Friday, March 18, 2016


March 4, 2016

We were anchored a little bit closer to the large power boat next to us than we would have liked.  For some reason, that boat did not swing in the same direction that ours did.  For this reason, Don decided to sleep in the cockpit to keep an eye on the situation.  It started to rain at 3:30 in the morning, but I had to wake Don to get him to come in out of the rain.  It rained for some time and, though Don tried to tuck them under the bimini, our cushions and laundry all got quite wet.

I got up about 8:00 and made coffee.  In the process of trying to spread the cushions out to dry, I knocked over a full mug of coffee and made a huge mess in the cockpit.  I had to dig the bucket out from under all the fenders and lines in the lazarette and wash the whole cockpit down with sea water.  I was not going to get my peaceful cup of coffee in the cockpit.

All my banging around in the cockpit woke Don, so we decided to head to shore to take care of errands.  We took the dinghy into the beach.  Between the municipal dock and the pangas pulled up on the sand, there are a couple of guys who assist with dinghy landings and launchings and watch the dinghies for tips.  We arrived without incident and left the dinghy in their care.  Our first mission was to check in with the port captain who was conveniently located right at the head of the municipal pier in contravention of the usual Mexican practice of hiding the port captain’s office a mile inland in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  Checking in went smoothly. Then we went in search of a laundry, since I was on the verge of needing to buy more underwear.

We found a laundry on a side street a block up from the cultural center and then stopped in a nearby café for breakfast.  I had eggs benedict, which was poached eggs atop ham lunch meat and toast, smothered in hollandaise sauce. It may have only been an approximation of eggs benedict, but it was tasty and filling and cost less than $4.00.  We met a couple from Oregon in the restaurant.  They were in town buying items for their house near Caleta de Campos in Michoacan.  We had considered stopping there on the way down, but had passed it by because we had heard it was dangerous.  We asked them about it and they assured us that it was fine and invited us to visit on our way north.

Sea Fish Anchored Next to Us
After breakfast, we stopped at the Casa de Cultura to look for information on the Guitarfest.  They didn’t have any, but told us that the opening concert would be there the next night at 18:00.  We explored the mostly touristy downtown until we finally found a hair salon where I could get a much overdue haircut for just under $3.00.  Don, who also needed a haircut, was skeptical.  I, however, was quite pleased to be rid of all that hot hair.  Zihuatanejo was much warmer than La Cruz.

Our missions accomplished, we replenished our supply of adult beverages and returned to the beach where our dinghy awaited us.  We got away from the shore uneventfully and returned to Comet.  One of our neighbors had departed, so we hauled up the anchor and moved into the empty space.  Then we settled in for some serious relaxation until dinnertime when I made chicken in green mole over rice.

March 5, 2016

Don Getting a Haircut
We were on a mission to get Don’s clothes to the laundry before ten so we could pick them up at the same time as mine, so we got up early and headed for the beach after coffee.  We landed smoothly, unloaded a big bag of trash, and went to drop the clothes off at the laundry.  Don was feeling brave, so he stopped into a nearby barbershop where he got his first Mexican haircut from a friendly barber named Abel.  Abel and I chatted in Spanish while he worked on Don, who left the shop looking quite stylish.

Hill Above Playa Madera
Playa La Ropa
We decided to take a tour of Zihuatanejo’s beaches.  We walked across town and then crossed the bridge over the river.  From there, we followed the walkway around the rocky shore to Playa Madera, stopping at Bistro Del Mar for a tasty breakfast.  The atmosphere was beautiful and prices were reasonable.  After breakfast, we climbed the long, steep hill on the way to Playa La Ropa, stopping frequently to enjoy the view and the fantastic architecture of the fancy hotels along the shore.  We were hot by the time we got to Playa La Ropa, so we stopped into Paty’s for cold drinks under and umbrella by the beach.  We could see Comet riding at anchor in the distance.  We took a collectivo back to the center of town and then returned to the boat for a couple of hours before that night’s big concert.
Bisto del Mar
Walkway to Playa Madera

Guitarfest’s opening concert was originally scheduled to be held on the beach in Ixtapa because it has drawn as many as 1100 people in the past.  This year, they had had to change the venue to the cultural center because of high surf on the beach.  The cultural center only held 500 people and we didn’t have tickets, so we were a bit concerned we might have to listen from the bar across the street.  It was important to see the opening concert because all the artists played a short set and we could get an idea of who we wanted to see later.

