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Published: November 18th 2018
very colourful place
In late January, we decided to go to Mexico for an 11 day stay. In order to be considered a true citizen of Salt Spring Island, it is required that you go to Melaque, Mx for a few weeks every winter. We stayed at the El Palmar Resort which is actually owned by someone from here and it is very focused on the tennis crowd. I considered coming out of tennis retirement and packing my racquet but resisted- Jan is planning to play every day.
The first few weeks of winter have been very wet on the west coast and the weather on our day of departure was described as an "atmospheric river-" I think they were expecting 150 mm of rain on the west side of Vancouver Island. The snow depths in the interior are at new highs.
We left SSI via ferry, bus etc. on Wednesday January 31st for Vancouver and the Richmond Travelodge. We were picked up there by the Young's to go out for an excellent dinner at the Steveston Seafood Restaurant. As a sendoff, the weather that evening was appropriately wet and cold. Our wakeup call for the next morning was 330 AM so
we could catch our 640 AM Aeromexico flight to Manzanillo via Mexico City. This was our first time through Mexico City and the airport is a bit chaotic. (still preferable to routing through LAX etc)
Another way to get to Melaque from SSI without going through the USA is to fly to PV from Victoria and then bus it for five hours. There is also a direct flight from Calgary to Manzanillo.
The Manzanillo airport is about 30 km from Melaque (600 pesos by taxi or about $40 CAD) The taxi driver quickly got us transferred to the El Palmar, where we were handed cervesas and checked into our colourful second floor room/suite. The room has a kitchen but we were directed to a nice family restaurant down the street- fajitas and a margarita. There are several small grocery stores within a 3 block radius of the hotel.
The next day the tennis bus left at 730 with Jan and several others aboard. The resort has an arrangement with a nearby tennis club which has 4 clay courts. The early start and finish by 11.00 AM is to avoid the heat.My early morning project was a beach
Jan waiting for serve
walk south to an inshore lagoon to see what birds were around. A lot of the usual suspects (glossy ibis,purple gallinule,pacific golden plover,magnificent frigate bird etc) There is also a large snowbird park adjacent to the beach just before the lagoon.
After returning to the resort, I went on on an exploring walk downtown to find an ATM and get the lay of the land. One find was the Iguana gym which is on the edge of the town centre. It could be be described as a bit rustic but it seems to have a nice mix of local and snow bird customers. (about $3.00 per session-water and a towel are extra)
On the walk back I bought fresh raspberries and blackberries (this was probably a mistake) That evening we had a leisurely dinner with some other hotel guests at the nearby Salander restaurant. Great food (coconut shrimp) but meal delivery timing was a bit problematic-drinks after food etc.The margaritas were huge.
On Saturday the tennis program continued while I went to the Iguana for a one hour session. I also did another lagoon walk and saw a new bird for me-mangrove black hawk. In the evening
6 of us went a street side taco emporium (Pedro's Taco Place-cheap and cheerful) Next stop was the crepe stand in centro. We used the hotel bikes to get downtown-quite an experience. On the way home we stopped at a street side bar for one cervesa- then home to cool off in the resort pool-excellent day.
Sunday was another tennis day so I joined the entourage-very rusty and did not hit one serve properly. After tennis we stopped for ceviche on the way home-excellent. Our peso supply needed replenishment so I headed downtown again (about 6 km return) There are two ATMs and they charge different commission rates regardless of the gross amount. The first bank charges 60 pesos and the second one (Banamex) charges 30 pesos. Debit cards seem to work.
After getting money we all went to a Superbowl party at a local bar-good game, Eagles won and there were lots of Canadians at the bar including some from Regina.
I am starting to become aware of my lower intestine-fruit or ceviche?
Monday it was time to experience the joys of Immodium before walking to the gym for a hard workout (stepper and weights)
The tennis continued and we did dinner with 2 other couples.
Tuesday was my surf fishing day with Luis Vargas who is a professional fishing guide, marine biologist and seasonal citizen of Malaque. He has a green card and lives in Northern California in the winter (highly recommended guide) We headed off about 7.00 AM for Barra to a beach destination, getting mildly stuck in the sand on the road to the site. We made it out and did some surf casting off the beach. We are using weighted lures in order to enable long casts into the surf. After some fruitless attempts at Barra, Luis heard that fish were being caught at the main beach at Melaque, so we did a quick return.
In Malaque there was lots of action and we ended up catching a fairly large Jack Crevalle. (maybe 25 pounds) which Luis brought back to the resort and cleaned. It is a very red fleshed fish and there are varying opinions on eating quality. After a fair amount of Google research a recipe was found involving a marinade- I soaked it in lemons overnight. and then did a marinade the next day as it
was going to our contribution to the Wednesday potluck dinner. I barbecued the strips and we had no leftovers.
Money procurement has some challenges here as the ATM system produces varying results. On Wednesday morning neither of the two banks would take the RBC card. I went back at night and braved the long lineups to achieve success with a debit BMO card. Most merchants want cash. Shopping opportunities abound for the usual colourful Mexican artifacts. I got 2 small Oaxca rugs for my soon to be purchased Ram 1500 truck.
As the week went on the demand for Immodium increased. I think I got lulled into a false sense of security and ate like at home (vendor fruit, ice cream, ceviche etc) It seemed that doing hard workouts at the gym helped.
Jan and I did a local bus experience taking it to Barra which is larger than Melaque and perhaps more prosperous. One highlight of the bus ride was a complete break down part way which resulted in a transfer to the next bus. Once there, we went out to the Grand Isle Resort on a water taxi- very impressive hotel. Along the causeway to
the water taxi, people can be observed surfing in the waves. It seems that SUP and surfing have combined as people now stand up paddle board out through the breaking waves, turn the boards and surf to shore.
The next day Jan was back to tennis and I did my usual walk/gym program after experiencing a mild earthquake at the resort. We were then starting into return mode and packing up to leave.
The return home was fairly uneventful except for the Melaque Airport mass confusion program - checkin took 2 hours as I got behind two women who were trying to buy the airline. I got called back after completion to shut off my electric toothbrush which had started up in my suitcase!!!
After planes, trains, buses etc we finally arrived home at Salt Spring. We are planning to return next year and I am going to work on my tennis.
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