Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa – Fun in the Sun!

Ixtapa Beach, Mexico.

Lovely resorts line Ixtapa Beach.

Resort at Ixtapa Beach.

Dawn.

Baby sea turtle on Playa Ixtapa, Mexico.

Baby sea turtle treks to the ocean.

Ocean waves at Playa Ixtapa, Mexico.

Baby sea turtle's new home.

Snowy egret in the mangroves at the Ixtapa estuary sanctuary.

Snowy egret.

Snowy egret in the mangroves at the Ixtapa estuary sanctuary.

Head on a telescoping arm.

Kittens play at the Ixtapa market, Mexico.

Kitten at the Playa Linda market.

Charter megayacht garage, anchored at La Ropa Beach, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Yacht so big it has a garage.

Catered food delivery at Isla de Ixtapa, Mexico.

Munchies on their way to the megayacht.

Catered food delivery at Ixtapa Island, Mexico.

Here you go!

Little girl sits in our kayak at Isla de Ixtapa, Mexico.

Little girl enjoys our kayak.

Workers take a water shuttle home from Ixtapa Island, Mexico.

Ixtapa Island workers commute home.

Madera Beach, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Madera Beach in Zihautanejo.

Playa La Ropa parasailors, Mexico.

Parasailors fill La Ropa Beach.

La Ropa Beach, Zihuatanejo, Mexioc.

A parrot says "hello" on La Ropa beach.

Vendors hike the rocks from La Ropa Beach to Las Gatas Beach, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Vendors hike to Playa Las Gatas.

Mariachi musicians walk Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Mariachi musicians walk towards Las Gatas Beach.

Shelled peanuts (cacahuates) vendor on Las Gatas Beach, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Shelled peanuts are a big seller on

Playa Las Gatas.

Pepe's music store in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Pepe's music store in

Zihua.

Mark finds the perfect Beatles guitar case in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.s

Mark finds the perfect guitar case.

Pepe makes music for us in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Pepe sings while Estéban looks on.

Bi-Zihuanas bike shop, Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Bi-Zihuanas bike shop.

Bi-Zihuanas logo:  Alejandro Juarez of Bi-Zihuanas, Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Alejandro, owner of Bi-Zihuanas.

Awesome Dan Norton US National champions cycling jersey.

Signed US Nationals

champion's jersey.

Guests aboard Groovy

We share some Groovy fun with special new friends.

Carmen greets us warmly every time we pass.

Carmen, the jewelry store owner,

chats with us every morning.

Beautifully painted plates in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Beautifully decorated plates from a fine artist.

Lorenzo is a good talker at Lilly's Restaurant in Zihuatanejo.

Lorenzo checks me out.

Socorro has an awesome singing voice.

Socorro whistles and sings.

Dr. Soberanis is a superior dentist in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Dr. Soberanis takes great care of my teeth.

Cruisers' wall at Noemi's restaurant in Zihuatanejo.

Adding some touches to Groovy's signature on Noemi's wall.

Cruise ship M/V Albatros stops in Zihuatanejo before crossing the South Pacific.

German M/V Albatros stops for a day before heading across the south Pacific to the

Marquesas islands.

Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Early January, 2012 - The Ixtapa/

Zihuatanejo area is the ideal place to

relax, with lots to do, including

mysterious "Parthenon" tours.  And

relax we did, for several weeks.  It is a

place where people seem to be just a little

bit warmer and a little bit friendlier than in

other parts of world, a place where

everyone has the time to get to know

each other and let friendships grow.

From gringos escaping the cold north

winds for breezy beach houses to locals

living normal workaday lives, we have met

some very special people on shore here.

Ixtapa is the more sophisticated and glitzy big sister to small-town Zihuatanejo.  High rises line

the beautifully groomed beach, and each resort has inviting pools and views.  What a treat it was

to spend the night at a friend's condo, waking up to sunrise on shore.

While walking Ixtapa beach that morning we came

across a young couple staring intently at the sand.  We looked down and there was a

baby sea turtle making its way across the beach to the sea.  Soon a small crowd

gathered and we all rooted this little guy on as he took his first steps into the big world.

He knew exactly where he was going, and he was hell bent on getting there, trekking

down the beach with awkward paddle-steps.  In no time he was at the frothing water's

edge.

At first the only waves that reached him were the

gentle wave-ends away from the crashing surf.  The

water swept lazily across the sand, and as each

wave washed over him he would get jostled a little and dragged down the beach a few steps.

