Posted by Olga and Rick from 188.8.131.52 (ppp-67-37-128-245.dialup.chcgil.ameritech.net) on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 at 06:30:45 :
We are back from a wonderful and all too short 7-day stay in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo.
As this posting was being created the snowballs are a flying in Chicago!!
Before we present our vacation report a couple of side notes. Rick is "mexicano" from the US. Both grandparents are from Mexico. Olga is "hondurena" born in Honduras and came to the US as a child. Going to Latin America is something more than just a vacation for the both of us; it’s a “homecoming”. We desire to be with the local people, and since we are both fully fluent in Spanish, we often go off “the beaten path.”
Olga is a 'big city' woman with extensive experience of public transportation. Rick was accommodating but his patience was tested on some hot steamy nights. The desire to return to the hotel for a cold beer and refreshing shower overcame the desire to save money by using the buses. Do the drivers get paid on a per passenger basis, thus overcrowding the buses to dangerous conditions? Still, Rick is very grateful for some of the experiences felt on the bus that would have been missed using taxis or renting a car.
Now for our past 7 days......
Checked into the Continental Plaza Ixtapa about midnight. The flight from Chicago departed one hour later than scheduled. We went out to get something to eat and stopped at "La Calandria" down the street from the hotel. We bought some alambres (beef tacos with tomato, green pepper, onion and melted white cheese) and beer. Very tasty.
Spent the day roaming Zihuatanejo. The town was bigger than we expected. We had lunch on Paseo del Pescador at Mariscos El Amate. Ask for Erick. Dinner was at Tamales y Atole Any. Both places were excellent. (The local politicians would do themselves a favor by "banning" establishments as McDonald's, Burger King, Hard Rock Cafe and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Those places ruined Cabo San Lucas.)
Strolled the beach behind the hotel. Rented a wave runner for half an hour and ventured around the beautiful rock formations jutting out in the ocean. Highly recommended if you are not afraid of the water or being far out from shore (Olga overcame her fear of deep waters and loved the experience!). We ended up relaxing on the beach and at the hotel pool drinking "Olimpicos"—a very pretty, layered tri-colored drink. We had dinner in Zihua at Restaurante Viva Mexico on Calle Nicolas Bravo. Very, very good.
We began with breakfast at Nueva Zelanda. We caught a bus behind "La Jaíba Feliz" (The Happy Crab) to go to Petatlán. We both found our visit to the church to be very moving. We would not miss Petatlán or the church on a revisit to Ixtapa/Zihua. There was a huge "flea market" was huge and we didn't finish (the flea market was only for Holy Week or Semana Santa). Dinner was a rotisserie chicken from ROSTIMEX. Out of this world!! A+++ (Sorry we forgot what the name of the street was; we relied more on “landmarks” since the street signs are very small and sometimes nonexistent.)
Spent the day at Isla Ixtapa on Playa Coral. Wish we could remember the restaurant, but the food and service were terrific. It is the one that is second to the far right as you are walking toward the beach. Our items were watched while we snorkeled. A+++
We had dinner on the main street in Ixtapa at Christine’s Tacos. These tacos were amazingly cheap although simple. The taste was definitely there.
Took a bus ride to Coacoyul. Lunch at El Profe (The Professor) for pozole, a soup/stew with chicken or pork that is traditionally served on Thursdays. We've died and gone to heaven!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Simply take the bus to Coacoyul--5 pesos and ask the driver that you want to be dropped off close to El Profe. You’ll walk two blocks north and it is on your right-hand side.
Dinner was back in Zihua at Los Braceros. Don't miss!!
Took the bus to Barra de Potosí where 99.9% of the beachgoers are nationals. The beach, restaurant with a palm-thatched roof (palapa), hammocks and food all great. Very idyllic-A+++. This is very much off the beaten path. There is a link on this message board for how to get to Barra. It is (name) on (date). Check it out!
