Our Next Trip South 2007
On the road again - This time to the state of Guerrero and more beachfront paradise in Zihuatanejo. And a disappointing experience in Acapulco.
Continued driving south on Mexico 200 - taking the free road all the way. The drive continued to be grueling. Still lots of curves and grades. Many small towns all with lots of topes. This part of the journey reminds me more of the first trip we took in ’78 - we’ve seen some wrecked trucks lying next to the road and a few dead cows bloating up and of course many many crosses. Passed a military check point near Los Llanos but were just waved through.
The Pemex stations along the highway are very modern and not too far apart. Most of them have both gasoline (red and green pumps) and diesel (black pump). The diesel pumps are typically in a different location so it makes it easier for big rigs to fuel. Attendants pump the gas; Bill usually gets out to unlock the tank and checks that the pumps are zeroed out. Happily this has not been necessary. One thing to remember - cash only, no credit cards taken. The ones we have stopped at have had decent bathrooms and usually there is a little restaurant of some sort. We stopped at one this day just to have lunch. There was ample room for parking which made it nice and both drivers needed the break to rest their nerves and arms. Some will let you spend the night there.
We reached Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa without any problems. Again it was a long drive in hours not miles. The “Camping in Mexico” book lists several campgrounds in this area but only one sounded doable. The directions to find it took up half a page in the book so we decided to pull over, unhook and take the jeep into town to find it. That was a very good idea. We followed the directions exactly and arrived at the campground in due course. I am very glad we took the jeep as we had to drive through part of the town, around corners, up and down hills and go under an arch that was only 12 feet tall. We made arrangements with the owner to park there and went back to get the motorhome.
Hooked up and made the slow journey to El Manglar Trailer Park. Coming in from the north as we were we had to make a 270 degree turn around the traffic circle on the highway to head towards downtown and the hotel zone. No right turns allowed; we couldn’t have made the turn anyway. We followed this a ways then had to make a left turn towards the hotel zone. Again the sign is hidden behind a tree but because of our jeep tour we knew it was there. Around that corner then to the right again. Another traffic circle to go half way around. Up a hill, turn right and continue climbing. Now we were getting into the restaurant and hotel area. Have to watch out for oncoming traffic as the roads again were narrow. Made it through there and got to the road with the arch, it is a divided road so we took the on coming traffic side, no arch there and made it to the campground without mishap. Level back in spaces with all hookups. Even free Wi-fi. There are restrooms and shower. The water for the shower is heated only by the sun. There is a restaurant between the campground and the ocean. And lots of restaurants up and down the beach. The gates are locked at night, we have a key, so we felt very safe there. Except for the crocodiles that live between us and the ocean.
To get to the beach we just cross the campground, walk through the outdoor dining room of the restaurant and cross a wooden plank bridge over an estuary. Then we are on the beach. What makes it interesting is the estuary is home to a family of crocodiles! One of them is about 15 feet long. His mouth alone looks to be three feet and it is filled with big sharp teeth. Sometimes in the afternoon they come up and sun themselves ON THE BEACH! Did you know a bunch of crocs is called a bask of crocodiles - me neither. I guess they don’t bother anyone as I see lots of kids, cats and dogs around.
We all spent lots of time on the beach just people watching (basically doing nothing.) It was Cinco de Mayo the first full day we were there. So the beaches were full of families having a good time. Again lots of vendors carrying their wares walking back and forth the length of the beach all day long. There were small pangas available if you wanted to go fishing or just for a ride around the bay. There are all sizes of sail boats and catamarans anchored off shore and speed boats pulling banana boats and brave parasailers. The beaches are quite clean. In fact at the restaurant next to us every morning a boy was out raking the sand removing the debris from the previous day.
One day we drove over to Ixtapa to check it out. Very different from Zihuatanejo. Very upscale - big hotels on the beach and a big marina. We stopped at the marina and had breakfast. Excellent restaurant - great view and great food. Looked around the handicrafts shopping stalls. Pretty much the same items but more expensive than the ones in Zihuatanejo. All in all it was a very pleasant stay in a very nice campground and area.
Well we left Zihuatanejo around 8:30 a.m. and arrived in Acapulco about 2:30 p.m. - six hours for 150 miles. The road was in pretty good shape not too many curves or grades and some places even had shoulders. Went through some very pretty areas, lots of groves of coconut palms with mango trees growing under them and in some areas the huge jacaranda trees had grown over the highway forming beautiful green canopies. They are such a vivid green they almost look fake. We are also seeing lots of cactus again. We went through one little town that must have a good leather industry. There were shoes and beautiful tooled saddles for sale at every little building.
We were waved through all three check points that we passed. It kind of makes you sit up and take notice when you suddenly see soldiers in camouflage, flack vests and BIG guns standing next to the road. We are always glad to the red flag wave us on.
Had to go through two good sized towns that were nightmares to drive. Traffic going every which way and typical narrow streets but no low power lines. The Driver goes very slow and carefully (but not quietly) and we make it fine.
Before reaching Acapulco we turned off Mexico 200 at Pie de la Cuesta and headed up the coast between the ocean and the lagoon. Acapulco RV Park where we stayed in’78 was still there but now it is completely surrounded by other businesses and the paved road runs right up between the ocean and lagoon section both of which are now behind big fences. We continued on to another place up the road a ways - Playa Luces RV. The pictures and write up on their web page lead us to expect something quite different from what we found. The private little pools at each site were empty and debris has accumulated in most of the sites. It appeared there was some construction going on in one section. However I must add that as soon as we were parked a young man came out and swept the sites and cleaned and filled the little pools. The internet connection mentioned is nonexistent. And it is expensive US$32 per day. We do have all hookups: an iffy 30amps, water and sewer. We did go back and look at Acapulco RV and it is just too tight a squeeze for this big a motorhome and only 15amps available. It is still pretty though, lots of shade and about seven spots right on the lagoon where we stayed before. We started to drive into Acapulco but didn’t make it - about half way there the traffic came to a dead stop - something up ahead. Bill managed to get Willie turned around and we headed back towards the motorhome.
We stayed there for two days. We went into Acapulco on Saturday to watch the cliff divers. This is the second time I have seen them. It still is wonderous thing to see. Just watching them climb up the rocks to make the dive is a hair raising experience. The boats that come to watch would drift into the area where the divers would land then back up right before the dive. Extra added excitement. We watched from a neat restaraunt situated right in front of the area they dive from. It was $145Peso per person for lunch and the show. Don't remember paying for anything but the food last time I was here. The final diver dives from the highest rock after praying at a little altar on top of the rock. Spectacular. Also during the time we were wating for the divers we were entertained by strolling musicians. They were excellent!
After making that drive into town The Driver said he would never drive in Acapulco again, if we wanted to go any where else we would have to take a taxi or bus. The traffic was insane and the road into town was a disaster - trash, wrecked and junked cars and falling down buildings every where you looked. We stayed at the campground Sunday and left early Monday heading towards Mexico City.
For pictures of Zihuatanejo Click Here
Pictures from Acapulco - Click Here