February 19, 2014

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo

Press HERE to see a slideshow
of our week in Ixtapa.

Sunset with Lalo and Nelly
IMG_0146: Lalo and Nelly
Crocodiles in the Area
IMG_0128: Crocodiles
Feeding the Dolphins
IMG_0139: Dolphins
At the Fish Market
IMG_5858: In the Fish Market
The Birthday Cake
IMG_5872: Birthday Cake
The Carrillo Family
IMG_5855: Carrillo Family
The Grilled Snapper
IMG_5889: Grilled Snapper

We arrived in Mexico on Monday, February 10th. We had a full tank of gas and we crossed the boarder fairly early in the morning. The visa cost $25 now. The big change was the addition of a large deposit to get a temporary car registration. Before 2012 you paid $30 to $40 for the registration. Now, there is a huge deposit (?!) of over $400 dollars. They say it will be returned when we cross back into the US.


Like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are twin cities. Ixtapa is one of the 5 specially designated tourist cities created about 1968, while Zihuatanejo is the older and larger of the twins. Together there are about 120,000 residents. There are thousands of vacation homes - condo's that cost any where from $50,000 to $10 million USD and associations fees from $50 to $5,000 per month. Note that we spent a week in a three-bedroom condo that could be purchased for $50,000.

It has good beaches and great food. It appears to be warm all-year round with temps in the 80's in February, but it is also quite humid much of the time. If you are by the ocean there is always a good breeze.

The next three days were very hard on us. The first day we took all the toll roads, because we wanted to get as far south as possible. We arrived in Los Mochis just before dark. The next day we drove on one segment of the toll road system then switched to the free roads. This road was actually pretty good, although quite a bit slower. We did not make it to Guadalajara. We did stay in a very, very old hotel that seemed great until the next morning when we discovered there was no hot water. We started out the next day on the free roads to Guadalajara. But the GPS said that we would not get to Ixtapa until late in the night. So we got on one segment of toll road then off for several hours, then back again for most of the journey. We arrived about 5:30 PM and with just a bit of difficulty found our way to the home of my old friend Lalo Carrillo and his wife Nelly Gonzales. We were exhausted from the three days of travel, but happy to be with our friends. They helped us rent a condo just a few doors down from theirs.

What I can say about the cost of the tolls and gas is that they are a bit high. The tolls that we paid were about $68, and if we had taken all the toll roads - the cost would have been over $100 for tolls. Unfortunately, the only alternatives to the toll roads are two-lane roads that pass through every town with those miserable speed bumps. If one has lots of time, patience and the area is safe, then the free roads are fine. Gas is $3.75 per gallon.

On Friday we visited the Ixtapa Marina to eat breakfast. Breakfasts are cheap and extremely good at most restaurants. The Marina was no exception to this rule. While looking at the yahts, I noticed a sign prohibiting wadding in the water, because crocodiles are on the loose. Crocodiles and iguanas are protected and can no longer be taken for food or their hides.

Lalo had been asked to repair a network router and fix a PC at a $10 million home on the beach. La Senora was nice and extremely rich. The home was exquisite. Lalo had worked on the construction of this home.

Montessori School Show

Lalo's brother lives in nearby condo. He and his wife Esthela are architects. They have one son, Julian. He attends an English immersion Montessori school in Zihuatanejo. The kids' show was fun, but a bit long. See the video to get a sense of the show. After the show we visited Julio and Esthela's home, which is in the same complex where we are staying.

Saturday morning Lalo and I went to the fish market in Zihuatanejo. Seafood in the market is very reasonable in cost. We fixed it for both Saturday and Sunday dinner. Nelly did most of the cooking, but Betty made cilantro and lime rice. We ate by the pool and his parents eventually joined us. Their names are Irene and Felipe. They usually live in Chilpanzingo, but they too own a lovely condo just four minutes away by foot. Felipe is my age and Irene is a couple of years older.

Sunday was to be a day to relax. We did take a walk on the beach. During the walk we passed by venue for a dolphin show. We were permitted to take a look-see at the dolphin tanks. The keepers were feeding them and checking them for skin problems. It was pretty cool. Again we went out for breakfast, again tasty and cheap. We took it easy the rest of the day. I went for a swim. The pool was clean and the water was warm. We ate the fish again in the late afternoon. Then it was off to a very sweet bar with a great view of the bay in Zihuatanejo. Best of all was the sunset, which arrived just before 6:45 PM.

Lalo and Julian
IMG_0190: Lalo and Julian

Monday we breakfasted at the home of Irene and Felipe. Breakfast was fresh papaya, watermelon and muskmelon, yogurt, granola and tamales all washed down with coffee and fresh orange juice. We have been eating big breakfasts all week and it is just too much. But man, is it very tasty. In the evening there was Lalo's mini birthday party, nochecitas, for the family. We ate a lovely cake and sang happy birthday.

Tuesday was Lalo's real birthday. It was his 40th birthday. I had not realized that he is exactly the same age as Birgitta. The day started with breakfast at an exclusive hotel, Club Intrawest, in Zihuatanejo. Almost every room has a balcony with a spa that overlooks the sea. Rooms are just under $300 per night. Again the food was outstanding and very reasonable in price. Betty and I shared a plate with Betty, trying to ease up on my breakfast intake. In the late afternoon, the real birthday party began. In the evening there was another party, which his family attended. Lalo had prepared two special dishes. The first was a cold soup made of cooked fish, raw vegies including tomato, corn and cilantro. He called it ceviche. Now, I have been eating ceviche for years but I have never had any which came even close to resembling this ceviche. And this ceviche was incredibly delicious. The second was an eight-pound red snapper that had been split open and coated with marinade. The marinade imbued a taste of Mexico. When the grilling was done, we simply ate it with tortillas and bit of salsa. I love snapper and this style of snapper was very good.

We will be leaving tomorrow or Friday. It has been a great visit.

Next we are off to Cuernavaca.

Posted by bill at February 19, 2014 11:20 AM

Viva Mexico! Sounds like a wonderfull and belly filling time! Love to hear about your travels! Hasta luego Amigoes! Margarita

Posted by: margie sanroman at February 19, 2014 12:32 PM

Great slideshow of your pic's. The food and fish look delicious... Watch out for the Croc's.

Posted by: Marty Christensen at February 19, 2014 03:45 PM

hola bill, still down in mar del plata. keep your eyes out for tommy brundage and his wife. they are in ixtapa. ciao luke

Posted by: luke at February 19, 2014 04:02 PM


Hello from Michigan! It's so heartening and encouraging to read about your travels. I hope you and Betty are in good health and spirits, and look forward to more of these. Also, the food looks absolutely delicious.

Posted by: Alex at February 22, 2014 02:09 PM

Hi Bill,

Kathleen, my youngest, Sophia and I were down in Cabo San Lucas a week ago. Too bad we didn't cross paths. Beautiful weather. Have fun - I wouldn't come back until April if I were you.


Posted by: John Ganapes at February 24, 2014 12:18 PM