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Winter Holidays in Vallarta

December is a big month here for religious and spiritual celebrations deeply ingrained in the Mexican culture. A mixture of Old World Mexico and New World Catholicism contributes to a festive and meaningful coming together of all peoples, Mexicanos and expats alike. The first 12 days are dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, symbol of love and devotion as the Mother of Mexico. Before the Conquistadors and the advent of Catholicism, she appeared as an apparition to shepherd Juan Diego in the early 16th Century in the hills of central Mexico. Following her message to Juan, a church was built on the spot where she appeared. As Spanish missionaries arrived and Catholicism descended on the country, the Virgin Mary and Our Lady Guadalupe became joined as the Mother of all Catholics. Even so, Guadalupe is continually honored throughout Mexico during these 12 days in keeping with the original beliefs of the indigenous people.

 

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In Vallarta, there are processions, called peregrinaciones, daily from December 1-12. Thousands of people representing local neighborhoods, businesses, organizations, and groups walk several miles to finally reach Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the city center. Joined by multiple groups of Aztec dancers dressed in their feathered finery, drum and bugle corps walking in precise formation, Mariachi bands with their colorful costumes and familiar music, and floats carrying children dressed as Juan Diego and Guadalupe, the processions slowly make their way down the main street which is crowded with people on both sides waiting and watching the amazing spectacle before them. Upon reaching the church, each group, baskets of food and flowers in hand as gifts for Our Lady, ascends into the beautifully decorated interior to be blessed by the priest. Bells and fireworks from the bell tower can be heard throughout the town after each blessing.

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In between groups, there is usually a time lapse during which one can wander the plaza and surrounding side streets to partake of the many food vendors offerings of typical fare found during this time of year. Atole, a hot cornmeal drink made with sugar, vanilla and sometimes coconut or chocolate is sold everywhere. Sometimes, Christmas punch is available–a hot drink of stewed fruits, sugar, water and maybe red wine. Then there are tacos, pozole, tamales, roasted corn served with mayonnaise, grated cheese, picante and lime, dozens of desserts with enough frosting and cream to push you towards a heart attack, and huge spits of roasting pork with a pineapple dripping down its surface.

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After all of this is over, the posadas begin. These are neighborhood wanderings representing the journey Mary and Joseph took on their way to Bethlehem when they could not find an inn to spend the night. As neighbors continue along the street, visiting other neighbors, they will finally come to the house designated as “the inn” where food and festivities will begin lasting into the wee hours. Businesses also offer posadas to their employees as a way to thank them for a year of service.

Christmas Eve is usually spent going to mass in the evening after which families gather for a big late night dinner in preparation for a solemn Christmas Day of rest and relaxation. In the past, gifts were only exchanged on Three Kings Day (January 6) duplicating the Three Wise Men’s bringing of gifts to the Christ child. Today, lucky Mexican kids get presents twice…once on Christmas day and again on January 6. This is also when a special orange-flavored sweet bread, called Rosca de Reyes, is shared with family and friends. A little plastic baby Jesus is baked inside so that whoever gets the piece with the baby must then host a tamale feast on Candlemas, February 2.

“Puerto Vallarta – Tropical Paradise”

Climate

Warm and dry during the winter and humid in the summer, Puerto Vallarta has the perfect location as it is the same latitude as Hawaii. Puerto Vallarta combines the lushness of the jungle with the beauty of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the wonder of the Pacific Ocean. The ocean breeze and the fresh mountain air combine with unrivaled sunny days to create some of the best weather in the world.  Vallarta boasts three hundred sunny days a year.  November to June is the dry season.  June to October is the rainy season with fantastic thunder and lightning storms that bring daily refreshing relief from the humidity.  This is when the jungle is at its best.

Tropical paradise, deserted beach, quiet, sandy, Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours!

Great value for your money

While it is commonly known that the peso is worth less than the dollar, be it US or Canadian, you never truly appreciate it quite as much as when you see that your hard-earned money can buy you so much more than it can back home.  If you are living here, you know the dollar allows you a life equal to or better than what you had back home.  Getting more for less is good in anyone’s book, especially when it comes to looking for a home or rental.  A beautiful home here can be found for the price of a studio in New York City. Puerto Vallarta has a large array of both first class real estate developments and economical apartments for purchase or rent.

Stunning beaches

Here are a plethora of enchanting beaches that offer something for everyone. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to do some kite surfing or simply someone that likes to lay by the water being tended to, Puerto Vallarta has the right beach for you. Many of these beaches have been certified by the Mexican Government for their cleanliness and beauty. At the north end of the Bay you can find fine sand beaches that extend for kilometers. On the south end you find tranquill inland coves accessible only by water taxi.

Amazing mountains

This is what puts Puerto Vallarta in a completely different league from other vacation destinations.  The Sierra Madre Mountains and their tropical forests with lush jungle vegetation, give Vallarta a completely different atmosphere.  Here is one of the few places on earth where the mountains come down to completely touch the sea. There is nothing that compares to watching the sun rise in the mountains every day and set in the Pacific Ocean. During the summer season the rains make the surrounding mountains glow an emerald green of a hundred shades that is difficult to explain with mere words. A hike up the mountain trails will take you to a time long before when mankind was one with nature.  You will feel its beckoning. The vegetation and beautiful flowers along with the many bird calls combine to give you the mystical feeling only a tropical paradise can give you.

Mexican Culture

The mixture of indigenous traditions with Spaniard customs has produced an amazingly rich culture, an explosion of color, spirituality, flavors, images and sounds that will never stop impressing you. Slowly discovering little idiosyncrasies of this beautiful culture is one of the best rewards for visiting and living here.  There are colorful celebrations and festivals every month of the year.  A photographer’s paradise.

The people

You have to travel a lot in order to be qualified to compare people and cultures. Well, I have done it, and I can tell you that, there are no warmer people in the world.  Mexicans always smile, they always say “please” and “thank you”, they will kiss and hug you, so be prepared; they will touch you all the time; they are a happy people and they like to show it. Family and friends are most important. You will have a lot of fun around them; they will make you feel at home.  You just have to let go and learn from their laid-back and unpretentious attitude towards life. This way of approaching life, where people work to live and not live to work, might be arguable, but for a place like Puerto Vallarta, where people  come to forget for a while about the problems of daily life, it’s just perfect.