But when the wave receded he would right himself and continue his march down the beach.

Finally he got into the surf zone and in an instant a huge wave crashed on the shore and he

was sucked into its swirling depths.  We all searched for him when the wave pulled back, but

that was it.  He was gone.

One of the coolest things in Ixtapa is the miles long bike path

and extensive jungle sanctuary.  We walked a little ways back

into the jungle where crocodiles rest with mouths wide open and

long legged birds stand like statues in the estuary waiting to

strike passing fish.  I love the snaky necks on these guys.  It's as

if their heads are on a long retractable arm.  Imagine

being able to move your head so freely up and down

and round about without moving your body or feet.

A family of little kittens caught our eyes too as

they played around the beachside

marketplace.

For vacationers water play is the name of the game in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo.

Back out at Ixtapa Island we found ourselves surrounded by 75' to 100'

charter power yachts every afternoon.  These luxury yachts are so big that

they even have garages in the back.  The crew simply slide open the door

and roll out the jet-skis for a little fast-paced fun.

The restaurants on shore take good care of these visiting day-charters

without anyone on the charter boat having to go ashore.  We watched

platter after platter of food being shuttled out to them.  What a way to go:

pull in, drop the hook, and call room service for some munchies.

We live a little more simply than that and pedaled ourselves to

shore in the kayak for a toes-in-the-sand brewski some

afternoons.  One day we returned to find a little girl sitting on the

edge of our kayak with the biggest grin on her face.  Her dad

moved to get her off when he saw us coming, but she looked so

happy sitting there we encouraged her to stay.  She sat there for

a full hour, smiling away, while we wandered around the beach one more time.

At the end of the day the workers return home from this island.  Vacationers

visit the island in covered water taxis where they can escape the sun and

listen to Mexican music blaring on the water taxis' large speakers.  There are

so many water taxis that the boats are never overcrowded.  The workers' ride

is another story, however.  The boats were so loaded down with passengers

we wondered if they would make it all the way back to the mainland without

sinking.

Back on the mainland ourselves, we strolled all the

beaches around Zihua bay and soaked up the sun.

Mexicans enjoy the holidays to the fullest, continuing

to celebrate right through Epiphany on January 6th

when there is a final burst of fiestas to mark the

arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem.  This is the

day when Mexican children receive their holiday gifts,

not Christmas day.  I had been surprised when I

asked around on Christmas day to find out that the

kids weren't getting any gifts that morning.  I

wondered if they just skipped the gift-giving and

commercialism of the holidays all together.  But a

Mexican friend set me straight when he explained that

January 5th is the biggest shopping day in Mexico and

that the spirit of giving gifts to children coincides with the

gifts brought to Jesus by the Magi.  That made a lot of

sense to me, as I remember when I was little trying to

figure out how that jolly old elf in the bright red suit fit

into all the other Christmastime traditions.  He certainly

never seemed to show up in the nativity scenes around town…

Las Gatas Beach is separated from the other beaches

by a quarter mile trek across rocks and boulders.

Most tourists take the easier route and visit by water

taxi, but the vendors all save their pesos and do the

free hike over the rocks.  I was amazed to watch an

older woman deftly managing a basket of wares on her

head as she negotiated the tricky trail.

Mariachi musicians carry their large instruments, and

from our perch on Groovy just a few hundred yards

from the trail we watched groups of musicians traipsing

to and from Las Gatas beach all day, their large

instruments strapped to their backs.

One of the most popular items sold by these vendors

is shelled peanuts.  Generally about 20 pesos ($1.50)

a bag, the "cacahuate" ("peanut") vendors do a brisk

business on the beach.

One day while wandering around the back streets

of Zihuatanejo we came across a music shop.  Mark always

likes to check out the guitar selection in music stores, and

suddenly he turned to me with the hugest grin ever.  "Look at

this!" he said, holding up a Beatles decorated guitar bag.  He

didn't have a guitar bag for his guitar on the boat, and this

one was absolutely perfect for this 45-year-long Beatles fan.

The shop owner, Pepe, was happily strumming away behind

the counter.  He had an older friend and a young friend back

there with him, and they spontaneously jumped into a series

of lovely Mexican ballads on their guitars.  How I wish my

Spanish were good enough to understand the song lyrics as

they were sung.  Each song had a beautiful bittersweet tone

of love lost.  Weak Spanish was no problem, however, when

the young boy Estéban grabbed Pepe's guitar and launched

into a 12-song set of Beatles hits.  His spoken English was as

shaky as my Spanish, but he knew every word to every Beatles

song perfectly.  We sang what we could with him and hummed

the verses we didn't know by heart.  Just 22 years old, Estéban

sang with an affection for the songs that would make any grey-

haired Beatles lover from the sixties proud.

