Posted by: vlbyers | March 31, 2011

Ixtapa and Zihuantanejo

Fun with our friends on The Elysium

Just clowning around

Jammin' at Rafas in Z Town

Balerina ready for her performance

A little 'performer'

Z town square

Caly the stressed out kitty

Ixtapa and Zihuantanejo
I have dreamed of coming here on vacation many times, these towns have always sounded so romantic and very Mexican. The cruise ships bring their passengers to this port, the 2 towns only a few miles away from each other but vastly different from each other. We are finally here, the bay is beautiful although there is not much protection from the swell, we put out a stern anchor to hold us bow on and that keeps us from rolling from side to side, one of the most uncomfortable parts of being anchored. The beaches are all beautiful, there are 3 of them in the bay and there are several rocky outcroppings that promise good snorkeling areas. Our friend Henry from Rapscullion is here and offered to take us into town to show us the lay of the land as he has been here many times. There is a dock here, very rough concrete and built for larger boats than our small dinghys. We are not allowed to tie up to the dock but we can load and unload passengers and other items like laundry and provisions, very handy as a beach landing and takeoff usually incurs at least a splash or two, sometimes a full on wave crashing over the bow, soaking passengers and contents.
Henry has a large dinghy, unable to make a beach landing so he has a particular method, which he has perfected during his 6 years of cruising. He has an inflatable kayak which he tows behind the dinghy, so he hauls his guests (us) to the dock and drops us off, he then goes close to shore but out from the break and drops his anchor. He hops into, or onto, his kayak and rows to shore leaving the kayak on the shore. Quite practical actually. He usually manages not even to get wet, years of experience.
The town of Zihuantanejo is very charming. As you walk only about 50 feet down the pier you come to the port captain and the first of bars, restaurants and shops selling anything and everything for the tourist. Since this is a town which caters to the cruise ship crowd it is set up just like that, with everything situated close in on about a 5 square block area. In the past few years the town has erected overhangs from the buildings out of large wooden posts for the supports and tile roofs. The result is that you feel you are walking through an old west town, except that the sidewalks and the streets are stamped concrete.
Once past the major tourist area the town opens up a bit, there are more hardware stores, markets where the locals shop and the shade awnings are gone. Within walking distance is a large ‘Commercial’ which is their ‘Fred Meyer’, food store along with toys, clothes. electronics, paint, housewares, and almost everything you could need. Since we are working on decreasing what stores we have on the boat our shopping is limited to fresh food and once in a while some beer for Larry, but had we known we were taking a taxi back….
One of the highlights of this town is the town square. As in all of Mexico even the smallest pueblos have central squares where people gather. Here the square is hopping nearly every night. We have chanced upon dance recitals featuring ballet, tap and jazz with the little girls all decked out, dance demonstrations given by adults, a magic show which was actually a comedy act by a man who just couldn’t make the rabbit appear, basketball games with the local teams and the grand finale was the parade during carnival which looked like a production from Las Vegas with the girls in their headdresses. Unfortunately it was difficult to capture it on film as it was dark.
After spending a few days anchored here, hanging out with Henry, his guests Barbara and Dennis and visiting the town we picked up our anchor and moved to Isla Ixtapa. This is about 8 miles away from where we are and supposedly many Mexicans choose to come here on their vacations. Henry warned us that on the weekend it would be very busy. The island is only about 1 mile off the main coast and the depth is shallow all across the channel. As we pulled in to take a look there were 3 sailboats, one large power boat, 2 smaller power boats and many pangas-all in a space where 3 boats would be comfortable, we anchored around the corner, not really in the anchorage at all. The setting was beautiful, the beaches were not overcrowded but there was obvious activity all around. Since Henry’s boat is a much larger catamaran we opted to dinghy over for ‘drinks’ and entertainment provided by Larry on the guitar. Henry is a very gracious host and before we knew it there were plates of various foods placed in front of us to munch as we chatted.
The weekend brought the crowds to Isla Ixtapa. The pangas ferry people from the mainland starting at about 0900, and then the wave runners come out in force. There were also some people skiing throughout the day, all of which served to stir up the area and make the anchorage very rocky. We spent some of the day swimming but mostly just enjoyed the scenery and relaxed, getting some reading time in. Barbara had loaned me a book, ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’ with the caveat that I had to return it to her before she left, which would be less than a week. In the evening we took a dinghy ride to see what the area looked like, we thought we might go to the beach for dinner but as we rode by, at only 6 pm, the places were all but deserted and the umbrellas were closed up for the night. We ate on the boat.
Monday was calmer, most of the boats had left the anchorages and there were only a few ‘ferries’ to the island. Larry and I went to shore to take a walk on the island. After securing the dinghy above the water line, we walked past the first beach restaurant, there was a well-worn trail which we followed and within about another 20 yards were on the other side of the island. This side was very different as large rocks lined one side of the bay and a coral reef the other, coming as close as 10 ft from the beach. This area was a bit of a tide pool and was great for kids, as the surf would go in and out they could sit in an ever-changing pool of water about 10 inches deep. Right away we decided the walk was off, we would rather snorkel as there were about a dozen or so already in the water. Back we went to the boat to retrieve our stuff, thank goodness this was a very mild beach landing and takeoff, and we were dressed for the occasion with swimsuits.
The snorkeling was OK, visibility was not that great but we both wished we had brought the ‘sling’ to get some dinner, as it, dinner, swam right in front of our faces many times. We enjoyed the refreshing swim in the water and returned to the boat for a fresh water shower and an early dinner. This would be our last night here before returning to the Z-town anchorage.
One last note, you all will be happy to know that Caly is quite well-adjusted to her home, the sounds, the movement, whether we run the engine, sail, calm or choppy make no difference to her. As long as she has access to her favorite hang outs and can nap in the sun or shade, whichever appeals to her at the moment she is fine-as you can see by the picture this is one stressed out cat. I think she likes us too.

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