A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: KathyO

Three weeks from right now....

we'll again be awestruck by the warmth and charm of the town and the view of Zihuatanejo Bay from our balcony.

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It's hard to believe it's only three weeks away. So much to do, so little time... As my grandmother would say, "Well, you better get started, then." Yes, I know! The perils of procrastination. Some friends have agreed to tend to the greenhouse though, so at least that's done. This will be the first trip started in the middle of the season, after a few hundred seeds have been sown. If everything isn't dead when we get home, I'll be very happy. :-)

Posted by KathyO 13:20 Comments (0)

Things I like about Zihuatanejo

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Reptiles ~ Iguana

Iguana


the ocean ~ La Barra de Patosi

La Barra de Patosi


creative food ~ La Gula Entree

La Gula Entree


unusual occurances like this ~ Z - Cop Fishing in the Bay

Z - Cop Fishing in the Bay

Posted by KathyO 08:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Playa Las Gatas, 2010

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Our Las Gatas trip was most enjoyable this year. First, we only went once which is unusual, and we didn't walk because we wanted to get there early. We were among the first to arrive.
New Dock at Las Gatas

New Dock at Las Gatas


Walkway to Las Gatas

Walkway to Las Gatas


We picked our spot at Arnoldo's,Arnoldo's Beachfront

Arnoldo's Beachfront

and being the first guests we had a table in the seating area under the palapa roof, a table and chairs with an umbrella on the sand, and two of the coveted reclining chairs nearest the water... Our waiter, Chay, didn't ask for $$ to reserve the chairs, etc., even after we ordered only diet cokes and told him we didn't know how long we'd stay. That was nice. I checked out the snorkel gear and it looked good. We spread our stuff around and took off for a walk down the beach to Owens and back.

Beach

Beach

P3026228

P3026228

There are always a couple of boats parked in this spot near owens.
Las Gatas Boats

Las Gatas Boats

Three nice women from Canada had their chairs out in the water and I offered to take their picture... Later, I decided I wanted one of me so I gave Dan the camera. Here I am basking in the glory of the Pacific on Playa Las Gatas.
Kathy at Las Gatas

Kathy at Las Gatas

There is beautiful scenery from this side of the bay that can only be seen by boat or a really good telephoto lens.
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P3026220

Some views in Zihuatanejo remind me of places we saw in France. These are the cheap seats... :-)
Cliff Side Hotels

Cliff Side Hotels

This sweet little girl looked at Dan and said, "Mi Papa, mi Papa!" while pointing at our boat driver! Precious!P3026275.jpgP3026279

P3026279

We did snorkel here, and that was reason for getting there early... to get in the water during the calmest part of the day before waves and people stir things up. It paid off because I saw lots of colorful fish and a few rays on the ocean floor, something I've never seen before. I don't know yet the difference between a ray and a stingray so I kept my distance! After snorkeling we had lunch, and for the first time I tried the ubiquitous shrimp tacos... We really didn't know what these were, and I was pleasantly surprised. They're like egg rolls which I really like.
Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

Posted by KathyO 21:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

We're Here!

Z-Scenes 2010

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Flying into Zihuatanejo

Flying into Zihuatanejo

We're here, having a great time as always. The weather is beautiful and everything is so much greener due to recent rains. :-) Many flowers are in full bloom... Neighborhood Walk - 2010

Neighborhood Walk - 2010

and there are some nice updates to the hotel.
Spa Rooms at the Irma

Spa Rooms at the Irma


Steps

Steps

We've been to the supermercado ~ (like a Walmart)
At the Grocery Store

At the Grocery Store

and through the real market.
Fish at the Mercado

Fish at the Mercado


Cat at the Mercado!

Cat at the Mercado!

~ and through town ~Shops_in_Town.jpgStreet_Downtown.jpgVolleyball.jpg

We walked the beach ~ From_Las_Gatas_Beach.jpgWalking_LaRopa.jpgChild_on_La_Ropa.jpg
and on Sunday, stopped at a sports bar on Playa La Ropa to watch the US play Canada for the olympic gold medal. We were vastly outnumbered by the Canadians, who even brought flags and wore hats for the occasion. Too bad we lost, but at least it went into overtime. How exciting!!

