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I Remember When!!

Posted by mexicodan on March 13, 2010, 6:57 pm

I first heard of La Manzanilla in 1982 in Seattle from my brother David about a little fishing village he had spent time in back in the 70's on this idyllic palm tree lined bay with the mesmerizing and romantic name of Tenacatita. I worked in Alaska and Seattle the following 3 years prior to starting a wilderness sea kayaking company. My brother and I took a bus down to La Manzanilla in '85 to check out the village and the beach to the north for a basecamp for sea kayaking trips on the bay.At that time there was only one phone in town at the Hotel La Manzanilla on the old main road into town. That's when I first met Steven Rutherford who showed us the village and assisted me in getting setup the following winter ('86) for an experimental kayak tour for clients flying into Puerto Vallarta (no flights into Manzanillo) from the Northwest back then. That winter we set up where Valentino's is now on property owned by Simone, a local oldtimer and very colorful individual. The bay was ideal and the sea kayaking to Tamarindo and Tenacatita was superb. The night paddling and effervescence in the water was a unique experience and the thunder of the waves at night made it hard to sleep. We asked Steven if anyone ever went into the lagoon and he said not to his knowledge. Me and my business partner Scott hacked our way through the mangrove to cut a channel from the front pool to the back pool of the lagoon. The area was overflowing with snowy egrets, ibises, boobies, and 100's of nesting cormorants. The lagoon was magical and treat to paddle. Back then we saw crocks but there numbers were much lower due to open poaching in the 80's. Steven would stop by and make sure everything was going well. One night we had a freak chubasco (60 mile per hour winds) came straight into the bay that blew over our kitchen palapa and roughed us up in our tents. Steven came by and invited all of our clients to spend the night as his place until the storm blew over. He helped buy fish at the coop and offered his assitance when ever Scott needed help with his Spanish. The following year ('87) we moved further up the beach for more privacy and a better put in location for the kayaks. Simone came and built a new palapa for us and we set up our kitchen right on the beach front. We drove up and back in one day to pick up our clients each week to PV. We would go into the village to Charlie's restaurant for our one night to eat in the village. Back then you could buy a ocean view lot for 8K. That winter was a special treat for our clients because Steven was getting married to Lupita. The wedding was grand and the whole village was there. We drank tequilla out of little clay cups and they roasted a whole cow. Every hour they set off home made rockets that flew into the darkness of the night in all directions. Music was played into the wee hours of the morning and it was a special celebration for the Rutherford newlyweds. Each winter we came back Steven would always help get us set up with supplies, palapas and connections in the village. Scott, my partner, said he could have never made it without Steven's assistance each winter. I had the great opportunity to watch the famiy grow with the births of Marylyn and Steve Jr.. Each winter I so enjoyed showing up with gifts for the kids and special goodies for Steven and Lupita. I spent many evenings on the Rutherford front porch enjoying in depth conversations about world events and the US with Steven and a tequilla lemonade. He was always questioning the American system in how it should be ran and his ideas were inovative and refreshing. The years went by and the kids grew up and I finally sold the business and commissioned Steven to build our Villa Montana Adventure Outpost ('95) on an impossible hillside overlooking the village the bay and the lagoon. At this time there were no homes up in the hills so it was a huge task getting material up the hill and supplies but he persevered and just as I was getting ready to fly down to see the finished product La Manzanilla was hit with a 6.something earthquake that caused a a tidal surge to swirl in and out of La Manzanilla back 2 1/2 blocks flooding homes on the beach and and elsewhere. My brother and I were afraid that our new home had fallen down the hillside. When we finally got through on the phone to Steven, he assured us everything was OK. So over the years it was always fun to visit the family when I came in town for vacation. I will miss Steven, his smile, his jokes, his inquisitiveness and great outlook on life. Mi Amigo forever!

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