2020-02-05 : Things to Do

2020-02-06 : Fly to Zihuatanejo
We left home at 3:30AM and left Nemo at Airways Airport Parking. Before our flight left Edmonton, we ran into Nancy Nancy at the airport - she was on her way to Cancun. Flights were uneventful and we arrived in Zihuatenajo an hour early.

Neither of us could remember exactly what the Zihuatenajo airport was like, and when we got inside, I knew why. We had blocked it out. The line to go through Immigration was really long, with several flights full of tourists all arriving at once, but the immigration folks were really efficient and we were through relatively quickly. Then came the luggage collection and Customs. With so many people all arriving at once, the luggage area was pandemonium. There isn't separate carousels for different flights - just one long windy conveyor belt. The room was jammed with people and luggage, and although they had a roped back-and-forth lineup area, the line for customs was so long that it back-and-forthed three more times beyond the rope. Anyway, again things were processed fairly quickly and soon we were in a taxi on our way to or AirBnB.

The street that our AirBnB is on is very small and the taxi driver wasn't familiar with it, so we had to use my "Roam like Home" plan and use Google Maps to find it. Arriving in Zihuatenajo an hour early, then having to wade through the airport pandemonium pretty much canceled each other out and we arrived at our AirBnB only 15 minutes earlier than I had told our host.

The AirBnB is nice, and basic (which is fine with us). There are several suites. The host lives on-site, which is great. We met two of the long-term guests: Randy and Ray, who are both very friendly and helpful. There's a really lovely little common area on the second floor (which is where our unit is), and a funny little "pool room" on the ground level with a little plastic pool that we can cool off in if we want.

After checking in, we walked about fifteen minutes along the canal to the MEGA where we picked up some provisions for breakfast, some random snacks and a six-pack of beer.

Later on, we walked the opposite direction and crossed the canal to the tourist district on the other side of the canal. Ray had told us where to find "restaurant row", so we went in search of dinner. The first place we saw was jam packed with old white tourists - perhaps a cruise ship had just docked? - and had the most obnoxious karaoke-quality smarmy music playing. We kept walking. We passed a few more restaurants that looked more promising, but nothing that moved us. Finally we found El Rincón del Bombero, which is themed around the local paramedics, who actually stopped in a couple of times while we were there. We had a lovely (albeit very very rich) dinner on their outdoor dining room.

2020-02-07 : Archaeology Museum
We're enjoying a fairly restful day today. We walked into town and did some exploring, had lunch and visited the archaeology museum, but otherwise we're just laying low and enjoying it.
Staying at this AirBnB comes with an unexpected bonus - Coco, our new cat. Coco is the ‘house’ cat (he belongs to the whole house) and is a very determined little guy to have access to his whole territory.

We spent our first day trying to keep Coco out of our unit because of my allergies, but, he's clearly used to having the run of the place, so if dander was going to happen, it would have already happened anyway. There's no carpet or anything in the unit to hold dander, so we’ve decided that, instead of trying to keep him out, we’ll just let him have the run of it (as long as he doesn’t go on the bed).

This is a whole lot easier, because our unit door tends to drift open unless it's bolted (locked) shut, and with the common area, and the common water jug, being just outside our door, it was getting really irritating to have to constantly manage the door opening and closing while trying to keep the cat out.

So, we get to have a cat for a week an a half! Yay! And, actually, not just one cat, but two cats. Mrs. Coco shows up now and then too.

2020-02-08 : Walk to Playa Las Gatas
Today we walked from Zihuatanejo to Playa Las Gatos.

We followed the malecon from town to the end of Playa La Madera, and I hoped it would go all the way, but it ended there. So, we had to take the road up and over the headland to Playa Ropa.

From Playa Ropa we were able to follow a rough but well-traveled path over a rocky bit to get to Las Gatas.

We had lunch and beers at Restaurant Otilia with our favorite waiter, Franco. T

hen, we walked back, retracing our steps from Las Gatas to Playa Ropa, but then taking the road from there.

Brent bought me a baked banana with La Lechera and ice cream for a snack. Yum!

2020-02-09 : No Parthenon for You!
Today was sort of a low key, tropical vacation kind of day.

We started out with a walk up the hill to see the Parthenon of El Negro. Unfortunately for us, we found the security guard at the gate who, apparently, wasn't interested in a bribe in exchange for a visit inside. Not that we offered him a bribe... we had sort of assumed he would ask, and we didn't offer. Apparently we suck at bribery. So, we took a few photos from outside and then carried on back down the hill.

