Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Another itinerant Mexican crafts fair has set up shop along Puerto Vallarta’s main throughway, Francisco Medina Ascencio, this time next to Hospital San Javier, across from the Maritime Terminal in the Hotel Zone. There are several good reasons to consider checking these fairs out when they come into town.
There’s more than what you usually see.
With very few exceptions, most of the Mexican crafts you see around town come from nearby states. At events such as this crafts fair, most of the booths feature a sign indicating the state where the items were created. In turn, this begins to open your eyes to the vast variety of artistic and cultural expressions from different parts of Mexico you probably had not had a chance to see, particularly if you haven’t traveled throughout the country much.
There are edibles, too!
In addition to crafts, a portion of the vendors feature edibles: there are delicious artisan cheeses, flavored mole pastes (which you can turn into amazing dishes at home), and traditional alcoholic beverages such as mezcal, raicilla and other regional liqueurs. (This time around, I took a chance on a bag of soy-based spicy pork rinds out of curiosity. I probably wouldn’t go back to buy more, but, hey! I took a chance!)
Prices are fair.
Since these vendors travel in groups and set up shop at areas far removed from where most tourists are hanging out (as in, areas where the rents are higher), items purchased from them tend to be fairly priced. In addition, you are, more often than not, shopping directly from the creators, so there are no middle man-related price markups involved. That said, if you are an anglophone, it always helps to travel in pairs with a Spanish-speaking local to at least get a sense as to how much you should be paying for something. This doesn’t mean that all locals are Mexican craft experts, but the company doesn’t hurt, either.
What about quality?
Yes, you are shopping for quality items. Of course, this is not a black or white matter. When it comes to craftsmanship there are always levels. For example, if you purchase dishware, it may look pretty and nicely painted, but it may not be microwave safe—it’s always good to ask! If you want to be guaranteed quality items, there are three local sources I’d recommend in a heartbeat: Kevin Simpson’s Colectika and Peyote People, Peter and Tari Bowman’s Banderas Bay Trading Company and Lucy Muñiz and Gil Givens’ Lucy’s CuCu Cabaña. All of these shop owners take off at least once a year, traveling through Mexico hand-picking the finest items they can obtain from families that have been crafting for generations and with whom they’ve developed long term relationships.
The crafts fair is located next to Hospital San Javier and will remain in town until Feb 24. Free parking is available. And if your car needs it, you can have it washed while you shop!
A musician-turned-multimedia journalist, Paco Ojeda has been living in Puerto Vallarta since December 2001, describing the city and its surroundings through words, pictures and short videos for local, national and international publications ever since. Visit his website, Paco-Ojeda.com, for interesting news, articles, interviews, and reviews created with the approximately 35,000 US citizens and other anglophones living in Puerto Vallarta, in mind.