21 Nov 2007

Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa

Posted by Deborah

Oops, been absent for a while here, sorry. Let’s see, after Day of the Dead, the first half of November has been fairly routine. On the second weekend of the month, the school threw a party for all the ESL/Spanish students with a live reggae/Latin rock band. I think it was supposed to a belated Halloween/Day of the Dead celebration but there really was no theme. I also went on an excursion to Las Estacas with three other students – Kim, Iole and Karin, also all Rotary scholars who arrived within the last month and a half. Las Estacas is basically a natural spring that leads into a river. There were also a few pools, lots of big green fields, restaurants and rope swings that you could use to launch yourself into the river. It was a relaxing day of swimming and sunbathing. I still can’t get over the fact that I can sunbathe in the middle of November here.

Iole and Karen with the river behind them.

Me, Iole, Karen and Kim just before leaving the park.

Then, on the third weekend of November we decided to go to the beach in Zihuantanejo-Ixtapa since we had a day off school Monday in for the national holiday celebrating the Mexican Revolution. Sheila, Iole, Kim, Andrea (a former student at our school who moved here to work as a nurse) and I boarded a bus on Friday night. Seven and a half hours later we arrived in humid Zihuantanejo, about 4 hours north of Acapulco on the northern coast of the state of Guerrero. We checked into our youth hostel, slept for a few hours, and headed out in search of the beach. Sheila was dying to surf, so we shared the cost of two surfboard rentals, strapped them to a taxi and headed to Playa Linda in nearby Ixtapa, where there were supposed to be good waves for surfing. Basically, Ixtapa is a city of resort hotels and really expensive private homes, while Zihuantanejo has a more vibrant but less sophisticated local flavor. Both have less tourists and cleaner beaches than Acapulco.

Anyway, we arrived at Playa Linda to find absolutely no waves. It was pretty frustrating since the guy who had rented us the board was supposedly just there. So we tried Playa Escarolla about 10 minutes away. It was a beautiful, almost isolated beach and there were a few waves, so we settled there. Unfortunately, the waves were not at all ideal for surfing, especially for beginners. Later in the afternoon, they improved enough that Sheila at least got a chance to surf a little. I tried my best for a while, but it was pretty hard because of the way the waves came crashing one after another without much lag time between. Plus, the whitewater part of the wave that you’re supposed to ride only lasted a second before it would die out in the sand. Even the diehards there who’d obviously had experience surfing were hardly able to stand up. Toward the end of the afternoon, Sheila took a hard fall and got hit on the head with the fin of her board. She was cut deep enough that Andrea, our resident nurse, thought she should get stitches. So she and Sheila went to a nearby military clinic while Kim, Iole and I took the bus back to town to return the surfboards. We must have been quite a comical sight. Sheila had used my towel for her head and I felt too grungy to even pull my shorts out of my bag, so I just sucked it up in my tshirt and swimsuit bottom. I’m sure I got a lot of strange looks but I was too worn out to care. I couldn’t really see anyone’s reaction anyway because I’d taken out my contacts earlier to go surfing and couldn’t put them back in without a way to first wash the sand off my hands. On the bus, we had to literally hold up the surf boards so they didn’t slide out the open door (angling them in there was the only way they’d fit inside). Then we had to walk about 10 blocks through crowds of people to find our way back to the surf shop downtown.

Finally, after finding our way back to the hostel, showering and meeting up with the other two girls, we went out for a much needed meal. Afterward, a friend Kim had meet on the beach got us into Señor Frog’s for free, which was nice. It’s a chain that I’ve been to before in the U.S., but we were all kind of tired and didn’t feel like paying a lot of money to get into the hot local club.

On Sunday, we had a much more relaxing day at a beach on the Zihuantanejo bay. We took a ferry to Playa Las Gatas, which was supposed to be good for swimming. Our only complaint was the stinky algae that seemed to be everywhere, but the water was otherwise clear and the sand nice and soft. After that, we walked around the local artisan’s market, cleaned up, ate dinner at a local place called Los Braseros and walked around the beachfront square where the locals traditionally gather on Sunday nights. All kinds of vendors were out and they even had a live band, although few people were dancing. We almost got scammed by a guy trying to sell us a tour to the beach we were planning to visit the next day. That’s a long story so I won’t get into it, but it made for good conversation later and nobody lost any money.

Sheila and I woke up early Monday to head to Playa Linda, hoping that we might catch some surfing waves if we got there at the right time. Again, no such luck. So we just walked around the beach and snacked at a local restaurant until the other girls met up with us. We saw a nature preserve area where crocodiles were happily sunning themselves, then took a ferry to the Isla Ixtapa, which was reputed to have four gorgeous beaches. Nobody had any complaints this time. The water was crystal clear, the sand was clean, there were no rocks and not too many people. It was perfect. We checked out three of the four beaches and settled on one that looked the best for swimming. Later in the afternoon Andrea and I also spent a little while on the beach known for snorkeling. Even though we didn’t rent snorkels, we could still see all kinds of tropical fish swimming around us.

We had to leave by around 4 pm in order to have time to stop for food, shower at the hostel and get to our bus by about 8 pm. Everything went smoothly and I even had time to leave our mark on a hostel wall designed for that purpose.

Overall, it was a relaxing trip despite the excitement with Sheila’s accident and our almost-scam. It wasn’t as active or cultural as I normally like, but that wasn’t the purpose this time.

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