A Newbie Visits Zihua---report (long)

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Escrito por Eric from LA desde (TRAVESTY.THEANTFARM.NET) el día viernes, 25 de marzo, 2005 a las 20:50:42 horas :

First, in the weeks leading up to my trip, I culled so much great info from this site and board. To ZihuaRob and all the contributors here, I am deeply indebted.

Second, I have written more extensively about my Zihua food experiences on another, more food-oriented site. The link to that post is:


Anyways, here goes:

DAY 1 (WED 3/16): Easy, direct morning flight from LAX (3.5 hrs). Whisked through immigration and customs in 45 min. With time change, still on the beach sipping margaritas well before sunset.

We check into HOTEL LAS BRISAS DEL MAR, on Playa Madera. What a joint this is: largely open air, splayed out on a cliff like descending blocks, each room with its own deck (complete with sun chairs and hammocks), providing a stunning bay view. Lovely detail in all of the woodwork, the place is rife with charm. Staff is effusively friendly, just a great vibe to the entire establishment. On top of it all, a short walk into Centro, an asset we would frequently exploit in the coming days.

A quick bite and drink for the fiancee and I at the hotel's bistro, plunked right down on Playa Madera. Out of the four beaches, Madera seems to be the smallest, and the quietest, which suited us perfectly.

Then into town to browse around markets, check out pick-up basketball games, and do some copious tequila sampling at various bars. The night ends at TACQUERIA LOS PAISANOS, for some of the best damned tacos I remember ever having scarfed.

DAY 2 (THURS): Wake up to the aural caress of the ocean, the rising sun looming over the bay. A huge cruise ship positions itself for its daylong stay (a visual blight and annoyance for us, but it's my understanding these cruise ships are of great benefit to some of Zihua's merchants)

A morning cab ride over to PLAYA LA ROPA. Breakfast at ROSSY'S on the south end of the beach (very good). Then, a long walk up and down la playa, gawking at the occasional parasailer or banana boat launch.
Since part of our trip is potentially planning a wedding, we check out some of the more high-end venues (Villa del Sol, Club Intrawest, La Casa Que Canta). Beautiful places all, but too exclusive and isolated for our tastes.

We plunk down at LA PERLA for a few hours of sun worship and alcohol. Eventually, a late lunch (a stellar butterflied and grilled skipjack). The fiancee, who is a fluent Spanish speaker, chats up Don Francisco, the owner. A possibility for rehearsal dinner, she proclaims.

After some sangria at the rooftop Terrace Bar back at the hotel (with the incredibly friendly Federico), another evening foray into town, this time to EL HOMBRE DE LAS CHELAS, a friendly bar with copious tequila choices and huge murals of Yosemite Sam. We meet Naztal and Moises, the friendly proprietors/bartenders. We drink. We eat more LOS PAISANOS tacos.

DAY 3 (FRI): We go into Centro, find out how to get to Barra de Potosi, make arrangements with a fishing boat for a Sunday snorkeling trip. Settle down at TAMALES Y ATOLES ANY for a most excellent "breakfast", so good it warrants a return visit.

We decide to save Barra for Saturday (to escape the descending Semana Santa hordes), and, instead, go back to Playa Madera, where we spend the day in the sun swimming, reading, drinking. Life is god-damned good.

After an evening apperetif with our buddy Federico, it's off to CASA QUE CANTA for our one super-splurge dinner. Breathtakingly beautiful setting (with views that stretch both south along La Ropa, and north back to town), exquisite service, so-so grub at fine dining prices. And, no offense to anyone, but I don't quite understand the notion of travelling all the way to Zihua to stay at a place like this, a place so exclusive, so locked-down, you'd think perhaps Saddam's WMD's were being housed there. Am I in Monaco? Am I in Palm Springs? Does it matter? Vacation in a vacuum. To each their own, I suppose.

DAY 4 (SAT): The Barra de Potosi day. We venture into Centro, find the local buses that travel South, and begin our journey. After a forty minute ride, bouncing happily along in our ranchero-blaring bus, we are deposited in the dusty, roadside enclave of Los Atoles.

