Colima and beyond

coffee
The coffee shop

WE DON’T travel much. If you live in Paris, what’s the point in going to Topeka?

And we do live in Paris, so to speak.

But we did head to Colima this week. I’d never been there.  It’s almost due west, down the mountain and near the Pacific coast. Colima is famous because there’s an active volcano nearby. We never saw the volcano because of cloud cover.

We broke the drive to Colima into two parts. We went most of the way, and spent the night in Mazamitla, a great mountain town with the tone of Twin Peaks. It was almost four hours to Mazamitla if you don’t count the time lost due to wrong turns because Mexico is lame on highway signs.

We slept in a small cabin provided by Best Western.

Two hours farther down the road took us to Colima the city, which is the capital of Colima the state, where we checked in for three nights at the Wyndham Garden Hotel.

That was the intended destination of the short vacation. However, my child bride began to whine and stomp her feet. I wanna go to Manzanillo! I wanna go to Manzanillo! That’s a beach city an hour even farther down the highway.

So the next morning we drove to Manzanillo, first getting lost in ugly port construction but finally finding our way to a better part of town where we spent a few hours under an umbrella on a beach named La Audiencia.

We returned to Colima in the afternoon where we swam in the pool and enjoyed the hotel’s steam room. The Wyndham Garden is a very nice hotel for a good price.

We breakfasted every morning at La Buena Vida, a superlative place that is wildly popular. If you find yourself overnight in Colima, have breakfast at La Buena Vida. It’s only open for breakfast and brunch, closing at 1 p.m.

On the second full day, we headed just north of Colima to the touristy town of Comala, a nice place but nothing to write home about. We decided to follow the advice of Clete, an occasional commenter here, and drove toward the volcano on winding back roads up toward Yerbabuena.

That was where we encountered the coffee shop in the photo, just three kilometers shy of Yerbabuena. We were the only customers for miles around, and we were served great coffee by the owner who also had grown the beans.

Those are beans drying on the white area of the photo, but they aren’t coffee beans. They are cacao. Mexicans have been in love with chocolate since before the Spaniards came calling.

We still couldn’t see the volcano even though we were close. The volcano exploded just last year, leaving ashes, the coffee shop owner told us, a foot thick on the ground.

Thinking of Pompeii, we decided to run, so we never quite made it to Yerbabuena. We had lunch on the square of Comala, returned to our hotel in Colima, swam in the pool, sat in the steam room and later ate supper at La Valentina restaurant-bar, another great spot that we happened upon by sheer luck.

The following morning we packed. We had intended to spend another night in the Mexican Twin Peaks of Mazamitla, but once we got on the road, we just kept going.

Now we’re back in Paris.

31 thoughts on “Colima and beyond”

  1. You don’t have to go anywhere to be living La Buena Vida but a little adventure can be fun.

    If I ever go to Colima, I plan on taking the midnight bus from Uruapan to Manzanillo.

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    1. Andrés: Precisely. Traveling away from Paris is of moderate appeal, at least to me. More to my wife who’s a traveling fool. My resistance to gadding about Mexico is due in great part to the fact that, in my opinion, the colonial cities don’t really differ that much. You see one, you’ve seen them all. Others will disagree. This dawned on me a couple of years ago while I was sitting in the main plaza of Mérida. Hmmm, this certainly looks familiar except it’s lots hotter.

      Manzanillo is a pretty good beach destination. Others are better. Zihuatanejo, for instance, but we’ve been there so often it’s grown a tad stale. And Zihua is far closer to you.

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    2. PS: I would like to visit Colombia. Maybe one day. Interjet, my new favorite airline — and Mexican to boot! — flies there, and it’s reasonably priced. We flew Interjet to Havana in 2012, and really liked it. The airline, that is. Cuba not so much.

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  2. I would have joined your child bride in a tantrum about wanting to go to Manzanillo.
    One of the best parts of travel is finding restaurants and coffee shops by chance that are great.
    Sounds worthwhile to leave that place you love so much for a few days to come come back and love it even more.

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    1. Angeline: So you would have been a foot-stomper too? Yes, we found La Valentina by chance and ate there the three evenings. La Buena Vida I knew about before going, due to Trip Adviser.

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  3. So glad you found La Buena Vida! The owners are old friends and have worked so very hard to start the restaurant and panaderia down the street!

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    1. Hi, Rebecca: We didn’t notice a panadería down the street, but no matter. Really liked the restaurant, however. Thanks for weighing in, and feel free to do so in the future.

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  4. That looks like a great trip, Felipe! I am jealous! When I (very rarely) travel on business I stay at the Wyndham Garden Hotels. My company has some agreement with them; I’m sure because all the employees stay there when possible. They are always nice and very clean with great amenities. You have the life, Felipe!

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    1. Mike: Coincidentally, I saw a news story this morning that Wyndham hotels are in the process of a great expansion in Mexico. The one we stayed in was the first I have seen here, but apparently there are quite a few, and lots more are coming. Great!

      As for having the life, well, I think I do. And I like it. Come on down!

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  5. So you were that close to la Yerbabuena and chickened out? Oh well. Your loss. It was too bad the clouds obstructed the view. We will be in Colima next Monday. Time permitting we’ll drive up to Suchitlan for lunch. They do a nice rabbit adobado there.

