Zihuatanejo, Mexico 2022

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Monday February 28

It was good to be in Zihua again and settle into our new-to-us apartment in Paraiso Suites, facing La Madera Beach. The one-bedroom apartment we had rented the previous two visits was now occupied by an American woman, with a long-term lease. Our landlady, Irma, suggested we rent the two-bedroom apartment, one floor below the one-bedroom model. It turned out to be very comfortable. We soon discovered we loved the plunge pool on the balcony to rinse off after swimming in the ocean. The design of the kitchen was better, much brighter, with a counter separating the work area from the large dining area. The living room was a good size, two steps below the dining room and open to the balcony that overlooked Zihua Bay and La Madera beach. There was a convenient bathroom with a shower off the master bedroom and another bathroom off the dining area.

Gradually we met up with the friends we met on our previous visits. Barry and Sheila, from Ottawa, had arrived two weeks before us and had just a few more days before they travelled to San Miguel de Allende, where they would stay for February and March. We joined them at dinner, the same day we arrived from Puerto Morelos, at Maderas restaurant, on the beach. They gave us all the news of Zihua and their experiences this year. We would see them again when we went to San Miguel for March.

Most of the time, we cook our own meals, rather than rely on restaurants. That entails a visit to the Mega grocery store to buy the basics we need for our stay. The first purchase is always large enough to entail a taxi ride home from the store. We replenish our food supply by walking into the main town where the Central Market has fresh, local fruit and vegetables, plus all kinds of seafood in the large fish section. You can also buy fresh fish early in the morning. An area on the Town Beach is where the fishing boats dock and unload that night's catch. That is where the restaurants also buy their fish. If the Central Market doesn’t carry an item, the smaller Merza grocery store, is just a short walk from the market. Saturday morning there is a small Organic Market where you can buy take away food and organic soaps and insect repellent, among other items.

The beach is where we often have lunch at one or another of the restaurants lined up around La Madera. Some of my favourite dishes are avocado stuffed with shrimp, or Tortilla soup. Fresh local cheese is sold by Bernardo, going from restaurant on the beach. We buy some and if we are lucky, some is left over to bring back to our apartment. The rest quickly becomes snacks on the beach. This year again, the oyster fishermen were busy early in the morning, diving to the rocks off the shore close to the beach. At lunch time, there are cleaned oysters offered for sale right beside where we sit.

The beach, to me, also means I can get a good long swim across the bay each day. The water temperature is just right, and it is easy to get past the few waves that break at the shoreline. Sometimes I swim alone, and sometimes Sandy joins me for a swim and chat.

There are several massage tents set up on the beach. Massages given my well trained local women, and a few men, are offered at a very good price. I have a weekly one-hour appointment with Anna, or one of her cohorts, that is a real treat.

The beach is also where we meet up with our friends. Some had elected to stay home again this year, but Sandy and Ron Johnson, from Vancouver, Nedra and Ed Forrester, from Hudson’s Hope in Northern BC, Joyce and Don Kaplan, from Minnesota, Michael Abbey and Dominique, from Ottawa, plus many of the Saskatchewan group, were back again. We were glad to see all of them.

Ray had a new routine. He likes to get up earlier than I do, and this year he was usually out by 7 AM to go for a walk along the Posada del Pescador, the walkway that extends from the far end of the Town beach to the opposite end on La Madera beach. There are always other walkers, including Jesus, our landlady’s husband, and his friends. Ray tells me there is always something new to see and the temperature is perfect for walking. Later in the day it does get very warm, especially in the main town, but we benefit from the ocean breezes, both on the beach and in our apartment.

Yoga has become my exercise of choice, both in Ottawa and in each of our Mexico locations. This year I joined a class led by Pilar, at 7:30 AM, on an outdoor area next to the Posada del Pescador, the walkway that borders the beach. I usually went three times a week. I enjoyed the classes, even though they were earlier than I am used to. The early start meant that it was nice and cool for an outdoor activity. Ray was my alarm clock, waking me before he went out for his daily walk.

The evening is another popular time for walking. After dinner, we often walk along the Posada to the basketball court to watch local teams, both men and women, practise or play against other teams. Of course, the referred way to watch the play is while enjoying an ice cream cone from one of the shops across the street from the court.

Chela, the all-purpose worker for Paraiso Suites, cleans our apartment every Wednesday. That gives us an opportunity to go out for breakfast. There are several nearby restaurants to try. La Terracita, at their new location on Adelita, and Margarita are favourites.

Sandy and Ron go out to dinner almost every night and have sampled several new ones. We were invited to join them at two restaurant I had not heard of before. Lety’s Restaurant if deservedly popular with both locals and tourists. We joined Sandy and Ron for dinner on the balcony at Lety’s and enjoyed shrimp dishes with either tamarind or cream with chipotle sauce. Another night we had a multi course Middle Eastern taster meal at Orient Bay. The huge selection of appetizers and kebabs was too much for Ray and I but was very good. We should have brought home a doggy bag to eat another night. Another favourite of ours is dinner was at La Gula on Adelita, just one road below ours. We always have a different and very good meal there.

You never know what is going to happen at the beach. One day, a waiter from a beach restaurant found a very large, dead eel that had washed up on shore. The same day, our friend, Ed found a small water snake, striped green and yellow, that had been attacked and killed. Ed found out later that the snake is extremely poisonous, when alive. After lunch, l had a long swim across the bay, got our and walked with Ray along the beach, where we found another, smaller dead eel washed up on the beach. We noticed a large crowd at the shore looking into the water. A very large crocodile, estimated at 14 ft long, had made its way to La Madera beach, and seemed to be caught in the surf, unable to get to shore. We thought it was probably spooked by all the onlookers on the shore as it attempted to swim back and forth. It was still there, quite close to the shore when we left. There weren’t any swimmers on the main beach by then. I wondered if the crocodile was responsible for the dead eels and the snake that washed up on shore.

