In search of everything I need
Does anyone else get to that last day of vacation, and try to squeeze everything in, and run around trying to do it all, while you know in your heart you really just want to spend your last day relaxing but now it's too late because you spent the whole day trying to squeeze everything in and trying to do it all, and so when it's all over with you just end up feeling disappointed? Yep. That was me. That was us. That was our last full day in Mexico. We had a few things I felt we needed to do on our last day. Seeing Playa La Ropa, the big beach that Zihua is famous for, was our main goal. Secondary goals were to do some shopping and find a couple of perfect mementos we might want to bring home with us, and also to eat at Paty's. (Tom's cousin Nancy, who had given us many pointers for our trip, had told us that Paty's was their favorite restaurant on Playa la Ropa, so of course we wanted to try it.) And since we had spent most of the week in our bathing suits, we decided to dress up a little for this visit to town. I imagined the perfect end to our trip being a nice romantic "anniversary" dinner on the shore, preferably at sunset.
So after a relaxing morning at our villa, we hitched a ride to the airport. We literally hitched a ride (I can now cross "hitchhiking" off my bucket list!). As we stood waiting for the bus to arrive, a couple drove by, stopped, backed up, and asked if we wanted a ride. Not wanting to stand in the heat any longer than necessary (already sweating in our nice clothes), we accepted. We found out they had moved to Mexico within the past year from North Carolina, were semi-retired, and now worked to promote animal welfare in the area. Interesting. And so nice of them to give us a ride.
From the airport, we caught the Micro bus which took us to downtown Zihuatanejo. We started walking toward Playa la Ropa which was only about a mile away. However, this mile contains one really steep hill, and it was really hot, and did I mention I was dressed up (in a dress and sandals)? So I started whining. Tom, who was feeling the effects of a pretty severe sunburn on his back from snorkeling the day before, was a little cranky too, and though he is always up for a walk, obliged me and waved down a cab.
We arrived at the beach, and found...well, a beach. And lots of restaurants and tons of people. We had expected a plethora of little gift shops here as we had seen the day before at Playa Madera. We were mistaken...there were no shops here. We realized if we were going to accomplish one of our goals of the day, we would have to find a way to get back over the big hill.
We set to work on our other goal: finding Paty's. It was after 4:30, and having had only a small breakfast and no lunch, we were both getting a little bit "hangry" on top of being whiny and cranky.
Playa la Ropa is a huge beach. We turned first to the right. We walked nearly to the end but saw no Paty's. We turned around and walked back the other way. Couldn't find it. Finally, I asked someone who looked like an English speaker (yes, I guess you could say I was profiling people, but hey, I was right so don't judge me) if he knew where Paty's was. He said, "Sure, but why do you want to go to Paty's?"
"Oh, our cousin recommended it as one of her favorites."
"Well, Paty's is okay, but you want to know the BEST restaurant on the beach?"
"Well of course! Sure!"
"Okay...go all the way to the end," (the other end from where we were of course), "go over the little foot bridge, and you will find El Manglar. Best seafood around! And if you still want Paty's, it's about four restaurants down."
So...off we went, not really sure now where we should eat. We walked all the way to the end, still not seeing the elusive Paty's, but we were able to find El Manglar. We figured it must be good as it was quite busy. In fact, they had no tables available. Okay, scratch that. We're tired and hungry and not willing to wait when there are umpteen other restaurants with tables available NOW.
So...where is Paty's? Did the guy mean "four down" from where we were? Or "four down" from Manglar's? and which way from whatever he was referring to? So we just start walking...back down the beach...again. My sandals are off as I cool my feet in the water. Tom walks farther up the beach in his tennis shoes, since he wants no more sun on his (also burnt) feet. I see another group of people that I think might speak my language, since one of the guys is wearing a blue and gold U of M(ichigan) shirt. Right again. After the introductions and friendly banter, I ask if they know where Paty's is.
"Oh, my husband's cousin recommended it."
"Ummm...I think it's just a few down from here, but the sign above it says "la Cantina" or something. But really, do you wanna' know the best place to eat on this beach?"
(I smiled. Here we go again.) "Sure. Where?"
"It's called 'Dona Prudencia.' We ate there last night. Best fish tacos and tuna salad ever. Amazing food!" (I've come to realize that if you ask ten different people for the best place to eat on this beach, you will get ten different answers!) "Just go down past the fancy hotel, find a tan building, and go up a flight of tan steps."
I'm listening, but looking around the whole time they're talking, realizing that I've lost Tom. Finally pulling myself away, I start wandering the beach looking for him, dodging waves and kids throwing scoops of mud with their little shovels (did I mention I was dressed up?). I find Tom after a minute or so, but he is, okay we are both, really crabby by this point. Could finding a simple restaurant on the beach for our final night out to eat in Mexico become any more complicated?
Sweating through our nice, out-to-eat clothes, we walked down past the fancy hotel, and there was Dona Prudencia. And right next to it, another simple beach cafe with a small wooden sign that said "Paty's."
We sat down and were soon filling our bellies, and slowly becoming happy once again...after all it was "happy hour!" Drinks, two for the price of one. We ordered a nachos appetizer, thinking we might get our dinner next door at Dona Prudencia, but after the nachos we were both too full to think about eating again for awhile.
Able to cross "Paty's" off our final day to-do list, we decided to work on the shopping. We grabbed a taxi to take us back over the big hill and on to Playa Madera. We browsed for a bit, learned how tequila is made (and everything else we could ever want to know about tequila), and turned down several offers to have a seat in someone's restaurant. I had seen some pretty painted wooden bowls the day before, which we ended up buying as our souvenirs.
Then it was time to figure out the plan for the rest of our dinner. We could go back to Playa la Ropa and Dona Prudencia where we could watch the sunset while we ate. But we still weren't even close to hungry. We could go back to Chula Vida, our favorite restaurant on the trip so far, but we'd miss the sunset, and it would involve an extra cab ride since it was beyond our resort. Or, we could just go back to our resort and eat there...the easiest solution...but still missing the sunset, a bit pricey, and a little less "special" in my mind.
I finally realized that sometimes it isn't necessary to squeeze in every last thing on the last day. My wise and very patient husband put it this way: "we have already seen some nice sunsets, and will see nice sunsets again...maybe we could skip it this time." I tried not wallow in too much disappointment as we took the cab back to our resort.
It really was nice to be back "home." The sky was still a lovely shade of pink as we crossed the cobblestone paths and boardwalks over to the resort restaurant. We arrived in time to enjoy a talented singer/guitarist perform while we shared a savory grilled combo of steak, whitefish and shrimp. The conversation and laughter around us eventually had us talking and smiling again as well.
The warm, salty air of the ocean blew gently. The sound of the ever-present waves on the shore rumbled in the background. I looked across the table at my husband of nearly thirty years, and in that moment saw that I had everything I needed right there in front of me. To love and be loved.
The day was over. Our trip was over. And my search for everything I needed...it was over. It was time to relax, be satisfied and simply love everything I had already been given.
Happy Anniversary, my love.