November 13, 2006.
The ETN bus from Barra de Navidad to Colima was super luxurious with reclining seats and foot rests!
The route ran through tropical vegetation – a pretty vine with purple flowers strangling EVERYTHING, “even the cows,” as Al noted.
From the bus station we carried on into the old town where we booked into Hotel La Merced. I thought our hotel was charming with our room in the garden at the back.
Al suspected the room was part of the old horse stables and was not impressed, complaining it was “too closed in; there aren’t any windows; the door is something that only a horse could appreciate”.On our way into the town centre we met Waldemer, a retired vet who kept interested in life by pouncing on tourists and escorting them (very slowly) around the sights.
He told he had been in Canada (looking at cows); also Italy (cows again). After an excruciatingly slow tour of town we abandoned Waldemar and went looking for something to eat.
Because Colima was an university town the primary dinner choices were pizza, popcorn and ice cream.
Dinner (the worst on the trip so far) was at place advertising cerveza helado (icy beer). Even so, the dinner wasn’t bad, just nothing special, and the beer was perfect!
The next day we explored the market first. They had sold cups of chayote on the bus – I had thought it was sweet potato but it turns out that they are a type of squash. Our second stop of the day was the museo where they had lots of perros bailarinos (dancing dogs). The dancing dogs below are copies of the ceramics found in the archeological excavations near Colima — apparently all over the place as earlier Waldemar had hinted that he had several he’d found and could take us on an unofficial archeological excavation!
Pots in dog shapes were used in funeral ceremonies. The body was lowered into an eight foot deep hole carved out of solid volcanic rock. The dog pot was placed in the grave, for the dogs guided one through the Valley of Death; the pots were hollow to hold your soul.
Speaking of Waldemar and guiding dogs, it appeared to be ‘adopt-a-gringo’ week in Colima for as we left the museum, ‘our’ dog trotted alongside us leading us all the way to the art museum.
At the art museum we entered a frosty room and the guard pulled us back out, making us deposit our bags on a shelf next to the door.
Then it was his turn to adopt us, wandering with us all the way through the museum, peppering us with questions “which museum had we just seen? Which one were we going to next? There is another museum across from the zoo…”
Meanwhile our bags, with our cameras and everything else we really needed in them, were left right by the door, unguarded.
After this we headed off to the zoo (with ‘our’ dog escorting us) to see the museum there, and who should we run into but Waldemar.
He was in the park because his wife had kicked him out of the house, and told him to go to the Tercera Edad Club (Third Age Club).
At the Third Age Club everyone was learning how to drum, being taught by a rather sinister-looking drummer.
But Waldemar wanted to show us the zoo – not only was he the primary vet in town but he also looked after the animals in the zoo.
Before we went to look at his ‘animal customers’ we had to see his scars – the lions are apparently not the most appreciative patients in the world.
He took us to meet Kimba and the ‘Son of Kimba’, who he had delivered 15 years ago along with two other cubs.
We met the caretaker and Waldemer asked him something in Spanish. It was really hot out and my translating skills were not at their best, either it was to “let us feed the lions” or to “feed us to the lions”. Not sure which and the caretaker declined so I never did find out.
From there it was onto Comala…