Another day we bumped into a bike

shop.  Never one to pass up an

opportunity to talk bikes with fellow

enthusiasts, Mark walked in and found

an instant friend in owner Alejandro.  It

turned out that Alejandro has had the

great fortune to ride the Alps and the

Pyrenees in France and is going to Italy

to ride this summer (but frustratingly

can't get a visa to ride the beautiful roads

of the western US).  What fun to discover that his ultimate cycling idol was the

same as Mark's: the great Italian climber nicknamed "Il Pirato" ("The Pirate"),

Marco Pantani.

The name of Alejandro's

shop is a wonderful play on

words.  The Spanish word for "bike" is "bici,"

pronounced "bee see."  The town's nickname is

"Zihua," pronounced "see wha."  And the common

local dinosaur-looking critter is an "iguana,"

pronounced "iwhana."  Combining all those words

together he came up with "Bi-Zihuanas" or "bee see

whanas."

Offering mountain biking tours in the hinterlands

around Zihua, Alejandro is so friendly and outgoing

that his shop is always abuzz with customers and

activity.  Another longtime gringo friend of his was

visiting at the time, and he had brought down a fantastic cycling jersey

signed by US National Master's men's cyclocross champ Dan Norton

to be displayed on the wall.  This is one cool bike shop.

But besides all the wonderful talk of favorite Tour de France moments,

towering French mountain climbs and shared lust for various cutting

edge racing bikes and components, the best part of this shop is

Alejandro and his family.  We enjoyed several visits with them, and

especially got a kick out of bringing the kids out to spend some time on

Groovy.

Zihuatanejo is a small community and everyone knows each

other.  Every day on our way into town we would pass all the

vendors and chit-chat with many of them.  Tourism is drastically

down these days, but these guys always have

smiles on their faces.

The two parrots Socorro and Lorenzo who live

at the restaurant Lilly's seem to smile a lot too.

Rarely confined to their cages, we discovered

they both talk very well, mostly in Spanish.

Socorro has lived with her owner for twenty

years, and she entertained us with her very dramatic singing

voice.  She would warble and whistle and sing with intense

vibrato from up near the ceiling every time we came by.

Somewhere along the line I discovered a large filling had fallen

out of a molar in the back of my mouth, and I was really glad to

have met so many locals to get a good recommendation for a

dentist.  Dr. Oliverio Soberanis came with several excellent

recommendations, and I was floored when he put a tiny

camera in my mouth to show me before and after photos of

my tooth.  Here in Mexico the dentists perform the cleanings

rather than the hygienists, and both Mark and I hit the chair for

a thorough cleaning.

After the dentist replaced my

filing with one that is truly invisible, I asked him how he managed

to give it such a smooth and slippery finish.  He explained that he

polished it, something, we learned later from a retired dentist

friend, that is too time consuming for many American dentists to

bother with.  He also fixed some careless work I'd had done in

the States years ago. So I left with a bright and happy smile!

The cleaning was 600 pesos ($46), the large filling replacement

was 1300 pesos ($100), and a medium sized filling was 800

pesos ($61), all a bargain considering he spent three hours

working on Mark and me and he took us right when we walked in

the door, no appointment necessary.  This was our third

experience with Mexican dentistry and we have been happy

customers every time.

Retracing our steps from last year, we stopped in at Noemi's

restaurant and added a few touches to our cruiser signature on

her wall.  The wall is becoming quite crowded with boat names,

logos and signatures, and hopefully when we return someday it

will be filled with even more.

On our last day in town a cruise ship pulled in.  Zihuatanejo

used to get dozens of cruise ships, but this one was one of only

five visiting in 2012.  Like all cruise ships that drop in on Zihua,

this one had an unusual itinerary.  Having left Hamburg,

Germany a week before Christmas, it was on its way to Aukland

New Zealand, a 50 day journey.  Wow, and we thought we had

sailed a long ways!!

On January 14th we finally stowed everything away and

waved our last goodbyes to wonderful Bahía Zihuatanejo,

and turned Groovy's bow south towards Acapulco.

Find Zihuatanejo on Mexico Maps and explore our visit

to this area last year here, here and here.

Visit Anchorages on Mexico's Southern Pacific Coast

to see more cruising posts from this area!