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For me, Zihuatenejo is synonymous with the Shawshank Redemption. This is where the main character settled after his escape from the Mansfield Penitentiary, which is where they filmed parts of the movie, so that is also synonymous to Shawshank Redemption. Mansfield OH and Zihuatenejo must be the same place then.
We loved this port and would definitely make an effort to return. Laid back, not overly commercial and still with some small town charm, Zihuatenejo is the type of place that we could spend more time in. We would have preferred leaving after midnight here rather than in Acapulco. Our plan was to visit the small archaeological museum and the mercado and to simply wander around town.
This is a tender port, although we hear rumors that there is a possibility of building a pier. We walked right onto the tender, which surprised us because we expected there to be a long line. Obviously, we timed our departure just right, knowing that those on the shore excursions would be lining up to be the first off the ship.
Right near the tender dock is a small area with vendors. The contrast between these folks and those in Acapulco pleased us. Nobody followed us, constantly harassing us to take a taxi or a tour. Some of the waiters at the small restaurants along the way stood near the walkway asking if we wanted something to eat in their establishments, but this was all done in a nonchalant, non-threatening manner.
We walked along the palm-lined beach until we stumbled upon the tiny museum and spent a few minutes there. We got directions to the mercado, but continued our walk on the beach until we decided we should cut back into town. On the way to the mercado we spotted a store where we bought Rancheritos and some natural vanilla. Just across the road was an internet cafe, so we popped in to check email. Zihuatenejo isn’t too large, so we quickly reached the mercado, which seemed quite large for such a small town. I don’t know what I find so intriguing about the butcher stands or other vendors in the mercado, but I have some odd affinity to these. It would be so nice to buy a bunch of the nice produce in these mercados and take it home. We never see such nice limes or any other produce for that matter in our local supermarkets.
After leaving the municipal mercado, we went to the artisan/tourist mercado and looked around for a few minutes, shocked by the prices of goods. We have been spoiled by the south of Mexico where things cost quite a bit less.
When you tender from a ship, you will often find that those with booked shore excursions have preference. Some ships pass out cards for the tender according to the time of their booked excursion, giving independent types a later tender time. To avoid the rush and waiting in line, give the shore excursion people a few minutes to get off the ship. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast or go on deck to enjoy the view.
Not far from the pier, we found Rick’s Bar, where we grabbed a beer, margarita and chips with pico de gallo, which was a far cry from that stuff served on the ship in Endless Summer. It really isn’t hard to make pico de gallo and we couldn’t figure out why the ship did such a poor job of it. Maybe what they served was some other salsa. We couldn’t tell, but whatever it was, it sure wasn’t Mexican.
The owner of Rick’s told us about a dark beer called Noche Buena that is only served around Christmastime. His distributor hadn’t yet delivered any to him yet, but he told us that we could find some at the local store, which we did immediately after leaving. It’s funny to see Bud Light priced higher than local beers because it’s an import after all. He said that some of the Bud Light connoisseurs complain that it costs more than Mexican beers. Now those Bud drinkers can claim to drink only imported beer – at least when they are in Mexico.
Our time in Zihuatenejo passed too quickly by. Does Zihuatenego have a Spanish language school? Was the Shawshank guy still living there and running a bar?