Roberto! y Wynn's Zihuatanejo 2003 Trip Report.

October 28 - November 12, 2003.

The planning for this year's trip (our 6th) took place once again under a palapa on Playa La Ropa, during our month's visit last year. This trip was going to be much more ambitious, because after spending a month in Zihuatanejo, what could be better than a two month trip? Only this time, we would drive down from the Vancouver area leaving the first week in October spending time visiting and exploring the interesting areas near Puerto Vallarta like Sayulita, Bucerias and around Manzanillo such as Melaque, Barra de Navidad, and Tenacatita, then using Zihuatanejo as the terminus of our trip. But as John Steinbeck said, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Regrettably, our plans did go awry. In spite of all the valuable information we had gathered -- much of it unselfishly shared by fellow message board participants, unforeseen and important family matters intervened, so our entire preparations ground to a halt and a call to Alaska Airlines at least assured us of a two week vacation instead.

We have always chosen to visit Zihuatanejo in late October, early November and this year was no exception. The flight on Alaska was smooth and pleasant. It left early out of Vancouver so we were up around 3:30 AM and made our way to the airport. This year, our flight took us to San Francisco where we had a little over an hour layover, then boarded the same airplane to Zihuatanejo. The flight from SFO to ZIH had about 30 people on board so everyone could have taken a complete row to themselves, if they wanted. We arrived right on time (5 PM), and the heat and humidity totally enveloped us as we stepped out of the aircraft. Because there were so few people on board, Immigration went quickly and when we picked up our luggage, the bags were covered in moisture because of the cold environment they were stored in.


YVR airport (7:05 AM PST)

ZIH airport (2:55 PM PST)


Wynn had been watching the Custom's red/green light operation and had calculated someone was about due for a red light and was hesitant to push the button. I walked up by myself and presto - a green light! Custom's officials beckoned Wynn forward and she was right - she got the red light. I was giving her a hard time about getting the red light so out of frustration, she lobbed her jacket at me, which I caught and then proceeded out of the area to wait for her to have her luggage checked. Nobody stopped me or checked her jacket either. While I was waiting for Wynn to appear, I noticed there was a Banamex ATM just a few paces outside the Custom's door. This should be helpful for people needing pesos.

Now let me preface the following: Please do not even contemplate doing this if you have a lot of luggage. Since we have been coming to Zihua for 6 years, we have fine tuned what we bring down and our luggage is minimal, so we don't have a lot to carry. For this reason, we dodged the "taxi driver gauntlet" at the exit door, walked out the main door over to the combi stop just outside the airport grounds and boarded it. We took it downtown and as we were walking to the taxi stand we spotted the La Ropa bus and climbed aboard. Total cost for both of us to the Catalina? 20 pesos vs. US $20. The combi is for the transportation of the workers so if you have a lot of luggage you will have difficulty even getting on because they make money per passenger, not volume. We didn't occupy any more space than we took up while sitting.

Taxi! Taxi! Senor! Taxi!

The Airport Combi.

Catalina Beach Resort. We have always stayed at the Sotavento/Catalina during our visits, with our preference being to reside on the Catalina side. However, since the split in ownership last year our choice was made easier because we have always enjoyed the relationship we have developed with the staff of the Catalina -- from the welcome greetings we receive from Javier and Celso who manage the front desk, the friendly "Hola" from the staff to the heartfelt hugs from our favorite maid Modesto. We have always felt completely at home at the Catalina.

Javier and Celso.

The Catalina itself is an intriguing spot. It was built in 1952 and has a colorful history. In the back of the restaurant menu, there is a history of the Catalina which is an informative read. The entire site is built on the side of a hill and the numerous stairs lead you to the beach. These stairs can be either a curse (if you have walking problems) or a blessing because you have delightful vistas and a chance to work out on the "Mexican Stairmaster". We have never found the stairs to be a problem and after a day or two, the stiffness disappears.

