Mexican Pinwheels: Symbol of Happiness

October 15, 2009 by  

I recently had the great pleasure and honor to meet a professional pinwheel maker. 

I have never met a pinwheel maker before. Have you?

Lorenzo has been making pinwheels by hand for the last 34 years, along with his pa, in the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He sells the pinwheels, along with balloons, from a simple stand on the malecon (the Boardwalk) overlooking Banderas Bay. His pinwheel stand is colorful and alluring. You can’t miss it–all the colors swirling and twirling is quite mesmerizing and attractive!

the Spanish word for 'pinwheel' is 'rehilete'

the Spanish word for 'pinwheel' is 'rehilete'

When I first saw his stand, with all the pinwheels and balloons fluttering about in the coastal breeze, I felt a huge surge of delightful energy rush through me. I felt like an excited child about to collect a coveted a prize. But I also knew in my adult heart that I was in for a very special treat–a treat that had more to it than colorful blades spinning on a stick in the wind.

When I met Lorenzo we chatted and then bonded for a good hour or so even though I spoke little Spanish and he spoke little English. But pinwheels have their own “language” as we have come to learn. He loved showing me all his different designs and telling me about his customers–little children and their families on the beach, romantic lovers strolling the boardwalk, local party planners on the hunt for fun favors, and tourists enamored with the colorful spinners reflecting the Mexican sun. He spoke with deep admiration about following in his father’s footsteps as a pinwheel maker. He also encouraged me to look, examine, and play with the pinwheels for as long as I wanted.

Lorenzo carries his pinwheel stand on the malecon

Lorenzo carries his pinwheel stand on the malecon

Lorenzo’s pinwheels were dazzling in the sun!Spinning furiously on the malecon as a seemingly endless parade of painted busses, cars, and trucks and scores of people passed by, they ably reflected the colors of the local flowers, animals, sea and sky.

Lorenzo and his pa make the pinwheels out of dowel rods, a bit of wire, a sparkly bead, colorful foam pieces, and day-glo stickers to create a unique style of pinwheel all their own. The pinwheels are then displayed on a portable beam of wood to create a beautiful wind sculpture of these dynamic creations. Each pinwheel costs 60 pesos. Of course I had to buy several at least!

Lorenzo graciously allowed me to photograph, videotape, and interview him about his pinwheels. The most striking thing that Lorenzo said to me was “I love my work…I truly, truly do…” He clasped his hands together and broadly smiled at me.  “You do?” I asked.  “Even after 30 years? Why do you love it so much?”

Lorenzo said something so simple yet so profound that struck me square in the chest, right to my heart.  He said “Because the pinwheels make people so happy.” His face was lit up like  a Christmas tree and was as luminous as the midday sun.

Lorenzo shows off his dazzling pinwheels in the sun

Lorenzo shows off his dazzling pinwheels in the sun

I truly believe he is 100% correct in his assertion. Lorenzo is very, very proud of being a pinwheel maker.
He made me feel equally as proud that I, too, am a pinwheel maker of another kind. And that perhaps in a similar way the Pinwheel Girls help people be happy, too.


Lorenzo promised that when I visited his city again on my next visit, he would have new designs to show me. I can’t wait to return.

I know that they will make me very, very happy.

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