I say this figuratively. But, sometimes you need to put down the map or guidebook and embrace a spirit of adventure to truly capture the essence of your destination. It happened to us.
Most people I talk to have never heard of Zihuatanejo. At least, they think they haven’t. But, Zihuatanejo is the place Red finally meets up with Andy working on his boat on a quiet beach in the final scene of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. Ah Ha! Now you remember.
My husband and I traveled to this somewhat remote destination and realized that this was truly a “relax like you mean it” getaway. Zihuatanejo or Zihua (zee wah) as the locals call it is located in the Mexican Riviera between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. Sheltered by a stunningly picturesque bay and ringed by lush, green mountains, Zihau has successfully managed to remain a quaint, authentic fishing village. English is not widely spoken there so we buffed up on our basic Spanish. Fortunately, all we really needed to do was try. For the locals will gladly work with you to bridge the language barrier.
Zihautanejo is not as easy to get to as some of the more popular Mexican destinations. We realized this after we booked our one week villa stay. Much to our chagrin, we discovered most airlines do not have daily flights here. Unable to change our existing reservation, we had an initial panic attack. A great room with no way to get there is not a good thing. But, we re-grouped, adding two additional days at Brisas del Mar, an enchanting Mexican beauty located on Playa Madiera. Gracefully terracing the lush cliffside overlooking the beach, its stunning views, Talavera-tiled staircases and thatched roof patios were an unexpected delight. The magic of Brisas del Mar set the tone for a genuine, tropical Mexican experience.
Brisas del Mar
Later we settled into Club Intrawest for our “long stay”, which for us American working class stiffs is one week! Situated on Playa la Ropa, one of the best beaches in Zihua, this resort was equally impressive in its own unique way. But, this isn’t a story about resorts. It is a story about adventure and unexpected gifts. And the first gift was a 70-some year old man with a deep bronze tan, a sparkle in his eyes and a daunting smile. His name was Moses.
During my first solo stroll along Playa la Ropa’s soft, white sandy beach, I was quickly surrounded by several slick, handsome “hawkers” with their persistent offers of boat trips, sailing and fishing excursions. I politely dismissed their generous deals. Zihautanejo was new and foreign to us so it seemed the safest bet to stick with concierge recommendations. Then, I met Moses. He proudly carried a tattered notebook filled with faded pictures, testimonials and promises of unforgettable excursions to places tour guides did not frequent. His zest for life, excitement about sharing the love of his beautiful, native land and promise of incredible adventures had me from hello! I already knew before I walked back with him to our stretch of beach to meet my husband that I was “in”. Though I’d never met the man before, I knew in my gut, that I could not afford to pass up this opportunity. And were my instincts ever right.