I can’t leave this part of Mexico without commenting on Manzanillo. If you’ve been exposed to North American culture, and are over the age of 35…then with or without realizing it, you know about Manzanillo. Especially if you saw Dudley Moore and Bo Derek in “10”. I can’t think of a man my age who can’t bring to mind the image of Bo Derek walking out of the Mexican surf on a Manzanillo beach sporting her tiny braids. Or rather sporting THAT bikini…in that form of human being.
It wasn’t until this trip to Mexico that I realized that this is where the fashion of beach braids came from. Thanks to the popularity of that movie, a new generation of North American girls only want to come to Mexico and have their hair braided. Like my thirteen year old daughter. She has no idea of where this came from and that it began with that movie with that brand of hollywood actress.
Manzanillo is a half hour’s drive from our house. We have come to have a favourite restaurant and a favourite waiter there. I guess you could say our hangout is at the “tacky” end of the beach. It’s not fashionable or pretty. It’s a series of a dozen tables in the sand with colourful beach umbrellas to give shade and comfort to us pale Canadians.
It’s perched on a long, flat beach with pounding surf that my youngest child adores. He takes his styrofoam boogie board into the surf and his father teaches him how to anticipate and ride the white foamy waves. And when he hits it right, they carry him to the edge of our tables with a grin on his face. He loves this so much we have given him a new nickname of “wave rider”. His best days here consist of breakfast at a restaurant where he orders French toast and gobbles down an adult sized portion of that. Then we head to a beach with surf that isn’t too aggressive and he’ll spend every minute he can in the shallow waves with his boogie board or without, being pushed up and down and back and forth in front of me. He emerges whenever drinks or food show up at our table. But only then.
His mother isn’t really a “beach person” so I watch him with my legs in the sun and my body in the shade, sipping my cool drink and either knitting socks while keeping my eye on him, or reading one of the best books I’ve got my hands on lately (“Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese) if he’s with another family member. My daughter patiently sits while tiny braids crowned with blue and turquoise beads begin to cover her head. Although other styles are available, she doesn’t realize the one she’s chosen is Bo Derek’s. I don’t enlighten her.
The sand trodding merchants plod past our table with their wares on their shoulders and I do my best to support them. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the “rich white person” box I get stuck in just by looking at me.
In fact, I’m aware of what a cliché we are. Part of the southward migration of North Americans this time of year, a mother of two with a husband. But I hope I ‘ve spent enough time appreciating that I am indeed one of the very lucky ones to be such a cliché and soon heading back to our green and verdant, but still very moist habitat.