LONG Trip Report - Honeymoon In Zihua - Mar 31 - Apr 12

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Escrito por Jcampbell desde (ip68-2-20-50.ph.ph.cox.net) el día martes, 13 de abril, 2010 a las 17:23:09 horas :

I'm sure this might be boring to anyone else but Brandi and I, but our initial foray on our luna de miel into Zihuatanejo was one we will never forget! Here it is, along with a pic and a link.... Thanks to everyone who helped me research this trip!

Wednesday, Mar. 31
Brandi and I arrived ZIH airport in the early afternoon. We’re from the Phoenix area, so the humidity hit us right away (remember, Phx is a “dry heat”?) Got dragged over briefly by some time share people but broke away quickly when I figured out they weren’t looking to give us a ride.

Got to our first hotel, Bungalows La Madera. We stayed in the newer Hilltop rooms – the ones facing the city. Brandi was really excited that the kitchen was outside on the patio. We threw our stuff in the room, and grabbed a beer and some tiritas and ceviche at Salvadores (we visited this little place more than any other during our stay). Then we cabbed to the Comercial to get some groceries. Afterwards, we walked down to Rufos for dinner and had some grilled marlin – yum! We liked the patio there too! We finished the first night with a cocktail on the awesome patio at BLM and watched the city lights in Zihua come up after sunset. What a great start to an amazing trip!

Thursday, Apr. 1
We were shocked to discover that we had been robbed our first night there (April Fool!) No, we felt very safe in Zihua!

We walked down to Playa Madera in the morning, and grabbed a couple chairs at MJ & Ritchies. Had to try the tiritas there for lunch as well (slight edge – MJ & Ritchies). We did confirm that indeed MJ&R will be moving locations (as yet they don’t know where) as their lease is not going to be renewed. They speculate that the place will be operated by the reggae hut people next door as they are related to the building owner.

A yellow stray dog adopted Brandi – he lay down at her feet while we were on the beach. We named him Amigo and saw him sporadically on our trip – he even showed up later on La Ropa. Of course, she wanted to bring him back to Phoenix with us, but I think he may have trouble with the language here. As we were getting ready to head into town, a boat salesman, who introduced himself to us as Moeses, offered up a fishing trip. Sounded great to us, so we agreed to meet the next morning at 7:00am.

Then it was a walk into el Centro, and we checked out the basketball courts and I tried some pozole off the street (It was delicious, however I would remember that I did this a couple of days later…) It was also right about then that I realized that I had unsuspectingly booked the entire 2-week honeymoon to coincide almost perfectly with Holy Week and the week after, when all the kids are out of school in Mexico. There would be no quiet beach experiences for us this trip.. Ha Ha!

We had heard about Coconuts, so we popped over there for a drink and a shared plate of fried calamari. It was good, but the ambiance was better! What a romantic place, with the white twinkle lights in the trees. We also had a drink at Zorros and then the Corner Bar on our way back.

Friday, Apr. 2
We were supposed to have been at the pier at 7:00am, but it was a little rough waking up, so we didn’t actually arrive there until just after 8. Moses met us on the dock and directed us to Ruben and the Rainbow. We had opted for a quick trip to Isla Ixtapa, as Brandi can get motion sickness, instead of a longer sportfishing cruise.

Ruben was great at getting us on the fish. Watching the schools of bonito boil as they fed with the birds was almost as much fun as hooking them – we caught three each! We stopped there and Ruben took us to Isla Ixtapa, where the restaurant there (can’t recall the name) cooked up two of them for us. They fried one in cornmeal and grilled the other with a TON of garlic! We sat on the beach and feasted. I do wish I could remember the name of the place there, because they did try to overcharge us twice – always check the bill! Getting out of Ixtapa with all of the vacationers from Mexico was interesting. The pangas were lined up 6-7 deep dropping people off or picking them up at that little dock. A testament to their driving skills for sure.

We tipped Ruben in pesos and 3 fish. He had cleaned the remaining ones, and so we planned to cook the last one that night.

