It’s a Sunday evening in late February in the fishing village of La Manzanilla and I have returned to my Hotel to escape the din of the village. I am sitting at a table in the relative cool of the outdoor foyer/patio at Puesta del Sol attempting to cobble together some thoughts. This activity – which is rather solitary – can be challenging in this sociable little family-run establishment. Guests are constantly coming and going, and Loreena the owner and her extended family are always busy running the place or contributing several generations of family activity into the lively mix. And dreams of escaping the noise are futile as there is a Latin band playing at Martin’s Restaurant next door, and EdelMira’s 4 year old daughter Aurora is cranky and letting us all know that her needs must be met. The cicadas will eventually win out with their rhythmic nighttime music, but for now at least, the band sounds just fine, and Garfield the one-eyed alley cat is nowhere in sight.
Garfield is quite skittish, having lost a street fight with another cat which has left him with his cyclopean look. He is also farther down the pecking order than Soul – the little orange kitty who seems to run this place. I am slowly winning his affection with carefully proffered treats and kibble. Perhaps this kindness will help to diminish his fear – it’s not easy being a one-eyed cat in a beach town in Mexico.
…it’s now Thursday afternoon, five days later, Aurora is happily engaged in an art project that Christine from Gabriola has put together for the kids, and Garfield is asleep in the sun
The Puesta del Sol is a small hotel of perhaps a dozen rooms on two floors surrounding an outdoor courtyard full of local tropical greenery. For some reason, the place has attracted residents from small islands off the coast of BC. At one time we had 5 Gabriolans, 2 Lasquetians, and 2 Mayne Islanders – many of whom have brought serious artistic and musical talent to this place. Foremost among these is Rick from Gabriola
who is a wood carver by trade, and has now been commissioned by several local establishments to paint murals on their buildings. Loreena has him creating colourful murals around the doors of the hotel rooms which Is turning this casual little hotel into a playful artistic statement…
(Photo under construction)
…and he has created a series of wall planters and colourful dioramas out of the dried leaves of coconut palms. When not making art he can be found playing guitar and singing at the hotel with other musical guests or at local restaurants – I’ve brought some blues harps and have been accompanying him on occasion. Fred from Gabriola is here with his ukulele and his daughter who is also a great violin player. Christine is making her own art and is also scoring some music to several poems that have been written by another woman in the village, and Darzo from Lasqueti was here with her intriguing voice and guitar, jamming at the hotel or performing at local open mikes. It’s a place full of music, art, the chatter of young Mexican children – and the furtive scavenging of Garfield the one-eyed beach cat.
It is now Sunday, late afternoon and I am back in the cool of the courtyard. EdelMira has stepped away from the Hotel for five minutes with her two children to feed carrots to some goats and I have – briefly – been left in charge of the Hotel. With the children gone I can actually hear the sounds of the village and the birds chirping in the trees. As this is my second year of wintering in La Manzanilla, I have developed a small community of friends and nodding acquaintances who might pass by and say ‘Hola’ on their way to the beach or back to their homes beyond the arroyo.
It seems to be taking a long time to complete this little story. My days are full, distractions are plentiful, and the lure of sitting and writing while sunshine and beaches beckon is sporadic at best. I enjoy keeping a little journal when I travel, unfortunately the app I was using – Day One – lost all my writing from last year so I am reluctant to use it again, and have switched to paper. This WordPress effort at least allows me to post a few photos as well and to share it on Facebook – for whatever that is worth. If reading about Garfield the one-eyed cat, or the creative activities of my artistic compatriots doesn’t satisfy your need for appropriate travel commentary, here’s a pretty sunset… 🙂