Saturday, July 26, 2008

beaches and cream

I have always loved the beach. I grew up in a small town in the Oregon coast range. Even though the ocean was very close, we did not always have the money or time to drive there. But, when we did, it was like walking through the gates of Oz.

Some of my best memories from grade school, high school, and college are connected to the beach. Not to mention the fact that the beach is Professor Jiggs's favorite place in the world.

I fully understand my attraction to the beach. If the beach was a woman, I would have married her when I was in my 20s. That may explain why, over the past 10 tears, I have been tempted on several occasions to buy a house on the Oregon coast. I have avoided the temptation only because I can get Jiggs to the beach with a short one-hour trip in the truck.

For that reason, alone, I knew that I could not objectively judge the beach at Melaque. By any standard, it is a beautiful beach. It stretches in a crescent shape for about three miles from the harbor at Barra de Navidad to a point just west of Melaque.

The crescent creates multiple types of beaches. A large stretch of the beach is not well-suited for beginning swimmers. The sand has a very steep pitch. As a result, the waves do not lap the shore; they literally slam down hard. Hard enough to wake sleepers in the night.

The waves are not large. But they attract surfers and skimboarders. Each ready to catch the waves that break very close to shore.

At the west end of the beach, the waves almost disappear. This is where most families swim with their children.

Those last two paragraphs sum up one of the reasons I like the beach: people. There is something vibrant about families and young people throwing caution to the wind on the sand and in the surf. Some people claim to feel that same electric thrill at various religious shrines. I feel it at the beach.

Was I in any way disappointed with this beach? Not at all. It has everything I would expect a beach to have.

It also has all of the negative things a beach would be expected to have. Sand gets in everything. Bugs seem to appear out of thin air. And the most obvious: the sea air is one of the most corrosive substances for man-made objects. The microwave surrendered to the sea's assault while I was in Melaque -- in one big papal-election puff of smoke.

Here is an example. This is the front gate to the house where I stayed. It is nicely-designed with bright colors -- and it is beginning to rust away. Even the aluminum rails had begun to corrode on the sea-side veranda.

None of that bothers me. It will be something to work around.

If weather was not a factor in moving to Mexico, being close to the beach is. I do not need to live right on the beach. But I may have an opportunity to do just that -- at least, at the start of this adventure.

But what about those people on the beach -- and the people who live in Melaque? What type of neighbors will they be -- and will I be? Next post.


islagringo said...

Just curious. Do you actually go in the water or are you just a beach guy?

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- I am a water baby. The temperature of the Pacific is not as warm as the Caribbean, but I like to swim and snorkel. In Melaque, there is a small reef good for snorkeling.

Christine said...

I am still searching for the best beach. This February I am heading for Troncones Beach near Zihuatanejo. How did you settle on Melaque rather than nearby La Manzanilla, for example? Also, have you considered a house in the uplands for the hot months as well as a beach house? These questions I am asking you are all reflections of my thoughts as I consider the possibility of moving to Mexico. I admire your ability to decide! Chritine

Steve Cotton said...

Christine -- My original beach choice was Chacala. But the infrastructure was almost nonexistent. I like La Manzanilla -- a lot. But I am looking for a place to buy, and the ejido situation in La Manzanilla does not reassure me. South of Manzanillo starts getting too hot for me. And the Barra-Melaque beach has everything I like -- including snorkeling. Having said that, I am not certain there is a wrong choice.

jennifer rose said...

Just remember: life at the beach isn't always a day at the beach.

Steve Cotton said...

Jennifer -- Well said. I concur.

islagringo said...

Christine: have you researched Troncones? I was there last summer. Beach is ok but no infrastructure, no good grocery stores, LOTS of attitude from the locals and very expensive. We ended up having to pay 972 pesos per night for a plain hotel room. We did notice a lot of development going on at that stretch of beach though. Just a little more info for you! Islagringo

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Tonight I am off to spend a week in a house at Puerto Escondido, near Playa Manzanillo. We chose Puerto Escondido as somewhere with lovely beaches that is not overrun with international tourists, though there are lots of surfers. But as young, and often financially marginal travelers, the young surfers aren't the market that massive hotel developments are built upon. So it should be pleasant without being overly touristy.

And we'll be able to swim and snorkel. I hope to also take some surfing lessons.

Will report back with findings.

Fond regards,

Kim G
Boston, MA

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to what you wrote. “Even though the ocean was very close, we did not always have the money or time to drive there. But, when we did, it was like walking through the gates of Oz”.
When I was growing up we would go to the beach for the day and yes even swim in that freezing cold Pacific Ocean. Even when my daughter was young we would often times take day trips to Lincoln City or Seaside. Today with traffic going through wine country and the casino it is not as quick of a drive. I have pretty much ruled out driving to the beach for a single day. I miss those good old days!

Steve Cotton said...

Jackie -- I know what you mean about traffic. Leaving from Salem, I have the advantage of avoiding the Dundee corridor. But the casino traffic still slows me down. If I do not leave very early on Saturday morning, I cannot do the drive in an hour. I was going to take Professor Jiggs to the beach yesterday, but we did not get started early enough. And there may not (or may) be another opportunity.

Kim -- Enjoy Puerto Escondido. I have not yet made it that far south. It was on my original list -- partly for its isolation. But the weather is noticeably hotter than at Melaque. I look forward to your news about the trip.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve.

I was blog hopping today when I came across yours. The pictures were stunning. Then I realized that your backyard looked awful familiar. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I stayed in the same house for 6 months back in 2005. Let me say that I hear you on the heat and humidity. It was hell but the house itself is great. Our laptops started rusting on us after only a few weeks! We're coming back to Melaque in a few months, maybe for good. Even with the humidity, its worth it. The change Im going to make is staying in a house with better fans. lol

Steve Cotton said...

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. And Melaque may end up as my homestead. But I want to spend a little time wandering around and getting a feel for other areas -- like Morelia.