We arrived at 5:00 when the doors opened and there were only about 15 people ahead of us.  Not only did we get tickets, but we got third row center seats in the shade!  We passed the hour before the show started drinking beer and talking to the other patrons.

The concert was a delight of cross cultural musical cooperation.  There were artists from Mexico, the U.S., France, Brazil, India, and Iran by way of Canada.  Musical styles varied from blues to new age, folk to flamenco, although it was interesting how much American music had influenced everyone.  Adam’s Family and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.  The Andrea Perrone Duo from Brazil did a fabulous version of Summertime.  One of the most entertaining acts was Lipbone Redding, a guy from North Carolina whose guitar playing was really only accompaniment to his amazing talent of being able to play the trumpet without actually using an instrument.  He played percussion with his foot, sang like Louis Armstrong, and played the harmonica to boot.  He was a riot.  We also really enjoyed the Croweaters, a duo from San Francisco.  I was quite impressed with José Luis Cobo and his original Spanish guitar numbers.  He not only played beautifully, but had a fantastic voice as well.
Jose Luis Cobo
Manan Gupta, from India, played the theme from the Ada
Maneli Jamal & Lipbone Redding

Perhaps the best parts of the concert were the jams that occurred afterward.  The Croweaters jammed with Axemonkey, which really livened up her instrumental music with their vocals.  We didn’t know what to expect when Maneli Jamal stepped onto the stage with Lipbone Redding.  Maneli’s style was so light and fast we weren’t sure how that was going to work with the profusion of sound produced by Lipbone.  The result was extraordinary.  They played St. James Infirmary, Maneli’s guitar chops allowing Lipbone to concentrate more on the harmonica and his uncanny vocal talents.  Then they did a number where Lipbone would sing/play a melody and then Maneli would kill it on the guitar, no matter how wild it got.  We really got to see his sense of humor and it was a lot of fun.

Though it was nearly 23:00 by the time the music wound down, we stopped at a local taqueria for dinner.  The place was frequented by Mexican twenty somethings and they looked at us a bit askance, but served us great tacos.  Two tacos, arrachera and shrimp, and a beer set me back just over $3.00.  Zihuatanejo prices were generally slightly lower than prices in the Puerto Vallarta area.

March 6, 2016
We were tired after our exertions of the day before, so spent a quiet Sunday lounging around the boat and listening to music.  I crawled into the chain locker and replaced the port running light bulb, which had burned out during our trip south and Don filled up the dinghy gas tank.  We swam and I finished the portrait of my friend Jan Miller that I had started in La Cruz.  We thought about going to town for dinner, but the swells were big and landing the dinghy looked tricky.  Instead, we made guacamole and had soft tacos filled with leftover rice and green mole.
Magic Lady, Another Nauticat 43

Jan Miller

Originally, we had been the farthest boat from shore.  As the swells increased, boats began moving away from shore, one by one, until we had lots of neighbors.  Magic Lady, a Nauticat 43 like Fool’s Castle, anchored next to us, giving me a chance to contemplate their tropical modifications.  They had clearly lavished a lot of time and money on the boat and it looked great.  I wondered if they had made alterations to the refrigeration, as well, as ours could never handle the hot weather in Mexico or El Salvador.

March 7, 2014

After our usual leisurely morning and early afternoon, we took the dinghy to shore to retrieve our laundry.  We took it back to the beach and left it in the dinghy for Alfonso and José to guard.  We explored the center of town a bit, looking for the Guitarfest venues and then stopped into the last palapa restaurant on Playa Principal for drinks.  We sat there, enjoying the view, and eventually ordered dinner there.  I had a filet mignon and shrimp for a mere $150 pesos (about $9.)

We had gone into town late because we planned to go to that night’s Guitarfest concert.  The acts playing that night were Shai Sebbag, Mark Glasmire, and Lipbone Redding.  Shai Sebbag is a French guitarist whose original music has lots of Slavic and Middle Eastern overtones.  It was very hypnotic and relaxing.  While it was not a style of music that either of us normally favor, we both enjoyed his set.
Shai Sebbag

Mark Glasmire is a singer songwriter who looked like he ought to be playing Bruce Springsteen, but sounded more like John Denver.  We hadn’t been too impressed with him during the initial concert, but came away from his set with an appreciation of his songwriting ability, if not his performance style.  He has had some records that did well in the charts, but his songs have been recorded by many other artists.

