by Denise Fiske-Chow
We first found our paradise here 37 years ago and after living here full-time for the past 26 years, I have seen drastic changes, some scary, some sad, some welcome.
I remember when the highway from Bucerias to Puerto Vallarta wasn’t a highway but a 2 lane road full of deep potholes barely wide enough for 2 cars, and a center line that was non-existent in many places. There were no businesses, very few houses, and traffic signals were a thing of the future. At night, you said a prayer before venturing forth and the standing rule was: never, never, drive at night. If you got caught in one of our deluge rain storms, you had to pull over and wait it out because water flooded the road so bad.
On December 12th, the Virgin of Guadalupe Day, the pilgrims on their way to Puerto Vallarta would walk in the roadway and it was so dark, you couldn’t see them! Each year tragedies happened. They would come from as far away as Baja, or Sinaloa. It was an amazing show of devotion, and fun to talk to the many groups that passed through Bucerias.
At the cross-roads in Mezcales, there was no signal. There was supposed to be a stop sign for the traffic coming from the direction of San Jose del Valle, but more often than not, the drivers would run it. Needless to say there were many more accidents, serious ones, during that time. At night, there was one lone taco wagon with a single 100 watt light bulb to announce it was open. They always drew a crowd, even though they only opened at night. Great tacos!
The highway construction, to pave and widen the road, was welcome news, but it brought a whole new set of problems. There were no markings to guide you through detours, roadblocks or hazards. In a storm it was very scary, the highway remained totally dark and you had to watch out for the ever-present cows and horses that wandered the countryside and crossed the road.
The good part is that we got through it and now we enjoy driving into Puerto Vallarta in half the time it used to take. The highway is, in most instances, well lit and even in a storm you can see where you are going without fear of being washed away. Yes, things have changed and in this case, I must say, for the better.