LaJollas in Zihuatanejo, 2005
October 31st through November 8th
“There's a guy with a ticket to Mexico. No, he couldn't look much stranger.
Walking in the hall with his things and all, smiling, said he was the Lone Ranger” (Arlo Guthrie)
This year’s trip was to be a celebration of my wife and I being married for twenty-five years. She’s a patient woman, to be sure, and me… well, I’m just plain blessed. The intent was to slip away, the two of us, and spend as much time together as possible. We always had company in previous years, and while it was most assuredly fun, especially when we brought the kids along, this time it was going to be just us.
“I’ll take stupid assumptions for two hundred, Alex.”
As you’ll see in the report, we knew more people that went down this year, than in any of our previous trips. C'est la vie. In retrospect, this turned out to be our favorite stay to date, and in the process we got a look at how the other half lives. You can find my other reports, from years prior, here.
One of the reasons that we plan our trips when we do is so that we’ll have the company of our good friends Roberto! and Wynn. We first met in Zihuatanejo in 2001, and a trip without them around just doesn’t seem the same. I know that seemingly contradicts what I have stated were our intentions about being alone this year, but these two wonderful folks fall into a different category.
Wynn and Roberto!
As it turned out, a couple of folks who live in our neck of the woods, that we met through Roberto! and Wynn, were heading down on the same plane as we were. After a couple of emails back and forth, it seemed only reasonable that we should share a ride to the airport. We picked Kathe and Russell up and were off to Portland International Airport. They turned out to be worthy travel companions and looked forward to their time alone as much as we did. A friendship was cemented during the following ten days that I’m sure will be a lasting one.
Russell and Kathe
Also at the airport, and on the same plane, were Arthur, Josh and Dupré; all people that I work with. This was Arthur’s third trip down to Zihuatanejo, but this one would be a little different. On this trip, he and Kimo (his better half) would be getting married. The boys were going down a couple of days before the girls, in an effort to do a little bachelor party type stuff (we’re talking golf and fishing here… and maybe a drink or two. We’re all adults, after all). They had rented the Villa de la Roca for the week and the wedding was to be held at the Villa del Sol (thus that look at the “good life” I alluded to up above).
Party on boys!
Once landed, we got the green light. A quick cab ride and check-in brought us to our home for the next ten days, room twenty-five at the Catalina Beach Resort. Javier had us unpacking bags in no time. I ventured out onto the lanai and yelled down to señor Roberto! that, “The vacation was over, the LaJollas had arrived.” Against my will, he coerced us into accompanying he and Wynn up to the Sunset bar for dos por uno cocktails, where we found Kathe and Russell already in progress. (Disclaimer: We had warned Kathe and Russell about the margaritas at the Sunset bar… really, we had. But they wouldn’t listen.)
"Gee but it's great to be back home."
Before dos por uno, we could stand.
Most of the days were pretty tedious really. Up with the sun, walk the beach, find some breakfast, lay under the palapa, swim in the bay, take a siesta, swim in the pool, find some dinner, have a few drinks, head off to bed.
Curly-Bob, "Workin' for a livin'"
We broke up some of the monotony by heading downtown a number of times to do some shopping at the Mercado, for those little things we like to have handy around the lodgings, and also at some of the gift shops we’ve grown to like over the years. We also took advantage of the great restaurants available downtown.
I love downtown Zihuatanejo. One of the main reasons I head to this part of the world to spend my vacation time, is that it is a great combination of vacation destination and workaday world. I get a feel for everyday life in Zihuatanejo and sort of revel in it. Walking about, hearing the folks talking and watching them go on with their business is all just grand.
One side trip we did make this year was to La Barra de Potosí. Roberto! and Wynn led the way as we caught the bus into town, then caught the bus out of town and the Pasajera from Los Achotes to La Barra. I’ve seen others describe the trip, so I’ll bypass the description, even though I enjoyed it immensely.
Tres amigos, on the Pasajera.
I had a couple of things I wanted to do at La Barra. One was to hang in an enramada and have lunch. There are many along the beach, we chose La Condessa. I had what the menu called “cheese tacos” and I understood to be quesadillas. My suspicion was confirmed when our waiter, Pedro, referred to them that way. Regardless of what they were called, they were excellent, as was the guacamole that we ordered to go along with.
Ah, the good life on La Barra!
