My Trip to Zihua - Day 4 (long)

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Posted by Travis in Seattle from ( on viernes, marzo 07, 2003 at 18:20:22 :

DAY 4 – SATURDAY, 2/15

Okay, this is getting stupid. Today I wake up at 5:40 a.m. This the fourth day in a row, for no reason, my eyes snap open before my normal (embarrassingly late) wake-up time. And each day it’s getting progressively earlier. At this rate, tomorrow I’m going to wake up yesterday.

I’m getting cranky.

I step out onto the patio for air. Aaaahh….there’s the gentle whine of those distant pangas again. Damn pangas. Their song holds no charm for me this morning. I need sleep. Fortunately, I manage to pinch another hour after I crawl back into bed.

Today is the day I strike camp and move from Bungalows Pacificos to Bungalows Ley. I dropped by Ley yesterday to make sure the room reservations were in order (they were) and the Manager, Carlos, even allowed me to look into unit #2 which is one of the rooms the four of us will be calling home. I wanted assurances as I’m the one who’s been responsible for planning/choosing everything on this vacation, and my compadres are scheduled to arrive on two different planes later this afternoon and evening. (The key word in that sentence will turn out to be “scheduled”.) Anyway, Ley looks great! I’m happy. In comparison, B. Pacificos, which has many virtues and is fine for just me, trends a bit toward rustica, and the unit I’ve been in is down low and doesn’t afford much breeze. From a quick glance, at Ley I’ll feel like I’m checking into the Four-Seasons. Ley also, unlike Pacificos, has air conditioners in the units for those “I’m overheated” emergencies. (The key word in that sentence will turn out to be “emergencies”.)

I thought today, after settling the bill with Anita at Pacificos and dropping my bag off at Ley, I’d hang on Playa La Ropa since I hadn’t been there yet this trip. But a slight case of the gastrointestinals has me reluctant to stray too far from facilities. I’m not in a bad way by any means, just being a bit cautious. And lazy. I speculate as to the cause. Both lunch and dinner yesterday were had at somewhat more rustic establishments relative to previous meals. So maybe that’s it. Then again, I don’t eat much fried food at home, and both of those meals (Huachinango and Rellenos) were fried. So that could be it, too. Whatever. It’s No Big and nothing I haven’t overcome before on countless trips to Mexico and elsewhere. So I ramp up the meds, pop 2 Peptos, and even as I’m writing this, I’m feeling more “settled”. (Note to self: Pepto Bismol = miracle drug…buy stock.)

I can’t access the rooms at Ley till around 1 pm, and it’s starting to heat up so I walk down the steps to Playa Madera for that miraculous combination of swimming, shade and breeze. Oh yeah, and maybe a beer. I plant it at MJ & Richies.

Now it’s time to pay a small tribute to the waiter at MJ & R. I am surprised that he immediately recognizes me as I was only here once before and didn’t spend all that much time or money. He also remembers, God knows how, that I was drinking Negro Modelo the other day. One arrives in a bucket of ice. The waiter has bleached blonde hair, a small tattoo on his leg, and is probably around 23 or so. He looks to be a bit of a hipster. (Surfer? In a band?) I ask his name: “Mauricio”. (Naturally. “Maurice” only with soul. Why does the English language suck so much?) He then asks my name. Rather than burden him—like he needs to memorize the name of yet another short term tourist—I reply, “Amigo.” Then I add a side order of attitude. “Senor Amigo to you.” He laughs. He gets it. And over the rest of my vacation, I will put myself in Mauricio’s capable hands many times more.

After another swim, I notice that a small plastic bowl filled with water has appeared under a palapa near my table. Turns out it belongs to “Max”. Max is a sweet, goofy brown dog, probably a Lab mix. His owners are Sharon and Frank, an American couple who look to be in their sixties or so. They plop down at the table next to me. I miss my dog back home, so Max and I become quick friends.

