Trip Report, Day 5

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Posted by Scott from ( on sábado, septiembre 13, 2003 at 13:55:30 :

Saturday starts off like most other days. J wakes up first and immediately wakes up the old folks. We all find ourselves drawn to the balconies where we look out over another fantastic morning. Scattered clouds above us with a dark western sky suggests an approaching front yet the ocean is nearly flat. At 7 am, the beach is already crowded with people. Some walk, some run, and some just stand there chatting with each other in ankle-deep water. Hotel guests are already putting out towels on the pool chairs even though the staff hasn't yet put out the cushions.

We're going to Las Gatas today and so there is no rush to get to the pool. With coffee made, I begin the daily task of assembling little piles of stuff here and there in an attempt to clean the room. Toys here, swim gear there. One of the end tables is designated off-limits to anything other than souvenirs. Despite the housekeepers excellent daily cleaning, we always seem to start off the morning with a sandy floor.

For breakfast, we munch on leftovers. J has cereal with milk that we've stored in the mini bar. All along we've used the little refrigerator to hold extra food with nary a complaint from the hotel. We never buy anything, just move things around to make a little room. I'd prefer to have the fridge without the mini bar baggage, but all in all, the arrangement works.

I've finished the book about the thirsty guy who is always falling down and have moved on to lighter reading. “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffet. Lots of people know of his music, but few know that he's an accomplished writer. This particular book is a collection of short stories, mostly interwoven with a set of unusual characters living in and around Snake Bite Key. The subtitle is “Fictional facts and factual fictions” and that about sums up the seriousness of the book.

At 10 am we get serious about going to the beach and pack up the necessary equipment. Taking the elevator down to the lobby, we find lots of people. Most are going somewhere in a string of small buses lined up at the front of the hotel. J and I walk down to the pool to get towels. We come across a cute little cat who is happy to let J pet her while I retrieve said towels. Flagging down a cab is a bit hard because all of the bellmen are busy with the convention guests, but eventually we're in a car and away from the confusion.

We reach the pier, and start to walk towards the little window where tickets are sold when we're approached by a young man. He asks us if we are going to Las Gatas and steers us the opposite direction. We're a little bit leary, but a few questions clears the air. It turns out there are two different groups of water taxis. We don't remember this from last year, but as long as the cost is the same, and we're not waiting a long time for a boat, what's the difference? One group sells tickets that are white, the other, pink. Looks to us like free enterprise in action as we buy our tickets from a older man seated at a little table in the parking lot.

The young man walks with us down the pier, whistles to a boat that's just about to leave with passengers, and hurries us down the steps past waiting people. I feel a little awkward as we bypass them and get on the boat, but hey, we're just following directions. In a flash, the boat is off and cruising across the bay. The view back towards the town has me getting out the camera to snap a few photos. There's a slight swell coming in from the open ocean, but the ride is smooth and quick. In no time, we're disembarking at Las Gatas.

We walk past all of the restaurants in the goal of reaching Otilias. I consider trying Chez Arnoldo, but the locat1on puts it right smack in the middle of what I know will be the most crowded part of the entire beach. We also prefer the end away from the where the boats operate, thus avoiding the smells and oily discharges of the two stroke outboard engines. Otilias is situated with a nice view towards Playa La Ropa, and is within easy swimming distance of the rocks around the point.

Franco has the day off, but we're welcomed by two other waiters who will treat us nicely during the day. We pick an umbrella in front of a palapa and settle in. Unlike our day on Isla Ixtapa, cold beers are quickly brought out. A pail, several cold cervezas, and a block of ice, and we're ready to do a little snorkeling. M says she likes the snorkeling here better than Isla, but I disagree. But either way, the object is to have fun, see some pretty fish, and relax, and that's exactly what we do. We also rent an inflatable tube to play with. In the water, we see lots of cow fish, some damsel, and the usual collection of snapper. J and M also see a snake swimming along the bottom. As we swim towards the point, the number and variety of fish increases. Never does the depth pass a few feet, which is good for J. Over at Owen's, I laugh at two hammocks hanging deep in the middle of the reeds that line the shore. At one time, they may have actually been accessible.

Over the course of the day, a few groups will arrive at Otilias, but it never gets anywhere close to the crowds back towards the pier. Maybe people don't like to walk so far, maybe they're harassed into choosing a place before they make it here, maybe we're paying more than those other restaurants. I really don't know why it remains so peaceful. I just know that I like it here. Several vendors will walk the entire beach but it's not a constant stream that becomes annoying. A young woman sells snacks from a tray resting on the top of her head and we buy something from her. A very young boy sells magazines and while we let him pass the first time, upon his return I break down and buy a soccer magazine. He's so young I feel terrible that he's out working instead of playing like boys should. I wonder if my purchase reinforces that role of earner to the detriment of his childhood. A couple of silver vendors come by but we nicely dismiss them. Two women, one older, one younger ask me if I'd like a massage. These are the exact same two from two years ago. On that trip, they asked M, and when she declined and I asked about having one, they nervously looked at each other, said something to me like "maybe later", and disappeared. I assumed then that they weren't prepared to deal with a man. But now that it's ok with them, I'm just too lazy to move off of my chair.

