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

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Posts Tagged ‘playa principal’

Z AmaZing Zihuatanejo

Acapulco Statue

Bronze statue of a sunbather in the morning light (click to enlarge)

The magic of Zihuatanejo is palpable and is something most residents and visitors can see and feel all around them, beginning with the first rays of dawn and the amazing spectacle of the morning light as it illuminates Zihuatanejo Bay and everything around it. The colors seem to vibrate and give life to inanimate objects, playing tricks with the mind and one’s vision, revealing new beauty and details in old and familiar things, whether it be a flock of birds, boats in the bay, buildings on the hillsides, fishermen, a market, a street, a beach, a walkway, or a statue. Even the colors of the ocean, the hills, the clouds and the sky seem fresh and new each day.

For those of us fortunate to experience this magic, it recharges our batteries and invigorates the soul, reminding us to appreciate what we can while we can, for it will be different tomorrow and we may not be here. Every day is indeed something new. The past and the future meaningless abstracts to the here and now demanding our attention. Reminding us to appreciate what we have and where we are at this moment. Reminding us there’s no time like the present.

Here are a few photos mostly from my morning walks with my wife along the waterfront of downtown Zihuatanejo.

Click on any photo to see it enlarged

Downtown Zihuatanejo

Downtown Zihuatanejo

Pelicans on Playa Principal

Pelicans on Playa Principal

Fishing boats arriving

A fishing boat zooms on to Playa Principal

Fishing at Dawn

Several shore fishermen try their luck at dawn on Zihuatanejo’s Playa Principal

Fishing at dawn

A lone fisherman at dawn on the Playa Principal

Fishing boats on the beach

Fishing boats line the beach at the fishermen’s market

El Faro and Los Morros de Potosí

The lighthouse and Los Morros de Potosí

Waterfront fishermen's market

The fishermen’s market

Mostly huachinango

Mostly red snapper

Fishing with pelicans

Fishing with pelicans

Fishermen arriving

Fishermen arrive with their overnight catch

Fisherman casts net

A fisherman casts his net in Zihuatanejo Bay

Here are a couple of wide-angle panoramas I took of Zihuatanejo Bay in the morning. You can move them right and left as well as zoom in. I recommend clicking on the button in the upper right-hand corner of the images to see them full screen.

 


Long morning shadows on the downtown beach called Playa Principal

 


Fishermen following pelicans during a feeding frenzy that started at Playa Principal and ended at Playa La Madera

Day of the Strange Fog in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

View of Playa La Ropa from Casa Leo - click to enlarge

View of Playa La Ropa from Casa Leo - click to enlarge

The day of April 10, 2012 started off like any other day of Zihuatanejo’s peak holiday season during Semana de Pascua (Easter week). Tourists were enjoying the beaches and frolicking in the sand and the surf, even though the ocean water temperature has been extremely cool along the coast for the past few weeks, around 24-25° C (75-77° F). Many people had just arrived for the beginning of the second week of the annual traditional Semana Santa-Semana de Pascua vacation period. The beaches were filling up at Playa La Ropa, Playa Las Gatas, Playa La Madera and Playa Principal all around Zihuatanejo’s bay.

Suddenly around 11:00 a.m. phone calls started arriving to the offices of the police and the fire department, reports of a fire, though no one could specify exactly where it was. Some folks thought it was a warning sign for a tsunami, and there were even a few calls by folks frightened that it was the arrival of a UFO.

Strange fog enters Zihuatanejo Bay - click to enlarge

Strange fog enters Zihuatanejo Bay - click to enlarge

Strange fog in front of Playa Las Gatas - click to enlarge

Strange fog in front of Playa Las Gatas - click to enlarge

Strange fog fills Zihuatanejo Bay - click to enlarge

Strange fog fills Zihuatanejo Bay - click to enlarge

Strange fog bank crashes into La Ropa - click to enlarge

Strange fog bank crashes into La Ropa - click to enlarge

Photos by Jorge Luis Tomás García

At first the reports of a strange white cloud only came from Ixtapa, where Playa El Palmar was suddenly enveloped in dense white cloud spilling in from the ocean and between the low hills from Playa Linda and Playa Quieta.

A maid at one condominium project in Ixtapa thought it was the end of the world, thanks to all the media hysteria over the Mayan calendar and so-called predictions by Nostradamus and the fictional movie “2012”, and she started to walk off the job to go home so she could spend her “final moments” with her children. Her co-workers eventually convinced her that it was only fog and she returned to her job.

While we have seen fog in Zihuatanejo on rare occasions over the years, no one could recall ever seeing such a dense and low fog bank like this roll in during the middle of the day. Like a white version of the smoke monster from LOST, the fog bank seemed to reach into the bay like a long finger and touch part of La Ropa Beach and the small hill between La Ropa and La Madera before dissipating upward. The eerie effect was enhanced because it looked like a low cloud rolling along the surface of the ocean reminiscent of a popular horror movie.

