Antigua, Guatemala
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and a commentary

Puerto Vallarta is second only to Cancun as Mexico's most visited tourist resort destination. The port area is very built up with a lot of traffic on busy streets. The area caters to tourists and is "Americanized." One of the first things you see when docking is a Walmart and a Sam's Club, adjacent to a large shopping mall (see first picture below). NEWS FLASH: except for different labels and language, a Walmart in Puerto Vallarta could be mistaken for any giant Walmart in the US.

As with most of the other places we visited, Security is heavy, including heavily armed military patrolling the port area and nearby streets (there is a military base next to the cruise port).  

A few pictures around the port, and then a bit of commentary.

01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01618 -1
Early morning arrival (note Walmart in the center)


01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01620 -1
Another morning arrival. What the picture doesn't show is the ship is backing into the port.


01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01635 -1
A view of the city from a different angle


01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01638 -1
Harbor entrance with two birds exiting.


01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01647 -1
One of the many party boats, that include loud music as they pass by.

01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01648 -1
Storm's edge

A commentary.

Across the busy street from the cruise port, and adjacent to a huge modern shopping mall and Walmart in a dirt parking lot, is a part of Mexican and Spanish tradition: an Honest-To-God small traditional Bullring. A little internet digging reveals it is a family-owned business going back several generations. Bullfighting occurs once a week during the winter months. Four fights lasting about 20 minutes each occur in an evening.

Everyone is familiar with the pomp, spectacle, and pageantry of a "Corrida de Toros." Parades, loud music, fans yelling "Ole", brave matadors with their bright elaborate costumes and red capes. What you don't see or hear much about is the brutality of Mexican bullfighting. Unlike Spain, Portugal and other countries, the bull does not survive in Mexico. Instead, it is killed in the ring. A match consists of three stages: 

  • An opening parade where the bull enters the ring. Two picadors on horseback thrust lances into the bull's shoulders to weaken it.
  • Bandalleras then stick darts with long streamers into the bull to further slow it. 
  • Finally, the trumpets introduce the matador. He does the traditional dance and taunts we are familiar with, further aggravating the angry and dying bull with his cape work. Traditionally, fans yell "Ole" with each charge of the angry bull. It ends with the matador maneuvering the bull to a spot in front of judges (and pretty senoritas), where he delivers the "estocada" (killing sword thrust) into the neck of the bull. A violent and bloody end.

    Most review posts note that a majority of the people attending are tourists, but many leave after the first fight and stands are virtually empty by the time of the last event.

    Regardless of what you think of the brutality, the contrast of this small piece of violent history with the sanitized, modern urban tourist environment surrounding it is dramatic. Animals are ritualistically killed within a short walking distance of a Walmart, modern shopping mall, and high-technology cruise ships.

    Personal note: I neither condone nor look down on the sport of bullfighting. It is a part of the rich Hispanic and Spanish cultural tradition and should be accepted as such. I can, however, appreciate the clash of the contrast between a violent sport surrounded by our oh-so-civilized lifestyles. Bill 
01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01632 -1
View from our ship across the street

01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01621 -1
01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01625 -1
01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01623 -1
01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01622 -1

01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01627 -1
Past the entrance gates looks eerily like the entrance to a lot of minor league baseball stadiums.

01_10_24 puerto vallarta S DSC01628 -1

Click here for full-sized images at


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.