This is our eighth winter along the shores of Playa Azul (or Playa Salahua) in Manzanillo and I haven’t tired of sitting on our ocean view terrace. Somehow it’s always different though consistently the same. I know that probably doesn’t make sense but the changes are usually subtle from day to day.
The surf is pounding hard at the beach, sometimes so hard that the windows rattle in our condo. Our terrace is our living- dining area most of the time. If we aren’t having a meal, we’re playing a continuous game of scrabble and watching. This is what we come for; the sea, the sun, the beach, the palms, the pool and the continual stream of gigantic tankers heading into and out of the port. We spend the winter grateful for life with our local friends, visitors and the neighborhood.
This year we’ve avoided a most gruesome winter in Canada and the international news media have shown us that Mother Nature has spared no one. All across Canada, down through the USA and into the gulf, huge weather systems have broken temperature and precipitation records. Even though we are situated on the west coast of Mexico, the weather here as well has been somewhat cooler (though balmy by my standards) with more days of rain and cloud. And I think this has brought a noticeable change to our typical morning view on the bay.
I wonder if the cooler weather has had something to do with the change in the fish and birdlife activity this particular winter. On many an early morning now, we awaken to a tremendous cacophony of shrieking bird calls and orchestrations. The noise streams through our open windows as hundreds upon hundreds of Pelicans and other sea birds squawk and cry and dive endlessly into the swelling surf. Having taken notice and stepping out onto the terrace to check out the commotion, I can literally see schools of fish roiling at the water’s surface, fleeing the onslaught of the feathered brigades and no doubt turning away from our steep underwater shoreline. These are fairly mature looking fish at three to five kilos and a fisherman’s dream. I am not certain what might be typical in our bay but as the surf breakers rise to splash on shore I can sometimes see the outline of sunlit fish in the water. It’s really quite exciting to see.
The locals too have taken notice of the ramped up activity lately and an interspersed parade of them line the shores these mornings complete with buckets, fishing nets, reels and spools. It’s a real life drama unfolding in front of my eyes. Men are running up and down the beach following and staying close to the preying flocks of birds. The birds are no doubt showing them exactly where to throw their fishing nets in order to capture schools of small minnows for bait or to cast their hooks into the surf. I find myself quietly cheering them on. Some mornings I see them walking away with their buckets full or with large fish dangling from their hands as they make their way home with food for dinner or perhaps the local ‘catch of the day’ for a nearby restaurant.
Meanwhile, two fishing crews of five to six men standing (yes I did say standing!) in aluminum skiffs are circling further out in the water and dumping their long fishing nets overboard. They too are following the birds.
With their expert swimming skills some of the men dive into the sea to disperse the nets, while the driver continues in a circle to close in on the skittering schools of fish. Soon the men will swim toward shore and drag their nets up on the shore. There, they will sort their catch and throw the unwanted species back into the water.
What a rewarding real life drama and so unique to this Canadian prairie dweller! Just now, I see a fountain of water bursting out of the sea on the bay horizon. Whales are in the bay! But that’s another story for the future.
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.