National Geographic : 1996 Aug
HEARTLAND &THE PACIFIC EternalMexico Before Richard Burton arrived amid gales of publicity in 1963 - with Elizabeth Taylor at his side-to film The Night of the Iguana, Puerto Vallarta on the coast of Jalisco was little more than a quiet fishing village, splendid in its solitude. Burton, Taylor, and the iguana are long gone, and Puerto Vallarta has burgeoned into one of Mexico's busiest resorts, last year drawing some 2.4 million tourists to beaches strewn with palm roofed refreshment stands (be low)- an influx that contributed more than 300 million dollars to the Mexican economy. Despite Mexico's troubles tourism still thrives, as it does in other Pacific coast resorts such as Mazatlan, Manzanillo, and Acapulco. Packed up for the day, an ice cream vendor stops for a friendly exchange on the malecdn (left), the broad walkway edging the Bay of Banderas. Here in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, locals make their living off tourists-and one another-selling every thing from handmade table cloths to grilled fish on a stick. Amid boat races and whale watching, traditional celebra tions go on as usual. To honor the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexi co's patron saint, worshipers make yearly pilgrimages to shrines throughout the country. In Puerto Vallarta mariachis join the faithful in a long pro cession to a local church. With trumpets poised and violins at the ready (below left), they strike up a reverent tune for Nuestra Senora.