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La Manzanillo Memo – April 4, 2015

Bare Bones Theatre 

Since 2011 La Manzanilla’s Bare Bones Readers’ Theatre, headed-up by Arleen Pace, has been entertaining us with their annual productions. During their inaugural shows the group had us laughing and blushing during lively performances of The Vagina Monologues.   From intimate views into the human condition to raucous pieces about cheating spouses, Pace has a knack for finding sketches that are perfectly suited to the La Manzanilla winter demographic. The ensemble’s events are always sold out and no one scoffs at the 100 peso fee.  


Over the past five years the group has raised and given away close to $40,000 pesos.   The local ambulance fund has been the greatest beneficiary of the donations but they are not the only one.  Our Centro de Salud received a Doppler Fetal Heart Monitor, assistance was given to help pay for a little girl’s bladder operation, aid for transportation and housing costs were donated for a small boy to receive therapy in Guadalajara, donations helped to purchase medical and vehicle supplies for our Protection Civil team and support was given to a group of La Manzanilla’s young women in order to obtain a matching grant for their athletic field project. Currently they are sharing expenses for water testing equipment to be used in the clean beach project.

Bare Bones Readers’ has gladly and successfully emptied their coffers this season and they look forward to performing and giving back to La Manzanilla in the season ahead.

What’s in the water?

For many years La Manzanilla has had a dirty little secret we don’t like to discuss.  During the rainy season the town’s sewer system is often and easily inundated.  That added storm water overwhelms the system’s pumps resulting in backups and overflows onto the streets and gutters.  The added rainwater, coupled with high-tides can often force water out of some of the town’s sewer manholes.  One such breach is located by the town’s central jardin and another is near our lagoon.   This year we experienced very late, heavy summer rains lasting into November. Also an unusually wet winter season has extended this ongoing issue with seeping manholes.  The problem goes back more than ten years, however this year has brought the issue front and center because it has continued to occur in the height of the winter tourist season.

The La Manzanilla messageboard has been aflame with complaints, hypotheses, and the ever popular, “What they need to do” statements.  One woman, Valerie Denford, tired of the complaining, decided she would do something to try to reach a solution.  She first contacted friends who do missionary work in third world countries to see if they have dealt with this issue. These friends confirmed that it is the lack of clean water that is the greatest hindrance to health and well-being in the places where they volunteer.  She asked them about water testing kits and they suggested a device by Blue Water Bioscience.   Denford contacted the company, wrote a check for nine-hundred dollars to pay for the kit and arranged for someone to bring it down to La Manzanilla.

Once the kit arrived, she got busy testing and obtaining data in order to frame the issue.  Water samples were taken from both manholes, the local mangrove, a point at the southern end of the bay and another point north but not too far from the main swimming area.  Not surprisingly the manhole water showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria, a kind of coliform associated with human or animal waste.  E. coli is part of the group of fecal coliforms.  The mangrove had some similar contamination as the sample was taken at the edge of the lagoon, close to the manhole.  The ocean, thankfully, was not contaminated. 

This is very actionable information.  The results are clear and there are plans to work with La Manzanilla’s local NGO Tierralegre group to take the findings to La Huerta and the University of Guadalajara.  While the answers to this situation may not be clear at this time, Denford feels at least she is taking steps to work toward a solution.

Denford plans to collect water samples from taps in homes around town for the next round of tests. Hopefully her findings will build a case for our municipal government to provide engineers and materials to help mitigate potential problems.

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