Straight from the horses mouth

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Posted by Tootie Wink from (?) on lunes, agosto 18, 2003 at 18:24:20 :

In Reply to: Advice on Petatlan posted by Wpg. Guy from ( on domingo, agosto 17, 2003 at 13:19:18 :

Here is a copy of an email from a friend who recently moved from Portland to Zihuatanejo. She visited this area on 8/10...Raylene, if you're out there, hope you don't mind me sharing your story! Here goes....

Did a bit of site seeing, ie gold Mercado shopping. Went 34 miles southeast to Petetlan. I went by myself and on a Sunday, not knowing exactly where it is. I had verbal directions. Just go about 30 something miles down Hwy 200, (you don’t, go past the airport and just follow the signs, the town is right on the highway and you can see the Church steeple from the highway. Sounds simple doesn’t it? NOT!

I followed the highway, fully planning on going past the airport and on to ‘the largest collection and most inexpensive collection of gold in Mexico”. The problem was….

Although the highways, even the none toll roads are very well maintained…. signage is not all that consistent. The very next town is sometimes mentioned. The next LARGE (million plus) tourist town is mentioned periodically. I stayed in the right hand lane, and ended up in the parking lot of the airport..,hmmm, as I was ‘leaving’ the airport I got stopped by the federal police. This officer spoke some English, however he was very serious about wanting to know why I was just driving through and not stopping.

I hit him with my best ¿Se va a Petetlan por esta carretera? (Does this road lead to Petetlan?) He must have understood my bad Spanish because he started waving his arms back down the road and yelling “You go back seis km! You go back! Needless to say as soon as my drivers license and ‘papers’ were returned to me………I went back!

Did I mention that there are no traffic laws in Mexico? Let me rephrase….the laws are seldom enforced. My feeling is that the only time they are brought into play is if you are driving a vehicle with US or Canadian plates. Then they are only addressed if the police officer is looking for a frescos (not sure if that is spelling right, its one of those words you won’t find it the Spanish/English dictionary) its literal meaning is BRIBE!

Back to the journey ‘just down the road’……on my return trip, I spied to my right a small sign overgrown with bushes that said Acapulco, since I new Acapulco was 150mi AFTER Petetlan…I went that direction…..went through several villages and small communities and finally came upon a sign that said Petetlan 2 km. Yes!

Remember the “you can see the steeple of the church” statement…well you can, but its out in the middle of the tree tops, so you can’t see how to get to it cause there are not roads, dirt or otherwise, at this point, just a very low brown river bed.

Oh yes and the comment “the town is right on the road”. There is a slightly wider dirt portion of the road where the buses, cabs and vans stop……the town is below the road, with no signs or paved roads.

Actually I wasn’t sure if the buses, cab and vans were significant enough to stop or not, so I ended up driving through town….when I got to the next sign that said Acapulco 231 km I stopped and though….hmmm its early afternoon…Acapulco vs Petetlan …but I was determined to at least FIND Petetlan and walk the ‘the largest collection and most inexpensive collection of gold in Mexico”. AND I DID………..

Stalls and stalls of gold, all very much OR priced. Had I been on vacation, spending American dollars, taken an air conditioned bus, been let off at the highway and given directions to, or led to the church in a group, so that I could have pretty much ‘landed’ in the gold ‘the largest collection and most inexpensive collection of gold in Mexico”………..I would have been more receptive…

Massive staircases on all four sides lead up to the open-air church, which is huge and has a simplistic beauty about it. People come from all over the world to be blessed by the priests that offer offer mass. It’s an emotional experience. Masses are ongoing all day on Sundays.

At the base of the staircases…is a huge Mercado. More clothes, and PLASTIC even Rubbermaid would be impressed. ANNNNNND the ‘the largest collection and most inexpensive collection of gold in Mexico”.

Like I said, if I weren’t living on pesos..$500 to $600 (in the US) necklaces for 1,250 to 1,700 pesos (125.00USD to 170.00USD) same with bracelets. I told one lady that I was surprised, I thought things would be less expensive, she responded with, “No American’s have a lot of money.” I explained that I wasn’t a tourist, that I lived in Zihuatanejo. She said, “Oh then for you my American friend…she punched some numbers on the calculator that she used to do the conversions…and showed me that she had lowered the price form 1,700 pesos to 1,570 pesos. My necklace is still in Petetlan!

I bought a tiny ring for 60 pesos ($6.00), a pair of Nina earrings (baby earrings) for 60 pesos $6.00) and that was it. The smaller stalls you could barter with a bit, but the ones that had the fancy carved wooden plaques….not a chance!

Since I didn’t arrive on an air conditioned bus, I began my trek back to my car and on the way………….eureka…….what I thought was a small little stall little stall that had straw hats and umbrellas (mine all remained in Portland with new owners), turned out to be very narrow but VERY deep……..most of the umbrellas were either really ugly or broken, the hats turned out to be hats for children, but there were 4 very functional baskets that now below to me. I begged the 400 year old man, with my best green eyed, blonde por favor to give me all four for 250 pesos (25.00) now keep in mind they were all different shapes, with handles, and attached lids…….………and quite large. (I’m toying with the idea of starting a business and this is a great find…..if I nix the business idea….my ‘American Friends’ will receive memories of Mexico, in wonderful functional baskets!

The little old man had his grandson (probably about 6 or 7 years old) carry the baskets to my car. I gave 4 pesos, he went running off. I got in my car and drove the 30 something miles down Hwy 200 home. Of course as I said, I didn’t arrive in an air-conditioned bus (that knew where it was going). I started my secondary adventure…..getting back to Hwy 200. I will say this…..I seem to get lost in really good neighborhoods and that ability has followed me to Mexico.

Finding the HWY 200 led me past some incredible colorful, intricately painted courtyards, massive carved wooden doors (household entry doors and car entry double doors.

Actually I was only 2 roads from the highway……I found my way out quite easily. Coming back home was a snap……the whole 64 miles trip only took from 12:45 to 4:30.

Opinion of: ‘the largest collection and most inexpensive collection of gold in Mexico”.

Remember, web sites are developed to make their subject look attractive and bigger than life and get paid a lot of money to do just that! Petetlan……good size town, with no paved roads, is located below a main highway and therefore has little or no airflow, and is a ‘tourist trap’ attraction where American and Canadian tourists spend literally millions every year. They do have some very pretty, and colorful houses and a world famous church, where you can have your car blessed after mass, for a safe trip home!

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