Monday, February 23, 2009

Manzanillo Part 4 - La Posada, people and pelicans

Early morning rays of sunshine streak the Playa las Brisas. Curving gently northward, Playa las Brisas (Beach of Breezes) forms the center of the arc of the Bahia de Manzanillo with the El Centro area on the south end and the Peninsula de Santiago on the north.  The Las Brisas beach is lined with older beach-front hotels and condos which form the Zona Hotelera.  The Peninsula de Santiago, a steep narrow outcrop into the ocean, is covered from water's edge to hilltop with expensive high rise hotels, condos and apartments. Although we visited during the height of the season, the beach in front of the Hotel La Posada was nearly always quiet and virtually empty.  Click on this map to see the Playa las Brisas area of the Bahia de Santiago. 

La Posada, the "Pink Hotel".  When we arrived, we immediately saw how La Posada Hotel gained its nickname. Even the flowering tree in front was adorned with pink blossoms.  We chose La Posada because of its reasonable rates and good reputation among expats who have visited.  As you can see from the map (see above), La Posada lies near the extreme south end of Playa las Brisas, near the stone jetty that forms the entrance to the inner harbor.  It is not a large hotel, offering only 23 rooms, and this creates a family feeling, only a step or two away from a B&B.  

La Posada sits right on the beach.  La Posada can be seen in the center left of the photo above, taken from the stone jetty south of the hotel. The pink hotel is surrounded by palm trees and faces the bay while the coastal mountains loom behind. In spite of its location in the center of a substantial city, the hotel exudes a feeling of quiet serenity. Things were not always so serene, however. In 1959 the hotel was virtually leveled by a Category 5 cyclone which may have killed as many as 1,800 people and destroyed 40% of Manzanillo's homes. The proprietors still have pictures of the ruined hotel in the lounge area. 

The definition of "laid back". The couple above are some of the hard-core La Posada patrons who return season after season, even generation after generation. Many of our fellow guests knew each other from previous seasons. While there was a steady stream of new and younger folks checking in periodically, the regulars appear to form the backbone of the hotel's clientele. They were friendly and open and seemed to enjoy meeting new people as well as old friends. 

La Posada's grounds were not ornate, but were immaculately kept. When I first saw pictures of the hotel, I thought the pink ambiance might prove cloying after a while, but it didn't turn out that way.  In the morning and evening, the color glows softly in the slanting sunlight. Everything necessary was only a few steps away.  The rooms were simple, but large and clean. Ours had a window air conditioner, which results in an extra charge if used. However, we found the over-head "Casablanca" fan more than adequate.  In the hot season, the air conditioner would probably be necessary, but not in January.

The pool and patio area formed the social center of the hotel.  The pool was not large, but was sufficient for enough laps to cool off from the afternoon heat. The hotel could probably use a few more lounge chairs, but we usually found one when we wanted.  The trick seems to be to stake out your spot early.  The view from the patio out over the bay and harbor was gorgeous, and the constant parade of huge ships in and out of the harbor entrance a short distance away was fascinating.
  
Always ready to serve. The hotel staff were friendly and attentive and most spoke at least some English.  The night staff person shown above is Monica Melchor. She spoke flawless English with an American accent. Chatting with her, I discovered that she grew up and attended high school in the US. The bar where she perches in this picture is also part of the restaurant and lounge area. This airy, barn-like structure opens onto the pool. One further comment: although we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at La Posada and would stay there again, there are many other nice hotels in town including some simpler and less expensive and others fancier and considerably more expensive. Manzanillo has a lot of accommodations for visitors.

Brown pelicans soar above Playa las Brisas.  The Brown Pelicans were ubiquitous and quite entertaining as we watched from the patio or strolled along  the stone jetty. In the back ground you see the hotels fronting the beach and the rugged coast range behind  them.

Early morning sun bathes local fishermen with golden rays as they set their nets. Every morning a couple of  boats of local fishermen tried their luck along the stone jetty. Behind the jetty is the ship channel and in the background is the El Centro marina.
  
Fisherman's luck.  This lucky fellow landed a shimmering green Dorado, known in other parts of the Pacific as Mahi-Mahi. He was not one of the men in the boats. Using a pole off the jetty, he landed this beauty. Despite the heavy industrial activity and shipping in the port, large fish like this can still be caught just off shore.

