Trip Report (Novel?) July 13 to July 20


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Escrito por Rich desde 64.113.172.9 (?) el día miércoles, 03 de agosto, 2005 a las 11:51:32 horas :

TRIP REPORT
JULY 13 THROUGH JULY 20, 2005


DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY JULY 13: Left LAX at around 11:30 AM on Alaska Airlines. Our flight was delayed ½ hour due to radio problems. It was a very nice flight. Sandy was given a small bottle of wine. Meals and mixed drinks are normally $5 each. We had row 26, which was the back of the plane. Fortunately for us, when you arrive in Zihua, Alaska lets passengers at both the front and back end of the plane get off at the same time. This does not hold true coming back into LA. Arrived in Zihua around 4:30 PM On my way into the airport, I attempted to take a picture of the airport sign, but the security guard waved his finger at me, signifying no. Security reasons I am sure. Went through customs in under ½ hour. At the luggage check, you press a button and at random the light either flashes red or green. The family just ahead of us got the “red” light, so they had their luggage checked. I pressed the button and got the green light. Green means go. A bell hop was eager to help us with our six bags so we let him. Tipped him $1 per bag. I headed over to the ATM machine and withdrew $4,000 pesos. No problem. He led us over to the taxi booths. When I said we had 6 bags, the lady said you will need a suburban to fit all of your luggage in. More $$$. I half-way expected this after reading this board so I said no, I wanted a taxi. Thanks all for the warning! Paid the $250 pesos for the taxi and went out and met Alejendro, our taxi driver. Very nice guy, who gave us his number when we arrived at our lodging, Casa de las Piedras, which is located on the south end of La Ropa.. More on Casa de las Piedras at the end of my report. What a neat place. Grace was there to meet us on our arrival. There were even 6 cervezas in the fridge. I eagerly helped myself to one. It hit the spot! After putting everything away, we headed to the beach. Waded in and felt the water. Warm! Then we headed to Rossy’s for a delicious dinner. We ask for upstairs and were glad we did because of the nice breeze that was present. We had a great view of the bay and got a nice picture of the sunset. I had a delicious calamari dinner. My youngest daughter had the snapper. You can either order it whole or filleted. She had it filleted. I ask her how it was and she said “You have no idea, it is the best snapper I have ever had.” My wife and oldest daughter each had a big steak. Total bill, with 4 margaritas and two virgin pina colodas: $740 pesos. Other than the flies being a little annoying, it was a great way to start our vacation. We went back up to our lodging just before dark an got accustomed to our new living quarters for the next week. At 9:00 PM, you could hear the birds chirping, the ocean and the thunder and lightening in the background. This was too cool! At 10:00 PM, the rain started and they were big drops. The girls went out and stood in the rain for about 15 and came back in sopping wet, but with big grins on their face. We were in bed by 10:30. It rained until around 1:00 AM.

