15 November, 2020

I can now cross off one trip down the Pacific Coast of México! I started in Mazatlán, so I still have the coastal cities in Baja California and Baja California Sur plus those along the Sea of Cortez. I also didn’t hit Huatulco or Salina Cruz, so I didn’t go all the way to the southern border. I’ll leave those for another adventure!

Started the trip in Mazatlán and rode a bus to Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been going to Puerto Vallarta for 10 years now, so I didn’t take too many pictures. And this trip I played it lazy and stayed around the hotel. I own a timeshare week at the Lindo Mar, which is in Conchas Chinas – South of Puerto Vallarta proper. Just a few minute cab ride to get to town, but far enough out to enjoy a little peace and quiet. They also have deadly margaritas which they offer at half off during their two daily happy hours! It was a nice relaxing week.

The week came to a close all too quickly, and I was off on another bus to Manzanillo! This was my first time in Manzanillo and I found it to be very nice. Quiet, not a lot of tourists, and VERY dusty. I’m talking REALLY dusty. Not swirling dust devils in the streets, but the kind that gets under doors and windows and keeps you just a little gritty all the time. And all through this trip, the weather hovered between 80 f. and 90 f., with a ‘feels like’ of 10 degrees more. October/November is supposed to be the time of year the coast cools down. Someone forgot to flip the switch this year! Manzanillo was a nice area, but I think I may not have found the nice beaches. I did have some really good food though! Would I go back? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be first on my list.

Hopped on another bus and made my way to Zihuatanejo. I had never been there either – but here I would go back to. Very pretty. Big enough for some nice restaurants, small enough to be quaint. I think they get too many tourists though because the prices were Puerto Vallarta high. Reasonable if you’re used to the USA/Canada, but not really if you live in Mazatlán. Still, it is very pretty here and there are always lower cost options if you wander from the tourist areas. I did a little, but not much. I did do a little happy dance when I found a restaurant that specialized in chamorros (pork knuckle)!

And now it’s time for … another bus! I’ll say that the long haul buses in México are typically very nice. More room than an airplane, and considerably less expensive. If you have an INAPAM/INSEN card, you can routinely get a half price ticket too. The thing to watch for is the air conditioning. Some bus drivers like to blast it – so I always bring a blanket with me and am sure to wear jeans and a warm shirt.

Acapulco is the next stop, and has replaced Puerto Vallarta as my favorite vacation destination. Don’t get me wrong, Puerto Vallarta is a great place to vacation – but Acapulco has the mystique of the 50’s / 60’s jet setters and Rat Pack gang. Plus there are some amazing beaches (Barra de Coyuca), as well as the cliff divers I remember seeing featured on the 1968 Olympics and subsequent Wide World of Sports intros. I have a timeshare in South Lake Tahoe where I get a week every other year – and if I trade it for Acapulco, I can get a week EVERY year. That works for me! I’ve been to Acapulco twice now, and stayed both times at the Playa Suites. Directly across the street is a really good (price and quality) taco place that has four tasty tacos al pastor con queso for 65 pesos. Not bad for a prime tourist area spot! I noticed this year that they’ve banned the horses for the horse drawn carriages. Instead, they have these little ATV looking things pulling them. Not nearly as fun, but then the horses aren’t working on hot streets.

I’ve wanted to visit Puerto Escondido for a while now. I like surfing, and this is one spot in México famous for it. Well, I should say I like to watch surfing! My balance isn’t what it was, and when it was what it was, it wasn’t all that good! Still fun to watch, and I realized that everyone is telling the truth when they say Oaxaca has the best food in México. Don’t tell Mazatlán! Even the little places on the unpaved roads had amazing food! And not out of line price-wise. There were some palapas on the beach that charged $300 pesos (~$15 usd) to sit at, but it applied to food and drink. Not bad for four hours of wave watching, cerveza drinking, and botana consumption! This was the only leg of my trip I grabbed a plane, and ONLY because the bus line bumped my departure time forward by 12 hours. I would have arrived at 1 am, missed out on an evening in town, and then had to sit and wait for my hostel to open. No thanks. I popped for the flight!

At the end of my stay I hopped on a plane and flew to Seattle, with a 5 hour stop in Guadalajara. I learned a good lesson there – do not relax in the waiting area and nap for a few minutes if you have left items on a nearby seat – even if there’s no one around! I’d purchased a couple of things in the airport, and sat the bag and my baseball cap on a seat. When I looked around I saw a charging station just a few seats away, moved over to it with my backpack (but not the bag/cap), then closed my eyes for a moment and when I woke up, the cap and bag were gone! I really didn’t mean to nap, but it’d been a long day. Security got involved, and then a woman who had been sitting nearby told the guard that she saw the cleaning crew throw my stuff in the garbage! Just as my flight was boarding, another security guard ran up with my bag and a now wet cap (I didn’t ask, but one of the first things I did when I got to Seattle was wash it)!

I think I counted my trip as 26 days. It certainly feels like I’ve been away from Mazatlán for at least that! Hopefully I can take care of winterizing the house in Seattle and doing a few errands and get back home soon!

And before I end, I will address the Covid-19 situation as I saw it. First, the buses weren’t full, and everyone was wearing their masks. While I’m sure they don’t have hepa filters like the airlines say they do, I felt it was pretty low risk. Every bus terminal had someone taking temperatures and sanitizer gel was widely available. Same at the airports – but they went one step further and required you log into a government health website and answer a questionnaire. The website for one of the bus companies said they wanted that too – but then never asked for the proof.

All of the people working in the restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. were wearing masks. In Mazatlán, Zihuatanejo, and Manzanillo between 50 and 60 percent of the tourists and locals out and about were wearing masks properly and social distancing. In Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido I’d say MAYBE 10 percent were. It was the reason I stayed at my timeshare in Puerto Vallarta most of the time. Surprisingly, in Acapulco at least 90 percent were doing the right thing! I saw a handful of people without masks – otherwise, if they weren’t eating/drinking or swimming – they had masks, and were wearing them properly! Just reinforced my decision to move Acapulco up to ‘favorite’ vacation spot!

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming! I’m quarantining myself for 2 weeks. Made one quick run to the grocery store, and to pick up license tabs for my car … but I have the bulk of the groceries being delivered next week, and don’t plan on going anywhere. Honestly, I can use the vacation from the vacation!

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