Follow the Breadcrumbs

“Follow the Breadcrumbs,” picks up on the theme that Melanie wrote about in a blog in November 2018 entitled, “Finding My True Purpose in Life in Colima, Mexico.” Please check it and other blogs on the website.

“Follow the Breadcrumbs” is the first in a series of short blogs describing our, and others’ paths as volunteers, vacationers, and businesspersons in Colima.

Each is written in the first person. The breadcrumbs are, (dreams, respect, commitment, hard work, resourcefulness, flexibility, appreciation,) and much more. They prove essential when we deviate from the path!!

Great ideas from Good hearts!

In June 2005, Melanie is serving as Chair of the Calgary Local Council of Women. She meets Leonor, the Executive Director of Junta de Asistencia Privada from the State of Colima, Mexico. Their organizations are similar in supporting women and children.

Leonor proposes an idea to Melanie for a shared project between their respective organizations. If it weren’t for this successful project, our only presence in Mexico today might very well be in the buffet line at an all-inclusive.

Melanie and Leonor on the Columbia Ice Fields during her 2007 visit to Alberta

Attracting Allies to Her Plan

Following the Art Sale, Melanie travels to Colima to present a cheque to the Chair of Leonor’s organization. His name is Luis and a very respected member of the business community in Colima. She also meets the Governor of the State and several other government officials.

Months later Melanie and I arrive in Colima for my first visit to this gorgeous place! For weeks she’s shared positive impressions of the people, scenery, climate, food, and her sense of purpose.

We land at the international airport in Manzanillo, leaving the aircraft onto the tarmac, and feel this glorious warmth. With our documents complete, we get through Customs, grab our suitcases, and are in a taxi in 20 minutes.

We have a room reserved at a hotel called The Dolphin Cove. The drive to the hotel is up a significant hill over a cobblestone road, with little to see. That’s until we take the final right turn and the beauty is revealed!!

First sight of Manzanillo Bay from above The Dolphin Cove

Positive Impressions

We settle in very quickly and get out to the pool area for a cold drink. While we’re there, a message is delivered to Melanie inviting us to breakfast and a guided tour around the entire state tomorrow morning.

The art sale has obviously left a very positive impression of Calgary with persons of influence here in Colima. Melanie’s role in the project’s success has earned this attention, and I’m literally just along for the ride!

Touring Colima in a Day

Hugo, Secretary of Finance for the State is our gracious host for a day-tour of Colima. He speaks Spanish exclusively although does understand English. We’re pleased to meet Jose, the Director of the State Housing, who speaks fluent English and will translate. Hugo will present the images and Jose, the understanding of what our eyes enjoy!

It’s explained that Colima is the 4th smallest state in the country and that makes the tour in a day, possible. We learn the State has the smallest population, but one of Mexico’s highest standards of living. It also boasts the lowest unemployment and an excelling middle class. Hugo’s immense pride through Jose’s words is eminently clear to both of us!!

Mexico’s largest ocean port, Manzanillo

We begin by seeing the sights of Manzanillo, Colima’s tourist hub and the largest shipping port in Mexico. Then it’s on to the quaint town of Cuyutlan, with its pristine streets and stores and famed turtle reserve, “Tortugario.” Next, we drive ten minutes down a road without a slight curve, bordered on the right side entirely with bougainvilleas. The trip to the village of El Paraiso, with windows open, royally treats our senses of sight and smell. There we visit a ramada, the first of many ocean-side, rustic outdoor restaurants we’re sure to enjoy!

El Paraiso right this way!

Second Leg of the Tour

After a sweeping left turn on this incredible highway, it’s 45 minutes inland to the capital city of Colima. We drive past thousands of acres of crops of every description, one of the state’s major industries.

Fruit trees appear everywhere on this part of the tour. We’re told that the production of limes, coconuts, mangos, and bananas, accounts for ninety percent of State agricultural production. Colima is the leading producer of limes in Mexico. Please join us and put one in your next Cerveza, won’t you?

Miles of lime groves with the Volcan de Colima in the distance, which marks the northern border of the State.

We expect that the Colimas, City, and State, would constantly be confused in conversation. However, there seems to be a nuance among locals when they say the word Colima that clearly indicates which one they’re speaking about. At this point, it’s a mystery to us.

Colima – Mr. Clean retired here!

Just minutes of driving in the city of Colima, we’re astonished at how clean the city appears. With colorful corner gardens, beautifully maintained cathedrals, and bustling streets full of stores and shoppers, the cleanliness really stands out. Here begins our education of the customs and practices of the people of this incredible State.

Colima Centro’s main garden in front of the iconic Ceballos Hotel

Located here in the early 1500s, the capital is the State’s economic, political and cultural center. As we drive throughout we’re struck by the similarity of the streets and discuss the challenges of driving here with Jose. He admits it’s not an easy task for folks new to the city. Our driver seems to have no problem at all, but how would we know?

Comala – Artists’ Gathering Place

Up close to the volcanos, Comala is an artists’ dream location. It is proudly home to the Museum of famed Mexican artist and designer Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo, (1923-2000). He’s famous for his series of UNICEF Christmas cards in the 1960s, furniture designs, and traditional handicrafts. Following his death, all his works were donated to the University of Colima.

While artists love and flock to Comala, we’re told it is an ‘in and out’ town for tourists. There are no places to rent even if you wish to stay. No hotels, no B&Bs, no camping! Enjoy shopping, eating, listen to mariachis, watch painters, sculptors, weavers, glass blowers at their craft or do it yourself. But then it’s back on the road again for you! I want to know where all these artists are staying!

Being only fifteen minutes from Colima (yes the city) it’s an easy place to get to often. On this occasion, we watch and listen exclusively, but we are in agreement that we’ll be back to Comala many times in the future.

We will Sleep Soundly tonight

‘Whirlwind’ might seem an appropriate term to describe a one-day tour of any State, but it doesn’t apply here at all. It’s relaxed, informative, interesting, eye-opening, and truly enjoyable.

Near day’s end, we drive towards the Pacific, past the city of Tecoman to the famed surfing community of Pasquales. At this iconic restaurant above, we enjoy an incredible meal.

It features ceviche, snapper, mahi-mahi, shrimps prepared many ways, savory rice, and fresh fruit. We already just love the people, scenery, and climate of Colima and this food is the crowning touch!

Delights at Las Hamacas Del Mayor – Pasquales

Note to Our Readers

It’s obviously been a very difficult time for people around the world during this pandemic. Seven decades+ in and I for one never thought something like this could or would take place in my lifetime. But it has!

We sincerely hope that you and your loved ones, friends, and colleagues are safe, healthy, and increasingly so, with the administration of the vaccine. Great health and happiness to each of you!

Thank you for reading and for sharing with those in your world!!

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