DAY 2 – THURSDAY, JULY 14: Up at 7:30. While the rest of the family was still in bed, I took a walk down to the beach to check it out. There we already people in the water. Went as far as La Perla and came back. Sandy was up by then. Made coffee and waited for the girls to get up. At 10:00 we headed down to La Ropa for a day on the beach. We had an excellent breakfast at Cocodrilos, right next to El Manglar. Cocodrilos had lawn chairs and shade, so since we had breakfast there, we made us of them. We had planned on spending most of the day there, until a very unfortunate event happened. Just after breakfast, two nice girls approached my wife and daughters and asked them if they wanted there hair braided. $150 pesos each. They really wanted it done, so they proceeded. While they were getting there hair braided, I took a walk to the north end of La Ropa to check it out. While on my way back, I noticed a big commotion going on and a lot of people gathering around, right in front of Cocodrilos and where the girls were getting their hair braided. According to my wife, (I missed the whole thing), two men had pulled an elderly man out of the water who apparently had gotten caught up in the surf and undertow. They laid him on the beach about 30 yards in front of the girls. It was very moving and sad when the daughter was weeping beside her father The beach patrol was called and they tried to revive him, but were unable to. They put a blanket over him and he must have laid there for a good ½ hour. I think my oldest daughter was affected the most. I asked the waiter at Cocodrilos if this happened a lot and he said that this was the first time he has seen it. I guess we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time at that moment. After the girls were done with their hair, we picked up and moved on down the beach a little further to avoid the commotion. I have to admit, I was a little surprised, and disappointed, at the amount of surf and debris that was present in the water. It was quite strong at times. I only waded in up to my hips. Since this was our first time there, I have nothing to compare the surf too. Therefore, the surf and undertow may be totally different during the high season than the low season. You Zihua vets could probably weigh in on this one. We stayed at the beach until around 4:00 and came back to our room just as it started raining. At 5:00, in a light rain, we walked down to Paty’s for another excellent dinner. I had the grilled tuna steak, which was delicious! Sandy had the nachos, Brandi the enchiladas and Nicole had a hamburger. 5:00 to 7:00 was happy hour, so Sandy and I had 4 margaritas for the price of two. Such a deal! Total bill: $380 peso’s. While eating dinner, we bought two sets of glass figurines (6 in each set) from a beach vendor for $170 pesos total. We finished dinner and head back to the room, just as it started to rain again. The rain did not last long this night. Sandy was not feeling very good at all at this point, so we were up until around 2:00 in the morning between the bedroom and the bathroom.

DAY 3 – FRIDAY, JULY 15: This morning, Brandi along with Sandy, are not feeling too well so they stayed at the room all day. My stomach was a little queasy but not too bad. Around 8:00 AM, Nicole and I caught the bus for $10 pesos and headed into town. We had breakfast at Bananas. It was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. $95 pesos for the two of us. After breakfast, we walked to the tourist market. I bought a coffee cup, some coffee and a shot glass. Nicole got a few gifts for her friends. We then caught a taxi to the grocery store, Comerical Mexicana, for $20 pesos. We picked up some supplies and caught another cab back to the room. After checking on Sandy and Brandi, Nicole and I headed down to the beach for a couple of hours. While Nicole hung out under some shade , I walked La Ropa from end to end. At a leisurely stroll, it took me just over 15 minutes one way. It is really a nice walk. We went back up to the room and hung out there for the rest of the day. What turned out to be our nightly entertainment, we would lay on the swinging bed at night and watch the geckos crawl into the plastic light cover above us and feast on bugs. Keep in mind that Casa de las Piedras is an open air lodging with no walls. At 10:00 PM we all went to bed. At around 12:00 a BIG thunder and lightening storm hit. At 1:45 AM there was this huge CRACK when thunder hit just above us. Both of us jumped at this. It was too cool! It was probably one of the loudest thunder boomers I have ever heard. Grace said the next day, they were even talking about it in town. It rained pretty hard until 2:30.

DAY 4 – SATURDAY JULY 16: Up at 7:30. Made coffee. Still overcast at 9:30 from last nights thunderstorm. While the girls were still in bed, I took my morning walk to La Ropa. On the way back, I paused at Rossys to look at the menu and the waiter who had waited on us our first night saw me and remembered me! We talked for a minute and I went back up to the room. At around 12:00, we all headed down to the bus stop where we caught a cab to the Farmers Market. Neat place! I bought some “strong” coffee while Sandy bought some fruits. Medium coffee is in the burlap bag and the strong coffee is in the clear bags. After that, we went to the tourists market and the girls bought some gifts. While shopping we met Cricket, a vendor whom my wife and I met 1 ½ years ago when we were there for a day on a cruise. Believe it or not, he remembered me! I couldn’t believe it. We bought a decorative picture frame from him this time. The girls were getting thirsty, so we found La Sirena Gordas. I love that place. Nice atmosphere and service. The fans really cooled us off. The girls had sodas and I had my first taste of tiritas and two Corona’s. What a combo. Delicious. While we were there, the traveling musicians came by and we had them play a song for us. $50 pesos. They were excellent. After that, the girls had to get their internet fix, so we found an internet place. $10 peso’s an hour. They are all over. While there were on the internet, Sandy and I found El Buen Gusto (it is in a pink building) and picked up some pastries for breakfast. We went back and got the girls and headed back to Comercial Mexicana for more supplies. Back at out room, we ran into Grace and spent about an hour talking with her. What a neat lady. We must have talked for over an hour. We made arrangement for her maid, Gloria, to make us Tingas on Monday night. What a treat that was!