Strange fog blankets high-rise hotels of Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Strange fog blankets high-rise hotels of Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Strange fog covers hotels and condos in Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Strange fog covers hotels and condos in Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Strange fog engulfs hotels and condos in Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Strange fog engulfs hotels and condos in Ixtapa - click to enlarge

Photos by Judith Whitehead

Strange fog over Punta Esteban - click to enlarge

Strange fog over Punta Esteban - click to enlarge

Fog bank crashes into La Ropa - click to enlarge

Fog bank crashes into La Ropa - click to enlarge

Photos by Michael Hackett

All around the bay the folks on beaches were standing around watching the unusual fog bank and taking videos and photos as it blew in from the ocean and tumbled over the low parts of the hills along the coast.

Strange fog seen from Playa Principal - click to enlarge

Strange fog seen from Playa Principal - click to enlarge

Photo by R. Whitehead

View of strange fog from the colonias - click to enlarge

View of strange fog from the colonias - click to enlarge

Photo by Dante Line

 

Hurricane Beatriz Visits Zihuatanejo

I guess it was around Thursday or so that the weather map first hinted that a tropical storm was forming in the Bahía de Tehuántepec off the coast of Oaxaca, and news reports showed that they were getting some rain. By Saturday things had shaped up and it became apparent our first real rain of the season was on its way.

We had only received 2 or three short showers and a few sprinkles beginning in late May, but no real groundsoaking rains. Our last real rain was in October, 2010. We had been having some extremely hot and humid weather, the kind where you break out sweating before even drying off after a shower, and where no fan at any speed was able to cool you down but only stir up the heavy hot and humid air. So rain in any way, shape or form was looking like the relief we needed and the answer to many prayers.

Monday morning storm track

Monday morning storm track

Sunday began damn hot and humid like we had been suffering for over a month, often without any city water to bathe or cool down with. But something different happened on Sunday: the clouds moved in and the skies became overcast. The shade was welcome, but it was still damn hot and humid. However, the weather forecast looked promising: we were definitely going to get a visit from the then Tropical Storm Beatriz. Whether a direct hit or a near miss, the promise of some real soaker rains was an added bonus to Father’s Day, and by Sunday evening a few sprinkles and brief showers blew through.

[click on images to enlarge them]

During the wee hours of Monday morning a few more rainshowers passed through, so we awoke to wet streets and dripping trees. Just before 8 o’clock we noticed classes had been cancelled at neighboring Vicente Guerrero school and the well-dressed children were walking back home, most accompanied by their parents. Shortly after 8 o’clock the rain started, first as a drizzle, then a sprinkle, then a downpour. It rained steadily hour after hour at varying intensities, and by around 10 o’clock the wind began to gust a little, blowing over a large plant on our rooftop.

It rained and rained and rained, and around 5pm the weather services announced that Beatriz had become a hurricane. Oh boy! We’re having some fun now!

Satellite image Monday evening, June 20

Satellite image Monday evening, June 20

But apart from the rain, which had intensified by the evening, and the surf, which had steadily grown louder and higher, there still were no heavy winds in the downtown Zihuatanejo area, probably owing to the fact that the surrounding hills of our bay form a near perfect shelter. A friend of mine near Barra de Potosí, which faces open ocean, said they had been having some heavy winds and that they were getting pretty tired of them, but he said the beach was still okay even though the big waves were taking some of the sand. I imagine some of the beachfront restaurants out there had water in them, and probably some of those beachfront condo and home owners were thinking maybe they had built too close to the beach (which of course they had most certainly done).

Though Hurricane Beatriz was literally brushing our coast, it soon became obvious that it was continuing on a northwesterly track and that we appeared to have been spared any hurricane strength winds and the serious damage they can cause.

But there was still the ocean to worry about, and just after 10pm a quick walk over to the beach in front of downtown Zihuatanejo during a lull in the rain revealed the waves were washing completely up the beach to the walkway. Fishermen were nervously keeping an eye on their beached pangas, and all the beachfront restaurants were empty and closed. Muddy water was rushing out of Canal “La Boquita” next to the museum, but waves were also rushing about a hundred meters up into the canal. The beach was suffering some erosion and a few restaurants were in danger of losing the land they lease from the federal government (which they shouldn’t be able to lease in the first place).

Of course, the all night long rain and cool temperatures brought by the storm made for terrific sleeping weather!

As dawn broke it became obvious that the storm had passed us. The rain stopped and gave the cleaning crews a chance to clean the garbage off the beaches. Not nearly as bad as in past years.

Our downtown beach on Tuesday morning

Our downtown beach on Tuesday morning

Looking towards Playa La Madera

Looking towards Playa La Madera

La Boquita Canal and Zihuatanejo Bay

La Boquita Canal and Zihuatanejo Bay

Girl and fishermen on downtown beach

Girl and fishermen on downtown beach

Calle Juan N. Álvarez looking east

Calle Juan N. Álvarez looking east

Calle Juan N. Álvarez looking west

Calle Juan N. Álvarez looking west

As I write this late Tuesday morning it’s sprinkling again, and the weather forecast calls for more intermittent rains as the remains of Beatriz are dragged past us, but we finally got our long awaited ground soaking rain! The heat spell has been broken! And Life is Good!