Stairs - the hard way - going up


Stairs - easy way - going down

The Catalina is metamorphosing. For many years, the Catalina was combined with the Sotavento and since the division of ownership during the past year, the Catalina is undergoing a face lift of sorts and an upgrading of rooms and facilities. It is a slowly evolving process and even though they have only been underway for a year, we have noted the changes. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why we are so enamored with the Catalina. Perhaps it is the Catalina's age, design, location, its open aired unique architecture, and the rooms (in spite of the pretty firm mattresses on the beds) along with their distinctively tiled bathrooms, sometimes quirky plumbing which all add to the charm of the Catalina. The staff, themselves, as I've already alluded to, has become friends. We are not "high maintenance types" and enjoy the relaxed, peaceful surroundings afforded to us by the Catalina. We know and appreciate others may not share our view of what a resort should be for them, but for us, it is a place we enjoy, respect and appreciate.

The accommodations in the Catalina consist of a combination of economy rooms, casitas, small casitas and deluxe bungalows - plus a honeymoon suite - (I make a wide detour around it when I'm walking with Wynn). The unique design of the Catalina takes into consideration the breezes coming off the Bay along with the help of overhead and standing fans to keep one comfortable. Recently, some of the deluxe bungalows on the fourth level have been outfitted with air conditioning so those that want it or need it, have the opportunity to request them. Those rooms have plastic covering the windows and all the rest of the accommodations have screened windows covered with security bars. Most, if not all, have a balcony outfitted with chairs and hammocks along with a balcony divider. Bungalows starting at # 30 to # 45 have their own private balconies as described earlier along with a huge common deck. The view of the Bay from these huge decks is generally magnificent except for the few rooms whose view may be obstructed by a tree or two. Even if they are, it is only a short walk further along the deck to take in the vista. The openness of the design comes with a bit of a price though because since there are no glass windows, sound does tend to carry; nevertheless, the majority of guests do respect others and usually once nighttime comes, the place becomes very quiet.

Balcony # 25,

Zihua Sunset from Balcony # 25

There have been exceptions to the rule and, this past visit, we were subjected to some "slightly overly exuberant" Canadian wedding guests who pushed the envelope just a tad and required a 4 AM lecture down at the pool from moi. I got lipped off a little, because my diplomatic skills at that time were "somewhat" wanting even though I have taken a "sensitivity training course," but got my point across that they weren't the only ones staying at the Catalina, and that they had better clean up their mess around the pool too!

One of our favorite places to hang out, especially on the first night of our arrival is the Sunset Bar at the Catalina. The view is outstanding and with the "dos por uno," it is a great place to unwind and soak up the sights and sounds of Zihuatanejo after a long journey.

Catalina Infinity Pool

Catalina Sunset Bar

The Catalina is also involved in turtle releases. They released two batches of baby turtles while we were there. Some of the turtle eggs were acquired from Playa La Ropa and others brought in from different areas and placed in a hibernation pen until the eggs hatch. The baby turtles are placed in a small wading pool where they are fed and protected until they are released. The releasing is usually done at sunset to protect the baby turtles from flying predators like hawks, pelicans, and cormorants.

Tortuga hibernation pen

Baby tortugas


Activities

No, we are not from the geriatric pool, but some of our activities may seem mundane to a few. First and foremost, we were on holidays and yet I'm thankful for all the training I acquired from those special courses my employers sent me to on "Executive Decision Making," because they were necessary when a decision had to be made as to either go down for breakfast, have a cerveza, visit the beach, or go for a swim. Ah! What the Hey! Let's do 'em all!

A lot of our time was spent either relaxing under the palapa, on the beach reading, swimming in the Bay, chatting with our fellow guests or engaging the local beach vendors in a spirited bargaining session. Generally, we would walk the length of the beach in the early morning before the day became too hot, after having an early morning coffee on our balcony. Then it would be breakfast at one of the many beach establishments as we settled in for another "tough" day.

Chilequiles at Elvira's on La Ropa

Beach bartering (Tattoo sealed the deal!)

