By Suzzane Marshall from the August 2014 Edition
I’m getting old. Chronologically that is. But I still feel young. And as they say nowadays; ‘sixty-something’ is the new ‘forty-something’. Now you couldn’t tell my grand-daughter this but certainly in my mind that’s how I feel! So when the spirit moves me along with many of my peers wintering or living in Manzanillo, I’ll still get on the dance floor and lose most of my inhibitions or just hum along with the beautiful music offered in various restaurants and clubs. All the stress just washes away under the liquid black night and the host of stars above you. I do not know of any other place in my life that brings this kind of serenity. It must be really good for our blood pressure. If this is the ‘Third Act’ of our lives then I welcome it like the memories of my childhood.
There is a phenomenon that takes place in Manzanillo for me. With the beautiful coastline, sun and surf, friendly locals, moist tropical air and ocean breezes. I feel the years simply melting away every time I return in the fall. Your hair becomes thicker from the moisture and your skin is as good as it gets. A bit of a tan doesn’t hurt either. In my case, the arthritis pain in my hands subsides and thanks to inhaling moist salty ocean breezes, allergies and sinusitis simply disappear. I wonder too, if being at sea level is helpful since I am a Canadian who lives at several thousand feet above sea-level near the Rockies. In Manzanillo I live from day to day with a big smile pasted on my face and wonder at my good fortune to be sharing this life with my husband and so many new friends.
But it’s also the romance of Manzanillo, when you walk along the beach or enjoy the local food. There are a couple of special venues that really top the chart for health and youth therapy (as I like to call it) that I’d like to share with you if you haven’t found and enjoyed them already:
There is a courtyard restaurant on the main boulevard with wonderful food and an amazing guitarist who plays several nights a week. When seated there, you can look above the twinkling trunks of the decorated palms and see the stars above you. The street sounds are baffled by the surrounding buildings and you have entered another world. The food is quite wonderful as is the service and when Mario Montalbo takes his place for the evening music set it simply can’t get any better for me. This man is my idea of a virtuoso, a master of his art, a true musical artist. We have come to know Mario casually through our many visits to this favorite dining spot. He is trained classically from the University of Guadalajara but prefers the freedom of musical interpretation in many genres. Therefore we are able to hear him master flamenco, jazz, blues and standards that are jaw-dropping as he riffs through pieces made famous by Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton. His fingers move so rapidly on some pieces they disappear.
I have seen couples stand up and dance beside their table or heard various voices lifting above the venue with Mario’s’ music unable to withhold the sheer joy of participating. (A few of them were really good too). Ask him to play Stairway to Heaven and find yourself bordering on tears. Honestly. And don’t forget to tip him since there is no cover charge. Some of you may already have ascertained that I am talking about La Pergola restaurant. And even at risk of losing him to a fame he so honestly deserves, go and listen and spread the word.
You can also hear a sample of Mario on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppO2CZdDfBU or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGeaGYHsRL8 (Highly recommended that you listen and watch this. It is worth opening the magazine for. Ed.)
For a change of pace and a rockin’ good time, one can also head for the Club Oasis on the next bay called Santiago Bay. It is a beach club largely there for the local residents of Club Santiago, a gated community where many expats winter as well. But the restaurant and dance club is open to all people and very popular for many events. Situated on the beach, the open air venue boasts a gorgeous view of the sea and the mountains surrounding the bay. A casual and tasty menu with great service makes this location quite spectacular.
Over the past few years another great evening of dancing and the good old tunes of the 70’s and 80’s on up have been brought back for everyone’s enjoyment with a band called Tallboys from Lake Chapala area just outside of Guadalajara city. In addition to the cover tunes that many of us grew up with, the band has put together some amazing new tunes that are right up there with the best of them. Needless to say these fellows have developed quite a following in Manzanillo and play there about 4 times per winter season and hopefully more in future. Check out more about the band at this website http://www.tallboysband.com/bios.
The Oasis club is jammed with seniors of all ages, often accompanied by visiting friends and family. The dance floor is a sea of grey hair, a few small children enjoying the atmosphere, flowered shirts and flowing summer dresses. If ever there was a music therapy regime, this is it!! You simply cannot find a venue for the aging boomers like this one, at least not where I come from. So, to be able to get up and ‘get down’ like we used to years ago is simply delightful and really good exercise I might add.
You just can’t help yourself. Even the serving staff are hauled onto the dance floor now and then to enjoy the moment with everyone. Again, it’s like someone installed new batteries in each and every one of us.
One evening after the band had finished and we were enjoying our last drink for the evening, we were joined by a couple of the band members, Dave Truly and Flip Nicholson. Needless to say it was extremely interesting as these expats expanded on their ‘happenchance’ get together as former retired musicians and eventual startup of the Tallboys. There are more details on the link provided but suffice it to say they are all semi-retired in Mexico. Dave is a University Professor in Guadalajara and Flip is now in real estate. They play for the true joy of it and it looks like they are gaining some fame in Mexico and north of the border. I certainly hope this doesn’t mean they’ll be too busy for Manzanillo; there are a whole lot of people counting on their music therapy and special brand of youthful rehabilitation.
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.
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