Zihuatanejo and Sailfest

January - February 2009

Parade of Boats at Sailfest in Zihuatananejo Bay

We got to "Z-what" the night before Obama’s inauguration thinking it was scheduled for the following evening. In the morning we found out we had 30 minutes to make the ceremony. The dinghy was inflated in record time so we could get to a bar ashore to watch history being made. It's wonderful to have a president who can form complete sentences, both in speech and writing, but the entertainment factor will be hard to beat. One farewell Bushism: "I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system."—Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008 from The Complete Bushisms.

Our primary reason for coming to Zihuatanejo was to meet Erin's parents during their week at a hotel here. The timing worked out extremely well, because the next week was Sailfest, a week of fundraising activities for local schools. So we got to both see family and do a little volunteer work (but mostly we just stuffed out faces at barbecues and chili cook-offs and listened to live music). Working the sales desk, we experimented with different marketing techniques to promote baseball caps and T-shirts. Offering shots of tequila probably would have worked best. Erin's mom wanted to know why she wasn't offered tequila when buying jewelry as happened to her in Cancun. The store owner replied, "They do that to get you drunk so you buy more. You can go to Carlos down the street." We didn't.

On parade day, Erin helped tourists (some of them "supersized") into dinghies and Paul was one of the designated dinghy drivers. The tourists paid to sail a few hours on cruisers' boats. Some brought coolers full of beer. We suffered only one casualty--a guy who did a full face plant on his way out of the dinghy--too many beers. He needed to cool off anyway. This year Sailfest raised about $30K for local schools. That's before matching.

Erin enjoyed spending quality time with her parents at their boutique Playa Ropa hotel. There was even a roll-out trundle bed--no couch! With their visit, Sailfest activities, two great birthday dinners, and a professional beach-side massage, it was like having a birthday every day for two weeks.

As always, we knocked a few boat projects off the list, including installation of a squid-blocking screen over our cockpit drains. On the first night of our six-day passage from La Paz to Zihuatanejo, a sucking sound led me to the cockpit. A squid was struggling to propel itself forward in the cockpit drain. Frozen in the bright circle of my flashlight, it displayed a kaleidoscope of colors, then surged forward in fright, cramming itself underneath the cockpit grate. That can lead to a nasty smell.

Zihuatanejo's original name, "Cihuatlán", means "place of women". It is thought to have been a matriarchal society--women rule! Luckily for the local Indians, for years the Spaniards found little of interest here to colonize. A scout sent by conquistador Hernán Cortés came back with the report that the place was nothing great. The Spanish added the demeaning suffix "nejo" to Cihuatlán, hence "Zihuatanejo". For years "Z-what" was part of an immense coconut plantation, until that was taken over and divided into parcels after the Revolution. Zihuatanejo became a sleepy fishing village, until its more glitzy neighbor Ixtapa was born in the 1970's, conceived and developed by the Mexican government just like Cancun. Despite Ixtapa’s proximity about 4 miles away over a hill, Zihuatanejo has retained some of its original flavour.

Time spent with new friends is always too short. Cruisers are not a static bunch. The anchorage is emptying out, and we'll soon follow, sailing south toward the Galapagos.

We were fortunate to be in town for Sailfest, a week of fundraising activities for local schools

The Sailfest Pursuit Race in Zihuatanejo Bay

Sailfest Street Fair

Paul drives a dinghy full of tourists (and I do mean full) and Erin helps load 'em up on their way to a Parade boat

Tug of War at Sailfest Kids' Beach Day

Sailfest Kids' Beach Day.
Many of these kids had never seen the ocean before, but only live a few miles away.

Obviously, nobody had a good time

Jimi Mamou performs old time rock 'n' roll at a Sailfest benefit concert

Bridge over creek at Playa Madera

Croc lounging near a restaurant in the mangroves (photo taken by Erin's dad, Dr. Huffman)

Paul drying basil in the cockpit, getting ready to make a big abtch of pesto. He may be wishing it were a different leafy plant.

Erin's birthday dinner hillside at Il Mare (photo taken by Erin's dad)

Poolside at Erin's parents' hotel at Playa Ropa
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