Trip Report 4/1 4/8 (way too wordy - sorry!)

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Escrito por Steve desde ( el día jueves, 13 de abril, 2006 a las 01:00:08 horas :

Trip Report 4/1 – 4/8

Depart RDU 6:30 a.m. through Houston, arrive ZIH 1:30 ish. Customs was a mess, not too many people but a real mix of different lines being opened at different time, totally random as to which line you got directed to and how quickly you got through. But I guess we were through in 40 minutes or so, so not too bad.
Got through customs and paid for my taxi fare to La Ropa. I knew in advance what it should be and thanks to this board was al3rt to the con they seem to commonly attempt. Was first quoted 40USD, then 29USD when I questioned it. Then paid with 40USD and was given 11 peso’s in change, pointed out this error and got my 110 change. I remember this EXACT mistake being reported by someone else here, hmmm…
15 minute or so ride over to our hotel on La Ropa, Villas Carolina. We had a tough time deciding which hotel to stay in and eventually picked this one just because of the name (being from North Carolina). What a good choice! Fantastic hotel, small with only 6 rooms, totally designed for couples, super friendly and helpful staff, nice little pool, beautiful rooms, could go on and on. Just a great place to relax, meet other people – guests or staff and is a great base from which to explore.
Taxi to and from the Commercial Mexicana to get essentials, mainly water, diet coke and beer 
A little relaxation and then off down the street, about a 1minute walk to the beach. The beach entrance is in between Patys and Elvira’s, not a bad spot! Tried Elvira’s on our first night, coconut shrimp and the seafood brochette. Both pretty good. But WARNING!! Be very very careful when ordering a margarita, it’s huge and very potent  Don’t really recall if we had desert or not…

Breakfast at Patys, nice fruit & yoghurt spread followed by chiliquiles (spicy chicken tortilla kind of thing – highly recommended), all very good. Then lazy beach day, walked down to La Perla, all the seats were taken but we found a good empty sand spot and they pulled out 2 more lounges and a table. Seems they charge you for an umbrella but not if you just have the chairs/beds as we didn’t get any charge but everyone around us did and we were the only one’s not wanting any shade. Beers and water served in a bucket of ice to fend off the sun, most enjoyable afternoon. We had some snacks and all was very good, efficient if not overly friendly service, their furniture is probably a little better than most and there is definitely more available there than the other places on La Ropa.
Showered and a 10 minute walk to Il Mare for dinner, no reservations but got a nice edge table looking out across La Madera and the bay to PM. Nice small restaurant, great friendly staff, very accommodating and helpful. We tried the Tuna Capriccio appetizer followed by the Red Snapper and a seafood pasta, can recommend both.

Up at 5:30 for fishing with Martin on the Isamar. Routine for fishing is to get a taxi to the pier around 6:15, stop by the shop right next to the pier entrance and get fresh pastries, sandwiches and coffee – all are very good – then walk down the pier for around 6:45 and try to spot your boat, wave like crazy and watch him pull up to the steps, jump aboard and head off to find a bait panga in the harbor, we were paying 50 pesos for bait for the day. First day was an offshore trip looking for sailfish/marlin/tuna and we, along with pretty much everyone else, got skunked. We saw one fish jump, couple of whales but not a lot else. No fish, no follows, strikes or eaten bait. Tried pretty much everything, live bait, dead bait, artificials, surface, deep, slow, fast, nothing 
Gave up and back to the pier around 2:30, taxi back to hotel for some pool time to wash away the salt and frustration.
For dinner we tried going back to La Perla. Got there and there was around 6-7 other tables occupied and was directed to a dirty recently vacated table. Waited 15-20 minutes and then left, there was 4 or 5 waiters but none of them ever came to clean the table, provide menu’s or take a drink order despite our stares, waves, etc. Walked back down to Patys and despite it being late (for Z – around 9:30) were greeted at the entrance, seated and given menus and order drinks in less than a minute. Had to wait a while for the food, but that’s OK (good actually, they are actually cooking it!!) if you’ve had some service and are relaxing with a drink. I had fish tacos, can’t remember what else, but it was typical Patys fare, good tasty basic food.

