The Vida del Mar condo development near Manzanillo, right on the Pacific coast and four kilometers on a winding road from the town of El Naranjo, is busiest during the “high season” winter months from November to April. That’s when owners and renters from the United States, Canada and Mexico make the most use of the 199 condos in 13 buildings on 26 acres of beautifully landscaped property.
However, during the summer months, when the snowbirds are back at home, a special activity brings children from Casa Hogar Los Angelitos (CHLA) to a social event at the L’Recif pool, the largest of three pools at Vida del Mar. (L’Recif is short for el arrecife, Spanish for “the reef” which is near the shore at Vida del Mar.) Started by Marge Tyler a dozen years ago, the annual pool party provides children from seven to 18 years old with the opportunity to enjoy the pool and facilities of L’Recif for an opportunity to swim, socialize and enjoy the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, something not seen from their home at the CHLA facility in Salagua. This year’s party was held on July 1.
Support from management and staff at Vida del Mar makes possible the special activity always enjoyed by the kids who come to visit. Volunteers from Vida del Mar and the local area contributed to the success of the occasion. Turning 30 lively youngsters loose in the pool didn’t mean chaos! Elena Venegas, of Public Relations at CHLA was in charge of the rules: no running, no pushing, no holding someone under water, and no food or drink near the pool — the usual regulations for good pool behavior!
But rules don’t mean a lack of enjoyment. The pool party, held from 11 am until 2 pm provided for a good time with fun and food, as lunch is provided for the young visitors. Marge Tyler was joined by a team to help with financing and supervision, including Fred and Laurie Taylor, Nancy Bogue, Lauren Russo and her father, Dane Russo, who served as official photographer. His excellent photo on the cover of this issue of the Manzanillo Sun shows 12-year old Fátima leaping into the pool. Additional support came from some of the “moms” from CHLA. Pool toys such as an inflatable delfín were shared by the children.
And the kids were well fed! César, the genial proprietor of Fratello’s Pizza in Santiago provided pizza at two-for-one pricing and donated the refrescos at no charge. The pizza was accompanied by a fine salad provided by Nancy Bogue. A healthy dessert of fruit and yogurt followed, and there was enough pizza left over to take back for sharing with other children at Casa Hogar.
Fratello’s, just off Boulevard de la Madrid near the Saturday market site, is popular with Vida del Mar regulars during the high season, when they come on Tuesdays to enjoy cold cerveza and two-for-one pizza nights at tables set up on the street.
During the high season, when Vida del Mar is well populated, owners and renters have been very supportive of fundraising activities such as the annual performance by dancers from Casa Hogar, the dinner and auction night of the Santiago Foundation, a rummage sale and a local ballet folklórico evening. However, by the end of April, most seasonal dwellers have departed. “When all the Americans and Canadians go home, the activity level drops with few volunteers,” said Marge Tyler, who lives in the area year round. “I was thinking of fun things to do with the kids in an opportunity they don’t otherwise have, so I
started the pool party. With the help of a few others who stay here, it has been a real success. It provides an opportunity to see a beautiful area in México and the children are stunned by the view. The L’Recif pool is very conducive to a having a pool party and there is a covered area where the kids can eat.”
Pizza, salad, dessert and drinks provided a fine lunch for the children. (Dane Russo photo)
The L’Recif pool with its great view of the ocean provided a perfect setting for Manuel, Santiago, Christian, Daniel and Keiven to enjoy the day. (Dane Russo photo)
As Casa Hogar Los Angelitos is a non-profit civil association under Mexican law, it is not officially supported by any religious or government organization. Its major funding comes from individuals, businesses and service clubs. The Children’s Foundation based in Loveland, Colorado is the organization that raises funds and awareness for Casa Hogar. It is home for 80+ children as young as infants in a family-like setting. There they have emotional, mental and medical care; education; English classes and a very dynamic program of performing arts.
While financing is vital to maintaining operations of CHLA, the pool party for the appreciative youngsters is a pleasant departure from formal fund-raising activities. It is an opportunity for owners to let the children enjoy Vida del Mar and a chance for kids just to be kids!
Refrescos were part of the treat for Lupita, 8, in a party at the pool. (Dane Russo photo)
Tommy Clarkson is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s lived and worked in locales as disparate as the 1.2 square mile island of Kwajalein to war-torn Iraq, from aboard he and Patty’s boat berthed out of Sea Bright, NJ to Thailand, Germany, Hawaii and Viet Nam; He’s taught classes and courses on creative writing and mass communications from the elementary grades to graduate level; He’s spoken to a wide array of meetings, conferences and assemblages on topics as varied as Buddhism, strategic marketing and tropical plants; In the latter category he and Patty’s recently book, “The Civilized Jungle” – written for the lay gardener – has been heralded as “the best tropical plant book in the last ten years”; And, according to Trip Advisor, their spectacular tropical creation – Ola Brisa Gardens – is the “Number One Tour destination in Manzanillo”.