Lipbone Redding

Everybody’s favorite act was Lipbone Redding.  With his hilarious stories and foot stomping tunes, he soon had the whole crowd going.  It is impossible to be bored when Lipbone is on the stage being a one man avalanche of sound.  I bought one of his CDs.  Check him out at

March 8, 2016

Rainy Zihuataejo
A storm was predicted for late Tuesday and Wednesday, so we decided to head into the marina to charge batteries and spend the rainy days where we could get off the boat.  We hoisted the dinghy back onto the cradle on the foredeck and left about 10:30 and started motoring out of the bay and around the point towards Ixtapa.  I tried to call the marina on both my American and Mexican phones and got a message that the number was out of service.  By the time Don got through to them on his phone, we were nearly at the mouth of the channel.  Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let us enter, deeming the surf to be too high.  We had to turn around and head back to Zihua Bay.  At least we had charged the batteries a bit.  It started raining before we made it back to the anchorage.  We returned to our previous spot and anchored in the rain.

It rained off and on for the rest of the afternoon and poured during the night.  The windows and the sail track above my bunk leaked and everything got rather damp.  I made spaghetti for dinner.

March 9, 2016

We couldn’t go anywhere because the swell was too large to launch the dingy, so we spent the entire day on the boat watching rain squalls come and go.  We read, surfed the internet, and I even played a little guitar.  We were getting very low on provisions, but Don made us oatmeal with nuts for brunch and I managed to scrape together burritos made from leftovers and an envelope of chilorio for dinner.  Fortunately, we hadn’t planned to go to that night’s concert.

March 10, 2016

It felt very liberating when the rain clears and the swell abated enough to launch the dinghy.  We decided to take the bus to Ixtapa because Don had never been there.  We dropped Don’s clothes at the laundry and then walked up to the main drag and caught a bus to Ixtapa.  We got off the bus at the craft market at the near end of Ixtapa and ate lunch in a restaurant mostly frequented by locals.  I had an excellent chile relleno.
Ixtapa Marina

After lunch, we walked the mile or so past all the fancy hotels to the marina.  Don didn’t feel like he had missed anything by not staying there and I had fairly unpleasant memories of having been stuck there, sweltering, for a month in January of 2014.  We were glad to be anchored in Zihuat Bay, even though it got a little claustrophobic when we were stuck on the boat.

From the marina, we walked across the road to check out the gorgeous beach.  The swell was still large and they were flying the black flag which warned swimmers to stay out of the water.  A new hotel was being constructed right next to the walkway to the beach and they were planting mature palm trees using a backhoe to lift them.  The backhoe blocked our path, but it was interesting to watch the process.  When they began lifting a tree, the backhoe rocked onto one track and it looked like the palm was going to win the contest.  It settled back onto both tracks, however, as the tree lifted and swung closer to the body of the backhoe.
Beach at Ixtapa

We tired of Ixtapa pretty rapidly.  Don commented that, if all you ever saw of Mexico was Ixtapa, you’d have no idea that it was any different from Miami or Waikiki.  We grabbed another bus back to Zihuatanejo and stopped at the Bodega Aurrera to replenish our supplies.  We bought more than we wanted to schlep, some took a taxi back to the wharf for a very reasonable 30 pesos (about $1.75.)

Neither of us was hungry, so we passed on dinner and just hung out on the boat until it was time to go back into town for that night’s concert.  That night’s lineup began with The Croweaters, a duo from San Francisco who played a set of mostly rarely heard Beatles tunes interpreted in interesting fashions.  They did, however, play the ever popular in Mexico Eleanor Rigby, which lent itself well to a complex guitar arrangement.
The Croweaters

Next on the bill, was the crowd favorite, Lipbone Redding, who always played a rousing show.  People were dancing in the aisles.  No one at the festival drew a bigger crowd.

