Trip Report (a little late & a trifle long)

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Posted by leenda from ( on jueves, diciembre 04, 2003 at 21:21:36 :

Let me preface this report by saying my husband and I have been to Zihua several times. We originally made reservations in June for ourselves and 2 other “newbie” adults. By the time we got on the plane, our group consisted of 10 adults and 2 children, ages 10 & 12. I have never had to plan for this size group before. People kept wanting to join us and I kept having to figure out new possible accommodations. Our group configuration was thus: 2 couples, 1 vegetarian family with 2 kids, and 4 single adults who needed private bedrooms. What to do? We needed at least 2 kitchens, lots of bedrooms and an affordable price. Ta Dah! Enter Casa Tucanes, which I booked sight unseen. (Thanks to S2B for the suggestion – I’ve been meaning to email you directly. I see you’re back now.)

What a relief -- Casa Tucanes was perfect for us – all the singles got their own rooms with kitchens in the 2 bungalows, the family had one of the Villas with a kitchen, bedroom for the kids and one for them, and we shared a 2 bedroom Villa with the other couple. The kids spent countless hours in the pool, the layout of the property afforded all of us privacy, even from one another, and we all had facilities to cook whatever we wanted. There was a BBQ at our disposal and we made a huge beef & vegetable fajita dinner one evening. Everyone was very happy with the place.

Day 1: It is so hot and humid. Even knowing what to expect didn’t prepare me. I thought it might be cooling down in November, but nooooo. The locals tell me it is unseasonably humid and I believe it. June was not as hot as this. In fact, the sky is grayish with humidity. I am concerned about how the first-timers are taking it and that I might not have duly warned them, but they seem to be coping better than I. Jeff and I later have a good giggle, however, when Junior Morrow, ever the consummate and dapper blues man, unpacks his 3 immaculate sharkskin suits, complete with long-sleeved shirts and wing-tip shoes. (Oops, didn’t get my Mexico checklist to him in time.)

We settled in at Casa Tucanes, walked to La Ropa so everyone could ooh and aah and get the airplane cobwebs off. Later, we made our way to Sirena Gorda, which always seems to be our first night destination. The vegetarians went to Godwana (sp?). Fish tacos al pastor, smoked fish tacos, seafood salad, and margaritas for 8: about $110. We ate a lot of fish tacos. Afterwards, some of us walked down the beach to Orlando’s Bar at VDS. I had no idea when I met Orlando in Oakland a few months before that he is one of the best and most popular bartenders in Zihua. Even if you don’t stay at VDS (pricey), it’s a lovely place to have cocktails on the beach. Plus, you get to talk to one of the nicest guys in town.

Day 2: Some of the group sleeps in, others head straight for the Mercado and its fascinating array of goods. The vegetarians are fascinated and find plenty of fruit and veggies to stock up on. The couple we are rooming with, Jr. and Maria, also come home with tons of supplies. Little did I know what incredible meals they would be concocting in the next few days.

We were on our way by mid-day to Barra de Potosi. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, a little less humid with a breeze that felt like angel wings. We spent it at La Condessa, alternately eating and swimming. The kids were simply joyous and everyone was awestruck by the beauty of the place. I remember my reaction the first time I saw La Barra; I saw it again on the faces of my friends.

We had 8 plates of fried abulon, 2 quesadillas, guacamole, 3 pitchers of lemonade and a few sodas. I can’t remember exactly what it cost us, but I can tell you it wasn’t much. Around 650 pesos, not including tip, to hang out and snack all afternoon.

That night (Weds.), Junior and Jeff packed up their guitar and harmonicas and headed for Rick’s Bar. Some of our local friends were there - it was great to see them. Steve (from Rick’s) played the bass, Raul and Ralph on drums and guitar made for an interesting jam session. Jeff and Jr. had a lot of fun playing the blues in a not-so-bluesy setting. Rick is considerate to his neighbors, and has an agreement to cut the music off around 10 pm., so there was no “boogie till the cows come home.” More like “boogie till the neighbors complain,” so they made plans to play the next 2 nights.

