Monday, September 13, 2010

The Night of the Iguana

I hate to date myself like this, but do you remember that movie with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner? Well even if you don't, it was based on the 1961 Tennessee Williams play of the same name, and helped put Puerta Vallarta on the map as a world-class travel destination. You see, while shooting on location in the area, Mr. Burton was carrying on a very public affair with his soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Taylor, and thought she might enjoy tagging along for some fun and sun. I doubt their respective spouses shared their enthusiasm, but the paparazzi absolutely ate it up and descended upon this somewhat sleepy Pacific paradise.

Sleepy no more, Puerta Vallarta is a thriving international tourist destination and the sixth largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Named after former governor Ignatio Vallarta, it is located on the Bay of Banderas and in the shadow of the Sierra Madre. A more picturesque location I cannot think of offhand. So as you might imagine, many of the activities and sights of interest involve the outdoors. From parasailing to deep sea fishing, snorkeling to whale watching, and everything in between, PV (as us gringos call it) has got you covered. And if blood sports are your thing, you can catch a bullfight or watch two chickens peck each other to death at a local cockfight. Not for me, but I sure dig swimming with dolphins at Vallarta Adventures' Dolphin Adventure Center.

During my visit I am staying at Club Regina Puerto Vallarta at Westin. It's on the site of a former coconut palm plantation and about fifteen minutes from downtown. My timeshare rental is a one bed/two bath unit with an ocean view and every possible amenity you can imagine located on site: a grocery store, spa services, medical facilities, live entertainment, pools, and more. It's no wonder members rate this place 4.5 stars, and yet you can rent here for as little as $107/night. Muy loco.

I have to go so I won't miss my zip line canopy tour with Los Veranos Canopy Tours. Do you know about these? They strap you into a climbing harness and shoot you down a glorified clothesline suspended above the tree canopy at speeds up to 30 mph. Are you kidding me?! There are three separate lines in all, nicknamed Banana Split, Speedy Gonzalez, and The Big Enchilada. I have a pretty good idea about the last two, but that first one has me questioning the wisdom of this outing. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have anything to do with ice cream.

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