Warning: longwinded trip report!

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Escrito por frostbite desde (94-10-237-24.gci.net) el día miércoles, 02 de febrero, 2005 a las 20:18:12 horas :

Arrived at Anchorage International's attractive new C concourse for the suggested 3 hour prior to departure check-in. Since I was offered a complimentary upgrade to 1st class, I elected to go to the counter with real humans behind it, rather than the check-in machines. A rather officious AS employee roaming the area insisted we go to one of the machines. The machine declined to issue boarding passes, so she sent me to the 1st class baggage checker and my wife to steerage, where she had her bags checked and a boarding pass issued in short order. I, on the other hand, spent 20 minutes waiting in line and when the person ahead of me was finally processed, the AS employee behind that counter announced that she was closing down and going home. So off I went to the end of another line. When my wife and I finally joined up again, we noticed that her boarding pass said Gate 2, while mine said Gate 4. "I suppose", I said in jest, "they'll eventually split the difference and board at Gate 3". Sure enough, we boarded at Gate 3! Several gate changes at SEA and LAX later, we finally arrived in ZIH 15 minutes early due to tailwinds aloft.

What follows might lead one to believe that all we did in ZIH was eat, which we certainly did with gusto and mostly very well, but there really isn't very much to say about loafing on the beach all day.

As always, we stay at Bungalows Pacificos, a charmingly seedy hostelry on top of La Madera, with a great view of the bay and within easy walking distance of just about anywhere.
We typically start our days with a walk in a feeble attempt to burn off some of the excess calories taken in the night before. After a shower it's off to breakfast at the Casa Cafe, which is becoming increasingly popular to the extent that, on several occasions, there was a line at the door prior to their opening. They are closed on Mondays when we go to the Malibu Cafe.
Day 1: Spent the day at Las Gatas with Franco at Otilia's. The tide was out and there was little wave action, so the snorkeling was great. I typically swim along the far (outer) side of the reef and back along the inside. It's not Belize, but I always seem to find something I've never seen before, regardless of how often I make this round trip. This takes me a leisurely 45 minutes and then it's time for a light lunch and a beer. We head back to town around 4:00 to beat the rush, shower and debate where to eat dinner. Tonight it will be at the Cafe Chuleto on the Paseo del Pescador. The pre-dinner margaritas were good, but small. My wife orders the duck and I the tuna. As I'm about to dig in, I see a 1/2" black slug slithering across my plate. I am not pleased. The waitress apologizes and brings me a new dinner, but my apetite is markedly deminished.
Day 2: We wake up in the morning to find a huge Carnival cruise ship (the first of 6 of those polluting monstrosities during our 2 week stay!) obliterating our view of the bay. Another day of loafing at the beach, followed by dinner at Daniel's. Good, large margaritas and excellent shrimp and salad.
Day 3: Yet another cruise ship in the bay! Walk, breakfast and of to Las Gatas again. On the boatride back we are approached by an older American couple who, along with a young Israeli couple, claim to have been ripped off by 2 guys offering jetski rides. The price quoted was NP60.00. Twice more they asked to confirm the price, again NP60.00. An offer of pre-payment was refused, but NP600.00 was demanded upon their return. They declined to pay that much, offered less, but this wasn't accepted. At their request, we accompanied themto the taxi stand where the police were waiting. The choice: pay up or go to jail. They paid. Throughout all this I was thinking that perhaps there was a misunderstanding, but when I asked the jetski driver for his name and he refused to tell me, I was pretty much convinced that he was a thief. The lessons to be learned: A. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. B. Be absolutely sure what is being offered and the price. For dinner we went to Porto di Mare with friends. The service and food were good. My wife had dorado with a cider/apple sauce and I had seared tuna in a pepper crust with a balsamic coulis. Both were quite tasty, but were served without any carbs or vegetables, which we thought odd. The meal was served with an excellent Mexican white wine.
Day 4: Bought filled breakfast rolls from the ladies at the pier and took off for a few hours of fishing enroute to Isla Ixtapa with our usual panga driver Guillermo Arciniega. The fishing was excellent: I caught 2 small Dorado, 7 Sierra and 9 Bonita. We released several fish, took some to one of the restaurants on Playa Coral to be cooked while we snorkeled and took the remainder home for our landlady and her staff. A Canadian woman, parked nearby on the beach, left her purse open on a chair and had her wallet lifted. She then screamed at her husband for ruining her vacation. Poor guy! That evening we met some friends at Blue Mamou. A great venue; hope they make it. Excellent margaritas. Good music, too. The lead guitar player was wearing a t-shirt decorated with a reproduction of a dance poster advertising a concert by Michael Bloomfield at the Avalon Ballroom (I believe) in San Francisco in the mid-sixties, when his father was young, as was I. We had the BBQ dinner: 2 ribs, 2 chicken wings and cabbage salad. Quite good, albeit small portions.