Days later we walked over to see a baby crocodile which had been sighted in the shallow water in the canal under the footbridge from La Madera to the town beach. We spoke with a woman also looking for the crocodile. She told us that she saw the big 14-foot fellow that caused such a commotion on La Madera. Apparently, the crews who were cleaning all the debris and extra growth in the canal spooked the big fellow, who had been living there. She saw him swimming down the canal towards the bridge we were standing on. That would have been his entrance to the bay and on to La Madera beach. Ray thinks that the crocodile had been living in one of the depressions in the canal, one of which we passed on our walk to a grocery store in town. The work crews were hard at work at that time, and we could see where at least one big depression was, perhaps the home of the wandering croc.

The Winter Olympics were being held in Beijing. Sandy and Ron, former pairs ice skaters in Vancouver, planned to watch the finals of the men’s free skate at The Captain’s Daughter (La Hija del Capitan) restaurant/bar. We decided to join them. A lone Canadian, Keegan Messing, who lives in Alaska but skates for Canada due to a Canadian mother, was in 9th place after the short program, and therefore made the final round cut. We joined Sandy and Ron at the bar and sat at a table with a good view of the large TV screen. The program started with the skater who finished in 20th place, so it took quite a lot of time before the Canadian had his turn. Keegan stumbled in one spot and ended out of the medals, but it was interesting to see the young skaters.

One of our favourite activities is the noon music at Santa Prisca restaurant. We joined Joyce and Don one day. We all ordered pozole and chicken tacos to share, washed down with Jamaica juice ad a shot glass of mescal. The band, drummer, guitar, 2 saxophones and a bass guitar were very good and played until 3 PM. It is a fun lunch, including sing along for some of the favourite oldies. After Santa Prisca we are so full that we skip dinner.

One evening, I was on my computer about 9:40 PM when the room seemed to shake, once, then twice. I eventually found out it was an 4.6 eathquake, 26 km southeast of Zihua in the ocean. Ray was sound asleep and was oblivious to the event. Apparently, there was another earthquake the next morning at 7:30 AM, 4.3 east of Zihua. I didn’t feel that one as I was asleep.

A good place to watch the Super bowl is at Vielle Casa Restaurant. We were invited to join Joyce and Don and some of their America friends, to watch the LA Rams vs Cincinnati Bengals.  Dinner was good and the game was close, but the LA Rams won by 3 points.

Nedra was staying in Zihua for several more weeks, but Ed had decided to go back home to Hudson’s Hope. It was the perfect occasion for a special good-bye dinner. We all dressed up and went to La Terracita. We had a good time with good food and good company.

Every year our landlady Irma and her husband invite their tenants to join them for a Mexican meal. t This year Colleen, who rents the top floor with her partner, Chuck, Ray and I were the only ones available. Jesus came and picked us up and drove took us to their Playa Blanca home, where they now live full time. Jesus took us on a tour of the house, that he is in the process of dividing into two sections; one for Irma and him, and the other to be used for rental. It will be interesting to see the progress next year. Lunch was a large buffet with shrimp dishes, tortillas stuffed with meat, a fish tabouli and a salad, all accompanied by jamaica and a shot of mescal. It was all excellent.

Many of the Americans and Canadians who stay in Zihua help support families in need. Sandy and Ron are helping out the family of Miguelena, who sells souvenirs on the beach. This year they arranged for the repair of the leaking roof on her simple house on the outskirts of Zihua. Miguelena’s 3 daughters are also sponsored by Sandy and Ron for English lessons.

Sailfest is a must attend annual event, and a major fund raiser for Por Los Niņos, run by a Canadian woman, Carol Romain. Por Los Niņos supports many local Zihuatanejo area children who attend local schools and provide scholarships for University. The organization also provides rice and bean lunches to school children, and pays for building and repairing classrooms and schools. Each February the sailing community gathers to host a concert, a chili cook off, an auction and other activities. We joined Sandy and Ron and for a concert featuring the M-Docs, a group of American doctors, held this year on the town dock.The capacity crowd had a great time, drinking, dancing, and buying raffle tickets. The next day was Sailfest Chili cookoff, held in the museum by the waterfront. We sampled several of the chili offerings and added our votes for our favourite. It is hard to choose amongst so many good varieties.

Monday 28 February was our last day in Zihua for 2022. I had time to say goodbye to everyone at yoga, Ray went for his last walk, and we went for breakfast at Terracita. We finished packing after a dip in the pool to cool off and thanked Chela for taking such good care of us in our apartment. We had time for lunch at the beach, a last swim and to say goodbye to all our beach friends. It was Joyce’s birthday. She ordered Margaritas for us all and we toasted her for her birthday. Miguel, the long-time waiter at the restaurant, surprised us by presenting Joyce with a beautifully decorated, large chocolate cake. Joyce proceeded to cut slices enough for everyone. We had a good visit, with promises to meet again next year.

Irma and Jesus had just arrived at our place as we got back. We said good bye and said we looked forward to next year. Irma Jr and her husband, who were living in the apartment below ours, with their children, drove us to the airport. We flew to Mexico City, where we stayed at the Airport Camino Real Hotel overnight and took the Bajiogo shuttle service to San Miguel de Allende the next morning.


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