Some people simply never toot their own horn

But there comes a time – like an upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, in this case – to celebrate both a thriving cross-cultural marriage and contributions that shaped the face of this town.

The couple met in Mexico City, marrying in 1955 and moving to Vallarta 25 years ago. They have four children, Carlos Jr., Juan, David and Ofelia, and five grandchildren to dote on, four in the States and Carlos Jr.’s daughter Natalia, a genuine Vallartense.

Carlos Sr. initially came here in 1956 with his father, vice-president of Mexicana Airlines, to search for a suitable location for an airport. Returning six years later to invest in land and exploring the South Shore by dugout canoe since there was no road, he came across what seemed “like a beautiful deserted island where the jungle grew down to the ocean.” It was Playa Gemelas, and the jungle would become Sierra del Mar.

I knew that Carlos is the driving force behind the prestigious, ecologically respectful Sierra del Mar residential community, assisted by son Carlos Jr. But recently, I learned that his strong sense of what’s right and wrong and his courage in standing up to the Supreme Court and winning a landmark case against the government in the 1960s made the present Marina Vallarta possible.

Carlos Jr. says he can’t emphasize enough how proud he is of his parents, “their integrity, their goodness and devotion.” Yet they’re very different in tastes and personalities, Penny a philosopher who likes to read and discuss ideas, while Carlos really likes outdoor activities and working.

“I call him Don Quijote,” Penny says of her husband, “because he is such an idealist, an unsung hero in this town.”