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Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa, Troncones and Barra de Potosí on the Costa Grande of Guerrero, Mexico

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Posts Tagged ‘ixtapa’

Helping Zihuatanejo’s Schools – La Escuela del Basurero

La Escuela del Basurero - click to enlarge

La Escuela del Basurero – click to enlarge

My wife, Lupita, and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary, but since we were both ill with colds we didn’t go out to celebrate. Nevertheless, my saint of a wife also had another commitment for the day of our anniversary that she wouldn’t allow herself to miss: delivering donations from generous visitors to needy students at one of our region’s many overlooked and forgotten schools, this time the school for the children of the families who inhabit Zihuatanejo’s garbage dump who essentially live off the recycled and salvaged refuse of our community.

Lupita and Sra. Sandoval - click to enlarge

Lupita and Sra. Sandoval – click to enlarge

Barrels for the school's water supply - click to enlarge

The school’s water supply – click to enlarge

The school's water supply - click to enlarge

The school’s water supply – click to enlarge

Homes at the basurero - click to enlarge

Homes at the basurero – click to enlarge

Thanks to the generosity of a lot of people this school is able to provide educational opportunities to children who otherwise might not be able to attend school since children and parents at other schools might not receive them with the respect they deserve. In particular a huge debt of gratitude goes to the teacher Sra. Olga Sandoval Blanquel and her assistants. The small school has 40 students in all including 2 children with autism and one child mother who is barely a teen.

A home at the basurero - click to enlarge

A home at the basurero – click to enlarge

Also, a huge debt of gratitude goes to Mr. Sidney Reimer who works at the hotel Azul Ixtapa and who donates 4 liters of bottled water a day per student to be sure they at least have proper drinking water. Such exemplary selfless generosity is quite moving when you see the conditions of this school, a place essentially forgotten by most of the rest of the Zihuatanejo community including the government at all levels.

My wife Lupita along with our daughter Valeria and our assistant Vero made up packages of school supplies along with toothbrushes and toothpaste to deliver to all of the students at this school. While some of the students seemed a little embarrassed and shy, others expressed their gratitude with their huge warm smiles. The supplies including the toothpaste and toothbrushes were all donated by readers of my Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa Message Board. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity.

Valeria and Vero distributes packages to the little kids - click to enlarge

Valeria and Vero distribute packages to the little kids – click to enlarge

We try to save up donated items until we have enough to make packages for an entire school so that no one feels left out. This year we didn’t receive as many donations as in past years, and the outbreak of Chikungunya earlier in the year made visiting rural areas risky, so it took us longer to get the packages together and then to get them to the school we wished to help. But it is an endeavor our family is committed to because we strongly believe that after family, a community is the most valuable component of society, and the members of a community should help one another in their time of need.

Middle grade kids - click to enlarge

Middle grade kids – click to enlarge

Middle grade kids – click to enlarge

Middle grade kids – click to enlarge

Middle grade kids – click to enlarge

Middle grade kids – click to enlarge

Upper grade kids - click to enlarge

Upper grade kids – click to enlarge

Road to the school - click to enlarge

Road to the school – click to enlarge

One of the classrooms - click to enlarge

One of the classrooms – click to enlarge

The school playground - click to enlarge

The school playground – click to enlarge

View from the school's playground - click to enlarge

View from the school’s playground – click to enlarge

Sra. Sandoval with her volunteer assistants and kindergarten students - click to enlarge

Sra. Sandoval with her volunteer assistants and kindergarten students – click to enlarge

If you would like to help us with your donations of school supplies for our region’s neediest children please leave a comment here or contact me via my Facebook page or simply stop by my wife’s boutique, Lupita’s Boutique, in downtown Zihuatanejo where my wife and our daughter will gladly receive them.