We did go downtown every other day or so to do some shopping, access the internet, pick up supplies and have lunch or dinner depending on the time. We walked to town, if it was early in the morning, or we would take a bus from the Catalina to the Mercado (4 pesos). It was then either a return trip on the bus or taxi (25 pesos), if we were too late or had a lot to carry. One day we took a local bus from the bus station on Calle Las Palmas to visit Petatlan. The fare was 12 pesos each and the trip took about an hour. We walked around the church, shopped at the gold market and visited the many stores in the area. It was an extremely humid day when we left Zihuatanejo and because Petatlan is inland and away from the ocean, we found the heat and humidity bothered us more than it did in Zihua.

Playa La Ropa local bus

Petatlan bus - note grip on seat

We were in Zihuatanejo for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (All Saints Day), so we also took in the various celebrations held at the basketball court. It was especially interesting because during the Dia de los Muertos festivities, the organizers took time to explain, in English, how they celebrated the event which gave us more of an understanding about the displays which were situated throughout the plaza.

Dia de los Muertos display

Cemetery on road to Petatlan

Curiosity got the best of me one morning, so after breakfast I took my digital camera, notebook, extra water, a walkie-talkie (so I could keep in touch with Wynn) and did some exploring along the road that parallels La Ropa Beach. I spent a couple of hours and used a lot of media storage taking pictures of a number of the establishments along the road, was invited into a few like Villas Ema, Casa Tucanes, Hotel Rossy, had a cerveza at Miscelana Paty, talked to some people building new accommodations along the road, got tagged by a time share salesperson and set a new outdoor 100 yd dash record when a Rottweiler took issue with me being near "his" gate - turned out he had his own secret entrance. Go Gringo Go! I outran the dog, but couldn't shake the time share salesperson.

Nice doggy (before)

Carnival Spirit


Restaurants

As I prefaced my remarks in last year's trip report, everyone's experience in dining will be different; nevertheless, we certainly enjoyed the meals in the places we frequented. On a personal note, this trip was going to be a bit of a challenge for me because, since June I embarked on the Atkins Plan and wasn't sure just how I'd deal with it in Mexico. Now I'm not attributing my reasons for getting on Atkins because of the remarks from my Sumo partner, "Cruel" Curly, but I managed to shed about 44 lbs and didn't want to start packing on a bunch. While I had resigned myself to gain about 5 to 10 lbs, it turned out that even with my generous intake of tortillas, guacamole, refried beans and innumerable cold cervezas, I still managed to hold my own during the two weeks and actually came back a couple of pounds lighter.

Roberto! 2002

Roberto! (-44lbs) 2003

The meals at the Catalina Restaurant were always dependable and reasonably priced. I especially enjoyed the fajita des pollos while Wynn tucked into the enchiladas des pollos. We would generally have our breakfast either at Paty's or Elvira's on La Ropa and sometimes, if our evening meal was at Elvira's again, then I was especially grateful for Curly's suggestion of the bacon wrapped tuna steak (80 pesos). Paty's served us delicious, economically priced meals too, so going hungry in Zihuatanejo wasn't a problem - decision making was.

Tuna steak from Elvira's on La Ropa

Paty y Wynn

We also had a couple of delightful meals at Rossy's where we had their fillet of fish for 60 pesos. Generally our evening meals would run us around the 200 pesos mark which included a couple of adult refreshments.

Rossy's fillet of fish (mucho garlic)

Catalina's fajitas de pollos

Last year we "discovered" the Puesta del Sol on the road to La Ropa (about a 10 minute walk from the Catalina towards town). This year it has been renamed Puerta del Sol because of some legalistic issue. Management hasn't changed, plus the food and the service were so pleasurable that we went there for three of our evening meals. We both enjoyed the brochettes de pollos (chunks of chicken on skewer intermingled with red/green peppers, onions and bacon) and were constantly entertained by the performances of the gregarious owner Jorge. Whenever he was preparing a flambč meal or dessert, staff would dim the lights as he completed his task with skill, flair and showmanship. I take pleasure in trying caesar salads at different restaurants and was rewarded watching Jorge and his assistant Eduardo preparing the salad right at our table. It was different then other caesar salads I've tasted but would order it again because that is the object of the exercise.