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

Tsunami in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa 2

Taking a morning walk with my wife and one of the other regular morning walkers asks me if I knew if we were going to have a tsunami. Tsu what? Whatsup? First I heard about any possible tsunami. Why am I always the last one to know these things? Why did I not get the MEMO?

So there went the morning walk as Lupita and I rushed back home and turned on the news and the computer. Dang, unplug yourself from the world for a night and all hell breaks loose!

Japanese Tsunami Graph

Japanese Tsunami Graph

So the first thing I do is find is a graph estimating the arrival time. Then I told everyone it might start arriving around 11:00 or 12:00 because I forgot to notice the PST time indicator. Oops. Drink more coffee. Go back and fix error. Ahem!

On the radio a lady calls in to the morning talk show program asking if a wave and an earthquake were going to strike her home high on the hill at El Hujal. Looks like I’m not the only one having a morning brainfart…

So after finding out the estimated arrival time was actually shortly after 2:30 p.m. and getting my computer set up upstairs just in case, I grabbed my camera and walked down the waterfront towards the pier. A friend of mine said he thought the water was just starting to run out of the Las Salinas lagoon, so I hurried over to the bridge crossing the lagoon at El Almacén to get a good spot. Turns out I got there just in time as the show was getting started at 3:20 p.m.

Fishermen minding their boats

Fishermen minding their boats

People on El Almacén bridge

People on El Almacén bridge

People on El Almacén bridge

People on El Almacén bridge

There were three surges that I witnessed, but I heard there were more. Each cycle lasting about 10 minutes and each one just a little more intense than the last. Fishermen were out minding their boats, and lots of people came to the bridge and shores of the lagoon to watch and film the eerie event. Surprisingly, no real stench arose from the swirling waters of lagoon. It smelled mostly like old mud. Nevertheless, folks were almost cheering as they watched the black water run out of the lagoon, hoping it would get a much needed flushing out. Unfortunately, the water that ran back in seemed to be the very same water that ran out. Oh well. Guess it’ll take more than a tsunami…

Las Salinas Lagoon

Las Salinas Lagoon

The birds were squawking and chirping and flying about quite agitated, and fish in the lagoon weren’t sure which way they should be fleeing to. Since we don’t see too many of these, folks were excited and enjoying the entertainment. Yes, even a tsunami can be fun, as long as it’s just a little one.

As I headed back towards the pier and the Playa Del Puerto, folks were giddy and chattering with excitement. We’d just had a tsunami! Everyone was talking about it. Even tourists were enjoying the added attraction.

Tsunami at Playa Del Puerto

Tsunami at Playa Del Puerto

But what struck me as really odd was seeing tourists swimming at the beach. It was clear even to folks away from their TV sets and news sources that something was going on, even though the bay appeared calm and the waves were gently lapping the beach.

Tsunami at Playa Del Puerto

Tsunami at Playa Del Puerto

Fortunately it was an extremely low tide when the tsunami hit at about 3:20 p.m. The height looked like it was just a about a meter in sea level height between the high water mark and the low water that I saw. Thank goodness it appears there’s no damage to report. Surges were still being reported at 11:00 p.m. that night and we noticed them still happening for several days afterwards.

Testing the Waters of Zihuatanejo

Playa La Ropa
Playa La Ropa

Things appear to be improving and the responsible authorities seem to be taking their jobs a bit more seriously regarding the testing of the ocean water at our beaches for bacteriological content. The Secretario del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) announced that it is stepping up its monitoring program of our local beaches.

For the past 10 days SEMARNAT has been taking water samples in order to have a more realistic picture of the bacteriological conditions of the water at our local beaches, and they are reporting their findings in a more timely manner. They used to only take one sample a month and publish the findings a month or more later. Now findings for the same month can be found on the website for the Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS) and findings are being released to the press even sooner.

Additionally, the Sistema Sanitario Federal has applied the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and lowered the unacceptable risk level from 500 to 200 enterococcos per 100 milliliters of water. I definitely see this as a step in the right direction. Now the question is if signs will actually be posted at any beaches that surpass this new level, because this has been a problem in the past.

Our local wastewater treatment plants are being repaired and upgraded by our municipal government and new ones are also being built in nearby communities to lower the risk of potential pollution to our area’s beaches. Hopefully before the end of 2010 all three of Zihuatanejo’s wastewater treatment plants will be operating as they should and Playa Principal will finally be considered a safe swimming beach by locals. The current test results still show this as the only beach that poses a potential health risk. Thankfully all our other beaches are looking good.

Playa El Palmar

Playa El Palmar

Ixtapa’s Playa El Palmar is on the verge of receiving the important distinction of becoming certified as a “Playa Limpia”. This requires strict monitoring not only of the water quality but also of other factors including even the cleanliness of the sand. This certification should help the promotion of Ixtapa by travel agents and tourism professionals. And if things go as planned then beaches such as Zihuatanejo’s Playa La Ropa should not be far behind in meeting the criteria to become certified as a “Playa Limpia”.

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.