Tigger Travels - Family Adventure Journal
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Day Twelve in Manzanillo, Mexico
Panama Cruise January 2011 - Last Trans-canal trip planned for the Disney Wonder at this time.
Having visited a few ports and cities in Mexico, I had some idea of what to expect for our stop on day 12. Manzanillo, Mexico resembled Cozumel and Costa Maya in architecture and environment with the exception of a line of mountains that act as a backdrop for the city and the two enormous bays adjacent. At each end, there is no land between the water and the sheer drop off the ends of the closest two.
Entering the two bays we stayed to the right and docked in Manzanillo Harbor just inside the southern edge of the expanse. The downtown portion of Manzanillo were built from just beyond the waters edge and intended up the first mountain and right over the top with no visible end.
With scattered fishing boats in the foreground, it was easy to tell that a significant portion of the residents spend their days on the water looking for stock to sell at the market every morning. Commercial fishing is the third largest source of income for the people of this part of the state of Colima. Yellow fin tuna is fished on boats that stay out to sea for days at a time. These boats are large enough that they are accompanied by onboard helicopters. It is a serious industry here.
Before we even entered the port, the fifth largest income to the area was very obvious. A large coal burning power plant belched pollution into the air and on the day we were there left a reddish haze over the whole space filled with the two large bays and all the surrounding cities and resorts. It looked worse in the morning as we arrived, but once on land we quickly realized it was being pushed over the neighboring mountain and never seemed to influence life at the surface.
Also notable was the Mexican military presence. Right next to our ship a medium sized military vessel sat the whole time we were there. It was manned and ready to go if needed. A smaller vessel stayed mobile in the water all day, coming and going as it patrolled the shores, the harbors and the open water.
Since we had never been to this coast of Mexico, we selected an excursion that would give us an overview of the area and hopefully insight into the culture of the Pacific coast of Mexico. The city tour and shopping trip proved to be everything we hoped for.
Nearly 300 other people opted for the same trip and we boarded in controlled groups on comfortable tour buses. The first leg only took about 30 seconds and stopped near the end of the docks at the downtown shopping district. We spent half an hour taking pictures and getting an idea of what Manzanillo had to offer through their vendors. It is a constant amazement how many vendors offer cheap junk made in the orient and we even saw one booth that was selling souvenirs of the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and other items that were irrelevant to a visit in Manzanillo.
Learning that this is the sailfish capital of the world that plays host the largest tournament we decided to look for a sailfish sculpture for our travel shelf pretty quick. It was the best representation of the area even without going on our own fishing excursion.
Once back on our tour bus, we traveled around the outside of the two large bays eventually arriving at the far end. Our tour guide offered good descriptions for all the scenery passing by. Although his accent was strong his English was good and everyone who wanted could listen to him through the bus speaker system. At times he sounded like an encyclopedia as he recited facts about the area, the people and the history that made them.
We passed the three major resorts in the area that attract a large number of tourists from around the world. One thing we noticed right away was that the all-inclusive resorts were protected with high walls and the insides resembled a movie scene of heaven itself. Touring on the outside may have been nice but seeing and hearing about the insides made us want to visit again, next time by plane so we could stay a while.
One of the stops on our trip included a visit to a quaint covered flea market. The aisles between the booths were narrow and created a nearly endless maze from the parking lot to the beach behind. As a tour guest we were allowed to use the restrooms and were not asked for the usual 50 cents for toilet paper. The ladies room was extremely clean and Jennifer paid anyway.
On the tour we found that there are many of the same stores and companies that we find back in the USA; Wal-mart, Office Max, Burger King, KFC and the ever present Subway and Starbucks dotted the roadsides. We quickly realized that a stay here would not mean giving up any of our comforts of home.
At one point during the tour, our driver turned off to a thickly populated area that climbed to near the top of a nearby mountain. It only took a few seconds to realize that the homes and buildings crowding this mountain were here because of the views of the two bays. It was an incredible site that was accented with emaculately kept gardens and carefully painted walls that stood out against the rest of the vista.
One thing our tour guide asked us in the beginning was if we had seen the whale in the morning. Apparently there had been one waiting for us right at the entrance to the Manzanillo harbor but it left before we saw it. Before we left, however, I did spot a number of whale spouts in the distance that held great promise for our whale watching tour in Puerto Vallarta the very next day!
2011 Disney Wonder Panama Canal Cruise Index
Daily Navigator/Iwa Published Schedule