Tied!!

Tied!!

Canadians

Canadians

Our first night we met our friend Hector at the town beach. He offered to take a photo of me holding this fish. It was heavy!
Kathy and Mahi Mahi

Kathy and Mahi Mahi

A scene from a small, boutique hotel we visited just up the street
Tentaciones_Hotel.jpg

and just down the street, the sweet lady who faithfully runs this little store.
Neighborhood Convenience Store

Neighborhood Convenience Store

And here's a sign in town... what must they think of us Estadounidenses!? :-)
Amusing Advertising

Amusing Advertising

All is well in Zihuatanejo! Adios Amigos.

Posted by KathyO 12:28 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Las Gatas Beach

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Most people take a water taxi from the town pier to get to this beach. The price hasn't changed much in ten years... around $3.00 USD round trip. What a deal! Usually we walk to Las Gatas over a rocky path past La Ropa. One needs good sturdy soles for this walk...
Z - Dan on the Walk to Las Gatas

Z - Dan on the Walk to Las Gatas

Z - The Las Gatas Walk

Z - The Las Gatas Walk

Z - La Gatas Beach during Mexican Holiday

Z - La Gatas Beach during Mexican Holiday

Surprise Entertainment at Owens

Surprise Entertainment at Owens

We've visited this funky place -Owen's Las Gatas Beach Club- many times. If we plan on eventually finding a place for food or drinks, we'll always walk past every available stop to get to the the one at the end. That's how we first visited Owen's. It sits on a point at the end of the beach. Owen Lee himself is somewhat of a local celebrity, having scuba dived with Jacques Cousteau in his earlier years. His book "A prisoner in Paradise" chronicles the colorful history of his life and work in Zihuatanejo. It's a great read. Owen's is closed now, but we have lots of fond memories of the people we met there, including Owen, while just kicking back for an afternoon on the ocean.

View from Owens

View from Owens

Posted by KathyO 19:41 Archived in Mexico Tagged foot Comments (0)

Looking forward to La Ropa Beach

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Z - La Ropa Beach

Z - La Ropa Beach

I'm not sure how many hotels are on this beach, but they seem to be built into the hill or otherwise landscaped in a nice way so the scenery is pleasant along the walk. I guess I don't find high-rises on the beach to be interesting to look at.

La Casa Que Canta

La Casa Que Canta

The first hotel at the start of the beach ~ La Casa Que Canta ~ is truly beautiful. We've enjoyed dinner here a couple of times. The ambiance and the service are outstanding. Dan dropped a knife once and within a second a stealth waiter presented him with a new one. We thought we were completely alone... It was like, "Oh, thanks. (Where did you come from?) This is where the pool scene from the movie "When a man loves a woman" was shot. I remembered Meg Ryan in that scene, so of course we had to see the pool. The food was tasty, but for one of our guests, only if you like "Shrimp and Scallop." With all due respect to the chef, there should probably be more than one scallop, or the name should be changed. ;-)

Z - Dan on La Ropa 2

Z - Dan on La Ropa 2

Again, me with the camera. I'll have to remember to give it to Dan once in awhile. :-)

Z - Intrawest on La Ropa

Z - Intrawest on La Ropa

This is a relatively new development. I didn't want to like it at first ... I saw it being built and thought, nooooo!! But it's actually quite pretty.

Z - Kite on La Ropa

Z - Kite on La Ropa

If I were this couple I'd want this photo! That colorful kite was the original focus.

Z - Holiday on La Ropa

Z - Holiday on La Ropa

It was during our New Year's trip one year that we saw so many kids flying kites and playing on the beach. There's a different feeling in the area during Mexican holidays and I found it refreshing.