Day 5: Woke up to find another one of those godawful cruise ships in the bay. hung around the house most of the day reading. Had dinner in the courtyard behind Caprichos. Great ambience; somewhat like Coconuts, but smaller and without the attitude. My wife had a cheeseburger and I had the shrimp brochette; both were excellent and the Pacifico was cold.
Day 6: A walk, then breakfast as usual at Casa Cafe, but this time in the company of a fellow and his wife whom I'd met on the street in November and who, it turned out, had gone to High School back in the Fifties in a small town in California with an old friend of mine - small world! He and his wife had retired to ZIH 2 years ago and it was a pleasure to make new friends here. Later that morning we walked to El Manglar on La Ropa for lunch. The crocodiles were cooperative in that 2 swam past our table as we ate, while another sunned itself on the beach. The Pulpo al Ajo was excellent. We started to walk back, but ended up hailing a cab due to the heat. For dinner we went to El Mediterraneo. The shrimp with garlic and wine sauce was very good, the red sauce on the dorado should have staid in the can. The margaritas were great.
Day 7: After breakfast, we spent most of the day shopping and lazing about the house. For dinner we tried Rufo's, a new BBQ joint on Calle Adelita and Remedios. We ordered the ribs which were a lump of meat bone and gristle which was somewhat undercooked and covered with a poor imitation of BBQ sauce. My wife wisely passed on the salad, but I, having never before gotten sick in ZIH, chose to eat it. This turned out to be a major mistake, as Montezuma came calling that night. Fortunately, another big thunderstorm helped camouflage my activities in the bathroom. 2 days of Imodium fixed the problem.
Day 8: Once again, a Carnival ship blocked the view of the bay and a heavy downpour, which didn't let up until late afternoon, did nothing to encourage an early departure. The rain finally stopped shortly after our friends arrived from SFO, and we headed to "Any's" for dinner. Jose Ramon was his usual charming self and the food was delicious as always. My wife ordered the Carne Enchilada and I had a Tamal Oaxaceno, which was something new to me. Our friends had Pozole and Chile Relleno, respectively.
Day 9: Holy Sh*t! This AM there are 2 cruise ships in the bay - actually one was in, the other halfway out. We had a good lunch at MJ & Richie's: Arroz con Pulpo, delicious. On the way to go shopping at Comercial Mexicana, we stopped off to visit our new friends in their charming house on the canal. For dinner we went to Il Mare for the first time. The place doesn't look like much from the street, but once you've negotiated the steep steps down, it's a lovely open space with a great view. The service was excellent, the food first rate and the domestic wine we had was really good.
Day 10: Another fine day at Las Gatas with Guacamole, Shrimp Tacos and Dos Equis for lunch. For dinner we went to El Costeno on the Paseo del Pescador. The Garlic Shrimp was very good, but the Tuna Mexicana looked and tasted suspiciously like sailfish.
Day 11: More good food and too much of it. Lunch with friends at Caprichos. I had Chile Relleno con Queso y Camarones - superb. Dinner at La Gula. MY wife ordered Angeles a Caballo, shrimp wrapped with bacon and I had Negrito de Zihua, a blackened dorado fillet. All of it just great and their apetizers are wonderful, too. And, believe it or not, we actually managed to get in a couple of meetings between meals!
Day 12: Casa Cafe for breakfast followed by a tour of some condos and a lunch of cold cuts and chips at home. Hiked to Casa Bahia for dinner: seared tuna for me, shrimp kebab for my wife. Both were excellent. Stopped for drinks at Daniel's on the way home.
Day 13: Another hard day at the beach... For dinner we went to "Any's" again. The food and the service were excellent as usual. One rarely sees locals eating at the more upscale places, but this is not the case at "Any's", which speaks well for the quality of their food and the prices.
Day 14: Breakfast again at Casa Cafe, this time with ladyM, who was kind enough to drive us around town looking at furniture. Lunch at MJ & Richie's followed by a nap - it was a hard day, after all - and then dinner at Amuleto. Unlike during our visit in November when the road there was more like a dry riverbed, it is now being paved. This is truly a magical place. The view, service, food and prices are far better than at LCQC and, most importantly, they don't have the pretensious attitude. Reservations are recommended. They also have, by far, the best and the biggest margaritas we sampled on this trip.
The following day we were, once again, subjected to Alaska Airlines" version of the Chinese Firedrill, but made it home in one piece and with our luggage intact. As I sit here writing this while staring out the window at the snow and the thermometer which reads 7F in mid-afternoon, I'm wondering whether I should have my head examined for not staying in ZIH longer. But then there's next year to look forward to!

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