By Freda Vickery from the March 2016 Edition
We had celebrated New Year in Mexico in 1983 when we had our introduction to Mexico. Then Nigel and I, with our friend Hilary, journeyed to Acapulco to take over somebody’s time share. There we had our first intimation that all was not going to be well on this trip. Arriving at the Best Western hotel at the edge of town, we were shown to our room which had been reserved for three people a few weeks prior. Ha! It had one double bed! “Not suitable” was the refrain from all of us in harmony to the consternation of the maid who spoke little English. Back to the reception desk we went with her, explained that we had booked and required a room with 2 beds and were then promptly shown a somewhat grubby but two bedded room. Well, it was only for one night and it was New Year’s Eve so would suffice.
We were tired after a long two-day journey via Dallas where we had spent the night en route. Although we had asked for an early call in order to catch an early bus to the airport, the hotel had omitted to call us. Fortunately, I awoke to realize that it was 6.55 and we had just five minutes to catch the bus to the airport at seven a.m. With no time to do anything but scramble into our clothes, we made it to the lobby and the plane in the very nick of time.
When we arrived at Acapulco, all of us were dying for a refreshing shower. One look in the bathroom and we groaned. The only towels available were two skinny threadbare pieces of cloth which may have been towels at one time. Back to the reception desk we trooped to get
at least one more towel. Mission accomplished, we returned to the room and a lovely shower in COLD, cold water! No matter, we were on holiday and would get dressed and go out for a nice dinner.
Not so fast, fair travelers! This was New Year’s Eve and the restaurant in the hotel was now closed to enable the staff to have the evening off, as were all of the nearby restaurants. It was 7 p.m. and all was certainly not well. I cannot remember what we ate that evening. I think one of the other guests in the hotel who joined us at the pool found some cookies and we opened our Duty-free liquor. With our new-found friends we sat and chatted the evening away until midnight. Then after wishing and kissing everyone nearby, we headed groggily to bed. From that ominous starting point, matters went from bad to worse and when we finally left Mexico 20 days later, we vowed never to return!
Fast forward fifteen years and time finds us in Mexico once again, but this time in Manzanillo. We had made many friends in Las Brisas when we were living at Bungalows Angelica amongst the Canadians and Americans who lived in Manzanillo during the winter months. New Year’s Eve was fast approaching and we all wanted to go out for a nice evening together. Not knowing where to go, Nigel consulted with Coty and Manolo Cordera, our hosts, for a low down on what was available. As they had not heard of anything that year, they checked with friends who were owners of the Colonial Hotel in Downtown Manzanillo.
Initially not intending to open on New Year’s Eve, once the owners learned that there was a fairly large party wishing to celebrate, they rapidly changed their minds and not only offered a full meal but hired a band for dancing. Word of this party spread and, when we arrived at the hotel at the specified hour, we found it bursting at the seams with revelers. The dining room was sold out for the evening. Our party had increased as we finally booked for 26 people. Two did not arrive without offering explanation and it was just as well as the table we were given was a very tight squeeze for the twenty four of us who arrived ready to ‘Partay’ the night away!
We had a great evening. The band played what was deemed to be Mexican Cowboy music and we jigged the night away. It was a huge amount of fun. It was the first time that we had seen Mexican people dancing and having fun along with us and that alone was worth going to the Colonial for. Our dinner was… well… fair to middling: Not particularly well cooked, and as we found out later; to be the norm, half cold. It was edible, however, and we were in good company. That was all that mattered. The big hitch came when we came to pay the bill at the end of the evening. Everyone was given their own bill but Nigel and I had an extra bill. It was for the two people who had not shown up. Although we had added to the party by four additional people, they had us registered now for twenty six and twenty six must be paid for.
There was quite an argument about this and eventually we went to Manolo Cordera and told him what was happening. Aghast, he immediately went to his friend, the owner, and was in conference with him for a good ten minutes. What was going on we did not know. There was lots of gesticulations and talking back and forth.
After much waving hands in the air there was finally a shaking of hands and a couple of back slaps and Manolo returned to the table smiling. It was settled. In fact it had been settled almost immediately and the balance of the conversation had been nothing but story and joke telling. Trying to get back home at the end of the evening was another fun experience. Because we knew we would be drinking, only two cars had designated drivers, whilst the rest of our party had come to the hotel by taxi. That was a real trial for them now as there were absolutely no taxis to be found. Almost all of the available cabs had been previously booked. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that the two cars we had would be ferrying people back and forth but we would all finally meet together at Art and Lydia’s apartment for a final good night drink.
Fortunately, as we arrived at their residence, we were followed by two or three cabs who discharged the remainder of our party. The cabs had returned to the downtown sector almost as we had left, so they were fortunate enough to have nabbed them prior to others who now had to wait longer. As always, the evening ended on a high note and we eventually went our merry way after having a great night cap to follow the fun-filled evening. Next year, we would know the ropes and be prepared!
The next year we had other problems arise, but that is another story. The problem mostly encountered here is that very little has advanced planning. Manzanillo people do most things at the last minute and then there is a mad scramble. One thing about Mexico is a certainty however, do not think that you can anticipate and prepare for all eventualities! It changes every time! Nothing is so constant as change! Happy New Year to all of our friends in Manzanillo and to all the friends we haven’t yet met.