Many years ago, upon one of our first visits to Puerto Vallarta, before we decided to make our residence permanent, we read a sign on our way into the city from a day trip returning from Sayulita. We’d just crossed the border from Nayarit into Jalisco and there it was: La ciudad más amigable del mundo. At the time our Spanish was severely lacking and the only word we could translate was más, meaning more.
Without someone to tell us what the sign meant, we often drove by and puzzled over its meaning. As time went by, we began to pick up some language skills. We took classes off and on and began to learn how to put a sentence together. It took years, but one day passing this sign La ciudad más amigable del mundo, we were able to read it with pride and revelation.
The most friendly city on earth.
Of all the differences we were aware of whenever we left Puerto Vallarta and went back to the States, it was the disparity in how we were treated. Not just by shopkeepers and neighbors, but doctors, business associates and children.
While walking the pup (and the pup before the pup), we’ve always been greeted by every person we pass, whether a gardener watering lawns, a pedestrian on the street, or the lady who lives next door. In the States, we didn’t know our neighbors. We never met, though we passed one another on a daily basis and sometimes would nod. Our neighbor in Vallarta invited us to spend Christmas Eve with her family!
Our doctors in Puerto Vallarta greet us with a hug and often a kiss on the cheek. I think I can safely say, our doctors in the States wouldn’t recognize us if they sat next to us on a bus.
Children! We have smiled at youngsters in the States and been frowned at, scowled at and hid from. Parents glare and clutch the hands of their offspring. If in an elevator with a child, or anyone for that matter, it’s best to stare straight ahead or risk someone calling the Etiquette Police. Children in Mexico grin at us and it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a small pat on the head.
It is common in Puerto Vallarta and all of Mexico, when conducting business, to first ask about family and spouse, chat about the weather and inquire after everyone’s health before proceeding. Up north, the requirement is to conduct business as quickly as
possible, don’t pry into personal matters, and move things along so as to get to the next money making meeting as rapidly as one can.
We knew we’d made the right decision moving to Puerto Vallarta, when one day we sneezed in the supermarket and suddenly, an unknown, unseen voice, from the aisle over said Salud! (to your health).
Que es cómo es.