Story by Vicente en Suchitlan, Colima (copyright 2004)
A phone call and email from friends in the states begins a wonderful adventure. My friends from years ago wanted to come to visit and then have me drive them around Mexico. We spent some wonderful times wandering around Suchitlan where I live then down to the lovely magic town of Comala where we enjoyed botanas at the Fundedor Botenero and walked about the town. Down thru Comala and up a lovely cobblestone road to the town of Nogeras that is famous for the museum of ALEJANDRO RANGEL HIDALGO.
The museum houses a fantastic collection of pre-Spanish artifacts of the Nahuatl Indians and a collection of paintings and furniture designed by Se�or Hidalgo. This gentleman developed a very unusual style of painting that has become very famous thru out the world and his work was chosen by UNICEF for Christmas cards to raise money for UNICEF. Across from the museum is a lovely, small gift shop that sells reproductions of his work and which I have a few and my friends bought a very nice selection to take home to Oregon.
Saturday morning arrives and we head south down the auto pista towards the City of Tecoman, the agricultural center of the State of Colima. A turn over the overpass and we head out past a large metal sculpture of a lime tree, down the periferico and around Tecoman to the coastal hiway. The drive along the coast is lovely, but the hiway is fierce. Driving a large � ton, extended Ford pickup is a challenge on this hiway. The turns are tight as a nut, the cliffs overlooking the beaches and little bays are straight down. We stop for a lunch of ceviche, cammarones a la diabla and good cold Mexican beer at the town of Las Brisas in the State of Michoacan. We finally get up and head down the hiway towards L�zaro C�rdenas on the boarder of Michoacan & Guerrero. It is getting late; the driver is shot as his shoulders ache from the driving. My wife is suffering from bad neck pains and my passengers are squished up in the rear seat.
We enter Guerrero and find a small paved road down towards and the beach to a small but popular town of Troncones where in the dark we bounce down a nasty road till we find the hotel where some friends of my friends are staying. As luck would have it, the hotel was full. However, the manager was very kind and helpful and found us bungalows on the beach at a little place called Casa Ki and run by a fun lady by the name of Tina Morse. I fixed a rather stout drink as I was really pooped, and went out onto the beach to sit in a lawn chair and listen to the sea.
In the morning, under a kitchen palapa, we enjoyed fresh coffee, fresh fruit, fresh rolls & cereals. The walk on the beach in the morning was so refreshing. A rather oddly dressed man in flowing beard and hair sat among the rocks doing his yoga or whatever the chanting is. Children running up and down the beach gathering sea shells and up above on a large balcony we were watched by a magnificent mermaid. Not sure how she stays out of the water so long. Finally, we head back to our bungalows and load up the truck and head for Acapulco.
I thought the Michoacan highway was bad; the highway of Guerrero was a killer. Some of the curves were so tight that 10-15mph was fast. Upon our arrival on the outskirts of Acapulco, we missed the highway thru the city and headed up towards Mexico DF. Finally, figuring out what had happened, we found a rather peculiar return loop and headed back to Acapulco. The military guarding the approaches were armed to the teeth but just looked at us and passed us thru the checkpoints. Driving thru Acapulco during rush hour is a real challenge with a big rig.
Anyway, we finally find our haven, which was the MAYAN PALACE. Rather a grand place for a vacation. This hotel is down the coast at a place called Punta Diamante. Much fewer people down the coast and the beach was uncluttered by the masses. Our shared room was along a lovely canal and the windows of our part of the room looked out into the jardin. We grabbed our towels and headed up to the pools where we swam under the lights and the evening stars. I found that standing under a waterfall was great for my tired and sore shoulders. Lovers of all ages were sitting in different spots among the rocks and near the lower falls. Finally, somewhat rested, we head for the room and a good nights sleep.
Breakfast in the morning was down along the lower pool (1/4mile long) and above the beach. We sat under palm trees and enjoyed a buffet breakfast then back to the rooms for bathing suits and towels. That evening, we went down the highway to a restaurant called the Mayan Fish Market where we had a very nice dinner. The next day, we hired the taxi driver of the night before to be our guide and driver for the day. We drove up to the great cross on the bluff overlooking the Bahia de Acapulco. What a view and what a cross. We then drove downtown to a wonderful silver shop (fabrica) where my friends bought gifts for all their families. My wife and I bought a really heavy cast bronze bell, which we bought for half of what we would have paid elsewhere.
We then got back into the taxi and headed out to where the famous cliff divers put on their show. Fantastic show was put on by about six or seven divers, including a very young diving student who dove off the cliff face. This little kid did more than I would have tried. Each diver dove from a different spot. Then near the end of the show, two divers went off at once and I can�t imagine diving or jumping from such a height. The end show was one diver did a fantastically beautiful one and a half gainer into the sea. These men have to watch the water coming into the cove and time their dives so that they have deep enough water and don�t hit bottom. I have always wanted to see this show and now I am satisfied. We had lunch while we were sitting on the balcony of a restaurant that looked out to sea. While the men were diving, some yachts came in close to watch and blew their horns at the end of each dive. We bought some gifts for my Godson & his brother & we then drove down to the central market, which is a trial in itself.
