La Playa de los Muertos is filled with beach vendors. Dressed in white to reflect the light and help cool them on their mission. They are eccentric and elegant figures traversing the sand.
The vendors tirelessly walk the beach loaded with wares. Anything you could want is available – silver, leather goods, blankets, pipes and pot, baskets, blankets, popcorn, potato chips, foot massages, chicklets, marionettes, fish and shrimp on sticks, handmade dolls, woven palm fronds, kitchenware, hats, and, finally, beautiful flowers carved from fresh mangos.
The vendors survive the blistering sun. They trudge the steep beach without complaint. No wonder they are so persistent and get in the face of the touristas lounging at the beach clubs that rim Los Muertos beach. They each have a strategy. They call and cajole to engage potential customers. Sometimes children are deployed for sympathy. Anything for a sale. They’re desperate to close the deal. It is grueling hard work. These men, women and children deserve our empathy for their efforts to feed their families.
The gringos have their own strategies. If they are interested in making a full-price purchase, everyone is happy. Some bargain as if it is a sport. Why bargain? The Mexicans are offering a piece of Vallarta. That treasure is worth the price. Some people want to be left alone. That’s fine. We all want some peace. Some are rude. No need. My strategy if I want to be left alone, is to say “Gracias.” I do not say “No gracias.” The “No” indicates you might want something else that they are selling.
We do have some favorites. The Muffin Man sells his wife’s delicious muffins and empanadas.
I am a big admirer of the artist who goes by the moniker Jésus Abraham Chuy Chuy. He is an extraordinary leatherworker, a true talent. He is now making exquisite jewelry and shoes. He is an industrious young man who received a college degree in nutrition but continues create. He speaks excellent English. You can see view his work on Facebook. Make an appointment to view his art if you are in Puerto Vallarta. He calls me “Bro.” I am proud to be his friend and own some of his beautiful work.
One of my favorite art creations is “Flores de mango,” “Mango Flowers” in English. Early each morning women take ripe mangos cooling on ice and peel and carve them into refreshing flowers held aloft by a stick. The men, load them into Coca-Cola crates with jicama, cucumber, and watermelon to sell healthy treats to the beachgoers.
My friend Javi has a strategy. Rather than wait for the sun to warm the mangos, he goes to the source. Under a small bridge where the women toil, he buys his flores de mango, so cool and delicious.