Travels from February 14 to March 1, 2001
For whatever reason, we hadn't expected to be very impressed with Acapulco. We were in for a big surprise!
The first signal that this stop might be special occurred on Nancy's watch, just before sunrise. Some motion caught her eye and she looked closely at the area to starboard to find what had attracted her attention. Suddenly she saw a brilliantly colored sailfish leap completely out of the water, its impressive dorsal fin back lighted by the colors of the dawn, just a boat-length away. It returned into the sea with a splash, not repeating its display again.
Nanjo carried us to Acapulco that morning with its engine. The trip had been only an overnight voyage, adding 110 nm to the 5000+nm we had traveled since leaving San Francisco. We sailed the first day, until sunset. However, we had little wind from that time until we passed the entrance to Acapulco and entered Bahia de Puerto Marques.
We chose to anchor off Puerto Marques because of the foul holding ground off the marinas in Acapulco. In addition, the depth was 50' or more there. Further, we heard that the port fees were excessive ($50 in, $50 out). While in Zihuat, we had heard one boat in Marques say that they didn't have to pay fees at all. We emailed another boat anchored in Marques and they said that the Port Capitan in Marques was unauthorized to charge the fees and directed skippers to check in with the Port Capitan in Acapulco. However, that boat, as well as several others, just didn't check in. That is what we chose to do. We became a "boat in transit to Huatulco, making an intermediate stop". However, "intermediate" turned into two weeks. In Mexico, that is mas o menas.
We anchored just off the old pier in front of the twin condo high-rises. This gave us easy access to a portion of the beach where we could land our dinghy and leave it safely. Then we could catch a bus to Acapulco a few blocks away. All this was important because Mary and Karl-Heinz (our daughter and her hubby) flew down from San Francisco, the same day as our arrival, to celebrate K-H's birthday and see us in our cruising lifestyle.
Transportation in Puerto Marques does include buses, but they are infrequent to Acapulco. There are many more buses to and from surrounding non-tourist towns to bring the locals to Marques, so they can enjoy the beaches there. About every half hour, a bus (3.5 pesos per person) to Acapulco would pass through. The next option was walking a mile to another bus stop near the main road between the airport and Acapulco, where buses stopped every few minutes. The final option was taking a cab.
There are more cabs in this area than I have seen in any city, anywhere. There are thousands! Most are old VW Bugs, a good number of compacts and finally, some full-sized sedans. The local residents, Mexican workers, are the typical fare in the Bugs and compacts. Because of the use of cabs by locals, it was obvious that there was a lot of room between what we were quoted as a fare and what the cabbies would accept. The usual fare, one-way, between Acapulco and Marques was 30 pesos, although we got one for 15 pesos. We also paid 100 pesos once, before we learned the ropes.
All in all, the transportation to/from Marques wasn't as easy as all the other ports we have visited. This might lead some to consider using the two marinas in Acapulco. There, however, boaters had to live with the lack of water at the dock. So pick your own inconvenience . . .
Acapulco is the most beautiful, picturesque port we've seen in Mexico, day or night. In addition you have easy access between the hotels and "real" Mexico. After meeting Mary and K-H at their hotel (Hyatt), we took them to lunch one block away from where tourists could be found, at one of many street cafés and vendors catering to Mexicans. Although we had never been there (we used the "if the locals eat there" approach), the shop filled beyond capacity and into the street just after we had taken a table. The food was excellent (Nancy and I went back for more of their chicken enchiladas after Mary's visit)! In addition, the prices were some of the best we have experienced. The full lunch was 20 pesos each, beer was 5 pesos (Negro was 9 pesos) and Cokes were 5 pesos.
Even on the main camino, prices at very nice restaurants were lower than what we paid at one of the beachfront palapas in Puerto Marques. Mary and Karl-Heinz found a wonderful tacos-pastor spot and a restaurant with the absolutely best tamales we've ever had in Mexico. We went there twice with them after they found it, and once more with Matt. The owner gave us memento ashtrays on that last visit.
The prices rose dramatically when you used the hotel restaurants or their beachfront services. On the day they came to see Nanjo in Pto. Marques, Karl-Heinz had all his beer on the beach that day for the same price he paid for a single beer in front of the Hyatt. In addition, it was hard to complete a sentence before you would have to "No, gracias" a beach vendor trying to sell something to us on the Hyatt's beach
Likewise, Internet cafés were typically twice the usual big-city price, although I found one that was 20 pesos per hour.
