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Pitillal Centro

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Twenty minutes northeast of Puerto Vallarta lies the cowboy town of Pitillal founded in 1872. Here you will see some of the finest leather goods, hats, boots, and buckles, as well as the local feed store where 100 pound sacks of oats, corn and alfalfa are custom mixed with the local molasses. This town has a delightful array of goods and services at incredible prices. Many come from far and wide to find the variety and bargains Pitillal is known for.

Your walking tour begins at the Saint Michael the Archangel Church, built in 1977 and housing a unique wood sculpture of the ascending Christ carved from a single tree trunk. Your guide will continue to lead you through the bustling streets of town, stopping at many workshops, specialty stores and markets. You will see the juice lady who, with her five extractors, will sell you a refreshing mixture of your choosing and the coconut seller where the swift cut of her machete will reveal fresh coconut meat and a cool sweet liquid. The sugar cane shop with its hand-cranked press will fascinate you as the long, green stalk is fed through the gears for juice and the making of molasses.

Next stroll through the produce and fresh fish markets where you will see unusual fruits and vegetables indigenous to Mexico. The pungent smell of cowhide will pull you into the leather shop where your huaraches can be made to order. The medicinal herb shop has an overwhelming number of glass jars and bins where you can select every dried herb and spice imaginable, including some used by elder shamans for mixing lotions and potions made according to age-old recipes for curing numerous physical and mental conditions.

Save time for some artisanal ice cream made by Francisco and his hand-cranked canisters submerged in ice just like grandma used to make. Flavors change daily from good old vanilla made from locally grown vanilla beans to pineapple basil, guava, coconut and on occasion, even tequila ice cream.

The advantage of visiting Pitillal on a walking tour is that you stroll at your own pace past family-run businesses while your guide explains the many creative products, how they are made, and, where possible, introduce you to the shop owner or artisan who will be happy to answer your questions. You will see shops for custom-mixed perfume, baker’s equipment, piñatas, embroidered dresses and shoes for the little people in your life, and strolling vendors selling everything from baby chicks to carved wooden crucifixes. We end with a typical Mexican lunch at a local family restaurant where you can watch tortillas being made by hand.