Last updateFri, 18 Jul 2014 3pm

La Manzanilla Memo - December 1, 2012

Claims denied

Property owners in the Tenacatita vs. Rodenas Corporation case heard last week that their claims have been denied. More than two years after Jose Villalobos, Rodenas owner, sent armed guards into Tenacatita, displacing 800 mostly Mexican residents and seizing their property, the Mexican Appeals Court ruled that the owners of confiscated real estate lacked legal standing to present an amparo claim against the company.

The resolution of the inferior court stated that lease agreements and certificates of ownership granted by the ejido were issued by persons who had no rights to the property in the first place, and were thus illegal. This ruling affects several American, Canadian and German citizens whose oceanfront property was seized during the takeover.  Only three, with property in public deed or bank trust, may have further recourse.

One of the American litigants who lost property in Tenacatita said, “In Mexico, guns, money and political influence seem to have overruled good public policy and potentially good relations with future investors.”

In its glory days, before the August 4, 2010 armed invasion, thousands of Mexicans and foreigners enjoyed Tenacatita’s gentle surf and wide beach lined with palapa restaurants each year. Since then, the entrance has been blocked by a barbed-wire topped chain-link gate attended by surly armed guards and attack dogs. Villalobos plans to turn this once charming beach community into a private resort and golf course.

Chantli Mare opens

Owner Roberto Contreras and chef Greg Couillard couldn’t have picked a better time or place to debut their Chantli Mare boutique hotel and Al Fresco restaurant on the beach north of La Manzanilla.

With Careyes and Tamarindo closed to the public, and the on again/off again operations at the Boca de Iguanas eco-resort, the Costalegre has been left without a high-end “neighborhood” resort and restaurant. Chantli Mare fills that void.

The restaurant and six-room hotel occupy the site where Contreras’s grandfather originally built the family’s beach get-away in the 1970s. By the time Roberto inherited it, the property “needed a lot of work after years of exposure to the sea, salt and sand.” Rather than let it go, he and his wife Ibett and their grown children made renovating the property a family affair.

A Guadalajara resident, Ingeniero Contreras admits he knew nothing about running a resort hotel on the beach. He was, however, at a place in his life where opening Chantli Mare seemed like the best option. His philosophy is simple and straightforward: treat our guests as we would want to be treated. Plus, he hired a world-class chef to run his restaurant.

Ajijic residents may recognize Greg Couillard as the chef of popular local eatery, Number Four. Prior to his arrival there three years ago, Greg was executive chef and/or owner of a number of restaurants in Toronto, Canada, as well as one in New York City. He brings his over 40 years of restaurant experience to La Manzanilla with a knock-your socks-off menu of authentic dishes from all over the world, including Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is open every day but Monday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch.

Chantli Mare Inn by the Sea and Restaurant Al Fresco are in the beachfront orange building set back from the Boca de Iguanas road off Highway 200, a few kilometers north of the La Manzanilla entrance, just before you reach the motor home park. Dinner reservations, recommended, can be made by calling the office cell phone at (315) 107-9957, and room reservations by clicking the Contact Us button on their website, www.chantlimare.com.

Efren’s coming

La Manzanilla is fortunate to attract such extraordinary talent from Ajijic, including honorary-resident and artist Efren Gonzalez. Gonzalez once again will kick off Galeria La Manzanilla’s Meet the Artist series with a reception and exhibit of his latest paintings on Friday, December 7, from 4 to 7 p.m.

This marks Galeria La Manzanilla’s tenth year working with Mexican and expat artists to provide the best art along the Costalegre. Gonzalez has been with them since the beginning. His bold, brilliant technique and winsome personality have endeared him to residents and visitors alike. Studies he did last year of La Manzanilla sold out practically before the paint was dry. Gonzalez always draws a crowd, so get to the reception early.

Galeria La Manzanilla is currently open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 to 3. Visit the gallery at Perula Sur 83, a block and a half behind Palapa Joe’s, or their website at www.artinmexico.com to see the latest paintings, sculpture, pottery and jewelry.

Trees and fleas

Cafe de Flores’ annual holiday tree decorating fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, December 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. Alex and Mary Mayberry and Kate Fisher are still fine tuning details and hoping this year’s silent auction will be the biggest ever to benefit local school projects. Admission for those not donating decorated trees is 75 pesos.

While my general attitude toward Christmas leans to Bah Humbug!, this is still one of my favorite fundraisers. The creativity of the trees and holiday decorations inspires awe, and everyone in town shows up. I’m totally into it for the food, though. Alex and Mary outdo themselves in the kitchen, producing a steady stream of delicious munchies, not to mention Mary’s famous egg nog. Another popular event for mingling and holiday shopping, the La Manzanilla Flea Market will be set up in the plaza on Saturday, December 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Anyone in town with something to sell is invited to set up a table, and organizers are lining up live music, as well.  Proceeds will go to the Kinder to help finish their cafeteria.