Trip Report 8/20-8/27 part 1

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Posted by scott from ( on jueves, agosto 29, 2002 at 19:45:15 :

This was our third trip to the area in 12 months, having spent a week there in April and before that, a week last August. What is unusual about this is that until we started going to I/Z, we never took a vacation to the same place twice in a row.

We’ve done our share of traveling in Mexico using all forms of motivation. My wife M is Mexicana and fluent in Spanish. Son J is 5 and also bilingual. I understand and speak enough to keep me out of trouble. Well, most of the time anyway. Ok, so I don’t speak nearly enough. I’m trying… Anyway, hiking, climbing, and kayaking in Baja, partying on the East Cape, diving in Cozumel, taking the Copper Canyon train from Los Mochis or the bus from Chihuahua to Juarez, or just driving to various places, yup, we’ve been around Mexico a bit.

Our trip starts at 6am on the 20th. My parents, who live close by, drive us to San Diego’s commuter terminal. Our itinerary has us flying American Eagle to LAX where we catch the Alaska non-stop. We love flying this way for several reasons. Nothing is crowded at the commuter terminal. Waiting for check-in takes a couple of minutes. No wait for passing security. The flights up to LAX run every 30 minutes and are never full. A nice short flight wets J’s appetite for the longer Alaska flight while allowing a non-hurried shuttle over the Alaska gate. And the little planes are a blast.

The flight down is pleasant and uneventful. We recognize several attendants from earlier trips. The same chicken pasta salad with roasted red pepper dressing is served. The plane is about 2/3 full, which is less than either previous trip. We arrive on time to a beautiful sunny day. Feels like at least 90, with the typical summer humidity. Immigration passes quickly, bags are retrieved, a green light at Customs, and we’re soon in a taxi on our way to Ixtapa. 200 pesos for a taxi seems expensive unless you’ve sat around in a hot shuttle waiting for those last couple of folks to fill the seats, only to save a few bucks. To us, a taxi is a deal. On the way in we note how green everything is compared to what it was in April.

Like the previous trips, we’re staying at the Dorado Pacifico. Another unusual thing about this trip is that we’ve booked it as a package from Alaska Air. I never use packages, but this one has proven itself as a great easy way to go. When checking prices, and comparing possible itineraries, this package works well for us. Accounting for airfare from SD, our daily rate for a suite costs something around $70, which is similar to the hotel’s current “stay 7/pay 5” deal using summer rates. Well worth the money for the service and accommodations packaged with easy air travel, all prearranged online with no hassle.

All throughout our stay, the staff recognizes us from April, which makes me feel important. Edgar at the front desk, the bellmen Felipe and Raul, even a couple of the waiters in the restaurant and bartenders at the pool bar welcome us back. And of course, as we’ll learn later, the beautiful Juany who serves us drinks in the lounge and dotes over J is still here. All in all, it feels like we’re visiting family who lives far away.

We’re given a room on the 12th floor. On each floor there are two suites that more or less face directly out from the center of the hotel. Each suite has two separate balconies, so that one suite faces generally south and west (the 14 room) while the other faces north and west (the 15 room). We did 14 the last time, so it’s 15 this time. We prefer 15 for the slightly better view. The room is spotless, cool, and large with a single king bed and foldout sofa. A dining table, chairs, various other tables, a dresser, and minibar complete the accommodations. Each balcony has two chairs and a small table. The room also has a spacious closet and safe, for which we were given lock and key at check-in. To me, this is much more convenient than using the safety deposit box downstairs. The bath has a coffer maker (why do they put these things here?), a hair dryer, and two plush bathrobes.

A few minutes of unpacking, the inflation of a rather large blow-up shark for J, and it’s off to the swimming pool. The pool is here is very nice and one reason why we return. Bigger than most in the area, it sports a two-sided water slide that’s fun for all of us. The pool area also has a lot of shade with palapas and palms located everywhere. Attached to the pool is a huge palapa that houses a swim-up bar and sit-down restaurant. Nearby is a small children’s pool, a play area, hammocks, another small bar/dining area, and steps to the beach and (more) palapas. It’s Heaven on earth for a family of water lovers.

The rest of this first day is spent swimming, enjoying adult refreshments, and having a lovely dinner at Lobster House, which is directly across the street from the hotel. Now, ok, it is a tourist restaurant. But it’s a darn fine one. The shrimp is plentiful and fresh, the huachinango is plump, moist, and loaded with garlic and butter, and the vegetables are cooked al dente to perfection. Previous dinners at Casa Morelos or Mamma Norma & Deborah, while ok, weren’t nearly as good as this. Add a couple of cold beers and the price is still reasonable. Returning to the hotel, we find that we’re not ready to sleep, so we take off the sandals and walk south to the end of the beach. By the time we return it’s almost midnight. A long, but great first day.

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