Sharon and Frank are in the middle of some rapidly-moving card game that also involves a small board with pegs that I guess is the way to keep score. Sharon is very FOCUSED on the game, her hands moving furiously, but Max serves as a natural bridge, and a conversation inevitably starts up between us. (Frank is a man of few words, Sharon does almost all the talking.) After a little “dog talk” I throw out the inevitable vacation query. “So how long are you here for?” Sharon’s head jerks up from the game and she answers with more than a little pride in her voice, “We live here.” I immediately assume they’ve been to Zihuatanejo on vacation many times before, decided they’d retire here, bought a place, packed up and headed down etc., etc., typical ex-pat story.

So I ask how long they’ve been living here? “Four months.” Then I ask how many trips they’d taken to Zihua before deciding to move here. “None. Never been.” Oh. Hmmmm. Got lots of friends down here, I ask? “Nope. Just us.” Okay, now I’m scrambling. I ask if they both speak Spanish. “Frank doesn’t speak any. I just started taking lessons,” Sharon answers, matter-of-factly.

The hamsters in my head are spinning faster and faster. They’ve never been here, have no friends in the area, don’t speak Spanish, are renting, packed up an old Toyota Corolla with all their stuff and their dog…..and? …..and?….there’s got to be something she’s not telling me. And away we go…

ME: So, why Zihuatanejo?
SHARON: Ever see “Shawshank Redemption”?
ME: Yes.
SHARON: Remember the ending?
ME: Yes.
SHARON: That’s what sold us.
ME: ….ummmm…..but…..ummmm….the Morgan Freeman character, didn’t he only ever just refer to ending up in Zihua?….
SHARON: No, no. The very end. The last scene. Remember? That shot of him walking down the beach…?
ME: Yeah…

That’s it. That’s all there is.

After picking my jaw up off the sand, I try to re-group. I think to myself for a moment and gather thoughts….this is probably not a good time to mention that the final ten-second scene in the movie was most likely shot on some beach in California or Florida to save money. No, that’s probably not a real good idea. Anyway, regardless, I enjoy spending a few more quiet hours on the beach with Sharon, Frank and especially Max.

Chad and Kim are arriving around 3:30. So beforehand, I check in at Ley and go to the local Tienda for beer, chips, water and what not so the refrigerators aren’t empty when they arrive. Chad and Kim are already at the Bungalow when I return with the goods. They’ve had an awful, long travel day so we just relax before heading out to dinner.

We try to do an easy dinner down at Restaurant La Madera but it’s not open. (Wasn’t open for dinner my entire stay.) So we “Plan B” it and hike up through the Irma to Puesta del Sol. I see Eduardo the 12-year-old, innocent-faced kid who waited on me a few nights before when I was alone. He looks right at me, and I know he recognizes me, but I also notice he wears a slightly sinister expression. (Remember Eduardo, El Diablito?) We’re seated and I introduce Kim and Chad to my amigo Eduardo. He insists that his name is not Eduardo and that he’s never seen me before. He also looks at me with what can only be described as “Stink-Eye”. Despite my protests and attempts at reminding him of the other night, he keeps up the act throughout dinner, never once breaking character. He is so good, in fact, Kim and Chad actually think this kid hates me. He is also so good, in fact, I begin to wonder if I’ve got it wrong. Maybe this really isn’t Eduardo. Maybe it’s his slightly older or younger brother? An evil twin, perhaps? Whatever. He successfully makes a fool of me the entire night to everyone’s amusement. Even as we’re walking out the door, I look at him and he looks at me, and he doesn’t give an inch. The kid rocks.

Back at the bungalow, we start to get the uncomfortable feeling that Allen’s flight is either late or he’s not on it. I notice a group is checking in at the front desk, so I go inquire. Coincidentally, they were also traveling from Seattle on similar routing to Allen’s through Mexico City, arriving in Zihua on the very same AeroMexico flight he was supposed to be on. They let me know the airports were chaos, people were getting bumped etc., etc.

So Allen never shows up that night but at least I have a clue. He’s somewhere between Seattle and Zihua, probably being put up in one of those lovely airport hotels.

This, it turns out, would be just the first in a bizarre sequence of relaxation-challenging events that happen in quick succession over the next two days.

Oh. Goody.

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