Three Nights in Zihuatanejo

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Escrito por Scott desde ( el día jueves, 05 de enero, 2006 a las 18:57:19 horas :

I had been feeling quite restless lately, and this culminated on Thursday of last week, when my ex-girlfriend told me all about her recent trip to Spain. After a night of tossing and turning in my bed, in the morning I woke up and knew what I needed: a nice long ride on my bike.

I was thinking of taking three or four hour ride out in the backcountry, and started getting dressed for that, when the thought of going to Zihuatanejo first entered my mind. I threw two tshirts, a pair of shorts, my tooth brush and tooth paste, glasses and contact lens solution into my backpack, "just in case" I felt like actually going all the way to the beach. The part of the state where I really wanted to go was on the loop from Patzcuaro to Ario de Rosales, to Nueva Italia, to Uruapan, and back to Patzcuaro on the back roads. But the road from Ario de Rosales to Nueva Italia intersects with the new highway, so I had the choice of hitting the autopista to coast or taking it back to Morelia.

I don't totally know my way around Patzcuaro, and got stuck in very, very busy traffic going through town. I must have spent upwards of 45 minutes getting through Patzcuaro alone. I now realize that there is probably a bypass around the city, and it wasn't necessary to drive right through the heart of town, right past the two plazas on the Friday afternoon before New Years eve. But it was the way I vaguely remembered, from when I had gone from Lake Zirahuen to Santa Clara del Cobre to Patzcuaro and back home once.

Santa Clara del Cobre to Ario de Rosales was a pleasant ride, rising in altitude. It got a little chilly on the way up there. This is going through the sierra. Ario looked like a very quiet, mildly depressing place to live, but still had a nice feeling to it. But it definitely had a remote feeling as well, like I was the only foreigner for miles and miles around. The town of Ario de Rosales overlooks a large valley. I spent 30 minutes wandering around the downtown area of the city.

From there, I headed south towards La Huacana, on a federal highway, but after about 10 km south of Ario hit a small, twisty and potholed secondary road towards Gabriela Zamora. Ario de Rosales is high in the sierra, but La Huacana and Nueva Italia are both in the Tierra Caliente of Michoacan -- drug country! I'm not sure how this works geologically, but while temperatures typically only hit 31 or so degrees in Zihuatanejo this time of year, it regularly hits 38 or 39 in the Tierra Caliente. Yahoo weather reports a high of 40 (104) degrees today in Nueva Italia.

Somewhere outside of Nuevo Urecho I made a wrong turn. I didn't realize this for about 20 km, after I passed under the toll highway. I expected the road to go straight to Gabriel Zamora, but instead, it went straight for about 1 or 2 km, then did a sharp left, then went south, over the autopista, then ran down parallel with the autopista for a couple of kilometres. I followed my instinct, and continued on this road till I hit an entrance to the toll highway. It was 4:30pm by now, so I decided to hit the autopista instead of continuing on the free road all the way to Nueva Italia. The drive was fairly uneventful, but pretty. Its much funner to drive through the sierra, than just to see it off in the distance from the toll highway. Just off the first toll road entrance, in Los Cajones, there was a nice river full of people swimming in it, and sun bathing on the rocks.

I gassed up out of plastic jugs in Infiernillo, and arrived in La Puerta de Ixtapa at 7:40pm. Not finding who I was looking for, I went to Zihuatanejo to see what the hotel situation was like on the weekend of New Years. I had a place in mind, but stopped at a few other hotels along the way just to get a feel for the prices. This was my first time ever staying in a hotel in Zihuatanejo. The first hotels I went to quoted me absolutely ridiculous prices (900 or 1000 / night), but the place I had in mind from the beginning quoted me $150 pesos / night as their christmas season rate, and I ended up staying there for 3 nights.

I was surprised to see two KLR 650's parked at the hotel, and even more surprised to see they had Alberta license plates! I never ran into the owners though.

I went to the main plaza, and within two or three minutes ran into a friend of mine. I spent the rest of the evening with her, her boyfriend, and a couple of their friends. She was born and raised in Zihuatanejo, but now lives with her brother and sister in Morelia. The next day we were to meet to go to the beach, but I waited at my friends house for an hour and the others never showed up. I decided to go to Ixtapa by myself, and spent a couple hours on Playa El Palmar. After that, I took a ride out to La Barra de Potosi along the ocean road. I was there for about an hour, and left at sunset, back along the ocean road. I spent three hours having a few beers with some local bikers, who remembered me and my DT 175, and loved the XR.

