Sometimes I think my life is a bit too perfect. I don’t like to leave my children and grandchildren. And my cats. I love being around all my friends. I love the whole business of writing, the Crime Writers of Canada, our online magazine that has just taken wings. I resist going south. Three things compel me to go: my husband’s love of the sun; the fact that our VBFITWWW’s are already there; and the homey feeling of our rental in Manzanillo.
On Sunday, we take Sahara and Raven (known as Monkey) to my daughter’s house. Her partner, John, likes cats, and her children, Ben and Cate, already know these two, so everybody loves them. Even Lucas, my granddog, likes them, though the feelings are not mutual. Monkey is the social one at home. Also the fierce fighter of squirrels and other cat intruders. But here, they turn our expectations completely on their heads. Sahara wanders around, smelling, sniffing, talking to all of us. She faces Lucas on the steps, hissing, showing him that she will be the boss while she’s here. Lucas jumps away from her, awed by her commanding presence. Poor Miss Monkey hides her face in the cat tent, her nose pressed against the dark interior, refusing to acknowledge anyone. As I type this, she has found a hiding spot under Ben’s bedsprings. She only comes out to eat a little, perhaps to drink some water, use the litter box (we hope), when Lucas is asleep behind closed doors.
We drive home from Kristen’s in a raging snowstorm, forcing Ben, Lucas and Kristen to be car-bound for four hours, there and back. We’re just glad everyone is safe later in the evening.
At 4 a.m., we traipsing through snow in our running shoes to a waiting cab, shivering in the pre-dawn dark. The airport seems to be deserted. We go through check-in and baggage in record time. Now we wait.
I suddenly remember that I have left my Kindle charger at home. In the middle of the latest Elizabeth George!! The only other book I have is “On Writing” by Stephen King, which I’ve been dying to read since my friend Ann-Marie gave it to me in the fall. Maybe it will sustain me through the four weeks – or is this a message? Just write, you idiot!!
Once we are on the plane, I am committed, relaxed, happy to be heading to the heat. I look forward to the sound of the ocean in my new background, those waves washing onto shore, their gentle shush a soothing lullaby.
Some of the other passengers are clearly on short-term vacations. They drink a lot, talk at high volume, whoop and clap for the flight attendant after she demonstrates the safety procedures. They even snort, cough, sniff and sneeze far louder than the drone of the aircraft. I have left my earphones in my bag above me, and can’t b bothered to fetch them. I curl up in my seat and do several hours of those semi-conscious naps. I hear everything, see nothing.
It takes an hour to go through customs and to collect our baggage. Suddenly the short-term vacationers are surly and impatient: keep the party going! If only they served tequila in the line-ups.
Along the route with our chatty cab driver, we see the signs of hurricane Joba: a highway ramp is still in pieces; the banana groves are sparse. But mostly, we are amazed at the recovery. The majority of roads and buildings are erect; the greenery lush.
When we arrive at Suites Flores in Las Brisas, we are instantly at home. John and Maire greet us, as do Marta and Andres and Christine and Judith and Brian. How could we not feel at home when we’ve lived with these people for months at a time, four years in a row?
Maire and John have provided us with the essentials: beer with limes, wine, 2 red wine glasses, a note alerting us to what they haven’t given: a piece of shit tablecloth, and a lunch of chicken, rice and vegetables that really taste like vegetables: rich avocado, juicy tomatoes…
Plus great news: Maire’s Kobo charger fits my Kindle, and I am off to the reading races once again.
We wander down to the beach and here is the startling reminder of the power of nature. The sand is about one and a half metres down. Last year, we took one step onto the beach – this year, we need all four tiled stairs plus six more wooden ones. The narrow, flattened strip of sand is high above the ocean. Now when we sit under the umbrella, we can’t see the shoreline. From here, we need to walk to the edge, then traverse the slope, to see the crabs running along the shallow water, where last year, we’d gaze upon all the activity from our chairs.
We unpack, find all kinds of goodies in our bin: green sheets, towels (thanks, Marilynn!) and lots of other useful stuff.
There’s a new pasta place just across the street, next to Bricios, so we enjoy a sumptuous dinner and excellent wine. We’re in bed at a ridiculously early hour.
The next morning, Vince awakens me with a kiss and a Happy Birthday! I check my email and see tons of lovely messages. What a perfect way to wake up to being…never mind how old. The birds have gathered outside to sing to me. I feel so utterly relaxed. It’s warm and salty and musical in my world today.
We hop into a cab to Centro Manzanillo. John has gone up the mountain with a group of Canadian friends. We meet them all at the lovely Colonial Hotel. Along the way, we notice all the construction. The port is busier than ever. Manzanillo is booming.
We meet some new Canadians, plus our friends from last year, Carole and Mike, and greet their daughter Vanessa. They are awesome people! Especially because they are connected to our former neighbours and still-friends, Diane and Paul, and their daughters. We’ll see Mike and Carole again, I’m sure.
After breakfast, we shop in Manzanillo, then take a cab to Walmart, where we shop for the week’s essentials. Our apartment is now all set: furniture rearranged, fridge stocked, wine and beer chilling.
Later we watch Mexican TV. That’s the ocean: the ships coming in and out, the birds soaring overhead, the people drifting through, the fish jumping. No whales yet, though I call to them.
Maire and John take us out for dinner at El Caribe. It’s still hazy and cloudy, so we don’t have much of a sunset, but the food is delicious. The restaurant no longer sits on the sand: Joba took all of that away. They’ve had to build a deck and their roof is still only half done.
When we return, Maire and John have carrot cake, candles, a gorgeous calendar with painting from a transplanted Toronto artist we met last year, and a beautiful green wrap. Aren’t they amazing?
We play dice, skype with Kristen, play dice, and drink excellent wine, scotch and beer. Now it’s well after nine, so I guess that means…bedtime.