DAY 5 – SUNDAY JULY 17: At around 9:00 AM, we headed down to catch a taxi to take us to the pier so we could catch a boat over to Las Gatas. Here we met our taxi driver, Roberto, for what was not to be the last time. We immediately hit if off with him as he playfully teased us about our difficulty in speaking and communicating in Spanish while at the same time he tried to teach us the proper pronunciations. He was very patient with us. On the way to the pier, he told us Las Gatas was nice but La Barra was “mucho bueno.” Somehow we communicated to him that we wanted to go to La Barra tomorrow. He offered to take us and we gladly agreed because of his personality. We agreed to meet at 9:00 the next morning. We caught the boat over to Las Gatas. $30 pesos each, round trip. Very nice ride. Once we arrived, we planned on walking to the end of the beach towards Otilla’s but got talked into staying a a place in the middle. The waiter was nice and made sure we had a table, chairs and shade. We stayed there for the rest of the day and ordered drinks and a little food. Our stomachs were still a little queasy. I had a pina colada in a pineapple, which was done up very nicely. I spent more time in the water at Las Gatas than any other beach. Sandy got a massage for 200 pesos and really enjoyed it. The waves and the surf were not bad at all. The beach is just lined with restaurants. We left Las Gatas at around 3:30 and got back to the room around 4:30 about ½ hour before it started to rain at 5:30. It rained off and on until about 10:00 when it started to rain continuously. I was extremely tired this night, so I went to bed around 7:30. It rained all through the night.

DAY 6 – MONDAY JULY 18: Up at 7:30 and made coffee. It was still raining pretty good. Sandy got up and we decided that we would wait until tomorrow for La Barra. So at 9:00, I walked down to the tax place tell Roberto we were not gong today. I waited until 9:15 but never saw him. We must have got our signals crossed about where to meet because at 9:45 after I came back, he came up to our room looking for us! We felt really bad, but assured him we would go tomorrow. We tried to explain that there was “mucho agua” today. Luckily he understood. He agreed to take us tomorrow. Around 11:00 it stopped raining so Sandy and I took the bus and headed back into town. The girls were not feeling up to it, so they stayed at the room. We went back to the Mercado for more goodies. Then we head over to Tamales Any for breakfast. What a nice place! After breakfast I picked up a bottle of Kaluha for $97.00 pesos and a few more gifts. You can not get Kaluha any cheaper than in Mexico! We got back around 3:30 to the smell of Gloria’s tingas cooking. Wow, what a treat they were. She made a whole pot of them along with some homemade guacamole for the four of us for $200 pesos. We spent the rest of our evening watching the geckos feast on bugs inside the plastic lampshade in the kitchen. We were in bed by 9:30.