Manan Gupta
Last, came Manan Gupta, a rather morose young Indian man who had followed a girl to Mexico and gotten dumped there.  He was very interesting to watch, as he had long, spidery fingers and often played from the opposite side of the neck favored by just about every other guitarist.  He also had a very percussive style, although totally different from Flamenco.  Lipbone was a tough act to follow, however, and I felt a bit sorry for him.
Manan Gupta's Unique Fingering

Returning to the boat by dinghy late at night is always an adventure.  Alfonso was waiting to launch our dinghy and we got away without having to wade beyond our knees.  The air was quite cool after the rain and the water was warmer than the air.  Motoring through an anchorage full of swaying masthead lights is a bit like sailing through a field of stars and can be a mystical experience if you are dry and comfortable, which is not always the case with travel by dinghy.  We were lucky that night, however, and we had a pleasant ride home.

March 11, 2016

I got up earlyish and dived straight into the water for a much needed swim and subsequent shower.  We had not wanted to swim during and just after the rain because the local streams washed debris into the bay when it rained.  After three days without a shower, I definitely didn’t want to be seen in public until I had washed my hair.

We ran the motor for a couple of hours to charge batteries and I charged my computer from the inverter while the motor was running.  I worked on my blog for an hour or so and then made tortilla Espanola (a sort of crustless quiche with potatoes, onions, and peppers) for breakfast.

Don’s leg had been hurting for a few days and he didn’t recall banging it on anything.  Sailors always have unidentified cuts and bruises because boats bite.  However, Don had had cellulitis in September of 2013 and it suddenly occurred to him that his current symptoms were the same.  We hopped in the trusty dinghy and headed for the medical clinic that Don had seen near the wharf.

Clinic Waiting Room  
Doctor Morelos Martinez didn’t speak English, but his staff was friendly and he was very thorough.  With me interpreting, we managed to tell him that Don had been prescribed Keflex the last time.  After asking a lot of questions and examining Don carefully, he gave him a prescription for the same antibiotic.  The doctor visit cost 300 pesos (under $18), less than my co-pay at home.

             Next, we set off the find a pharmacy.  Our first stop was a pharmacy advertising generic drugs.  We got the Cephalaxina (Spanish for generic Keflex) for 65 pesos or about $3.50.  They did not, however, have the Warfarin that Don also needed to refill.  We returned to the pharmacy where we had bought Vick’s Vaporub the previous week, but they didn’t have it either.  Don had heard something about a shortage of blood thinners in Mexico and we were starting to fear we wouldn’t find any.  We tried a third pharmacy a couple of doors down.  A very helpful clerk looked in her computer and determined that they had some in stock, but she must have searched for fifteen minutes before she found some filed under the brand name of Coumadin.  That cost 367 pesos (about $18.)  It was too bad they didn’t have it at the Farmacia Similar (generic pharmacy.)
A Mexican Pharmacy

My Pina Colada

Don at the Arcadia
All that drug shopping had worked up an appetite, so we stopped for gelato on the way back to the beach.  We didn’t have anything better to do, so we had cocktails at the Arcadia, anther of the palapa restaurants near the river.  I ordered a pina colada for a change.  It was large and frosty and, with the weather still cool after the storm, I had to sit in the sun to avoid getting chilled.  We sat there for about an hour and then decided on a whim to try to get into the supposedly sold out Guitarfest dinner show at Kaukan.  We had been skipping the expensive and sold out dinner shows, but that was the last one and we decided we should experience it.  We grabbed a taxi for the ride up the hill to Kaukan, which was on the cliff overlooking Playa Madera.  We got there early and, after only a little pleading, they agreed to sell us tickets.
Kaukan Restaurant

Sunset from Kaukan
            The venue was a restaurant on the roof of a timeshare.  The view was spectacular and, even though there was no shade, the cooler than usual weather made it quite pleasant.  We had drinks and listened to the sound check.  We both took lots of pictures and Don made a video.  We were they only cruisers present.  With show, dinner, and drinks coming to about $40 per person, notoriously cheap cruisers went to the 100 peso concerts at the Casa de Cultural, which were also accessible by dinghy and a short walk.  The other patrons at Kaukan were part time residents and some vacationers.  Everyone else at our table was from Minnesota.

