So, Acapulco was great: hot but not ridiculously so, sunny and cloudless every day, clean beaches, sparkling ocean, the works. It’s an interesting place actually. It definitely hit it’s heyday in the 50s and 60s, when celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley flocked there to hotels high on the cliffs of La Quebrada and the beaches at the base of the the town’s hilly center.
Since, it’s morphed into a major spring break destination, cheaper than some of the trendier places like Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta, but still offering excellent beaches, lots of places for reasonable seafood and amazing weather. Driving through the city from the airport on the southern end of town, we first passed an area where a few huge all-inclusive resorts were being built on essentially flat land miles from the current town. Eventually, we started heading up and down steep hills on windy road, catching the occasional view of the ocean, the bay, and 1000 hotels. We passed some upscale places perched on the hills, then descended in the most popular part of Acapulco, the long string of major chain hotels and beaches along La Costera. There I saw two Wal-Marts, one Costco, a Starbucks with a drive-thru and an array of American fast-food chains, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King. Farther along, we turned south and headed into the old part of town, down from the center square onto more hilly terrain featuring more great ocean views and lots of laid-back, local shops and restaurants.
We chose our hotel, El Boca Chica because it was reasonable and I want nothing to do with hoardes of American tourists, American chain restaurants, and least of all Wal-Mart on vacation. In my estimation, that is not a vacation at all. Boca Chica is named for the channel of water between the shore and La Isla de Roqueta, a smallish, protected island that features a crowded beach and an eerily empty hiking trail.
We had both traveled through the night, me on an airplane from Chicago to Acapulco, Fermin on the bus from Puebla, and when we got to the hotel, we were more than ready for lunch.
Enter the best seafood soup either of us had ever had. It was spicy and super-fresh and tasty and I didn’t even think about the fact that I was eating otherwise creepy looking sea creature parts.
The second night we went to see the cliff divers of La Quebrada, Acapulco’s main “cultural” attraction, if you can call it that. It was, however, spectactular. We asked our friendly hotel waiter if we could walk to see the show and he said something about how we could do it if if we had “la commision,” aka “las ganas,” aka motivation, strength and willingness to do it. It really wasn’t that far, but for many Mexicans, walking long distances every day is a part of life, and they can’t imagine why a tourist wouldn’t take a taxi to avoid it.
It was a great walk, so much so that we did it the next night too. The scenery was gorgeous, far better than I expected, steep cliffs, crashing ocean waves, the sun setting over the ocean and then the wait for the first diver show a little after dark. The divers descent down a long stairway to hop over the wall at the viewing area and scale down one steep cliff, only to jump into the water, swim across the narrow channel and scale up an even steeper cliff in order to then jump into that same small channel. It’s quite a science, if they hit the water at the wrong time, it’s said they can easily be thrown against the cliffs. Unfortunately, my pictures of the actual divers did not turn out well, but I took a few nice ones of the surrounding cliff area.
We spent the majority of our time at the beach, drinking micheladas (Mexican beer infused with chili sauce and lime), me sitting under the umbrella reading “What is the What,” Fermin learning to swim in the shallow areas of the ocean, snorkeling in the bay, snacking on tamarindo candy, ceviche and fresh fruit with chili powder and lime.
It was glorious. I really enjoy interesting, cultural spots and semi-adventurous traveling, but in February, with snow falling every few days and winter just seeming to drag on for eternity, it’s not hard to appreciate some laid-back time at the beach.