Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mexico Hoy es muy bueno

La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico -- Well, we are on the beach of Tenacatita Bay, a few thousand miles south of our snowed-in home.
And, no, we don't miss the cold and snow one bit.
The high temperature has been around 80 F most days, sometimes not getting out of the mid 70s. The low, on the other hand, has not dropped below 65 so far as I can tell. Really, I don't care. It's warm here. Cold there.

Our normal daily routine has been to let our hosts Michael and Sylvia get up first, and stir around. When they go for their morning walk Pat and I crawl into the kitchen for Yogurt and Cheerios. Then after Sylvia takes off for work (yes, someone we know still works, but that's another story) we might take a walk of our own, usually finding a restaurant with good coffee and an outside table in a sunny spot near the Jardin or Plaza. The town wakes up as slowly as we do, with most businesses, except those that sell breakfast or building materials, cranking up slowly sometime before noon. Of course everyone stays up late every night -- kids included -- so the town is really hopping around 9 p.m. The most popular restaurant in town (Chop Chop, but that's not the real name) is a place with plastic tables on the edge of the street. Full dinner and beer for about $4 US, only if you eat a lot. It gets really busy around 9, and can go on into the evening.
Tonight we went down to watch the sun set, which it does just for us, every day, and went to a Gringo hangout called Palapa Joe's, run by Willie, a Bay Area computer guy and blues guitarist who discovered several years ago that being a restaurant/bar owner in Mexico was a lot more fun.
But back to the beach.
The beach is best in the early mornings, but it is pretty darned good almost anytime. In the morning, after my coffee sinks in, we walk on the beach from the area where the commercial fishermen beach their pangas and mend their nets, through the three-block long tourist-oriented beach area, past the lagoon where the large crocodiles live, and on up the beach to the area where houses are rare and widely-scattered Canadian RVs are the dominant dwelling. Local people still ride horseback on the beach for fun, but Canadian four-wheelers now outnumber the four-legged transports.
Some days this place looks a bit like a southern outpost of Ontario. Canadians outnumber U.S. and other tourists by a significant amount. They are appreciated by the local folk even though the U.S. tourists make jokes about their frugal ways.
But then, you never hear anyone telling "Ugly Canadian" stories about bad behavior and rude jingoistic language. Most people try to be good guests, but a few were jerks before they left the U.S. and remain so when they travel. Fortunately, the Mexican people are extremely tolerant of childish rudeness and adult stupidity, and usually let it pass.
The sounds of this village start early, with roosters and birds putting in early calls. Almost as early is the propane truck with its blaring horn and PA system blasting out "GLOBAL GAAASSS!" Then the competing water trucks come along: my favorite is known as "Tarzan water" because they use an amplified Tarzan Yell to let people know they are coming.
For a brief moment it reminded me of the calls of the street vendors in my early childhood on the Gulf Coast. In Mobile, like New Orleans, we still had street vendors in mule-drawn wagons into the 1940s in our neighborhood. Progress and the end of a World War killed off the cart produce business, but it was an echo from the past.
The other sound that dominates the air here is that of construction. Even though things are reported to be slowing down now, the sounds of concrete mixing and chisels chipping are common. We wake every day to the chip chip chip of chisels. Seems that here they always pour solid concrete walls and ceilings first, then decide where to put the electric wires and chisel away a place to put the wire. After the wire is in place, more concrete seals the deal.
Whatever works. And, here chipping is cheaper than conduit.
This is a really fine place for vacation if you want warm air, a nice beach, lovely people, good food, and an interesting culture. If you need a resort to cater to your every need, those are here too, but why bother. You can go to Carmel and be pampered, and save the air fare.
The picture above was taken by Admiral Fox, formerly Professor Fox and currently Consultant Fox, showing the commercial area of the beach. I had to steal a picture from her computer because I left my Nikon cable in California and can't unload any of the hundreds of award-winning travel photos stuck in my camera. That means you'll get lots of pictures when we get home.
For more of the area, check out the blogs Captain's Blog and the Admiral's Blog, linked above to the right.
Adios, amigos.

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