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2017 Colours of Mexico February 2017 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the February 2017 Edition

Once the festivities of the New Year and Christmas have passed; the children return to school; the non-stop partying with families and friends settles down; life begins to normalize again. That is, as normal as one might imagine in beautiful, tropical Manzanillo. In spite of the distractions of the surf and the beaches and those glorious sunsets, there are still the usual errands that must be taken care of.

Many volunteers have walked the beaches to clean up the aftermath of the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The construction on the main boulevard has resumed its persistent pace as well as the awesome overpasses leading to the El Centro area in downtown Manzanillo where the shipyards are located. Not having been downtown in a few months really gave us some perspective on our drive there recently.

The progress was very apparent and I am beginning to believe there really will be an end to the construction. The efficiencies expected from these projects will make Mexico’s largest and busiest port even more so. It’s mindboggling to think of our port receiving and coordinating somewhere in the vicinity of half a million twenty-foot containers per year. Thus the need for smooth handling of the containers in and out of the port loading areas is truly apparent. The Puerto de Manzanillo serves 15 states within México and 26 shipping lines bound for 74 ports around the world. This season, the port will host an estimated 24 cruise ships I am told. This gives a great boost to the local tourism business.

Our ventures into the heart of Manzanillo are often for fresh market shopping, a nice lunch across from the Pez Vela malecon or showing visitors some aspects of daily life in the heart of Manzanillo. But this day we are headed down to the main administration building at city hall to pay our annual property taxes. We are expecting serious traffic congestion in the area since, aside from the road construction; taxes are due at this time of year for most local property owners.

Because we are now permanent residents here, we have qualified for our INAPAM (Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores) status as senior citizens. This status provides us with a 50% property tax discount (among other benefits). Colour us ecstatic and more than willing to deal with a wee traffic jam. Now the real challenge remains to find a good parking spot nearby.

To our amazement, the street immediately east of the building has a couple of free spaces next to the curb. It’s a bit daunting because Manzanillo is built on lovely rolling hills and the angle of this particular street is pitched at about 40 degrees. It’s going to be a little tricky and on the left side of the street, so I jump out to give my husband some help backing the car into the slot. We did it. We were absolutely giddy about our lucky find and proceeded into the building and took care of our business.

Then, with the main mission taken care of, and having found such wonderful parking, we decided we should head up the street to a nice little restaurant amidst the tourist shops and have brunch. Off we went anticipating our ‘Cubana Tortas’ and a lovely view of the big blue sailfish while we munched. As we took a table and sat down to look at the menu we notice a bit of a hubbub taking place behind us. Soon we are approached by one of the servers who spoke to us in excellent English.

Apparently, our coveted parking spot is being watched continuously, by a local traffic policeman. This is taking place in order to assist people like ourselves deal with the traffic congestion. The policeman saw us leaving the building and heading down the street in the other direction. So, he sent a woman to inform us that we could not leave our car there as this spot was needed by others. Now this is where the social graces of the Mexican people are demonstrated. Where else would the courtesy of the locals be shown in such a thoughtful fashion?

I suspect he could have dealt with us differently with perhaps a traffic ticket. Who knows? We may have been in a short-term parking zone and didn’t know it. So we toddled back to our car to take our leave and let someone else use the space. There was the officer busy doing his job, whistle in hand with several cone markers now in place at the bottom of the street. A few happy on-lookers helped us back down the hill as the officer removed the cones and gave us an approving nod.

It was cause for us to have a good chuckle and admire the ease with which the situation worked itself out. But of course we either had to find other parking or move on to some other location for our meal. We decided to lunch at the local market called ‘Cinco De Mayo’ and reflect on this small humorous incident that could have been quite confusing otherwise. Think about it. A policeman sees us leaving, sends a person down the street, who finds someone else who speaks English to advise us that we must move our car. Ah yes, life in Manzanillo is so quaint and really quite wonderful.

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