Shortly after 10pm, I went to my friends house, and had New Years Eve dinner with her family. I went back to the hotel around 2:30 or 3:00am or so. The next day 5 of us spent the day on Playa La Ropa, after stocking up on food and drinks at the Commercial Mexicana. In the evening I went to Domingos Culturales. Pretty much the same as always. The young locals don't go to enjoy the amateur hour performances, but rather, they go to see and be seen. And so did I. An old friend recognized me, and I chatted with her for a while. Otherwise, I wandered around by myself and later my friend from Morelia showed up with her friends.

I was with them at the main plaza and on the municipal pier until about 12:30am. They went home, but I was still wide awake. Unfortunately most people that I know there don't have money for the night clubs in Ixtapa. I went to Carlos and Charlies, by myself, for about 2 hours. It was mildly entertaining, but not really. They charged a $100 peso cover. If I ever go to a disco there on my own again, I think it will be the Tequila. There are not usually many foreigners in there, but their strobe lights drive me crazy. I got tacos from El Hornito, in front of Milano, before going back to the hotel to sleep.

In the morning, I packed up my stuff, and went to Troncones. Within moments of arriving, I had two American guys asking me about my bike, and invited me to stay with them where ever they were staying, but they were basically camping I think. That was cool, and as soon as I walked up to the beach some guy came over and asked me if I thought it would get windier, enough for his kite. I told him I didn't know, and later realized he meant for kite surfing. I thought he meant for a normal kite, which I had seen people flying in Ixtapa. I saw some Canadian and Ontario plated vehicles there, someone else asked if I was from Canada and we had that customary what are you doing here conversation. I really had to start asking myself what the hell I am doing in Morelia right now, and not at the beach. I only spent about 1 hour in Troncones, rode to the south end of the beach (on the road), then up to Majahua, and from Majahua continued on the dirt road for 10 or 15 minutes (6km?) till I hit Mex 200, at 2pm, and hit the highway back home.

I took the cuota to Cuatro Caminos, gassed up, then hit the libre through Nueva Italia to Uruapan. It was a nice drive, with some gorges and other nice scenery. Just outside of Uruapan, there was a sign for a waterfall. I pulled off the highway to check it out. I asked a family how far the waterfall was away, and they said it took them 1 1/2 hours to get there and back walking. It was 5:30pm and they supposedly closed at 6pm. I decided to do it, and was very pleasantly surprised. The waterfall, Tzararacua, is very nice and unlike any other waterfall I have seen. What makes it so unique is that it is like a screen of water. There is a main river that is falling, but there is a lot of water falling on both sides of it, apparently coming out of cracks in the cliff wall. It was very nice. There was a small zip line, and for $50 pesos you can jump from one side of the pool of water at the bottom of the waterfall to the other. It only lasted about 5-8 seconds but was fun and mildly exhilerating.

I only spent 1 hour at Tzararacua, and by 6:40 was back on the highway. I drove across Uruapan, and hit the cuota to Patzcuaro. It was a little too late to take the libre. I don't mind driving on the cuotas after dark, but the libres are a different story. The ascent to Patzcuaro was freezing cold. I had on my three t-shirts and a sweatshirt, and motocross gloves, but at 120 km/h it was very, very cold. It regularly goes down to about 5C/41F at night around here. I froze until about half way between Patzcuaro and Morelia, when I could feel it getting warmer with the approximately 1000 ft descent down to Morelia's lower altitude. A nice guy was operating a clandestine abarrotes shop out of his truck in the parking lot at a toll booth, and let me use his hot thermus of coffee that he was selling to warm up my hands.

My first stop in Morelia was at Mc. Donalds on Ventura Puente, arriving at 8:42 pm, where I happily ate my usual Mc Chicken, 2 cheeseburgers, and small fries -- The Real Mexico be damned.

The driving on the Lazaro Cardenas / Patzcuaro autopista is ridiculous. The last time I did this trip by car, with Mexicans, in October, we made it from Ixtapa to Morelia in about 3 hours and 25 minutes. And all of the brochures suggest the approximate driving time between Ixtapa and Morelia is about 3.5 hours. But this is assuming a cruising speed of about 160 km/h (100 mph), which is quite normal on this two lane highway (one in each direction). Its somewhat dangerous on a motorcycle that can only cruise at 120 km/h (155 km/h topspeed for passing etc). I think in Canada 150 km/h is enough for an automatic dangerous driving charge, even on the biggest highways. The four lane cuotas are not bad at all, you still get passed by cars going 160 - 180 km/h, but you aren't expected to pull over and ride on the shoulder while the other car passes you over the yellow line, with cars passing in the oncoming direction.

Someone elses Tzararacua photos -- As this trip was not planned, I had lent my camera to a friend a few days earlier, so I have no pictures of my own.... But it's almost nice to travel without a camera for a change!

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