Monday, February 23, 2009

Zihuatanejo Trip Reports


After some trouble figuring out how to access our wireless internet, I'm finally able to post something from beautiful Zihuatanejo.
We arrived after a smooth trip and met Jenny and Joe, who are staying with us in the same villas a couple of blocks up the hill from Zihua's prettiest beach, La Ropa. Playa La Ropa is so named, it's said, for the clothing (la ropa) that washed ashore from a shipwreck way back when.
After unpacking and a quick trip to La Comercial (supermarket), we walked the mile and a half or so into town and had dinner on the beachfront promenade called Paseo Los Pescadores. In honor of Jenny and Joe's engagement, we bought them a song (the very romantic Zihuatanejo) from a duo of aging troubadors.
After dinner, we'd expected the usual Sunday night basketball game (between two local amateur teams) on the court that serves as part of the small zocalo, or central square of the town. Instead, it was a sort of recital of music and dance by children and teenagers, sponsored by their various dance schools (or so I understood from the emcee's way-too-fast Spanish. The pieces ranged from pop to folkloric. As usual, it looked the whole town had turned out. As visitors, we were definitely in the minority, a feeling I really enjoy. Again, as I've observed in so many places in Mexico, a wholesomeness, a strong sense of family, a pride and of joy in just being together and sharing the simplest activities radiated from the people around us, infecting us. A seven-month-old baby girl in her mom's arms just in front of us fixated on me for some reason, and she and I played google eyes for some time. When she reached out to grab my finger and smiled, my enchantment was complete!

Sally and Jenny found their way down to Paty's on the beach, where they'd signed up for yoga classes. When they were done, we lapsed into a pretty unmotivated day with breakfast at Il Mare, a wonderful spot for a meal perched atop a spectacular cliff overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay. We hired Isaac, a taxi driver recommended by our hosts, to drive us about 15 miles south along the coast to La Barra de Potosí. I'd heard Barra was an even-more-laid-back beach than La Ropa, and we weren't disappointed. It was quiet, very clean (except for one little corner where the fisherman dock their small boats), and the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.
We staked our claim to a small patch of sand in front of one of the three very beachy-looking restaurants, where we set up a table, chairs and a beach umbrella to help block the intense sun.
We pretty much chilled for the rest of the afternoon, munching on quacamole, drinking beer, people watching and going for long walks along the 10-mile Playa Larga. Meanwhile, Isaac waited to take us back home.
I could see that my plans to try surf fishing at Barra some time during our visit hold some promise, as we noticed, just beyond the crashing surf, frequent little feeding frenzies on small bait fish by diving birds and, I assume. larger predator fish like jack crevalle and roosterfish.

Jeff (my son), if you're by any chance checking in on us, Happy Birthday!
Joe and I got up at 5:30 for our day of fishing. At the muelle (main pier), we stopped to buy sandwiches for lunch and walked out on the bustling pier to find our captains, Francisco and Mike, and their boat, the Huntress. It's a super-panga, a much smaller boat than the ones I've chartered in the past, but still provided enough room (barely) and shelter from the sun. Luckily, the "blue water" (the only place where sailfish and marlin like to hunt) was only about seven miles off shore, much faster and easier than the 15 or more miles where it sometimes resides.
As we headed out, a gorgeous sunrise over the mountains behind Zihua. made the trip pass even faster. By about 7:30, we had our first sailfish. While Joe was working it in, Francisco rushed to a second rod that was starting to bend. As he was coaxing that fish to stop batting the bait with its spike and actually bite, a third rod came to life. Wow! Those of you who fish know how rare and wonderful a "triple" is, but with Pacific sailfish? You've got to be kidding! Mine eventually managed to grind away at the heavy leader with its sandpaper-like spike and, suddenly, I was left holding just a limp line. Alas! But Joe successfully landed his fish, about a 40-pounder.
While nothing can ever compare with a sailfish triple, the action continued with at least one more near double. Joe and I each caught and boated three more, none of great size (maybe 50 or 60 pounds). But one of Joe's fish was easily our record for the day, a wondrous fish of over 100 pounds and at least 9 feet in length. After 25 minutes of fighting this monster, Joe's body showed more wear and tear than the fish's -- a very sore back, nearly numb forearms and a handful of blisters.
Turns out none of the other boats in the sportfishing fleet was reporting much success, so it was that much sweeter pulling back into port flying our SEVEN flags representing boated and released sailfish. As we climbed out of the Huntress, we were, as I'd predicted, pounced on by prospective fishing clients hoping to find a successful boat and crew for the rest of the week.
What a day!! Elated and exhausted, we stopped at a waterfront bar for a couple of those better-tasting- for-being-well- deserved beers, before hooking up with Sally and Jenny.
We took Jenny and Joe to Tamales y Atoles Any, one of Zihua's unanimous choices (by both locals and tourists) for dinner. Between Joe's woozy reaction to the wearing off of his motion sickness patch and a red mole sauce with ten times the amount of chocolate a mole should have, it wasn't a very satisfactory meal.


DC said...

Hey Dad - sounds like a great trip so far and congrats to you and Joe for the amazing fishing excursion! I'll be sure to let Jeff know about your birthday wishes post. Wishing we were there - XOXO

jw said...

hi dad...sounds like you're having a great time! thanks very much for the birthday wish. i did receive your card, but i haven't opened it yet. - Jeff