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Posted by Blanche from 188.8.131.52 (66-108-161-183.nyc.rr.com) on martes, diciembre 23, 2003 at 16:50:07 :
Just got back from a week in Zihua. Won't boor you with all the details except for those of a practical nature, except to say it was fabulous (our third time in five years).
First of all, the bay and beach at La Ropa were exceptionally clean. I read about the problems during the rainy season, but now the water sparkles.
Next. We have stayed in tents at Kailuum, Posadas in Portugal, castles in Ireland, palaces in Italy, boutique hotels in France, and in all manner of other places in Mexico; but the Villa Carolina ranks right up there with our favorite places of all time. We sprang for the master suite because it was low season ($195), but the standard suites are also fabulous even at $195 in high season. If you can afford this, or if looking for a splurge, stay there. It is phenominally georgeous, spacious, private, convenient, clean, and comfortable, and the staff is terrific.
Flight. Our plane left Newark an hour late due to weather, so the 50' connection in Houston wasn't enough. All flights to Z through all other US and Mexico connections were booked solid, so it looked like an overnight in Houston. I'm only telling this sad tale because it's rare that an airline goes ut of its way to help. But a kind person at Continental upgraded us to 1st class to Mexico City, and put us on the waiting list for the Aeromexico flight to Z, which we got on because there was so much hiking to do in MC from immigration to Aeromexico to the departure gate (about 5 miles in all), that 10 people didn't show up. At any rate, we got to the hotel at 8:00.
Restaurants. First good tip: We brought with us a supply of large soft paper dinner napkins, because we got so fed up with those postage-sized bits of paper typically provided. We took a pair to each and every meal, except for Kau-Kan, where one gets an actual cloth napkin. Anyway, we had very much looked forward to our first breakfast with toes in the sand at Elvira's, which we had, and which was good. But when the check came, a 15% tip had been added, which was OK, but the addition had been crossed out in pen and the total amount, including the tip, had been written over the scratch-out in large felt pen. In other words, hiding the fact that a tip had already been added. We came back the next morning and paid the entire bill in one-peso pieces, and never went back.
Where we did go, was down the beach to the Hotel Paraiso, where for a $6.60-per-person minimum, we ate breakfast and lunch, and had the use of a table, four chairs, three lounge chairs, and a palapa to sit under. The food was excellent, the service good, and the turtles (from 200 just-laid eggs)and the crocodiles (mamma bear, papa bear, and a bunch of baby bears) highly entertaining; and a butterfly that come on two occassions to sit on my finger for 5-10 MINUTES.
Another avoid-the-restaurant story. We had heard a lot about the Villa de la Roca and the great dinners. So we called for a resrvation (there's only one sitting and they need to know the count), and were told that it was a prix fixe at $50 per person. Now I understand hotels taking deposits in dollars from foreighners calling in, but a local restaurant? No pesos allowed and no credit cards? And $100???? Fuggehtaboudit.
A last forget-it. Went to La Perla for their terrific snapper. There were only two tables occupied, and a dozen or so waiters runniong around. We were ignored for a full ten minutes STANDING by a table (we knew if we sat down it would be at least a half hour before we'd be acknowledged) before we gave up. We knew the service wouldn't be terrific, but we just didn't have the patience, nor did we think we should.
OK. Where TO go. Kau-kan is still the best place - fabulous food, georgeous setting, beautiful view, excellent service - $80 total for two; Cafe Chuleto - Swiss Paul's people's place - excellent gourmet food and service $40 total for two; El Manglar - past the crocs (not at all a problem) - outstanding gourmet specials $20 (yes $20) total for two. Dinner at La Sirena Gorda ($28) OK but not as good as the others.
The much-touted Bistro Taboga was closed.
Crafts. The best are at Arte Mexicano Nopal, Galeria Maya, Casa Marina, Coconuts; and one we had never heard of - Marcela Sierra Torres' Cuijasy & Lechuzas, at 37 Juan N. Alvarez.
Silver. Abel & Julia, by far.
Cuban cigars. At Ascencio & Cuahtemoc.
Tequila. The best selection and prices (cheaper than the duty-free airport shops) in a small bodega south side Nicolas Bravo between Guerrero and Benito Juarez.
Two things we had not seen in Z before - clean and equipped bathrooms; musicians carrying a harp on the beach.
Construction next to the Sotavento - this is going to be a HUGE timeshare developed by Club Intrawest. Literally hundreds of rooms terraced all the way from the beach up and back to the main road, and laterally from the Sotovento to the small condo next to the Casa Que Canta. Probably be building right through the Easter 2005 season, 10 hours a day, six days a week.
Word of caution on fishing. We heard this story, independently confirmed. Charter a boat, go out, catch fish, come back. Captain asks if it's all right if some friends join them at restaurant. Friends come, run up food and drink bill, claim no money, leave, stick tourist with $150 bill. Dollars, not pesos.
But all-in-all a great trip.
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