The Time Out Bar by Doug Matthews
In the Time Out Bar, it really isn’t.
It’s 9:30 on a sultry Saturday evening in January and the whip-crackingly tight Chido Rivera Band moves seamlessly from a Jobim ballad into a Santana rock number. Before you can say, “lost shaker of salt” the dance floor erupts in flowered shirts, beach shorts, and flip-flopping feet.
Snowbirds. And they know how to party. While dancing up a storm they manage to simultaneously keep the breweries of Corona, Estrella, and other Mexican beers alive and well.
Bob, the bar’s owner, is beaming. With some seventy patrons occupying all the tables, and the band keeping everyone thirsty, this will be a good night. He may even turn a small profit. A white-haired ex-pat from California, he’s been in Mexico for thirty-four years and managing the Time Out Bar for the last two. Under his management it has become one of the hot spots in the lively party scene of Barra de Navidad.
Barra, as it ‘s affectionately called, is a small, exotically beautiful beach town on the Pacific coast of Mexico, about thirty minutes’ drive north of the Manzanillo airport. It is also the southern-most point of the beach and jungle-lined Costalegre or “happy coast” that stretches some 230 kilometers north to Puerto Vallarta.
The North American snowbirds love it here, and the beachside Time Out helps them conjure up memories of a bygone era. With its multi-colored ethnic tablecloths, a ceiling full of piñatas, and the sunset-framing ocean view, it’s the manifestation of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. A place of escape.
Indeed, the real time out is from howling winter squalls. From seven layers of clothing. From months of endless rain. From maniacs with bald tires. The Time Out Bar—and Barra de Navidad—do not disappoint.