About noon time a boat arrives at the beach. It's not a little panga, but rather a nice large cruiser. They offload two big sailfish which are dragged up the beach past us to the kitchen. As the boat leaves, the man who I assume caught the fish places himself in a shady hammock where he'll spend the rest of the day. Is this the owner? If it is, I'd like to be in his shoes.

J makes friends with another kid and while they dig a large hole at the water's edge, M and I scan the menu for lunch. I choose the fish stuffed with cheese and seafood and M has a fried fillet. We get quesadillas for J. The waiter sets our table under the palapa behind our umbrella so we have a shady place to eat. My fish comes wrapped in foil and when I open it, a heavenly scent fills the air. Inside is a large fillet of the freshest fish I could imagine, stuffed full of shrimp and octopus, and covered in cheese. M's fillet is equally fine, but not nearly as impressive as my relleno. It's so large I have trouble finishing it. And afterwards, all I can do is go float on my back in the water, watch the clouds pass overhead, and wonder why we don't do this more often.

Eventually, it's time for another snorkel and we all go towards the point. During the return, however, J decides to swim instead of snorkel and M manages to lose his mask while she holds it for him. We spend ten or fifteen minutes swimming back and forth, here and there, in the three feet of water but find nothing. I give up and go back to the chair and my book, and after another ten minutes so do M and J. We're all bummed that the mask is gone, but there's not much we can do about it. Well, other than go try again, and that's exactly what M does. This time, however, she's successful and J is ecstatic.

About 3pm we pack our things, pay our bill, and return to the pier for our ride back to town. We have to wait a few minutes until the proper boat arrives, and after boarding, we watch as our captain makes a quick detour to exchange tickets with a nearby boat. White for pink. The ride back is slow, but fine for us as it's the last time this trip we'll get this view. Once at the pier, a couple of kids help us out of the boat and then ask for a tip. I grab a few spare pesos and as I offer them to the nearest kid, the other reaches in and grabs them. The first kid then complains and asks me for more, telling me that he's small and unable to get his money from the other kids. Sorry son, but that's the way it is. Just go get it. Homey don't play that game.

The taxi ride back to the hotel is uneventful and we arrive to a very crowded hotel. We return the towels and retreat to the room where we freshen up, rest a bit, and then go for dinner. But of course, we first stop at the lounge for happy hour with Juany. A couple of nice cold drinks for the parents while J goes out to the grass by the pool and flies a balsa wood airplane that M has thoughtfully brought to keep him occupied. From where we sit, we can more or less see J, although he does leave our sight every now and then. Unlike being in the states, here in Mexico we're not too concerned that somebody is going to walk away with our son and so he gets a bit more breathing room. But still, we keep our eyes open and once in a while one of us goes to see what's up. A chef, walking between the main kitchen and the one used for the palapa restaurant, gives the plane a try and promptly gets it stuck in a tree. This becomes humorous as several people try to bat it to the ground using a long stick.

When J comes in telling us it's raining, we're guessing it's just a few sprinkles. But within minutes the rain is really coming down hard. By coincidence, it's about the same time that we had decided to leave for dinner. We were just going to walk across the street and have hamburgers at Ruben's, but without jackets or umbrellas, the downpour gives us pause. Hmmm, room service sounds good. Pizza sounds good to J just about any time. And since we're all pretty tired from the day at the beach, we stay put, have another round of drinks and then make that long elevator ride back to the eleventh floor for pizza and shrimp cocktails. I have to laugh at the idea that we've flown all the way to Ixtapa from San Diego just to eat room service again. But J really likes it, we're all comfortable, and it makes for an easy evening. M has managed to bring back happy hour drinks from the lounge and that keeps me from violating my self-imposed restriction on the mini bar.

After dinner, J goes to bed and M and I move to the balcony to watch the celebration at the Krystal. Although it's nearly 10 pm, the party hasn't started. The rain has stopped and people are beginning to arrive, walking among the many tables adorned with clusters of balloons. Some take photos of each other standing on the stage. Multicolored lights flash here and there. Taped music plays in the background. The entire scene reminds me of a concert prior to the first act and I half expect Los Lobos to come out to a cheering crowd. At 11, they make the announcement that the buffets are open and people stream from everywhere to form long lines. Sometime after that the real party starts complete with thumping bass and frantic vocals, but it won't bother us. We're all sound asleep and remain so until the sun comes up, many hours later.

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