Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mexican Cruise (Entry #2)

October 18, 2006: Acapulco

So we had our first taste of the Mexican Riviera on Monday when we went ashore in Acapulco. Let me preface this by saying how lucky we were to be visiting a city that boasts 360 days of sunshine a year on one of the rare days when it was raining all day. We feel truly blessed. I’ll get into specifics later, but let me just say that the word of day was “runoff.”

Our impression of Acapulco… What a shit hole! (Although in its defense, the people were really nice.) We decided to ignore the “advice” of the onboard shopping consultant and walk around Acapulco on our own. That was mistake number one. The minute we got out of the cruise terminal, we were set upon by hordes of extremely eager cab drivers (none of whom had legitimate taxi licenses). Trying to convince these guys that we just wanted to walk a bit after being on a ship for three days was not the easiest thing to do. They literally follow you for blocks trying to convince you that you need a taxi to see anything good. (In retrospect, we realized that they must be right.)

Once we got far enough away from the terminal, we started to be set upon by the adorable, albeit dirty and sometimes scabby, little girls selling chiclets. They don’t exactly take no for an answer either. We got the distinct impression that if you offered their parents enough money they would sell you not only all of their chiclets, but the child, as well. It was pretty depressing. Luckily, we managed to get through their gauntlet without buying anything or getting pick pocketed.

Once free of the chiclet girls, we encountered the flea market representatives. These are guys who are dressed fairly nicely and whose sole job it is to divert tourists who are just wandering around to a piss-ant little flea market full of junk. Every guy we saw or heard was taking people to “his mother’s store.” Someday I’ll have to study this to find out why that’s a successful hook. We couldn’t get rid of this guy until we arrived at the flea market, at which point he disappeared, leaving us directionless with very little concept of where we were.

After poking around the junk at the flea market and overpaying for some “silver” charms we started to head back to the boat—by now we’d realized that coming ashore with no plan or guide was pretty stupid. We figure we walked about 5 miles (4 miles out of the way, I’m sure.) to get back to the boat. We passed a bunch of stores that sold musical instruments and a whole lot of markets selling second-hand power tools and small appliances. My personal favorites were the stores that had assorted recently-deceased fowl hanging over the sidewalk directly in our path. We even think we saw a fat, old hooker, but she didn’t try to solicit us—what a pity.

Finally I caught sight of a landmark I remembered from our walk to the flea market and then one block later we saw the ship’s smoke stack. I thought Jess was going to fall to her knees and weep openly, but the ground was far too disgusting to do that.

During the whole adventure I wore only flip-flops on my feet, thinking that I wouldn’t want to walk around for hours in wet shoes. God only knows what kind of fungi and bacteria my feet were exposed to. Add to that the constant dripping of water from filthy roofs onto our heads as we walked down the street and it will be a miracle if we don’t get some kind of flesh-eating disease.

As we headed toward the ship, wet and weary, thankfully the pan-handlers and taxi drivers could read our sentiment on our faces. We must have looked like we had been through something, because we didn’t have to tell anyone more than once that we just wanted to get back to the ship. As we approached the terminal, Jess and I gave voice to our fantasies about drinking ice water and showering. Inside the terminal we chuckled to ourselves a bit because that was by far the nicest building in Acapulco with the nicest stores. (It was a sad kind of chuckle, as you can probably imagine.) We bought a few things there and then reboarded our vessel, vowing never to go ashore again unless we had a shore excursion planned.

Today we are docked in the bay at Zihuateneo. We bounced around the idea of going ashore, but even though it’s sunny today, the bay is kind of choppy and you have to take a small boat to town (see piucture to right). I don’t think going ashore in a tiny little coastal village is worth wretching my guts out on a ten minute boat ride from hell, so we are just relaxing on board and enjoying the peace and quiet while all the suckers are on terra firma getting ripped off by the locals. Like Acapulco, I’m sure this port looks much more beautiful from the boat, which is where I intend appreciate it from afar.

This morning we went to play morning coffee trivia at the pub on board. Of course, we won. We both got a keychain with a light on it, a notepad that looks kind of like a passport, and a luggage tag. Woo-hoo! I love winning! Since we are so brilliant, we’re thinking of playing again at 5:30 if we don’t do the Texas Hold-Em tournament. Wish us luck either way!

That's all for now. I’ll write more later!

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