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Parting Shot

by JeffMN ⌂ @, Minneapolis MN USA, Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 22:14 (2478 days ago)

I posted much of the following on my travel blog, El Viajero Contento at the sad end of last year's stay in Zihuatanejo. With a few updates, it's still about as close as I can come to expressing my bittersweet feelings as we once again say adios to this wonderful, unique place.

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I’m trying to process the ache I’m feeling in my chest this morning as I look out on Zihuatanejo Bay. The little panga launches are criss-crossing the bay delivering worshippers of sun and cerveza to Playa las Gatas as they do every day. The air is still deliciously calm, but by noon sun and sea and mountains will conspire to heat it and then pump welcome breezes. The staccato “mock...mock” of two men playing tennis rises up from the Tides resort a couple of blocks away. Long-tailed grackles and yellow winged caciques fly by below me so I can see their splendid tops. A murmur of busy sounds rises from the street: cars whisper discreetly; trucks grumble at the steep climbs; and strains of happy ranchero music exude from pick-ups and work sites.

I guess this is the ache. Knowing that, tomorrow, we’ll have to leave this wonderful place, these friendly, gracious, hard-working people, and this lifestyle that we’re so privileged—nearly embarrassed—to be able to enjoy.

Zihuatanejo is not easy to pigeonhole. There’s still the aura of the sleepy fishing village about it. But mostly it’s about tourists and transplants now. Still, not everyone’s content just to wait on tourists who want a taste of their quaint village. Some aspire to go to school, to learn a trade or to own a business. So there’s conflict, just like there is in other beautiful places, between growing where one is planted and looking for a bigger pot; between short-sighted opportunity and wiser, more enduring values.

We’ve seen first-hand the lingering effects of the global economic crisis, combined with the bad press about narco-violence. But things seem to be improving slightly. In our villa complex, San Sebastian, most of the nine units have been occupied on and off during the month we’ve been here, but too many still sit vacant. We’ve often been the only—or nearly so—customers at some restaurants, but we've also found a few that seem to be thriving again. Some fishing boats can still be chartered for a discount (if you want to drive a hard bargain). Shop owners, beach vendors and strolling musicians still thank us up and down for the smallest purchase.

Despite the bad press and a few rumor mongers and doom-sayers locally, the experience of the average tourist (or expat for that matter) remains pretty innocent. Aside from opting sometimes for a cab after dark and making sure our villa’s locked, we still have not felt anything but safe here.

But the economy? That hits everyone. We’ve (okay, mostly Sally) tried to be generous, tipping well, buying a few things we don’t really need, giving outright gifts to people who’ve touched us. We just hope they can hang on until tourism recovers or, better yet, until they see some other opportunity to realize a more prosperous life.

That said, I do not feel sorry for most of the Mexicans we’ve met here. With very few exceptions, they seem happy in their own skin. They’re very proud of themselves, their families, their town and their country. As one boat captain told us, "If we don't make enough doing this, we can do other things to get by. Life is still very good here." Even so, prosperity always seems just out of reach for many. As in our own country, common folks are exploited by a powerful, corrupt elite, but the difference is that here every social and economic institution seems designed to keep it that way.

We will count the days to our next visit to Zihuatanejo. Part of us hopes to see the familiar faces of the many wonderful residents we’ve met. And part of us hopes they’ve been able to move on to bigger and better things.

One Man's Wonder

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http://www.OneMansWonder.com

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Parting Shot

by NoName @, Vancouver Island, Thursday, March 03, 2011, 00:01 (2478 days ago) @ JeffMN

A beautiful tribute to just one of the most lovely and beautiful little spots in Mexico.... and it could apply to many others as well, the country is full of exactly what you have so eloquently written. There are few countries in the world who can boast such love from those who come for a visit. Thanks for being so kind as to echo so many of our thoughts. :star:

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Parting Shot

by LadyM in Zihua @, Zihuatanejo, Mexico, Thursday, March 03, 2011, 07:21 (2478 days ago) @ JeffMN

I believe you've got it. Thanks for taking the time to tell how you feel about Zihua and the things you have learned about here.

I will miss you and Sally.

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www.juliostours.com

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Parting Shot

by JeffMN ⌂ @, Minneapolis MN USA, Thursday, March 03, 2011, 09:09 (2478 days ago) @ LadyM in Zihua

Thanks, Carol -- We'll always remember the fine day we spent with you! Sad to leave, but I guess it's time to get back to the real world. :-(

One Man's Wonder

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http://www.OneMansWonder.com