Wednesday: We wake up to another beautiful, breezy, sunny day. After Aquafit, we go to Bricio’s for breakfast. We are wearing our Juanito t-shirts, so we feel a bit guilty and buy some from Bricio too. He gives us all a free key chain. Afterward, Mary Jo and Peter hop on the bus for downtown while the rest of us do various things at the condo unit. I work a bit on my writing and marvel at how the days roll by. Like the waves, each day is different yet the same, bringing a similar song with it, but always some delightful surprise too. When Mary Jo and Peter come back, they tell us they climbed up the hill and the stairs past the church to see the black-pebbled beach. I’m glad they got to see the views of the harbour and the city vista. Later in the afternoon, everyone gathers under the umbrellas, drinking Tequila sunrises or beer or scotch (or Pepsi). The whales come out to greet us again. We watch with delight as they flip their tails, glinting in the sun, or roll over, or give us a flash of their deep ebony backs. For dinner, we go around the corner to La Dona for an inexpensive but tasty meal. Mom, Dad, Mom-in-law, Son and Daughter all work, cooking, serving, cleaning, smiling. Later, there is a rousing game of cards, much laughter and hooting drifting up to those of us who have chosen to read instead.
Thursday: Christmas Sandbar – At 9:15 a.m., Mary Jo, Peter, Vince and I hop on the bus in Santiago for a trip to Barre de Navidad (sandbar of Christmas). It’s one of those perfect Manzanillo days: clear blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds, no humidity, the air lightly ocean-kissed and fresh. We wander around the Navidad market, enjoying the colour and the scents. Coffee, leather, baked goods, and salt all perfume the air. We show them the church dedicated to the Christo de ciclon and Davey’s favourite tree house. Every time I see it, I am amazed at the tree’s size and smooth beauty. Its strong limbs tuck themselves around the balcony of the house; its big, flat leaves gives a cooling shade. We always say if we had money, this would become our private little hotel. Across the street is one of the canals that finger out from the lagoon. Fresh mariscos is sold both from the stores and the restaurants. We make our way to the boats and find Augustus and his boat Martha once again. He takes us through the canal, past the big homes, around the oyster and clam nets. We motor past various fishermen and women. They have constructed their own floating of islands of empty plastic bottles, which hold a pail or two. They throw the scallops inside, then erect umbrellas on the sandbars to shell them. The birds gather in lines, as though they have taken a number and are awaiting their turn for a tidbit. At Colimilla’s Restaurant, we enjoy a scrumptious seafood meal sitting at the water’s edge, basking in the breeze and the sunlit air. When Augustus and the Martha return, we putt-putt into the canals and sidle up to the enormous yachts, voyeurs into another world. On shore once again, we walk along the pier and watch the various surfers, some of whom are quite skilled while others spend most of the time upended in the sea. There are quite ferocious breakers today; big, curling waves that lift the boards into the sky. Back at the market, we buy a few things and then wander up the street once more. We’re a bit early for the return bus, so we decide to try out a new bar that advertises the “best sunset ever” before we head to Los Archos Jalisco for Diego’s margaritas. We are the only people inside a cavernous palapa perched on the beach, windows wide open for the cooling breeze. Mary Jo tries one of the margaritas here and we are hooked. We stay the whole afternoon, drinking margaritas and watching people play in the ocean. It’s spectacular. Later, Mary Jo and Peter get to experience the ETN bus on the way home.
That night, Paradise is interrupted! The dreaded party house next door appears to have opened en force. It looks like the Gringo Grapevine rumour that the uninhabited property will be rented out for all-night partying may be true after all. Loud music and random hollering keep everyone awake until 4 a.m.
Friday: We are mostly grumpy and afraid that our Paradise is Lost. Despite the lack of sleep, John, Pete, Scott, Bonnie and Brian (our Bryan’s brother-in-law) climb to the cross. The rest of us are too lazy to even hop on the bus to meet them for breakfast. We swim in the pool and sit on the beach or take naps. It’s very peaceful, despite the underlying discontent. Pete and Bonnie complain to Nacho and he calls a meeting for 3 p.m. Helen, Sandy, Mary Jo, Peter, Vince and I walk down to another little neighbourhood restaurant (I think it’s called Camaron del Mar) for lunch. For 55 pesos (about $5) we have soup and an entrée with either veggies or salad or rice. Not to mention the taco chips, salsa and frijoles. On the way home, Vince buys a rack of ribs the size of Ontario at one of the El Pastor pits. Later, we all gather at the beach and then for the discussion with Nacho. The summary is this: Nacho has negotiated with the owner of the house next door to refrain from renting it for parties for the rest of March and for January, February and March 2011. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. It was only Paradise Interruptus, not Lost. There is some talk about the Potluck that was scheduled for tonight. Since we are all going out for dinner tomorrow night, Bonnie thinks the potluck should be cancelled. However, we do have this enormous rack of ribs simmering in its divine sauce, along with some big fat yellow potatoes. Sandy has hamburger that needs to be cooked. So we invite everyone to have a Luck Pot or a Otpay Ucklay. It’s not a potluck, you see. Maire and John say no, Bonnie says maybe. A while later, we get the message that Pete and Bonnie have declined, so we set up our dinner in Helen and Sandy’s unit at the big round table. A mountain of ribs, potatoes and onions, salad, and spaghetti are tackled by the seven of us. Just as we are devouring the food, Pete and Bonnie show up at the door with a bowl and their plates. They ask us why we left them down on the deck all alone, waiting for the Otpay Ucklay. We all jump to our feet and say we thought they weren’t coming; we’re sorry; we’ll make space – and of course, they have totally sucked us into their joke. Later, all eleven of us play cards and laugh ourselves all the way to bed.