The swimming at La Barra was great, though there was a bit of an undertow and the natural break of the surf tended to move you north, just like it did in SoCal, where I grew up, a beach bum. The water was warmer than in Zihuatanejo Bay, which was unseasonably cool for most of our ten-day stay, and the breakers were most excellent for getting in a little body surfing.
The other thing I wanted to do while in La Barra was to meet Laura. Laura has a bed and breakfast and holds herself responsible for giving back to the community, primarily in the fashion of helping to take care in the local children’s education. I am so happy that she was home when we barged in on her. She took the time to show us around the B&B, which is wonderfully designed (by Laura) and landscaped (by Laura). Fountains dribble in the background and the coolness created by the lush surroundings is amazing. The smells coming from the kitchen were enough to get me hungry again, and I don’t even think they were cooking yet :-) She continues adding onto, and remodeling her place as I write this.
Wake me when siesta is over please.
My wife and I have every intention of spending some days with Laura when next we return to Zihuatanejo, and anyone who appreciates a special, quiet time should consider doing the same.
One of Laura's great rooms.
As I mentioned before, we had a couple of friends that rented out the Villa de la Roca for their wedding party. Arthur and Kimo had stayed there once before, as part of another group.
The house is wonderful, with open-air rooms that are nicely adorned with folk art. The living/dining room turns into the deck, nicely poised high above Zihuatanejo Bay, and the bar/great room turns into the pool area, with an elevated sitting pool that waterfalls into the main pool, on the deck below. The bar helps to break up the areas nicely
Villa de la Roca
The pool is small, but good for lounging about and cooling off.
The bedrooms are all self contained with a master bath and a sitting area. They all have air conditioning as well. I didn’t really get a good look at a bedroom, but understand that they are very nice and all about the same, so no one loses out by having the lesser room.
There is a staff living downstairs that keeps the Villa spotless, does the daily room service, and provides a great breakfast each morning. Dinners are also available upon request, for an extra fee of $20 U.S. per person. For $12.50 per person, per day, the bar is open and the amount of water, pop, beer and harder stuff is unlimited. It’s well stocked too.
Did someone say, "Open bar?"
Villa de la Roca is located at the north end of Playa la Ropa and does have a bit of a climb involved, but it’s not too bad. The climb is what makes the view so wonderful. It is likely not a good place for someone that has limited stair-climbing ability, or someone who is wheel chair bound.
The main hangin' area at Villa de la Roca
We didn’t stay at the Villa del Sol, but Arthur and Kimo got married there. They also had the wedding dinner there. As such, we were able to sample the elegance of the kitchen and wait staff. The meal was to die for, and if it is any indication of the norm, which I’m sure it is, the resort must be all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a bit too expensive for my “cheap” tendencies, but if you want a truly special time, and money is no object, I think I can safely say that you might enjoy the Villa del Sol. It has a wonderful palapa area and is right on the beach, so no steps or climbing is involved.
Kimo and Arthur, saying their "I do's"
I knew there was something I liked about Villa del Sol.
“Now Old Man Rhythm is in my shoes. It's no use sittin' here singin' the blues. So be my guest, you got nothin' to lose.
Won't you let me take you on a sea cruise?” (Frankie Ford)
Once again this year there were a total of four ships that parked their big butts in the Bay. Having taken only one cruise in my life, and not liking it too much, I don’t feel too bad about dissin’ the boats. In my heart of hearts I know that they can’t be good for the water quality, even though I’m sure that they do their best to keep from polluting. Suffice to say that the best views of the bay are on those days when these monstrosities are not anchored squarely in the middle.
Here she comes!
"I am here to say to you that I love my bread and my meat.
Take a look at me and you can plainly see that I'm a man that loves to eat." (Dan Hicks)
We ate at many of our old favorites this year, and most were still just as good as I remember. Those you can find in my other reports.
There were a few new eateries that we tried out this year. One was Rick’s Bar, for a much-needed mid-week Americano meal, consisting of a hamburger and fries. Rick’s is a great place to drop back into North America for a bit, when you get a little homesick. He also has great entertainment (and fun) in the evenings, but again, that is covered in last year’s report. He does have his own tequila now, and I can highly recommend it.
Gettin' down at Rick's
(Photo courtesy of Roberto!)
Another new restaurant for us was the Kau Kan. Ordinarily my “sensible” side wouldn’t want to pop for the check at this establishment, but a friend back home had been so kind as to get us a gift certificate for our twenty-fifth wedding celebration.
