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La Manzanilla Memo - March 18, 2017

Best Little Coffee Café

Tucked into a little corner shop of the Grand Caymen Hotel, located on Lazaro Cardenas, the main street coming into La Manzanilla, Café du Calcetin brews up the best cup of joe you can get on the Costa Allegra.  

Using only freshly roasted beans, a specialty mix designed specifically for them by No Bull Sh*t Coffee, La Manzanilla’s fair trade, organic artisan roasting company, each cup is individually brewed and filtered through a muslin bag.  Originally from Chihuahua, owner Roberto Maldonado Espejo traversed the globe for 33 years as a photo-journalist, covering the good, the bad, and the ugly.  However, he knew he needed to change the direction of his life, so he obtained a position at the University of Monterrey, teaching photography.  There he met Laura, a beautiful young lady enrolled in fine arts study, and yes, his life was forever changed.  The two married and were raising three sons in the northern Mexican metropolis.  Sadly, however, violence in the city increased immensely.  He says the Monterrey’s once busy centro became a ghost town where people feared to go out at night, shops and restaurants closed, the parks sat empty.   Their children’s only entertainment became the television and their one weekly outing was to the Sunday crafts market, where friends could still meet and enjoy comradery in relative safety.  It was at this market that the couple sold their first cup of coffee.  It was also here they made the decision to leave Monterrey, to leave family and friends behind and find a more passive place to live.  After reading about La Manzanilla in a magazine, they took a leap of faith and now happily call the town their home.  

Espejo is as passionate about his coffee as any wine connoisseur.  He tells me that coffee was sacred to the indigenous peoples of the land, and should be so again.  It should be savored and appreciated, not gulped frantically on your way out the door.  Sitting with him at his café, I lift the aromatic brew to my lips and totally agree.

Art Walk Update

In the last edition of the Memo there was notice that La Manzanilla’s popular Art Walk was ending.  I am very happy to report that thanks to the efforts and determination of many persons, the spirit of this event will endure. Every now and then a metamorphose is needed for the attractiveness to continue.  It will now be known as Fiesta de Arte, a multi-day, multi-media experience.   Centered in the Jardin, it will include music, dancing, and art exhibits.  The doors to many of the artists’ studios will be open to the public for viewing art displays as well.   It will be held, as always, on the last Sunday in January, so if you can, mark your calendars for January 28, 2018. 

Galeria La Manzanilla 

Aby Ramos, proprietor of the Galeria, will be closing for the season the second week of April.  She also reported that she must find a new location over the summer, as the owner of the property is planning to sell the building. Negotiations to remain have fallen through.  Though saddened by the news, Ramos will definitely open her business again in November.  She has some ideas on locations and plans to do a refurbishment.   There is no doubt that this indomitable young businesswoman can achieve any goal she sets out to accomplish.

The Evolution Continues

Each year we are witness to progress and expansion in the pueblo, and this winter it seems to have doubled.  Wherever you look in town crews of laborers are working from morning to night on new edifices, rebuilding the dirt roads with interlocking brick, adding new sidewalks with handicap access on all corners, as well as doing a much needed upgrade to our town’s sewer system.  It always amazes me that 90 percent of this work is still done by hand.  There is always music playing, and usually singing as the men pass five gallon pails of cement down the line.  Workers do their jobs without the benefit of hard hats, steel-toed boots, or safety goggles, yet there are relatively few accidents.   The only grumbling comes from a few expats complaining that our pueblo is growing too quickly and we’ll soon be just another Vallarta or Cancun.   While change is sometimes a bit painful, progress is not only inevitable, but necessary to the citizens of the pueblo, for with it comes jobs, and the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives, but most importantly their children’s lives.

New Condos 

In the summer of 2015, work began on two new beach front rental properties, right next door to Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant.   Each of these three- story buildings contain six two-bedroom units.  Work has progressed slowly, but steadily.   As with most of the construction here in town, the majority of the work has been done manually, with the only exception being the use of an “old-school” cement mixer.   The entire work force, from engineers to shovel crews, and interior designers to painters are local personal.  The project has created many long-term employment opportunities for the townsfolk.  Completion of the units is anticipated for the end of April.

Upcoming Events

Though the season is beginning to wind down, there are still things to enjoy. 

Music at Palapa Joe’s – Wednesday evening performances by Scottie Turner. Friday evening will host the last of the season “blues” performance by the Lounge Lizards.

4th Annual Fun Run, sponsored by Activos Gym, Sunday, March 26, starting at 8 a.m. in the Jardin.

Mangrove and Birding Tours available through Costalegre Eco Adventure Tours.

Tennis courts are open at Quinta Valentine’s Restaurant.

Bocce Ball on the Beach, Tuesday mornings at Quinta Valentine’s Restaurant.

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