Day 3: Everyone but Jr. and Maria went out to Pantla Beach for the day. Our friend Rebecca had fashioned a little palapa for us, thank you very much, as there is nothing there, usually not even a sliver of shade. Well, at least we had a sliver this time. Our friend John loaned us a boogie board and the kids had a ball. The beach is beautiful, the waves gentle and rolling, and the water shallow enough not to worry about the dangers of currents & riptides.

When we’d built up quite an appetite, it was a short jaunt to Troncones and a meal at Burrito Borracho. Food for 8 adults, 2 kids, sodas, 3 margaritas, 2 beers: 1100 pesos.

Jeff and Jr. played at Rick’s again that night. I stayed home, badly in need of a good night’s sleep, but I heard that a really good drummer showed up that night. Unfortunately, there was a drum set but no sticks, so the guy yanked a couple of branches off a tree and improvised. Once he started drumming, there were leaves flying all over the room. He beat the branches down to nubs.

Day 4 (Friday): This was a lazy day for me. I spent it walking along La Ropa, having a cocktail at Rossy’s and just generally hanging around reading. Jeff was off doing business, some went surfing at Saladita, and others went shopping again at the Mercado.

That night Jr. and Maria made fish tacos. They were sublime. After dinner, we headed to Rick’s. Word had gotten around and there was quite a crowd for the blues jam. There was a really young gal up first who sang the Dolly Parton-written Whitney Houston song “I Will Always Love You” and “Can’t Live (if living is without you)” in Spanish. I was knocked out -- what a voice! Unfortunately, I never saw her again, but if she happens to read this post – “Girl, you rock!” The blues jam was a lot of fun and everyone seemed to have as great time. The trees were especially happy that someone found a pair of drumsticks. Rick’s was rockin’ ‘til the wee hour of 11 p.m.

Day 5 (Sat.): Back out to Pantla beach for another great day in the surf. We were all too tired to go into town that night. Jr. and Maria made a shrimp dinner and we all pigged out and went to bed early.

Day 6 (Sunday): Jeff, Ingrid and I met Orlando and his familia at La Condessa. We had missed Laura on Wednesday, so we wanted to make another trip to Barra de Potosi. We chatted with Orlando for a while, ordered a whole snapper to be ready about 1 p.m., then went to spend a little time with Laura. (She has added more to the garden area at Casa del Encanto and it looks great. If you get a chance to visit or, better yet, spend a few nights there, you will be truly enchanted. Such a wonderful place and wonderful hostess.) When we got back to La Condessa, the fish arrived looking and tasting scrumptious. We ate, swam, played with the kids and had another lovely day in paradise. Our bill for a whole fish, pitcher of lemonade, 4 bowls of soup feeding 6 adults & 2 children: about $55, not including tip.

Days 7 & 8: Everyone pretty much had become acclimated and did their own thing for the next couple of days. Jeff and Jr. played at Rick’s for the last time on Monday night, we continued to have group meals rather than going out to eat, and of course, there was the last minute scramble to buy a few gifts before it was too late. I always stop by El Jumil on Paseo Pescador because they have such a great selection of Mexican folk art. There's always lots of great artesania and the prices are very reasonable. They also sell the Zihua Humane Society T-shirts (100 pesos). These make great gifts, folks, much more interesting a design than a leaping dolphin w/Zihua/Ixtapa on it, and the money goes to the Humane Society.

There were lots of restaurants I wanted to try or re-visit, but we had a full kitchen and so much food it wasn’t necessary. Besides, our roommates turned out to be master chefs and some of the best meals we ate were in our own apartment. So forgive the lack of tourist tips in this report; it is basically an homage to Zihua, a thank you to the friends, and a chance to share our adventures.

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