When the Romero Vasquez sisters acted on instinct and gave some food to hungry immigrants on the roof of a train who were asking for food, they didn’t think much of it. They were just afraid their mother would be mad at them for giving away their breakfast.
Little did they know that 19 years later, with their mother’s help, their small act of kindness would become Las Patronas, a charitable organizations in Veracruz that’s helped thousands of migrants on their way to the United States.
The women of Las Patronas cook rice, beans and tortillas and give them away with water to all the migrants coming from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
And if you’re a migrant facing all the dangerous of the journey — drug cartels, gang violence, robbery, kidnapping, murder and even falling off the train to your death — Las Patronas is your pinch of hope on the perilous journey.
“We heard about them because they help us and give us food. Things like water, drinks, some tortillas and frijoles,” said Oscar, a young man making the journey from El Salvador. “They help you a lot with that, because sometimes you don’t have any food nor any money to buy anything.”
Learn more about the women of the organization and where the name Las Patronas comes from the BBC here.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.
But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?
Let’s start back at the beginning.
In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.
In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.
Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.
But it’s about more than just the beach.
Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.
This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”
Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.
For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.
Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.
Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.
Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.
Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.
Quinceañera, wedding, baptism, school dance hall – Mexicans sure know how to turn any and every occasion into a good time.
And no fiesta is ever complete without a bopping playlist that can carry the dancing late into the night.
Today, we’ve thrown together 17 classic songs that you’re likely to hear at any Mexican party. They should have ya (or at least dear tía Nora) throwing your hands in the air.
Caballo Dorado – Payaso de Rodeo
We’re kicking off the list with this classic wedding / quinceañera number.
‘Payaso de Rodeo’ to some, ‘No romper mi corazón’, to others. Whichever camp you’re in, there’s no not recognizing it once the DJ has his way. It’s a CALL TO ARMS – one that guarantees a stampede to the dancefloor and a whole lotta clapping, hopping and sliding.
This country band may have been formed way back in 1986 but this masterpiece is destined to outlive us all. Just, watch your feet – if you get ran over, it’s your fault.
2. Luis Miguel – Cuando Calienta El Sol
A forever classic from the sol de Mexico himself, perfect for parties under the hot sun, and for invoking nostalgic vibes of youth’s eternal-summer… yeah, and who’s ever forgetting that music vid?
3. Selena Quintanilla – Amor Prohibido
Straight from the queen herself, this song is a bop and a half. It was famously inspired by the love letters of her abuela, a maid who worked for a wealthy family and ended up falling in love with (and marrying) their son.
Seems like we’re all suckers for a good forbidden romance – it topped the US States Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart nine weeks in a row in 1994.
4. Jeans – Pepe
The four teens of the original Pepe video may have grown up, but Jeans will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s a throwback to the days of innocence, bad hair, and those tummy butterflies from crushing on a classmate.
5. Café Tacvba – Ingrata
An anthem for every teen in the 90s who figured they were a rebel. This Mexican band straight out of Satellite were a bunch of teens at the time but boy did they just get us.
6. Banda Blanca – Sopa de Caracol
So no we may never truly know what they are saying, but this song was always guaranteed to get you up and grooving at any fiesta.
7. Los Del Río – La Macarena
This Spanish one-hit wonder of the 90s needs no intro. Put it on any speakers, and the dance moves that follow are basically reflex.
La Macarena made the rounds again in recent years when the internet realised what the lyrics were actually saying. Turns out, the song is all about a girl (Macarena) cheating on her boyfriend with two friends, whilst he’s off in military service. Can I get a #childhoodruined.
8. Garibaldi – Banana
With refrains like ‘Mexicana like it (banana)’ and ‘Yo tengo una bolita que me sube y me baja’ (I have a little ball that goes up and goes down), Garibaldi’s Banana is, admittedly, no poetic masterpiece.
What is IS though, is a Latin beat that’s catchy as hell and sure to get you dancing. Plus, what’s life without a little cheap innuendo.
9. Vicente Fernández – El Rey
There comes a time in every respectable Mexican party when it’s time to break out the ranchera.
We were torn between this song and Chente’s Volver, Volver, but, well, it’s one of the best drinking songs of all time. Scoop up two amigos around the shoulders and bellow along: “PeRo SiGo SiEnDo eL rEy”
10. Los Angeles Azules – 17 Años
Guaranteed to have even the oldest guests getting jiggy, the infectious rhythm in this song is not to be underestimated.
No surprise really – Los Angeles Azules are the wizards of cumbia sonidera – a subgenre that fuses the 1950-1970s with synthy electronic 90s music.
11. Maná – Oye Mi Amor
Here’s one from the Guadalajaran pop rock band Maná – the most successful Latin American band of all time. Like, 40 million albums sold worldwide, kind of successful.
And this song? You might love it, you might hate it, but you most definitely, probably know the lyrics.
12. Pedro Infante – Cucurrucucú Paloma
Maybe not a mainstay of your average houseparty, but we couldn’t resist. Tomas Mandaz wrote this Mexican classic in 1954, and it’s since been covered by the likes of Pedro Infante and Luis Miguel.
And boy is it a crooner. The cucurucucú mimics the sound of a dove, and is meant to signal lovesickness.
13. Magneto – Vuela, Vuela
Whilst Vuela, Vuela is actually a cover of a 80’s French pop song, it’s also the song that helped skyrocket Magneto into the limelight.
Dubbed by some as the Mexican Backstreet Boys, Magneto’s song hit the charts in the early 90s and flew as high as its namesake.
14. Los Tigres Del Norte – El Jefe De Jefes
This Mexican norteño band is famous for their ‘narcocorrido’ – music that glorifies drug trafficking. It’s a genre that’s actually illegal to play at live events in some Mexican states, which has landed the band a hefty fine in the past. Regardless, at parties the song’s a hoot.
15. Molotov – Voto Latino
An anthem for proud crowds of Latinx to roar along to, this Molotov song is a classic in its own right.
16. La Chona – Los Tucanes de Tijuana
An energetic and fast-paced norteño song from a band that’s been around since 1987. They started out playing in nightclubs, so there’s no surprise that it’s virtually impossible to not dance to this.
17. Elvis Crespo – Suavemente
Sultry and sexy, this song is pure Latin rhythm heaven. Not only is it perfect for making eyes and swinging hips across a dancefloor, it also helped popularize merengue music.
18. Ramón Ayala – Tragos Amargos
Contested by some as the ultimate drinking song, would any list of Mexican party songs be complete without some Ramón Ayala to top it off?