A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to travel to the Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta for a few days. While much of the trip was spent on the beach and sampling delicious food (no complaints), there was time to explore at least a little of the town. Above is an ordinary street in the historic center; the cobbled roadways and stone paved sidewalks are typical, and go a long way towards creating a pleasant walking environment. Of course the tropical foliage and year-round potted flowers don’t hurt either.
As seen above, most intersections in the old quarter have no stop signs or traffic signals. However, due to the narrowness of the road, the cobbled pavements, and the topography auto traffic naturally slows down and streets are comfortable for pedestrians. I can’t say the same for bikers, who for obvious reasons are scarce to nonexistent on the cobblestones.
At night the streets in the center are bustling not just with bars, restaurants, and lots of tourists; but also with locals out strolling. Above is the Malecon, or esplanade along the sea which just this past year eliminated auto traffic and was completely re-landscaped as a pedestrian-only space. On a Sunday night it was thronged with families enjoying street vendors and performers, and lots of people-watching.
Beach real estate everywhere tends to be expensive; the villas in the hills above the old town are no exception. Even this city has been impacted by overbuilding in the real estate sector: the chic, modernist villas above sit empty but can be had–fully furnished–at reduced prices starting at about $1.1 million each. Pricey anywhere, but a fortune in Mexico.
But as beautiful as the luxury villas above is the vibrant street life in the town below. Resort cities have their own special economies and rhythms impossible to replicate in less exotic climes. That’s why we feel lucky when we’re able to experience life there–if only for a little while.
Once again I’ll be travelling over the next couple weeks, so posts will be less frequent until April. Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all!