Last Saturday, February 5, I threw a bunch of stuff in the back of my truck, picked up my friend Jonnie and her stuff, and headed west. Like Balboa, we were seeking the Pacific Ocean, and like him, we found it. But it only took Jonnie and I about five hours to catch the first sight of it.
There are three reasonably direct ways to get from Jocotepec, Jalisco, where I live, to Manzanillo, Colima, where we were headed. There’s the northern scenic route which runs through the towns of Tecolotlan, Union de Tula, and Autlan de Navarro. [The names just flow off your tongue, don't they?] And then there are two southern routes through Colima city, which pretty much run parallel to one another. The difference being that one is a free road and the other is a toll road, or cuota as it is called here.
Because Jonnie had never driven to the coast on the northern route, we ignored the advice of everyone to take the “safer” route and that’s the way we chose to go. Not only is it more scenic, as I mentioned, but it’s more fun to drive, assuming you find driving through the mountains on a twisty two lane highway with almost no shoulder fun. Which I do.
Getting to Manzanillo from here via Highway 80 takes six or seven hours, depending on how long you get delayed by road construction and how many slow moving trucks you get caught behind in the mountains. It took us about six and a half hours from my house to the condo our friends Kathi and Warner have rented just north of Manzanillo.
That included the normal pit stops, as well as a picnic lunch in some little pueblo along the way. Roadside parks, such as those you find north of the border, are pretty much unknown in Mexico … at least in the eight Mexican states I’ve been in. So when I glimpsed a public park with a few picnic tables about three hours into our journey, I immediately pulled in.
Apparently it is an infrequent occurrence in the pueblo to see two blond gringas sitting in the park eating turkey sandwiches on white bread while sipping on cups of Coke and munching on potato chips. I say this because of the relatively large number of local folks who walked past or drove their pickups and tractors by us in an otherwise deserted park.
Refreshed from our repast, we set out for the climb up the Sierra Madre Occidental, the mountain range that extends from the Mexican state of Sonora down through Jalisco. Here are a couple of shots of what it looks like:
Oh, and don’t let that sturdy guardrail in the second picture fool you. That’s probably one of maybe only three on the entire road.
But once you come out of the Sierra Madre, you drop with alacrity into the fairly narrow coastal zone, the Costalegre, full of coconut palms and banana trees. Even in early February, you can feel the temperatures and humidity rising rapidly. So I threw in a Jan & Dean CD, we rolled down the windows, and Jonnie and I sang surfing songs as we hit Highway 200, the coastal road, and turned south toward Manzanillo and our friends.
More about the trip soon! Here’s a teaser….the view from Kathi and Warner’s patio: