Living in the Slow Lane
19 February 2018 | Barra de Navidad
A young girl helps her mother at work.
February 16, 2018
Approximate location: Punta San Telmo
It is three-thirty in the morning. I am munching on Cheese Puffs and staring at the radar screen. There is a flashing light four miles to starboard and a tanker twelve miles to port. We are on our way from Zihuatanejo to Bahia Santiago and I am on watch. Our friends, Tony and Diane from s/v Dolce, are sleeping below. Jay lies next to me in the cockpit, resting. The wind is light. The seas are calm. The sky is filled with thousands of stars but no moon. There is nothing much to do but relax and enjoy the balmy night air. I think back to our days in Zihuatanejo.
February 13, 2018
One hundred gallons of water had been delivered and syphoned into our tanks. The laundry had also been delivered and put away. We scrubbed the boat inside and out (including 50 feet of smelly-fishy anchor chain) in preparation for our guests who will be crewing with us. We recharged the battery and put the charger away. Put out the jack lines. You know - boat chores. Our last chore for the day was to go to Telcel in town. But first, prep the dinghy.
Poor Patches. She is on her last legs. She is taking on water. She isn't holding air. One tire has a big bubble in it and the hose to the gas tank split yesterday. Jay fixed that. Still, every single time we use the dinghy, it is bail and pump. Bail and pump.
We arrived at the beach and, as usual, the dinghy valets were waiting for us. They are a welcome sight. For a few pesos they help us in and out and watch our dinghies twenty-four hours a day. They are a friendly bunch and will help with anything if we ask. After visiting with them for a few minutes, we found our way to the Malecon. It was 85 degrees with 70% humidity. We were both exhausted. Sailfest had kept us busy and living at anchor takes work. Jay suggested we stop at the coffee shop and I readily agreed.
All coffee connoisseurs love this place. The owner not only grinds and brews each cup fresh, but he roasts the beans to your liking. It is a tiny shop with a few tables out on the street. Jay orders a mocha for him and an iced green tea for me. Weary, I sat down outside and observed this little corner of the world.
Zihuatanejo is different than we expected. Well, it is and it isn't. We expected a small, sleepy beach town. And along the shore that is what we found. What we didn't expect was how big the city is and how it stretches out in all directions from town Centro.
Centro is unique too, in its design. The Malecon runs along the beach as always, but it is shaded with palm trees. Shops and restaurants line the walk along with the local fish coop on one side. It is absolutely charming. We didn't ever come upon the usual town square with the church on one side of the street and the civic center on the other with a park in the middle. What we did find were diagonal streets interlaced between the horizontal and vertical ones. Only foot traffic was allowed on the diagonal streets and the restaurants set up their tables and chairs outside. Evenings, these streets come alive with customers enjoying their meals under the stars.
I had a view of the beach from where I sat at the coffee shop, but it was the town streets that attracted my attention. Few cars passed this way. Across the street, a gringo sat outside his shop, sipping a beer. Paintings and photographs hung on the outer walls, as well as dresses. It seems he sells a little bit of everything. This is typical. Merchants sell whatever they get their hands on.
Another gringo, a tall, slender man with long hair and a beard, walked up to the shopkeeper. He wore swimming trunks, a tee-shirt and flip flops. He held a dog in his arms. The two conversed in English. From what I could overhear, they had just met. They chatted. They chuckled. "Don't be a stranger." The shopkeeper yelled as the tall man walked away.
A few minutes later, a young woman walked by. She was moving faster than most. Her blonde hair was pulled into a loose bun. She was barefoot and eating the last of a sandwich. Her eye caught a young Mexican man. Her friend, perhaps? She called him over. They spoke in fluent Spanish. After a few minutes, they bid each other goodbye and left in different directions.
This is how it goes here. The pace is slow. People take time to stop and visit. There is no rushing about. It is a much different lifestyle than the one I led when I had a career in Los Angeles and was raising two children. Here, the children walk home from school. We see them at their parents' work. If old enough, they help. If too young, they sit outside and play on the sidewalk. There are no nannies. Just family. They might not be rich in pesos, but I'm thinking they are rich in other ways. Different lifestyles for different folks. I'm kind of liking this one; living in the slow lane.