Friday, March 6, 2009

Port of Call 2: Zihuatanejo / Ixtapa

The second port of call was my favorite. Where Acapulco was a tourist trap, Zihuatanejo seemed a little more laid back. Of course we were bombarded by taxi drivers vying for our American dollars and the outdoor market had plenty of Made in China trinkets desperately trying to pose as authentic keepsakes. But we kept our treasure hunting narrowed down to silver, turqoise, and hand-made animal toys & wallets. We are gringo tourists who just came off a cruise ship but we're not fresh off the boat if you know what I'm saying. Even cleverly named shops like this couldn't lure us in with their resin knick-knacks and mugs shaped like men's & women's anatomy (no joke!!)

La Sirena Gorda: The Fat Mermaid

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this. I asked the mother's permission, of course, and although she looked at me as if I was loco en la cabeza she agreed. I even thought of giving her money afterward but the mother in me decided that that would just feel wrong.

This is in the outdoor market. He is swinging suspended between a sales rack & a post that holds the ceiling (a tarp) up.

I noticed the many vivid colors of this quaint town. In Acapulco most buildings were white or a rosy mauve color but it seems that the Zihuatanejans are a bit more daring than the Acapulcoans in the color department. Either that or they just use whatever they can get their hands on. Hmmmm...I think I have some neighbors that are from Zihuatanejo...... that must explain why they painted their house turquoise!!!

I loved the streets of their "downtown". The colored paving stone adds to Zihuatanejo's charm. As do the green bug & yellow convertible, of course.

Notice the splashes of color on the building to the left? Who else could get away with that color combinataion? Only in Mexico, my friends.... only in Mexico. (BTW--my neighbor's house is not turquoise... but I think his mother's is.)

After finally tracking down a taxi driver (gratuitous sarcasm here, people...stick with me) we headed toward Ixtapa. Ixtapa is the neighboring city which is really a more tourist-y area. There are a few resorts but not many and a small shopping mall that looked a little too "American" for my taste. Somewhere along the drive, the road turns from stone, to dirty asphalt (in the inner-city), to clean cement (near the resorts.) While driving along the dirty asphalt phase of our journey I noticed a very clean, white brick building with a chain link fence around it. It stood out from the rest of the buildings nearby. It had a large satellite dish out front. I also noticed an outdoor basketball court. That's when I thought, "Hey. That looks like a church." A split second later my hunch was confirmed as I saw the sign La Iglesia de Jesu Cristo de los Santos de los ultimos dias. Eli, our unsuspecting taxi driver, agreed to stop by on the return trip. Poor guy didn't know what he was getting himself into.

In Ixtapa we took a small boat over to an island.

Rest and relaxation was the order of the day here. Restaurants wer located in the center of the island and you never had to get up from your beach chair for a thing. .

The "waiters" are very attentive. You want snorkel gear? They get it for you. You want drinks? Done. A Band-Aid? They try their best to find one. They see you messing with your broken lounge chair? A new one is hauled over right away. When the 4 of us were in the water snorkeling, swimming, floating, laughing, I noticed our waiter come to our umbrella and get our attention. He held up his thumbs asking us if all was well. He probably would have swam some chips and guacamole out to us if we asked for it. I was so relaxed that I actually allowed the jewlery vendor to lay his wares out so I could have a look-see. The "look-see" turned into a "buy-me". It was a win-win situation all around.

I saw these astonishlingly beautiful black crabs with red claws. Their appearance alone wasn't really what made them beautiful but also the way they seemed to skip quickly across the slippery rocks. I actually saw a crab flee from one fish just to get snatched off the side of the rock by a bigger fish.

I refused to enter the water until I knew it was free of those funky Corn-Backed Brown Trout I've heard of. Lydia and Eric are such great friends. See how they are both giving the hand signal that it is safe to enter the water? What brave souls. (heee-heeee-heeeee.....haaaa-haaaaa-haaaaa)

It was really easy to find the bathrooms.... this is a hard color to ignore!!

The Ixtapa shoreline.

Remember the church I mentioned?

Eli made good on his promise and we stopped by before heading back to the tender station in Zihuatanejo. The doors were unlocked and Lydia and I were thrilled to use a clean bathroom. It felt so good walking into this building. I felt "home" as I saw the familiar paintings on the walls and felt the spirit within. We talked to several senior missionaries and Eli even agreed to have the missionaries visit him on his day off... which happened to be Sunday!!

After leaving Eli asked if we knew the missionaries or if they were family. We explained that in our religion we deem each other as brothers & sisters even though we might, in essence, be complete strangers. It's funny how I was on a cruise ship with thousands of people but the closest I felt to the world I know was in this building talking to these 3 people I never before knew existed.

And I'm sad to say that we never got a picture of Eli. He graciously offered to be our photographer. Gracias, Eli!

This is a picture I had to take for my kids to see.

It's an elementary school. It really seemed out of place on the corner of this downtown street. The classrooms didn't have any doors and the floors were cement.

I thought back to my childhood and imagined what it would be like to attend a school like this. I realized that much of the equipment & supplies here would have been considered used, old, and worn even when I was in elementary school over 20 years ago. Us Americans are so spoiled. Nonetheless, the children all had smiling faces and boisterous giggles. Especially when the silly American lady started taking pictures of their school.

More colorful buildings & charming tiled streets.

I think it was along this alley that Brandon used the bottle opener in the sole of his shoe for the first time. A good portion of that bottled Coca Cola ended up splattered all over us but it made for a good laugh, good memories, and I think several of the locals got a good kick out of it, too.

Looks like there were some funky fish in that water after all.... and Brandon is the lucky angler who snagged the biggest catch of the day!

Looks like he also snagged the affections of this fellow ship-mate. He was in the "Harriest Chest Competition" on our first sea day. The conversation took a distubing twist when he invited Brandon to pull his chesty tresses.

Some people will do anything when their drunk. Now what's Brandon's excuse?


Eric and Lydia said...

Oh my gosh, I'm laughing so hard at you right now. That was such a fun day! You took way more pictures than I did, but I'll put some of mine up this afternoon. Sorry about my phone, somebody turned off my antenna and i'm still trying to figure it out.

Stefani said...

Oh, I'm so glad you posted! I've been waiting to hear. But I haven't decided, which is worse "cornback brown trout" or "corn hole" (maybe we'll just settle for Brandon pulling a strangers chest hair.)

annette said...

I can see why this port was your favorite. That was pure entertainment reading all about it. Thanks for sharing. I felt like I was there :-)