When spending four months in Mexico from December to April, we stay at our condo in a development named Vida del Mar. It is set on the west coast of Mexico at the end of a winding four kilometer paved road from El Naranjo, a small town located just north of Manzanillo, in the state of Colima. Along with many others from the complex, my wife and I often join others for weekly pizza nights at Fratellos Pizza in Santiago. We dine at tables set up on the street close to the popular Saturday market.
Our group is almost all Canadians who have come to the Manzanillo area to escape a cold winter at home and enjoy the climate of Mexico. On one pizza night in December, during the celebrations of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a Christmas pageant by the indigenous people, we were pleasantly surprised to see a group of several women coming down the street dressed in spectacular costumes representing the Aztec civilization.
They had appeared at a celebratory event that evening, and were kind enough to stop for us to admire their costumes and take photographs. I believe their attire with the feathered headdresses represented Queztalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent god of Aztec mythology. The image of the serpent also appears on the women’s skirts and the shields they carry.
One another occasion in December, a dark creature of the night came flying by our table in a zigzag manner. At first I thought was a bat, due to its size and style of flying. It alit on the outside of the pizza place and posed for photos.
The spectacular creature was a very big moth. Thanks to quick research on the internet, I leaned it is the Black Witch Moth, known in Spanish as the Mariposa de la muerte, or Butterfly of death. But don’t worry about that scary name. Although it is the largest moth in North America, with a wingspan of nearly 17 cm (7 inches) the moth is harmless.. It is found from Brazil to the southern United States. It is commonly called the Bat Moth due to its size, appearance, and manner of flying, found from Brazil to the southern United States. If you were an entomologist, you would call it the Ascalapha odorata.
Another pizza night in January my wife, Linda, and I joined 15 others at our regular event, seated at tables on the street in front of Fratellos. The popular “Mexicana” pizza served up by proprietor César and his staff, combined with cold cerveza and good company always makes for a fine social experience with fellow regulars from Vida del Mar. When we left for home at 8:30 pm in our little Nissan Platina, after just a short distance, a tire disintegrated. We pulled over at an extra-wide space on the main thoroughfare (Boulevard Miguel de la Madrid). We were right beside the cemetery (Perhaps an appropriate place for a tire to die).
As I was digging in the trunk for the jack, a man and a woman stopped by and asked if they could help. They spoke a little English, and pointed out that a tire shop was across the street. “Ah, la llantera!” I said, immediately breaking into Spanish, one of the languages I speak poorly, but only due to lack of vocabulary. “Si,” replied the man, who understood me perfectly.
As I continued pulling out mats and liners to get to the spare tire, about two minutes later the Llantera Movil Nogales truck miraculously appeared and parked in front of us. Two men and a boy about 7 years old came to our aid. We think the man and woman, who had since left us, had called the shop on our behalf.
In no time our crew had the front end jacked up, the wheel removed, and the spare ready to install. The old tire was destroyed. The men, who spoke English, asked if I would like them to supply a new tire and said they had the right size in stock. “Si. Si!” I replied, once again demonstrating my limited command of their language. The men left the truck in place, and went across the street with the tire and rim, as well as the spare tire so they could check it out.
While we were waiting, another man, his wife, and two beautiful little girls stopped and asked if they could help, all in English. I said things were under control at the llantera. So we had a little visit. I asked the man how old his girls were, he said eleven and five, his wife, Maria, was 34 and he was 54. I told him he is a lucky man and felt obligated then to reveal my age, which astounded Maria, who is younger than our two daughters.
Twenty minutes later our amigos came back. One man carrying the new tire on the rim, and the boy rolled the spare across the street and along the sidewalk. Then they helped me to put it back in the trunk. It reminded me of the time when I was young and rolling a tire was a skill that little boys developed. In no time the new tire was mounted and we were ready to go.
I asked if I should go across to the shop to pay the bill. No need, I was told. I could pay right there on the spot; which I did. The two men were the proprietors of the shop, David and Gabriel. The boy was David junior obviously learning his father’s business, and it was he who gave me the shop’s business card. What a fine young lad he is, eager to help.
Obviously God is watching over us! Last year in La Manzanilla when a transmission linkage broke and we couldn’t get the car into gear, it was a mechanic named Jesus who rescued us and fixed the car. This time, the angel Gabriel was one of our rescuers! We’ve had great service by great people! Fortunately the tire did not die half way to Colima or somewhere else out on the highway in the dark of night, on a long way from any town or help. Gotta love Mexico and Mexicans!
Writer John Chalmers from Edmonton, Alberta. is third from the right, with his wife, Linda, on pizza night at Fratellos, a popular event with folks staying at Vida del Mar. In front, left and right are Walter and Mexican-born Beatriz Burton from Vancouver, British Columbia.