Well, you might think that Puerto Vallarta always looks like this, and in fact this is the view from my balcony. However, travelling there in summer isn’t quite as idyllic as this – it can be a bit more tumultuous. Sure, you’ll see the sun, but also lots of rain, thunder, and lightning, as well as grey mornings – something that makes me feel right at home.
The first night we arrived we decided to brave a torrential downpour and go out to dinner. We soon found out that many restaurants, galleries, etc. are closed in summer too, since it’s not really tourist season. So as we were driving around, I spied a restaurant I remembered as having a fine culinary reputation, and it appeared to be open. Sure enough, as the taxi pulled up, a waiter leaped out into the street with a very large umbrella – we took that as a good sign and went inside.
It turned out to be an inspired choice, entirely by chance (the way the best things always are). The restaurant was Cilantro’s, and the walls were covered with art. Since most of the galleries were closed, this was a definite plus. There was indeed a lot of cilantro in the dishes on the menu, which was part of what attracted me to the restaurant. And since it was our first night in Puerto Vallarta, a margarita was called for – a cilantro margarita, no less. It was excellent. Just a hint of sugar in the salt to set off the minty flecks of cilantro infused throughout the drink. Possibly one of the best margaritas I’ve ever had. And the food was likewise delicious and artistically presented. When my companion’s normal margarita turned out to be less than inspired, the waiter noticed he wasn’t drinking it, inquired as to the cause, and quickly returned with a much better one. Now that’s service!
Now I know why the cobblestoned streets here are as rocky as they are – the literal rivers of water that run down the hills every evening in summer. Next time I’ll bring my Tivas – they’d be better suited to being immersed in six inches of water. We searched for some days to find an umbrella, only to have it confiscated at the airport on the way home ;D
Toward the end of our stay, the thunderstorms at night began being more intense. At first they spent most of their time above the mountains ringing the bay to the south, providing spectacular light shows during dinner, easily putting to shame the firework displays provided every night for the tourists. Lightning flashed every few seconds in the sky, at first mostly sheet lightning, followed eventually by frequent strikes.
On our last evening there, the thunderstorm came to us, directly overhead. I’ve never been in anything like it – lightning flashing constantly, and the sky opening up with booming thunder as if reminding us of our insignificance. When I travel, I like to be on the top floor – so there we were, at the highest point, surrounded by the thunder, rain, and lightning. In one memorable moment, the entire beachfront went dark, then powered up again, as lightning struck out to sea.
Thankfully, our flights were all timed to avoid the daily thunderstorms, though the cloud formations coming in in the late afternoon were quite spectacular. Still and all, we enjoyed it. It’s a nice town, even in summer. Only the stickiness of the heat diminished my enjoyment of it, and had I known more what to expect, I might have been better prepared (what passes for light summer clothing here in Seattle just doesn’t cut it in the tropics). The flowers are beautiful this time of year…