Monday, December 28, 2009

Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo

[GPS: N 17° 39' 59" W 101° 36' 58"]
Saturday, December 19 we moved on from the island to Marina Ixtapa. We had intended to stay in the marina just a couple days to wash down the boat, laundry, etc, and then move on to anchor in Bahia Zihuatanejo just around the corner. But with the visitors we had, and all the coming and going, it was much easier to be at a dock. So we ended up in the marina for 2 weeks. And this is now the farthest south and east the boat will go. From Berkeley Yacht Club, we have now traveled 20° 12’ to the south and 20° 42’ to the east.

Saturday was spent cleaning the boat and putting our laundry in to be done. There are no Laundromats in Ixtapa, but the marina has someone who picks up your laundry and does it for 16 pesos per kilogram. The restrooms/showers behind the marina office apparently have their water heated by solar tanks on the roof – so early morning showers are not advisable unless you need to cool off. The building housing the marina office looked like it had a deserted restaurant and club area – and signs around that we think translated to “in foreclosure”. Along the walk by the marina there are 5 or 6 restaurants – mostly overpriced – but there was a pizza place and a fish restaurant that were somewhat reasonable. And several shops – little grocery, yacht broker, liquor store, jewelry store, etc. We walked on out the road past some condos to the local beach. On the way back into our dock, we noticed the sign warning of crocodiles – not to feed them and no fishing. We sat in the cockpit as the sun went down, and watched a 6’ crocodile slowly swim by our transom as he pushed his tail to one side then the other.

Sunday we took the local bus (8 pesos) into Zihuatanejo – about 5-6 km away, over a hill – essentially the next little bay. Unlike Ixtapa which was invented/created as a resort community about 25 years ago, Zihuatanejo was an old fishing village and is rather quaint. Doug got a 30 peso ($2.50) haircut that was one of the best he’s ever gotten. We walked through town (most of the shops were closed on Sunday) to the municipal pier and beach. After lunch (con cervezas) on the beach, we walked through the local Mercado (market) on the way back to get the return bus.

Monday morning we scoped the “town” of Ixtapa. There are hotels all along the beach, with the main road behind them. Across the road are boutique shops, restaurants, banks, etc. We understand the restaurants there are struggling since many of the hotels are now “all inclusive” – i.e. room, food, drinks, entertainment all included for one price. We went into about 5 hotels to scope them out – two of them mentioned that they have day passes to use their beach area and pools even though you’re not staying there. Monday afternoon Lizz (our daughter) arrived. We had dinner at the Z-pizza place overlooking the marina.

Tuesday we decided to take advantage of those day passes at an Ixtapa hotel. We first stopped at the one where yesterday at the front desk they had told us just put a refundable deposit down for towel, pay for your food and drinks and you can use the pools and beach. No go. The manager was at the desk this time – and he said no way – they are full and their guests need to use the pool and beach chairs etc. So we went to the second which was an all-inclusive day pass. They gave us a hard time too, but we did end up getting the day passes for 550 pesos (ca. $45) each. We spent a relaxing day laying under a palapa on the beach reading and drinking margaritas – with occasional breaks for playing in the surf and eating at the restaurant.

Wednesday, Magda (Hugo’s mother) came to the boat to meet us. She took us to her house (she lives in Morelia but has a vacation townhouse in Ixtapa in a new community a few kilometers inland. She took us to the grocery in Zihuatanejo for some provisioning, and then we went to the airport to pick up Jena (our older daughter) and Hugo (her boyfriend).

Thursday (Christmas Eve), the girls spent mid-day at the local beach. Late afternoon we went to Magda’s for Christmas Eve dinner. We had a wonderful meal featuring bacalao - a Mexican dish made from dried salted cod that has been rehydrated. Also there were Christian (Hugo’s brother), and Fabian and Alfredo (Hugo’s cousins) – all in their early 20’s. After dinner we enjoyed some karaoke of Mexican songs, and then some present opening.

Lizz had brought some things down for us – besides some things needed for the boat, the best Christmas present was a book of Zack (our first grandson) pictures that Lynda and Paul had put together. And of course the new World Almanac from Doug’s mother. And a CD from cousin David of his pictures (he used real film!) from the Baja Ha-Ha.

Christmas day we invited the whole group (9 of us total) to go out on the boat to Isla Grande (Isla Ixtapa). We anchored in the cove, had lunch in the cockpit, then various of us went snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, dinghying, or just rested on the boat. All the guys and Jena went to shore and went snorkeling in the cove on the other side of the island - just 50 yard walk through the restaurant that has palapas on both coves. Since there were 6 of us and only 3 sets of snorkel gear, we camped out under a palapa drinking beer while we took turns snorkeling. There are no boats on this side – they used to anchor in the cove, but were destroying the coral there. But it was much more crowded with swimmers. The snorkeling was actually better in the cove on the side where we anchored. We tried sailing for a bit on the way back, but there wasn’t much wind. What a different Christmas Day!

Saturday morning we did some housekeeping on the boat after having it out. Then we went in Zihuatanejo and met our friends Kathie and Rick. We had seen them on their boat in La Paz – they moved to Zihuatanejo some 2-3 years ago. They met us on the beach and we walked with them to their beautiful house that they had built. They walked us around town, showing us some of their favorite shops and restaurants. Zihuatanejo was even better with the aid of locals! We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and then to a bar for drinks while listening to a gringo duo singing 50’s, 60’s and 70’s songs. Kathie and Rick offered that we stay at their house that night instead of heading back to Ixtapa – so we did. We were awakened by roosters crowing back and forth across the neighborhood - and then a cacophony of bird sounds from a nearby neighbor who raises parrots and other birds.

Sunday we spent the whole day on Playa Quieta with Hugo’s family. Playa Quieta is more on the north side of Ixtapa – there is a Club Med at the beach, and just off the beach is Isla Grande! Besides the 9 that we had for Christmas, Hugo’s uncle and aunt (Fer and Miriam) also joined us. The boys wanted to play with our kayak, so they tied it on top of one of the cars – with 6 in the car (one with feet sticking out) – it was quite a sight. We had a great day just relaxing on the beach.

[Alfredo not pictured since he took it...]

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