Carless in Manzanillo

Manzanillo, Mexico

Saturday we walk in sweltering heat for over an hour to be at the Thrifty car rental office a 1 PM sharp to pick up the rental car we had reserved. When we reserved it on Thursday, the friendly girl who made the reservation emphasized the need to show up at 1, not 2 as we had originally suggested. The less than friendly fellow working there Saturday seems surprised to see us, particularly because he has no cars available. After 15 minutes or so of Craig trying, in vain, to get him to come up with a car, we leave in a taxi. No way I was walking back another hour in the noonday sun! Without a car we are forced to sit on the beach, reading our books, playing Scrabble and dipping into the ocean. Sigh!

When and if we get bored we will have to figure out how to get farther afield. There appear to be several interesting market towns and beaches close to Manzanillo and maybe we can find a bus or splurge on a taxi.

However, Craig being the walking meister that he is, we walk around the peninsula from our hotel to a popular beach called La Audienca. As it is Sunday, the beach is packed with families, their dogs, huge coolers full of beer and lunch, and the inevitable salesmen hawking their shrimp brochettes, banana boat rides and jet ski rentals. We people-watch and swim, have lunch at a beachside cafe, and walk – or should I say trudge – home through a neighbourhood of impressive cliffside villas. Maybe there will be a rental car available tomorrow?

We do finally get a rental car, which permits trips up and down the coast. We go north about 50 kms to Barra de Navidad, where we spent some time 12 years ago. It looks like a completely different place. And not necessarily in a good way. Lots of development, many more hotels and restaurants and shops and tourists. The tourists are mostly Mexican, which suggests that the growing middle class we hear so much about has sufficient wealth for beach vacations.

As we are having lunch a fishing boat pulls up to the wharf and the crew unload two giant fish, a marlin and a sail fish. The locals flock to take turns having their photos taken with the fish! I can’t resist a shot myself.

We go south and discover not much except dusty towns and banana plantations. And decide that our ‘hood is the nicest on this stretch of the coast. Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason?!

We are reading “The Cartel”, a gruesome novel about the Mexican drug trade and cannot help but imagine that every deserted stretch of road and every police road block is potentially dangerous. We end up at a remote and isolated beach that I am sure will be the end of us. Images of wandering into a gang compound, etc, etc. A few trucks show up and when I see that they are full of families with kids and beach toys I feel foolish. We are probably safer here than we are in many parts of east Van!!

It has been an unusual way to spend Christmas and it is weird to think of all of you (except Sharon & Ray in Australia and Julie & Ron in Spain) back home in the rain and/or snow. My family in Saskatchewan report minus 40 temps. While I take photos of Christmas trees made of palm branches. Felix Navidad everyone!!

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