Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 World Cup: The Scene in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Stateline.org reporter John Gramlich will be traveling through the state of Nayarit in Mexico for the first two weeks of the World Cup

I’ve been in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for six days. This, of course, is to coincide with the World Cup, which six of my friends and I—all Americans—are watching here with rapt attention. As Americans in Mexico tend to do, we’ve been drinking cervezas, tequilas, and margaritas at every stop, probably too often.

Puerto Vallarta is right on the Pacific, on the banks of a sweeping inlet called the Bay of Banderas, or the Bay of Flags. Dark mountains rise up from the greenish-blue, very salty water. Rickety buildings perch perilously over a steep hillside. Friendly people are on every corner, hanging out along the cobblestoned streets of downtown, or Centro—usually offering taxis, tequila or sombreros. Margaritas cost $5; beers cost $2.50 or less. It’s probably much less if you’re not American.

Much of this place is what you’d expect of a beautiful but touristy Mexican resort: There’s a Senor Frogs, a Hard Rock Cafe, a McDonald’s, and a Subway, along with Mexican bars cloaked in myriad American themes, like the U.S. military or Predator,  the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Jesse Ventura flick where the jungle comes alive and nearly takes out a group of hardcore American commandos (and which, incidentally, my entire group can recite almost flawlessly).

Here’s what I didn’t expect: Puerto Vallarta–even in the parts where there aren’t often gringos like us—was pretty much silent for five days of the World Cup.

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