Thursday, July 24, 2008

my kind of town

You know the basic facts, I am certain. They are all there in the guide books and on the web. But let's salsa our way through a few of them.

What is commonly called Melaque is really two separate villages that have grown into one town: San Patricio Melaque on the west and Villa Obregón on the east (at this point, the Mexico coast basically runs east to west).

Both villages stretch along the Bahia de Navidad on the Pacific coast. Though you would hardly know it, the combined villages of 10,000 people are the largest concentration of population between Puerto Vallarta to the south and Manzanillo to the south.

Like Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, Melaque is a resort town. If that conjures up high rise condominiums, expensive restaurants and half-dressed fully-drunk college students, you have the wrong town.

Melaque is a Mexican resort town -- as in resort town for Mexicans. A constant stream of buses brings Mexican tourists from Guadalajara and disgorges them into parallel lines of bungalows on the beach. For that reason, there is a certain sense of impermanence to the town -- as there is in any resort town. Today's group will return home in a few days to be replaced by another indistinguishable blob. And the rhythm of life throbs on.

While I was there, the town was relatively quiet for a resort town. I have been told that the party volume pumps up in the winter and spring.

With the exception of one walk over to Barra de Navidad, I spent the entire week exploring the details of Melaque on foot -- just as the Mexican tourists did.

I was raised near towns like this when I was growing up in Oregon. The infrastructure looks very familiar. In the main part of town, there is a jardin where everyone strolls in the evening -- with tourists and locals making up their own obvious groupings. In this part of town, the streets had pavers. Out toward the edges of the commercial area, the streets gave way to a mixture of cobblestones and dust -- until the cobblestones ran out and there was nothing but dusty streets.

Some of my friends at work were literally startled at the notion of dirt roads. Not me. The little town I grew up in had a few stretches of asphalt, but most of the streets were dirt. Mix that in with the sand on the beach, and dust was everywhere. But dust simply is not a factor in my move to Mexico.

The rest of the infrastructure is just about what one would expect -- a mixture of sewers and septic tanks; a reliable municipal water supply; spotty street lighting. And a depressing number of bars over windows and doors -- not for decoration, but for the basic reality of every vacation community: residential burglaries.

There had been a recent rash of break-ins netting the usual cameras and cash. But the big new thing (just as in the States) is copper wire theft. Residents leave for part of the afternoon and return home to discover all of the copper wire has been stripped out of their house. But crime is not a factor in my move to Mexico. After all, the same crimes occur in my bucolic Salem.

Melaque has provided its guests and residents two excellent malecons. One leads to a rocky point at the west end of town -- with great views the full length. The other stretches along the lagoon on the west end of town -- filled with birds and crocodiles (the lagoon, that is, not the town). For me, both spots would be a great place to spend more time to exercise two hobbies: bird-watching and photography.

I would have spent more time doing both of those last week, but for one factor: the weather. And that will be the topic of the next post.


islagringo said...

Okay! Here we go! But the burning question remains....did you eat pozole?? LOL!

p.s. thankfully the copper thieves have not caught on yet on the island. I hear they have in Cancun though.

Jackie said...

That was a good start to your trip. I can’t wait to read more and see more of your photos.

Nancy said...

Interesting - and I am curious how you found the weather.

By the way, I love the bars on the windows. And really they are everywhere so you can leave your windows open all the time and not have to worry about someone coming in.

1st Mate said...

I liked Melaque, too, and spent a lot of time wandering around town. Did you notice the Brit lady with the deli, selling shepherd's pie and tea? I laughed to see that the one building on the beach that might pass for a big hotel or condo was abandoned!

We're all waiting to hear if there was flooding, and how bad.

islagringo said...

I agree with Nancy. If my house had been built with bars, I probably would not have had 9 break-ins or attempts. My next house will have them for sure!

jennifer rose said...

Rejas on the windows is just part of the landscape. And its application is not limited to second homes in vacation areas.

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- Hmm. A good question for the culture post. Remind me if I forget. And I know about the reason for the bars. They just bother me.

Jackie -- More coming.

Nancy -- Weather up next. As a fellow northwestener, you can probably guess. I still find the bars and locks disconcerting. I understand the reason -- but.

Bliss -- I did not get a chance to go to Penny's. She was closed each time I walked by. Lots of places close down for the summer.

Jennifer -- As you have said before, vars amd locks are the most effective security system.

Anonymous said...

Lovethe picture of the mop that looks like a horse. Did you pose it?

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Nope. Just snapped it as it was.