Trip Report, Day 6

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Posted by Scott from ( on sábado, septiembre 20, 2003 at 15:22:40 :

Despite our early bedtime last night, we all sleep in to well past 8. Even J is reluctant to get out of bed. From the balcony I look up and down the beach and all I see is sand and water. Whereas yesterday the beach was crowded when we arose, today it's empty. Ditto with the pool area. It's as if the entire OmniLife convention packed up and left, but I know that's not the case at all. They're just sleeping off the party they had last night. By noon, the place will be crawling with people, not that it matters to us. For we are going to spend the day on Playa La Ropa, at Restaurant Rossy.

For the second morning in a row, we eat snacks for breakfast. Of course, J has cereal and milk, but us parents are content with coffee, some fruit, and bits of this and that we've collected over the last few days. I finished “Margaritaville” yesterday and turn to something more satisfying. “A Fire Upon the Deep”, six hundred pages of superb science fiction written by Vernor Vinge. Back in 1980, as a freshman student, I took a computer science class from him. Now, he's writing full time, has a couple of Hugo awards under his belt, and is the creator of a fascinating (and scary) concept called Singularity. I read this particular novel shortly after it was published, and enough time has passed that my feeble memory has forgotten most of it. And while I'm not a strong fan of sci-fi, Vinge's writing style buffers the complexity, and well, weirdness, with a very strong story. I do have one other book with me, but I expect that this one will carry me through the rest of the trip.

Like clockwork, at ten o'clock we are prepared for our day with filled backpacks and an impatient desire to plop down on a lounger with a cold beer. At the lobby, M and J go off in search of towels and more snacks while I stop by the front desk to change a few big bills. The place is still pretty quiet although here and there a few guests are sitting and chatting or heading towards the buffet breakfast. Our taxi driver is friendly and seems happy to hear that we're going all the way to La Ropa.

For the forth time in a row, we're just about the first ones to sit down at Rossy. In fact, I'd say we have the same exact chairs in the same exact spot as every other trip. There are a few extra loungers closer to the water this time, but they are without umbrellas and still in the tide, and so we stick with the usual arrangement. The same waiter serves us the same cold Tecate beers. The sky is clear, the day is hot, the water is warm with only a trace of surf. And soon, the parade of people will begin. But as the day proceeds, we think to ourselves that there aren't nearly as many people as past years. Being on the very south end of the beach, Rossy is one of the first restaurants that people see on their way to points north, and so normally lots of people pass by. But this year, there are less, and we can't tell if it's because there are less tourists, or less locals.

Around noon, we order fish tacos and quesadillas. The tacos are hot and plump and make for a nice light lunch. Later M will also have a seafood cocktail, but for the entire day, that's about all we'll eat. It won't be until we pay the bill later in the afternoon that I'll realize this, that we really didn't have a true meal like we normally do. Why, I cannot say. The food at Rossy is good, but for some reason, neither of us are especially hungry yet.

Walking over to see our favorite cayman, Tick Tock, we find an empty lagoon. The area has been cleaned up since last year, there's a new sigh, and the little wooden plank walkway is gone, but no crocs in sight. We're disappointed because we like to see that big old lizard hanging out within arm's reach, but oh well. We'll go back several times during the day just to check.

We meet a nice family from Canada. The father works for Intrawest, the company building the new hotel next to the Catalina, and the entire family has come down for a week of vacation. J asks the dad if they had to cut down a lot of trees for the hotel, and the dad remarks that they did but they planted even more somewhere else. That's my son, J, the little ecologist. Knowing the debate that this new hotel has created among townsfolk and visitors alike, I tread lightly in my conversation, but eventually we do get around to the topic. And as I hear about the company's interest in trying to balance their needs as as business with the concerns and needs of the community, I can't help but come away thinking that the overall result of this particular endeavor will be positive for Zih. Surely having a cruise ship pier smack dab in the middle of the bay is much worse than another hotel on La Ropa. And in hearing the specifics of the hotel, the number of rooms and their rather large size, how the building is being placed on the hillside, and knowing what the hotel will mean in terms of jobs and income, I sense that the project will be successful in many ways. And frankly, it's a hotel that might just get us to move from Ixtapa to Zihuatanejo. For as much as we love the Dorado Pacifico, we'd also prefer to be closer to town and our favorite beach. It's just that the hotels with a pool we'd like to stay at (like La Casa Que Canta) don't allow children, restrict you to certain arrangements that don't fit our desires (like Villa del Sol), or just aren't large enough to offer the range of amenities we look for in a hotel or the number of families that make for an enjoyable day at the pool. Your mileage may vary.

