Welcome to Vagari’s 7th winter of sailing. We have put 8,000 miles under Vagari’s keel during those cruises but this year like last year won’t be a high mileage year. We just don’t have the lust for the long cruises that we did when we started cruising but we still enjoy living on board and sailing near our homeport. Welcome aboard! We hope you enjoy our blog. Your comments, questions and suggestions are appreciated and encouraged.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Interesting (I hope) Odds and Ends

One characteristic of Mexican men is that they have trouble admitting they don’t know the answer to your question. I asked directions to a shopping plaza from the guard at the entrance gate to the hotel. He thought about it for a while. I ask him if we could walk from the end of the bus line that takes us to the main boulevard that runs along the beach for many miles. He said yes; I ask him how far, he ask me how do you say it, mile? So after a couple of miles we ask four guys sitting in the shade of a tree. We were able to overcome the language barrier. They told us the sopping plaza was several miles behind us right next to a large grocery store, which is very close to the side road leading to our hotel. They were correct; we found it on our way back to Vagari. How fortunate it is that American men don’t have that problem.

Taxis are inexpensive here. For 40 pesos ($3.65) plus a tip we can go just about anywhere in town. We often get another couple to join us so it cost us half that. Sometimes the ride can be an adventure but we usually prefer to take the buses. They cost either 35 or 45 cents US depending on how far you ride. Often we have to take two buses to get to our destination. Today we went to downtown Manzanillo. On the second bus an older gentleman got on with a small boom box. He stood in the center of the bus and turned on a tape in the boom box. Then he started singing with the music. He continues for a few minutes doing several tunes. He passed the hat before getting off and I assume does the same thing going back to where he started. Buses often leave the main drag and go into the neighborhoods behind the beaches. We find this is the most interesting part of the ride. We feel safe; the Mexican people are very non-threatening.

Most of the local buses are really old. We see and ride on lots of old buses but we never see them broken down by the side of the road. Our hats are off to the mechanics that keep these relics going.

This season we usually have to pull our dinghy way up on the beach to get above the Pacific Ocean waves and high tide line. Inevitability, if there is a Mexican male around, they offer to help us pull the dinghy. Rhea is really strong this year because her knees are working as designed so we don’t need help but it says a lot about the locals.

Manzanillo is not a tourist town. Tourist shopping is very limited. The downtown is built around the commercial harbor. The harbor is a large container port; an oil terminal and we did see one large Carnival Cruise ship. There’s also a lot of manufacturing and a large power plant that runs off coal, which is mined in the local foothills. On the other hand Mananzillo has miles of beautiful beaches and ideal weather during the winter months.

The large power plant just southwest of town is far and away the most polluting operation I have ever seen. The plant spews out dark smoke from at least four smoke stacks 24/ 7 year in and year out. The smoke blackens the sky downwind of the plant all day every day. I know the power plant outside La Paz has been cleaned up but La Paz is a state capital and a growing tourist center. I don’t know when they will clean up this monstrosity.

At the Cruisers New Years Day brunch we sat next to a couple that cruised down to Barra de Navidad two years ago. They put their boat in the marina and purchased a house in the very small town of Colimilla, which borders the lagoon where we anchor. Colimilla is at the extreme northwest end of the State of Colima. The town of Barra de Navidad where we tie up our dinghy and all but the west side of the lagoon is in the State of Jalisco. He has a profession that allows him to work anywhere he has a cell phone and an Internet connection. He explained that the Manzanillo airport, which is thirty minutes away, has at least two direct flights a day to Los Angeles. So he can be in any major US city the next morning.

He leaves Mexico during September and October because of the weather. Last year Colimilla got 100 inches of rain each of those months. Plus is in the 90’s all day. A good time to leave.

They talked at great length about the local schools, where they spend a lot of time and money helping them set up Internet access and a wireless network for both the local elementary school and junior high school equivalent. These schools would not have access to the Internet or even computers without their help. He has a fast Internet connection to his house so he beams a wireless Internet signal to the neighborhood schools. They also provide books for the libraries that would not otherwise be available to the schools. Vagari’s crew will make a monetary contribution to there efforts.

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