It’s amazing how my body responds to the sun, the salt air, the soothing sound of the waves in our front yard. At first I am quick to sleep and groggy upon awakening, but within a few days I am full of energy, soft of skin, using more muscles than I have in the last few cold months at home. I swim and dance and sing and feel so alive. The only thing that holds me back from complete and utter joy: I wish all my loved ones were here experiencing this. Luckily, I have some of them with me, and I have the electronic connections that help tremendously.
The lifestyle is so different. Compared to the Mexican people, we are playing, we are living in luxury. Yet for us, it is cottage-like, minimal. When we walk down the street or enter a restaurant, I am aware, a silent current in my perception, of the poverty, the difference in standards from our home. Quickly I get used to the reduced number of “things”, the more primitive devices, the lack of comfortable chairs or choice of television programs. The people who live here have never known that kind of over-indulgence and joyful if they have breakfast and dinner. But even saying that is snobbish. Manzanillo is a great working class city; the people are industrious, friendly and welcoming.
Our first day is one of travel, pretty exhausting; I decide I won’t do that route again. It’s wonderful to see our manager and his family again at the condo unit: Nacho, Gracie, Nachito, Marta and little Andreas. We get some tacos at a Ramon’s across the street after we put our belongings in our units.
The next day, we do some rearranging and a bit of cleaning. Tanya and Janice are getting here in the middle of the afternoon.
The second night, we go to our favorite restaurant because new friends have arrived. It’s the kind of place most of us would probably never consider setting foot in: on the side of the street, buzzing with locals, the chairs stained and the plates chipped. But the beer is cold and the tacos are delicious. As my brother-in-law commented last year, you can get a taco the size of your head for $3.50. This year, the prices have increased: we pay a whole $4 now, although the Canadian dollar is up, so maybe it’s the same.
A young boy dressed in traditional Mexican garb comes up and begins to sing for us. He has a fairly good voice and as long as he has the music from the cd player that his sister holds, he stays in tune. He dances for us, too. I wonder if he is proud and happy that he has a talent from which he can make money and support his family or if he is unhappy that he is a trained monkey. From the lack of light in his eyes, the indifferent way he relates to the music, I suspect it is the latter.
The third day, we have breakfast at Tacos Bricios. Again, another owner and family whom we are very glad to see. They like that we are back, too, because we eat here often and they are simply friendly anyway. Then we head off to Walmart to do some shopping, stock our shelves with things we need for some breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Afterward, we sit at the pool, the beach, talk, laugh, drink beer, watch the waves rolling in and out. I have to talk about waves soon – they are our television! Later, we have an amazing dinner at El Caribe, the restaurant two doors down from us; we all face the night ocean as we sup on shrimp and other sea delights.
The next day, my ambitious husband goes with the gang and climbs the mountainside to the cross shining over the city! I can’t believe he does this; he didn’t plan it. Wow. He is exhausted when he gets back down, but very proud, and so he should be. It’s a very high, long steep path. They saw whales from the crest and Vince said the view is spectacular. You can see the geography of this area for yourself. I vow to do this before we leave here this year. We tour a bit of the city afterward, especially the market (where we get fresh vegetables for a few cents), the iguana park, and Bar Social, our favorite gathering place. It’s a full, busy, interesting day.
On Friday, we take a bus to Dolphin Cove and have lunch at the Paradais restaurant, overlooking the bay. We can see the curve of our land from here and the mountains ringing the water. When we walk back, we take the route through the Barcelo Karmina Palace, with its Mayan architecture. Gorgeous, but we all say, when we return and sit to stare at our waves again, that we’d rather be here in this little place with its quiet homey atmosphere and always, the crashing of the water at our feet. We have a potluck by the ocean at 7 p.m. and play our theme song: I’ve got my toes in the water, my ass in the sand, sun on my back and a beer in my hand.