Eventually the family from Canada heads back towards their hotel and we head back to the water. There's not enough surf today to do much more than bob and float, but that's cool. J and I play catch with a Nerf football we brought along. He builds sand forts, and plays with the multitude of kids around. A man selling necklaces shows us his wares and while M is ready to buy something for J, I prefer to wait until something else comes along. The disagreement causes grief, but only briefly as there's always somebody selling something on this beach. A few minutes later and J is proudly wearing a new shell necklace and we have several additional trinkets for gifts. I get another bracelet to compliment the one I've worn for years.

Near four o'clock we decide to leave. And although we're tired at the hotel, we decide to return to Zih for dinner and so, for the third time today, we get in a taxi. I want to eat at Tamales Y Atoles Any, but alas, it's closed. So we get out of the taxi and walk towards the waterfront. As we pass the side of one restaurant, the waiter give us the usual pitch, but I dismiss him, somewhat abruptly. I'm hungry, and grumpy that our first choice was unavailable. But as we turn the corner, we stop to look at the menu of the place we just dismissed. The place is nice inside, the menu looks interesting, and the waiter describes several “specials” that sound appealing. Ok, we'll bite. Unfortunately, it's a mistake.

M orders the special fish in mango sauce while I ask for the special calamari in spinach sauce, The food isn't bad, but neither does it reach the level of which the water so elegantly tried to present as gourmet. In fact, we both agree that it's not really very good. The appearance is nice, with M's fish arranged to look like some kind of stingray and the pasta-like plating of the fresh squid contrasting nicely with the bright green of the spinach sauce. But the sauces fall flat. Absolutely no taste to either. And there is some kind of vegetable, that looks like immature olive with the stem attached, that adds an undue amount of bitterness (and I'm a fan of bitter food) to both dishes. It also doesn't help that our waiter is actually snobbish during our entire meal. The hand patted corn tortillas served as bread before the entrees are probably the best part of the entire meal, and even they are inappropriately sweet. The French onion soup I have tastes like it was made with canned broth, lacking the depth and body that comes from slow roasted beef bones. And the coconut flan for desert is heavy and monotonous. Overall, the meal is a disappointment, and while we don't complain, we also don't offer the usual compliments and encouragement. We will be the only ones dining at Porto di Mare tonight as far as we can tell. It's the one with the light house. Avoid it, at least until they find a chef that knows his stuff.

The evening isn't a total loss, though. About halfway through dinner, a young boy arrives selling souvenirs. He has the kind of stuff that you see on shelfs throughout the markets, including a ship made from shells, another from wood, and a rather cheap plastic palm tree. Both ships, however, are well made and intricately rigged with colored string. He shows them first to the waiter (actually two waiters) who spend several minutes going over each item. When he comes to us, it's a done deal that we'll buy something. Of course, J wants the palm tree. Doh! We claim executive privilege and suggest he choose something else and so he picks the ship made from shells. I think it's a nice choice and the fifty pesos is a reasonable price. Sale made, the young boy continues walking down the waterfront, but near the end of our dinner, he returns headed back to where he originally came from, and stops by one last time to say thank you.

Upon paying the bill, I find that the specials were specials in name only, because at 180 pesos each, the meals were not the value a special typically represents. M apparently heard the price as they were being described, but I didn't, and so I chalk this one up as a learning experience. It's not that 180 pesos is a lot of money, but as a comparison, the fish relleno I had at Otilias yesterday was less than half the price and infinitely better. Oh well. We take a taxi back to the hotel, deciding not to stop at the market because a light rain has arrived. When we get to the room we realize that it's still fairly early. But J is tired, and so M puts him to sleep while I take my book back down to the lobby lounge for a nightcap. Juany has the night off which means that I can actually concentrate on the book, and an hour and two reposados later, I'm at the end of a chapter and ready to quit. By now I'm feeling pretty fine and decide that a short walk to the mercado is in order. Even on a Sunday night, Ixtapa is hopping with people and as I pass by restaurants with groceries in hand I see many people eating and drinking. I stop by the ice cream stand, get a small bowl of cinnamon ice cream, and slowly walk back to the hotel. Everybody is asleep when I arrive and so I spend the last few minutes of the day out on the balcony looking at stars.

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