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    1. Clete: The last seven kilometers to Yerbabuena are cobblestone. I put up with four kilometers till we got to that coffee shop. After a brief rest, the thought of continuing three kilometers more with our teeth clacking over cobblestone at 5 mph was more than I was willing to put up with. So, yes, we headed back to Comala. We did enjoy the drive up there, however, so thanks for the recommendation. It was a good one.

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      1. As I mentioned previously, too bad it was cloudy. Took this in January.

        [IMG]http://i64.tinypic.com/23vlwra.jpg[/IMG]

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        1. Clete: The link did not work. It’s kind of hard to put photos on comments here. Videos are easy, but photos can be a bear. I do it by first putting a photo in Dropbox, and that provides a link the shows up here as a photo. Most of that stuff is beyond my pay grade.

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  6. Paris, eh? That was the funniest part of the post, since I’ve seen your town up close and personal. And never once did I think, “Man, this sure seems like Paris. Did I make a wrong turn somewhere?”

    Saludos desde el París de México,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where you actually can get croissants and good coffee.

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    1. Kim: We do consider our town to be the Paris of middle Mexico. Croissants and good coffee are readily available here at the Hacienda.

      Mexico City is for people who lack the good sense to live in other, better parts of our country. Everybody knows that. Well, except for Chilangos who are known for not knowing much of anything worthwhile. This is a sad fact.

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      1. Haha!!! Paris isn’t famous for homemade croissants and coffee. As for good sense and Chilangos, how many bookstores are there in your Paris-like burg? Here there are tons of them. And in Paris too.

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          1. LOL…OK. I think I’m spent anyway. You, of course, are free to spout your own sass in my comment section in retaliation or whatever. Today’s post leaves me pretty vulnerable.

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  7. On a whim about 20 years ago the wife wanted to go to Manzanillo or actually Costa Careyes. All I can remember are all the bridges on the way and upon arrival, the intense heat sans any possible breeze.

    It was then that I thanked my lucky stars that we were in the mountains. You could have gone a few more miles and dropped into the Cotton resort, but knowing your love of hot, humid, horrendous heat I understand why you came back.

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    1. Tancho: I had never heard of Costa Careyes, so I looked it up. Don’t know what it was like 20 years ago, but now it looks like a place where you’d likely run into Brad Pitt or Donald Trump if he weren’t campaigning.

      Regarding the heat down thataway, it really was not bad at all, which surprised me. With the exception of the first day when we went to downtown Colima at midday (it was sweltering), it was quite nice, especially in the mornings and evenings.

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      1. Yes, the coast gets a somewhat undeserved reputation as being always hot and humid. It really depends on the time of year. The winter months are actually very pleasant for the most part.

        Careyes is being converted into condos since suffering major damage from Hurricane Jova in 2011. The hotel hadn’t been doing much business regardless.

        We did some restoration work this past winter in El Tamarindo (Hurricane Patricia damage) which is nearby Careyes. There were times it was downright cool. The work was done on the original developer’s home, La Grinta, and there were no air-conditioning units in the main bedroom. Of course it sits high above the ocean on a cliff with cross ventilation that captures the slightest ocean breezes. Spectacular views. Too bad pictures can’t be uploaded to the comments section.

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        1. Clete: Sure, the coastal weather can improve, usually in winter, but this is June. I was surprised at the mildness in the morning and evening. No matter. I still could not live anywhere near the coast. I’ve been in Zihuatanejo many times from April to October. Midday is like Hell on earth.

          As for adding photos to the comments, it can be done. I use Dropbox, but I imagine there are other routes. Strangely, videos are a piece of cake. Just add the URL on a separate line, and there it is.

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  8. Que viaje excelente! We might duplicate it (sans Manzanillo) once I am independently mobile again. We have been thinking of a week in Paris as well…however at this point in my life I can’t get too excited about spending 9 hours in a metal tube hurtling across the Atlantic at 600 mph…so maybe we’ll just head down your way instead for croissants and a cafecito and save a few pesos!

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    1. Charles: You are not mobile? What’s up with that?

      I too would love to return to Europe. Haven’t been there since 1978. But, exactly like you (probably more so due to having unusually long legs), the idea of sitting in a cramped plane for hours on end is pretty much a deal-breaker. I may be able to do it as far as Colombia one day, but Europe? Nah. Unless I buy one of those executive seats, which cost a small additional fortune, and that’s not likely to happen.

      Sure, come this way for a cafecito. My treat on the plaza.

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      1. I broke my right leg in February in PV…compound fracture of my tibia…walking to dinner and twisted my ankle and it just snapped…I now have a bionic leg with a titanium plate and 9 screws! Started in a wheelchair…then to crutches…and am now using a cane for support when I walk…should be able to be without assistance in a couple of weeks. It’s been quite a journey…as the orthopedist told me, “your body has a lot of mileage on it so it make take a while.” I was in Europe last in 1970…would love to go back at some point…have some friends who are in Colombia right now…they are really enjoying it. I will take you up on the cafecito one of these days…in fact if I wait until after November you will owe me three…just sayin’…

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        1. Charles: Your body has lots of mileage on it. Ha. Mine too.

          As for the election results, we’ll see. I think Trump will probably win, but I wouldn’t put any serious cash on it. I certainly hope he does. Or rather, I certainly hope Hillary loses. That’s closer to what I pray for.

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  9. I wish I could have lured you up Highway 200 to Barra de Navidad. But that would have been another hour drive each way. Our weather has been rather pleasant these past few weeks. We may even get some rain soon.

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