DAY 7 – TUESDAY JULY 19: Up again at 7:00 and no rain last night. It looks like a nice day. At 9:00, we all went down to meet Roberto who was going to take us to La Barra. He said he would take us there and stay with us for the day and bring us back for $600 pesos. Having never been out that way before, it was a nice feeling to have someone with you who knew the area very well. As soon as we got into the taxi, the playful teasing started up again and we started laughing about our lack of knowledge of the local language. On the way, Roberto stopped to help another taxi driver out. This couple wanted to go to Acapulco and the taxi driver did not want to go that far. So Roberto call his brother, who is also a taxi driver, to take the couple to Acapulco. Roberto thankfully turned the A/C on in the car while we waited for him. It felt wonderful. We arrived at La Barra around 10:30. Roberto took us to Silvia’s for lunch, which was right next to the lagoon. Apparently, Silvia was a good friend of Roberto’s. After lunch, Sandy and I took a walk down the beach while the girls stayed with Roberto. We came back and attempted to chat with Roberto for about ½ hour. He told us about him and we told him about us. While we were talking, he noticed my watch and said that he really liked it. Before we left, he got himself a polo shirt from Silvia’s. I said that I like his shirt that he got, so he went back and got me one!! This was totally unexpected. We left La Barra at 1:00 and headed back to Zihua. On our way back, the highlight of my trip happened. We had just passed Comercial Mexicana and off to our right was a guy, riding a bicycle and strapped to the front of his bicycle was a CROCODILE!! And yes it was alive. He had it tied down very nicely. I can not, for the life of me, figure out what the heck a guy would be doing riding downtown with a crocodile strapped to the front of his bicycle. Any help here Zihua vets??? I have gotta know what this was all about. In any case, Roberto stopped the cab and I got out and got a picture of this. Then Roberto took my camera and I got beside the guy and behind the crocodile, put my hand on the back of the croc, and Roberto took our picture. That one is getting framed!! If I can figure out how to post a picture here, I will post one of it. I tipped the guy $20 pesos for the photo opportunity. He was thrilled with it. After we got back, we made arrangements for Roberto to take us to the airport tomorrow. I tipped him good for our days adventure and thanked him for a great day. Just before we left, he wanted to know if I wanted to trade watches with him. I was flattered. If my girls had not given it to me for Fathers Day, I would have done it. I really struggled with this one trying to figure out a way how to tell him this. I think I failed miserably. I am not sure he ever really understood why. I felt really bad. We came back up to the house, dropped our stuff off and headed back down to La Ropa and spent the rest of the day at La Perla. The service was really good, priced reasonably and all of the waiters and waitresses were busting their buts. Sandy walked down to the north end of La Ropa for some reflexology on her hands, feet and ears for $250 pesos for 45 minutes. She really enjoyed it. We came back up to the room at 6:00 and started to pack for our trip home tomorrow.

DAY 8 – WEDNESDAY, JULY 20: We went down to La Ropa one last time and had a good breakfast at Rossy’s before we left. At 1:00, we met Roberto and he took us to the airport. I made sure that I wore the shirt he had given me the day before and sure enough, when he picked us up, he was wearing his as well. We both laughed at that. Again, just before we parted he said he really liked my watch. I smiled, gave him a hug, and said “Adios Amigo, muchas gracias!

RECAP

TAXI’S – They are everywhere! If you blink you will miss 2 or three of them go by you. I asked Roberto about how many taxi’s there are in Zihua and he said about 500!! It is actually quite comforting to know that you can almost always get one if you really need one. One thing I found is that most of our taxi drivers did not have a good knowledge of English. One time I thought I had communicated pretty well, in Spanish, to our taxi driver that I wanted to go to Comerical Mexicana. We wound up at two different places before we finally got there.

BEACHES: LA ROPA: As I already mentioned, I was a little disappointed at all of the debris in the water at La Ropa. I kept looking around for trash cans on the beach but did not find any. That, coupled with the strong surf and undertow, did not make it very desirable to go into the water much. I am a good swimmer, but especially after our little incident on Thursday morning, I did not want to freak out the family so I just went into my hips. There was even one morning, Saturday I believe, that a foul smell was coming from just next to Cocodrilos. Not quite sure what it was, but it was gone the next day. The beach, itself, is beautiful. I could, and did, walk it many times, never tiring of it. I saw more para-sailers than I have seen in my life. LAS GATAS: I think we enjoyed this one the most. I was in up to my neck in the water here for a long time at this beach. The entire beach is lined with restaurants. LA BARRA: We did not stay long here, but what we saw was very nice. We never made it to Madera. All of the beaches were fairly crowded, mostly with Mexican families. We saw very few American couples (or singles for that matter)

FOOD: Everything we ate was incredibly good! Rossy’s, Paty’s, Tamales Any, La Sirena Gordas and Gloria’s tingas. No disappointment here. My only regret is that our stomachs were not feeling up to par so we could have tried more restaurants.

