Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Zihuatanejo Wave Etiquette and Entertainment

Zihuatanejo Mexico
January 28 2020

It's all how you approach the waves. The water is warm and the bottom is sandy on Playa La Madera, so you don't have to worry about rocks. Ray and I both love the beach and love to swim in the ocean. Therefore, we have learned to respect the ocean and follow the rules to avoid being knocked over unexpectantly, even with the relatively small waves.

First, leave your eye glasses on your table or chair. Don't wear them in the water. In the last week four pairs of glasses, that I know of, have been swept off, never to be seen again.
Second, waves usually break in a sequence of seven, gradually getting larger and then diminishing. So, you wait for the biggest waves to break close to shore before you walk into the water and keep your eyes on where the next wave will break.
If you think it will break right where you are standing, turn sideways to the wave and brace your feet. This makes it much easier to avoid being knocked over.
If you want to swim, swim out past where the waves are likely to break and you can easily swim parallel to the shore, however long you want.
If you just want to stand and chat to your friends in the water, pick a spot just beyond the spot where most of the waves break.
Plus, face the waves while you chat and you won't be surprised by a breaking wave.
Finally, when you are ready to get out of the water, just reverse the order, waiting for the biggest waves to pass and making sure you are aware of where the next wave will break.
You will soon get the hang of wave avoidance and become another fan of Playa La Madera.

Our first extensive trip to Mexico in the winter of 2005-6 introduced us to the charms of Zihuatanejo. Our return to Zihua in 2014 cemented our enjoyment of this fishing village turned vacation destination and introduced us to Playa La Madera. We have returned every year since, gradually extending our stay. We have made several lasting friendships, enjoyed the increase of good restaurants and the local town market, all within a short walk from our current apartment.

This year, we arrived just one week ago, on January 21 2020 and we will stay until the end of February. It has become Old Home week, greeting the Kaplans, Ed and Neidra, Tom, Karen and Shelley, and several others who are already ensconced in Zihua.  The employees at our favourite beach restaurants, massage therapists and beach vendors have become old friends. We feel instantly at home.

Our friends, Suzanne and David Andrews, Barry Mair and Sheila MacDonald and Margaret and Jack Dunphy, who joined us in Portugal this fall, are here for the last two weeks of January. The Dunphys will be returning to Calgary at the end of the month while the others will move on to the much cooler temperatures of San Miguel de Allende.

We are making the most of our time with them, starting with dinner in one of their Ceiba Suite condos the first evening we arrived in Zihua.
Then came a visit to Santa Prisca for the Thursday afternoon Pozole lunch, with a glass of Mezcal for dessert, and entertainment from a four person band playing oldies but goodies.

Friday was dinner at El Manglar restaurant on Playa La Ropa, the next beach along the huge Zihuatanejo Bay. El Manglar is next to the home of five crocodiles, several iguanas and other wild creatures that live in protected creek sanctuary next to the hotel. The crocs were nice enough to pose for photos, but, since they get fed during the day, were not in the mood to have us for dessert. We timed our visit for sunset, which obligingly went down in a vibrant orange glow. More photo ops.

Monday evening twelve of us gathered at El Canto de Las Sirenas (the mermaid's song) to hear the owner of the club, Juan Luis Cobos, Mr Guitar in Zihua, play and enjoy his talented guests for the evening. We were in for a treat. There wasn't one group that we didn't enjoy. But a Scottish girl playing a fusion of classical, electronic and folk guitar got the biggest applause. She was fabulous.

And of course we are on the beach each day, swimming, going for a beach walk and enjoying lunch at the beach restaurants. That is just the start of our visit. We have more events already planned. It is proving to be a busy month.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Boom and Bust in PoMo

Puerto Morelos Dec 26 2019 to January 21 2020

Thank goodness the seaweed problem, especially the abundance of Sargasso seaweed has been solved, we thought. The town of Puerto Morelos has installed a boom about the entire length of the town from the famous leaning lighthouse north to the town limits to prevent the seaweed from reaching the beach. There were consultations with the advisors of the National Protected Marine Park which encompasses the ocean between the reef and the town beach. The boom was installed so that the marine life were still free to make their way under the boom to their usual feeding areas closer to the beach. We were happy as we could still swim from the shore with our snorkels and enjoy the abundance of fish grazing on the large coral rocks not far from shore. We did this every day, until the dreaded El Norte arrived from Canada, we are always told. Especially strong winds reconfigured the beach. In the space on one day, Instead of drop off shortly after entering the water, the beach sloped gently into the water. We didn’t lose any of the sandy beach, it was just a more gentle slope. The boom, preventing seaweed from reaching the beach, was no match for the winds. It broke in several places and most of it had to be towed away to the dump.

It still marginally affected our swim and snorkel routine. The stronger winds brought stronger currents which we managed to master for several days, until the winds kicked up the sand, obscuring our vision and preventing the fishing and snorkel boats from venturing out. We just took a few days off from swimming, but continued our favoured walks down the beach. Eventually, even more of the boom was carted off to the dump, but the result wasn’t as drastic as we feared. Yes, sea grasses still made its way to shore but in manageable levels. The town was still able to sweep up the worst and the beach was just as lovely as ever. Our only gripe was the continuation of high winds, preventing us from swimming out to our favourite rocks, looking for some exotic fish we had not noticed before. 

In the meantime, we enjoyed our 54th Anniversary dinner at Tanino’s Restaurant on December 30th when a talented duo provided us with Jazz and Blues music. 

We also renewed our friendship with beach friends we had met last year and enlarged our circle of friends, all of whom we hope to see again next year. There were Maurice and Susan from a small town north of Brandon, Manitoba, Paul and Anelia from Vancouver, Loyce and Gilles from Lac Megantic, Earl and Flo from Saskatchewan and many more.

I returned to Spanish lessons once more. My teacher, Maria Antonia, from Cuba had me working hard. 
A special treat was celebration at the school with Victor the director of the school, to celebrate La Dia de los Reyos Majos, January 6, the day when the Three Kings visit the baby Jesus.
My teacher, Maria, also invited her student to share the celebration in her home. (Maria is 3rd from the left, next to her mother, with whom she lives. Ray was happy to share in the celebration as well.
A special cake, in the shape of a crown, is prepared to share with family and friends. Good luck for the year is guaranteed for those lucky enough to find a small, plastic baby Jesus in their slice of cake. It was not my lucky year, but I am not worried.

I was glad when there was more than just me to struggle with remembering everything I had learned before but had inconveniently forgotten. If I chose to continue next year, I hope Marti, from Colorado and Daniel, from Montreal, are in my class. I left with advice to practice, listen and read Spanish.

Patti still has her yoga studio in Puerto Morelos and I thoroughly enjoyed my sessions. I will be sure to continue with Patti next year.