Zihuatanejo Is Ready For You

Wide angle of Playa Principal

Wide-angle view of Playa Principal (click to enlarge)

26 Nov. 2014 – The people of Zihuatanejo are ready for the tourist season. Merchants and shop-keepers, restaurateurs and their staff, hotel operators and vacation rental owners, and workers in every aspect of our local businesses are anxiously awaiting the arrival of tourists for the upcoming season, especially foreigners from Canada and the United States. It’s been a long slow season for everyone here since the end of the last high season, and everyone is getting their shops and businesses spiffed up and ready for a bountiful season so that our visitors will enjoy memorable and relaxing vacations in our precious corner of paradise.

While we ask that our visitors overlook the shortcomings of our municipal government who seems to have dropped the ball on just about everything they’re responsible for, we hope everyone will notice the genuine effort on the part of the local people to go the extra mile to take good care of our new and returning visitors with the hope that they will return again and that they will tell all their friends and family members good things about Zihuatanejo and the surrounding region.

Our weather should be just about perfect every day from now until the beginning of the next rainy season in the middle of May. But if you have any doubts be sure to check the forecasts and conditions on my Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa Weather page.

And if you have any questions at all about anything regarding Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, Troncones, Barra de Potosí or the surrounding region please be sure to ask them on my moderated and widely read Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa Message Board where you will also find hundreds of trip reports, anecdotes, recommendations, photos, videos, and useful answers to many previous questions.

The warmth of the local people combines with our tropical climate to warm the soul. A Zihuatanejo vacation is the perfect recipe for alleviating stress and warming chilled bones.

¡Saludos y hasta pronto!

Fishermen at dawn on Playa Principal

Fishermen at dawn on Playa Principal (click to enlarge)

Summer Camp is OVER in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa

A chaise lounge sits empty

A chaise lounge awaits a sunbather – click to enlarge

The summer vacation period in Mexico ended yesterday and today millions and millions of children returned to classes across the country. In Zihuatanejo that meant walking to school in a light drizzle for many students. It also means streets, hotels and beaches void of tourists. An unsettling occurrence for local business and lodging owners.

More and more I think it becomes apparent to lots of local businesses that opened up here in the past decade that not only is Zihuatanejo saturated with folks looking to live off tourism, but that the government’s efforts at promotion, what little they’ve done, has completely changed our tourism, especially during the summer vacation period.

Squatters atop hill at La Majahua

New squatter lodgings at La Majahua – click to enlarge

It used to be that we had a decent mix of day trippers who came by bus, car and truck and more affluent tourists who occupied local luxury homes and lodgings. But between the hotels in Ixtapa changing their marketing strategy to almost exclusively all-inclusive seeking a class of tourist with less purchasing power, effectively charging rates that the predominantly non-corporate owned Zihuatanejo lodgings simply can’t compete with, and the government’s almost exclusive promotion of “social tourism” (the folks who come in tour buses for a day at most) we now find that all of us who live and have businesses here can no longer make a sustainable living from the tourists we’re getting. In spite of this new reality, FONATUR, who for years hasn’t been able to find buyers for the lands they’ve developed for sale, continues allowing megaprojects to wipe out natural areas and privatize beaches on the one hand while FIBAZI does similarly with squatters on the other, selling Zihuatanejo’s ecological zones for political expediency if not also personal profit. The squatters of course can’t find work and the megaprojects of course can’t find buyers, but with developers that isn’t the point. They build, they get paid, they move on to repeat the process. Similarly, many squatters get their stolen land and sell it for a huge profit and move on to repeat the process.

Unfortunately with the change of political fortunes underway, no one is doing anything. It’s almost like, no it’s definitely like there is NO GOVERNMENT (except of course they still want to collect taxes).

Tourists at Las Gatas Beach

Tourists enjoy a lovely day at Las Gatas Beach – click to enlarge

Lots of folks from other places sure want to live off the Zihuatanejo cash cow, but it seems no one wants to do the real work of getting folks to come here, no one seems to want to engage with potential tourists, to answer their questions that help them make the decision to take their vacations here. Even the airlines seem to be conspiring against us. So I plug away here and there trying to keep Zihuatanejo in people’s thoughts, answering questions and hopefully projecting the image of a place folks will want to visit for their vacation. But man, do I ever feel like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike: alone in my efforts to try to salvage Zihuatanejo’s tourism and attract newcomers with the spending power needed to help at least some of us make ends meet.

