"The Innkeeper"

"The Innkeeper"

My book, "INNKEEPER"

Banjo Serenade 1949

INNKEEPER is my story.

I came to Manzanillo in 1960 after plunking down my life savings into what had once been a tiny seaside inn. A killer hurricane the year before had devastated it along with most everything else on the beaches of Manzanillo. Patching up La Posada while dealing with the local bureaucrats, the cops and the Federales and making it a viable operation is the central theme of INNKEEPER. But in addition, diving for sunken treasure off a paddle-wheeler that sank in 1862, building a forty-apartment condominium complex next door to my hotel and interacting with some of the more incredible people you'll ever meet (one of whom is my third--and final--wife, Inga) makes for what I promise you is a read you'll enjoy and not soon forget.

If you are planning a vacation to Manzanillo, you'll learn more about this as-yet unspoiled tropical haven and the colorful people who live here from INNKEEPER than from any other source. Maybe you are thinking about retiring to Manzanillo, or going into business here, or to swim, snorkel or dive the pristine waters that lap the shore just a few steps from your hotel room. Read INNKEEPER before your visit, and if you've already been here and done that, you'll savor all those great memories all the more after you've read mine!

There are 380 pages and over 200 photographs in my book, more than half in color.  And for a more intimate portrait of this autobiography, I would ask you to read the following review of my book by Mexico travel writer, Susan Dearing.

 Review of INNKEEPER by Susan Dearing

Click on photos to enlarge

Your visit to Mexico in general and to Manzanillo in particular is incomplete if you haven't read Bart Varelmann's autobiography, INNKEEPER.  Bart arrived here fifty years ago with a dream and an Aqua Lung (the prototype of the scuba gear I use today) to locate a shipment of gold that went down off the coast near Manzanillo in 1862.   

Instead he found a tiny inn on the beach which had been devastated by a killer hurricane in 1959.  For sale.  Cheap.  A great base of operations for his search for the gold, he figured, but the real treasure turned out to be the little hotel.

Manzanillo 50 years ago

La Posada 50 years ago

La Posada after hurricane

La Posada 2010

Golden Gate

La Posada is still very much there, and the incredible story of Bart's experience with it, with fixing it up and with the many characters who crossed his path along the way will keep you glued to the more than 380 pages and over 200 photographs half of them in full color. 

You'll meet Bing Crosby, Ken Kesey, Lee Marvin, Sam Houston Johnson (who the heck is that? LBJ's brother!), Atenor Patiño (the impossibly rich Bolivian Tin King), Dudley Moore and many others.


Cast of the Movie "10"
with Bo Derek at La Posada

There's the outcome of the dive for sunken treasure (did Bart find the gold?), a murder plot (his plot), a trip to the pokey (not for the murder), his experiences building a 40-apartment condominium on a rock next to La Posada (Roca Del Mar) and a lot of chicanery involving cops, Federales, politicos and other unsavory individuals including a 106 year-old man who is still batting around town in an old Ford pickup. 

Ken Kesey and the "Merry Pranksters"

At this point I want you to read an excerpt from INNKEEPER so you can sample (and savor) his writing style.  In an effort to convince a crooked attorney to sign over the hotel to him, Bart visited a bar 
in the nearby city of
Colima to meet with a man who hurt people for money.

"How much, " I asked the stocky young man at the bar, "to shoot a guy in the kneecap?" "Cinco mil pesos," he replied.  That was only four hundred bucks which was well within my budget.  
"How much for both kneecaps," I ventured, expecting a reduced rate for double the volume.

"Veinte mil pesos, Señor," declared my new confidant.

That was a whopping $1,600!  "Why," I persisted, "do you charge so much more for the second one?"  My curiosity was piqued, although my enthusiasm for this project had begun to wane. 
Everyone in the cantina seemed to know this guy and if persuaded, could no doubt recall the furtive gringo who was getting cost estimates from the neighborhood assassin.
"Because Señor, one kneecap is easy."  He eased off the barstool to pantomime his role in the scenario.  "You sneak up behind the cabrón and BANG! But the other one? Hah!  It is very 
difficult to shoot the other kneecap while he is flopping around on the ground and howling and the people they are approaching to see what is happening."
The gunman stalked the boards of the tavern, jabbing his trigger finger at the elusive kneecap of his flailing, frantic -- and imaginary victim.
 "Of course," I said, "how foolish of me not to consider that."
My inclination to abandon this particular plan became a decision when my erstwhile hit man disclosed that he was an off-duty police officer.  At the same time, it sank in that whatever persuasion 
was needed to force the attorney's hand would have to come from me.  By myself.

Before Manzanillo there's Bart's stint as a banjo player in his Dixieland band, a plane crash on the Ohio River, five years as a bomber pilot during the Korean War (he insists he was on our side), his GI Bill generated degree from the University of Miami, his attempt to sell his cartoon strip to the New York newspaper syndicates, a shot at the Foreign Service and a brief page or three on some adolescent shenanigans.
You'll meet his three wives (consecutive, that is), and there are enough other romantic encounters to keep you turning the pages.  I have known Bart for twenty years and asked him if he thought it was prudent to tell about these kiss-and-tell encounters.  "Well" he said, "INNKEEPER is my story.  Would you read an autobiography that not only left out these romances but was sub-titled, "My life as a Eunuch?" 

I've read INNKEEPER twice, and will probably read it again.  You'll learn first-hand about Mexicans and the real Mexico from an American who has lived in Manzanillo more than half his life -- and not from a guide book. (Unless, of course, it's mine!)  You will be very pleasantly surprised by this book.  I promise.

For more information on Manzanillo and the state of Colima

For a tourist guidebook on Manzanillo and the state of Colima

For Manzanillo real estate information

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$29.00 covers the book, the mailer and the postage to anywhere in the US or Canada. And if you would prefer to order your book directly from me rather than through PayPal, just email me and yes, your personal check is fine and yes, I will be pleased to autograph your book if you ask.

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