Thursday, April 22, 2010

urban dreams

Manzanillo has a certain charm.

Not the knockout beauty of a Salma Hayek.  For that, you would go to Querétaro.

Manzanillo is more like sitting next to Ayn Rand at a dinner party.  Challenging and exotic. 

During the past month, I have visited more areas of Manzanillo than I had in the full year I lived in Melaque.  I saw the northern expatriate area of Santiago for mail and supplies.  The port area to renew my visa.  The downtown area for lunch and to see the large covered market.  The southern beaches to experience the city's quiet -- and wild -- side.

Manzanillo is not just a tourist town.  Even though Bo Derek and Las Hadas may be cultural icons up north, Manzanillo exists to support Mexico's busiest port.  And, like all ports, it has muscular charm.  Cranes.  Trains.  Cargo containers.  All moving in some sort of Agnes de Mille bionic ballet.

But there are human ballets here, as well.  Manzanillo is the place I came this past year to fill my cultural void.  Dance.  Music.  Cinema.

All of this has caused me to give a bit of thought about living in Manzanillo.  Every time I visit, I feel its pull.

But there are negatives -- just as there are in any relationship.  It is more expensive than Melaque.  More crowded.  Less relaxed.  And it is merely an hour's drive from where I live.

There is a bigger issue that will keep me from Manzanillo.


For one adolescent year, I was enthralled with Ayn Rand and Objectivism.  She said everything that a 17-year old boy knew to be true.

Then I started listening to what she was really saying and decided not only did she not have answers.  She barely had shallow platitudes. 

A dinner party's worth of conversation is about was much of her as I could take.

And, if you look at her left hand in her photograph, you will see another attribute that would have made Ms. Rand a less-than-perfect regular part of my life.  She was a smoker.  A heavy smoker.  Even during dinner.

And that is where the analogy with Manzanillo holds up.

Manzanillo is home to a power plant that generates electricity from burning oil.

The plumes from the three stacks can be seen from iles around.  And the smoke often hangs in the air like
Joe Btfsplk's cloud.

But not for long.

Mexico has contracted with a Japanese-Korean consortium to build a liquid natural gas plant.  The projected completion date is summer next year.

Who knows.  Maybe Manzanillo will be far more Salma Hayek and less Ayn Rand.

But I would settle for Bo Derek.


Calypso said...

I hope were talking Bo Derek 1979 not currently.

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- Indeed. But icons never age. Do they?

Anonymous said...

Manzanillo and Salma Hayek...What a combo!

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Manzanillo, challenging and exotic???

Well, maybe. I haven't spent much time there but those adjectives would be the last ones I'd apply to Manzanillo.

Oaxaca? Yes. Chiapas? Yes. The Mayan Yucatan? Yes. But,Manzanillo?

Rick said...

I love your analogy:
Wild russian lady = Manzanillo (YES)

But in my opinion:
Salma Hayek = San Miguel de Allende
Bo Derek = Cabo San Lucas

Steve Cotton said...

Francisco -- If you have not yet come to the conclusion, I have a soft spot in my heart for Salma. I think I first noticed her in Dusk to Dawn a motorcycle gang-vampire movie. Quite an introduction.

Mexican Trailrunner -- Manzanillo, like Venice, seems to elicit extreme reactions from people. You either love the place or hate it. I tend to fall into a neutral category. Manzanillo is what it is.

Rick -- Your metaphors are great. When the producers of 10 chose Manzanillo (and Las Hadas) as the setting for their film, Manzanillo thought it was going to be the next Cabo. It turned out that Cabo was going to be the next southern California -- a perfect spot for the Nordic look of Bo.

Felipe said...

In about 1964, when I was 19 or so, I walked up a narrow stairwell in a building in downtown San Francisco to hear Ayn Rand give a talk. The group was relatively small, and it was interesting.

The event was interesting. I doubt I had any idea what she was saying. I just knew her by name. I had never read one of her books. And still have not.

Don´t recall if she had a cigarette in her hand.

Steve Cotton said...

Felipe -- There is no doubt that she was an intelligent woman. I have been fascinated how her capitalist-atheism has so easily been turned into a religion by her disciples.

There are stories about witty dinner barbs exchanged between Ms. Rand and William F. Buckley. Hardly the stuff of Astor-Churchill tales, though.