Bungalows La Madera Hilltop has a great common area at the very top. We had been there for a sunset the day before, but we were the only ones. I had seen a BBQ up there, so I thought maybe we’d grill our fish and have a glass of wine as the sun set. This time, as we headed up, there were other folks there. We met Rob and Cheri from Ohio, and John from Canada. Rob had the grill already fired up for some shrimp, and they offered to share it with us. We ended up dining with all of them and had a great time. They were all Zihua veterans and we picked up invaluable info from them the entire time of our stay.

After dinner, Rob and Cheri offered to take us into town for drinks (noticing a pattern here?). Sounded great, so we headed over to places like Ricks, Zorros, the Corner Bar and others. Ron said he has seen a place called the Black Bull but hadn’t been in it, so we decided to check it out.

The Black Bull was jammed with young Mexican folks on vacation, partying on a Friday night. Since we are all a little bit older and not Mexican, we thought we’d blend right in. We didn’t ride the mechanical bull (that day) but we did dance and party with the kids there. At midnight, they deflate and remove the air mattress that surrounds the bull and it becomes a big dance floor. We left at about 1am, and Ron and I were primed to keep going, but Cheri and Brandi wisely dissuaded us.

Saturday, Apr. 3
After a late night the previous day, we all decided to hang out on La Ropa. Ron and Cheri showed us the way to walk from the city. We got there as early as possible, knowing the beach would get jammed. And jammed it was! We settled in at el Marlin and had a nice day watching all the Mexican families on the beach.

Later that day, Brandi and I checked out Any’s, which I had heard a lot about and came recommended. We had the special tamales with coconut milk, and honestly, I didn’t see what the big deal was. Perhaps it’s because we’re from Arizona and have had tamales many many times, but we didn’t think Any’s was all that special. Good, not great.

Sunday April 4th - Easter
The day before we had hung out at the BLM pool and met Mark and Tracy from Olympia, WA. All 6 of us had agreed to meet at the top of BLM for happy hour, so we needed to hit the market to grab some fish & vegetables. We grabbed a half kilo of shrimp, onions and peppers. Mark and Tracy had recommended a molcajete, which is a dish of meat or fish and cheese, onions, and tortilla strips served in a super hot bowl made out of what looks like volcanic rock. Can’t recall the name of the place, but it’s right by the banks downtown and has 4 Mexican flags hanging down over the sidewalk. We ordered a large one to share for all four of us and it was plenty – definitely a good value!

We met Mark and Tracy on top of BLM, and we all brought food we had prepared up and cocktails too of course, and had a wonderful happy hour watching the sunset. Mark and Tracy were new to Zihua too, and we all compared notes. Afterwards, Ron and I talked the girls into another trip into town and a ride on the bull at Black Bull.

As crazy busy as it was the night before, it was completely dead Sunday night. Perhaps it was because it was Easter, but at 10pm we were the only people in the large place. Which meant we all got several chances at taming the bull!

Monday, Apr. 5
This was Ron & Cheri’s last day in Zihua, so we said our goodbyes that morning, and decided to tackle a suggestion that Ron had made, which was to grab a kayak from BLM and paddle from Playa Madera to Playa Las Gatas. Some excitement getting out of Madera - waves were kinda largish and there were a couple fun moments steering into them as they broke. Got us to Las Gatas (dolphin alongside!), hung out on the beach. A few hours later, it was time for the return trip. Made good time back to Madera, and we were almost there, cruising onto the beach, when a local kid said something and pointed behind us. "What's he saying?" I ask. "I don't know" was her response. Looking behind I saw with horror a huge wave that we werent ready for. Almost took it all the way in, but we got turned a bit and dumped it, I'm sure to the delight of all the folks on Madera this afternoon. (Blue kayak, about 3:30pm)

Great spill, lost our sunglasses that I was gonna give up on, but Brandi loved her glasses, and offered some kids out there 100 pesos if they could find them.

Five minutes later two kids recovered our shades (how? I have no idea!) Happily paid them and now have another another story about this amazing place.

