Magical Punta Mita: 24 hours of luxury
Five and a half hours ago I had left the dry air of cosmopolitan Guadalajara and its magnificent book fair behind and was already drenched in the tropicalism of coastal Nayarit, the state that houses the popular tourist town of Puerto Vallarta.
My ultimate destination was another 15 km away- a luxury resort tucked into the green foliage of the isolated peninsula named for its spearhead shape: Punta Mita.
Room service without even asking for it. I could stay awhile. Who’s the second margarita for?
An old friend from my Mexico City art tour days works at the hotel and had invited me to be a guest, with a special library discount.
I hauled my heavy suitcase full of books and materials onto a local bus that would take me to the end of the road. I positioned it as close to my seat as possible, resisting each turn and the gravity that rolled it side to side. The ride cost me 16 pesos and 40 minutes before descending with my belongings into the outstretched arms of my friend who awaited me at the end of the road. (He later confirmed my assumption I had been the first guest to arrive to my multi-hundred dollar room on a peso bus.) I like living on both sides.
Breezy Punta Mita immediately sweeps you into luxury; tasteful architecture blends into the natural environment; light brown buildings extend across acres of land, accented by turquoise undertones. Each building is named after the local animals; I was appropriately assigned to Fish. A slothful orange iguana named Pancho slumbered atop one of the trees that provide shade along the winding footpaths -a bit of natural respite from the tropical sun and its humidity. When you are lounging in-house, there is a room dehumidifier to make the air more comfortable. I turned it off: how often do I get to fall asleep to tropical humidity? My curls couldn’t contain their excitement.
The ensuing 24 hours were absolutely delightful; an indulgent taste of resort life from one of the top hotels in the world where the wait staff called me “Ms. Moore” at every turn, offering wet towels to clean my hands, replenishing the fruit basked at mid-day in my room, and tempting me with samples of hibiscus tea and fruit smoothies while lounge under a palm-thatched palapa next to a lapping sea.
I caught a moment with the chef while he received the day’s catch of fresh fish- exuberantly colored parrot fish, huge red snapper (huachinango), and some mahi mahi. The speciality preparation for fish here is called zarandeado- the fish is marinaded in achiote before being grilled butterfly style. Achiote is Nahuatl for shrub, and the seeds (from which annatto is extracted) lend a beautiful red hue to culinary dishes. I deserted veganism for a night to indulge in the huachinango zarandeado but probably only managed to do so because I hadn’t yet seen the beautiful poor thing in his original state, which happened post-dinner the following day. My condolences, pobre huachi! What a beauty.
The huachinango is not pictured (possibly in protest because I ate his cousin the night prior.) Mahi mahi (left) and the dazzling parrot fish (right).
An ocean swim, a float down the lazy river, a delicious dinner and the sweet company of an old friend. My time was done and an imposing blue suburban pulled up to take me back down the private drive where I’d wander off to more humble accommodations down the way in San Pancho. The darkly tinted windows of this macho vehicle struck me as unfit for this landscape. For a moment I was reminded that there is another reality here, one that tightly grips this country, and ours, in its bloody reigns. Yet Punta Mita knows nothing of it. The extremes remain aplenty.