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Southside Neighborhoods

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Take a different Puerto Vallarta walking tour to the other side of the river. The Rio Cuale, with headwaters in the rural town of Cuale some five hours up into the Sierra Madre Mountains, divides central Vallarta into north and south. The Southside, known as the Emiliano Zapata Colonia, is a delightful mixture of small family businesses, residences, and restaurants and is the second largest colonia or neighborhood in all of Vallarta. It also has the most diverse population and choices of any other area in the city.

Hear about the history of this town as it grew from a small fishing settlement to a silver mining area to the tourist destination it is today. Begin on the Rio Cuale Island at the statue of John Huston, director of the famous movie “Night of the Iguana” released in 1965. Continue over the swinging pedestrian bridge into the Southside, with a stop at the renovated home, now a B & B, of famous socialite and party girl from the 1970’s. Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets you will notice specialty services offered from local homes…seamstress, computer repair, eatery, grocery store. Arrive at the large bustling Emiliano Zapata Market where it is the custom among Mexican families to shop daily for the freshest of meats, fish, produce, and of course tortillas! Watch the butcher prepare meat, the juice lady squeeze fresh pineapple, or select various dried beans, seeds, and herbs from the cereal and seed store. Enjoy the “chicken lady” as she deftly wields her cleaver to custom cut your chicken.

Continuing along the way, you will see the colonia’s newly painted Catholic church; taco stands that come alive at night with lights, smells of grilled meat and onions, and lots of people craving a midnight snack; the leather store where clothes and purses, belts and boots are created from hides of cow and sheep; the largest ceramic shop in all of Banderas Bay where you can watch artists carefully hand painting tiles, plates, bowls, sinks and vases before firing in the large kilns; a soap store where the smell of herbs and essential oils fills the air as the owners “cook” their next batch of soaps; and finally the art gallery and antique shops where you will find more than you can take home with you in one day!