Rustic Mexican Fishing Town

Trip Start Jul 12, 2009
Trip End Aug 18, 2010

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Where I stayed
Casa Rigoletti

Flag of Mexico  , Pacific Coast,
Monday, August 9, 2010

Zihuatanejo is a Mexican fishing village on the Pacific coast. It has had a lucky escape from not being converted into an ugly complex of modern hotels, concrete shopping malls and golf courses.  No this place is a fusion of new low level buildings around the harbour to the frantic market where the locals shop for fresh organic produce.  The streets are not polished and as clean as our European cities and it is often that you walk past bins piled up high with bin bags.  Main roads were flooded where the drains found it hard to cope with the flash floods which occurred before we arrived and the occasional nightly downpour.  On one taxi journey to the beach we failed to close the car window and were sprayed with stale effluent water by a bus overtaking us.

But what I personally enjoyed about Zihuatanejo is that it has not kowtowed to the stereo typical example of a beach location and has what I felt was a Mexican, laid back and friendly influence.  The new hotels that fit snugly into the rugged coastline offer fabulous restaurants.  Bars which could have been plucked out of central London but with breathtaking views of the bay and ocean which seemed to get better when the sun had dipped and the stars and golden lights framed your outlook. 

We were here to enjoy ourselves and our first day was a delight.  The house we rented came with full staff who were lovely.  A family who had worked for the owner for years.  The house is very stylish with pool and bar area overlooking the bay and Playa la Ropa and Las Gatas. 

My brother and his family were arriving from Los Angeles for a week and then the person who had helped organise this amazing adventure was taking advantage of us being in Mexico and was going to tail-end his introduction to Mexico tour with us. 

What was interesting was that we all found it hard to sit still.  There were places to view and experience and we wanted to do it.  So we drafted up a plan of action incorporating a few ' chill out' points. 

Our first visit was to Isla Ixtapa.  A boat was booked via our manager, a friend of a friend of a friend which seems to be a familiar line throughout the Americas.  It was a choppy ride and we had a few casualties but our captain was a keen fisherman and was constantly on the look for fish.  A couple of times hooks and lines were draped in the water as we bobbed along.  Lily plucked a few fish out.  It was decided then that Ian would return for an early morning fishing trip.

The island was rammed.  It felt like every family, including in-laws, on holiday at this time were taking the opportunity to indulge in the sun and sea before packing up and driving back to Mexico City.  This was the last weekend before the Mexican children went back to school. 

A table had been booked at a beach side restaurant and we were made to feel like major celebrities as tables and chairs were cleared, umbrellas opened up and margaritas presented.   The waiter showed us a tray of fish caught that morning for us to select for lunch.  After all this hard work we could relax and the kids could play.  The only problem was that the sea was a pea-green murk.  Not appealing, even to the children.  Unfortunately the recent downpour of rain has churned up the sea so the idyllic and innocent turquoise had been trashed by mud, seaweed and all the foul colours you could have selected from a pantone chart. 

Albeit the sea the afternoon was relaxing.  People watching was the favourite game with Carl trying to take photos of some of the holiday makers.  There was quite a collection of fatties.   Plump children squeezing themselves into rubber rings and being stroked or hugged by equally large parents or grandparents.  Coca cola looked to be one of the causes of their large proportions as drinks at lunch appeared to be more of an American liquid than that produced by mother earth. 

Many days followed the same formula but this time we took the taxi to Playa la Ropa or Las Gatas.  On Ropa we could visit the sea water crocodiles swimming with their many babies in the estuaries leading to the ocean.  It was hard to swim deeper in the sea after seeing them (well for me anyway). 

It was hard to fall asleep in the sun as your view was constantly caught by beach vendors selling anything from what looked like balls of stringy cheese, to personalised arm bracelets, brightly coloured jewellery and chiseled ornaments. 

The children went up in balloon dragged behind a motorboat.  I was not so much frightened for them but for anyone in the water as the driver was an utter nutter as he failed to spot or didn’t care about, small boats, swimmers or kids in kayaks as he plugged up and around the bay.

A couple of days Kellie and I wandered into the town to find some presents.  There are a few fine shops selling clothing from different parts of Southern Mexico.  The prices were steep compared to Oaxaca but as this was our last port of call it did not matter.  My prize purchases were at the market where I bartered for hand painted trays depicting various scenes of Mexican life.  Also the Mexican hand embroidered blouses. 

I have to mention our worst time was in Ixtapa, a built up modern resort spitting distance from Zihuatanejo.  We had read up about a water park there.  Oh my golly gosh it made the French water parks look like Disneyland.  This place was so tired it had gone to sleep and died.  The entrance to the water tunnels were held up by breeze blocks and in the water lurked old plasters and leaves.  What was fascinating was that it appeared that all the serving staff were self-employed and were virtually fighting to get your order.  If, heaven forbid, someone else claimed the order a hissing-fit would occur between winner and loser.   After one round of drinks (which took ages to arrive) we decided to leave and find a local friendly restaurant.  We were not sure what would harm us more, the filthy water of the water park or the spiking of our food by a disgruntled waitress!

Carl, Kellie and kids left on the Saturday and we were very sad to see them go.  They were our third set of family, friends who had seen us since leaving North America.  Lily, Fynn and Edie had had a super time just playing with the children and being able to speak to them in English. We were so pleased that they had spent this time with us.

We did not really experience the local culinary establishments until Nick arrived.  As a high-end travel agent promoting ‘real experiences’ it was important for him to find out what was ‘in’ and ‘happening’ in Zihuatanejo.

Our final night we took all the children to a fabulous restaurant , which boasted (and fulfilled) the ultimate view.  The kids collapsed after a few hours and crashed out on the sofas while Nick, Ian and I continued to enjoy the Mexican hospitality and South American wine. 

In addition to lazying out at our then favourite Playa La Ropa, Lily, Nick and Ian enjoyed a fishing expedition where they caught Black Tuna which we had for dinner.  Also Fynn, Edie, Nick and Ian had an enjoyable day at Palma Real Golf course. 

It didn’t seem long before we were repacking our tired looking suitcases and getting ready for our return to the UK.  I took this opportunity to de-clutter all the clothes we would not require in the UK, the medical provisions we had not used, tired books and unwanted toiletries and gave them to Gloria at the house for people she knew who could use them.  I felt a sense of disloyalty about giving away my clothes.  These are clothes that had experience so much of our journey, they had become part of our time and history and like a picture I honestly felt that I should hold on to them.  And I did. 

It was an emotional departure.  Not just because our time at Casa Rigoletti was enjoyable but this was a final step towards home and ultimately the end of our time away. 
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