A Ros organised tour today and time for breakfast before meeting at the Magnum’s Bar, ready for our usual prompt getaway. The port is obviously gearing itself up for increased tourism, with Acapulco being dropped, there is an opportunity for Manzanillo to establish itself as a worthy stopover. The town really depends heavily on the port traffic, both containerised and cruise ships and initial impressions are very favourable, with a warm hassle free welcome. Just walk off the ship and walk back on again with nothing more than the usual security check for your cruise card and your baggage/shopping. I still struggle to come to terms with the differences between the various countries with their tourist immigration demands and why one or two are so paranoid.
Our tour coach was a full sized one with two tour guides this time and we headed first of all to the pyramids at Colima. From the photographs, you’ll notice a distinct lack of pyramids as we know them from Egypt. You’ll also notice that these look as though they were built yesterday, which isn’t too far from the truth, as although these date from around 1500BC (I think), they have a considerable number of people on site with wheel barrows, mixing cement and sweeping, not to mention re-laying the river stones that form the pyramids. Artefacts discovered throughout the area include many pottery depictions of dogs. Dogs in this region were often reared as potential food rather than as lap dogs or security systems, so the warning from the tour guide, somewhat tongue in cheek, was beware of eating in town restaurants where you see no dogs around. We were informed that when the master died, the dog had to go too.
On then to a Hacienda, the Nogueras museum of original artwork in Comala, that some may recognise as Unicef Christmas cards. The museum also has many pottery items discovered in the area and these appeared to be in remarkably good condition. I think that the creators of Wallace and Gromit might have gained some inspiration here... The road through to the museum was cobbled so wasn’t as smooth as the highways, but we passed by some very nice houses where the local law is that to preserve the area’s beauty and vegetation, (that includes coffee and mango trees), no more than 10% of the private land area can be built on.
Then into Comala for a somewhat hurried 40 minute stop for shopping and a tapas lunch. Genuine tapas it might have been, but Mexican food generally isn’t one of my international favourites. The fruit for dessert was pineapple, water melon, cucumber(!) and a bland white item I failed to identify that was enlivened by a coarse red powder mix that appeared to be based around red chilli...
The coach ride back through lush vegetation was quiet as most were happy to either doze (might have been the free beer to blame) or simply stare out of the windows until we arrived back at the wharf. Most of the streets we passed looked very clean and we saw several instances during the last three stops of people sweeping the pavements. Quite why India is so grubby when there are so many idle hands must be an indictment on the people, as those in central America are not exactly wealthy. There was a fair bit of graffiti unfortunately.
My backpack was already a bit heavy, containing water x 2, a beer, two raincoats we thought we might need, and two packs of some fruit based item that we have no idea what it is! Another example of helping the local economy. According to the packets, the translation is “Fruits and sweets of fields of Comala” – but both appear to be guava based yet look totally different. The pack that Dennis bought looks different again. I went straight to the ship whilst Paula was taken captive by a Mexican bandit in the small trinkets and stalls area.
Just in case anyone from either Manzanillo (unlikely) or Princess (more likely) reads this, there was a massive tent erected on the wharf to house the security screening by the port. So why did we once again have to queue outside in the blazing sun, when 90% of the tent was unoccupied and the security table and frame were set up in the corner nearest the city? So all but about 5 people were out in the sun. We may be “Crazy Cruisers” but “Crazy Queuers” might be just as apt.
Straight up for an ice cream, then a swim in the shaded and quiet Oasis pool at the rear of the ship. A bit of a nana nap before dinner in the dining room then a temporary halt in the atrium, to listen to an excellent solo guitar player, until the rest of the orchestra turned up to play the sort of smooth jazz I don’t care for, so we retired at 11:15. Alan and Alana had a very rare night off.
Clocks back 1 hour yet again tonight with two days at sea before hitting Los Angles, another sector port where about 300 passengers will get off and the same number get on. Our popular Captain, Todd McBain, also gets off for a vacation and we already have our schedule of immigration interviews. Strangely enough, when we arrived in Miami, we didn’t need physical proof of our ESTA authority, nor did we need to fill in the green arrival’s cards, yet we need both for the ship interview, plus the advisory letter from Princess, with our group number and an allocated time... Ho hum.