Saturday, February 6, 2016

Manzanillo: Day One and Two

We were tired yesterday when we arrived, but oh, what a welcome. John was there at the door and I got to do a Mama Mia happy dance and hug with Maire right after. Not to mention hugs and greetings from Pat and Bill. From the beautiful back yard of this hacienda, there was a huge orange sunset dipping over the ocean.

The hacienda is a wide, lovely property. Right on the Pacific, there are coconut palms and many different flowering bushes everywhere, colored rocks and green grass. Directly in the middle is an inviting kidney-shaped pool. A little round gazebo has been constructed with leaves and vines on concrete pillars.

The suites in the hacienda (two of them that are rentals) are amazing. Ours for the week is up a winding set of stairs to the second floor. There's a huge balcony, a big living/dining area, a kitchen, two big bedrooms with ensuites and a half bath. Mexican tile, a palapa roof.

On our dining room table: wine from John and Maire and Jameson from Pat and Bill! We are in heaven. Can you believe what great friends we have? So freakin' lucky.

Maire and John have a two-bedroom, two bathroom (sort of, since the second one is outside) suite downstairs, with a lovely front room that opens into the garden.The kitchen needs explanation too with its bar-sized fridge. The attempt to replace it could have been a skit from the Keystone cops or the Tool man when they brought in the new one and promptly broke it. The new one will return once more, MaƱana. (Which did translate to the day after, so they're all set!)

The owner, Koy, lives on the third floor. Her daughter, a dentist, has a home and office on the second floor. When Vince saw Isabella in her bikini, he decided he need some work done on his teeth.

We have dinner at one of our old haunts, a favorite restaurant that has been redone a few times after hurricanes. Sammy, the owner, recognizes Vicente of course. Sammy has done a magnificent job of redoing the space, though it has shrunk a bit in size. El Caribe has the same delicious food and our dinosaur-stepping, long-legged night heron still walks the beach in front.

The next morning dawns absolutely pure and glorious. The sky is robin's egg blue, the waves full and noisy with that relaxing consistency that immediately calms your nerves.  My grackle comes to visit me! I'm sure it's the same grackle that used to visit me, for four years in a row, in the other place just down the road. He'd sit in the tree next to that balcony and chat. Now he's here.

Vince heard him say, Cathy, where the hell have you been?, which is how we knew it was indeed the same bird. Grackle has all kinds of different sounds and he's been interesting places, so he's the perfect conversationalist.

The six of us stroll over to Bricio's for breakfast. Once Vince shows Bricio his t-shirt, the old guy recognizes Vicente. We have our usual huevos mexicanos and they're as delicious as ever.

Now for a few hours by the pool! There's a cooling breeze, the warm is warm and silky, the sun is hot and caressing.

I have to swim with a shirt on and a hat and glasses covering my face, slathered all over with sunscreen, but that's my Irish-English heritage, so what can you do?

Pat and Bill are the only ones who can get in and out of those little chairs, so they sit and read.

Here's the property from another angle. Our unit is upstairs under the palapa and Maire and John are just to the right of the gazebo.

From this angle, you can see the ocean beyond. We called the whales, but no signs of spouts yet.

Yet another angle, which shows Maire and John's front door and the dentist office above.

Oh, and me, still in the pool.

Maire on her front deck. The pool was even warm enough for her discerning taste.

A lovely hummingbird flits in and out, tasting the red flowers of the bougainvillea.

Around 4 PM, we wander off to have dinner at El Vaquero. Pat and Bill are in the mood for beef and we agree wholeheartedly. We're seated on the balcony, though not quite at the front. That proves not to be a problem. Great service, mostly good food (Maire and I are not thrilled with our filet mignon, since it's a lot different from the cuts we get at home).

About seven, the festival begins. We knew they were setting up for it, but even the locals thought it would start at nine. We watch the parade from the balcony. Dancers, floats, musicians, and vehicles flood the roadway. Tons of people are out enjoying themselves. Lots of families with little ones running around or dancing. Bill dubs one float the "Dead Man's Float" as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe and other deceased stars dance past.

The roads are closed off, so we walk home. Actually, we stroll home. Through the crowds we thread our way along though the locals of Las Brisas having an absolute ball. There are trinkets for the kids and food wagons and beer. One stop at the Chantilly (we liked it and want to go back) for a fortifying drink and bathroom stop. The owner tells us this festival is a competition between Las Brisas and Manzanillo and some other suburbs to see who can put on the best parade. I have no idea who the judges are, but this one would be hard to beat in terms of enthusiasm. Later, we can hear but not see the fireworks because we've all flopped down in bed.

Vince says no one who hasn't been here can understand the appeal of Manzanillo. The people, the heat, the ocean's power, the great restaurants, history, birds and flowers...we are both happy to be back. Especially with Maire and John and Pat and Bill in this gorgeous hacienda on the sea.

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