We spent a good part of the afternoon down at Playa La Madera, drinking beer and eating guacamole.

2020-02-10 : Cooking Class
Before we came on this trip, I pre-booked ONE activity. A cooking class. I booked well in advance, so the teacher, Monica, said we could have our pick of dates. I've had some unfortunate incidents in the past with booking things for the first day after arrival when flights have gone wrong, so I didn't want to book too early in the trip, but we did want to do it fairly early in case we learned things that we'd want to copy throughout the trip, so, Monday the 10th it was.

When we arrived, our AirBnB host invited us to attend a complimentary tour of the Zihuatanejo area... on Monday the 10th, of course. I contacted Monica to see if we could reschedule the cooking class, but now she is booked solid and has no other dates available while we're here.

It is not uncommon for me to have things booked and planned for every. single. day. This time, I had only one thing booked, and it was for the same day as something awesome that came up. Dammit. I can't win!
The cooking class today was AWESOME! I highly recommend it, and definitely recommend taking the "market" variation. The cooking class was fantastic, but the trip to the market was a definite highlight for both of us.

We met at Patio Mexica, and discovered that we were part of a group of twenty - wow! Big group. We got a bit of an introduction, and then Monica and her son, Juan, took us out for a walk to the market. We had a couple of stops enroute to the farmer's market where we learned about some ingredients and spices, and tasted some stuff. Then, on to the farmer's market, which was a real treat for Brent and me. We'd wandered around the municipal market already on our own, but we didn't know the farmer's market existed. It was fascinating.

After the market, we returned to Patio Mexica where we ground up some ingredients for the salsa, and then watched and listened while Monica prepared the three main dishes. We got little books that included some recipes, but not the recipes for what we made today. That was a little disappointing, but, apparently, they have to adjust recipes depending on what ingredients are available at the time. The three main dishes were a bean thing, a corn thing and a cactus thing. Hopefully Brent can recreate them (somewhat) at home.

It was a fun and friendly group, and Monica and her assistants (her son, Juan, and another fellow... perhaps another son?) were fantastic. Friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and professional.

Of course we got to eat the spoils at the end of the class. It was delicious.

2020-02-11 : Day Trip to Petatlan
Today we took a Combi out to the town of Petatlan, which used to be the main centre hereabouts. When the resorts were built at Ixtapa, the small village of Zihuatanejo grew into the wonderful destination that it is today. Brent and I wanted to see the original main town, though, so out we went. The combi ride was about 45 minutes. We walked around Centro, including having a quick look in the church, and walking around the several-square-blocks open-air market. We had lunch at a little stand inside an indoor marketplace, which as delicious. Before heading back to Zihua, we crossed the highway to take a quick walk in the non-commercial area, and had a nice walk down to "Campo Gotcha", which looks like some kind of a small zoo, but which was closed.

2020-02-12 : Playa Las Gatas
Took the boat over to Las Gatas today for a day of snorkeling and cerveza-drinking. The boat coasts 50 pesos/ea, round trip. A steal of a deal.

Las Gatas was named because there used to be lots of catfish in that area. I was curious about the next beach over, Playa La Ropa. Ropa means "clothing". Beach of the clothing?? Apparently, yes. A boat full of clothing wrecked off the beach and the clothing washed up onto the beach, thus, "beach of the clothing".

2020-02-13 : Walk to Ixtapa
Today we walked from Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa, in a somewhat circuitous route. We started by going to the west end of Playa Principal and out onto the point, following De La Noria out to where it dead-ends on the point. I had hoped to take a road called Ojo de Agua up to Paseo del Morro, but Ojo de Agua does not exist. We checked twice. All the map programs show but, uhhhhh... no. There's no such thing. So we retraced and then headed straight up the freakin' mountain through the steep little neighborhood, where we met the very very friendly Raymond, who was just starting his workday. We rounded Parque Estatal "El Limon" on the west side to reach the highway to Ixtapa.

