Monday, February 21, 2011

Playa Coco

The Goats

Back home, minus eleven as I write, but sunny and blue sky just like Mexico. The book-end to my vacation was a trip inland, una vuelta, to Guadalajara. Up with the roosters to catch an early intercity bus. My alarm, which sounds like a rooster, goes off as programmed but need not have. For four straight hours a delinquent had been revving his engine outside the hotel (in Mexico mufflers seem optional) from three am onwards. He must have played tag with the late night revelers who came in at three, giggling and admonishing each other to keep quiet, in so doing making lots of noise. But I had slept until three so all was not lost. Fortunately on the bus the passenger in front didn’t pull the curtains and so I got to see the scenery. Mexicans are bored with it. Meanwhile we scaled two mountain ranges on the way to the high plain which accommodates Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city. It was late afternoon when I reached my hotel, to be allotted a bright, high room with a balcony, a contrast to Melaque. To boot it overlooked the uptown, a silhouette of the famous plaza and cathedral. Only three blocks away was the city’s cultural centre, a rotunda not unlike the Radcliffe at Oxford U. Unbeknownst to me Yani was in concert there that night. Rats, missed it. Next day I photographed sites I had scouted out the evening of my arrival. The centre of the city is of interest but did not quite meet expectations. What was not expected was a temporary ice rink they are building as a novelty attraction (mean high 26 degrees each day, good luck with the ice). Next it was off to a barranca, canyon, which hems in the city from the north. This was reached by MacroBus, the efficient rapid transit which links south end to north end of the city. The viewing podiums which hang out over the canyon are not for the queasy. Watching the vultures profit from the air currents to ascend and descend was fun. At night I checked out the Plaza de los Mariachis before heading to the soccer game. Chivas (the goats) at home to Atlante, the colts, from Cancun. Jalisco Stadium is half full, at my guess of 35,000, a reflection of a losing streak the red and whites have been on. Dusk comes and the floodlights come on and boo, the bimbos withdraw. No kidding, before the game a bevy of attractive hostesses parade around the stadium in uniforms, their photogenic selves promoting Bimbo, a bread I think. By happenstance I am in the visitors sector, and find myself cheek by jowl with the junior visitors team and the senior teams supporters. They have flown in obviously, Cancun is the length of Britain away. While in Guadalajara I read about the drug cartel blockades which happened on the Monday night in which seven or eight roads were simultaneously blocked off at gunpoint, including that to the international airport, and wonder. But hey, I’m (book-end) back home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Barra de Navidad


It was a gamble. A casual inquiry of the waiter in the yuppie café where I ordered chilaquiles for breakfast informed me that yes, the chess board in the bookcase was used, but infrequently and that he was the only one he knew of in town that played. OK, how about a game sometime then? Sure! My day off is Tuesday when the café is closed. The central plaza? Fine I say, I’ll check the plaza Tuesday. So I arrive at the plaza with no fixed time for our encounter but figure 10 am might fit the bill. I have time to eat pan fresco and jugo de mango and even then an hour later no sign yet of my prospective opponent. 4 pm when the heat of the day is dissipating? I go to Barra de Navidad for a swim in the surf and come back to Melaque and its plaza by way of the beach. It is a 70 minute walk, made longer by the sinking feeling in the sand with each step. I find an appropriate exit to town from the beach and pass a wag-a-tail Lab and its owner intent on some electronic device. At the plaza an hour long wait is no more productive than the morning so without giving up I reckon lets eat, and maybe when the town is out wandering around at dusk Luis might show. But as I am leaving I hear a salutation and run into the fellow and his dog from the beach. Luis! I had passed within metres of him but not recognized him. He has to drop his dog off and collect the board and pieces. Back in an hour and a half. We face off. So my record of playing chess in Latin America (Cuba, Morelia and Melaque) in pick up games is now 6-0. Not bad, a good streak. What is most interesting this time was getting to know Luis. He is from Guadalajara, had married then divorced and so came to the coast where he bought a house. Two years later his property was expropriated by the federal government and he lost everything – without compensation! Even in Mexico. There is a court case but it probably will gain little. Now a brand new resort is going up on the prime beach front, all be it in a rural area, he had once called his own.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

San Patricio Melaque

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Puesta del Sol

In two minds as to what to entitle this entry. Since I intend to move on to Guadalajara to-morrow this will be my last sunset on the beach for the immediate future. Could have called this post Tacos Surf or Ajedrez (Chess) though. By the way Guerrero fell to the candidate of the left. Only one administrator almost beaten to death on the day, relatively calm considering the lead up. My hotel has been on the beach but I have to say I have often been in a town centre at the setting of the sun, which it does every day here (thats for the Brits who dont see that orange disk at this time of year). The other day I was in the pool at sundown. Other guests were surprised to see me swimming as it got dark, thinking the water to be too cold. I was tempted to say it was warmer then than at midday but thought I was too unconvincing to give a physics lesson about relative air and water temperatures and the time of day. In the morning though the pool is cool. So news of the day yesterday was the house fire in Barra de Navidad which blackened an otherwise perfectly blue sky. Big event in a small place. I spotted it from a long way off while waiting for the launch to come get me. The ten minute ride usually whisks by since the owner is a speed merchant. However this time there was a real bonus. First we had to go get gas. Then a taxi service pick up amongst the sail yachts. Turned out to be a catamaran and on the edge of the flotilla. Took us a while since we took the wrong street so to speak (boats dont have addresses but they are somewhat aligned). Then another stop for new arrivals to get gas and finally in to the ritzy marina where the multimillion dollar yachts berth. No sails there I'll tell you. Here we collected staff from the Grand Bay resort, the other side of the tracks (read lagoon) from we the people (plebs). What do you know but that the joker who scared away the birds with his golf cart antics at the course was now the amiable guy we had to wait for as he scurried around to finish some tasks before he could catch his ride home. Altogether the ten minute ride was spun out to over half an hour, for ten pesos (less then a dollar). Next post - Chess - remember the Spanish word? Be there or be square.