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Puerto Vallarta Article & Quiz

view from El Tequila Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta view of the hills in Puerto Vallarta - cerros lindos! sunset in Puerto Vallarta

The earliest history recorded about Puerto Vallarta begins around 600 BC, when it was part of a large kingdom called Xalisco, ruled by a King called Nayarita. Even then, it was known as one of the most beautiful spots in the entire kingdom. Later, tribes including the Toltecas and the Aztecas migrated to the area and opened up a trail to the Nahuatl empire situated in the valley of Mexico that today is known as Mexico City. In 1524 Spanish explorer Francisco Cortes officially "discovered" the bay surrounding Puerto Vallarta, but the settlement remained relatively unknown to the outside world for hundreds of years.

The beauty of Puerto Vallarta finally received international attention in 1963 when American director John Huston filmed the movie "The Night of the Iguana" there - bringing an aura of mystique as well as a lot of publicity to the region. Soon afterwards Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton bought a house in Puerto Vallarta, further increasing the world's interest in the town. You may be surprised to hear that modern Puerto Vallarta is a far cry from the sleepy tropical village depicted in the older movies - in fact the city now has over 250,000 inhabitants. More recently this bustling seaside community was in the headlines as the location where American fugitive Andrew Luster was captured.

Puerto Vallarta is also a great place to practice your Spanish! I had the pleasure of traveling there recently with my mother, who is a beginning to intermediate Spanish student. She found that speaking Spanish enhanced her trip a lot. It is a bit of a myth that English is all you need to know in order to travel in Mexico. In fact, the majority of the people we met spoke limited English. Speaking Spanish enables you to get a much better feeling for the culture & their way of life. It's also practical, and can help you navigate around yourself instead of having to rely on the translations of others. Below are just a few of the words she found to be helpful.

If you like Mexican food, downtown Puerto Vallarta offers some of the tastiest I've had in a long time. At Pipis, (this is not a typo! - pronounced "PEE-PEES") - they offer you a free bowl of delicious guacamole made right at your table when you sit down. There are a lot of gringos at this hot spot, but once you taste the food you'll see why. Another favorite was Tequilas on the "malecón" or the oceanfront tourist zone. They have mariachi music at night, and during the day you can enjoy an unobstructed ocean view while eating fresh homemade tortillas and more.

Quiz: Puerto Vallarta