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March 15, 2012
Day 27: Manzanillo, Mexico

The small town of Manzanillo rarely gets cruise ships, so they really rolled out a “welcome mat” for us!

When we booked our 30-day South America cruise a year ago, the original itinerary included a day in Acapulco, Mexico. In the ensuing months, however, the situation in several Mexican tourist cities has deteriorated due to the ongoing drug wars. Princess finally made the decision to cancel Acapulco for safety reasons and replace it with another town, Manzanillo.

So instead of having “at sea” days alternating with port days, we have had another instance of two “at sea” days followed by two port days.

On the other hand, our time in Manzanillo is very short. We would arrive at 7:00 am and depart by 12:30 pm. Our suspicion is that it’s really a fuel stop. There’s not much to do in Manzanillo.

Princess Patter: Manzanillo is not only Mexico’s busiest cargo port, but a fantastic place to spend a relaxing day. The self-proclaimed sailfish capital of the world, Manzanillo has a long, revered story that is bound up with the peaceful evolution of the local inhabitants. Long before the Spanish conquest, the indigenous people enjoyed a good life along these pristine beaches, fishing, farming, and creating artifacts of great beauty.

Given the short time here, Gail had not planned an excursion. Instead, we would simply go ashore and walk around to see what was there.

Our ship was able to dock at Manzillo’s port, so we could walk right off the ship

Just before we left ship, however, we were given a mission. Two of our friends, Connie and Derrick (who had renewed their wedding vows the other day aboard ship) had the cold that’s been going around. We volunteered to go to a Farmacia in Manzanillo to get some medicine for them. While the Farmacia was in the opposite direction of downtown, the trip there turned out to be fortuitous.

First, we discovered that the park across the street from the Farmacia offered free public wi-fi. Russell set up his PC and fought against the glare of the harsh sunlight. He only got partway through his email before we lost the connection, but was able to update our website successfully.

Russell used wi-fi at a public park. While it was free, there was a horrible glare from the sun.

The second fortuitous event happened as Gail walked around taking pictures while Russell was online. She started chatting with a local who wanted to practice his English.

Some of the pictures Gail took while walking around

We wrote before about a lost opportunity in Manta, Ecuador. A local girl who wanted to practice her English offered to drive us around town, but we never took her up on it. As it turns out, we were given a second chance here in Manzanillo.

Francisco Javir Martinez Garcia is a native of Guanajuato, Mexico (famous for its mummies). He works as a short-haul and long-haul trucker, and learned English from his travels to the U.S. and Canada. He is in Manzanillo between jobs, and he offered to walk us around town.

Some Manzanillo street scenes

We had been told that we would see a strong military and police presence in Manzanillo, given the arrival of our cruise ship. It started right on the pier!

Throughout the day, we saw police keeping us safe

The day turned into a fascinating cultural experience. Francisco walked us to a large indoor produce market, where the locals come every day to buy their groceries. As we walked down the streets, he chatted up the locals and exposed us to the wares of the street food vendors. He even found out where we could buy a spinning key chain for Manzanillo. (We have been collecting them for our son, Cameron.)

Manzanillo’s massive indoor produce market

Franciso introduced us to a guava-like fruit that we had never heard of before. We ate it seeds and all, and it was delicious!

At the indoor market, we also had fresh juice made from celery and oranges

One street vendor had frozen vanilla ice cream pops that he stored in metal tubes in an ice chest

Another vendor offered fresh juice (mixed with peanuts) squeezed from the flowers of the coconut palm tree. It had no sugar added, but it was sweet and refreshing!

It was after noon when we finally walked back to the pier. We exchanged contact info with Francisco and told him to look us up when he’s in California. Who knows, some day we may hear from him again!

We add Francisco to the long list of friendly and amazing people we have met on our travels


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