By Suzanne A. Marshall from the November 2016 Edition
Several years ago I wrote about my first experiences traveling to various and interesting cities not far from Manzanillo. Some of these included Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Tonala, Tlaquepaque and San Miguel de Allende, to name a few. This is when I began to notice the long streets of concrete walls and interesting doorways so common in many areas of these centers. I found myself peering through their doorways to see inside and caught glimpses of the private courtyards and sheltered homes of the shopkeepers and owners. These interiors were surprisingly large and inviting. Some displayed beautiful potted plants and bubbling fountains.
On a first visit to Ajijic we were invited to lunch in a restaurant along a side street. Honestly, once parked and walking to a doorway with a small sign, I really had to wonder what was awaiting us inside and why this was a favorite spot. Once again I was ‘blown away’ by an unexpected interior. Once past a small entry and a few outbuildings we entered an open garden space that was a good square city block in size. What a gorgeous sight it was, replete with pergolas, creeping vines, tables below and vast expanses of lawn and shrubs. You could also sit at tables out in the sunshine and enjoy the roaming hens and roosters as well as a few stunning peacocks who even gave us an expanded view of their tail feathers while we enjoyed our meals. I had never experienced such a unique setting and ambience before. Yet again those walls had hidden the treasures awaiting inside.
By comparison, in Canada and the US we tend to spend a good deal of time impressing everyone with our open and outward displays of yards, gardens and flowers. The price for that is often our privacy. Not that more secluded properties don’t exist; but, if you look down a suburban road, it’s very likely you’ll see vast distances of manicured lawns and walkways leading up to each home. Sometimes there are picket fences and decorative gates but, for the most part, everything is on display. In Mexico, they tend to create havens from the hustle and bustle of the streets, perhaps for privacy and quiet, but also creating a special oasis for family to gather and children to play. It isn’t unusual for shopkeepers to live and work on the same property with shops full of wares at the front and the living areas tucked in and unseen behind. When you find yourself walking through the many streets of shops, art studios and artisan studios in these towns and cities, one is struck by the creativity of many of the doors and entryways. Since you can’t really see much from the street, many of the shops have created the most beautiful doors, entrances with walls of artwork that catch your eye and beckon you to come in and see more. And of course, we did just that!
Typically, I find that these towns and cities have beautiful central squares with benches, gazebos, shrubs and flowers often near or in front of a beautiful church. This, I presume, is where the neighbors gather and mingle or celebrate the various traditional celebrations. Bands and entertainers perform from the central gazebos and the fiestas may last an entire weekend. I often wonder how so many Mexican locals can manage to sing and celebrate until dawn and then show up at work the following day. Perhaps it’s those siestas they take in the mid after-noon.
I’ve shared a number of photos of some of these unique and engaging entries and doors that were just crying out for a photo. I hope you enjoy them!
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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.