The Day of the Iguana… Adventures in Puerto Vallarta

As the iguana stared balefully back at me, his eye seemed to grow.

As the iguana stared balefully back at me, his eye seemed to grow.

 

Peggy and I are in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. While she works on her next Cotswolds post, I decided to slip one in on Puerto Vallarta.

I was home alone when I heard the scratching on our door. Peggy had gone off with our friends Ken and Leslie in hopes of finding Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby. I had wished them luck. The Internet is an on again/off again proposition here at the Krystal Hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

I looked up, thinking maybe the maid had come early, or the pool man. But usually they knock and shout “Ola.” No one was there. I went back to writing. I was editing Peggy’s blog on the villages of the Cotswolds.

SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH. “What the…?” I thought, looking up again. The villa has these large, arch-shaped doors made of frosted glass that let in light but not prying eyeballs. Off to the right I spotted what appeared to be large, scary head staring at me through the opaque glass. I recognized it.

The doorways to our villa in Puerto Vallarta were arched. The iguana appeared in the lower right window.

The doorways to our villa in Puerto Vallarta were arched. The iguana appeared in the lower right window.

The head of the iguana appearing through frosted glass reminded me of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The head of the iguana appearing through frosted glass reminded me of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

“Aha!” went racing through my mind, “Senior Iguana is here for a visit.” I rushed over to the door and opened it, wondering if he would come in. It would be amusing to watch Peggy, Ken and Leslie’s reaction to finding a large lizard hanging out on the floor of our living room. Maybe I could entice him up onto the couch with a banana.

I found the Puerto Vallarta iguana outside scratching at our window. Was it asking to come in?

I found the Puerto Vallarta iguana outside scratching at our window. Was it asking to come in?

“Ola, Buenos Dias Senior Iggy. Welcome!” I proclaimed. Senior Iggy stared up at me balefully and said not a word. Maybe he didn’t like being called Iggy. He went back to scratching the window with his long claws.

I went inside and retrieved a banana. Back outside I sat down on the porch step, peeled the banana, and tossed a piece to the iguana. He ignored it, like he was ignoring me. It was then that I noticed that Iggy was staring at the window, not through it. He had found true love in a perfect reflection of himself. What’s a puny banana in comparison?

I discovered the iguana was admiring its reflection in the window and wondered if it was breeding season and the large Puerto Vallarta lizard believed he had found true love— or possibly a rival.

I discovered the iguana was admiring its reflection in the window and wondered if it was breeding season and the large Puerto Vallarta lizard believed he had found true love— or possibly a rival.

I was still sitting on the doorstep when Ken, Leslie and Peggy returned. I heard them laughing with one of the gardeners when they spotted me sitting with the iguana. “They are good to eat,” the gardener told them. “They taste like chicken.” Naturally. My friends approached quietly, not wanting to scare Iggy.

“Don’t worry, the iguana is in love.” I doubt that a brass band would have disturbed him. Ken, Leslie, and Peggy each sat down on the porch step where I had been to admire our new best friend. We went inside with the iguana still staring at himself, deeply in love, or perhaps lust. He was still there when we left 45 minutes later, but had departed when we returned in four hours, undoubtedly heart-broken.

Peggy sat where I had and admired the iguana as he tried to reach his reflection.

Peggy sat where I had and admired the iguana as he tried to reach his reflection.

Two days later Peggy and I noticed that another iguana was outside, this time at the door leading to our pool. “Do you think he will come in if we open the door this time?” Peggy asked. “One way to find out,” I responded. Sure enough, a few minutes later we saw a head peaking in. And then the whole iguana followed. Peggy quickly jumped up and closed the door to our bedroom. We might find an iguana in our living room and kitchen amusing. Sleeping under our bed or in our shower would be another issue. He (I am assuming it was a male) wandered around looking for the beautiful girl iguana he knew lived in our villa. He stopped to eat a couple of mosquitos, his big tongue lashing out. (“Go big fellow!” we urged.) Finally, I opened the front door. Off he went.

We left the door open to see if the iguana would come inside searching for the other iguana. We were thrilled to see his head appear…

We left the door open to see if the iguana would come inside searching for the other iguana. We were thrilled to see his head appear…

…Soon to be followed by the rest of the iguana.

…Soon to be followed by the rest of the iguana.

The iguana settled onto the floor and checked us our. He looked much less beat up than the first iguana that had come to visit. Note the size of the claws.

The iguana settled onto the floor and checked us out. He looked much less beat up than the first iguana that had come to visit. Note the size of the claws.

