Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Pacific Mexico Beach Review from One Couple’s Perspective (Part II)

Ixtapa and Zihuatanajo
We arrived to Ixtapa midday and stopped at a Trailer Park on the ocean. It was nice and quiet, but far from the town and the main beach so we decided to keep on going making a few stops along the way. Ixtapa has a big swimming beach, many hotels and restaurants, all-inclusive resorts, and a lot of tourist attractions such as parasailing and fishing. 
We luckily stumbled upon the Voladores performance.  We were really wanting to see this!!!  Here is some more info on them. About Voladores
There is also an island with a great beach, snorkeling, and many seafood restaurants, which is accessible by boat for about 40 pesos per person. We made our lunch, checked out the Ixtapa Malecon, and a crocodile and iguana sanctuary. 
Then we stopped at a local frozen yogurt shop for a yummy and cold dessert and to take advantage of the available Wi-fi. We also went to look at the marina, which was full of attractive and expensive boats, but this time of the year the docks were empty.
It was getting late and we still had to find a place to camp for the night so we decided to drive to Zihatanajo in the next bay over. According to our web search, there were a few trailer parks there. We arrived in Zihatanajo when the sun was setting. We checked out one trailer park, but it was too dirty and too expensive. After a few laps in the truck, some asking around, and ringing many door bells, we came upon a very nice, small place, but the gate was locked and there was no sign of the owners. By that time, we were very hungry and ready to consume a savory rotisserie chicken with rice that we picked up at Sorianna (a big grocery store) on the way there. We sat down on the sidewalk in front of the gate (since it was too hot to sit in the truck) and ate our chicken dinner. Hopefully, somebody will show up eventually and open the gate, right?
Right. We camped there for two nights and hung out in the Zihatanajo bay. It turned out that we were just a two minute walk from the beach. We liked Zihatanajo very much: nice town, pretty beaches, and cool people. We finally were able to do some snorkeling as the water was clearer than in the North.