Up again at 5:30 for more fishing. Decided on an inshore trip today for a sure thing for some fish while the offshore stuff had a chance to turn around. Ha!! Spent the day cruising the beaches, pulling, casting and drifting everything we had to no great effect. Saw more whales (big ones!), even some feeding birds and actually some nice Jack’s around Potsi (That’s got to be spelt wrong – the big bird poop island  ).But no takers except for one small bonito.
Back to shore around 3:00 today, picked up more supplies in town and back to the pool to recover from another hard day on the water.
Dinner at Kua Kan, probably the nicest looking restaurant we went to. Very nice atmosphere, definitely tops in presentation of both food and surroundings. Just down the street from Il Mare so the view is about the same except it is totally open air so you get more stars… Food was very good, giant grilled shrimp and the Mahi special of the night. Both excellent, this place is a great choice for that ‘special’ night.

Breakfast at the hotel, very good. Ordered a similar spread to Patys, about the same price and quality, chiliquiles not as good. Decided to be adventurous and walk to Las Gatos rather than taxi to town and then water taxi across the bay. From Patys it’s about 10 minutes down to the end of La Ropa and then 15 minutes over the rocks to Las Gatos. It’s not simple, there’s a few tricky spots but not too bad at all. Unless you are disabled in some way you can make it no problem, providing you can wear a shoe more substantial than your basic beach sandal. Walking along Las Gatos you will be intercepted by someone from every restaurant on the beach, I guess around a dozen of them, they will all have a place reserved for you, the coldest beer, freshest food and best service. Best plan is to saw you are meeting friends at the beach club to deter them. We stopped at Otilla’s, second from last and had a great time, no experience of the other places but can definitely recommend this one. Franco is a great guy and will take care of whatever you need. Recommended it to others at the hotel and they had the same experience. They keep a few of whatever you are drinking on ice under your shade and the food we tried was very good, definitely very fresh seafood. We even managed to walk back across the rocks, although after the hospitality at otilla’s this may not be good advice! You can get a one way ticket back through town, or Franco may be able to arrange a panga directly back to La Ropa.
Dinner at Casa Bahia, our personal favorite. We got the recommendation for their tuna from this board and it is not wrong. We both love tuna and this place has some of the best!! It’s always rare or raw unless you ask for it differently and it is so fresh it just melts in your mouth. Casa Bahia is about directly opposite Patys on the far side of the bay, so a similar view to La Ropa but in reverse. No sunsets here, but a very nice view of the bay bathed in the dying sun.

Up at 5:30 for you know what. Offshore was sure to light up today, couple if marlin caught on Wednesday plus some tuna. We were going to come back sore!!! Well, maybe… Pretty much the same story for the bad luck crew of the Isamar, although we did have a strike at a big marlin bait running deep but judging from the markings on the bait it was a small sailfish with big idea’s 
So time to call it a day for the fishing, not to be our trip this time around. There were fish being caught, just not a lot of them. If you were lucky enough to pull on top of them at the right time you got bit, otherwise it was tough finding them as there was nothing showing, no surface structure, no birds feeding, etc. But that’s why it’s called fishing and not catching
Relaxed a little too hard by the pool and had to abandon any complex dinner plans due to daiquiri overdose. Just walked down to Villa Mexicana (next door to Patys) and ate at their restaurant (Don Prudesca or something like that). Food was OK, fairly basic fare, would recommend Patys or Elvira’s over it.

Last full day 
Breakfast at Patys, very similar to Elvira’s, not much to choose between the two, can’t go wrong at either for the type of food they serve.
Taxi into town for some souvenir shopping and a bottle from Casa Tequila, which seemed to be the place if you wanted a bottle of something special. Quiet day walking along La Ropa and a few drinks by the pool with our neighbors.
Last night meal was a return to Casa Bahia, tried different tuna dishes with the same orgasmic results. If you like tuna and like it rare you MUST go here….

Packed up and headed home, boohoo!! And to complete my misery at leaving Continental lost my luggage…

Overall an excellent vacation. Great hotel, great food, very relaxing, just what we wanted. Fishing could have been better but we’ll be back (depending on the troubles) when the season improves, maybe January. We never saw any indication of violence while we were there, no sign of any sewage over on La Ropa or Las Gatas, lots of odd smells around town though. If the troubles escalate we’ll probably stay away, otherwise we’ll definitely be back for more!

With a little luck I’ll attach a panorama of La Ropa taken from the rocks on the way to Las Gatas, you can still see the joins of the original 3 photo’s but I tried 

Thanks to everyone for the help and advice in planning this trip, hopefully someone will find something useful in here for the future.

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