Monday was the day I was to start my mini-trips away from Melaque.
And I did just that.
The result was not quite what I had anticipated, though.
I decided to start my journey with the place that first attracted me to coastal Mexico: La Manzanilla.
It is just a half-hour drive up the highway. But it was a perfect place to start for three reasons.
The first is the ocean. Now that I have overcome my head under the water fear, I have been swimming off the Melaque beach. Our waves are not as brutal as usual.
But the waves at La Manzanilla are almost as caressing as those on the Caribbean. The Melaque waves pound; the La Manzanilla waves swoosh.
La Manzanilla also has some rock formations that make for interesting snorkeling. So, I tossed my mask, snorkel, and fins into the truck with the anticipation of finding the wily Pacific Octopus.
The second reason for choosing La Manzanilla as a starting point was Lora Loca's -- one of my favorite eateries. Laura, the owner, puts together one of the best baked enchilada dishes I have ever eaten. And her restaurant is right on the beach.
The third reason was fortuitous. My blogger friend, New Beginnings in Manzanillo, is working for a charitable organization that is sponsoring cultural events in Manzanillo -- the first this season is a Russian ballet company. (I will post more on that topic later this week.)
She told me that she would be in the jardin selling tickets on Monday. It was a great opportunity for me to see her again and to catch up on the last few months. I also wanted to thank her for all of the assistance she gave me when Professor Jiggs was ill.
That was the plan. Three fun things to do on a day trip. Should be easy. What could go wrong?
My first stop was at the jardin. My friend was there. We talked. We laughed. I bought a ticket. We had a great time.
Just like a good day trip should be.
Because the afternoon was getting on, I headed over to Lora Loka's -- where my run of good luck appeared to end. The place was closed up tighter than my Uncle Asher's wallet.
But I am not easily deterred when it comes to food. I noticed that Jolanda's was open. She is an amazing woman. Dutch, by birth, she lived in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Her cooking reflects that background. I remember how surprised I was to find an Indonesian restaurant in little La Manzanilla during my first visit.
I probably sat there far too long. I really do not know how long it was. But the soft purr of the surf, the sand, the sun, the palm trees, all added up to what most of us seek when we come to tropical Mexico -- a sense of serenity. It is also probably the prime cause for more than a few expatriates becoming unrepentant alcoholics.
Before I could be lulled into becoming part of Jolanda's furniture, I headed out to the beach with my snorkel equipment. It then hit me: I forgot a towel.
No problema. The day was warm enough to dry off au naturale.
The French had barely left my mind when I realized I had a related problem: I forgot to bring my swim trunks with me. I was not going to drive all the way to La Manzanilla without getting in the water.
Now, I could do the math. With my walking shorts and underwear there were at least four possibilities to let me enter the water. One would potentially run afoul of the local authorities. Another would guarantee that I would be miserably wet driving back to Melaque.
So, I either swam in my walking shorts and rode back to Melaque in my underwear or vice versa. I chose the Mexican solution. Simple. Elegant. Modest.
And I had a great time.
La Manzanilla was just the start. Tomorrow I hope to head inland a bit -- to see the towns in the foot hills surrounding Melaque.