The ride from Manzanillo to Colima was almost as interesting as the sights we saw there. Manzanillo is Mexico’s busiest port, the 16th largest in the world, and the sailfish capital of the world in Mexico’s 2nd smallest state on the Pacific Ocean. “Good living here,” said Pancho, our guide.
On or way to Colima we saw fields of coconut palm trees on thriving plantations. We saw key lime orchards, pineapple and papaya fields, banana groves. As we neared Colima, Pablo became sentimental while remembering his youth there. He talked about how his family used to climb the frequently smoking fire volcano, Volcán de Colima, overlooking the city where he grew up. Colima is now a city of 300,000 with water tanks on many roofs because agua doesn’t flow all day. Drinking water comes in a truck. Pablo talked about cock-fights in Colima casinos and pointed out a sculpture of the Colima dog on our way to Nogueras. This small community was home to an iconic Mexican artist I had never heard of and the Museo Universitario, a local institution not well-known beyond Colima.
The Colima Dog is a hairless relative of the chihuahua. Images of it are everywhere including the large public sculpture that Pablo pointed out as we entered the city. Colima dogs were a fattened up and eaten. They were a food source, protectors of the home from evil spirits, guardians of the dead, watchdogs, healers, etc. We saw several ceramic examples of them in the museum that was once part of the home of Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo.
Hidalgo died in 2000 and his home was partially turned into a museum and research center for regional studies. A couple of rooms were devoted to Pre-Columbian ceramics found in tombs in the area. There was a chapel that attracted the locally religious. Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo (ARH) worked to keep these ceramics from leaving the area and being put in large city museums.
Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo was one of those local citizens known to everyone in this part of Mexico who had relatively brief international fame. He was a prolific local artist who was already winning awards at the age of 6. Born in 1923, he studied among architects in Guadalajara. He traveled in Europe and lived for a while in Spain He illustrated magazines and founded a local artisan workshop/school that made furniture. A lot of it ended up in his home and can’t be photographed. He rose to his greatest prominence when he designed Christmas cards for UNICEF that used Mexican traditions and figures. They were globally successful. He is one of those born artists, like Norman Rockwell, whose work is instantly recognizable once you’ve seen it.
Ruth and I enjoyed seeing ARH’s art work but I wished we had seen more of Colima. We went instead to Comala, a nearby town with many Sunday vendors and restaurants.