Trip Report, Day 3

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Posted by Scott from ( on lunes, septiembre 01, 2003 at 12:06:23 :

We start Thursday morning with coffee and pan dulce. By now I'm on my third book, “Into a Desert Place” by Graham Mackintosh. I've read this one before but it's been many years. The author chronicles his walk around the coast of Baja and it's a never-ending saga of falling down, running out of food, falling down, running out of water, falling down, getting stuck as the tide comes in, and repeated confirmations that the Mexican people, in all of their poverty and humbleness, never fail to come through to help a clueless Brit without asking for anything in return. There is one good line in this morning's reading, one that I've used before but had forgotten: “Events have a way of following in the footsteps of faith.”

There's a slight breeze coming off of the ocean and dark clouds are already forming over the mountains. Oh, boy, we get to have an afternoon thunderstorm. We shower, change into our beach clothes, fill our backpacks full of goodies, pick up a few towels from the desk at the pool, and hail a taxi for the ride to Playa Linda. The first year we went to Isla Ixtapa, we used one of those “tour guides” that roam the beach looking for work. In that trip, it was a less-than-enjoyable ride around Ixtapa in a tour bus as we picked up various members of the group. It was hot, sticky, and it seemed as if we'd never get there. This time the taxi ride is quick and pleasant. We notice that the highway is immaculately maintained. Within minutes of leaving the hotel, we're being dropped off in the parking lot next to the cayman sanctuary and given directions to the pier. It's about 11 am.

In less than thirty seconds we're adopted by a nice kid who is happy to point out crocodiles, turtles, birds, fish, and lizards on the business side of the fence. As we walk towards the pier his real motive comes out as he tries to steer us towards his horses on the beach. We decline but thank him just the same. We walk to the small building to buy our tickets and then walk back to the pier where we're immediately whisked aboard a boat, ahead of a tour group, for the trip over to the island. Unlike our last trip, nobody makes us wear life vests. We explain that we're headed to Playa Varadero and they tell us that they'll drop us off there after leaving another couple at Playa Cuachalalata. Along with us is a friendly young man who works at one of the restaurants at Varadero and he invites us to his place. Again we politely decline, telling him that we want to try Paraiso Escondido at the recommendation of someone we know. As we walk down the beach, every restaurant has somebody who comes out to invite us in for food. To us, that's the trade off for always choosing the farthest restaurant from the pier, where we usually find the least number of people. It's difficult to say no to everyone when they're just trying to make an honest peso.

Being the first to arrive gives us choice of seats and we choose two lounge chairs underneath a palapa at the water's edge. It's a few minutes before the waitress comes over to say hello and when we ask for something cold to drink she tells us that it's going to be a few more minutes before everything is cold. No problema. We go straight for the water with masks and snorkels and swim out to the sign about 50 yards offshore. The water is warm and clear and we see a variety of life including snappers, angels, puffers, and damsels. Diving to the bottom, I find a small spotted eel swimming across the sand. J floats around like a champ, having no problem breathing out of his snorkel as if it wasn't there. He's totally at ease in the water and both parents realize this is a milestone event in that we no longer have to stay within arm's reach when he swims in the ocean. Nonetheless, we do stay close. And as we take short breaks holding on to the rocks at the sign, we find hundreds of tiny snails with striped or dotted shells just above the waterline.

About an hour later we see that the waitress is returning to the shore on a boat. To be honest, we hadn't noticed that she was gone, but as she offloads groceries, it becomes clear as to where she's been and why nothing is cold yet. Still, it's another half hour before she asks us if we'd like a cold soda or beer. I ask for my favorite Negra Modelo only to find they have none. How about Tecate, or Sol? Nope. They only have Victoria, which is one I've never had. Ok, let's try that. It's ice cold and quite good with the requisite salt and lime. M has one as well. J has an apple soda. Another couple arrives and chooses chairs a few away from us. Overall, it doesn't look like it's going to be a busy day on Isla Ixtapa.

When the water toys start up a little later, J is eager to ride the banana sled, or as he calls it, the “bananarama”. M goes with him and they have a blast being towed behind a boat that I think goes entirely too fast for my six year old to be behind. But they have vests, there's plenty of people around, and everybody has a great, safe, time. There's also those obnoxious jetskiis which we refuse to patronize, but J doesn't appear too upset over that. He does want to ride one of those tricycles with the gigantic tires but we talk him out of it as both parents know just how long he'll peddle before he gives us and expects us to do it for him.

While I alternate between book and ocean, M and J take another snorkeling excursion, this time around the far end of the island. They're gone for quite a while and when the return they have stories of lots of fish and crabs. About this time, we're ready for lunch but our waitress is nowhere in site. This isn't really surprising because for the entire time, she's been more interested in raking the sand of debris than asking me if I'd like anything. Not that this is altogether bad. M and I agree that it's actually a welcome change to be left more or less alone rather than have someone continually pester us to drink mas, mas, mas. Still, we're amused as such a lackadaisical attitude towards service on a beach that's meant to serve tourists. I mean, even in Mexico this is casual service.

Around 1:30 we inquire about lunch and eventually get our hands on a menu. We have fish fillets and quesadillas and they're quite good. Certainly better than what we had the first time on Playa Cuachalalata courtesy of our guide. A couple of more cold cervezas and lots of pico de gallo round out our wonderful lunch. And about 4pm, after we're stuffed, broiled, and somewhat groggy, we decide to leave. It's amazing just how slow you become after a day at the beach. Every muscle in my body feels as if it belongs to somebody else. Not an ounce of tension anywhere, just this sappy grin over my entire face and the feeling that I'm covered in some sort of seaweed wrap. We pay the absolutely reasonable bill, thank our hostess profusely, and slowly make our way back to the boat, where sit in a stupor as we return to the mainland and ultimately to the hotel via a taxi. We're so out of it we walk straight to the room without returning the towels.

The air conditioning of the room is like a wake up call to our bodies. That and a nice cool shower and by 7pm we're ready to go to happy hour. Upon arrival at the lounge, we're questioned by Juany as to where we were yesterday. And then it dawns on us. We had gone into town so early that we had skipped our daily visit. I feel bad and immediately vow to have extra drinks tonight. And that's exactly what I do, by sampling several different reposados. J says he wants to have pizza for dinner in the room but both M and I want to go into town and have pozole at Tamales y Atoles Any. However, by the time that happy hour ends, I'm well into my fourth shot of tequila and room service is looking pretty good. M agrees and so they return to the room to place an order while I finish off my tequila tour with one more order. And no, I'm not Ugly American drunk, just blissfully nonobservant.

I sign the tab, double check it to make sure that I signed my name and not someone else's, and stop by the bell desk to ask them if they know of a certain taxi driver who took us to Barra de Potosi last year. We're thinking of going there again and would like to have the same person take us as he was one of the nicest and best drivers we've ever had. No, I don't know the car's number, only that his name is Francisco, he's young, and he's from Coacoyul. Ruben reminds me that Francisco is a common name but says that he has friends from that town and will make a few calls. We agree that I'll check back tomorrow and I make my way back to the room where pizza and chicken tacos await. It's not gourmet food but it is good, there's plenty of it, and really not that expensive all things considered. J eats half of the pizza himself thanks to all of the swimming he did. After dinner, it's a little TV for J, a little reading for M and I, and we're headed to bed early. Lying on the mattress, in the dark, with the sounds of surf reverberating around the room, it feels as if I'm still in the ocean floating. God I love it when that happens.

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