Good-bye SECTUR!

The proposed disappearance of the Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR) announced by Presidente Calderón this week has drawn criticism from several locals in the tourism sector, but personally I’ve always thought SECTUR to be a waste of public resources. It’s time for us to stop allowing others to do the work we should be doing.

The paternalistic approach of SECTUR has incapacitated us locally and made us dependent on their outside help, but no outsider or bureaucrat in Mexico City is going to promote us or look after our interests better than we can ourselves right here in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa.

Among all the millionaire businesses such as luxury hotels, tour operators, developers, restaurants, time shares, and others (including FONATUR), it’s time they pay the tab for all the milk they have been suckling from our cash cow. As the popular Mexican song goes “toma chocolate, paga lo que debes”.

Personally, I have dedicated over 12 years promoting our tourist destination by means of my own personal website as a service for the community without selling any advertising space, paying the costs from my own pocket and with my own time. Now through my website I have “primary contact” daily with over two thousand people, and over a thousand of them visit my Message Board daily finding answers to their questions. I seek no rewards or public recognition from politicians or anyone. I do what I do out of love for my community. So, if I can do this without seeking personal gain then I believe others can do so whether it be for love of money or simply to promote their own interests or perhaps for other reasons. It’s time others raised the torch and assumed their responsibilities to promote our destination as an integral entity instead of only seeking benefits for their own businesses.

Unfortunately, in the last few decades almost all the promotion by the government has been principally for Ixtapa, and its businesses have benefitted from their proximity to Zihuatanejo without having to give anything in return except perhaps to pay the meager wages of some of their employees, many of whom aren’t even locals but were brought here or have come here from other places. Zihuatanejo, the original attraction, and I would say the main attraction, has practically been forgotten by them, but the time has arrived to work together if we want to survive this economic crisis and the changes to our reality.

The State of Guerrero’s Secretaría del Fomento Turístico (SEFOTUR) has not helped us either, and the governor should immediately fire its director, Ernesto Rodríguez Escalona, and appoint someone more capable and who has love for our state. Someone who will promote all the attractions of our state instead of just receiving a juicy paycheck and looking out for his own investments in Acapulco. Someone who won’t make such stupid declarations as Mr. Rodríguez did by telling tourists not to come to Guerrero when the A/H1N1 flu broke out. In that instant the governor should have fired him.

First, we need to get our house in order, a job that does indeed correspond to the government. Then we need to work to invest in our own future instead of leaving it to outsiders and “public servants” whose interests are very distinct from ours.

So let’s get to work friends and neighbors! Let’s see how brightly Guerrero truly shines!

Tropical Storm Andres Aftermath

Playa Principal

Waves washed over entire beach up to the walkway

The waves in Zihuatanejo’s bay washed almost all the way into the streets of downtown Zihuatanejo last night. We could hear them thundering all night long as Tropical Storm Andres churned past Zihuatanejo just a few miles off our coast. In some places they actually reached the top of the walkway and started to spill over, such as into the park called Plaza del Artista where the sand piled up even with the walkway as seen in the photo above.

The wind kept gusting much of the night, blowing trees and plants around as well as bringing rain through windows. The rain finally tapered down to an off-and-on sprinkle, letting up this morning. The sun has finally come out and revealed the aftermath of last night’s storm in all its living color.

Wave damage

Wave damage

La Playa Principal

La Playa Principal

La Playa Principal lost a lot of sand last night, and the waves washed into seating areas of several beachfront restaurants. The beach-soccer area that was set up for an ongoing tournament got torn apart as the waves rolled right through it. In the fishermen’s area boats were battered around like toys with some stacked on top of others. Only the wind blowing towards the shore kept many from being washed out to sea.

