Raised 63,000 Pesos for Amigos de la Isla Cuale
Learn more about Amigos de la Isla Cuale (formed after Hurricane Nora in 2021) as well as about the second annual festival with the goal of raising money for the upkeep and maintenance of the beloved “Islita”.
If you speak to any locals native to Puerto Vallarta, known as “pata salada”, about Isla Cuale, many of them will mention "la islita," where they used to play and take classes as children. However, in recent years, activity on the island has been sporadic. In August 2021, the island was devastated by Hurricane Nora, a Category 2 storm. Bridges leading to the island were destroyed, vendors had to temporarily move to Parque Hidalgo, the entire island was covered in dirt, and the plants from the garden cared for by the Centro Cultural Vallartense were uprooted and washed away. It was a true disaster.
The restoration efforts for the island picked up speed when Guy Weeks returned to Vallarta after visiting his mother in California. He immediately went to the island to see the damage and find his friend Jorge, the owner of Las Brazzas restaurant. Guy and Jorge started by cleaning around the restaurant, but soon realized that more than just a broom was needed. They faced up to two feet of sand and debris. Guy borrowed a shovel from his friend Bill and went to the island without knowing what lay ahead.
Over time, more people joined the efforts to clean up and restore the island. Ernesto Garrigos and Kika Gomez from the Centro Cultural Vallartense (the independent cultural center on the island), Jimmy, Francie, and Juri from the Vallarta Food Bank, Mitch Kushner, Sunny, Robert, and Suzanne all played important roles in organizing volunteers and restoring the island to its former state. Guy also recruited Greg from the gym, who quickly mobilized a large group of volunteers to organize the Isla de Los Muertos Festival—a now annual celebration of Día de los Muertos on the island. The restoration and improvement of Isla Cuale after Hurricane Nora have been entirely reliant on volunteers and donations.
This year, the unofficial committee of Amigos de la Isla Cuale officially joined forces with the Vallarta Garden Club, becoming a committee under their established and legally-designated non-profit organization that has been working to improve Puerto Vallarta for over 15 years.
Last year's Isla de Los Muertos Festival raised $23,000 pesos for island maintenance. This year's festival, however, managed to raise an impressive $63,000 pesos. Suzanne Fontaine, member of Amigos de la Isla Cuale, commented, “these are NET funds raised -- that means after expenses were taken into account! One hundred percent of those pesos will be used to keep the Isla safe and beautiful.
Huge thanks to Greg and everyone else who served on the planning committee as well as the sponsors and many volunteers!”
The festival offered various attractions, such as a diverse lineup of musical performances on the main stage, with audio sponsored by the beloved Act2PV theater. Visitors could also enjoy food, drinks, face painting, altars, and an award-winning exhibition called "El Barro Suena" by Mae Delgado in the Centro Cultural Vallartense, which included a recreation of a pre-Hispanic tomb.
The main stage lineup included Brenda Gaviño (World Karaoke Competition Runner Up), Kevin Anthony, Bobbi & The Others (Vallarta's Queen of Country), The Three Tenors, So you think you can RISE Contest Winners: Jordan & Daneshs, Rafa Alonso, Enoch, Act2PV Greatest Comeback Show & Preview of 2024 Season: Steven Reckless, Rocky Horror Cast & Mamma Mia Cast (produced by Pat Macias; featuring choreography by Edgar Román), The VOICE of Vallarta Reunion Showcase: Gloria Fiona, Patriz Vallarta, RULO de MAR, Cate Valcic & Jessi Valente, Luis Villanueva’s ¡Viva México! All Spanish Variety Show and the newest band on the bill, The Pleasant Uprising.
Make sure to visit the island to see the gorgeous gardens, check out the artists who participated in the festival as they perform around Vallarta and the Bahia during this high season, and stay on the lookout for future opportunities to support Amigos de la Isla Cuale. When you go to the island, you may even spot Guy Weeks watering plants in the morning or unwinding at Las Brazzas in the evenings, enjoying the now beautiful Isla Cuale, the last green space in the heart of Vallarta.