Posted by KathyO 05:34 Archived in Mexico Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Our Neighborhood in Zihuatanejo ~ Colonia Madera

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Zihuatanejo 2008 New Path Below Irma

Zihuatanejo 2008 New Path Below Irma

The fisherman's walkway has recently been extended to reach below our hotel. Here's Dan exploring the area. We're wondering if and when this walkway will be extended to cover the entire bay. It doesn't matter, though. There's always a way to get from A to B, regardless of a path. (Depends on the shoes.)

Z - Madera Neighborhood Walk

Z - Madera Neighborhood Walk

This is one of my favorite photos. Because I'm the one with the camera, I always end up with photos of the back of Dan walking toward something. In this photo we're on one of our daily walks through the neighborhood, and every time we pass this place, I absolutely marvel at these lush flowers with the "blue house" as the backdrop. I've since learned this is actually named "Casa Azul" (blue house), and it's for rent.

Z - Rufos Grill

Z - Rufos Grill

Here's Rufo's in '06. A review in a local publication "ADIP" or "Another Day in Paradise" described it this way back then: "It starts in the afternoon. First there is a small column of white smoke, then slowly the staccato sequence of little puffs turns into a fragrant stream of smoke signals, making mouths water for blocks around. It is hard to resist the call of this special mesquite wood fire, and of course, this is exactly Rodolfo Perez’ intention. Two years ago, he installed his large, wood-burning grill underneath an enormous amate tree at the corner of Calle Adelita and Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, and began turning this quiet Colonia Madera street corner into a charming garden restaurant called “Rufo’s.”

There have been upgrades since we first noticed this place on the corner just down the hill from our hotel, but it still retains it's charm and recent reviews have only gotten better. I'm excited to go there again. I think it will take us about three minutes on foot to get there if we leave from our hotel. I might have to time it this year.

Z - Madera Beach from MJ and Richies near Irma

Z - Madera Beach from MJ and Richies near Irma

MJ and Ritches a short distance from the Hotel Irma along the Paseo del Pescador. This is ground level at the beach visited by locals and a few seasoned Z-goers for it's laid back atmosphere and personal service. MJ & Richies is in a great spot on this beach, and according to reviews has great food.

Posted by KathyO 19:23 Archived in Mexico Tagged foot Comments (0)

Enjoying Zihuatanejo

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Fishing_with_Kenny.jpg
One year Dan and I went fishing with two women from Wisconsin that we'd met the day before on the municiple pier. We hired a guy named "Kenny." Hmm... how did Dan get the front seat? ;-) We had a good day, but I do prefer in-shore fishing. Once you get way out there, there's not much to look at but the water. Kenny's shirt was interesting to look at, though.

Z_-_Sailfish.jpg
It was exciting to land this sailfish initially, but our guide didn't release it so I was quite unnerved. I've since learned that this needs to be arranged in advance. Some guides release everything, others don't unless you require it.

Playa La Ropa near La Casa Que Canta

Playa La Ropa near La Casa Que Canta

Here's Dan at the beginning of our daily La Ropa walk. We set out from the Irma, walk up one short but treacherous hill and continue along the road past a few small cliff-top restaurants and hotels and then down to the beach on the small access road next to La Casa Que Canta.

Z - Parasailing on La Ropa

Z - Parasailing on La Ropa


I love watching the parasailers, but I'm always relieved when they land. Once Dan and I were at a beach restaurant watching the ascent by one such thrillseeker, while three guys next to us were snickering about about all the parasailing "mishaps" they'd seen on La Ropa over the years. "Oh, yeah, and remember the guy who got slammed into the side of ..." and "Yeah, and that time the rope broke..." etc. Still, I imagine how great it must feel to be soaring through the air... (Don't worry Mom, I'll just watch.)

Dan Snorkeling at Manzanillo Beach

Dan Snorkeling at Manzanillo Beach

Dan and the Blowfish

Dan and the Blowfish

We snorkel with Hector Olea who takes us on his panga around the bay to a remote beach called Playa Manzanillo. He's incredibly accommodating and skilled, too. He finds and guides us to the most interesting under water life, like this cartoon-like blowfish.Z - Blowfish

Z - Blowfish

Here's one we found on the rocks near Las Gatas. Hopefully this sweet little creature didn't suffer. Can something be creepy and cute at the same time?