Fishing boats scattered along the beach after being tossed around by waves

Fishing boats scattered along the beach after being tossed around by waves

Downtown Zihuatanejo also awoke to no water this morning. Even so, people could be seen in front of their homes and businesses sweeping and picking up debris. No real damage could be seen except to a few plants. The downtown streets seems to have drained pretty well.

During the rain last evening I caught 3 kids who had stolen a large canvas banner from my neighbor as they ran away towards the museum. The kids returned it without any fuss after saying they had only wanted it for the roof of their house. I almost felt bad for stopping them, but my neighbor paid good money for it and she thanked me for my good deed. Of course my wife was angry that I could’ve been stabbed by the 3 kids, since times are desperate and life is cheap. She tends to worry like that a lot.

(Another) Zihuatanejo Earthquake

Just before 7:30 this morning I was awakened by my wife shouting frantically from downstairs “¡está temblando!” – it’s quaking! –

The sound of a freight train roaring in the distance quickly jolted me out of a perfect sleep because the closest train tracks are about 50 miles (80 km) away in Lázaro Cárdenas. I tripped into my shorts and sandals and hopped, skipped and jumped downstairs, all the time thinking “¡café! ¡café! ¿dónde está mi café?”

My wife and daughter were already on the ground floor with the front door open. I went into the street and looked up and down. Everything looked okay. Lampposts were still wobbling a bit. I was surprised that only a couple of other neighbors had bothered going outside. You’d think folks would at least try to save themselves. If it had been “the big one” we’d have had a lot of buried neighbors.

Fortunately this one appeared to have passed without any damage, and so far there haven’t been any replicas. But it sure set off a flurry of activity on my message board by other ex-pats in the region from Barra de Potosí to Troncones as well as by folks in other parts of Mexico, some who were surprised and/or concerned.

The official data from the Servicio Sismológico Nacional showed it to be a 5.3 on the Richter scale, occurring at 7:24:58 in the morning with an epicenter 44 kilometers west of Zihuatanejo at the coordinates (latitude) 17.54 and (longitude) -101.96 and at a depth of 25 km.

Shortly afterward I finally got that perfect cup of coffee I’d been hankering for, along with some fresh-squeezed orange juice with a delicious and still warm tamal de maiz as well as a tasty bolillo con requesón. Just another perfect day in Zihuatanejo, Mexico! ¡Ajuuuaaaa!

Zihuatanejo Earthquake 31 JAN 09

Good-bye 2008!

The Sierra Madre del Sur from Ixtapa

The Sierra Madre del Sur seen from Ixtapa

With the end of 2008 Zihuatanejo will also see an end to six years of municipal administration by the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD). Zihuatanejo almost didn’t survive this past six years, and there is no doubt Zihuatanejo will never be the same.

We lost all our beautiful hillsides surrounding the Bahía de Zihuatanejo: on the one hand to tens of thousands of squatters stealing ecological zones that the city later re-zoned so they could continue to be stolen and settled by these land thieves (most from other towns and many with numerous properties), and on the other hand by developers of luxury homes and lodgings for people who will never really live here. From Playa Las Gatas all the way around the bay to Playa Contramar, roads now criss-cross our once pristine hillsides. The ecological zones that we thought would preserve the beauty of our town for generations to come were re-zoned by the PRD almost as soon as they took office, mostly in a political ploy to try to keep padding their electorate to win future elections. It worked for one succeeding election, but this year the voters of Zihuatanejo said ¡basta! and the PRD candidates were soundly and rather embarassingly defeated.

But the damage by their two successive administrations to our bay, our environment, our tourism and our community will be leaving a sour taste for years to come. Never have things been so bad due to neglect, ineptitude, incompetence, greed, and corruption.

Nevertheless, many of us in the community of Zihuatanejo are optimistic about our future. We believe we can reverse some of the damage to the environment, especially our bay. And hopefully by paying attention to the many details that were mismanaged, overlooked and ignored by the two previous municipal administrations we can salvage and restore our tourism industry and the tranquility of our community for our residents and visitors. Neighbors in downtown Zihuatanejo have formed a community organization in order to express our concerns and provide constructive proposals and feedback to the incoming municipal administration headed by Alejandro Bravo Abarca, who will become our new mayor at the stroke of midnight tonight.

