Imagine a town of just a few thousand people in the 1930s, quietly ekeing out an existence from fishing, and fruit-growing, and not much else.
Then imagine that in 1945, the first ‘tourist trade’ begins – with DC3s carrying 20 passengers at a time.
For another decade or so things are still quiet – although there are a number of expat Americans have started moving to the area – to escape the worst excesses of McCarthysm, for example.
And then in 1964, John Huston decides to shoot a film in the area with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. And Burton decides to bring along his mistress, Elizabeth Taylor.
Well, suddenly Puerto Vallarta – named after a former governor of the previously quiet Jalisco state – becomes a boom-town.
Jet-setters see it as “the place to be seen”, and American airline companies see it as a growth market – all as the Mexican Government moves to overturn the old development-stifling ‘ejido’ land-tenure system and start to invest significantly in roads and transport for the area.
Suddenly, the population grows from 10-thousand in 1950 to more than a quarter of a million by 2010.
And the Puerto Vallarta of today is born.
PV, as Americans tend to call it, is now a thriving tourist mecca – with high-rises dotting its shores for the three-quarters of a million Mexicans – and more than two million Americans – who fly in each year.
Then there’s the tens of thousands of people arriving on cruise ships each year – although they only stay for a day.
And as they arrive … this is the view that greets them.
We were on the Norwegian Jewel – one of a number of ships that regularly cruise the “Mexican Riviera”, as its known.
And as we docked in PV, this was what we saw, standing above the Lido deck and surveying the streets below.
Not the prettiest port we’ve ever been to – but certainly enough to beckon us onwards, to see what the day had in store.