PEOPLE: I can not say enough about the people in Zihua. Everyone we ran into was very, very friendly and helpful. From our two taxi drivers, Alejendo and Roberto, to the pharmacist who insisted that our daughter sit in his shop and put on some after bite for her mosquito bites, to Grace whom we enjoyed talking to very much, and just about everyone else we came in contact with. I am sure I forgetting somebody.

WEATHER: Thunderstorms were forecasted every day for our trip, however, it seemed to only rain, thunder and lightning every other day. The earliest it started was 4:00 PM (just for an hour) and the latest it rained was until 10:00 one morning. Other than that, blue sky all day.

LODGING: We stayed at Casa de Las Piedras. What a treat this was. First of all, I have to say that this is not a place to stay if you want to be pampered. It has all the benefits of camping without having to worry about putting up and taking down a tent. You also get maid service to go with it. It had two separate bedrooms, both with mosquito nets, which work pretty well. We only had one night where we did not close it up tight enough, and we had to do some swatting before we went to bed. It had a really nice living room and a fully functional kitchen and bathroom and shower. You have to climb up about 60 to 70 steps to get up to the room. It can be quite a trek going up in the heat. However, once you are up there, after about 20 minutes, with the fans going and sipping on a cervaza, it is actually quite cool. And the view is spectacular. You can not see the beach from there, but you can sure here it at night. All you see is green foliage. It is truly in a jungle setting. If it were not for the darn mosquitoes, I would not have any complaints at all. I did not get bit up to bad, but they liked my youngest daughter quite a bit. If you can find a good mosquito repellant, you should be OK. Interestingly enough, I don’t think I ever saw one mosquito while in town or on the beaches. I was pretty amazed at that. I would imagine that if you are not staying in an open air lodging unit like we were, you should not have any problems with the mosquitoes at all. We even saw a few crabs running around. I woke up one morning and found one in our sink. They are quite fascinating. We helped it out of the sink and watched it go on its merry way. Grace was a wonderful host and her maid Gloria was very gracious and made some mean tingas and guac! If anyone has any more specific questions, I would be more than happy to go into more detail about this place. Feel free to email me if you want.

MISCELLANEOUS:

1. For other newbies, just as an FYI, it is considered impolite in Mexico for the waiters to bring you the bill without you asking for it. It is considered an indication that you are not welcome to stay. I think this is a lesson that we Americans should pay attention too.

2. My biggest regret is that I did not know enough Spanish to communicate with the locals very well. Everyone was very helpful when we at least tried to communicate. I would highly recommend that anyone who is going to Mexico for a lengthy stay at least learn some basic words and numbers. An excellent place to get some basic words is at: http://www.ixtapa-zihuatanejo.com. Click on Info in English, then scroll down the left hand side to the bottom to the link that says: “A little guide to Spanish.” This one was a life saver for us. Another regret I had was that we never made it fishing. I really wanted to do this, but our stomachs simply did not allow us to risk it. I also found it beneficial to print out a map of the downtown area with the street names on it. It sure helped me find my way around and at least give me general idea of where I was going.

3. Overall, we had a wonderful trip and would definitely like to go back again, maybe this time during the buy season to compare the difference. Although, I know that I will miss the rain and the thunderstorms. They sure do cool things off nicely. I really looked forward to them at night. I can still hear that huge “crack” on Friday night. My daughter and I actually had a bet each night as to if it was going to rain and thunderstorm. I think we would up even at the end of our trip. Thanks again to all who provided input to all of my questions. It was a big help!





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