By Freda Rumford from the February 2013 Edition
After having migrated to Canada from England many years ago we found ourselves looking towards an eventual retirement in a warmer climate. We had lived in Calgary for well over thirty years and although a beautiful city we were tired of the bitterly cold winters. Having been many times to Hawaii we really loved it there but after noticing an ad for a reasonably priced time share holiday in Acapulco, Mexico we decided to try somewhere different for a change.
To cut a very long and agonising story short, we went to Acapulco over a New Year. There we had a dreadful time in a filthy but fairly new condominium on a beach out-of-bounds due to pollution and vowed never to go to Mexico again. We would stick to Hawaii for holidays where we had always enjoyed ourselves!! It was clean and the Mai-Tais wonderful. Although for retirement it was an absolute no for Acapulco, what we did eventually find in Mexico grows more appealing each year that we are there.
Twenty five years after the Acapulco disaster, to my amazement, we are living part of the year in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico. A place that we find absolutely delightful, amongst people who are warm and friendly and where we love both it and the Margaritas.
So what has caused the change? Nothing really! The State of Guerrero in which Acapulco is situated is well known as very bellicose. The people are quite different than those of Colima. People in Guerrero are quick to take offence, quick to do battle for perceived insults and where men don’t dare to even look towards another’s wife! We found that people there had their hands out all the time for tips whereas in Colima, they will often do or give a person something for nothing but a smile.
When we arrived in Manzanillo, the small port town of Colima, it was surprising to find the atmosphere so totally different. The people have a very keen, ever ready and warm sense of humour and are extremely welcoming. In Guerrero they want the tourist money but not the individual.
The other States of Mexico are as equally diverse as is the North versus South versus West in the U.S. or Quebec versus British Columbia in Canada. So what causes the difference in various parts of each country? Is it purely geographical? Is it the heat, humidity or climate? Is it because people in the past haven’t travelled and are quick to suspect that all people not born in their area are potential thieves or marauders? In all three countries there is a decided difference of manner, speech, habits and reactions to strangers in each and every State or Province.
The United States was initially populated by four distinct flows of indigenous peoples crossing the land bridge from Asia. They were mostly of the hunter-gatherer tribes that extended their populations all the way down the America’s to Terra del Fuego in South America. These people settled, created great centers of population, lived and died at the mercy of the climate and weather patterns as well as warring among themselves. This history came to an abrupt end with the advent of the European. A policy of ‘Manifest Destiny’ drove the Europeans to attempt to obliterate all of the Indian cultures and even each other. Canada and The United States fell to the might of the French, English, Danish, and Spanish. Over the past few centuries Mexico’s land has seen French, Spanish, English, American and German rule.
Nowadays, in Manzanillo, people are coming and going constantly with visitors actually being recognised in stores after having been there only a few times. Even more extraordinary, if they haven’t returned to Manzanillo for a couple of years, they are still remembered and welcomed back. Not only remembered personally but probably even where they had lived on the previous occasion.
Manzanillo, Colima, is situated on the Costa Alegre. Translated that means the “Happy State”. There are generally jobs for anyone who wants one and visibly far fewer beggars than can be found anywhere else in the country. People are content with their lives as well as with the atmospheric and climatic conditions. So long as they have sufficient money to cover daily expenses plus a couple of cervezas or a bottle or two of tequila, all is right with their world. They are content with their lot. That is likely to change with the advent of escalating education and because TV is introducing more “necessities” in the never ending commercials.
An American friend, years ago, predicted that Mexico was on the verge of an economic explosion that it would be powerless to stop. It may not happen in our life time but eventually Mexico will catch up with the rest of the modern world. Currently they are behind just a little as modern technology advances steadily towards them.
They are now participants in the computer age but haven’t yet realised that they no longer require the little pieces of recycled paper with scratching on which are “official” documents. Not yet have they got the official government computers in one state or even town, connected to its counterpart in another. Immigration or Health care papers filled out in one city cannot be pulled up and easily changed to another more convenient city. Personally, we have had to travel to and fro from Manzanillo to the city of Colima (in the same state) with results of blood tests which could not be transmitted via computer. But, change is coming as refinements are gradually being made that will make such journeys redundant
In the mean time, we can enjoy the literally old world charm of Manzanillo and all it that it has to offer. Would I go back to Hawaii? Yes in a heart beat, but for a visit! Would I go back to Acapulco? Not under any circumstance! Would I return to Manzanillo? Yes, again and again and again.