Both Suzie and I had the shrimp and lobster stuffed potato dinner… the most suggested fare on the menu. Without a doubt it was fantastic. As was the service and setting.
Celebrating 25 years together, at the Kau Kan
(Thanks Lindsey and Jim)
But allow me to tell you what I found most outstanding about the Kau Kan:
There had been a snafu regarding the gift certificate mentioned above. The Kau Kan had never actually received the credit card number from our friend, even though they had indeed faxed it to them. They didn’t feel too safe about emailing their card info, so they faxed it, and since they never heard back from the restaurant, they assumed that it had been received. All of this took place just before we left for our trip, so obviously we had no “certificate” in hand. Our friend said that if there were any problems, just ask for Ricardo. We had to ask for Ricardo.
Ricardo told us to go ahead and enjoy our dinner and to please bring the check back home with us and give it to our friend, so that she might make it right by the restaurant. We were highly impressed with the whole affair. It would have been quite easy for us to stiff Ricardo and the Kau Kan, but that didn’t matter to them. What did matter was that we had a great dinner experience, and indeed we did. Even though the tip we left was more money than most of the other meals we had on this trip cost, I will be back at the Kau Kan whenever I hit Zihuatanejo. They have made a customer for life.
I don’t remember anyplace else new that we tried, but I have my eye on Il Mare. We bumped into Joni and Dave, who we met at Rick’s one evening, as they were coming out of the restaurant, on our walk back to our hotel from the Kau Kan. They said it was great, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, it was. They were the picture of contentment.
I think one of the great things about Zihuatanejo is that there will never be a lack of new places to try. There’s a couple that I’ve wanted to get to for several years, and still haven’t tried. El Manglar is one of those, as is Puntarenas. Then there’s pozole alley…. So much good eating and so little time. It’s a shame!
Rooms #25 and #11 (lower), from in the pool
I just can’t say enough about the Catalina. I did a hotel report on it last year, so I shan’t get to involved with it here, but once again Señora Eva, Celso, Javier, and all of the staff made our trip a most exceptional one.
There were a few changes to the hotel, but not so you’d notice much. There are more palapas on the beach, the rooms up top were open, and room 25 had air conditioning. And that’s the beauty of the Catalina… the only changes are improvements. It’s a good feeling knowing that you won’t be let down by something that may have transpired in-between trips. It feels like home.
Thanks for another wonderful stay Celso.
My wife and I were discussing what we would do if we won the lottery recently (one buck gets you dreams for a week). One of the things that came up was where would be go on vacation, and where would we stay. Both of us agreed…. Zihuatanejo and the Catalina Beach Resort. Money can get you more posh accommodations, but not better.
The water quality on La Ropa seemed fine. As I mentioned before, the temperature was a bit cooler than in past years, so I spent a bit more time in the pool this trip. The regular garbage was to be found floating around occasionally, but it didn’t seem out of hand or any worse than any other year. There was a day or two that found some sort of organic algae floating on the surface, but it’s the ocean. If you don’t do organic, stay out.
Zihuatanejo Bay was wonderful, as always!
From our room (left) and the deck at the Villa de la Roca (right)
The beach itself seemed to be as wonderful as ever. The extra palapas at the Catalina beachfront are an excellent addition. Not once did we have to worry about getting a place to lay out on a lounge. All along La Ropa, things seemed to be clean and tidy. I didn’t get to any of the other beaches this year, except La Barra, so I can’t speak to them.
We were lucky enough to see some of the baby tortugas being released from in front of the Villa del Sol. It happened during Arthur and Kimo’s wedding dinner, which only made the event more special. We also got to witness a mama tortuga retreating to the sea one evening on our walk back to our room, from La Perla.
"Run Forrest, Run!"
Adios Señora Tortuga
The weather was excellent, as always. Early November is a great time to visit Zihuatanejo. My wife and I are thinking of delaying next year’s trip until January or February. Not because of the weather in Z, but because of the weather in Oregon. When January rolls around, we are chomping at the bit to get somewhere warm and dry. Time will tell what becomes of that notion. It’ll be hard not to plan a trip coinciding with Roberto! and Wynn. Be back we will though, Lord willing. One can never get enough of Zihuatanejo.
Buenos Noches Zihuatanejo.
From the deck of the Villa de la Roca
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