In the pool at the Irma

In the pool at the Irma

There are two pools at the Irma--one is freshwater, one is saltwater. Usually we hit the pool after a day of hiking, late in the afternoon.

Posted by KathyO 19:17 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

More on the Hotel Irma

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The redeeming qualities about this hotel are the view and the price for that view. Where it falls short for some people is in its amenities. Despite the incredible view, the rooms are still very basic. But for those of us who like being in the middle of everything which means we can walk everywhere with ease -- to downtown where the action is and to the beaches on the other side -- it's perfect. For a few more dollars we could immerse ourselves in luxury -- there are some very upscale choices at this destination -- and maybe we'll spring for that some day. For now, I'm perfectly content at the Irma.
The Hotel Irma from the beach below
Z - Irma from Madera

Z - Irma from Madera


A view from our room at the Irma
Z_-_Madera..he_Irma.jpg
Kayakers below our room
Z_-_Kayake..he_Irma.jpg
Z_-_Dan_on..ma_Deck.jpg

Posted by KathyO 17:03 Archived in Mexico Tagged lodging Comments (0)

A charming and fateful article about Zihuatanejo

Eleven years ago we planned our first trip south of the border this way:


Dan: Should we go to Mexico?
Kathy: Really? I'd love to, but I'm not sure we can afford it.
Dan: No, I think we can do it. Here, look at these brochures. It's not that bad.
Kathy: Oh, wow, yeah, you're right! This would be soooo cool
!

Since I knew very little about Mexico or any of these destinations-- Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Playa del Carmen, etc.-- I had no idea where to begin. So I sorted by price and started with the least expensive trip. A lot has changed since then, but at that time, of the hundreds of options the Hotel Irma in Zihuatanejo seemed to be at the bottom (or top) of the list... depending on one's perspective.

I said to Dan, Yeah, we'll probably end up at the Hotel Irma in this strange place Zi-whatever. It's not even on the beach :-\. I said that because I knew we shouldn't spend a lot of money. I guess I'm a bit frugal, but I was also thinking maybe we should wait until we could do it "right." You know, sometimes the "cheapest" thing can be worse than nothing...

Then I found this article and I was so completely enchanted. I called Dan and said, I know where we're going! I can't wait! Let's gooooo!!! I didn't know then that booking on-line was an option, so we went to a travel agency. The agent, when hearing of our plans, blasted the location and suggested the "Qualton Club" in Ixtapa instead. She went all out describing how miserable we'd be at Zihuatanejo. We left there, and Dan was crestfallen. I told him, "No. We're going to Zihuatanejo. Sorry, but I know we're going to love it! Please trust me." And we went. Here's the article that drew me in (you had me at the title :-) and after a number of visits (sans any of the issues cited here), we've never looked back.

March 5, 1998
Zihuatanejo: Slice of charming, laid-back and 'real' Mexico

By M.L. LYKE
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico -- Days wake up slowly in this laid-back fishing village.

Roosters crow half-heartedly and scrawny beggar dogs yawn beneath cracked adobe walls.

Down time-worn cobblestone streets, locals linger over huevos rancheros and fresh mango juice at outdoor cafes, and shopkeepers leisurely sweep sidewalks before putting out hammocks and serapes in vivid yellows, purples and reds.

Backed up against the jungled foothills of the Sierra Madres, it's a slice of Old Mexico, unhurried and humbly charming.

And for cost-conscious travelers, it's a slice of affordable paradise.

Clean, comfortable rooms can go for as little as $20 in this town of 40,000, set on a tranquil milewide bay with buildings stair-stepping up the cliffs.

A mere five miles away in the popular tourist town of Ixtapa, a luxury high-rise resort developed by Mexican entrepreneurs in the '70s, rooms can average $100 to $150. The stunning Hotel Westin Brisas Ixtapa charges $200 and up.