Net floats snake toward shore as the fishermen close in on their prey. After circling around each other in an intricate ballet, the boats drew the net together and the fishermen began pulling in their catch. Meanwhile, hungry pelicans swooped in, hoping to share in the feast. 

Retrieving the net was heavy work. The fishermen pulled their catch out of the net and tossed them into the bottom of the boats as they retrieved their net. His hunger overcoming his shyness, one pelican flapped up onto the gunwale of the boat and began eyeing the catch flopping in the bottom. He was obviously hoping the mens' distraction with the net would yield an opportunity to snatch a quick snack. The Brown Pelicans' boldness contrasts with my experience of While Pelicans, which tend to shy away and maintain a significant distance from humans.

Deep in thought. Pelicans tend to assume this posture when they are at rest. They look like an avian version of Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker". 
 
Keeping up appearances. Another typical behavior is grooming. This helps remove parasites and fluffs the feathers, and helps the pelican stay warm and dry in the cold Pacific water.

Enjoying the morning sun. Pelicans spread their wings to dry in the sun, another method of maintaining the integrity of their feathers. They also just seem to enjoy the sensation of the warm morning sun.

Good friends. I don't know if this was an opposite or same sex couple, but they really seemed to like each other. Pelicans do like to snuggle.

End of the day. At days end, the fishermen have gone to their homes, and pelicans have taken possession of  their boat. The craft provided a quiet, safe place to perch and consider the problems of the pelican universe as the swells of the Bahia de Manzanillo gently rocked them.

This completes my series on Manzanillo and the surrounding areas. I hope you enjoyed it and I welcome any comments. My next post will take us back to Ajijic to visit a street lined with wonderful restaurants, galleries, and covered with murals from end to end. 

Hasta luego! Jim

8 comments:

  1. Very much enjoying your photo tour and comments Jim. You're a fine photographer. I'm looking forward to your exposition on Ajijic as I visiting there for the first time in April. Thanks for sharing.

    Keith Briscoe
    Mesquite, Nevada

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  2. Keith- Thanks for the nice compliment. I was unclear whether you are saying you have already visited Ajijic last April or you are going to visit this April. There's certainly lots to see and do here. Weather in April here is 80-90 F. and very dry. Shorts and t-shirts, good walking shoes for the cobblestones, and a broad-brimmed hat are essentials.

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  3. Great to come across your blog Jim. My husband and I have been researching the Ajijic area, considering moving there for a trial retirement. You make it sound very attractive, interesting and do-able. Your pictures are stunning and I look forward to more of your posts in the future. I'll definitely be following your blog from here on. I'm curious if you know anything about the schools. If we come, our 15 year old daughter will be with us. Any advice?

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  4. Betty Online- You didn't leave an email address so I'll just post here and hope you find it. Carole and I have no kids so schools have never been an issue for us. However, I would suggest checking out this web forum for people interested in the area: http://www.chapala.com/wwwboard/webboard.html

    It should take you directly to a page with various entries that may deal with schools, but look for the one entitled "Moving to Chapala area". There are some school answers in there. Good luck, and thanks for the nice comments about my blog. Jim

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  5. Thanks Jim. You're quick to respond. I thought you'd get my email through your blog dashboard. It is bgilgoff@gmail.com. I will check out the bulletin board.

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  6. do you still live in mexico, i went to school with monica melchor in santa ana, california my name is giovanni olivares
    here my email mechito1330@hotmail.com.
    that would be great if i could contact her an cofirm that it is her.

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  7. The pink hotel looks charming. Had you booked yourself there prior to arriving? Was it recommended to you? Wondering how you came across it.

    Sandy

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  8. Jim,
    I stumbled across your blog and have been entertained and enlightened by your posts. I am the planner for a February trip for 4-6 couples to the Lake Chapala and Manzanillo areas.If agreeable with you, I may have questions too ask as the time grows closer,especially on accommodations in both areas. Thanks for your posts.
    i posted earlier,but not sure it went thru.
    Don Wimmer
    High Point, NC
    dwimmer@triad.rr.com

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If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim