By Suzanne A. Marshall from the May 2018 Edition
Given the fact that ‘high season’ living in Manzanillo is incredibly busy; I use the term ‘quieter’ living a bit lightly. The winter months can be socially hectic and a hell of a lot of fun! When the snowbirds have arrived you don’t have to work too hard at finding activities to stay occupied with. The restaurants and clubs offer venues for entertainment and dancing and there are numerous organized events such as weekly beach bocce games, card games, yoga classes, painting classes and always the cinemas to watch for. There are also organized poker nights and ladies’ night gatherings. Many of us are taking language classes in Español and doing our best to get better at communicating with our fabulous Mexican neighbours.
I think this is a good time to share my most recent realization. I finally understand what ‘cultural silos’ are about. In Canada and the USA it is not unusual to find many cultural ‘barrios’ or neighborhoods; from ‘China Town’ to ‘little ltaly’ to areas of East Indian decent or Pakistanis or French, or Vietnamese or African and so forth. The simple fact is that there is an instinct to find comfort and familiarity with people who share your life-long influences of language and customs. It seems to be the first thing that happens when you arrive in a new place. There is usually a social network that forms (or exists) and invites you to join in. It’s irresistible really, since at first you are truly feeling like a fish out of water.
This social support is invaluable during the period of adjustment when you begin to navigate a new culture, it’s customs, language and everything from shopping for food to just driving a car. You also need to stabilize the usual need for finding a doctor, a dentist, a good hair dresser and so on. That being said of course, there comes a time when we need to branch out from that cultural comfort zone and learn about our new environment; tackle the language and get to enjoy so many fabulous Mexicanos. Then we can also begin to explore the vast history and amazing areas of this country and it’s ancient civilizations.
So when the ‘snowbirds’ begin the mass migration north for the summer months; the farewell parties have taken place and most of the ‘winter’ family and visitors have come and gone; the pace for those of us staying behind ambles down to a pleasant scattering of dates and we begin to expand our horizons. At least that’s what we do.
There are numerous short destinations one can enjoy from Manzanillo that can have you trekking farther afield and exploring even more of this fascinating country. Day trips to Colima city, Barra De Navidad, Melaque, Cuyutlán (turtle sanctuary and Mangrove tours), el Salto falls are just a few of the places one can take off to or even spend a weekend or a few days exploring. Of course these locations offer interesting architecture,sites and museums.
Once you begin to explore these areas, you become smitten by the travel bug. You just want to see more. Since our annual condo meetings are held in Guadalajara, we’ve begun to find wonderful spots along the way. Outside the city of Guadalajara there is a very large expat community called Lake Chapala and Ajijic which make short trips a true pleasure. They are a nice getaway for a few days and something new to see and enjoy. Also, during the hot season, these are ideal places to take a break from routine since the elevations of the Sierra Madre Mountains at these locations are cooler and less humid.
We have stayed a few days in the small city of Sayula where we enjoyed a lovely town square, toured a tequila factory, a candy factory and the famous Ojeda knife makers, where we couldn’t resist some of their fine wares, returning with amazing stainless -steel chefs’ knives that we are really enjoying in our kitchen. We still have plans to take a jaunt not far from there to a mountain village called Tapalpa, which has been described to us as similar to a Swiss village. That description certainly piqued our interest. That should make a nice cool destination during our hot season.
We have also been informed that September is a nice time to spend a few weeks in Mexico City where the cultural history is so vast one may have to return later for more. We particularly look forward to Chapultepec Park, far larger than New York’s Central Park and filled with museums and a huge variety of fascinating sites. We also plan to tour to Teotihuacan to see the Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead (a vast street of pyramids).
Since I’ve only grazed the surface of the many significant sites to enjoy in Mexico, you can understand why we never fear boredom. We simply keep exploring the many destinations that we are aware of and make plans to slowly enjoy each and every one of them. We shouldn’t forget as well, that if you don’t have a car, Mexico has one of the best bus systems I’ve ever experienced. There are also local airline services that can get you to your location faster, so you can take in more sites with your allotted time away.
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.