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Local Woman Shares 60 Years of Vallarta History

Strolling around today as I often do, I happened into a small, non-descript shop, a “Mexican Artifacts” sign hanging over the door.  The grey-haired woman who greeted me acted skeptical, perhaps wondering what a gringa could possibly know about the eclectic collection I faced.  I was respectful and open, curious as to what this place was all about.  Well, what an amazing hour I spent with her, after she warmed to me, listening to her stories of old Vallarta and the people she knew that made this town through their pride and hard work.  She told me that because of several dedicated historians and journal keepers, much of the history of Vallarta and its many characters are written, some in private notebooks and some published in Spanish with one by Carlos Munguia Fregoso, also in English.

Puerto Vallarta Malecon 1960's.

Estela is her name and this gallery is in the first floor of her home that she has been living in since she was born some sixty plus years ago!  She remembers such people like Agustin Flores Contreras who, through his construction company, built and paid for the first schools, including the school on Matamoros named after him, and the oldest elementary school, 20 November, on Juarez built in 1928.  He believed so in the importance of education that even Greek and Latin were taught as part of the regular studies!  Both these schools are still in use today.

Then there was Patrice, originally from California, dress-maker to the Hollywood stars while they were in Vallarta like Elizabeth Taylor and who made Estela’s own wedding dress; the crazy tourist who showed up every winter dressed like a Christmas tree who would stand outside some of the hotels or walk the beach, arms like tree boughs spread towards the heavens; and another rich visitor who was known for spending his family’s inheritance constructing and tearing down buildings during his stays.

There are many more stories to be told and I hope to visit Estela again soon.

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