We weighed anchor in Tenacatita at around 9pm and after 10 hours we got our first sight of Manzanillo. The power-plant bellowed smoke into the air, tinting the first rays of sunlight orangeish-brown and leaving a haze around the cargo ships within the harbor. It seemed strange to us that this town was described as “resort living combined with family tradition.” Stranger still was the string of beautiful (expensive) homes over looking this section of the bay.
We anchored outside Marina Las Hadas with the intent of using their dinghy dock and possibly their services. The Hotel and Marina was designed after a folk tale and from a distance has some very interesting architecture. After we kayaked in and set out in search of the harbor master it seemed as though the place had been abandoned. A row of marina side restaurants that never open, hundreds of rooms left vacant, a ghost town of a hotel except for one security guard who was looking rather bored.
After speaking with the security guard, the harbor master was called down and we began the paperwork so we could use their dinghy dock, showers etc. Once completed the total that was described to us as a “small fee” turned out to be $20usd/day. This might not sound so bad but for our little boat most marinas run us $20-25/day for a full service slip with water and power hookups. Although this seemed a bit excessive to tie up our kayak, we wanted to use a proper shower and go into town before weighing anchor the following day.
Immediately after we finished our paperwork we headed for the showers. The building tucked away from view looked ominous from the outside but inside was far worse. It was the kind of place that would only be home in a horror movie. A single flickering bulb revealed stained tiles, rat droppings, and that everything had gone green from neglect. The half-clogged shower-head only were able to produce icy cold water and the sink piping was missing completely. No bueno.
After a quick fast scrub and quick escape from the axe murderer’s bathroom, we were off to town to see what it had to offer. The drive into town showed other hotels in the same condition. Manzanillo had a tourist boom after it was featured in a movie that I never heard of and already forgot the name of; apparently so has everyone else. The downtown area has an excellent waterfront park full of statues, gazebos and shade trees. Although not abandoned it was quiet, nowhere to be found were the chess players, school children or vendors described in our cruising guide. The roads surrounding the park were full of life; the cafes and restaurants nearest the park were filled busy and the side streets were filled with foot traffic and small shops pushing their wares.
We sniffed out a quick bite to eat at a small restaurant that only served one thing, tacos de something-I-didn’t-catch-the-name-of. They were delicious…pork may have been involved. Wish I could tell you more. I find if there is only one thing on the menu then there is a reason for it and you should eat it.
Full and satisfied we needed to get over to Comercial Mexicana to do some grocery shopping. I walked up to a car painted like a taxi but turned out to be just a guy in a yellow car. The driver kindly let us know the best place to pick up a cab and we thanked him. We did our shopping, headed back to the boat and cleared out the next morning.
It was a short stay in an odd place; a town where the tourist wave had crashed and rolled back. Commercial shipping will always keep the town alive but the outlook for the soft-handed men used to easy money does not look so certain.