Tuesday, October 28, 2014
touring with new eyes
Now and then, it is good to let a little humility into one's life. Especially, if that one is me.
Somewhere along the way of living here in Mexico, my view of my personal role morphed from tourist to resident. I cannot tell you when. But it did. And I have been recurringly guilty of turning into one of those expatriates who put on fancy airs and look aghast when someone delights in calling me a "tourist."
There is another essay embedded in that sentence -- one about what it means to be an expatriate. And I will get around to writing it one of these days. But today's essay is a bit more limited in its scope.
I realized just how much joy I miss with my snootiness whenever I am in the presence of someone who finds everything in Melaque to be intriguing. Today, that was my sister-in-law, Christy.
This is her first visit to this area of Mexico. Most of her prior Mexican experiences have played out at the series of resorts we could all tick off. So, the life here is entirely new to her.
Tuesday was the first day that we have gone 100% tourist. Or almost.
We started the day not in tourist mode. I took Darrel and Christy to what I have previously referred to as my secret breakfast spot for huevos rancheros. The best I have ever tasted. And both Darrel and Christy concur with my rating.
But this was not really a tourist stop. We were the only people in the little restaurant whose first language was not Spanish. Special spots like this often make me wonder how people who refuse to learn any Spanish can fully enjoy the offerings of our little beach villages.
Unfortunately, my restaurant could not meet all of the needs of my guests. They have been both jonesing for a cup of good coffee. Nescafe was on offer, and Christy tried it. But it was not what she needed.
So, off we went to La Taza Negra -- an excellent coffee shop run by two friends of mine. Darrel has spent some time with Ben and Alexa on prior visits. Whatever it is that they put in their coffees, it got Darrel and Christy off to a great start. And me? Well, "coffee" starts with a "c," doesn't it?
Duly fueled, we headed northwest to La Manzanilla -- the little village that first drew me to this part of Mexico. Tenacatita Bay has to be one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the world with its wide mouth and sandy beaches. "Tropical paradise" quickly rolls off the tongue of even sardonic observers like Mexpatriate.
As nice as the beach is, my reason for taking guests to La Manzanilla is easy to guess -- the crocodiles. When I first went there, the crocodiles were free to (and did) wander the streets and beaches near their mangrove swamp home.
They are now fenced in. But guys this size are still intimidating to watch, knowing that what separates his jaw from my right foot is a slat of wood no thicker than what once kept oranges from spilling out in the back of a truck.
I realized just how much I miss my nightly strolls behind my old house to inventory the life of crocodiles.
And what is a day at the beach without spending a day at the beach? Having met our reptile quota, we drove up the highway to Boca de Iguanas to visit a bed and breakfast where Darrel and I stopped for lunch with the Moodies on his last visit earlier this year -- when I was looking at buying a completely different house.
Chantli Mare is one of those boutique hotels that could easily host a tropical thriller about midnight mayhem and murder. The "bed" portion of the operation is exquisitely outfitted. But it is the beach that draws the trade.
For walks on the beach with the owner's energetic dog, Rusty. Sitting in a lounge chair. Enjoying a drink on the patio. Or lunching on some of the best food in the area.
We did all of that. And were happier for it.
I am not certain the Chantli Mare experience qualifies as a tourist day. Our fellow diners and sunners were local businesspeople and permanent residents. It gave the place far more of an insider feel than a visitors' refuge.
No matter how I label the day, Christy and Darrel had a great time. And I learned to see many things with new eyes -- things I have taken for granted.
I guess it is not a bad thing to be a tourist from time to time. Even travelers do that.