Jorge and Eduardo making caesar salad

Puerta del Sol's brochettes de pollos

At the completion of the meal, all customers are given a complimentary "Cucaracha." This is a house drink made of classified ingredients and it is required - after the shot glass is given a sharp rap on the table - for the partaker to down it as quickly as possible. It is a smooth tasting drink with no lingering after burn and a pleasurable way of ending a delectable meal. The staff of the Puerta del Sol is a delight. On our last evening in Zihua they lined up at the door, gave us hugs, wished us a safe journey, thanked us for the coming to their establishment and hoped to see us again next year. We'll be back!

We also had meals at Nueva Zelanda (spotless, quick service, limited menu), Bananas, El Mango (side by side, reasonable, authentic Mexican cuisine, friendly service), Daniel's (excellent tortilla chips and guacamole plus dos por uno with the cervezas), Glob's Restaurant (nicely air conditioned, cold draft cervezas in a frosted mug) and even a barbequed chicken (w/onions and green salsa) from la rotisserie on the street. There were restaurants we intended to get to, but just not enough time.

Para ir a hacer compras - to go shopping

I'm not much of a shopper - that is Wynn's specialty but I do get dragged along to do the pack horse bit. Make that a burro. I wind up buying stuff but they are usually the things I break when I'm in the small stalls of the Artisans' Mercado along Cinco de Mayo. Every time I turned around, I generally knocked something over with my knapsack. This year though, I discovered an oasis, a sanctuary, and the absolute greatest place to be a sidewalk shopping superintendent. It is a small bar on the corner of Ejido and Cinco de Mayo. Two tables, lots of comfortable chairs, a beer cooler with a glass door and all you have to do is walk up, select your cold brand of cervezas ( a good selection), hand it to a young lady who pops off the top, gives you some limes and salt, sit down and enjoy the shopping. La senorita keeps track of your purchases (10 pesos for cervezas) and time just slips away. Wynn knows where I am so she makes the constant forays into the rabbit warrens bringing back goods and taking away money. No stress, no strain. A great way to shop.

Superintendent's view of Artisans' Mercado

Una eclisa

We shopped for fresh fruit, coffee and string cheese in the Mercado (across from Glob's) in downtown Zihua and we also visited the Comercial Mexicana to pick up a few odds and ends, snacks, beer, milk, and yogurt and to check the liquor prices. A new Bodega had just opened in Zihua and was giving the CM some competition. On the day we were in the CM, the staff was scrambling around changing a lot of their prices, so we never really got a handle on their liquor prices. Time didn't allow us to visit the new Bodega and we purchased rum for our return trip in one of the small shops in Zihua (50 pesos a litre) rather than at the Duty Free at the airport. It is a brand we enjoy and knew it wasn't available at the airport. And, I'm sorry to report, the Liquor Distribution Warehouse on Gonzalez is closed and up for sale.

Roberto!'s Observos

It never fails to amaze me just where a simple "Good morning" or "Hola" to someone will lead you. On one of our early morning Playa La Ropa jaunts, we walked by an older couple sitting under a palapa and exchanged greetings. The gentleman continued on telling us they were sure they were sitting under the same palapa at the Catalina where they had sat 44 years previously. I'm a bit of a sponge when it comes to history and we engaged them in a totally fascinating conversation about the history of the Catalina. He pointed out to us where the old tram use to carry people down to the beach so they didn't have all the stairs to negotiate and how he and his wife flew in to Zihuatanejo with his own airplane and landed on the airstrip, which was located in a coconut plantation approximately where the Estrella de Oro bus station is. There was no bridge over the river (canal now) and the "half track," as he referred to it, would ford them through it to a rudimentary road and then on to the Catalina. It was extremely enjoyable because they were both so knowledgeable about the beginnings of the Zihuatanejo area and I was sorry we couldn't have spent more time with them. There have been a number of questions about the construction going on near the Sotavento and how it impacts on one's stay at locations near the construction. From my observations, this is a relatively big project (something like 90+ condos) and when completed (Dec 2004), it will definitely have an effect on La Ropa and vicinity.

