I’m starting to get mixed up about what happened on what day – I must be in Manzanillo! But here are some vignettes anyway.
ONE: The Unit Three Gang (Chris, Dave, Barb & Doug) goes to snorkel at the sunken ship just off Miramar Beach. On the way, they stop at the Scuba Shop and rent snorkeling equipment for 70 pesos for the entire day (about $6 CDN). At first, they are unable to find the road to the spot, but are directed by the guard at the Santiago Club gates. (Chris suspects that if they weren’t a carful of “gringos”, they might not have been guided through quite so easily. It’s a very ritzy place, with huge homes that border on mansion size.) At one end of the beach, they find a little restaurant called Ramada d’Aguila. Hector, the owner, says they can leave their things on his chairs while they go snorkeling, so they set off with fins and masks and breathing apparatus. They see big fat white fish, tiny vibrantly painted fish, barnacles and exotic plants all hovering around or on the rusted wreckage. It’s an incredible sight. When they’re finished, Chris and Barb walk back to see Hector, while Dave and Doug decide to move the car a little closer to the restaurant. Hector is nowhere to be seen. They wait patiently for about thirty minutes: still no sign of DSsquared or Hector, so Chris and Barb move over to the restaurant next door. They’re thirsty after all! Strangely, no one comes to serve them. Usually, our Mexican hosts are incredibly friendly and efficient. In desperation (they’re thirsty after all that snorkeling) Chris goes up to the bar, orders, and they reluctantly give her four cold beers. Just then, Hector returns – with Dave and Doug. He’d been out on the road, helping them find a parking spot. After much apologizing, words between the two restaurant owners (turns out they were reluctant to serve because these were Hector’s clients), all was resolved by another round of beer at Ramada d’Aguila.
TWO: Bonnie and I decide to go and get out hair cut. We walk back into the little neighbourhood two streets over. It’s an interesting, authentic street, untouched by the gringo influences. One house is lovely, a light yellow stucco, with a garage and a car parked outside. The next has a lopsided fence, crumbling stairs, and chickens in the front room. Trees and palms wave overhead. Everyone smiles, says Hola, Buenos Dias. When we reach the hairdresser’s place, we meet two young women and a little girl around three, who is blanket on a pillow inside. It’s a nice, clean, cheery place. Bonnie goes first, then me, although the girl laughs at my thick locks and asks the other one (I have to guess at these words), What the hell am I supposed to do with this? While we are getting beautified, a rooster stops by, stands and stares at us for a while, then clucks, poops and walks away. Bonnie and I have a beer at the “Topless Bar” afterward. Everything must be accompanied by beer.
THREE (This happened on Wednesday for sure): Bonnie and Pete’s daughter and granddaughter, Jenny and Maddison, arrive, and everyone sits down by the ocean trading stories. Maddison paints our toes some delicious colours and stripes. We go to La Sonrisa for the tacos.
FOUR: We go with the Unit Three Gang to the steak house across the street and have our fill of wine, tender meat and baked potatoes.
FIVE: Unit Three pushes back all the chairs and we dance and sing. We play “You and I” about ten times, all of us singing at the top of our lungs. Davey tells us that he only recently was able to get through the entire song without crying.
THURSDAY: We spend the day at a variety of tasks. DSsquared go shopping for tonight’s extravaganza dinner and then chop and sizzle and mince all afternoon. In the meantime, I am skyping with the Crime Writers of Canada group for our monthly meeting. Little do they know that, just as the meeting is about to start, a giant cockroach saunters down the steps and starts clip-clopping toward me. I get up from the computer and try to fight him off with a white plastic chair. At the last minute, he sees me and darts sideways, then forward, then backward, avoiding being pinned by the chair leg. Eventually, I win because he gives up and sidles out a hole in the wall. I sit back down and continue the meeting. A little while later, my noodle weight comes racing out of our unit and tumbles down the hallway. It’s clear that the wind has picked up! I signal to Chris and she closes our door. Sure enough, there’s a storm brewing and the rain starts to cascade in sheets. We are all pissed off (or pissed as the case may be).
Doug and Dave scrub the refrigerator and grill downstairs in preparation for their meal. Dave loses his glasses in the wind and waves as he’s attempting to salt-blast the BBQ grill, but he does save the grill.
Chris, Barb and I call the sun, just like we called the whales, and once again, it works. The weather clears up just in time for dinner, around 6:30 p.m. The sun streams out over the ocean, then sets in streams of orange and red. Barb suggests that the three of us work on world hunger next.
Bonnie serves scrumptious, zesty appetizers – jalapeno peppers, cream cheese and bacon. We devour those. We sing, tell stories, laugh, and generally enjoy each other’s company. Davey serves all kinds of drinks, Tequila Sunrises, Manzanillos, beer, red wine – whatever our little hearts desire. Then the meal – OMG, it makes me want to cry! Vince and I quote Stanley Tucci from “Big Night”: it’s so good that you have to kill yourself after. Pork chops stuffed with cheese and almonds; potatoes just soft enough, drenched in butter and spice; vegetables cooked crisp in a cornucopia of spices, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, carrots, corn, to name a few. Delicious doesn’t even cover it. We all moan as we stuff ourselves to overflowing. Judith and Bryan (our downstairs neighbours) bring sweet fruit to finish everything off.
A round of dice and we are using Tanya’s saying to excuse ourselves for wanting to go to bed: “It must be well after nine.”
I am missing my cat Louie so much, so I go downstairs and snuggle one of the puppies. Now I feel better.