Zihua Ten Years Later: The Trip Report

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Escrito por Fygar desde (kmc-dialup.main.nc.us) el día sábado, 26 de febrero, 2005 a las 13:52:05 horas :

Ok folks, it’s time to do the trip report before the tan and my memory fade away.

This was a very special episode of the trip to Z: 1. it was my honeymoon and 2. It was my first trip back to Z in ten years. Ten years ago I lived in Z for about a year while I taught English classes in the hotels over in Ixtapa. Returning was like stepping into a very weird time machine: I left a 24 year-old punk kid and retuned a 34 year-old married man. Zihua is still magical albeit a bit bigger and noisier. Anyway, the trip, she was great. My wife loved my old, adopted hometown! She was even on the phone with the airlines trying to change our tickets the day before our departure.

We stayed at Irma. When I lived in Z, every time I walked past Irma on my way to La Ropa, I thought “There’s the nice, semi-inexpensive place I want to stay if I ever come back”. So we did and it was. You simply can’t go wrong with Irma. The locat1on is perfect and the malecon (the beach sidewalk) now ends right at the stairs up to Irma’s pool. They were putting the finishing touches on the sidewalk our first week there! Downtown is pleasant fifteen minute walk and La Ropa is an easy ten (although, it is another ten or fifteen to La Perla, El Pirata, Rossy, etc.). La Madera (my new favorite beach) is a one minute trip down the stairs and you can walk to Comercial in fifteen (hot, so very hot) minutes.

I highly recommend rooms 13 through 17 at Irma and (lucky number) 13 in particular! Room 13 is the corner room closest to La Madera. As it is on the corner, it only has one shared balcony to the left and an incredible view of La Madera to the right. These rooms have been remodeled recently. They have TVs (for watching your telenovelas) and great AC. The AC units are located OUTSIDE the rooms and so the cool air silently blows into your room! Perhaps best of all: there is no climb up to the rooms. They’re all just a few steps up from the front desk. Perfect for those nights when you’re stumbling back from downtown or La Ropa. The restaurant is very good (one of my former students from the Krystal works there now (shout out to Daniel!)); the pool area isn’t bad (perfect for a break from walking around town or when you just can’t handle another day at the beach), and the entire staff is super-friendly.

What was Z like ten years ago? Well, there was waaaaay less traffic; there was no Comercial (I used to live about three blocks away from that empty lot!) or Bodega. The road to Ixtapa was two lanes, there was one stop light in town. The first place I lived, a place called El Zafari, the first really nice hotel built in the 30’s (I think) near the old airport, is now a school. What else? There were fewer tourists/Americans/Canadians/Europeans. During our trip, there times, walking on the street, when it appeared that there was some poorly-organized gringo parade going on. Pozole Alley was not much of an alley: there was only one place, La Callita!

I missed Ruben’s at La Madera. If anybody stays at those bungalows, be sure to pour some out for the great burgers, potatoes and plantains once served on that site. The wife and I walked past the Ruben’s in Ixtapa but, tragically, we weren’t hungry. Oh, and, yes, the backside of Ixtapa was post-apocalyptic even back in the day. God, it is creepy back there! I missed going to El Globo (the old grocery store near the Mercado). I was bummed to see that La Perla no longer had the orange, adirondack chairs. What else? Oh, yeah! Kon-Tiki, what the heck?! How do you let a place with a killer view and decent pizza go out of business? Note to investors: seems like a great opportunity. There were lots of little pangs of memory as we walked the streets. Restaurant-wise, the strangest thing was to see La Bocana empty every single night. When did that place become “restaurant-a non grata”? Back in the day it seemed like it was packed pretty regularly.

Some things we did: Snorkeled at Las Gatas and Isla Ixtapa (Playa Coral). I’d bring my own snorkel stuff next time. The snorkeling was great both places but it would be nice to drink or eat the money we spent on snorkel rental. Be sure to just take the “Playa Linda” bus to the pier for the boat to La Isla. We went horseback riding with Ignacio from the Bad Bird Café. I’m sure there are better deals or longer rides other places, but Ignacio is a really nice guy and the ride at Playa Larga as the sun set was gorgeous. Good coffee at the Bad Bird, too.

Some places we ate: Los Fortinos II had great tiritas and pretty good fish tacos (thumbs down on the flour tortillas). The “machacha” was really tasty. The restaurant (La Perla Dona Maria or something like that) right beneath Irma at the end of the malecon was really, really good. Edgar was our waiter both times we went there, great guy. The food was exceptional, the drinks strong. On La Ropa, we went to El Pirata (just past the crocodile) a few times. The food was great and our waiter, Alfonzo, was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Tacos 727 has cleaned up pretty well. The tacos weren’t as good as I remember and I think I preferred the adjacent car wash over the girly-show bar that’s there now. However, the hostess used to work at the Sheraton and I knew her from my classes there. It was great to reminisce with her. I wish we would’ve had more time to try more taco places (duh!). On Playa Principal, we went to Los Arcos (spelling?) a couple of times. It’s the place with the nice green awning not far from the museum. Really good food and frighteningly powerful margaritas! There really is something about eating on the Playa Principal at night with the music of roaming musicians mixing with the noise of the basketball court and the sound of waves crashing on the beach. As I said, the margaritas are very strong. The best licuado we had was at the airport the morning we left. We went to one of the smaller places, not the evil, fenced in joint. My licuado was big, cold and yummy.

On the surreal-o-meter: The day we went to La Isla, before we headed back to Z, we managed to track down two old friends who worked at Melia Azul. They invited us to spend the next day at Melia as a wedding gift. I’m not much for the all-inclusive clubs but I’m not stupid either. The next day we took the bus out to Melia, got our braclets and headed for the pool. You want luxury? I got three words for you: “air”, “conditioned”, and “bathrooms” around the pool. While it was nice to get free drinks and eat all that free food (especially since it was, for us, truly free), I have to say, the whole all-inclusive thing is pretty lame. You don’t talk to your waiter beyond “more coffee” and “yes, I’m finished” thus removing a huge part of your interaction with locals, there’s no money that goes into the local economy (in the case of Melia Azul, your money goes to a huge cement company that, um, doesn’t need more) and well, it’s just weird to be have that bracelet on, looking at other people’s bracelets, thinking about their color and what that color means, thinking about your next meal. . . it’s all weird. Trying to rationalize the amount of waste that takes place in a country with that much poverty. . . look, just spend you money elsewhere, ok? That said, the food in the “Mexican” restaurant at Melia was unbelievably good. Seriously, the pozole, the tamales, the mole, everything was spectacularly good. Like, good, as in: if you’re a fan of traditional Mexican Cuisine and you have money, I’d do a day-pass or just go out there and see if you can have lunch there one day. I’m sure they’ll take your money. In light of what I just said, I hate saying that, however, the food in the “Mexican” restaurant was that good.

Overall, though, Zihua is still the same magical, sweet and enchanting place that it was ten years ago. It was then and is now filled with the most friendly, warm-hearted people. It is sincerely a privilege to be welcomed into their home. The people and their beautiful city bring so much joy to so many people. I don’t think there are enough words or deeds to thank the people of Zihuatanejo and Mexico for their generosity. Muchismas Gracias!!!

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