Do you ever feel like the world is going too fast and you need to hit the pause button or get off for a while?
It seems that in our modern western societies, the only thing that matters nowadays is to live fast. We want to make money fast, we shorten our lunch breaks to eat fast, we need to commute fast, to make sure if we go anywhere we take the fastest way possible, at work we are obsessed with getting results fast and productivity is all that matters; if god forbid we get sick, we rush to the doctor’s office or to the drug store to get that pill that will make us feel better as fast as possible. We are getting impatient with the whole process of things in general, and we buy into programs that promise us to learn whatever it is that we are learning, fast. If we decide to lose those extra pounds we need them to vanish fast. If we get in a line at the store, the bank or the movie theatre we quickly lose our temper and have learned to chose machines over people to serve us, in order to avoid wasting time and money. Everything has to be timed and controlled and it has gotten to the contradictory point where a lot of people can’t take it anymore and are willing to actually pay to learn how to do nothing. Isn’t it silly?
This way of life has taught us how to make profit and to be productive, but by focusing so much on doing, our stress levels skyrocket and we have forgotten how to simply live (or live simply!), wreaking havoc not only on our health and ourselves, but on our planet as well. What ever happened to living in tune with the rhythms of nature and the seasons?
“Nature does not rush, yet everything is accomplished”, once said Chinese philosopher Lao Tse.
With this in mind, and in a desire to get back to a more sustainable way of life, the slow movement was created, advocating for a shift towards a slower life pace. It originated in Italy in 1986 with Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a MacDonald’s restaurant on Piazza di Spagna in Rome.
Over time, the movement has conquered many hearts and become famous through the slow food movement, and has even led to the “Citta Slow” – or slow cities – movement, around the world.
“Municipalities which join the association are motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions of valuable works of art, squares, theaters, shops, cafés, restaurants, places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes, characterized by spontaneity of religious rites, respect of traditions through the joy of a slow and quiet living.”
Kinda makes you want to pack your bags and more to a slow citty, doesn’t it? But before you sell your house and buy a plane ticket, make sure you aren’t living in the perfect place already.
Puerto Vallarta: a perfect place to start your very own slow revolution
Some requirements have to be observed to officially becomme a Citta Slow, among which not exceeding a population of 50’000 people. However, despite a population already exceeding the 200k inhabitants in 2010, Puerto Vallarta does presents a perfect environment to implement a personal shift towards a slow pace and stress-free life, by already subscribing to the following aspects that are key to being a Citta Slow:
- being dedicated to protect the enviroment: there are countless programs to preserve the environment in Vallarta. From controled turtle release events to the preservation programs of the botanical garden, through protected beaches and local NGOs, not to mention that Nature is present everywhere in the city: as it is literally nestled between the jungle and the ocean, both offer opportunities to preserve mother earth by just being there (one simple example on how to protect the ocean: don’t litter or use plastic).
- offering local gastronomy made with local ingredients: many of the restaurants in Vallarta offer traditional Mexican dishes and use fresh, locally grown products from local farms. You can also find the catch of the day fish in most places, go to one of the various local farmers market to buy your groceries (and save a couple of extra bucks!)… just by avoiding big corporate chains, you are basically supporting local producers.
- promoting small businesses and local handicraft: there are countless crafts shops around the bay, promoting the work of local artists, traditional art from the huichols, handicraft and even food stores where you can buy organic, locally grown food all around town. A walk on Isla del Rio Cuale through the traditional handicraft market is definitely worth a glimpse!
- promoting hospitality and a good relationship with locals and visitors: Puerto Vallarta is considered to be the “most friendly city on earth”! Need I say more?
- having local traditions: have you ever wandered the streets of Vallarta and seen the prehispanic dances on the malecón, or in September, the parade of the “charros”? PV might be touristy but it has managed to keep traditions alive and an old Mexico charm is constantly blowing through the air.
- having access to places to actually slow down: the botanical garden, A Page in The Sun coffeeshop, El Patio de mi Casa restaurant or Barracuda restaurant, to name just a few, are all perfect local places to make time stop. Whether you want to walk bare-foot in the grass, read a good second hand book, have a good old beer while listening to live music, or watch the sunset to the sound of the waves, these are all perfect places to escape all the madness for a while and recharge, slowly.
Moreover, there are a number of traditional and really “slow” villages in the surroundings of Puerto Vallarta: Mascota, San Sebastián, El Tuito…if you feel like taking a stroll and refresh in the cool mountains nearby.
We don’t need to be in a place that is llegally isted as slow or have all the requirements checklisted to start making a difference. Take a deep breath, focus on the essential, and make that decision to slow down. You got everything you need right here, right now!