The People of Puerto Vallarta

The original population of Puerto Vallarta was not made up of coastal Indians as one would suspect but rather by relocated people from the towns of Tlapa, Mascota, San Sebastian de Oeste and Cuale. This is likely one of the reasons that Vallarta has kept its charm and provincial flavor. Over the years, the population has grown tremendously with transplants from all parts of Mexico as well as a large number of expatriates from the US, Canada and Europe. Puerto Vallarta is now a fabulous melting pot of cultures in magnificent harmony.

The Huichol Indians

The Huichols are a proud Indigenous group that are descendants of the Aztecs. They live in scattered groups called 'ranchos' in very remote areas of the Sierra Madre mountains in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit. They are a very spiritual people who still follow ancient shamanic ways. Incredibly, about one fourth of the men are shamans, roughly translated, Healers or Medicine Men. Peyote, a cactus like plant found in a particular area about 300 miles to the south is very important to the Huichols. With a specific goal in mind the shaman eat peyote to induce a trance-like state and work their healing. Peyote, a hallucinogenic, also aids in the creation of the elaborate designs and artwork, Over the years a number of Huichols have migrated to the cities and because of the need for money, they have made known their rich culture through their art. Huichols have no written language, but through their artwork, they document their spiritual knowledge. They believe that by creating beautiful art, they are making prayer visible. Fabulous Huichol pieces are for sale in many locations in Puerto Vallarta.

The Piata

Pi�atas play a large part in Latin American festivities, a fiesta is not a fiesta without one. The origin of the Pi�ata dates back many centuries before the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Mexican Indians fashioned pi�atas from earthenware jars and decorated them to resemble the gods that they worshipped and filled them with simple toys and favors. (The logic of beating the daylights out of a revered god is a mystery to me).

Pi�atas gained popularity with the early Spaniards and they began sending them to their homes in Spain. Now, the Pi�ata, originally from Mexico is enjoyed worldwide. The variety of figures is mind boggling, if you should enjoy watching Bart Simpson or Winnie the Pooh smashed to pieces, these figu

The game is played by children (or adults) taking turns, blindfolded, spun around and given a pole to try to break the Pi�ata as it is raised and lowered by a rope. Things usually get a bit wild. Imagine an excited child (or adult) in the center of a circle of other excited children (or adults) brandishing a lethal weapon. Pi�atas are often described as made from delicate clay pots, but this is a myth in Mexico. In order to smash the thing, a good deal of force is required. When finally broken, candies and small toys (or assorted adult items) fall to the floor and a frenzy of figures scramble to get their   

Peyote Cactus

Huichol Art

The Mariachi

The beloved Mariachi music plays a significant role in every Mexican's heritage.  It goes beyond music, it is something cultural, spiritual and traditional that is unique to Mexico.

The word Mariachi refers to the elegantly dressed musicians with wide brimmed hats that are seen in restaurants, fiestas or strolling the streets.  They play a variety of instruments, violins, guitars, basses and trumpets and their songs speak about love, death, betrayal, politics, revolutionary heroes and even animals.  (La Cucaracha)

The Mariachi originated in the southern part of the state of Jalisco in the 19th century and the Spaniards introduced the original instruments.  Their music thrived with the support of the people.  Originally the Mariachis were employed by the various haciendas, but after the revolution many of the haciendas were forced to let the Mariachis go.  This is why the Mariachi began their strolling tradition, wandering from town to town, singing songs of revolutionary heroes and enemies, thus carrying news from one place to another.

By the early part of the 20th century the Mariachis became increasingly popular and were featured at all major celebrations.  With the advent of radio and television their popularity continued to grow.  Movies depicted Mexico as a land of truly macho men, the charro and tequila and of course, the Mariachi.

Today Mariachi music is known internationally and is heard in places as far away as Europe and Japan.  Ask a local how he feels about the Mariachi.  Likely he will tell you that when he hears their music, his heart flutters. 

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