway that stretches for several miles along the beach and at times there is a roadway between the beach and the commercial strip, and at other times nothing separated the beach from the restaurants and condos.Along the beach were hundreds of Mexicans trying to make a buck. Some sold trinkets, souvenirs, silver, hats, sunglasses, food and everything a tourist on the beach could ever desire. Others did sand sculptures for a small donation. Still others did amazing feats of skill, and I'll post pictures of that in a later post. The guys doing sand sculptures hauled tons of sand and seawater, used shovels, rakes, trowels and buckets, and made some interesting sand creations.

And one enterprising gentleman made himself into a sculpture. Somehow he coated his clothing and skin with sand and stood stock-still until an unsuspecting tourist stood next to him having their picture taken, assuming he was just another sculpture. And then he would begin to move, scaring the bejusus out of the goofy tourists.

We got a lot of enjoyment out of watching the pelicans. They were very comical, sitting on the boats, or standing on the beach. But they were excellent fishers, diving from above and almost always coming up with a small fish to theatrically swallow down their long necks.
We'll post more thoughts and pictures about our trip a little later, and possibly some thoughts about the differences travelling in Mexico versus France.