During the 5 days we had with Mary, we usually just lounged on the beach, although we did spend one day exploring along Avenida Aleman, the main camino. On Sunday, they took a cab over to Pto. Marques and had a sourdough pancake brunch with us aboard Nanjo. We spent the afternoon on the beach, just ashore, with the multitudes of Mexicans who come from as far away as Mexico City for their one-day off. It was quite an experience for us all.
After returning from their visit, Mary said that "seeing you in your element", now she can more easily picture us living on the boat in Mexico. Yet she didn't get to go to some of the street produce markets or carnicerias, as Matt did. But then, she did see more of the "real" dining places.
The day after Mary flew home, we visited the historic fort, Fuerto San Diego, which dates back to the beginning of the Spanish days, when Mexico was referred to as New Spain. It was through Acapulco that all products and trade passed on their way from New Spain, or the Philippines and the Orient, to Spain. This was the crown jewel of those days, the hub of all commerce, the dream of every buccaneer. The fort was there to protect against the Pichlingue, the pirate, the sea marauder. The tour of the well-preserved and rebuilt fort is worth the time. We spent over two hours. Each room has multi-media presentations of items from the fort or at least from that period; history presented in displays, as well as video presentations, first in Spanish and then English; explaining how the trade procedures changed and how vessels sailed between there and the Philippines; displays of representative and actual items traded. Our visit to the fort was a high light to our visit in Acapulco.
Matt, a friend of ours from San Francisco, came the next day. However, he stayed at the Mayan Palace area. This exclusive resort complex is located down the coast from Acapulco (I put it that way because if I had said East, which it is, you would have thought it was inland. Here, the coast basically runs east and west). So we had to "learn" how to get to his hotel. But it was worth it. Again, we spent some very relaxing days poolside with Matt. We were having our second mini-vacation, a break from the hum-drum existence we live in paradise, where the temperatures are between the high 70s and low 90s, day and night.
One day, Matt came and visited aboard Nanjo, had lunch with us at a beach palapa that turned out to be quite expensive, shopped at the little street produce shops and just discovered what there was in Puerto Marques. Another day we met in Acapulco and walked around the non-tourista part of town. We shopped at the Super Wal-Mart across from the Hyatt, the lowest prices in town: We shopped for standard provisions, while Matt collected things for a dinner he was going to make for us on our last evening together.
The next day, Tuesday, we prepared Nanjo for our next voyage, purchased a few produce items in Marques and phoned Grandma. Dorothy had emailed a letter from Nancy's Mom. It described the snowstorm she had experienced in North Fork, the loss of electricity (so no water from the well, and noTV, heaters, refrigeration, or lighting), a tree limb falling on the front porch causing extensive damage and not being able to drive because of the road condition. We had to find out how she was doing currently. She told us that everything was back to normal, the porch to be repaired in the near future. The beauty of the snow was the memory she thought of first.
Wednesday, we visited Matt poolside. We lay on deck furniture and watched a sailboat head east, as we would do the next day. The wind was gentle and warm, beckoning us to "come play" on the open ocean. We didn't recognize that it was a siren's song, luring us to conditions unfavorable.
That afternoon, Matt cooked us a delicious ravioli dinner in his condo, something special for the three of us since Matt introduced us to the fresh raviolis made at Rock Ridge (base of the Oakland hills). The dinner was wonderful, but over too quickly. As the sun set, Nancy and I said goodbye to Matt in the unbelievably beautiful Mayan Palace lobby.
We had Nanjo rounding Punta Diamante and turning toward Huatulco by 1030 on Thursday morning. The wind gradually increased until the sails could be effective; we turned off the "clunker" around 1130, making 5 knots of speed in 5 knots of wind. Then we had 6 knots of wind and were making 6 knots of boat speed (according to GPS). After lunch, we had 7 knots of wind on the port beam. Nanjo's sails were perfectly trimmed and she was making 7 knots of boat speed (GPS), steered by Steve. This was too perfect! There had to be a "helping" current. We sailed like that until sunset. Making almost twice our planned speed on a "flat" sea, the 85° air temperature made somewhat kinder by the breeze, we dashed down the coast. Our thoughts were consumed with the good times we had enjoyed with our friend and our family in Acapulco. Life was good, no worries . . . Nancy dozed on the cockpit cushions in the late afternoon. I even caught myself a few times, nodding off, while Steve kept us moving toward the Siren's realm.
Crew of Nanjo