Return to Paradise

Before I ever stepped foot into Manzanillo, I was made very much aware of two things. The first was the overall beauty and ambiance of the Manzanillo area. The second was my impending responsibility of editing and writing for the ‘World’s Greatest E-Magazine’ (as it was put to me): the Manzanillo Sun.

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There were no rules concerning the first task as Freda (later known as ‘Fuzzy’) took delight in driving me around in her little Red-Ford-Fiesta-Canadian-TestBed-With-A-Six-Speed-Automatic-Transmission-WithTwo-Clutches-And-No-Dip-Stick portable tomato can.

So I got into the swing of things and took lotsa pictures to go with the future writings I was going to make for this publication. This filled both requirements at the same time, with Ian egging us on through his hunger for more articles. I even put my book on the back burner for these opportunities.

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The only other places I had stayed in Mexico in the past were Mexico City, which I really don’t remember other than flashes of memorable events unique to there; Juarez, simply because I grew up just across the border in El Paso, from time to time; and Tijuana owing to a wonderful job I held in the city for a few years before getting my education. Nope, Manzanillo was totally different starting with the customs agents who were apologetic about having to question some of my medical supplies they’d not seen before.

This place is loaded with good places to eat to fit every budget. There are several small parks along the main boulevard on the landward side which have these small portable eateries loaded into them.

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We would tell the cook or his assistant (often his wife) to fix what he fixed best and we would eat it. That and the famous Mexican Coke to wash it down beats anything turned out in the states or Canada in a sitdown type restaurant. Then we would walk around and smile at the people who always smiled back. The small electronic device craze has also hit this country, so the city has installed free Wi-Fi in all these small parks. You can take a shopping stroll down the boulevard; stop in the shade of a tree in one of these little parks; grab a quick delicious bite and talk or text to the world.

Today we went into the main part of Manzanillo near the big blue fish monument and had a seafood spread that was fit for the Gods. I am told that the American and Canadian people that live here stay on the other side of the bay which leaves this wonderful area all to the cruise boat people.

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It reminded me of a very clean and sane downtown Juarez or Tijuana with the usual narrow streets with small kitchen-sized shops lining both sides. Each one is painted in bright un-contrasting colors, without regard to the scheme of its neighbor.

We had ample help in parking and even got the car washed while we were having our supper. The only person I couldn’t get a smile back from was a toddler I tried flirting with, although she did give me a bit of a wave as she hid her face in her mother’s shoulder. Oh well, next time I won’t wear my gringo Tilly hat.

My hostess has a condo on a four story walk-up which she says keeps her young. It just increased my alcohol intake at first before I got used to it. It’s a nice place with a cool breeze running through it all day, every day.

I twisted my calf and found myself with a Charlie Horse the other day and was stuck up there while everyone else went out and about. Typical for this time of year, there was a morning mist and calm sea, although it did nothing to the sound of the waves coming in.

Right now you can’t swim on this beach. There’s something about a La Niña or El Niño driving different currents all over the place. So this beach is scalloped with undertow and riptides. I went walking along it the other day and found myself fighting to stay up and balanced when the water was rushing by that was ankle deep. There isn’t a lot of public access any way along it. Nope this beach isn’t a swimming beach right now but there are a lot of restaurants along it where you can get a really good meal and sit and commune with the sea during your pleasurable experience with your third or fourth michelada.

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Now, if your thing is on or in the water, there are dive clubs and fantastic places just waiting for the sports diver. The next bay over is named Santiago Bay. There, the surf is long and well spaced, the beach is free and they hold surfing competitions there, annually.

It too has surf-side restaurants and, on the other side of the road, should you have forgotten a beach toy or surf board, they’ll sell you anything at a special price just for you. Ask them if you don’t believe me – they’ll tell you!

This entire area is not like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas and no one wants it that way. The indigenous people are here for their own benefit and not to serve the “Gringo.” If you do the ‘we/they’ thing, they allow us in and to exist with them. But you’re not going to get anything special from them that they don’t give to each other. Please don’t misunderstand, these people are wonderful. I’ve been stopped on my morning walk by native strangers just looking for a conversation. You can walk down any street and be greeted by a host of “Good Days,” or huge smiles and curt nods if nothing more.

Manzanillo is growing. Since my arrival here, I’ve seen as many as fourteen large container ships waiting their turn into the port. Right now, while sitting out on the seaward porch, finishing this article, I see eleven ships, not to include the harbor master’s gig, knowing they will be gone in a few days, replaced by other commerce growing vessels for their loading and unloading.

I also note that it’s time for my daily stroll. Remember that I have the record while on a shopping trip of getting seven smiles and waves from the little folk. You can try to beat that.

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Author: Kirby Vickery

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