From there, we climb into the back of a modified pick-up truck to head to the beach. The trucks leave only when full (about ten people's worth), so we wait, sipping on some cold Modelo's. The truck fills, one of the more cantankerous passengers finally rips the driver away from his beloved video game, and we are on our way.

We reach Barra after about twenty, somewhat bumpy minutes. The first impression is not promising: a modest huddle of palapa, the entries of which surround a trash-strewn "town center". But step out onto the beautiful, white-sand expanses of Playa Grande, and you are truly in a Corona commercial: that is to say, paradise.

We plunk down just outside of PALAPA LAS BRISAS, and enjoy the solitude. More sun, swimming, cervezas, and, later, perhaps the best meal of our trip: tiritas and huachinango frito. The freshness, the very essence of homemade love, permeates every bite. Absolutely incredible.

After a nice late afternoon nap on the deck of our hotel room, we head to Centro, where we could begin to feel the heightened energy of the Semana Santa crowds. We partake of the phenomenal, mind-blowing pozole at TAMALES Y ATOLES ANY (and some good music!). Then we hop on over to EL HOMBRE DE LAS CHELAS to watch the El Terrible Morales vs. Manny Pacquiao fight. The bar is packed, the crowd full of hooting-hollering life-force. The bout goes 12 rounds, and Morales wins by an edge. The place goes nuts.

Desperately wanted to try and make room for a couple of more LOS PAISANOS tacos, but our stomachs would not oblige.

DAY 5: (SUN) Zihua is definitely hopping now, crawling with many well-dressed Mexicans with palms in hand (Palm Sunday, this non-practicing Catholic later realized).

We meet Temo at the pier, who takes us on his boat, past another idling monster cruise-ship, out to Manzanillo for some snorkeling. On the way, he tries to fish for some lunch, to no avail. He looks a bit sheepish, but the sun-and-cerveza-drenched fiancee and I, enjoying the open ocean, could care less.

We pull into Manzanillo for some good snorkeling---saw a blowfish and an eel, among many other things. Temo pulls up alongside another boat, trades some hot peppers for a skipjack, and fixes us a wonderful plate of tiritas. We sun on the boat, drink beer with Temo, do some more swimming. I mean----it JUST DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS!

As our impending departure the following day sets in, so does the melancholy. A last round (or two) of margaritas with Federico. We wander into town, which is now teeming with activity---a big children's singing-and-dancing disply on Centro's main basketball courts, an adjoining area full of stalls, selling everything from tequila to tacos to flan. We wander further down the boardwalk for some dinner (other than for the markets, this boardwalk along Playa Municipal was my least favorite area of town---semi-sleazy waiters assault you with waving menus, muttering offers to find drugs through clenched teeth. Very un-Zihua-like, it would seem).

We retire once more to EL HOMBRE DE LAS CHELAS to share a final drink (or three) with our friends, Naztal and Moises. On the way back to the hotel, it is decided: let's get married here in Zihua.

DAY 6 (MON): One last morning to drink in the sights and lulling sounds of the bay from our hotel room deck. The fiance heads up to the lobby early to begin preparations with Loretta, LAS BRISAS' wonderful wedding coordinator. I pack up, feeling the depression onsetting.

One last trip to Centro to shop, eat (at VIVA MEXICO, probably the least competent meal of the trip), and have a look around. Raul, a very friendly, English-capable cab driver takes us out to the airport, and before we know it, we are airborne, speeding back to the status quo. It all sorta seems like a dream to me now.

It was damned spectacular, these short five days. The surrounding beauty, the terrific food, and particularly the smiling, friendly denizens of Zihua have left a lasting impression.

So, if you've read this far in the post, I thank all the travelers who came before me for the advice and comments you have made here on this board. And to all the locals, thank you for allowing us to share in the beauty and general loveliness that is Zihua, your home.

See y'all next year, folks.

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