Trip Report, long

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Escrito por Bob in Eugene desde (?) el día viernes, 01 de abril, 2005 a las 15:51:36 horas :

We just finished our umpteenth trip to Zihuatanejo over the past 24 or so years, and it was, as usual, a ringing success. I’m going to organize my thoughts, not so much as a trip report, but more as a string of reveries. This allows me to ramble on, seemingly without any direction, and, uh, let’s see, where was I?

Semana Santa: We’ve probably made it down there during the holy week 4 or 5 times over the years. It’s always been busy, because Semana Santa, the week before Easter, is the number one travel time for Mexican tourists, and it is also a time when many U.S. citizens and Canadians travel there, as well. We’ve become accustomed to larger numbers of people on La Ropa beach, and around town. It’s kind of fun, with lots of activities at the basketball court downtown, etc. This year, however, was even busier, due, apparently, to the new road from Morelia, and the week-long fiesta in Petatlan. Even at La Barra de Potosi, one of our favorite day trip spots, the crowds were incredible, and every one of the beachside enramadas was crammed with people, and cars were parked everywhere. We’ll go again during Semana Santa again, but I’m glad that it doesn’t coincide with Spring Break for another three years.

The Food: It always seems that we have so many places we haven’t tried, and so many old favorites, that we’d have to eat dinner two or three times a day to get them all in. While we were unable to do that, we did manage to eat at nine different places at dinnertime this time. They were: Café Marina, Garrobos, Elvira’s on La Ropa, La Escollera, and La Gula, El Manglar, La Perla, Los Braceros, and Teresita’s at La Barra. We also got in a lunch at El Pueblito, which we discovered closes at 6 p.m. Highlights were the black pasta with shrimp at Gorrobos, cooked in squid ink; a rolled dorado fillet at El Manglar, stuffed with spinach and ricotta, my molcajete and Sue’s arrachera (skirt) steak at El Pueblito; beautiful desserts and friendly folks at La Gula; the sierra ala talla at Teresita’s, the gorgeous view at La Escollera (take a jacket, though. It can get quite chilly up there in the evening); and everything at Los Braceros, which was packed with a line waiting outside. For breakfast, it was mostly chilaquiles con pollo at Elvira’s, but we did have a great breakfast at Bananas, and another at Sirena Gorda, and some fine breakfast pastries at El Buen Gusto.

The Catalina: No need to expand much on Curly’s fine report on the Catalina, which pretty much sums up why we like to go there. Our room this year did have A/C, which we used a couple of times for very short periods to drive the warm air out of the room when it had been shut up during the day. We didn’t need it at night. The view, the locat1on, and, especially, the people make the Catalina the best place for our family. Thanks again to Celso and Javier for their great assistance, and to Senora Eva for making us feel so welcome and at home, and to all the other fine staff who do their jobs so well.

The People: We’ve met so many nice people in Zihua over the years, and, with all the people who come and go, they remember us and make for a warm, familiar feeling. A few are: Abel and Julia from Abel y Julia’s silver shop. I bought a ring from Abel several years ago, and he polishes it for me every year to make it look new again. Of course, the aforementioned staff at the Catalina. Silvia at El Buen Gusto, who always has a smile and remembers us from years past. Memo, at El Manglar, who is just a really nice guy, and has great food. Orlando, who drives the boat “Dany” at the lagoon at Barra de Potosi, and is always friendly and informative. Francisco, at La Perla, who’s always been very gracious to us. Juanita and many other of the beach vendors, who we recognize from previous years, and are very friendly. Our good friend Raul, who drives a taxi, was not well and in D.F. getting medical treatment, so we missed seeing him and his wife Irma. The are many more that we’ve met just this year, and others we look forward to meeting in years to come.

The Weather: Always a little different, but rarely anything but pleasant. The water was a bit cooler than usual. This year we had more cool breezes, especially at night, and a couple of partly cloudy days at the end, but in the 20 plus years we’ve been coming down here, we’ve gotten rained on, maybe, a total of one hour. The clouds the last two days led to the most glorious sunsets, there is that silver lining.

