Wood Working: Seatless in Ixtapa: Hey, you can go home againAbout 30 years ago, Ruth and I made our first trip to Mexico. We bought a package from Sun Country Tours and took off for Mexico’s newest resort location, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.
By: Dave Wood, columnist, River Falls Journal
About 30 years ago, Ruth and I made our first trip to Mexico. We bought a package from Sun Country Tours and took off for Mexico’s newest resort location, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.
And we’ve never been back until last month.
We had never been back because our first trip wasn’t exactly a bed of margaritas.
We flew into the little airport outside the fishing village of Zihuatanejo. Some kids threw our luggage in a dump truck, showed us to a school bus and we were off down a dusty two-lane road to the beautiful beach at Ixtapa, most recently featured in a movie called “The Shawshank Redemption.”
Back then there were four hotels and one under construction. Our hotel was brand new, but lacked a toilet seat.
Across the dusty street was a loudspeaker that blared Gene Autry singing, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” 24 hours a day.
Next door a honeymoon couple from Willmar said they didn’t have a toilet seat either. (The next day, workmen came and replaced their whole toilet, but still no seat. We got our seat a few days later.)
We were exhausted, decided to take dinner right at the hotel and so reserved a place at the nightly seafood buffet.
What a meal. Everything fresh, shrimp the size of lobster tails, scallop seviche, whole roasted giant fish, all beautifully arranged on a long table outside.
The repast was so good, we reserved for the following night.
On the morrow we spent a day at the beautiful beach with the magnificent Pacific splashing at our toes.
Oops! Time for dinner. We retired to the toilet seatless hotel to shower. I happened to look out the window and what should I see but the waiters, mostly taken from the rural area surrounding Ixtapa.
What were they doing? They were fogging our buffet with some noxious chemical that killed bugs on contact.
We canceled our reservation and spent the rest of the vacation eating across the street in a sweet little cantina, where the help ate after hours.
Yes, yes, the steaks were tough as shoe leather and I found bugs in my bread, but there was no fogging at that little place.
So the week passed quickly. We loved the beach, despite a disturbing number of federales patrolling it with ouzies.
We hated “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and even passed out a petition to the hotel management to have it stopped.
They replied that they thought Americanos would like that music, Gene being an American, etc., etc. And so Gene sang on.
On our return to the United States, I wrote a story about the wonderful beach, the fogging, the federales, the bugs, and Gene Autry. Sun Country Airlines, a big advertiser back then, was not a bit happy with my story, nor was Star Tribune management.
And then management received a letter from the widow of a Star Tribune executive, who had just returned from Ixtapa.
She and her boyfriend had stayed at our hotel. They had a toilet seat, but were still peeved because in the middle of the afternoon, a cadre of federales showed up in the lobby and sprayed it with machine gun fire, killing a guest, wounding the widow’s boyfriend, but missing the drug runners.
That got me off the hook.
But we never went back to Ixtapa until last month. We just had to get back to that beach.
We landed at the spiffy big airport outside Z-town; took a sleek new cab down a four-lane highway to Ixtapa and were blown away at what we saw: Thirty-five hotels, condos for sale, restaurants everywhere and greenery, watered almost every day by city employees in big pumping trucks.
Our hotel, the Dorado, was immaculate; the service stunningly good.
So we lolled at the pool everyday, were put to sleep by the waves crashing on the beach. There was even a guy there from Willmar. And his toilet had a seat.
We ate almost every meal right at our hotel — no bugs in the bread. Ruth got her fill of red snapper in garlic sauce and I ate steaks to die for.
Gene Autry was nowhere in evidence, but the restaurant had a live combo every night.
Of course the Dorado didn’t forget we were Americans and when we awakened on March 17, we were enveloped in green: Green balloons, green seviche and green margaritas (which are supposed to be green).
The weather was perfect and so Ruth was surprised on our last morning when she took coffee on our balcony.
Down the beach, a huge cloud appeared in front of the Presidente Hotel. And it headed toward us. The waiters were out there, fogging the beach.
“Lots of bugs on the beach,” explained our desk clerk.
I guess you can go home again.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 426-9554.