Her base of operations has been a rooftop studio owned by Mugs and Bob who spend six months of the year in this home away from home - they are from Scotch Creek, BC. They had purchased a structure that served as a tiny shop and home adjacent to a lush lagoon, an abundant ecosystem filled with exotic birds, fish, and crocodiles.
After a substantial amount of work, they have an absolutely lovely home with a Zen-like walled garden in the back; living room, garage and kitchen on the first floor; bedrooms on the second; and an open air covered studio on the roof.
I think what is the the most interesting for me is how they are surrounded by simple dwellings and hard-working families, chickens running free and dirt streets. It provides an interesting dichotomy.
Dylan, Ben and I have been back in Fort McMurray for a full week, swept up in business and school concerns, household chores and regular life. In some ways, Melaque seems like a distant memory while in other ways, it is right here, hanging in the foreground providing a sense of calm.
From the moment we stepped off the plane in Manzanillo, a mere 30 minute cab ride from our destination, I was enamored with the place. The next 7 days only served to reinforce the fact that we were not in the Mayan Riviera any longer, this was a different Mexico with a decidedly more relaxed rhythm, less opulence, and more opportunity for experiencing something authentic.
We stayed on the third floor of Hotel Melaque Puesta del Sol (www.melaquepuestadelsol.com) in a two-bedroom unit with a kitchenette facing the beach.
And while we had one of the units with air-conditioning, we chose not to use it, opting instead for keeping the windows wide open and allowing ourselves to be swept to sleep by the crashing of the waves less than 100 metres away.
It is hard to describe in words what the "crashing of the waves" actually sounded like. A violent explosion erupting from silence might begin to capture the auditory sensation we experienced every few minutes. When the sun goes down and human activity fades away, the sounds of the waves and cicadas take over. The opposite effect happens at sunrise as the birds and the people of Melaque awake, the sound of the waves fades into the background.
While Heather spent her days on the other side of town doing her yoga, we fell into a satisfying routine of going for a swim in the morning, followed by lunch in the room, a nap, another swim in the afternoon, and some out-of-the-sun time before going out for dinner in the evening. At the bookends of the day, I would go for a stroll, exploring or running errands, while Ben and Dylan enjoyed some screen time back in the room.
When Heather got back each evening we picked a restaurant and enjoyed some wonderful local cuisine. I found the food far superior and more surprising than our previous two holidays in Mexico, not to mention more affordable.
Melaque is a small community of 12,000 souls that swells during the high season, filling with lots of Canadian snow birds and Mexican families from nearby Guadalajara. There are reasonable hotels (several similar to ours) but no sign of all-inclusive resorts. Credit cards stay in the wallet; in this community cash is king.
Apart from the vendors from the state of Guerrero who wander up and down the beach trying to sell their wares, there is a very laid back approach to selling in Melaque. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of stores selling everything from sandals and beach toys to souvenirs and jewelry, awnings stretched out over the sidewalks during the day forcing everyone to run the gauntlet to avoid the heat of the sun. The difference here, in comparison to a similar stroll in Playa del Carmen, is that you don't have to endure catcalls from the proprietors urging you to part with your money. In this place, no one bothers you until you ask. I loved it.
As I walked around I took pictures, capturing some of the flavours of Melaque. This fellow was eager to have me take his portrait. I was happy to oblige.
Here are a few of my favourites: