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Published: August 8th 2007
A hint of the cities shabby chicness
There are no trains in this vast country, not one, which is becoming a challenge, so we had to get another coach, an estimated 18 hours of travel along the bendy coastline. The journey started at 13.00pm, we should have been sensible and stopped at Manzanillo alleged to be famous for golf and mangroves or stopped off anywhere else on route as this journey turned into a 21-hour epic. We arrived at 10am the following morning feeling like shit.
From the bus station (one of 3) we grabbed 1 of 5000 old Herbie style Volkswagen taxis which did all have minds of their own, heading downtown, which was not down anywhere as we ascended up and up very steep hills. We looked at the cabbie in trust that he was taking us somewhere near to where the good stuff happened, somewhere that was cheap with a pool and windows, I have given up with Frommers, He took us up another bit of hill to the top to this rather kitsch hotel aptly named Hotel Eiffel Tower, very 1960 in design, pink circular patterned walls, black and white kidney shaped brickwork. The room had big slightly rotting windows; the kidney shaped
pool glistened right below the room. Hotel Eiffel was opposite the famous Mirador hotel, having dinner here was a special treat, firstly as it was where you get a clear view of the famous cliff divers risking life and limb, it is a bit expensive but the food and service was superb. The sounds of conch shells blew day and night, images of a young Kirk Douglas oiled up in a loin cloth came to mind.
I noticed a very rare sight. Six men of various heights were jogging along the busy Zacola square balancing upon their shoulders a rather large grey shiny box, which turned out to be a real life 6ft coffin. This scene had something missing, maybe a dead body as the coffin tilted everywhere but no one feel out, at one point it looked like it was about to slide backwards into the mass of sprinting mourners. The mourners were wearing summertime Tuesday best, a special bargain shop kind of clothing, there were no tears and no tissues, no grieving oversized black straw bonnets, dark glasses and pearls nor a single bunch of lilies to be seen anywhere. There was one Bet Lynch type tottering
behind wearing ridiculous high strappy heals, a mock leopard skin skirt and black polo neck, tall blonde hair do, a cigarette hung from her glossed mouth where the smoke made her mascara run, but that was the best fashion I can report.
Underneath the coffin were twelve wilting arms, which stopped suddenly, it looked like they had realised something was wrong, as I was inside the bank, sat glued to my seat clutching my lady bag beneath mug shots of scary gun welding criminals, the whole coffin scene looked very 'Carry On Coffin' oddness. The sprinting congregation were scratching heads and wigs and flapping around the parameters of the coffin, one very short man who stood underneath the coffin right in the middle had two free hands in the air with the coffin a good 20 inches above him. They reached the foot of the cathedral, spun the coffin around like it was spin the bottle time and headed back though the square to the main Ocean scene road, with all these people running behind, crossing their bodies in hale Mary prayer. The funniest part of all this was the hearse, it was a Volvo estate which had been
modified by having all its back seats taken out, a black cardboard crucifix swung from a plastic sucker to the back window, a sort of Mexican 'Gods hearse ' sign for the dead.
The men were puffed out, one of whom had a fag hanging out the corner of his mouth and was trying to wiggle the 6ft coffin into the back of the 5.5ft Volvo estate, it didn’t fit. They finally crammed it in by lowering the front seat and slightly tilting it on its side and held the door shut with some string, one bloke whistled to the driver in front, I then prayed his brakes were good. The man smoking a fag then banged twice on the roof in a kind of send off.
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