Snorkels, serenades and red snapper
Today we made our second trip to Zihuatanejo, and we're already feeling more comfortable and competent as travelers. We got up in time to catch the 10:00 bus (the Aeropuerto line) to the airport, and then took the next bus (the Centro line) downtown. The whole journey took about a half-hour. When we arrived, we went straight to the ATM (knowing exactly where to find it) and withdrew what we hope is enough pesos for the next two days. Next up: finding the pier/boat dock. Our first attempt at getting directions from some Mexicans sent us in the right direction, but after a few blocks I decided it might be wise to ask for more. My intuition was right in assuming the blonde lady I saw along the sidewalk might speak English, and she gave us very specific directions, which allowed us to quickly reach our destination.
The pier is part of Playa Madera, where we had been on Tuesday, but we hadn't gone far enough on our exploration to find it then. Today we discovered several cute gift shops (I bought myself a sun hat), and many more restaurants. Passing these up for the time being, our goal was to get to the boat taxis.
For 50 pesos (approx. $3 USD) per person, we purchased round trip tickets to Las Gatas, a nearby beach that was recommended for snorkeling. Once we arrived, we walked down the beach to what looked like a more quiet area with all red chairs and umbrellas. We discovered the name of the place was Otelia's. We were greeted by "Franco," who was wearing a Dodgers shirt and immediately started joking with us when he noticed Tom's Cubs shirt.
Franco asked us if we wanted to use a couple of his lounge chairs right on the beach. The only cost...to buy some drinks and/or food while we were there. We asked if our bags (in which we had our cell phones, pesos, credit cards, etc.) would be safe if we wanted to go snorkeling and he assured us he had been guarding people's belongings (and killing off banditos) for 30 years. :)
We sat down and ordered a couple of beers. He brought us a bucket of ice with four beers (just in case), an opener, and the usual plate of limes and sea salt. We enjoyed chatting with Franco who seemed to have learned every English colloquial phrase for "good." He'd say, "Everything peachy-keen? A-okay? Groovy?" He, along with every other restaurant owner we have met, claimed to have THE BEST coconut shrimp. Having had seafood at every meal up until now, we decided to share some chicken fajitas instead. It was okay, but I'm ready to go back to seafood...it can't be beat in this area.
We rented some snorkel gear (for about $11 USD for two), and proceeded into the water. Las Gatas has a rock wall that provides for very quiet and calm waters next to the shore. Here, we were able to see all sorts of brightly colored and interesting tropical fish (sorry, but I don't know any of their names). We've been snorkeling in the Caribbean seas before, and these waters were not as clear, nor was there much coral to see. There were also many, many vacationers out in the water with us, making it necessary to watch out for others at times. Still, when you don't see tropical fish everyday, we could not complain, and had a wonderful time! We went out twice and all the while Franco guarded our belongings.
One of the best moments of the day (and possibly our whole trip), though, was our serenade. Sitting on the beach, one is approached my many vendors selling little plastic toys, desserts (I enjoyed a piece of Mexican flan or custard), jewelry, bags, blankets, etc. There are also mariachi bands and other musicians willing to sing you a song for about 40 pesos. We were approached by Jose and his guitar, and Tom decided to "buy me a song." I said it had to be romantic, since we were celebrating our anniversary this month, and the young man suggested a Latin favorite called "Besame Mucho" (Kiss me a lot). This young man was very talented! The lamenting melody in his tenor voice, with guitar and pan flute accompaniment, nearly brought tears to my eyes.
When we complimented him and said he was very talented, the young man thanked us and said we could find him on Youtube. He said his name was Jose...something. I typed "Jose" onto my phone's memo pad, and then he typed in his last name so I could look him up later. He walked away, and I hit "enter" on the memos, which caused my phone to auto-correct his last name to "sedentary." Ahhhh! I had not really looked at his name before that, and when I looked up he was nowhere to be seen. As I write this, I have tried, without success, to find this mystery man's Youtube videos. Maybe I'll figure it out someday when he's famous.
Our afternoon on Las Gatas ended at 5:00, when the last taxi boats headed back to the pier at Playa Madera. We waited in line with the other tourists, hopped on our boat, and were back at the pier about 15 minutes later. Since it was time for supper, we started looking for a place to eat. The first decent-looking place with a great view of the bay was "Daniel's," which just happened to be another place our cousin Nancy had suggested. We were quickly seated by the beach, and enjoyed another pleasant, restorative, peaceful and heavenly beachfront meal. Both of us opted for the locally-caught red snapper. Tom's was grilled. Mine had a red sauce. Both were mouth-wateringly delightful!
After dinner, we walked to "our" bakery to pick up breakfast for our last two mornings, and then called "our" driver. Antonio arrived about ten minutes later and escorted us back to "our" home. Too bad we have to leave here in two days...we are finally starting to feel like we own the place!