Pie de la Cuesta and Acapulco
After a long eight hour drive from Zihatanajo, we arrived to Pie de la Cuesta, which is just West of Acapulco. We received directions to Raul’s hotel whom we met in Las Vegas at jewelry and watch repair shop, where I replaced the battery for my watch before our trip. He offered for us to stay at his place if we were travelling through the Acapulco area. It took us a while to find his place, and before we did, we drove down to take a look at the beach as we always did. It’s a nice, long beach with a great view of Acapulco.
Our truck got stuck in the sand and it took three young Mexicans, a bunch of rocks and wood, a lot of air out of the tires, a shovel, a toolbox, and an axe to get it out. It was 7:30 at night and we were running out of daylight. The Mexican kids reminded us that the “banditos” come out to the beach after dark. The Acapulco area is considered dangerous at night because of many drug related crimes. After a lot of sweating, a small tip, and the Mexicans calling Aaron Mr. Pancho a lot (why we have no idea despite introducing ourselves), we drove off with no problems.
Okay, Mr Pancho
When we got to Raul’s hotel, we were very happy to take cold showers and turn on the air conditioning as it was very hot outside. We had sandwiches for dinner and went to bed early. The next morning we decided to move on with our journey because the hotel was a little out of our price range. We drove around Acapulco without even going into town since the traffic was bad and we had another eight hour drive ahead of us.
We arrived to Zapotalito at about 6 in the evening and as soon as we pulled into town we were approached by one of the boat owners offering us a trip to the island for 400 pesos. There are two ways to get from Zapotalito to the island of Chacahua. One is to park the vehicle in Zapotalito and take a 40 minute boat ride and another way is to drive to the town of Galera (which is about 50 kilometers away), park there, and take a short 10 minute boat ride for 15 pesos per person. Since it was late we decided to spend the night in Cerro Hermosa, where we threw down our tent at a restaurant, and then go to the island the next morning. We opted for the short boat ride because of the price, but if we were to do it again, we would have chosen the longer boat ride instead. It’s a more fun experience and you avoid the very slow gravel road. We probably could have blown up our inflatable stand up paddle board and cross the channel; however, the 15 peso boat ride was worth it.
We brought our tent, camping gear, and the surf board on the boat so we could spend the night on the island. One can camp for free at any restaurant on the island in exchange for buying the food there. Our boat driver introduced us to a very nice, spliff smoking older black lady, who was the owner of the restaurant where we camped. We learned that the restaurant menu only listed the expensive meals such as fish fillets and shrimp, which are about 100 pesos per plate. The simpler and cheaper dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, and guacamole with tostadas are available, but not on the menu; you need to ask for them.
After we set up our camp, we headed for the water because it was very hot. We went swimming and snorkeling and later we went for a very pleasant, long walk on this beautiful and never ending beach. This island is very popular with surfers from all over the world; we met Americans, Canadians, Swiss, Jamaicans and Argentinians. Unfortunately, the waves were still too big for me so I did not attempt surfing there. Aaron tried a few times, but was tossed around in the waves quite a bit. During the two days we were there, I made very good friends with a couple of homeless beach dogs. 
I named this pup Tortilla
Give a dog an old tortilla and you got a friend for life!
Roca Blanca
From there we went to Roca Blanca because we heard the waves were smaller. The beach was beautiful and the water was clear. The name Roca Blanca surely comes from the amazing white rock emerging from the middle of the ocean. At Roca Blanca, we had the best and the cheapest green tamales (chard) with salsa from a lady who was selling them on the beach. They were 10 pesos for a bag of three!
Aaron was more interested in spearfishing than the waves, which were crashing abruptly near the rocks, so he took out his spear gun and went out in the evening, but only saw minnows.  I watched him from the shore for a while, studied some Spanish, and did Pilates under the palapa of the restaurant we were camping at. Then I went to take a shower and while I was enjoying the nice, cold water, I heard some commotion, but did not pay much attention. When I exited the shower, Aaron was back and he walked up to me and said: “Guess what we are cooking tonight?” There was no fish in his hands and I noticed the restaurant was quiet and empty and the kitchen was boarded up for the night. The owners went home; I guess they only do breakfast and lunch there. So we broke out our kitchen and made rice and beans. We went to the restaurant next door; they were also closed up for the night, but we knocked on their door and they were more than happy to share their own dinner with us for a few pesos. We got some quesadillas and a couple of beers from them; the sweet lady also threw in a free papaya.
The next morning Aaron went out spearfishing again and this is what happened. I will let him take over and share his story:
“Within five minutes I saw the magnificent sight of a school of 300 Eagle Rays that were two feet long that were passing by 15 feet below me. They blended in so well that they looked like the sand was waving at me. It was a breathtaking sight. The owner of the restaurant we were camping at was not kidding that there were schools of fish there. I was getting excited so I kept swimming towards three rocks that were a half mile out. The visibility was 15 feet or so and I started to see the shadows of fish near the bottom. Then I went to clear my goggles and, as I was doing it, I reached down for the spear gun that was tied around my wrist to find that the knot had untied from being in the salty water. I tried to dive down and find it, but soon realized the currents were moving me around and I had no sense of where I lost it. I walked out of the water “mucho triste” (very sad) so we left for Puerto Escondido.”
Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido’s Zicatela beach break is one of the top ten surf waves in the world; it is known as the Mexican pipeline. When we first walked up to the beach we could feel the force of the waves beneath our feet. The town was very busy with surfers from all over the world; there are many great restaurants, shops, and nightlife. The main beach is very picturesque, but there is no swimming because of a strong rip current.
Ooh Pool Boy!!!
We meant to stay in Puerto for a night or two, but over a week later it was still hard for us to leave. We stayed at a small hotel Villa Maria del Mar right across the street from the main beach. It was very inexpensive (120 pesos per night for both of us), had a pool (which was key since Puerto Escondido is extremely hot during the day), access to Internet, and a shared kitchen. The owners Max and Eli were super accommodating too.
We met and hung out with many great and interesting people like Maria and Guido, a young Argentinian couple, who were staying at the same hotel and a couple from Australia, who are riding their motorcycles around the world.
Can't wait to see these two in Argentina and do some real grilling
 We were able to practice our Spanish every day (it is in Puerto that I learned my favorite phrase: “Mucho calor”) and cooked some great meals with the crew.
Aaron made ceviche a few times as it was very easy to purchase fresh fish every morning from the fishermen on the beach.

Sierra Ceviche, we prefer the lime method and about two hours of sitting time. Wikipedia Ceviche
I went for a walk/run on the beach every day at 7am before it got too hot and we watched amazing sunsets every night. We also enjoyed one of our favorite drinks “agua de coco” (coconut water) to keep hydrated. Every night before bedtime we took cold showers because there was no air conditioning in the hotel, just a ceiling fan.
The waves in Puerto were ridiculously big on the main beach, but Aaron was able to surf and snorkel at the Carrizolillo beach nearby. It was a gorgeous, smaller beach surrounded by cliffs on three sides; it had great swimming, snorkeling, and beginning surfing. To get there we had to walk down about a thousand steps…
In summary, we enjoyed the long stretches of beaches and coastline of Pacific Mexico. After camping at nine beaches and visiting even more the highway 200 is the way to go in our books. Instead of a week or two that we planned for, it took us a few good weeks to drive the 1,051 kilometers. Living out of the car and camping was very easy there. We met great people, took awesome pictures, and had a wonderful time. It was very nice to be able to take our time and not worry about being somewhere in a certain time period. After all, this is what this trip is about…

View Larger Map

The Voladores

Dried Minnows.......



Roco Blanco

Puerto Escondido

Carizalillo Beach

Argentine Grilling

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