Right now, we are having this crazy meldown weather in Anchorage that is taking what little snow we had away so I’m dreaming of the ocean, the sun, and the sand between my toes. Of the many ventures I’ve had to beaches, one of my favorites has to be the spring break trip I took back in 2009 to Zihuatanejo with my amazing friend and human spirit Ayme Johnson. She makes my life all the better, that’s for sure! For the most part, these are some excerpts from my journal during the trip.
Angela’s Hostel, Zihuatanejo, Mexico:
In the heart of downtown Zihuatanejo, a great option if you go there! It has a full kitchen as well as dorm and private room options. The hosts who own and operate it are a couple, the husband is from Canada and he is married to a local, Angela. Fantastic people who run an efficient and helpful business, and are down to earth.
We went to Potosi yesterday, a small, slightly built up village south of Zihuatanejo. It was good to see a suburb with a quiet feel. While it had a few more restaurants than I anticipated, it was still very simple and rural. There was a lagoon that intersected the ocean, and some nearby rolling hills. We took advantage of the desolation towards the end of the beach and poached some hammocks near the shore. The breeze rushed over me peacefully; Ayme was asleep in less than five minutes. Eventually, a worker came to ask us to leave after we told her we didn’t want a massage. It was worth it though.
The best part, outside of getting away, was the transportation experience. Why is the transportation always the area of comic relief? It never fails to amuse me. On the bus ride, we got the typical image you would have of a bus in Mexico: chickens, religion, and curtains with little balls on the end. I met a guy who shared his stories of living in Atlanta (where I’m from); I have a feeling he was deported because he kept going on about all the trouble people get into in the U.S. He then whips out his phone only to show me the numerous photos of his large marijuana plants. It was hilarious-he for sure expected me to ask for some weed because he was making price comparisons and what a deal the product of Mexico truly was compared to that in the U.S.
After the bus, we had to catch a camioneta or truck down to Potosi’s shore. We hitched a truck from a local named Nacho. Yes, Nacho. He touched us briefly with his local wisdom and pride. He loved being able to practice his English, but it was such a cool, brief encounter of a stranger being totally open, honest, and sincere. At least I thought so. He didn’t want any money and yet we ended up putting him on our best part of the day list! While Potsoi was a great experience, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money staying at a hotel. We preferred to just go back to our awesome hostel world in Zihuatanejo so we did.
Playa de Ropa:
It is an unusual culture, a hostel. I can’t get enough. As much as I wish we had more time to experience other ones very south of here, I am content.
Yesterday, we spent time showing our German friend Kevin our “spots”. One was The “affluent” place, otherwise known as The Tides, where we discovered you can spend up to $1500 per day! But for us, we take the low range by sitting on the swing chairs by the bar, and drinking wonderful concoctions made by our bartender Marcos for pennies. The bar is very fancy, but gives us a glimpse of what the other world takes for granted every day.
Afterwards, Kevin decided to poach the swimming pool that is laced by the inviting hammock beds and white clothes. His face screamed victory as he breached the water. He was so satisfied by that behavior that he contemplated staying.
Our next stop was the “frugal” place, otherwise known as Elvira’s. We love sitting there all day for practically nothing. Beers. Food. Sun. Our bodies roll like beached whales, but our spirits feed off the idea that life can be so easy. Kevin basked in it too, like a child on a bike for the first time.
Charter to Playa de Manzanillo:
We decided to charter a small boat to Playa de Manzanillo, which is around the other side of the island from Las Gatas, a very compacted tourist-like destination. I didn’t want to venture to Las Gatas, but I’d heard it was more of a local scene, which I preferred over going north to Ixtapa, a man-made Gringo resort. At the hostel though, we heard about Manzanillo and decided it was exactly what we were looking for: deserted and rarely used.
Our guide Leo had a good marketing technique: aggressive, yet friendly. He gave us a way better price than anticipated and we took it right away. The ride over was magnificent; I was taken back to the last time I was on a boat in the open water, outside of my canoe. I think that it was when I went to visit my close friend Cathleen in Colorado, but that was just a huge lake. Nothing compares to being out on the ocean. Sometimes, I dream about becoming some worldly sailor, but then I remember my infatuation with land travels, and quickly brush it aside again. The air was so refreshing and I’m always stunned by looking at cliffs running into water. The snorkeling didn’t end up being “del mundo”, but I got to carefully hold a blow fish for the first time, and while the salty water suffocated my skin, I was still in heaven. The stellar part was being one of only two boats out there in the freedom of the ocean.
Kevin then insisted on finding Jesus. There is this sunken Jesus in Las Gatas that we had heard about from not only Leo, but other locals as well. Kevin was determined to touch it. I was laughing hysterically as Leo drove the boat around as Kevin dived, “searching for Jesus”. Considering both of our religious childhoods, Ayme and I could not stop laughing so hard that we were stinging our noses with rushes of salt water.
Trocones, Salsa, and Final Day:
Yesterday, we got to Trocones, which was a lovely venture north of Zihua on another bus. The beach was practically deserted and we got to drown ourselves in the abrupt sea while watching free range ponies gallop down the shore. In the distance, I could see some hardcore surfers taking on huge waves again and again. This section of the ocean was fierce. That morning, Mark made us breakfast at the hostel, but the food had worn off quickly so we had a fairly light lunch with very strong margaritas. I was super glad that we made time for coming here because it was another toned down village away from Zihua. Later that night, we went salsa dancing at a local club and I was reminded that I needed to dance more often. I use to dance all of the time and when traveling to other countries, it is almost always a motif within your journeys. You end up learning local moves while also practicing weird blends of styles that represent all of the different cultures you happen to be hanging out with that day.
The next day, we enjoyed our last limo’n con cona, and walked the boardwalk one last time to Playa de Ropa. I basked in the sun for the last time, meditating by squishing the sand between my fingers as I laid, full body exposed and pressed into the shore. Feeling Mother Earth against my body, I felt as though she would never let go. Needing that feeling, I was so thankful.
On the plane home, I grinned thinking about that final dip, knowing that travel once again saved a little piece of me. But with a blink of an eye, I was eagerly anticipating the wheels hitting the tarmac back home. I was ready for spring in Alaska.