He was truly a handsome specimen.

He was truly a handsome specimen.

Iguanas are common in Puerto Vallarta. We often spot them on the Rio Cuale, big fellows hanging out in the trees above the river— and this isn’t the first time we have spotted them at our villa. Their images are captured in everything from tourist trinkets to expensive art. They even played a major role in Puerto Vallarta’s top industry: tourism.

This big fellow was taking his afternoon siesta in a tree next Puerto Vallarta’s attractive River Cuale.

This big fellow was taking his afternoon siesta in a tree next Puerto Vallarta’s attractive River Cuale.

This small vase with a beaded iguana was made by our friend, Ernesto, a Huichol Indian, for our grandson Ethan whom he had met two years ago.

This small vase with a beaded iguana was made by our friend, Ernesto, a Huichol Indian, for our grandson Ethan whom he had met two years ago.

We found this large mural of an iguana in Old Town Puerto Vallarta.

We found this large mural of an iguana in Old Town Puerto Vallarta.

In 1964, Hollywood director John Huston brought his all-star cast of Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr to the area to film The Night of the Iguana (thus the title of this blog), which was based on a play written by Tennessee Williams in 1961. To add a little spice, Burton, who was still married, brought along his future wife, Elizabeth Taylor. Hollywood had discovered Puerto Vallarta, and, because of the scandal between Dick and Liz, the world did as well.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had adjoining houses connected by a bridge when they were in Puerto Vallarta for filming The Night of the Iguana in 1964.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had adjoining houses connected by a bridge when they were in Puerto Vallarta for filming The Night of the Iguana in 1964.

32 comments on “The Day of the Iguana… Adventures in Puerto Vallarta

  1. What a wonderful post all round. The first image is just stunning and they keep up all the way through! Thanks Curt for sharing such a stunning individual with us. Hope he did find true love 😉

  2. Señor Ignacio feels slighted at the unsubstantiated accusations of narcissism; he was really trying to choose the rival out for daring to face him down. (Years ago, I was bringing a pair of Ctenosaur iguanas to Stanford University – no, not to study, to be studied. They were in clearly marked carry-on bags, and I had the required USDA-APHIS permits. At a moment of distraction, I didn’t notice the US Customs inspector open the bag sufficiently to insert his hand to explore – but everyone noticed it when he extracted the hand with a feisty iguana’s jaws clamped on his hand, and clawing his arm as he tried to dislodge it. Lesson learned – don’t gripe a bag marked “WARNING – LIVE ANIMAL”. That was, for at least one chastened Customs officer, what he will long remember as “the day of the iguana”.)

    • Fun, Jose, and thanks for commenting.I for one, wasn’t going to get anywhere near those teeth and claws. (grin) I suspect you may had a problem with a custom official. Now you would probably be locked up for life. So you think it was territorial. They certainly were eager to get inside and find the other iguana, whatever the reason. –Curt

      • I do think it was probably agonist ice behavior; gig ys start pumping push ups and doing other aggro tactics when they see other males that might challenge them.

        As to the Customs officer, I cringed, but the officer’s supervisor scolded him for not paying attention to my clear labeling – and all my paperwork was in order. I was delayed and missed my original flight, though.

  3. Great shots of the lizzards. He does look in love, doesn’t he? We have blue tongue lizzards in our garden. They eat snails and other creatures crawling about. We have taught Milo our Jack Russell to leave them alone and he does.

    • Milo is one smart dog, Girard. 🙂 At home, we have dozens of small lizards that keep the grandkids busy trying to catch them. The rule is if they catch one, they have to turn it loose.–Curt

  4. I love lizards generally, but these bad boys are really something. I love the photo of the one lounging on the tree limb. He’s got the same sort of insouciance a lounging squirrel can project. It’s smile-producing, for sure.

  5. Speechless. They are quite beautiful, but the size is quite a surprise. Our desert lizards here are small and without the commanding attitude/presence that these fellows display.
    Great post.

  6. awesome and interesting post… and pix, of course! 🙂 btw, a couple of friends who live in Houston, TX brought a tiny iguana(iguanita) from Mexico years ago and it’s become their kids’ pet… it even used to swim with them in their pool! 🙂
    * * *
    I did watch the famous movie years ago… A classic!

    • I’ve seen people who have turned iguanas into pets, as well. Would be fun to see the pool situation. Iguanas, as I recall are good swimmers and use water as an escape route. I need to watch the movie again. –Curt

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