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Huichol Indians

Liz Taylor’s Gringo Gulch

E WERE always intrigued with the story of Elizabeth Taylor who left hubby Eddie Fisher to stay with her paramour Richard Burton, who was also married to someone else, while he was filming Night of the Iguana in 1963 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Produced by Ray Stark for MGM, the film was based on the Tennessee Williams play, directed by John Huston and starred Richard Burton and Deborah Kerr.

Elizabeth Taylor Museum

Elizabeth bought a house and built an overhanging bridge across the cobblestone street where Richard was in residence during his shoot, so the star-crossed lovers could connect whenever they desired. Her house, known as Gringo Gulch, was sold 13 years ago; it’s now a bed and breakfast and museum.

We got our chance to visit Taylor’s house one day when we went on a winter vacation with Club Kosher, which took over La Jolla de Mismaloya All-Suites Resort six miles south of Puerto Vallarta (322 226-0600).

Venture out of Puerto Vallarta and discover the charm and mystique of nearby laid-back towns, such as the charming Pitillal. Across the imposing Michaelangel Church we ran into Huichol Indians who came to market. Descendants of the real natives of Mexico, the Aztecs, they live in isolation in adobe structures on the nearby Sierra Madre Mountains. Huichol art, inspired by mystical visions, is highly prized by savvy collectors.

Charles Rosenay (left)
emcees the fun

A walk on the magnificent Playa Mismaloya (beach), in the majestic Banderas Bay, where Iguana was shot, is a real treat. On the beach we stopped at Teos & Arturo restaurant (phone 228-0953) to talk to proprietor Jeffrey Kress. He also owns Oceana Diver, conducting diving, snorkeling, fishing and boat tours (phone 228-0823).

Jeffrey regaled us with Hollywood lore from a personal vantage. He was the youngest assistant film editor in the guild when he joined at age 18. His grandfather was legendary producer Mike Frankovich at Columbia from 1959 to 1967. He made Butterflies Are Free, Cactus Flower, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. His last movie, The Shootist, was John Wayne’s last.

La Jolla de Mismaloya on
Banderas Bay

Be sure to carry a copy of Frommer’s Portable Puerto Vallarta (Wiley, 204 pages, paperback, $10.99), which I found extremely useful and handy, and fits in your pocket.

This winter Club Kosher offers two family vacations at the 4-star scenic Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa (formerly of the Renaissance/Marriott chain) in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. Dates are Dec. 22-29 and Jan. 19-29. Information at www.clubkosher.com or call Charles Rosenay at (203) 799-7791.

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