2002

2003

Presently, there is still a fair amount of noise emanating from the site and you hear very little of it - if any, at the Catalina. We walked over to the Sotavento and it was, in our opinion, rather noisy. The same too in the Sotavento beach area. You will hear a lot of the construction noise when you are out bobbing in the water. I floated right down to the area in front of the Villa del Sol and the construction noise was still prevalent. I also have to say the level of noise varies depending on what stage they are in the construction.

View from Sotavento lobby 2002

Construction 2003 from Sotavento lobby

The water quality of the Bay has also been a hot topic of conversation. I can only report from our time and perspectives that we found the water to be clean and clear with very little debris floating at or below the surface. Just what micro-bugs were present? Well, I suppose I should have been concerned but I tend not to worry about things I can't see. There was a lot of wave action and on a few nights we were awakened by the sound of huge waves pounding on the beach sounding like boxcars shunting. Perhaps the active wave action may play a part in the appearance of the water in the Bay; however, that is only speculation on my part.

Playa La Ropa

Playa La Ropa

Playa La Ropa was relatively clear of any debris. We saw the odd dead puffer fish washed up on the beach and we would stop and pick up any plastic product or flotsam we came across. The beach was well maintained and the tide line swept every morning with the resultant trash hauled away. The area around La Gaviota has vastly improved over the past years. Now if they could only concentrate in getting rid of the mangy curs that congregate in that vicinity, then that would be a step in the right direction and you wouldn't have to be so careful as to where you actually stepped - if you catch my drift. One day we were sitting under a palapa near the western edge of the Catalina's beach area where the trees dangle over portions of the palapa and give you more shade. We had our shirts hanging over the back of a chair and when we went to put them on, we noticed both shirts had huge yellow stains all over them. We were puzzled as to where the stains came from and what caused them until we saw the "solid droppings" on the seat of the chair. It appeared that one of the iguanas, which inhabit that area, decided to do its number from the branches above the chair. I wonder if that signifies good luck?

Iguana suspect # 1

Iguana suspect # 2 (See tail below pipe)

We noticed the entire downtown area of Zihuatanejo appeared to be much cleaner than in previous years. We didn't see as much trash lying around. There were more receptacles available to put garbage into and it looks like people have been using them. Prices were about the same as last year - we paid a bit more for our accommodations, less for our air fare, about the same for our meals, taxi and a few pesos extra for the local buses, but all in all we averaged about the same as last year. One thing we did notice was a big difference in the exchange rate we were getting for the Canuck buck. The CDN $ has strengthened over the previous years but the cambios were only offering 7.5 pesos to the CDN $. Some cambios were offering 6.5 (got that rate 3 years ago). We went to the bank instead and got 8.2 to 8.4. It took us a little longer to wait in line, but at least it was in air conditioned comfort until our number came up.

Last year, while toying with my new digital camera, I took a number of pictures of some of the beach vendors we have met and dealt with. Before we returned this year, I had prints made of the digital images and presented the pictures to the vendors individually. They were elated receiving a picture of themselves. We saw more familiar faces this year plus we had the pleasure of meeting with a number of fellow Zihua Rob board participants. A lot of folks commented on how much they enjoyed the trip reports and information they picked up. I'd like to acknowledge and thank Curly who formats our trip reports and also to all the other individuals who contribute by sharing their experiences. We continue to glean a great deal of information from the message board and enjoy sharing our thoughts, observations and knowledge with all.