Tuesday Apr 6
We said adios to Bungalows La Madera, and moved to La Ropa and Villa Carolina. What a beautiful place. Only 7 rooms, we stayed at a Garden Suite. Can’t say enough about the staff too! Brandi did miss having an outdoor kitchen, though! Today was relaxing and eating shrimp cocktail that we prepared ourselves. (HINT: Bring your own horseradish and wasabi to Zihua – couldn’t find it anywhere)

Wednesday Apr. 7
Got directions from the ZihuaRob message board to the lighthouse near Las Gatas. We walked from La Ropa and crossed the rocks to Las Gatas, headed to Amados, but the way back was fenced and gated. Dissapointed, we returned to Amados and had a beer and talked to the waiter. Evidently, the land is now private. However, a half-beer later, the waiter returned with a guy he introduced as Maximo, who spoke pretty good English. Maximo offered to lead us back there, and we jumped at the chance. It was hot and humid, of course, but was really worth the views. We learned a lot about the local flora and fauna and got some great pics (below). Would heartily recommend this trip – hike was moderately difficult.

Brandi and I promised ourselves one “splurge” night – a meal at a nice restaurant to celebrate the honeymoon, as we typically had been cooking ourselves and eating light, inexpensive lunches and dinners. I had made reservations at Tentaciones based on a recommendation from a fellow guest at Villa Carolina, and we were not disappointed. The views of the city and bay at sunset over the negative-edge pools were stunning. Compared to what we were used to paying for meals in Zihua, the prix fixe of $50 USD per person for a 5-course meal seemed expensive, but is very reasonable by US standards, of course! Would highly recommend – the food, views, and service was all smashing.

Thursday Apr. 8
By now, I was fully battling the ol’ stomach. We had been very careful what we ate and drank, and washed everything we bought with those iodine drops you can find everywhere, but I suspect my eagerness to get my taste of some pozole off the street may have been what did it. I had battled through it to date, but by Thursday I was feeling a little green around the gills. So Thursday until the afternoon, we just hung out at the beautiful Villa Carolina pool with our new friends – a group of folks in town for a wedding Saturday at the Tides. It was a fun group that was all staying at VC – we were the only ones staying there who weren’t part of the party. We met the bride and celebrated with everyone else.!

Brandi had been aching to try the coconut shrimp at Lety’s. I thought a long walk might help, so we walked from Villa Carolina to Lety’s and, true to what we heard, the cocnut shrimp was out of this world. Big shrimp stuffed with cream cheese, rolled in shredded coconut and fried, with a side of coconut milk and (at our request – amazing habanero salsa). We shared a plate and since the place was kind of quiet, chatted with Lety for awhile. As many of you know, she is a one-person operation there; buys the ingredients at the market, cooks, serves, etc. What a treat and well worth the hike.

We wanted to get a closer look at the crocs on the estuary on La Ropa, and we had walked over to El Manglar on the south end of La Ropa the day before, but they were closed Wednesdays. We thought we would have dinner there tonight then, primarily because we wanted to see the crocs and iguanas. Dinner was actually better than I had expected; the ceviche was a big bowl with conch, octopus, and shrimp. We also succumbed to temptation and ordered the stuffed swordfish. I was thinking the place got by on being on the estuary there, but the food was as good as we had had. It was kind of cool watching the crocs swim by not 2 feet away. We didn’t see any iguanas, but the waiter says they feed them tortillas in the morning about 9 or 10am. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it there the next morning, because we were headed to La Barra de Potosi

Friday Apr. 9
I had heard and read how to get to La Barra; take the bus headed to Petatlan, and make sure they stop at Los Achotes, then grab a covered truck to La Barra. So, we thought we’d cab it from La Ropa to the Petatlan bus depot downtown. As we were in the cab, we started talking to the driver, who of course urged us to let him take us to La Parra. By now, most of the rust was off of my Spanish, and we worked out a deal to have him take us to La Barra, stay there with us, and drive us back. It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t outrageous either. As he was driving us to La Barra, and we passed through Los Achotes, I was glad we did it. The busses are slow, and the covered truck in Los Achotes didn’t look they were in a hurry to take les than a full load of people to La Barra. About the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the sun and wait in Los Achotes!