So GOOD-BYE 2008 and HELLO 2009!

Playa La Madera sunrise

Playa La Madera sunrise

Responsible Progress in Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo Bay circa 1969 (photo by Gene Cri-Cri Lysaker)

Zihuatanejo circa 1969 (photo by Gene "Cri-Cri" Lysaker)

I don’t understand why some folks insist on viewing the related problems of growth and development from extreme and often unhelpful positions.

Am I the only one who sees clearly what Zihuatanejo could be instead of the growing problems it is becoming? Am I the only one who believes we are missing out on capitalizing on our greatest potential by not preserving what put us on the map in the first place?

I can’t help but shake my head and wonder where the idiots come from that believe we need to make Zihuatanejo like Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco or Cancún and add more artificial attractions, more condos, more megaprojects, more marinas, or whatever; raping the natural beauty and calling it progress. So let’s ruin the natural attractions we have and hope we can build new attractions to make up for the previous regular visitors we run off? Make way for the stampeding herds, right? Wrong!

Community planning is never a bad thing. Planned sustainable growth accompanied by proper development of infrastructure with an eye to improving community well-being is an admirable goal. However, we have seen nothing remotely resembling that here, either by government or private investors. Certainly some useful planning has gone into creating Ixtapa, though the purpose is becoming less clear as its natural beauty is also being wastefully and unnecessarily destroyed there, too. Nevertheless, the apparent guiding principle for years has been “every man for himself” with developers ignoring building and ecological regulations and no authority consistently enforcing them. So now the natural beauty and community charm that have always been our main attractions and that we thought would remain intact and sustain us for future generations are under serious threat from selfish and short-sighted interests seeking instant gratification.

Excuse me for thinking we could do better!

And despite all the pessimism, I still believe we can. I am encouraged by the organizing I see going on within our community among long-time mostly native locals, getting ready to work with the incoming municipal administration. I will continue to support their efforts to try to right the wrongs that have befallen our community and endeavor with them to make Zihuatanejo a better place, first for the locals and then for our visitors.

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s what this website has always been about! ;~)

Holiday Season Begins in Zihuatanejo

Playa Linda, Ixtapa

Playa Linda, Ixtapa

Yesterday afternoon as the schoolbells chimed the end of the school day, they also rang in the official beginning of the Christmas  holiday vacation season. Christmas and Semana Santa represent our two peak seasons of the year. By yesterday evening roads quickly became crowded with vehicles full of mostly families from other states, especially from Mexico City and the central region known as El Bajío.

It is an almost instant change in the pace of life, from low gear to high without passing any gears in between. Streets and sidewalks are instantly full of people. Restaurants fill quickly, the background noise level rises and the holiday high season gets underway in Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, Troncones, and Barra de Potosí.

Last night the we cruised in a calm Pacific Ocean along the coast from Zihuatanejo’s bay to Ixtapa’s islands and back during sunset on the Orion sportfishing cruiser, we couldn’t help but notice the lights coming on at homes, condos and hotel rooms as twilight faded. Westin Las Brisas Ixtapa, by far one of the most beautiful hotels in Mexico, looked almost completely full as did the Barceló and the Presidente hotels. And once again Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa comes to life!

Merry Christmas from Zihuatanejo!

Christmas in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa
2009 will mark two decades since I decided to move from Florida to work and live in Zihuatanejo. The election of a former spy chief as the 41st U.S. president helped make the decision easier.

This year I will celebrate my 20th Christmas in Zihuatanejo (counting my first Christmas here in 1974). In spite of this year’s economic hardships, I am happier than words can describe. The love of my family makes me one of the most fortunate people in the world. And Zihuatanejo is still one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. We have some of the most perfect weather and certainly some of the warmest people in the world. For all our problems, there is still so much good that far outweighs the bad. I feel privileged to be here.

So I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from Zihuatanejo!

¡Feliz Navidad!