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We have so much time in Puerto Vallarta — six months! — that we’re determined to spend a respectable part of it pursuing worthy causes. After all, there’s only so much hangin’ out by the pool that a person can endure.

It is with these lofty intentions that we have embarked on a research project that will benefit all our soon-to-be-visiting friends. With benevolence in mind, we have set out to explore PV’s gringo bars.

The extent of this research is a considerable undertaking. There are a lot of gringo bars here. But our first stop was an easy one: Que?Pasa, a bar owned by Michael Hayes, who hails from Portland (Oregon), my home town. Gotta love that.

Before I go any further, a note: the word “gringo” typically refers to residents (or former residents) of the USA. There are as many Canadians in PV as there are gringos, maybe more, and PV’s gringo bars cater to Canadians with the same enthusiasm as they do gringos. Mexicans, too. Nobody really cares. This is not a town of prejudice.

A gringo bar, however, is one where norteamericanos — from both above and below the 49th parallel — converge. English is spoken. Football — the kind where they use their hands — is on the TV. Gringo handshakes are exchanged. Bonhomme, good buddy, and all that.

But  I was talking about Michael Hayes. A while back, Michael set off on a round-the-world adventure aboard his sailboat, departing Portland. Michael’s a laid-back sailor. Not one of those “shipshape or ship out” guys. Consequently, it required two years to travel the Pacific coast to the tropics and Puerto Vallarta. He stopped here to get some rigging fixed on the boat and, well, bought a bar. He (and the bar, and the boat) have been here ever since.

Michael is the envy of all the gringo men in town. One word: Yvonne.

Michael and Yvonne are dressed for Saint Patrick's Day. (From the Que?Pasa website.)

Michael and Yvonne are dressed for Saint Patrick’s Day. (From the Que?Pasa website.)

Yvonne came to PV from her native Austria not long after Michael parked his boat. She was doing volunteer work in pursuit of her Master’s degree when she wandered into Que?Pasa and fell in love. She never told me if she fell in love with Michael, the bar, or PV, but I suspect it was the former, as they’re married now. “So, you’re co-owner,” I asked. “No,” she replied, “Michael owns the bar; I own Michael.”

Taco stand in Emiliano Zapata

Taco stand in Emiliano Zapata

Back to our research project: We took the blue bus, got off at the Aquiles Serdán stop and wandered five blocks to the bar. There are other buses that cudda saved us the walk, but this part of PV — a neighborhood called Emiliano Zapata — is delightfully ethnic. People are friendly and the chatter of happy Spanish fills the air. The best taco stands are in this part of town, and many (some say most) of PV’s most intriguing restaurants are here as well, lining Basilia Badillo street.

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Restaurants along Basilia Badillo street. (Slide show)

We visited Que?Pasa on the second Monday in October this year, which was Canadian Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, all the trimmings — was priced at 130 pesos ($9.75 US) and beers were 15 pesos ($1.13 US). Canadian football surrounded us on hi-def screens, and I practiced saying words ending in “out” so that they rhymed with “hoot.”

Inside Que?Pasa. Click any picture to enlarge.

So now the research project is well underway and we have determined that Que?Pasa is a suitable venue for our soon-to-arrive visitors. On the agenda: the ocean, the pool, the city, and now a good gringo bar.

Be prepared, friends. Be very prepared.

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