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Local Profiles 

Puerto Vallarta Cultural Insider Sandra Cesca
tour guide, cultural photographer, author



Cultural Insider, Sandra Cesca

Sandra Cesca has traveled the world, but found herself returning to Mexico more and more. She moved to Puerto Vallarta in 2008 and never looked back. With her love of adventure and immersion in the countries she had visited, she decided to take her experiences and educational M.Ed. background and use them to help visitors learn more about Vallarta and the Mexican culture. Thus was born Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours.

Beginning in 2009, Sandra began offering walking tours to share her excitement and love of this culture with tourists who came to learn more. She mapped out routes, met local artisans, vendors, business owners, and long-standing residents of Vallarta to create her walking tours.

She currently offers eight different walks which include history, architecture, culture, artisanal crafts and ecology. She will also create custom and private walks for those wanting a more personal experience. Two of her walks are wheelchair friendly.

Sandra has become an ambassador for Vallarta as she often spends extra time with visitors answering questions about living and working here, making recommendations for services, restaurants, and activities and inspiring clients as they discover the beauty, charm and friendliness of the people who live and work here.

With her love of photography, she soon began to capture with her camera the rich colors, images and feelings she encountered both during her walking tours and her travels. These photos she uses on her website and social media to help market herself and her businesses. Sandra has also found outlets for her work in the guidebooks she has written, the photo cards she sells, and the Fine Art canvases she is starting to create.

Sandra Cesca has lived in Puerto Vallarta for 11 years. She is a cultural tour guide with her own small business: Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours. She is also a cultural photographer and writer whose work can be found on Your Cultural Insider and Sandra Cesca Photography. Contact her: sandra.learn.vallarta(at)gmail.com.


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Mango Season in Mexico Continues through September
Sandra Cesca

Mangoes can transport you into dreams of tropical paradise unless, of course, you are already here in Puerto Vallarta. Because different varieties ripen at different times in different regions, the Mexican mango season begins in March and continues through mid-September.

Your Cultural Insider: Childhood Summers on the Farm
Sandra Cesca

Puerto Vallarta resident Sandra Cesca grew up in the US Midwest, where some of the same age-old family traditions you find here in Mexico, like living off the farm and playing outside all day, are common. During this time of uncertainty, she's sharing some childhood memories with us.

Your Cultural Insider: Excellent Empanadas in El Tuito
Sandra Cesca

Anyone who has taken the pleasant ride south from Puerto Vallarta to the mountainous valley of El Tuito knows the famous Panaderia los Pinitos. Baking about 1000 empanadas every day, this open-air bakery in the small pueblo of Columpio is a delicious stop for locals & travelers alike.

My First 'Cabalgata' - Mexico's Answer to a Trail Ride
Sandra Cesca

Juan Gomez has been a cowboy forever. He led my first 'cabalgata,' Mexico's answer to a trail ride, except these may last several days. This ride was an 8 hour trip through beautiful ejido backcountry near Puerto Vallarta that ended with an overnight stay at a ranch.

Making Salsa While Drinking Tequila in Puerto Vallarta
Sandra Cesca

Some friends and I took one of Ruben's cooking classes at ART VallARTa, where we prepared several salsas from scratch, along with a couple side dishes. We sipped some amazing tequilas while we roasted, chopped, mixed, and ground. After all, this was a lot of work.

Ada Colorina: Painting the Simple Life of Mexico
Sandra Cesca

Ada Colorina has been a friend since I first met her at an outdoor art show on the Rio Cuale and was drawn to her colorful paintings. A native of Puerto Vallarta, she has gained artistic acclaim for capturing the essence of pueblo life that still simmers in the city today.

Mexican Vanilla Extract: Pure or Imitation?
Sandra Cesca

Vanilla beans cultivated around the world originally came from Mexico. When Cortés came to conquer Mexico in 1519, he sent samples of the vanilla orchid back to Spain, where they eventually spread to other countries. But how can you tell if vanilla extract is pure or imitation?

The Era of 'Yucatan Green Gold' in Merida, Mexico
Sandra Cesca

Sotuta de Peón, once one of the largest hacienda plantations for the production of natural fiber rope, was established in the 1800s just outside of Merida, Mexico. Today, it is a living museum, having been restored from its abandoned state over 25 years ago.

Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours: A Palapa for your Pleasure
Sandra Cesca

Walking around Puerto Vallarta you will see many palapas, especially along the beach, where they serve as sun protection. So what is a palapa? It's an open-air thatched roof structure that is commonly constructed by local craftsmen using natural materials from the jungle.

Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours: Mexico's Nopal Cactus
Sandra Cesca

Dulce Maria Morales sits at our daily market removing the spines from nopal (prickly pear) cactus to prepare them for sale. When I first came to Mexico, I asked her what to do with these lovely green pads. Now, after many meals which have included various preparations, I love this food.

Meet the Mexican Willy Wonka in Puerto Vallarta
Sandra Cesca

The always smiling Jesus, whose nickname is 'Willy Wonka,' and I became friends at least 10 years ago when I started to bring people to one of his family's Puerto Vallarta 'dulcerias' to taste his many yummy products. Caramelized nuts, not chocolate, are his specialty.

El Tuito: A Satisfying Adventure into Rural Mexico
Sandra Cesca

I first met Marta several years ago, after hearing about her famous breads, cakes, and cookies in the small Mexican town of El Tuito. I have visited her many times since because her butter cookies are to die for. If you ever visit Puerto Vallarta, I will happily take you there.

Discover The Miracle of 'Milagros' in Puerto Vallarta
Sandra Cesca

I was walking by this shop in downtown Puerto Vallarta when I was attracted to the hundreds of wooden shapes hanging on the walls. Turns out they were 'milagros,' which means 'miracles' in Spanish, and they have been used for over 4000 years as a way to express gratitude.

Discovering Indigenous Art in Puerto Vallarta
Sandra Cesca

Mexico has long been known for its talented artists and craftsmen. Some techniques date back hundreds of years. Many shops and galleries in Puerto Vallarta carry these beautiful, handmade pieces, some examples of which can be seen on some of my walking tours.



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