Zihua notes, long, but get over it.

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Escrito por Bob in Eugene desde (?) el día miércoles, 02 de abril, 2008 a las 15:01:48 horas :

Just a few notes on our recently completed trip to Zihua. It was a great week that started a little bumpy, but ended up very nicely.

First, the bumpy part. Our usual m.o. is to get up at about 3 a.m. and catch an airport shuttle to Eugene Airport at about 4 for the flight to LA. Our older daughter, who goes to school in Ashland, Oregon, has flown out of there in the past, and, since our flight stops in Medford on the way down, we’ve flown together from there. When I made the flight arrangements, I was sure that this was the way it would be this year, as well, but when we got on the plane in Eugene, it became obvious that our flight was non-stop from Eugene to LA, and we’d meet her there. OK.

When we arrived in LA, we got a text message from her indicating that they wouldn’t let her board in Medford because she didn’t have her passport with her (we had it) and that Medford to LA was considered an international flight, because it continued on to ZIH. We called her and she was heading on back home. Worse, this was Friday morning, the beginning of Spring Break, and they couldn’t get her out again until Tuesday. The Alaska agents in LA told us that we’d have to ship the passport to her in Medford via air freight, because they couldn’t be responsible for it if we just handed it to an airline employee to hand carry it to Medford. Anyway, the details go on and on, but, with the help of some extremely helpful Alaska agents, we were able to rebook her into LA the next morning, and they got us on to a Delta flight on Saturday afternoon, which got us into ZIH over a day late, but did get us all there together. Alaska put us up for the night in LA, which they were glad to do because our original flight was way overbooked. We rolled into the Catalina after 11 p.m. on the night before Easter, and settled into our beds, the sound of the waves lulling us to sleep.

Next day, Easter Sunday, we rose and, as is our custom, made Easter baskets from rolled up towels, and filled them with Easter goodies. Wandered down and had breakfast with friends at Elvira’s next door, then wandered up and connected with Celso to get all our paperwork done for the eight nights we had left. It was great to see Celso and, later Javier and Senora Eva, and to meet Cesar and Anahi, a couple of new folks since our last stay. The people, along with the view and the beach, are the reasons we keep going back to the Catalina.

Anyway, after a day of loafing, we headed into town for Easter dinner at El Pueblito. It’s usually closed by six in the evening, but stayed open until 10 on Easter, and I wanted to try the Sunday lamb barbacoa, which was excellent. Several folks had, and raved about, the arrachera steak. Everybody else (there were 11 of us) had a great meal, as well, and we practically had the place to ourselves. El Pueblito is one of the under-discovered treasures of Zihua, in my opinon.

After that, it was pretty much the three b’s, beach, books and beer, underneath one of the very comfortable palapas at the Catalina. We did eat at a different restaurant every dinner, mostly favorites and some new. Next night we ate at El Manglar on La Ropa. I had the incredible 27 spice blackened tuna. I like their new footbridge. I didn’t feel like I was about to become croc food on the way in. Memo is a very warm host.

Other food highlights were Chendo’s, which is a charming little restaurant in the La Noria area with great but incredibly rich coconut shrimp, Terresita’s in Barra, for their incredible pescado a la talla, Tamales Any on Thursday for pozole and amazing tamales, Rossi’s, for the upstairs dining area and the great margaritas, and Café Marina for their wonderful pizza with that amazing chipotle sauce. We also stopped by La Gula for amazing and artful desserts one evening.

While in Barra, we dropped in on Laura to check on the status of her remarkable work with the young people of that community. It looks like major progress has happened since our last visit down, and I’m sure she’d welcome any and all help that might come her way.

We had a large group for dinner several nights because, in addition to the four in our family, we had four other friends from Eugene/Portland down with us, one friend from Portland, and one from Santa Cruz, mostly Zihua veterans, and my wife’s sister and brother-in-law out from South Carolina, their first time. They loved it, and it was fun introducing newbies to our favorite places down there.

The days were beautiful and warm, with a few clouds a couple of days, and the water was warm, albeit green with algae a few days. Eva from the Catalina is convinced that the cruise ships bring up the algae from the bottom of the bay, and there were two ships while we were there, so that’s entirely possible. Otherwise, we had a couple of days with pretty big waves and high tides that brought waves up around the palapas down by Las Urracas. I’ve never seen waves come in so far.

As for shopping, we spent less time in the artisans’ market, and mostly hit a few favorite shops around town. We went to Abel y Julia’s jewelry shop several times. Abel is a real artisan in terms of fashioning and repairing jewelry and does a lot for his community. Julia is a real sweetheart, and very nice to work with, and their prices are very fair. Silver, as with gold, is way up in cost this year, so we had to readjust our mindset. As well as their original store on Calle Nicolas Bravo #33, they’ve opened a new shop just two doors toward the bay from Alberto’s venerable silver store. Check them out if you’re looking for beautiful silver items.

We had a few money issues come up that are worth noting: there were four of us traveling together, and we had 7 bags, most of them small, but the taxi station at the airport required us to take a larger vehicle than a regular taxi, thereby costing us considerably more than usual. I tried to stonewall them, but, since it was after 10:30 p.m, and we’d had setbacks along the way and it was pitch black outside, we relented.

Also, continuing their trend of trying to get you to tip twice, Elvira’s on the beach gave us a calculator tape showing a “total” with the tip added in but not showing it as an item. They apologized for neglecting to tell us that tip was included, but, since it happened more than once, I doubt it was an oversight. We like the breakfasts and the locat1on, so we still go there but check the bill carefully.

And, we took our South Carolina relatives to Las Gatas for the day, and went to Otilia’s, mostly because the beach there is nice and Franco is so charming. This time, as last time, we ordered off the menu and made sure what the prices were for “fish platters for 8”, etc. and the bill came back over 200 pesos high, totaled wrong. We retotaled it for Franco, and he said that he only was there to help the customers, not handle the finances, and that we should pay what we thought was fair, which we did, and added in a nice tip because his service was excellent. Again, this was the second time in a row that this has happened at Otilia’s. Just a word to the wise, have you calculator ready and check your receipts.

After Easter, the beaches were considerably less crowded, we had no trouble getting into restaurants, even with a large group, and we never had that “Coney Island” feel that you get during the first week of Semana Santa. It was fun seeing Zihua again with the new eyes of our relatives from SC and another young man who was there for the first time. We’ve booked our rooms back for next year, and hope that the place doesn’t get too expensive, too developed, too crowded, or that there’s too much cruise ship pier for our enjoyment.

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