After 5 days anchored off the downtown of Zihuatanejo, in a few hours we will pull up the anchor and head south to Acapulco. We should be there by tomorrow. We have really enjoyed our stay here, and this is one place we would definitely come back to.
If you want luxury, all-inclusive high-rise hotels where the only Mexican you will meet will be wearing a name tag, head to Cabo San Lucas, Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. If you want a beautiful Mexican city completely unaffected by tourism, head for La Paz.
If you want a tropical setting with sweet little hotels clinging to seaside cliffs, head to Zihuatanejo. The town wraps around a beautiful bay with four separate lovely beaches. And if fishing is your thing, Zihua is often referred to as the billfish capital of the Mexican Riviera.
There are lots of tourists here, but the majority appear to be Mexican families. There are tee-shirt and souvenir shops, but just a few blocks off the beach you will find the real Mexico. Fruit and vegetable stands, small meat markets, tortilla stands and awesome little lunch counters. We bought a week’s worth of fruits and veggies for about $2 from one of the many open-air stands. Next we bought a half kilo of tortillas, hot off the press and wrapped in paper for about $0.50. Then on to the chicken seller where a small child waves a feather duster to keep the flies off the plucked chickens laying out on the counter which still have head and feet attached. We ordered two chicken breasts, and they were quickly cut off, skinned, stuffed in a plastic bag, and you are on your way. No refrigeration in sight. You could of course walk about a mile up the street to the large, Fred Meyer-type grocery store, but what fun would that be?
While shopping we stopped for lunch at “Los Olivos” a tiny three table restaurant where all dishes (there were only four to choose from) were cooked on one grill right in front of you. P I had a “tlacoyo” which turned out to a refried bean-filled flour tortilla with mushrooms and cheese on top – tasty!
The previous day we had lunch close to the tourist zone at Restaurant El Arrayan on Calle Adelita. A sweet little spot where the owner bustles about making sure your meal is as it should be. He visits the fish market every day at 6 am to get fresh fish, them comes to the restaurant and works every night til 10 pm. Evening fare includes grilled steaks in addition to super-fresh fish. Across the street is a tree whose flowers only open at night and he brought me one of the blossoms – wish I knew what it was!
One of the most interesting thing we saw here was the Zihuatanejo Parthenon. Perched on the hill above the fancy hotels is a replica of the Parthenon. We walked up to check it out and a guard at the base of the hill motioned us on. We climbed up the entrance road which the jungle is quickly reclaiming. Marble statuary and an empty swimming pool hint at the former glory. We met a California couple who have been living here half the year since the 1980s who shared it’s history with us. Apparently it was owned by a very corrupt police chief of Mexico City, who even kept pet tigers and bears on the premises. In its heyday in the 1980s the place was home to cocaine-fueled parties, however when the government decided to crack down on corruption the owner was indicted on numerous charges and promptly arrested and sent to prison. Ultimately the property was ceded to the City of Zihuatanejo.
Sadly, Zihuatanejo was the location of Spike’s last ride. Photo One tube of our well-traveled inflatable was flat when we returned one day. We borrowed a pump, filled it up and headed back to the boat. Air began leaking quickly and it was apparent we weren’t going to make it – this is more excitement than I like in an afternoon. We turned around and made a beeline for the beach where we were able to hire a panga to haul us and our dinghy back to the boat. Thank goodness we still have trusty Blondie, our rowing dink. We hear all things boaty can be easily gotten in Panama, so perhaps we will get a new inflatable there. Until then Dan can work on his guns with all the rowing…