Zihuatanejo sunset

Zihuatanejo sunset

The Return Trip

I don't know why, but our return trip usually turns out to be quite the adventure and Wednesday Nov. 12th wasn't an exception. What vacation trip wouldn't be complete without some kind of a horror story or bump on the path? This is ours. We took a taxi from the Catalina to the airport (120 pesos) had our checked luggage inspected, then sweltered in the terminal because the air conditioning system was broken. A few cervezas helped and soon we were through the rest of the security process - which was quick and efficient - and onto the cool air conditioned comfort of the Alaska flight. The airplane was pushed back from the gate on an almost on time departure and then sat for a number of minutes as the push back crew had a fairly lengthy discussion with the flight crew. Finally the power came up and we started to taxi back to the gate position as the flight crew explained that the push back crew noticed a nose tire looked a little soft. A mechanic was called, the flight crew did an inspection then announced it was a good call from the push back crew because the tire had picked up some debris (possibly from the construction close to the parking perimeter) and was losing pressure so we would have to deplane for about a half hour until the tire was changed.

Sssssssssssssssssss!

Jose! Get the wrench

With all due respect to the flight crew, I felt the half hour statement was suspect at best, possibly the start of the disinformation process and I knew for certain we weren't making a pit stop at the Indianapolis 500. Proper procedure is to replace both tires -- which they did -- but by this time the half hour turned out to be closer to 2 hours. At least we could mill around the bar and buy cold cervezas for 26 pesos a pop. Our connection in LAX was relatively tight to begin with (about one hr. and 15 minutes) and our proposed flight time being 3 hrs 10 minutes. With the 2 hour delay, I thought the chances of getting on our connecting flight were touchy, yet maybe, just maybe, doable because the only positive thing we had going for us was the fact that LAX was being lashed by a pretty severe weather system. If we didn't get stuck in a prolonged hold and if our connecting flight was delayed because of the weather and if Alaska held the connecting flight for us, then perhaps we could make it if everything lined up. Love those "ifs." No wonder I golf. When we were closer to LAX, I asked the flight attendant for an update on the status of our connecting flights but the answer was that the only information available was what was previously announced as we departed Zihua - which was minimal information anyway. I've been around the aviation game and have traveled enough to realize the chances of making our connection were faltering and the practice of pushing everyone onto someone else was starting, plus, since I'd taken that "sensitivity training course," I chose not to challenge the flight attendant's answer. The real reason? Well Wynn was sitting next to me and had hissed through her teeth that she didn't want me creating a scene. Moi!? A scene? Of course, we were being constantly assured there would be someone at the customer service counter just bursting to help us once we were off the airplane and I'd start to mutter and mumble, Wynn would hiss at me. Mucho muttering, more hissing! Mutter mumble and then the ultimate through the teeth hiss from Wynn was "Biker, shut up!" I did. Well, sort of.

Twilight at 30000+ feet.

We went into a short hold then landed at LAX close to our proposed flight time in spite of the bad weather. We cleared customs and immigration fairly quickly (nothing like the zoo last year) then waited around hoping we could still catch our connecting flight. Finally, our luggage appeared and the mad dash began. The Alaska customer service reps appeared to be in a stealth mode and we all hustled up to the area where you offload your luggage onto another belt. There, we finally met the reps who told us to continue with our bags to Terminal 3 (normally we'd dump our bags before leaving the doorway). The customer reps were reading our checked luggage tags and herding us towards the exit to Terminal 3. I asked one of the reps if they were holding our Vancouver flight and was told not to worry and that "we gotcha covered." Not the straight answer I was looking for, but please understand that no one had told us the flight had already left and in the hurry up mode we were in, I wasn't going to give the service rep the third degree. Plus there was a lot of hissing and shushing going on behind me. So off we bolt with our baggage, backpacks, etc into that hell hole of a place called Terminal 3. We pile through the doorway of Terminal 3 and there is absolutely no one around. Shades of last year! Wynn goes one way, I the other, as fellow passengers mill about looking for help from the phantom Alaska customer service reps. Wynn finally quizzes an airport employee who tells her to take an elevator to the next floor, which we do and spot a group of Alaska employees in a corner where we charge over to learn that our connecting flight has already left.