A cerveza at the upscale Ixtapa hotels can cost 25 pesos -- about $3 U.S.. The same bottle of beer costs less than half that in most Zihuatanejo restaurants -- but it won't be served in a galvanized bucket with ice, next to a pool with a swim-up bar, a restaurant with an American menu and a TV hooked up to ESPN via satellite.

That's Ixtapa, the New Mexico.

"It's not the real Mexico," one earnest taxi driver warned us sternly.

We wanted to go Mexican, and we wanted to go cheap. And despite a sprinkling of high-end hotels, including the architecturally exquisite La Casa Que Canta, we had dozens of budget to moderate hotels to choose from.

We picked Zihuatanejo's Hotel Irma, a favorite of Mexican tourists. The double room cost us approximately $40 a night, and the view from it was sweeping -- from the big blue waters of the Pacific to the downtown docks where sport-fishing boats daily bring in sailfish and black marlin.

It was those fish that led mano-a-mano trophy fishers such as Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway to this sleepy village decades ago, long before highways connected it to Acapulco and a municipal airport was built a short hop from downtown.

The Hotel Irma is no Westin. Despite two swimming pools on the terrace, linen tablecloths, hibiscus strewn across fresh-made beds and bougainvillea tumbling over private lanais, it isn't for the fussy. On our visit, plumbing was problematic, paint peeled on outside walls, the air conditioner leaked and the small TVs offered strictly Spanish programming.

Constant remodeling meant pounding hammers every morning. And we didn't dare drink the tap water.

But the Irma is remarkably clean, its staff exceptionally warm and friendly and the service prompt. Every day, away from traffic jams, cell phones and urban stress, we eased into its funky grace.

Mornings were spent wandering streets downtown, a half-hour from our hotel along a waterfront walkway. Early risers caught swimmers free-diving for pearl oysters and fishermen launching their fiberglass pangas on the beach, some crossing themselves as they prayed for a bountiful catch of tuna, dorado or roosterfish.

We found everything in Zihuatanejo within walking distance -- the folk art galleries, the small archaeology museum and the Mercado de Artesanias, a crafts market with fine goods from across Mexico. There we bargained for intricately designed Michoacan lacquerware, colorful Guerrero masks -- some frighteningly grotesque -- and everywhere, fine Taxco silver, stamped and priced by the ounce, at about a dollar per gram.

Afternoons, we headed to nearby sandy beaches, parking for the day beneath the thatched palapas of seaside restaurants. Attentive waiters served our every whim, bringing platters of fresh-caught fish, ceviche, delicious camarones al ajo -- shrimp garnished with toasted garlic.

We swam and snorkeled in the 80-degree water, played travel Scrabble, sipped cerveza and swung lazily in cotton hammocks, periodically serenaded by strolling mariachis or visited by Mayan peddlers with strings of beads, aloe cream and squash-stuffed pastries to sell.

One young girl, a clever little peddler who seemed to be everywhere at once, turned a heart-wrenching pout on tightwad gringos. We called her "Cry Baby."

A typical indolent afternoon under a palapa might cost us $10each.

Our favorite beaches were at Isla Ixtapa, a small lovingly preserved island reached by a $2 panga trip from docks just north of Ixtapa. A close second was the beautiful Playa las Gatas at the far reach of Zihuatanejo Bay. This "cat beach," named for small, whiskered nurse sharks that once inhabited its placid waters, is a quick boat trip from the downtown pier.

Just over the hill is Playa la Ropa, "the clothes beach," a milelong crescent of yellow-white sand that got its name when a 16th-century Chinese galleon full of fine silks was scuttled by the buccaneers who once called Zihuatanejo home.

In the heat of the day, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., the village closes up for siesta and lunchtime. But as the evening cools off, the action heats up. "Zihuatanejenses," locals say, love a good time.

And they're not talking Ixtapa disco.

We got a taste of local action our last night in town, catching a $2 taxi to town in search of spicy chiles rellenos and fish molé and margaritas grandes in salted glasses as wide as a human head.

