There are many different ways to know when there is a change of seasons. The easiest one is the calendar. A couple weeks ago, we had the official start of spring, sometimes referred to as the vernal equinox. Here in Mexico, as in many Latin cultures, it is called La Primavera. What a wonderful melodic word. I looked up primavera to find out its origins. Now I’m not a Latin scholar by any means but from what I can tell, it comes from two words and basically means “first look”. That’s especially appropriate for those living in colder climates where the crocus is literally the first sign of better things to come, weather-wise.
But you really don’t need a calendar to know it is spring. Slowly, as the days become longer the nights are shorter. As winter progressed here in Vallarta, the sunsets gradually moved from behind the southern tip of the Bay towards the horizon straight from shore. If you want to plan a sunset dinner, 6:30 no longer works and once we go on Daylight Savings Time, you may just want to watch the sunset with your after dinner coffee.
Of course there are no crocuses here. What we have are glorious trees: primavera trees, with their profusion of yellow flowers, soon to be followed by lush green leaves, and the Amapas trees; exploding with pink blossoms. You might be lucky enough to see a jacarandas tree, but there aren’t as many as there once were.
In other ways the change of seasons is more subtle here than in other places. As we transition towards the rainy season, this becomes the “dusty season”. Some years back, before the cobblestones were concreted in place, every car or bus that passed generated giant clouds of dust that left a blanket over every plant, vehicle and building. It’s not so bad now but at certain times you may find yourself with an eyeful or mouthful of bits of grit.
You’ll also notice that the trees on the mountains around us have lost that bright green hue. The tops of some have a dry brownish tinge, almost seeming to cry out for water. The Cuale river runs more slowly now, exposing the rocks along her banks and finally seeping into the Bay as a meandering trickle.
As we walk on the Malecon in the morning, spring is marked by the disappearance of the snowbirds. It doesn’t happen overnight. One morning we notice that we haven’t seen Smiley for several days. Next it’s the woman with the sad eyes or the happy couple holding hands. They drift north just as they arrived in the fall; one or two at a time, never saying goodbye. The crowds dwindle down to a few and then it’s just you, the sweepers, the pigeons, a few dogs and the other year-round folks. Summer will bring a flock of national tourists but until then the mornings are quiet.
If you are one of those leaving this paradise and heading north, spring may be a sad time. Back at home you’ll start counting the months until your next visit. The time will pass and you’ll return. Puerto Vallarta will be waiting for you. Until then, que les bien.