I have now covered each of the broader topics I wanted to discuss about this trip to Mexico, but there were a few items in my travel journal that just did not fit into the other topics. So, here are a few random observations.
Big night out
In each Mexican beach town I have visited, there appears to be an odd segregation -- for the lack of a better word -- in certain types of restaurants. You can easily spot the places. They usually serve Californian, French, or Italian dinners. They are owned by Canadians, Americans, or Europeans, and the food is almost always incredibly good. They have a front row position on the best beaches. And the well-appointed tables are populated by Americans and Canadians (often squiring around friends from Up North).
I left out one salient fact that each of these restaurants have in common. If you eat a starter, an entree, and a dessert, you will leave pounds heavier and at least 300 pesos lighter. That helps to explain why I have never seen a Mexican family or couple -- tourist or local -- in any of these restaurants. Probably for the same reason that I do not see many of the people who work in my legal division at expensive restaurants in Salem.
My father would have had an answer to this comment: "Why are you wasting money in a French restaurant when you can get food just as good at a neighborhood cafe?" And he would be correct. I had some of my best meals from a taco stand for less than $2 and in a local shrimp place for about $6.
The point is that when you live somewhere, you stop eating like a tourist in expensive restaurants -- until the friends arrive and need to be entertained.
Before we leave that last topic too quickly, I must admit that I do not mind paying for a view with my dinner. The first night in town I went to a very nice restaurant in Melaque (perhaps the best) and sat on the patio watching the start of a sunset while I enjoyed my meal. The heat and humidity had been a shock to my system. But as I sat on patio watching the sun set over a Mercury sea filled with the bobbing heads of boogy boarders, it was easy to forget the challenges of the day.Last year when I visited La Manzanilla, I was shocked at how expensive the food was in the abbarotes -- the little local grocery stores. There were no large grocery stores and the customer base was tourists. I just assumed that the prices were high for those reasons.
And that is one reason I look forward to Mexico.
And that is one reason I look forward to Mexico.
I must have been wrong because my three trips to "larger" grocery stores in Melaque drew me back to the same conclusion. As an example, a box of Special K, a quart of milk, and three diet Cokes (Coke Light, of course) total about $10 -- not much different than my local Safeway. The fresh produce was less expensive.
The lesson appears to be: to save money, stay away from soft drinks and prepared foods; buy fresh local fruits and vegetables -- and freshly-slaughter pork. (Even though that last noun would horrify my mother.)
I mentioned earlier that I made the two or three mile walk to Barra de Navidad early on during my visit. I love to walk. But that love -- as love often does -- clouds my judgment. And the Melaque-Barra walk was a perfect example of bad decision-making.
I had planned to start my walk before the sun was too hot. Instead, I left in the late morning when the temperature and the humidity were spiking, and it was like trying to cross the Sahara during -- well, at any time.
I always take a wash cloth and a bottle of water with me on walks in tropical areas -- one to replenish fluids, the other to sop up what seeps out. I was a good half-mile into my walk before I realized both were still sitting on the kitchen counter. Need I tell you that I also forgot my hat?
Safe is a four-letter word
If you want a graphic example of the different attitudes toward safety of Mexicans and Canadians, take a look at Erika's Stairway to Heaven. She is a young Canadian working in Mexico City, who was appalled at the lack of safety procedures used by Mexican construction workers. She would have been speechless at a little incident on the Melaque beach.
I mentioned earlier that the west end of the beach is the swimming beach. The water is usually almost alive with schools of small children. One day around noon, I was walking toward the rocky point on the west end of the beach when I saw a fishing boat with three men pull up close to the beach. One guy jumped out. The other two backed the boat out a distance. The fellow on the beach then looked for a certain spot, held up a dark pipe, and the two fellows in the boat gunned the engine as fast as it would go. It sped through the children, up on the sand, and stopped several boat lengths up the beach. I stared. Everyone else went about their business handling the event for exactly what it was: an every day occurrence.
Here is the boat -- and the man with the pipe.
Here are some of the children -- snug as clams in the sea.
This is probably the only construction worker in Mexico dressed in safety gear. And he is a dummy. I do love the Mexican sense of humor.
So, these are the pieces. What is my conclusion? Gee. That would be a great post for next time, wouldn't it?