The walks wander thru the market and one can really get turned around. The sales people are hawking their wares at the top of their lungs and hounding the tourists. I do not like that kind of dealing. In our part of Mexico, Colima, there is no hounding. Anyway, that is done and we head back to the hotel and more swimming. For exercise, we found that getting into the � mile pool and trying to run down and back is quite energizing. More sitting around the pool, a cool drink in hand and the sun lulls one to sleep. My friends who had purchased boogie boards went down onto the beach on a regular basis. Finally, my wife and I went down, lay out on the beach chairs and enjoyed cold sodas and beer. I borrowed the large boogie board and learned how to ride the waves into shore. What a gas! I even had the opportunity to try para sailing. This experience was fun because when they were done, they just dropped me into the ocean. Much like when I was a paratrooper but with a wonderful view of the countryside.
More eating, drinking, eating, etc. and we decide to head up to the City of Toluca, which is also the highest city in Mexico, somewhere between 12 & 13,000 ft. We stayed at a super hotel called QUINTA del REY where we must have looked a bit odd. Everyone was wearing coats, ski parkas, sweaters & gloves and we were in shorts and T-shirts. Twas a bit chilly. A cocktail and dinner, then off to our magnificent rooms overlooking a beautiful garden of trimmed trees, paths & a metal sculpture of three Mariachi frogs. The rooms were quite elegant with electric fireplaces, chairs & coffee table in front of them and wonder of wonders, a REAL comfortable Mexican bed.
Breakfast in the morning while we wait for a special order of Taluca chorizo. This chorizo is famous and can only be bought in Toluca. It has raisins and pi�on nuts. A wonderful flavor and it makes a great mixture with scrambled eggs. Only drawback is that it tends to back-up for a full day. Burps are murder�. We then head out to find the mountain retreat of the Monarch butterflies.
This trip was a real bizarre journey. We find the proper directions, head up thru small mountain villages on a dirt, cobblestone, rock, concrete road that has pot holes deep enough for VWs and finally into a freezing parking lot at the end of the road. Poor little children who want to guide us or park us surround us. However, we find that it is another half hour hike into the mountain forest. Dressed in summer shorts & flip flops or sandals just doesn�t get it. We head back down the mountain with three small boys in the back having a wonderful time. They jump out at some village and we continue on down. We did see flocks of Monarchs on the way up and down. Not many, but enough to say we saw them.
Well, as we head down thru one village, the road is jammed with vehicles & some form of activity, which forces us to make a few turns to get out of town. We are finally lost on small roads, which deteriorate into cow paths. We end up at a swamp/lagoon and the end of the paved road. I back up to ask a young many how we get out and wonder of wonders, he says: �Hey man, where you headed?� He speaks fluent English and he gives us directions as to which way to go, which cow to miss & which tree to turn at. More horrible roads, but some of the most beautiful high mountain views this side of Austria. Some of the views were reminiscent of Austria & Switzerland. Truly, truly beautiful.
Finally, we wend our way into the outskirts of Morelia. We unload and the baggage man hops in the truck with me and leads me 3 � blocks to inside parking. Try parking a large rig in a hole that is only inches wider on either side. Smoking tires, and a hot clutch and I am finally parked for the night. We walk back along a wonderfully old and beautiful street to the HOTEL VIRREY de MENDOZA, a building built around 1826 as a home, then finally as a hotel. The hotel is directly across the plaza from the magnificent cathedral.
That evening as we walk around, crowds begin to gather and the main street is packed. During some lovely music coming from the cathedral, there comes a silence. Then BOOM�. 8� mortar rockets blast into the night sky above the cathedral and we are treated to a series of spectacular fireworks displays. This goes on for a short while, and then everyone leaves. Again, just a quiet evening with people walking about. In the morning, we have breakfast of juevos rancheros in a street restaurant along the plaza. We then do a bit of walking and buying. Back to the hotel, pack up and head out for Colima.
We leave the City of Morelia and head up some nice back roads to the City of Zamora where we wander around trying to find the right intersection. Lunchtime and we find a fabulous seafood restaurant called RESTAURANTE LA TRUCHA. What a great meal & inexpensive to boot. We leave Zamora and head towards Lago Chapala & Guadalajara, down thru Juiquilpan, Ciudad Guzman, down to Colima and up thru Comala to our little village of Suchitlan.
Exhausted and everyone is ready for bed except me as I am wired to the hilt from driving. I sit out on the patio and look at the outline of the Volcan de Fuego and finally, I too hit the sack. A great journey with friends ends and all is well.
The author, Vincent, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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