In the streets, young villagers jammed into trucks, laughing and waving and singing, with stacks of speakers blasting Mexican rock 'n' roll. The pretty black-haired young women had very red lips and very tight purple dresses.

Lost in the simple magic of the evening, we followed the crowds to the Plaza de Armas town square on the waterfront. There, a young woman with a wireless microphone sang plaintive Mexican opera under the stars.for a crowd of a hundred villagers. She was a sidewalk drama queen, bent beseechingly on her knees.

The crowd hooted its appreciation, and we smiled.

This, we decided must be the real Mexico our guide had told us about.

We were only five miles from Ixtapa, but we could have been 500.

The (almost ;-) infinity pool at the Hotel Irma
Z - Irma Pool 2

Z - Irma Pool 2

Me at the Hotel Irma
At the Hotel Irma

At the Hotel Irma

Posted by KathyO 17:07 Archived in Mexico Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

Ixtapa Island

a lovely place (depending on who you ask)

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I like this island very much. Dan is indifferent to it and I haven't figured out why. When we go to Zihuatanejo, he always jokes, "Oh, I can't wait to go to Ixtapa Island." But fortunately he appeases me and we usually go... From Zihuatanejo, we take a taxi past Ixtapa to the Playa Linda pier. Here's the pier.Z - Pier to get to Ixtapa Island

Z - Pier to get to Ixtapa Island

Then we take a panga (a little boat) to the Island. The boat rides are, in and of themselves, often quite literally entertaining. Like on this day, when a guy with a guitar started performing...Z - Boat Ride from Ixtapa Island

Z - Boat Ride from Ixtapa Island

The boat drops us off here
Ixtapa Island Landing

Ixtapa Island Landing

And here's Playa Coral
Z - Snorkeling at Coral Beach, Ixtapa Island

Z - Snorkeling at Coral Beach, Ixtapa Island

I think the Island is a welcome retreat from Zihuatanejo. To me, it's beautiful and very enchanting. There are four beaches around the perimeter, but Playa Coral is where we park ourselves, because that's where the snorkeling is. Snorkeling here by Pacific coast standards is more than decent. Actually, it's the first place I ever snorkeled, so perhaps there's a bit of sentiment for me. I've since been to the Carribbean and of course there's no comparison. Nonetheless, I love to snorkel, can stay in the water for hours, and Ixtapa Island lets me do that.

Posted by KathyO 21:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Our destination from the air

Here's the view from the plane. I love this view and take a few photos every time. Here, La Ropa beach is the one you see most clearly, but there are actually four beaches surrounding the bay. We stay on Madera, but walk all the beaches every day.

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[i]Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo

Posted by KathyO 20:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Why we're going again this year...

instead of somewhere else.

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Well, our original plan was Nepal. Kathmandu, Mount Everest, Pokhara, Chitwan. I wanted to see Mount Everest and trek near the Annapurna range to see the Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail) peak. Dan wanted to play with, swim with, and ride the backs of the elephants on Nepal's version of a safari to see the the endangered one-horned Rhino in Chitwan National Park. We were both looking forward to experiencing the notorious, frenzied city of Kathmandu, and most importantly, spending time with our wonderful student friends who live there.

However, the Maoists in Nepal have been creating some strife lately. They've called for strikes on a moments notice. When this happens all transport is suspended and people are not allowed out of their homes, hotels or the airport, lest they be... shot... maimed? ...scolded? I'm still not sure about the consequences, but I guess people do comply. The strikes seem to last about three days. Sometimes there is violence in the streets of Kathmandu, usually following demonstrations that were intended to be peaceful.

Nonetheless, I still wanted to go. The odds continue to be overwhelmingly in favor of getting out alive, albeit with potential inconveniences. A cooler head (Dan) prevailed, and our long awaited Nepal trip is once again postponed. Dang.

Anyway, we've decided to go back to Zihuatanejo, which is actually a great consolation. 15 days and counting!

Posted by KathyO 21:07 Archived in Mexico Tagged preparation Comments (0)

The countdown begins!

16 days to the heel kick-up.

Posted by KathyO 17:23 Archived in Mexico Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

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