Manzanillo, Mexico

Monday, Jan. 11, 2010

We arrived in Manzanillo on Monday, January 11. The time is flying. We are having a great time here with Patty's brother, Steve. He has a beautiful house on the side of the mountain. It's rustic and primitive in a very nice way. The yard is full of wonderful plants which I have been photographing. The house is just four years old but is well appointed. There is a guest room and bath just for us.

The amount and variety of fruit available here is amazing. There are fruit stands everywhere. Many of them sell bags of prepared fruit as a snack. We had an interesting and delicious mix of pineapple, papaya, coconut and yaca.

Thursday, Jan. 14

We went into the market place with Christina, Steve's girlfriend. Steve was working and she took us there to see the sites and enjoy the bustle of the old city. Lots of shops and loads of people. Bright color everywhere. I've been to lots of Arabic towns that look a bit like this but they aren't as colorful. Columbus, Ohio seems like a ghost town compared to this place. When you walk in the evening in residential areas, people are outdoors and kids are playing.

Patty and I have been trying to get some sun so we can go to the beach and not burn too badly. The weather has been mostly sunny and temperature in the low 80s.

Friday, Jan. 15

Today we plan to tour the port where Steve works. After we will try snorkeling along a pier where there are great numbers of fish.

Saturday, Jan. 16

The beach was fantastic. We were jokeing that Steve has lost his tour group, now that we have discovered the beach. The water is so warm it's just fantastic. Not so warm as to not be refreshing. It's the temp you would set the thermostat for if you could.

We are going back to the beach today. I plan to do some more body surfing. Maybe we'll get some fruit on the way there, yum.

Sunday, Jan. 17

Yesterday was a blast. But the consequences are a bit of a sunburn and a lot of sinus drainage from all the salt water that got in my head body surfing. I had a pair of goggles and enjoyed looking underwater at the starfish, schools of small fish and what looked like gold glitter covering the bottom. I'm curious about the nature of the glitter in the water. Obviously some kind of mineral.

After about three hours on the beach, Steve got off work early and came to meet us. We swam for another hour and then went to a beautiful small town about an hour away named Barra de Navidad, in the state of Jalisco. We watched the sunset and had a seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants in that town.

Today is January 17th. We've been here just about a week and I'm enjoying the lifestyle. My sinuses are improving after a sleepless night. Patty and Christina are going to the beach with her children. Steve has to work for a little bit and after that we plan to stay around the house. Steve wants to watch an American NFL playoff game on TV.

Monday, Jan. 18

I was a little optimistic about my sinuses. I spent another sleepless night with the draining sinuses switching to a nasty painful cough. Now it's the afternoon and Steve has been at the office all day. Patty and I have had a nice time puttering around here. Doing some laundry, till we ran out of water and cleaning up the house a little. There is more water in the cistern but it needs to be pumped to the rooftop tank to be available in the house.

I've been doing a fair amount of photography but not much of it has been concentrated. I've always got people with me who are waiting as I shoot, so I just grab what I can.

Patty said the other day that she would love to live here. Wow, that would be a big change. But life is very sane here. Christina took a serious fall at home before we got here and Steve said all her hospital and doctor bills came to zero.

Tuesday, Jan. 19

Went to little beach by rocks at about 4PM and swam till he came back to pick us up at 7pm. Saw a couple cruise ships and a container ship pass close by. Went to one of Steve's favorite bars and had beer and sushi.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

We told Steve as he left for work that we would meet him about 1pm at the supermarket in the American shopping section. We took the No. 2 bus instead of our usual No. 1 bus. The No. 2 took us up into the neighborhoods and although it was interesting, it skipped past the American section and we ended up at the Port. So we hopped the No. 1 in the opposite direction and got back to the American section. First we went to Vips where we had milkshakes and 15 min of free WiFi internet access. I checked my email and then we went to Soriano Supermercado.

Later we met Steve and went to a couple of snackbars for beer and light food. These Botonaros serve alcohol and light food, served by pretty girls who are "available". At night many of these places have shows put on by the girls. On our way towards work we went to a very upscale botonaro where there was a mariachi band playing. Some of the botanaros are family oriented.

