Home in La Manzanillia
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Driving the boat back to La Manzanilla gets pretty nerve racking when we have to go out into deep water around all the giant rocks getting slammed by monster waves. We try to figure out what would happen if the engine was to die… would we be pushed onto the rocks and smashed to pieces or pulled out to sea to drift around helplessly?
Either way, breaking down is not an option right now.
It all goes surprisingly smoothly, and we arrive without a single problem. It doesn’t seem to have nearly as much go at full throttle as it should, a problem for another day. Once we have the boat secured to the new anchor we put in, we swim a few hundred meters back to shore after a brief and unnecessary conversation about sharks in deep water. Neither of us is certain if they like water this warm, and decide for our own sanity that they don’t
My plan all along has been to organize couple of “Home-stays” in Mexico and maybe Guatemala. This involves living full time with a local family for a few weeks with the main goal of learning Spanish in a fully immersive environment. I already know quite a few people around town and start asking around for anywhere suitable. It turns out there is a Spanish school that not only has classes every day, they also organize home-stays. The classes are really expensive, as are the home-stays with most families wanting somewhere around $500 USD for a month. I meet the town baker who offers me a work-for-stay arrangement – help out for a few hours a day baking bread and he will teach me Spanish, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Unfortunately he leaves town for a while and it never works out that way.
Kyle still has tons of things to be done, so I continue to stay at his place, working on odd jobs and learning Spanish from his wife and all the locals I meet.
I’ve been wondering when the wildlife will get decidedly exotic, and I think I’ve found it! Crocodiles live right in town natively and the viewing area is one of those really cool places where they are literally on the other side of a flimsy little fence. Of course the fence is only 10 meters long with nothing at all to prevent the crocs from walking around to our side Locals say they are sometimes seen walking from the swampy area to the beach about 100 meters away.
I’m told there are giant ant-eaters, scorpions, dangerous giant centipedes and huge spiders around the place, although I don’t spot any. I do see a massive Iguana walking near the river that is a brilliant bright green and must be almost two meters long.
Of course the plant life is equally exotic, with bananas, mangoes, coconuts and a ton of other things I don’t even know the names of growing naturally all over the place. We find a couple of good coconuts on the ground and have a great time hacking them open with a machete, saving the precious water inside for an iced drink later. We collect all the flesh, blend and freeze it with milk and a little sugar to make the most amazing homemade ice cream I’ve ever had.
My friend Chewy the mechanic tells me of a Hot Spring not far away, and I of course jump at the opportunity to check it out. The river turns out to be a little higher than usual, and I can feel the really warm water as I walk through the river. Chewy explains that with a shovel and some mats to lie on, some really amazing soaking can be had. Of course it’s pushing 40 degrees, so I’m happy walking in the cool river. Nearby we stop at a beautiful little cove on the ocean that I’m told has top-notch snorkeling. I bump into a couple of Canadians who have ridden down on motorbikes and are soaking in the sunshine and contemplating the return journey north. It’s great to meet more travelers who have nothing but positive things to say about their time in Mexico.
Speaking of Canadians and ex-pats in general, I should mention just how many of them there are around these parts.
Suffice to say there are lots.
I gather most are retired, or semi-retired and come down here every year to escape the northern winters. Most seem to own property, and spend their days soaking in the sun and enjoying many a cold beer. A significant number have driven down, and again, I hear nothing but good things about their experiences in Mexico. It’s a bit of a shame to see them all hanging out in their “own” bar, watching football on TV, eating burgers and speaking only English. I can’t help thinking they could just as well have stayed home, but they seem really happy.
Almost everything is done for the opening of the restaurant, and Kyle and has Dad are also working on a really ambitious investment plan. They built a beautiful 2 story house with a palapa on the roof and are working on building a few more for people that are interested in investing in the town of La Manzanilla. You can checkout their website at manzanillamystique.com to get the run down.
I’m throughly enjoying my time here, and am beginning to feel it’s time to move on. Jeep is covered in a thick layer of dirt from inactivity and is just as eager as I am for the road ahead.