Friday, January 9, 2009

Z-What: Smell vs Swell

Well, Zihuatenejo was sort of a mixed bag...

It was thrilling to round the corner into the gorgeous bay of Z-Town and drop our hook, knowing it was the 'end of the line'-- as far south as we would sail. We explored the town with its attractive cobblestone streets and gravitated to El Faro, which is a local sailor's bar and hangout, and then retired to our boats and rested.

Then the smell hit us. Raw sewage. Totally overwhelming.

At one point in the evening, Roger candidly asked me if our holding tank had suddenly burst (kind of like an onboard septic tank-- and no, for the record, it hadn't).

Turns out that the town pumps its sewage directly into the bay. We consulted our Lonely Planet guidebook, which says that a recent team of biologists tested Mexican waters, and Zihuatenejo had among the highest level of biological contaminants of the 20 or 30 cities measured.

What a pity! It's an absolutely gorgeous bay, well protected with cool cliffside houses ringing the hillsides. The town itself is friendly, fun, and filled with some great taco stands. Alas, the smell actually woke me up in the middle of the night, and after about 2 nights here, we'd had enough. Landing the dinghy meant getting wet up to the ankles in this stuff, and even the normal little splashes from taking the dinghy in to the beach made us feel filthy (it was probably mostly psychological, but still...)

So, we moved across the bay to Playa La Ropa, and spent a day there. This was much cleaner (people were actually swimming) but here we encountered the "swell" portion of this blog. This beach is exposed to the entrance of the bay, and around sunset, the waves start their dramatic entrance. Hurulu began to pitch and dance on her anchor like one of those $0.25 pony rides outside of K-Mart.

Finally, we did what we should've done much earlier-- we moved about 10 miles north to an island just off Ixtapa called Isla Grande. Together with our continuing buddy-boat La Palapa, and their visiting friend Jan, we had the eastern side of the island all to ourselves. Beautiful, clean waters, gentle breezes, and awesome moonrises.

We spent the last few days pretty much just living off the boats, snorkeling, fishing in the dinghy (nada caught), cleaning the boat bottoms, etc by day and having margs and bbq by night. We also christened "Roger's Internet Cafe" (since Roger's boat has both a WiFi net and great starbucks coffee, we've started to hang out there a lot).

Speaking of BBQ, Roger had this packet of mystery meat in his freezer, which he grilled up one night. I'm a little worried about what it actually is...Mexicans seem to eat just about every part of the animal (look up the translations for Lengua or Cabeza) but I have to say, it was the most delicious BBQ I've had in years-- and I eat a lot of BBQ. Absolutely incredible. It was so good, I made them take a picture of the wrapper so I can track it down again. If you come across it in the ethnic foods section of your local supermarket, I strongly suggest you promptly purchase and eat it-- but don't read the ingredient list.

Today we left our boat in Marina Ixtapa and took a 4-hour bus ride to Acapulco, where we are staying at this very cool hotel called Los Flamingos de Acapulco. It's where the old Hollywood royalty used to hang out, many many years ago.

As a faded SF Chronicle article hanging on the wall puts it, quote, "film legend John Wayne called it his 'secret hideaway' in Mexico: a small hotel draped along the edge of an Acapulco cliff that provides a stunning Pacific panorama. Opened in 1930, Hotel Los Flamingos was serene, secluded, and unpretentious. Wayne liked it so much he rounded up several of his Hollywood cronies and purchased it in 1954." As I write this, I'm staring at a giant, lurid, sepia-toned poster advertising Johnny Weissmuller in the movie, Tarzan and His Mate.

It suits our style well-- very cool, laid back place, a little tattered around the edges. Shabby chic, I suppose you could call it...a place with character. Amazing sunsets, as it's literally built into the cliffside, overlooking the Pacific. They claim to have invented several well-known cocktails, including the "Coco Loco" (1934) and the "Tortuga" (1963).

Did I mention it's pretty cheap? The only issue: during our dinner of seabass ($10) and steak ($12), we had to periodically rise from the table and make threatening gestures at a posse of-- count 'em-- 8 aggressive raccoons, who were interested in sharing our dinner.

Anyway, tomorrow we are heading back to the States for a few days of family time, and to collect various spare parts. After that, we'll continue the march back up the coast on our passage back home, while we figure out the next stage in our life plan. Asta luego!

1 comment:

Bill & Maribel said...

Hey you guys look fantastic! So fit and tan.
Yeah, I too recall the odor and the yellow foam line of sewage in the water in Zihua. Good fishing though...
Did you see any Crocodiles in the Ixtapa marina?
Don't turn back..you just got started :)