Next, we went to see the Iguanas in a homegrown preserve near the town center market place. There were at least a hundred large iguanas basking in the trees. Some of them were 30 feet up in the treetops. These guys were huge, up to 4 or 5 feet to the end of their tails.

Steve went back to work and we went back home with our groceries and watched a Spanish dubbed movie, 2012. Toward the end of the night, Steve brought out a violin he has but has not been playing... Amazingly, he gave it to Patty and I. What a beautiful gift. This is a very fine violin in my estimation. I look forward to exploring it. Such a fantastic gift. I'm very impressed by Steve's generosity.

Thursday, Jan. 21

Played with photos and spent a quiet morning around the house. I walked to the little market down the highway for some eggs and milk. Patty has been cleaning house.

At about 2:00 pm we went with Steve and Christina for a drive up to an iron mine about forty miles away. There is a water park and beautiful natural waterfalls. Steve is a great host and tour guide dispite a very busy and I suspect, stressful time at work. As a shipping agent he has complicated negotiations to arrange for various ships that need a broad variety of services.

Friday, Jan. 22

Everybody except Steve has been touched by my cold. Steve had to go to court today. Christina is back with us after a couple days at her parents house. Patty was in the mood to stick around the house and clean and pack a little. I have been doing some of that too.

Later this afternoon, I want to ride the bus to a local graveyard for photos. The graveyards here are quite decorative. I have high expectations because this is the first time I will have all alone in an highly photogenic place with my camera.

Saturday, Jan. 23

We went to our favorite spot on the beach, La Playa Miramar. I found Steve's snorkle and finally had the full compliment of gear to do some fish watching and so I spent a fair amount of time in the water. The day turned very clear and we had fun with the spotting scope, looking at boats and beautiful estates and hotels in the resort area.

Steve and Christina found us on the beach and we went to play a couple rounds of pool. Next we went for a drive out to the resort area we had been seeing with the scope, Las Hadas. At the very end of the drive we came to memorably beautiful beach named La Audiencia.

On this drive we saw many of the five star hotels and interesting yachts. Then we went to another big beach, La Boquita where we had seen big sailboats through the scope in the morning. This was a very popular public beach for the local population but is soon to be privatized. Ah, capitalism!

Finally we went out to eat at a beautiful restaurant that caters to the Gringo population. Great meal for four at about $50.00 with tip.

Sunday, Jan. 24

It's our last full day here. Another beautiful sunny day. Steve had to go in for a big meeting on his day off. Now at 2 pm we expect to see him before too long. There is another football game on TV this afternoon. Patty and I have been packing for our long, long return flight tomorrow. Steve offered to take us to see the sea turtle sanctuary but we think he would like to unwind.

We leave tomorrow on a 3 pm flight for Columbus.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We are on the last leg of a circuitous return to Columbus. We started yesterday at 3 pm. We will arrive in Columbus at 11:30 am, about an hour. Because we were trying to fly cheap, and visit SF on the way out, we paid the price on our return trip. Truthfully, we probably could have done a better job buying our tickets.

This has been a memorable vacation. I'm returning with quite a few photos. We visited Aaron and Ben in Northern California and then spent two weeks with Patty's brother, Steve in Mexico. Patty seem to have been enthralled with Mexico. I think it's a great place in the Winter. I'm a bit more dubious that it would be nice in the Summer. When I first arrived, I was very impressed by the easy availablility of large varieties of fruit. Ultimately, I was surprized that we didn't eat more vegetables. We ate mostly rice, beans and bread. I know that Mexico is a big producer of vegetables, so I think it was just our circumstance that we ate as we did.

I have a lot of other thoughts about Mexico. In many ways it seemed a very sane place compared to the USA. It's been interesting being so unconnected for the past two weeks. I've heard very little news and been online just long enough to check email a few times. I look forward to some of the conveniences I have at home. But, I dread returning to Ohio weather in February. At least the Winter will be shorter by three weeks.