When we got to the hghway (where Blvd Paseo Ixtapa meets Hwy 200, Zihuatanejo-Manzanillo), it was... well.. very highway-ey. I remembered from years ago that I had ridden a bicycle from Ixtapa to Zihautanejo on a pathway that followed the highway on the north side, but we couldn't see it, nor could we see any way to get to the north side of the highway. We opted for staying on the side of the off-ramp, and then the highway, facing traffic. In very short order we came to a "Retorno" (a fly-over off-ramp that basically just does a U-turn). On the far side we could see the path that I remembered, so we took the "Retorno" up and over to the other side, and down, and then we were able to get onto the bike path. Yay!

We followed the bike path, and then sidewalks and neighborhood streets down to the main road in Ixtapa, where we had a quick lunch. Ixtapa was pretty much how I remembered it. Very manicured and commercial... and soul-less. Where we ate was opposite the Holiday Inn Resort, which I swore used to be the Presidente hotel, where I'd stayed twice previously. After lunch, we walked across and went to have a look at the hotel, but we were stopped by the security guard who told us we couldn't just wander in all willy-nilly and riff-raff-ey, but he confirmed that is was, in fact, the former Presidente, so I was satisfied.

We hopped a combi bus back to Zihuatanejo, where we had beach beers and talked to some other tourists.

2020-02-14 : Xihuacan
Today was a day of experiences and adventures. We went out for breakfast, and then went walk-about (or, ride-about, as the case may be).

We wanted to go out to Xihuacan, the archaeology museum, so we took the combi bus toward Petatlan, and got out at Palos Blancos. On the bus we passed, for the second time, the guy that we call 'Speed Bump Guy' because he sits on a speed bump in the middle of the road through one of the small villages, flogging... something. We think maybe snacks? Anyway, he must have nerves of steel to sit in the middle of the road like that with traffic whizzing by on both sides. Sure they have to slow down a little because... Speed bump... But still!! Unfortunately, for the second time I failed to get a photo of 'Speed Bump Guy'.

We were the only ones who got out at the speck on the highway called Palos Blancos, and unlike on Wednesday when we went past there enroute to Petatlan, there were no pick up truck cabs waiting at the corner, but the bus driver pointed us to the little covered bench where Brent had seen the trucks before, so we were pretty sure we were in the right spot. After just a few minutes' wait a covered pick up truck came up the road carrying a few locals. He stopped, facing the highway, and the locals all piled out and started gesturing for us to get in (and made a gesture that the truck would turn around). Brent was a little nervous about getting in the back of a truck pointed the wrong way on the word (or gesture) of some locals but we piled in and to Brent's relief, the truck DID turn around and start taking us down the road toward the museum. We arrived, unscathed, at the archaeology museum where we were quickly joined by a guide, Jose, who, not only was related to the family who initially discovered the site, but also spoke quite good English. Jose showed us, and a few other folks, around the museum. The area was populated for over 3000 years until it was wiped out by a Tsunami in about 1300, when it was buried and forgotten.

After the museum, Jose took us out to the active dig and restoration site where we saw some people working on restoring the unearthed pyramid.

After the dig site, Jose took us out to his brother's house in his village where he showed us more artifacts, showed us how the people make cigars from the tobacco leaves, and his brother demonstrated how to play the traditional flutes. Interestingly, I thought the tobacco leaves smelled like chocolate, Brent thought they smelled like animal skins, and our two new friends, Warren and Cheryl from Ontario, thought they smelled 'earthy'. The visit to the village was an amazing and special experience.

When we were finished, Warren and Cheryl offered us a ride to the highway, which we accepted, and a bus headed for Zihua showed up miliseconds after we jumped out of their car. Sadly, 'Speed Bump Guy' was not there for our return trip so I have probably missed my chance to ever get a picture of him.

When we got back to town we picked up some groceries and I indicated that I would like to have lunch. Brent had thought of walking one of the streets on the far side of the canal, so we decided to do that and look for a place for lunch. Very soon we spotted a Fonda, which our cooking class guy said was a type of fast food restaurant that locals frequently eat at. Brent looked like he wanted to eat at the Fonda so I looked around for a menu or a sign, or any indication of how things work in a Fonda, but there was nothing, so we ended up standing around looking lost and pathetic in the doorway. The restauranteur (Fonda-teur??) enlisted the help of a young lady customer who used her google translate to ask us if we wanted to eat and what we wanted to eat. We got a lovely lunch of chicken and rice (Brent) and pork and rice (me). We offered to buy the young lady's lunch but she refused.

Brent sometimes coaxes me quite a ways out of my comfort zone. Thank goodness!

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