We took in a special dinner on our last evening at Marina Ixtapa at Entresol. We both had the whole lobster with garlic special served with fettuccini. Fantastic!! See Willy, he'll take care of you.
Our last day and we're already in depression.
After our morning beach stroll and licuados (Mexico’s versions of tropical fruit smoothies) and fruit plate we took a bus to Playa Linda for horseback riding with Mexican Horizons. Guillermo our guide took us on a wonderful trip. Highly recommend his services. You’ll find Mexican Horizons/Guillermo at Restaurante El Palmar.
We took a bus back to Zihua to complete last purchases. We had our last meal at El Mango on Calle Nicolas Bravo and even ordered a snack to go for the airplane ride. Great food!!! Taxi'd back to the hotel at 7pm for a 7:30pm departure to the airport. We maximized the day.
Negatives........just a few.
1) We had to come back.
2) The street hawks on the main drag in Ixtapa. They have got to go, or perhaps be segregated to a less popular street corner. Rick's experiences in Cabo has taught him to ignore these people, but when they turn harassing and extremely insulting—as one individual did in front of RENTACAR—that's where the line is drawn. Anyone know of filing a report and actually getting something accomplished?
3) The front desk help at Continental Plaza Ixtapa. For the most part, young, immature people with an uncaring attitude. Our bus for departure was scheduled for 7:30pm on 3/30/2002. Hotel checkout time was 1pm. Prior to leaving the US, I was assured by the folks answering the Continental 800 reservation desk that we would be allowed to keep the room until we departed. We were again reassured of this fact when we checked into the hotel on 3/23/2002. When we inquired on 3/30/2002 we were told we had to be out of the room by 1pm. When asked what were we to do for the remaining 6 hours, we were told we could wait in the lobby or by the pool. Rick was inches from reaching out and strangling the obviously stupid and insensitive young woman. Wanted to pursue with a manager but time was wasting. (We later found out on our Fun Jet bus ride trip to the hotel that we weren’t the only ones who suffered this; many people complained of the checkout policy. Seems like it is more of a Fun Jet problem, and some of the people planned on complaining to the company.)
Take enough cash, watch the exchange rates. Don’t rely on plastic. Not many stores or restaurants in Zihua took plastic. The rate at the bank fluctuated the past week between 8.75 and 8.90. Retailers will take US dollars but ask beforehand what rate they will give you. This is very important, as some will give you a very poor exchange rate. On the other hand, we found some that gave us 9.0 for our US dollars.
INTERNET – Our hotel charged $2.50 peso/minute for service. Crash Data Sytems in Zihua offered 1 hour for $10.00 pesos. Contact L.I. Jorge Morales Velazquez at (755) 554-50-56 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alcohol & Cigars – We struck up a friendship with the owner of Super Mini Acuario on Calle Nicolas Bravo, down the street from Viva Mexico restaurant and right across the street from Restaurante El Pollo Loco. Unfortunately we forgot his name, but he is a nice-looking man, 30ish, about 5’ 7” with a moustache and goatee. For those who speak English only, his command of the English language is very good. He is really a sweet, honest man with a great sense of humor. He was very caring and accommodating as was his wife—a pretty, 30ish brunette-haired woman. We highly recommend them for goods and local information.
Oaxaca Market – Located in Zihua, along the Paseo del Pescador. Don’t miss this as it ends April 7th. Food, ice creams, mescals, clothing, jewelry, artensenias even “tacos de chapulines”
Go off the beaten path! Yes, it is wonderful to lounge by the pool or beach and indulge in libations and snacks, but you are in Mexico! Get to know the people and culture! We were in small towns/localities—Los Achotes, Coacoyul, Petatlán, Puerta, Barrio Viejo—and seeing and experiencing the beauty of the architecture, flora, fauna and local residents (the children are especially precious!) are all priceless. We can’t repeat it enough—GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH!!!!!
WE SHALL RETURN!!!