The activities: As little as possible. We got our exercise from walking the steps at the Catalina, and a few walks into town and back. It was easier to walk this year, because it wasn’t quite as hot. Reading is my favorite pastime, whether under a palapa on the beach, or in a chaise or hammock at the room. Most days I’d get up early enough to see the bay come to life in the morning, while reading on the terrace, and many nights I fell asleep while reading in the hammock before wandering off to bed. This, for me, is a complete day. My books included two Christopher Moore novels, Fluke and The Stupidest Angel, a Randy Wayne White mystery, Tampa Burn, a Westlake novel called The Road to Ruin, and Dave Barry’s latest, Tricky Business. I plan which books to take for months ahead of time, looking for easy reading novels with slightly twisted characters, with an emphasis on mysteries about Florida or other steamy climes.
We also went to Las Gatas and to La Barra for day trips. Usually, we’ve rented a taxi to La Barra, but this year did the bus/pasajero trip, and that was fun and about 1/6th the cost of a taxi. I’m sure we’ll do it again

Lessons learned: Some of our lessons learned on the ZihuaRob site saved us money and hassle. At the airport, they steered us over to the taxi stand, where they told us that our baggage and family wouldn’t fit into a taxi, and we’d be better off in a Suburban, for almost twice the money. I resisted, and told them that we’d always taken a taxi before. One guy pulled us aside, and said, not to worry, we’d get all our money back when we went and visited the Barcelo. I told him we didn’t want to go to the Barcelo, or to Ixtapa for that matter. Finally, they tore up the receipt, and we paid for the regular taxi ride, which worked fine. Also, we did notice that Elvira’s on the beach, as stew pointed out, they always used a big marking pen to obscure the tip, which they added into tabs for three or more people. So, we would ask if the tip was included, which it was, at 10%, so we would add no more. If they’d not done that, we would have tipped more than 10%. On the last morning, Fernando, who’s been there for twenty years, waited on us, and I asked him not to write on the bill. He gave me a knowing glance, and brought back a bill with the tip not added in, and I tipped as I would usually. This is kind of irritating, but we like going there for breakfast, so we just worked with it. Also, it’s important to say “quiero cambio” or something to that effect if you want change, or you may not get any.
Last, but not least, we went to Otilias at Las Gatas for the day, and Franco was there, being very attentive, although he got kind of irritated when the kids went down the beach to rent fins. Anyway, from past experience, we knew to order off the menu, because the “platter for 8 people” concept has always been elusive and cost us more. When the bill got totaled, it was much higher than I thought, but, because we’d ordered off the menu, we were able to retotal it and find many math mistakes and stuff we didn’t order. The bill started out at 1350 pesos, but was down to 920 by the time we got it all worked out. Franco said, sorry, he didn’t handle that part, and it was the first day on the job for the guy who did add it up. I think he needs a calculator, and, of all the mistakes made, none was in our favor. So, caveat emptor! It didn’t ruin our day, because we were aware.

The future: It’s hard to say. We keep talking about trying other places, but the familiarity and predictability of going to Zihua and staying at the Catalina make for a restful, enjoyable experience. We’re booked back to the Catalina for next year. Down the road, it will be interesting to see how the development, particularly on the hillside south of the bay, will affect the experience. I can’t say that the Club Intrawest development had any effect on our trip at all, but I am worried that the pressure to develop the property around La Ropa may force out the older hotels, or just make it too crowded to enjoy. We did see the “Cerro Del Vigia” sign up at the new road out toward Las Gatas. I’m curious as to the status of that project. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy what we can and hope for the best.

So, that’s about it. Thanks to the contributors to this and other boards for keeping our Zihua dreams alive and well when we’re not there, and for the folks who keep the boards running. I do have some pix, which I will seriously attempt to get out there, somehow. Now, back to my daydreams…..

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