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Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 18, 2017-Manzanillo, Revisited

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We are back Manzanillo this week wandering around old town after being gone 19 years. It feels like we'd seen these streets before. We have.

We took a bus to “Centro” and got off the bus and headed into the neighborhoods. We looked in shop windows and went up and down streets turning corners left or right wherever we felt like it. For my part, I knew what I wanted to spot in old Manzanillo: the same stairs up the hillside that we saw and photographed in 1998. I was following my nose with nothing more but instinct to guide me and the memories were distant, fuzzy, but something led me on.

“Let’s go this way”, I said, pointing down a side street.

Judy answered, “That’s what I was thinking.”

We both realized at that moment we were on the same quest and we laughed.

But things quickly began to look familiar. We became surer of ourselves and we quickened our pace. Finally we found ourselves in the same neighborhoods looking at the same buildings as we had all those years ago, and we saw the same stairway and the same jumbled hillside.

Nothing much had changed.

The Last time we were here we stopped in this neighborhood for lunch and a drink and again this time we had the idea that a pina colada would be nice. There was only one place, then and now, for a drink around here: the Colonial Hotel. We went in. Yep, it’s been remodeled but it was the same establishment. We also realized that our previous visit had another similarity with this one. As we sat in the bar sipping our drinks we recalled that then, as now, there were no other cruisers with us on our exploration, it was just us, Judy and I, wandering alone in an interesting and different Mexican town.

But Manzanillo has changed. Suburbs have grown up in the valley behind the beaches between Santiago and old Manzanillo. Instead of a sleepy interurban road fronted with seedy old beach hotels, now the divided highways of the colonials of Savagua and Brizas are all strip mall modern with big box stores, franchise restaurants, and miles of housing developments. Old Manzanillo remains but the town has moved on.

The Port facility has also grown up and Manzanillo has become Mexico’s largest container port. Freeways and elevated bypass roads carry traffic around the port to and from the old town and the suburbs. We took the bus along Avenue de La Madrid and the bus was packed with city workers returning home. We stopped by Walmart and shopped, it’s the same as Walmarts everywhere.

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Las Hadas

Back on the boat we gaze at Las Hadas. Wings is anchored in the same spot as it was before on the far left side of Manzanillo Bay, 5 miles from old town, in front of Las Hadas resort.

We’ve always liked Las Hadas; it has the feeling of a Greek or Moorish hillside town gone a bit crazy. It’s sort of a Disneyland. In fact the whole Point Santiago peninsula where it is has a feeling of an ancient Mediterranean town overlooking the ocean, like it ought to be on the island of Corfu or something, just slightly carried away in its wild exuberance. We also realized after our revisit to the old town that the Las Hadas look and feel was actually a reflection of the old Manzanillo look and feel.

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Inside Las Hadas

The Las Hadas condominiums are actually bizarre. They are a jumble of white boxes and dark hallways and short connecting elevators climbing back up the rocky hillside. As I walked around I saw that the condos are mostly empty, with padlocked doors and broken light fixtures, the hallways were dark and the buildings quite run down although my photos don’t really show it (I was looking a different set of images and I did not try to capture the neglect). I felt like I was almost in a ghost town, and I wondered if I’d run into Bo Derek around the next corner, but I didn’t.

I wandered there for half an hour before a security guard started to follow me and finally asked me to respect the privacy of the owners and leave. However I didn’t see many owners. Looking out one balcony I did notice a couple lounging on a patio a few levels below me. When the woman saw me she waved excitedly and I wondered why she was so outwardly friendly. Then I decided that her excitement was just that there might be a neighbor in the building. At night only a handful of the 200+ units had lighted windows.

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The hotel, By Brisa, on the other hand, is gorgeous, busy, and alive. The paint is fresh and the staff alert and friendly. Too bad they changed the rules and no longer allow a marina customer like ourselves to utilize the pools or other facilities, although we didn’t know that and we used them anyhow until the security guards finally noticed we didn’t have the proper wrist band and kicked us out.
The marina is in a serious state of disrepair, but that apparently is normal for Mexican marinas, and they charge us $15 a day to park our dingy there, which seems too much. We could take more time to explore Manzanillo, but we don’t need to spend any more money and, besides, now it’s time for us to head north.

We wonder if it will be 19 years before we return again, and what we’ll see when we do.

Click Here for more images.

Click Here to read our original post, Feb 20, 1998.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Manzanillo

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