We were offered a few choices. Stick around and be flown up to Seattle - arriving at midnight, staying overnight in a hotel (Alaska's expense), then another flight to Vancouver in the morning. No thanks. It would be way too late for us. Stay overnight in LAX, leave at 7:40 AM to Vancouver sounded better until we learned we would have to be back in the airport by 5 AM. We'll take a later 10:21 morning flight gracias. Safe, sound, all looked after and about to be tucked into beddy-bye thanks to the Alaska folks? Not quite. We were given complimentary breakfast vouchers ($7 each) and told we'd be staying in the Quality Inn. I inquired about an evening meal voucher and after some hesitation we were given one ($12 each). Finally, the shuttle showed up and a bunch of us piled into it and found out we were being taken to the Quality Hotel. It may have been a Quality Inn at one time but now I was beginning to have concerns about the term "quality." During our ride over, a number of we fellow travelers started comparing notes. Alaska had provided some with breakfast vouchers, some none. Some had an evening meal voucher, some not. Some had been given a $10 phone card, a lot, including us, none. Some were given nothing at all but accommodations. There didn't appear to be any set standard as to what one receives - it apparently depends, sadly, on just how firmly you pound your fist on the counter. After a long wait in a line-up, we finally worked our way through the check in. Walking down the hallway to our room, I couldn't tell if the stains on the carpet were transmission fluid or blood. We tossed our luggage into the room and hot footed it down to the dining room - actually cafeteria. As soon as we appeared with our $12 food vouchers, the only things we were allowed order off the menu were cheeseburgers or pizzas at $7.00 and there is no change given back from the vouchers, - funny how that works. Wonder where the extra $5.00 ended up?

It was late by the time we got to bed and we were up early to catch our flight. The bathroom was so filthy and poorly serviced that we were reluctant to use the shower. We went to the cafeteria for another voucher breakfast and I ordered a ham and cheese omelet. And that is all I got - no fruit, no potatoes, no toast, not even a sprig of parsley on the plate - just the omelet!

"Quality" breakfast

I wasn't in the best of humor by the time we arrived at the Alaska check- in and wasn't about to take much guff from anyone. I spoke with an Alaska supervisor and finally convinced her, with a lot of backing from Wynn, the least she could do was bump us up to first class, which, after some posturing, she finally did, but it was only after a lot of chirping from us both. While we were standing there dealing with the supervisor, a couple of bozos with Aviation Safeguard Staff badges were standing beside me emptying a luggage trolley. One was tossing the luggage from chest height slamming it onto the floor and the other knuckle dragger would pick it up, bounce it off the back wall onto the Alaska belt. It was a sick game of catch with them and there were having a real good laugh as they did this. After watching this for about 30 seconds, I went absolutely ballistic and really blistered them for treating the luggage the way they were. The supervisor, who was busy getting our boarding passes changed, appeared to be totally oblivious about the way those two morons were handling the luggage. They immediately quit their game but the looks they gave me made me thankful I wasn't living in east LA. Finally, we were past the begging nurse, through security, on the plane, ensconced in first class and then home - to a 6 degree Celsius afternoon.

Finale

I don't think it is one single thing that keeps us coming back to Zihuatanejo. It is the total package - the friendly people we meet, the warm sun, the beach, the sand, the pounding surf, beautiful sunsets, the restaurants, friendly waiters, caring staff, the hustle & bustle of the Mercado, talking to the locals in Spanish, and just the fact you can go to the same place 2 or 3 times in a row and nothing is the same - everything changes. Those are some of the things that draw us back. Thanks again to the many people who have shared their experience, advice and knowledge of the area with us over the years. It helps us greatly with our holiday planning. Next year we have some ambitious plans with the drive down and welcome any and all suggestions. We certainly enjoyed meeting the number of people who post on Rob's board and we thank them for sharing their vacation time with us. Again, special thanks go out to our good friend Curly, who has kindly taken our notes and photographs and formatted them for this report. Gracias amigo! Regards to all.


Roberto! y Wynn