I was thinking that perhaps La Barra de Potosi would be less crowded than the beaches in Zihua due to the relative remoteness. Wrong – by 2 pm it was just as jammed as all the other beaches. It was fun people watching, though, and as we sat in the shade drinking beers at Sylvias, we really didn’t care. At about 11am, we had walked over to the back of Sylvias, and looked at the fish in the ice chests, and picked out a yummy Huachinango (red snapper) and asked them to prepare it veracruzana style. I don’t think Brandi was expecting it to be prepared cooked as a whole, covered in onions, peppers and tomatoes, but it was so sabroso that we ended up cleaning it down to the bone.

Kayaking the estuary at La Barra looked so fun (and calm, after our kayak trip to Las Gatas!) that we rented a 2-person kayak and explored for an hour. It was so calm and peaceful, and exploring the fingers and tunnels while looking at the birds and fish is a must-do. We were told the crocs were pushed out because the seawater was prevalent, but we didn’t get crazy in some of those tunnels. I had visions of trying to bonk a croc on the head with an oar!

Saturday, Apr. 10
Earlier in the trip, John from Canada (can’t recall where in Cananda now) introduced me to Nacho, who had horses at Playa Larga. I thought it would be fun, so we arranged to meet up at Villa Carolina. Nacho showed as promised, and we cabbed it to Playa Larga. We arrived at his ranch and set off. A little black dog joined us and kept us company for the entire ride, much to Brandi’s delight. Her delight almost turned to horror, though, as Nacho guided to a croc-infested pond and told us that the crocs there eat stray dogs, mostly. At that point, that black dog jumped into the pond (he had a long scar on his back, too) and a croc made for him. However, the little guy must’ve learned his lesson in the past, and his swim was a quick one.

On Playa Larga, with the huge waves breaking as Brandi and I galloped our horses side by side was a memory I never will forget.

We had the taxi drop us off downtown, as I had been dying to try some fresh dorado (mahi-mahi). We went to the same fish stand – the guy there speaks pretty good English – and watched him grab a whole dorado and they fileted a thick steak for us. We added another half kilo of shrimp and then walked over to Salvador's.

I make a pretty mean mahi-mahi with mango salsa, so when we dropped the fish off with Salvador and asked him to make it with pico de gallo and mango, I was really curious to see what he would do with it. We got a ride with the guy at Salvador's (can’t recall his name now) back to Villa Carolina, and hung out at the bar poolside with Marta, who is the cook there.

I mentioned the staff there was awesome, and Marta is no exception. Brandi and I had been using Spanish as much as possible, and by now we were doing pretty well. Marta, Brandi and I spoke Spanish back and forth for an hour; she was so patient and spoke slowly so we would get it. I called Cintya and booked massages on the patio for the next morning with Tina Martinez.

Cleaned up and cabbed it back to Salvador's, and by 7:30pm his grill was ready. Beers, and then he pulled the dorado out that he had been marinating. We watched him grill it, and then he placed a big bowl of mango salsa in front of us. I had to remind Brandi not to eat it before the fish was ready! He brought over the fish, along with rice and vegetables, and we piled on the mango salsa (and hot sauce – always hot sauce) and I suddenly made the second-best mango mahi-mahi in the world…

Got a ride back to the VC by the guys at Salvador's. Please check these guys out – they used to all work together at Daniels and are going it alone. Great bunch of folks.

Sunday Apr. 11
Brandi was now falling victim to the same bug that had been plaguing me. We had decided that our last full day in Zihua would be a relaxing one. Tina arrived at 10am and set her massage table up on the patio, and worked her magic on first Brandi, and then me. She did pretty well that morning, as the folks from the wedding party asked her to stick around afterwards and a few of them got massages as well. Called Marta at about noon, and asked her to whip something up with that half-kilo of shrimp we’d bought and while she was at it, to make some of her sinful guacamole and a pitcher of homemade, fresh-squeezed lime margaritas.

She came back with the shrimp cooked in garlic and dried red peppers – amazing. Brandi toasted some tortillas we had bought and it was a perfect end to our last full day.

Monday Apr. 12
Wiping the tears from our eyes, we packed our bags in the morning, and then headed down for one last bucket of beers at the beach – this time it was Paty’s . All of the kids were back in school so the beach was emptier than we had seen it. It was also super humid and the clouds were rolling in, so it must be a change in the season.. Farewell, Zihuatanejo…

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