A couple of years ago, my husband and I had the fantastic opportunity to cruise from Miami with Ports of Call in Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and four stops in Mexico: Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas. What an amazing trip with lots of cultural and historical information. Needless to say, crossing the Panama Canal was quite an experience.   (Colombia and Costa Rica will be discussed in another Travel Series post.)

Landscape Montebello Lake, Chiapas

Our first stop on the Pacific Coast was Puerto Chiapas in the Mexican state of Chiapas. In Travel Series (1), I spoke of my visit to Palenque and Agua Azul. In this visit to Chiapas, our tour took us to the archaeological ruins of Izapa and the city of Tapachula. The ruins of Izapa are believed to pre-date those in Palenque. This site does not have the glorious buildings of Palenque, but it is believed that it was one of the largest ceremonial centers of the area. Our next stop was the city of Tapachula. Tapachula is a fairly large city but our main visit concentrated around the plaza. We visited the archaeological museum that houses some amazing pre-Colombian pieces, the main church, and of course you can’t resist the vendors in the plaza.

Zipolite beach at sunrise, Mexico

Huatulco was our next stop and it was absolutely breathtaking. It has a naval base and three naval ships escorted our cruise ship into port. According to our guide, Mexico has limited the growth of Huatulco to 5% per year so that it does not become another Cancún or Acapulco. Huatulco retains its charm and beauty. Our tour included a drive through the coastline with stops at various resorts overlooking the Pacific. In old town, we visited a store that sells several goods and wares and we were given a lesson in the making of mezcal. You’ve heard of a worm in tequila – well one of the bottles of mezcal had a scorpion – not for drinking but for treatment of arthritis! Despite modern medicine, traditional healing treatments are still being used. The highlight of our tour was a visit to a weaving factory that still uses the old weaving looms to make beautiful clothing and other artistic weavings. I could stay in Huatulco forever!

A high view over Puerto Vallarta Bay

A high view over Puerto Vallarta Bay

Puerto Vallarta is so huge that it is now in two states. Old Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco while the expansion of resorts into Nuevo Vallarta lie in the state of Nayarit. Our tour included a visit to a working hacienda that makes tequila. We had a guided tour of the tequila factory that included lessons in making and aging of tequila. After the tour of the hacienda, we were treated to authentic food and a presentation of traditional folkloric dances. We then traveled to downtown Puerto Vallarta to walk along the Malecón overlooking the Pacific, to visit the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and to walk the downtown area. ¡Puerto Vallarta es muy bello!

Gray Whale Tail Fin / Fluke splashing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico near Cabo San Lucas.

Gray Whale Tail Fin / Fluke splashing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico near Cabo San Lucas.

Our tour in Cabo San Lucas took us to the town of Todos Santos. The drive through the Pacific coast was amazing, but when you walk in Todos Santos you go back in time. You have the historic as well as the modern surrounding you. Living in San Antonio where we have five missions, my interest was the Jesuit Mission. Franciscan priests established the San Antonio missions while the Jesuit priests established the Mission at Todos Santos as well as other missions in Baja California.  This quaint town beckons me to return to discover more of its history.

As you can see, I love to visit historical places and explore the cultural aspects of the sites and cities. The cruises that we have taken have given us but a glimpse in time of the location that we visit; however, that glimpse lights the spark for the places I know I want to return over and over to discover the full spectrum of life there.

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