Roberto & Mehida at Kaukan
            The concert that night was Roberto and Mehida, a brother and sister from Michoacan, and Maneli Jamal, a very well traveled young man of Iranian descent, currently living in Canada, although he grew up in Germany and Texas.  His parents had been forced to flee Iran and he was actually born in Belarus because, as his parents sheepishly told him, he was an accident.

            Roberto and Mehida played mostly Mexican songs, which I felt were underrepresented in the festival.  They did play a nice version of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend.  Maneli Jamal was probably the best guitarist in the festival and his original music was very beautiful and full of emotion, but I didn’t buy his CD because, while I really enjoyed listening to him play, I feared his music would just fade into the background without words or catchy tunes to draw me in.  What we most enjoyed was when he exhibited his amazing improvisational ability while jamming with other musicians.  Both Axemonkey and Lipbone Redding joined him on the stage for a tune or two.   It was great watching the women seated next to us watch Lipbone for the first time.  They were astonished at the, “horn section,” that came out of his mouth.
Maneli Jamal & Lipbone Redding at Kaukan

Our neighbors at the table were just in Zihuatanejo on vacation.  They were interested in going to the concert the Casa de Cultural, but didn’t know how to get there.  We offered to share a cab, so we all piled into a taxi after dinner for the short ride across central Zihuat to the show.

The Andrea Perrone Duo
The first act playing that night was the Andrea Perrone Duo, a sort of Brazilian Indigo Girls.  We had heard one of them sing previously and been very impressed, but were pleasantly surprised when the very stoic guitarist joined in with a pleasant alto.  They played a variety of American and South American songs and finished with a spine tingling rendition of Summertime.
Jose Luis Cobo

None of us much liked Nick Vigarino’s music.  Although he was amazingly proficient on the guitar, his style was so aggressive and repetitive that, after listening for long enough to determine that he really did have only the one trick, we all left.  Our new friends caught a cab back to their hotel and we walked back to the beach, glad to be leaving before the crush of departing dinghies after the show.
Nick Vigarino

March 12, 2016

Don needed to go the the port captain’s office before 14:00 to check out, but we were still waiting for Ishmael to return with our propane tank and we wanted to order another ten gallons of diesel.  Ishmael operates a service which delivers fuel, water, propane, and beer right to your boat.  They monitor channel 65 for orders.  Knowing that Saturday port captain’s hours could be unpredictable, we decided that I would stay on the boat while Don went to shore a bit before noon.

Don in His Trusty Dinghy

Shortly after Don left, Ishmael’s boat arrived to pick up the water bottle they had left the day before.  They didn’t bring the propane tank, but I did managed to order the diesel.  I hung out on the boat and caught up on my blog entries, which were rather behind due to a dead battery on my laptop.  I hadn’t wanted to run the inverter to charge it because, having been at anchor for so long, our house batteries were running low.

Don came back a few hours later, having retrieved his clothes from the laundry and the propane tank from Ishmael’s base near the foot of the pier, next to the tourist office.  We did what we could to prepare the boat for sea, as we planned to attend the closing concert of Guitarfest and then leave before dawn so as to arrive in Caleta de Campos before dark.

The closing concert started at 19:00, so we left the boat at 17:30 and ate a leisurely dinner at the café near the Casa de Cultural where we had eaten breakfast on our first day in Zihua.  Zihuatanejo means, “Place of the Goddess women,” in Nahuatl.  Even the locals call it Zihua.  Gringos sometimes call it Zihuat or Z-Town.

Each remaining act played a set at the closing concert.  Shai Sebbag and Mark Glasmire had left earlier.  Lipbone Redding played a set with local guitarist Carlos Uribe, whom he had met in a bar.  Axemonkey played with Manan Gupta and Roberto and Mehida.  Maneli Jamal and even Nick Vigarino shared the stage with others.  The final number was a big jam with nearly every musician there doing Roy Rogers’ You’re So Down Home, which, even though it was originally a slide guitar number, was ironically the only song Nick Vigarino played without a slide.  The concert ran until midnight and we still needed to buy beer.  It was 00:30 by the time we said our farewells to Alfonso, the dinghy minder, and returned to the boat.
Final Guitarfest Jam


  1. What happened to the transmission?

  2. It turned out to be fine. We think something was caught on the folding prop that later fell off.