Saturday, January 28, 2012

food on the sand

A visitor is in town.

And when visitors come to Melaque, one of the first things I do is toss them in the truck, and we head out over the hills to La Manzanilla.  For beach, crocodiles, and good food.

On each trip, I think the Shiftless Escape is going to lie down and tell me: “No more.”  But, just as it did last summer with multiple trips to the Mexican highlands, it kept on ticking.

I suppose I like going to La Manzanilla to offer my visitors some context to the tale of how I managed to end up living in Melaque.  After all, it was La Manzanilla’s real estate page that drew me to the area.  To see a house that still has not sold.

So, that was stop number one.  I wandered through the hills on the outskirts of the village to show my visitor the houses I looked at -- and why I choose not to buy.
Ejido land.  Difficult transfers.  Not to mention months of rain where the road up the hill looks more like a stream than an avenue.

But there is no denying that the view in La Manzanilla is one of the best on the Mexico Pacific coast.  I suspect I would have rented there, rather than buying, if it had not been for the difficulty of getting gasoline and groceries. 

And money.  There is neither a bank nor an ATM in La Manzanilla.  It is as if someone designed the perfect place for people to visit for a two week vacation without being bothered by the daily needs of life.
Having completed the grand tour of homes and majestic vistas portion of the trip, we headed down the hill to the mangrove swamp to see what was once La Manzanilla’s greatest attraction -- its crocodiles.

When I first visited La Manzanilla, the area had suffered a rain storm large enough to take the swamp right up to the tables of the beach restaurants.  And along with the swamp came the crocodiles.  One of my favorite photographs from that trip was a large crocodile sunning himself near a table with a Louisiana Heron within dining reach -- of the crocodile.
The loss of a series of Gringo dogs to canine-chowing crocodiles roaming the streets near the swamp caused the ejido fathers to construct a fence, an observation tower, and a rickety suspension bridge right out of a Tarzan movie -- complete with hungry crocodiles awaiting a misstep. 

The local worthies knew there was an opportunity to separate tourists from their pesos by offering a wild adventure on the cheap.

Unfortunately, in the process, the crocodiles  have become dependent on food from people.  A recipe that can lead to crocodiles confusing the provider with the provision.

And, just like humans beings who become accustomed to someone else’s labor, they have become lethargic, and worse: uninteresting.  With the exception of the occasional fight over a good sunning spot, the site is about as wild as a Presbyterian potluck.

Not to be outdone  by the crocodiles, we decided to enjoy the good life by stopping by Lora Loka, my favorite Mexico spot for chicken enchiladas with salsa verde.
As always, the food was delicious.  But that is only one measure of a beach restaurant.  The day was about as good as a Mexican beach day can be.

Warm, not hot, temperatures.  A slight breeze.  Moderate humidity.  And plenty of people enjoying a day at the beach -- including what appeared to be a waifish French fashion model with her own security guard.

Say what you will about La Manzanilla, as often as I visit it, there is always something that makes the day just a little bit better.

And that is certainly worth sharing with a visitor.


Marc Olson said...

I spent some time in La Manzanilla at least fifteen years ago. I guess it's changed a bit, but it sounds to me like it's still a nice place. Thanks for reminding me.

Al said...

"as wild as a Presbyterian potluck" -- great turn of phrase

Darrel Cotton said...

My favorite restaurant on my favorite beach.  You do know how to rub it in.  We’ll have to wait and see how Lora Loka compares to Bird’s Nest Soup in Red China.

Steve Cotton said...

I almost always enjoy going over there.

Steve Cotton said...

I rather liked it myself.

Steve Cotton said...

I talked about our trip down while dining on a heaping serving of nostalgia.  In fact, I just finished the leftovers as my lunch.

sparks said...

At least not 'sand in the food'

Steve Cotton said...

Or sand in the shorts.

Felipe Zapata said...

I love La Manzanilla.  Only been there once, and wish I was there right now.  Thanks for the memories.

Steve Cotton said...

And I ztill play with the idea of living there.  The price on the house I liked is still dropping.