DAY TWO – Thursday, 2/13

I wake up at an unusually early hour for me. I am absolutely, positively not a morning person. In fact, I'm a sleep pig. I figure my waking up early must be from the excitement of finally being here after months of anticipation. The view of the sunrise over the bay is spectacular from Bungalows Pacificos. I don't usually do a big breakfast, but I had nothing in the room so I used that as an excuse to go out. Restaurant La Madera wasn't open so I decide to hike up the stairs to Hotel Irma to test their Chilaquiles which had come recommended. I also remember hearing about the breeze at the Irma. I crossed my fingers.

Finding the stairs to the Hotel Irma from the beach is a small challenge if you haven't previously come down them, which I hadn't. I put two and two together though, and after a slight gain in elevation, I can see which way to go and begin the hike up the hill.

Playa Madera from the pathway to town,
Hotel Irma on the right.

I order juice, strawberry yogurt (think Yoplait but multiplied by a taste factor of ten) and then the waiter and I discuss chilaquiles.

ME: Quisiera Chilaquiles con huevo.
WAITER: Si, rojo o verde?
ME: Que recomienda, usted?
WAITER: (Big grin and a literal thumbs up) "Rojo!"

So that's what it'll be. All was good. In fact, it was great. I even felt the beginning of a breeze (told myself it was the breath of God and immediately found religion). My plan was to explore El Centro during the cooler a.m. hours, so I did.

I walk about a bit, consulting a map at first, but then stuffing it away and just wandering. Okay….here's the mercado. Yep. Whatever I need is here. There's a bakery. Lavanderia, check. (I travel light, will probably drop off twice.) Artisan's mercado, okay. Oh this street's busy….must be the into/out of town street to highway. Yep. There are the busses and taxis. Oh look, ATMs….several of them.

At the Centro Mercado, there's fresh, and then there's
"it was alive this morning" fresh.

Though I have enough pesos in pocket to last a couple of days I decide to grab some more to make sure all is right with my ATM card since I'll be relying on it. (Most of the restaurants in Zihua don't accept credit cards and neither do the places where I'm staying. I brought a little bit in travelers checks but that's my "just in case" money.) I step into the bank lobby. Ahhh…air conditioning. One ATM is down and the other has a small line. Absolutely drunk with happiness that the bank is air conditioned, I begin to wish the line at the ATM was longer. (It's about this time I realize how often I'm complaining about the heat and sun instead of the cold and rain I left behind in Seattle. I slap myself for good measure.) I withdraw 1500 pesos with the ATM card, no problemo.

More walking about downtown. It's starting to get hot so I decide to head back. If I know nothing, I know you don't leave a commercial area for a residential one without toting a few provisions. I grab some cervezas, limones, baked items, juice, yogurt etc., and return along the lovely (and flat and breezy….) beachside pathway to Pacificos.

I'm guessing it's about noon now--don't wear a watch--and the sun is blazing so I pull up in a shady spot along the pathway and enjoy one or two vices depending upon your point of view. I believe this to be one of those sphincter-relaxing respites that a friend of mine refers to as a "Zihua Moment".

Me, a cold Tecate, shade, as much of a breeze as can be had, a view of the magnificent bay, and okay, the other vice is a cigarette. I confess. Hang me.

An American couple walks by and she says, "You found the spot." We talk for a moment. They're on their first ever trip to Mexico. Staying in Ixtapa. Took bus into Zihua for the day. Asked where I was staying—"Bungalow". "How?" "Internet." "Safe?" "Oh, sure." Gave them what info I could as only a second time visitor. "Popular beach over there….snorkeling over there, you take a 30 peso water taxi from the pier over there" etc.

After dropping stuff off at the bungalow I spend the afternoon beaching it on Madera. For dinner, I head to Los Braseros. Tacos al Pastor and guac. Waiter encourages me to order more than I need, but I'm not falling for it. The food is good and, including a cerveza, I'm in and out for the price of McDonalds.

Tacos al Pastor at Los Braseros

Then it's off to the zocalo, the heart of any town in Mexico. I put it down at the basketball court adjacent to the plaza. An organized game is going on. I love basketball, but don't care for the way the game has evolved and is currently played in the states. This stuff, on the other hand, is fun to watch. It's the real deal. I buy a beer and settle in. It's Blanco vs. Azul. They're going at it. A young, local couple with a little girl who's about 4 comes and sits by me….I move to make room. They thank me. I never got the mother's name, and the father's sounded like "Robin" but I doubt that's correct. The little girl, who is charming and has my focus, is named "Anna". The couple and I chat. They cheerfully endure my wretched Spanish and graciously pretend to be as interested in me as I sincerely am in them. I ask them which team they are rooting for "Blanco o Azul?" Without hesitation, "Azul!" I ask why, "Hermanos? Amigos?" At this point, I lose them. All I can tell is they are for the blue team but I don't know why. Maybe it's an our town versus other town thing. A few minutes pass and they ask me who I'm for. "Azul!" I assure them to much laughter. We talk more….they are a delight….many "Buenas Noches" and "Nice to Meet You's" all around when I later leave.

Back at Pacificos. A thought pops into my head that pretty much sums up why I love traveling in Mexico so much. It's rather cliché, but here it is anyway:

…When you're in a town in Mexico, head to the zocalo in the evening. In a very short time, you will see something good happen, or something good will happen to you….

It's time to hit the hay. I could really use a full night's sleep. It doesn't happen.

On to Day Three

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