The bus we had caught in the middle of a dusty industrial zone in PV arrived in the middle of a dusty industrial zone in Manzanillo, nowhere near our hotel in the city.
Because of this we decided to book the next leg of our trip to Lázaro Cárdenas while we were still at the station. My online research had concluded that there were only two buses a day from Manzanillo to Lázaro, one of them arriving impossibly late, the other a 3 1/2 trip arriving at 9:58 in the evening.
But at the station we spotted another bus line, Grupo Herradura, that also went to Lázaro, leaving at 10 in the morning. That bus was an ‘ordinario’ and took 7 1/2 hours, not arriving until 5:30 in the evening. We immediately took ourselves back to the Estrella Blanca counter – who wants to spend 7 1/2 hours on a bus when there is a 3 1/2 hour option?
But at the Estrella Blanca counter the clerk told us that the departure time of 6:23 was correct but the arrival time of 9:58 was ‘malo’, ‘incorrecto’ – in reality it took 7 hours, and arrived at 1:30 in the morning. No way.So back we marched to the Grupo Herradura where we purchased a ticket for their ‘ordinario’ on December 5.
The Primera Select on the way to Manzanillo had been very ‘comodo’ with ham and cheese croissant sandwiches, drinks, large roomy seats, private TV screens and separate men’s and women’s washrooms. The ‘ordinario’ that we left Manzanillo on had no washrooms, no snacks and no extra legroom.But we did have Mexico’s Patron Saint, the Virgen de Guadalupe watching over us! And in some ways it was more fun. Our first stop was at Tecoman, a great little town, only an hour away from Manzanillo where we had a half hour to explore. There was a market attached to the station with eateries and lots of things to look at. Hairdressers having fun.¿Qué es?Herbal medications and wood chips.Aguas Frescas.It is worth mentioning that you had to pay for the ‘baños publicos’ in all the markets and bus stations. They cost about 5 or 6 pesos (in 2019); sometimes they had an attendant who would take your money and dispense toilet paper; at other times there was a coin-operated turnstile and a large roll of toilet paper by the entrance. These were all very clean; something worth paying for! After Tecoman the bus followed along the coast for hours. From one side of the bus we could see long empty stretches of golden sand beaches and every so often a small bungalow renting out a room or two. The other side of the bus looked over shacks, subsistence lives, dry riverbeds, lots of goats and gas stations that sold gas in plastic containers. This was a gossip stop where our driver had a bit of a chat with the driver of the bus going in the opposite direction.Around 3:00 we made several stops to pick up masses of school children in their uniforms. This bus also acted as a school bus. I don’t think there were any more buses along that route that day so the kids all had to run for it; missing the bus was not an option.
Stop by stop the kids exited the bus, the last uniformed girl getting out an hour later – a long way to go to school. Al observed that there was a lot more girls than boys at the high school level – the boys probably have to work by the time they’re 14.
Later in the day some small villages appeared. Many had a ‘panaderia’ with an adobe dome oven, chopped wood piled up beside it. The driver stopped at one of them and picked up some delicious-smelling buns for his breakfast the next day. Lázaro appeared in the setting sun, a grubby little town. For once the ‘central’ bus station was where Google said it was but we soon found out that the buses to Zihuatanejo left from a different station. The hotel we had booked was between the two stations so we went there first, disposed of our luggage after which we went to the other station where we were able to buy tickets to Zihuatanejo, a 2 1/2 hour ride.
Then we strolled the town, such as it was – lots of shops and OXXOs, several markets with Christmas lights a-go-go running to a demented sound track. Below is a shop that sold gorgeous gowns for girls on their 15th birthdays. A poster.A mural.One restaurant looked decent – El Tejado, a grass shack kind of place with what appeared to be Tiki gods at the entrance. We started off good, getting ‘cervezas bien frías’ and ‘vasos bien fríos’, and the beer was really cold which is much appreciated in a hot humid place.
After that everything was a bit of a struggle but in a fun way.
There was a young guy serving us – we deluged him with questions about the menu, “¿Qué tipo de pescado? ¿Qué es el stilo Tejado?” To each question he made a wild guess at the answer.
Eventually he dragged out a woman who told us the fish was ‘basa’, but Tejado-style she had no idea. At this point the young guy ventured a guess that the fish tacos en el stilo Tejado were actually camarones wrapped in tocino (shrimp wrapped in bacon).
The woman frowned at this, headed back to the kitchen to ask the chef, and came back with the information that the fish was cooked in onion, tomato and a ‘few other things’. We gave up – Al ordered the fish, I had the fish tacos – they were quite good.
Extracting the wifi password from our waiter was equally tricky what with mayúscula this and minúscula that (caps, lowercase). We seemed to have it down but still failed to connect at which point he remembered that he forgot a lowercase ‘w’ in the string of letters. After 10 minutes of trying to connect we were in, spent a few minutes updating and then signed out and went on our way.