A Jungle Safari at Cyberspeed
Arrribaaa! The bright red jeep perfectly fits the fiery temperament of its driver. Juan virtually swathes the participants joining in the excursion into the hinterland of Puerto Vallarta in his lively personality. The wiry bundle of energy with an endearing Spanish accent and sly eyes sparkling under comb-resistant hair resembles an information automat in human form.
Along the way, entertaining stories about flora and fauna pour out of him in relentless torrents, clownish mimicry, gestures and sounds accompany his captivating, witty explanations and within a few hours those who have paid attention are a whole lot the wiser. Now they know that Iguanas like to laze about in coffee trees ad infinitum, and that only the green variety should ever be considered in culinary terms. Their juicy flesh tastes like that of young chicken, whereas the black ones’ is outright nauseous. Guts are required for doing it the Indian way, by courageously slitting the animal’s throat and by resolutely devouring the warm blood. That renders strength. The leaves of the chameleonic coffee tree, however, turn ordinary scrubby cows into Kobe oxen with shiny coats over tender beef, while the particularly mild beans provide the often impoverished rural population with a coffee drink that even small children can tolerate. It is a welcome alternative to cocoa which has become exorbitantly expensive in the recent past.
Licenced to breastfeed and a legendary Sunburn
Its arcane bark contains miraculous substances for pregnant women. As a mysterious concoction – administered in the fifth month sharp – it lends them the stamina for breastfeeding marathons (of a lot of babies for many years!). One must realize that electricity is not an amenity freely to be had in the middle of the jungle, neither is the option of singelhandedly depositing nagging children in front of a soothing telly.
Instead offspring are swiftly sedated at Mum’s breasts on a reliable remedial basis in order to reinstall some peace and quiet in the house. While telling this, Juan smacks his lips and vividly rocks first one, then two imaginary babies in his arms. In the shadows of the coffee tree grows the Gringo Tree, whose bark starts off green, then turns red and finally flakes off – just like the skin of Gringos – foreigners – who arrive as pale as a cheese and then scorch their hide, which subsequently peels off in an unsightly fashion.
Ants, Termites and Parrots’ Eggs
The bites of the tiny red ants inhabiting the sharp Acacia seed-pods hurt like hell, but work wonders against rheumatism and arthritis. The local Lion Ant, up to three centimetres long, acted as the role model for the insatiable monster insect in “Enemy Mine”. Children contribute to the family income by collecting parrots’ eggs laid in abandoned termite nests or by fledglings already hatched – provided that they have not been squashed to death in infantile enthusiasm or strangled by mistake before getting them sold off. At night time, sweet little armadillos would be rattling their way across the road and crocodiles usually wallow in this very pool – not today, though. Murphy’s law! Even Juan is powerless here…
Did you know?
- The Maya found receding foreheads and a squint irresistible! In order to achieve this ideal of beauty, parents would fasten a wooden frame around their newborns’ heads; the screws were then constantly readjusted – similar to a dental brace – until foreheads were deformed to perfection and eyes beautifully crossed.
- Chocolate: the Aztecs brewed a drink from cocoa beans they called “bitter water”: Choco (bitter) Atl (water)
- Coca-Cola: always order Coca, never Cola: that means “backside”.
- The Metro in Mexico City operates carriages especially for women – but none especially for men.
- Gringo = ‘green go’: originally meant that American soldiers in their green uniforms should leave the country.
Nowadays all foreigners are nicknamed Gringos.
- The people of Mexico consists of 85% Mestizos, 10% Indians, 5% others; between them they speak 62 languages: Spanish and 61 Indian ones.
A Glimpse of rural Life
En route through the lush rainforest one can bake Tortillas on the ancient stone oven at Santa Cruz de Quelitán and party with the villagers with or without a horse (that’s a rustic experience), witness a turbulent Fiesta Mexicana on the main square of Mascota and join the multicoloured procession to the Palma Real Ranch for a buffet folklore show. From here, the city of Guadalajara is close and the snow-covered summits of the fabled Sierra Madre visible with the naked eye. The trip from Puerto Vallarta to Mascota takes about an hour. There are sufficient Jeeps available for a group of up to 150 delegates. Return trip by bus, please – mind the Tequila! As a rallye, this safari is rather a challenge in terms of navigation and linguistics!
The Mexican Riviera – Puerto Vallarta
Sparks must have flown in the past. Proud memories survived of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton living here in the 1960s and 1970s, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not. Film director John Huston also maintained a home in the holiday destination along Pacific shores. Richard Burton’s former residence in the steep and cobbled part of the picturesque Old Town known as ‘Gringo Gorge’ has been transformed into a jewel of almost surreal beauty – by a female investor: the boutique hotel Hacienda San Angel, also featuring the location Puerta del Cielo, offers a rare dream of a scenario for smaller groups. www.haciendasanangel.com
During the high season between November and April/May, tourists from the nearby USA and from Canada flood into the area. This is the time for bullfights on Wednesdays and the births of little humpback whales, whose mothers have swum in all the way from cold Alaska. Puerto Vallarta offers a wealth of restaurants sporting international cuisine and countless (dance-)bars, generous fine-gravel beaches and excellent golf courses.
By ship only: Rhythms of the Night
The palm-fringed beach Las Caletas is bathed in romantic lights. Behind it an extensive open-air restaurant stretches out into the adjoining hills. The location for John Huston’s movie “The Night of the Iguana” today is privately marketed and has become the stage for a colourful dance-theatre spectacle narrated in historic tongue. In a rainforest setting, “Ritmos de la Noche” tells of ancient Mexico, accompanied by rhythmical thuds of drums and the wailing sounds of mystical Pan flutes. Buffet included, midges harmless. The boat trip from PV takes around an hour each way (the boat can be privatised). www.vallarta-adventures.com
Puerto Vallarta is currently not accessible from Germany directly. Lufthansa serves Mexico City non-stop (with Air France, KLM, Iberia etc. stopping over at their respective native ports). The flight from Frankfurt to Mexico City takes about 11 hours, from there to Puerto Vallarta another 75 minutes).
Fischer DMC World GmbH
Copyright for all photos: Christina Feyerke