Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Present...Neil's visit


Riding the bus in Manzanillo

Manzanillo is a large seaport and a steady stream of tankers and freighters is constantly entering and leaving the bay.  There are usually also a few ships at anchor waiting to go into the inner harbour.  The bus travels along the edge of the inner harbour and huge cranes and stacks of containers stretch for blocks.  

Shipping containers at the harbour

At the waterfront near downtown Manzanillo there is a huge sculpture of a sailfish as a symbol of the city as a world-class sport fishing centre.   Neil is at the centre bottom of the sculpture giving an indication of the sheer size of it.

Sailfish Scupture

On the way back to the boat we stopped for a meal at a little pollo asada (grilled chicken) place.  Grilled chicken is available absolutely everywhere in Mexico and I can only imagine the huge chicken farms that must exist somewhere.  The larger restaurants and take-out places have large rotisserie machines while the place at which we had lunch grilled the chicken on a propane-fuelled grill about the size of a kitchen table.  A few doors down I took this photo at a restaurant where they use this wood-fired cement trough to cook the chicken skewered on wooden sticks. 

We went on a bit of a wild goose chase the next day looking for a Volvo Penta dealer that could hopefully replace our leaking cooling-water pump but it turned out that he doesn’t exist.  I guess our first clues should have been that neither the e-mail address nor the phone number worked.  We’re more optimistic about the dealer (allegedly) in Puerto Vallarta and decided not to let the engine problem affect Neil’s visit too much.  We went back to the boat, filled up with fuel and water and headed to Ensenada Carrizal 6 miles to the north. 

Ensenada Carrizal
Ensenada Carrizal is a small bay that can hold about 10 boats.  There is no town on the shore which makes for a relaxing stop away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Three Hour Tour and Cat at Ensenada Carrizal
We arrived at about 5 pm on Friday, Feb. 24th and Neil swam ashore to check out the snorkelling.  He snorkelled for a while but spent most of his time inspecting the geology of the rocks on shore and when he returned to the boat he regaled us with an account of all that he found and declared the snorkelling to be excellent.

The next day we all went ashore to inspect the geology and gather samples although my sample bag was at least half sea shells.  I tend to gather rock samples in the manner a magpie might e.g. Ooooh! shiny, pretty, while Neil goes into raptures over something I would use as a door stop.

We had drinks with the neighbours, Thomas and Allison, aboard their catamaran aptly named “Cat” and set off for an overnight trip to Tenacatita where arrived at 7 am on Feb. 26th.

The purpose of our trip to Tenacatita was to go on a self-guided river trip up a brackish, mangrove-lined river where there was reported to be good bird watching.  The river started out looking like this:

Then narrowed to this:

And just before it became impenetrable it looked like this:

We were not able to get to the lagoon but did see some interesting birds.  Of course we have no idea what they are. 

All the way along the river, the mangrove roots were host to colourful crabs that scuttled away at our approach.

My gondoliers
Back on the beach we had a fantastic lunch at a palapa restaurant.  A local specialty is “Rollo del Mar” which is a breaded fish fillet wrapped around bacon, shrimp and octopus and covered with an almond cream sauce.  Neil and I have been scheming about how to recreate it at home.

The next morning we began the return trip to Manzanillo where Neil would be taking a bus to Zihuatanejo for his flight home on the 29th.

We left Tenacatita at 8 am on Feb. 27th and travelled 11 miles south to Cuastecomate, also known as ‘Secret Anchorage’.  I’m not sure how secret it is anymore since it’s now written up in the new guidebook that all the cruisers have.  

Neil kayaked to shore to snorkel and check out the local geology while I made bread.  He came back about an hour later and we all went ashore in the dingy.  Neil went to collect some rock samples, I went snorkelling (which was excellent!) and Mark walked around both blocks of town and then settled himself under a beach umbrella to have a beer where Neil and I joined him later for a drink.  I had one of those drinks they serve in a green coconut and was disappointed later to find that green coconuts have only a thin layer of soft tissue inside, not the coconut meat I was hoping for.  

Three Hour Tour at Cuastecomate

We hoisted anchor again and went a whole 3 miles south around the point to Melaque where we dropped anchor for the night.  

Tuesday, Feb. 28th was to be Neil’s last day on the boat with us.  We motored back to Manzanillo, went out for dinner and put him on an overnight bus to Zihuatanejo for his flight home the next day.

So this morning I’m hoping that everything went ok with the bus and that he makes his way to the airport on time.  Once a parent, always a parent...   Happy Leap Day!

Sunset at Tenecatita

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