So, in my last post you read about the “adventure driving” trip to the coast from Jocotepec, and I left you with a view from the patio at the condo where my friends Kathi and Warner are staying for a few weeks. And what a view it was. Pacific Ocean right outside. Next large inhabited place: Hawaii! Turns out that Manzanillo and the southern part of the Big Island are on about the same latitude.
While there are Mexican Pacific Coast tourist resort areas that you’ve no doubt heard about [Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and perhaps Mazatlan], it’s less likely that you know much about, or have even heard of, Manzanillo. That’s because Manzanillo is not primarily a tourist destination city; it’s a working port. The busiest one on Mexico’s Pacific Coast based on the amount of goods and containers handled, and perhaps the busiest in the whole of Mexico.
A few years ago, Manzanillo envisioned itself as competing with the likes of Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta for all those tourist dollars that travel about on cruise ships. The municipality splashed out millions of pesos for a specialized dock to handle these behemoth people carriers, only to find itself faced with a public relations nightmare: the increasing narcotraficante violence.
While a few cruise ships still come to Manzanillo, these days the specialized dock sits woefully empty and the lone adornment is this statue dedicated not to the tourist, but to the hard working stevedore:
But at least they had one big ship there on the day we visited the port. We all figure that it was a tanker of some sort; the type that carries gas or oil. Aside from the size [and, yes, I wanted to type that and say it in my head], it was riding awfully high in the water and had a pipe of some sort strung along next to it. That’s the yellow “dots” that you see just above the waterline.
So, while the tourist/cruise ship trade may have faltered, the container/cargo ship trade seems to be flourishing. It’s not so obvious at this part of the port, but down in another section of the port we saw car carriers, large container ships, giant sized fishing boats … albeit still being partially unloaded by hand, and other vessels being unloaded at the Pemex [Petroleum Mexico] docks. I wish I had some photos for you, but the Mexican Navy, which has a very large presence in Manzanillo, justifiably discourages snapping pictures.
To emphasize the fact that this is still a busy port, day and night the dredger that goes out to ensure that the large ships can enter the harbor was hard at work:
And if you’re wondering why I went to the port city of Manzanillo to take a vacation, it can perhaps best be explained by this picture. Aside from the great weather and the great ocean and the great sailfish, often you just feel as if you’re in a picturesque fishing village, the kind you’ve seen in movies: