Whoever named the streets in the downtown core of Puerto Vallarta would not do well with the #MeToo movement and deservedly so. In our look at the two dozen or so street names in the colonias of Emiliano Zapata and El Centro we have found, so far, that just one is named after a lady and that is Francisca Rodriguez; the very favourite teacher of many schoolchildren here, until she died fifty years ago. A few streets are named after trees and fruits but the large majority memorialize heroes of the Mexican War of Independence or the Mexican Revolution and who, apparently, were all men. Today we will give a nod to a couple more of them.
Walking north along the Malecon from Corona we come to streets named after Juan Aldama and José Mariano de Abasolo Outón. These were both heroes of the fight for independence from Spain.
Wandering inland, Calle Juan Aldama brings us to a store favoured by those who like to put burning leaves in their mouth, La Casa del Habano, a cigar store that offers an excellent selection of Cuban stogies. A block further east is Eddie’s Alquiler de Smokings which, I understand, will rent tuxedos and smoking jackets to go with the cigars you just bought.
Juan Aldama is also the home to Galeria Pacifico which presents an eclectic mix of sculptures and paintings mostly by Mexican artists and some foreigners who live and work in Mexico. The second oldest gallery in the city, the gallery has been open for over 30 years and is run by its founder Gary Thompson. Gary also sponsors the free Malecon Sculpture Tour during the “high season”.
Juan Aldama, after who the street was named, was born in 1774, served as a captain in the Spanish calvary but deserted to join the leaders of the Mexican independence movement. He was a senior officer under Ignacio Allende and rose, quickly, to the rank of Lieutenant General.
In January 1811, almost 100,000 Mexican revolutionary soldiers, who were enthusiastic volunteers commanded by Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, lined up to fight the 8,000 professional soldiers royalist forces.It was no contest. Twenty minutes into the battle of Calderon Bridge a royalist artillery shell struck an ammunition wagon of their opponents, causing it to explode. The huge explosion scared the bejeebers out of the revolutionary army and gave victory to the much smaller but better disciplined and equipped royalist forces. This defeat was a turning point in the War of Independence and resulted in a ten-year delay before independence could be achieved.
The Spanish government put a price of $10,000 each on the heads of Hidalgo, Allende and Aldama, the main leaders of the rebel movement. As we all know, money talks and, almost immediately, the three were captured. Our hero was executed by firing squad on June 30, 1811 (at age 37). His decapitated head was hung for all to see in the city of Guanajuato, along with the heads of Allende and Hidalgo, until the independence was won in 1820. Gruesome!
Next up is the street named “Abasalo”. Here the intrepid traveler will find Cafecita Mio, a block and a half off the Malecon. One review on Trip Advisor is very complimentary: “Luz and her staff are very delightful with excellent, coffee, and yummy bites to eat, including occasional quiche and empanadas, plus other homemade bread and cookies. The seating is cozy and comfortable!” Close to the Malecon is the pub/ nightclub “La Ingrata”. As the hours of operation are from 9:30 pm to 5:30 am your reporter is unable to provide a first-hand review of this establishment.
José Mariano de Abasolo Outón suffered a similar fate as did Juan Aldama. Born in 1783, he joined Hidalgo’s fighters for independence, fought in some battles and was captured by the royalist forces in 1811. His wife saved his bacon because her family was able to grease some palms in the court of the royalist government. To no avail. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Abasolo remained in the dungeons of the Castle of Santa Catalina in Spain, where he died on April 14, 1816, from tuberculosis. Maybe a bullet in the head five years earlier would have been better than rotting away in a Spanish dungeon?
Next week we’ll see that Calle Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez is the second street in PV to be named after a ladya