Friday – For Scott’s first day, we take him for breakfast at Bricio’s. Then the guys take him on his first Manzanillian bus ride and shopping at Soriana’s. That action-packed morning is followed by sunshine, beach and pool activities. Later, we walk down the street to an Italian restaurant that Judith recommended to Helen. (P.S. I must mention - Maire and I wear our gorgeous ribboned blouses with flounced sleeves. Maire’s is a deep blue and mine is an incredible sunset orange, which Maire bought for me. I can’t believe how tanned I am – the colour looks great on me. Other people look wonderful too of course but Maire and I are the twins.) The key word for the evening is garlic. Buttery, flavourful, tongue-tingling, mouth-melting, garlic. On the bread, the pasta, the seafood, in the Caesar salad. They even give us a surprise at the end of the meal – more garlic bread topped with shrimp and butter. OMG, what an orgy of tastes. I can’t do anything when we get back but lie down.
Saturday: Some people from Minnesota come barreling into Las Flores just as a group is getting ready to go downtown and I am settling down to edit my novel. The Americans tell us that CNN is warning of a tsunami radiating all along the Pacific coast as a result of the devastating earthquake in Chile. They are hopping in their car and heading to high ground and advise us to do the same. Of course, none of us has a car. Sandy turns on CNN and sure enough, there is our friend Anderson Cooper saying that a wave is predicted to hit Hawaii soon and that it will subsequently hit Mexico. Everyone decides to go to the roof, except for Peter D and Scott. They sit on the beach in their plastic chairs to meet it head-on. Vince tells me to bring anything I want to save up to the roof, so I pack my computer, my sisters’ necklace, my orange blouse and of course my happy pills. We all stand or sit on the roof watching the sea, which looks even calmer than usual. So do the locals. They are still going about their business and heading into Centro for the Mexican Independence Day celebration. Suddenly Helen looks around and realizes there is one precious thing we have forgotten to bring to the roof with us. Maire. Apparently she is sitting on her balcony, listening to her iPod, and didn’t hear the warning! Bonnie goes down to get her and I pronounce that, once again, I suck as a friend. But what of Maire’s esposo? John – to my absolute horror – has left her in the midst of a crisis and gone shopping. We wait for the tsunami. Vince has the video camera and films everything. We wait. The sun beats down. No sirens scream out from the early warning system. The sun beats down. The waves lap lazily on the shore. Soon I get bored and come back to the unit to edit. I ask them to call me when the tsunami appears on the horizon. They wait, I edit. Finally everyone drifts back to the beach or the deck or the balconies. Peter D calls it the Y2K Tsunami. We decided there is no sense in going anywhere, so we sit on the beach. In fact, our water is so calm that I grab my boogie board, Helen and Bonnie grab their noodles, and we go for a swim. There are only three big waves the entire time. Two of them happen when I try to get in, ripping my bathing suit off. (Later, the Gringo Grapevine spreads the rumour that a whale and two dolphins were seen close to shore.) The third one happens when we try to get back out. As a result, I have sand where the sun does not shine and everywhere else, too. We go ahead with our potluck dinner. Steak, ribs, chicken, salads, baked potatoes, grilled veggies and tequila and wine all go very, very well together. The sun watches us, then sets in a firey blaze of red and orange. Once again, I can do nothing later but lie down. It’s been a very stressful day.
Sunday: It’s a day off for Aquafit, so we have a small but leisurely breakfast. A group of our guys go off to the local baseball game while the rest of us do some beach gazing and/or walking. We check on the willet, the curlew, the chocolopas, the crabs and the pelicans. The pigeons chuckle to each other as they walk around the pool, heads bobbing back and forth, sit on the swim-up bar and drink chlorinated water. We keep telling them it can’t be good for them, but they don’t speak English. Later, we get on the bus wearing red and white or Canada stickers. We ride out to the suburb of Santiago, home of the Saturday market. At Juanito’s, the gold-medal Olympic hockey game is about to start on both of their two big flat-screen televisions. Two other tables full of Canadians sit in front and to the side of us. Helen and I are bored, but we manage to talk, watch the other customers, eat and drink to keep ourselves occupied. Everyone else is having a fabulous time watching the game. Even some local Mexicans who are unlucky enough to come to Juanito’s at this time seem to be interested. Finally, toward the end of the game, we give in and turn our chairs around to face the TV. Just then, the Americans tie up the score. The two tables behind us erupt in a huge roar. We had no idea there were so many U.S. Gringoes here too! All the Canadians in the restaurant groan. Now the pressure is on. Scott is so tense he gets up, walks down the street, and hitches a bus ride home. The sudden death period starts. Vince has bad-mouthed Sidney Crosby throughout the game, asking where the “hotshot” is, why isn’t he scoring if he’s such a superstar and so on. Vince can’t stand the way the media appear to focus only on Crosby, but Mary Jo predicts that the kid will have to step up “now”. Sure enough, Sid the Kid whips the puck into the goal from a perfect pass. I laugh my ass off! The entire front section of Juanito’s goes completely wild. Clapping, dancing, high-fiving, shouting. We are suddenly mates with all the other Canadians in the room. The Americans graciously clap and congratulate us (as if we have played the game ourselves), but they soon leave the restaurant. Too bad, because they miss the moment when Vince starts singing O Canada with the players on the television and then everyone else follows suit. Mary Jo and Peter buy us Juanito t-shirts and Sandy gets one too (Helen already has one), so Mrs. Juanito gives us free bags too. We are too full to eat dinner, but later we introduce Mary Jo and Peter to the game of Up and Down. Pete says it’s also called Oh Shit and a bit later in the evening, we see why. On the way up the stair after cards, we all stop to admire the huge silver full moon perched over the mountainside.
Monday: The filter isn’t working in the pool, so we have to skip Aquafit. Instead, Mary Jo, Peter, Helen, Sandy, Scott, Vince and I head off on the bus for Miramar Beach. It’s a perfect day in the ocean! We boogie, bounce, body surf and bask in the sun. We float, flip, flop and fly. On shore, we drink and eat (what else is new?) and fend off vendors. Bonnie and Pete join us a bit later, after her volunteer stint at the local clinic. It’s difficult to describe how such a day can deliciously drift by with such a perfect balance of leisure and pleasure. When we get back home, we find John sitting on the beach, so we head down to talk with him. Suddenly, he sees the telltale spout. The whales are back! We all get a chance to enjoy them as they dip and plunge and breach and splash their gigantic tails. Later we stand on the balcony and enjoy the ideal sunset – a great, Pacific-scented breeze and waves of red and orange clouds. Mary Jo, Peter, Helen, Sandy, and Scott go out to El Caribe for dinner, but the rest of us stay home. I finish my latest blog! A grackle is busy tsking at me as I post this.