Sunday, May 15, 2005

On the town in Zih..

Nightlife.. my evening with Don Julio and other Tales

Night in Zih rivals the day. As the sun sets behind Almacen Hill the town lights give a little conspiratorial wink . As I have noted before, this town at night is a natural setting for a bodice ripping romance novel. The heat, the expectation, the subtle exotic/erotic mood that oozes out of the very cobblestones is an author's dream. There is the ever changing cast of characters that simply cry out for a screen play; gold chained alchy retirees, wide eyed tourists, divorcees on the hunt with their jawdropping tanned cleavages, self proclaimed surfer dudes sucking on beers, Expat Zihuata-know-it-alls holding forth on bar stools, the occasional incognito celebrity and finally the serene locals seemingly oblivious to all the interest in their fair city. This whole scene never fails to make my heart beat a little faster, my step quicken and my imagination go 'offleash' . An evening usually starts with us standing at the top of the formidable Madera Hill with Gerry letting out a long, shrill whistle to the cabbies parked on the streets below. Piling into the first taxi that chugs it's way up to meet us, the three of us are off!

We tried a few new places this year including an interesting locals only pool hall that was upstairs and next to Bocanos. Although the only Gringos in the entire place, we felt welcome, if not a curiousity, as Gerry was playing like a wild man and couldn't miss.

Our search for the ultimate salsa dancing spot..

We had heard about Cantos De Las Sirena from several different sources as a great place to dance. One night we tried, unsucessfully, to tell the Cabbie that we wanted to go there. Later we asked some young people hanging out by the mercado.. no luck. Finally we asked the waiter, Enrique, at Bandidos about it. He smiled knowingly and said.. "Oh yes.. here.. I will write it down so no cab driver can mistake what you are saying. Then when you get there ask for ****** and tell him I sent you."

We did exactly as we were told and were delivered to a door in a plain building next to the main bus depot. We walked up some steep steps to a pleasant rooftop bar. When we introduced ourselves as directed to ****** we were escorted past the crowd of locals and seated in the reservado section next to the dance floor. I was flattered and honored to find myself here but on the other hand I felt extremely self conscious as everyone in the place (all locals) looked at us as if they were thinking, " .. hmm.. should we recognize these gringos? Surely they MUST be someone special..". If they only knew.. we were just Joe Schmo from Portland. That night a series of individuals performed but as it was late (and I was suffering from a cold) we left before any salsa dancing began. We will certainly try it again though I would never ask EVER for special seating.

On one Sunday night we found our way to the Basketball Court Fiesta Night and then to a bar on the second floor of a building directly across from the 'goings on'. It was strictly a local young peoples hangout but had a bird's eye view of the scene. We had a couple of beers and enjoyed the view. If you are at the basketball court just look up and across the street and you will see it.

Amuleto.. or Why do I feel like Im in Oz?

One night we decided to experience drinks and a sunset at Amuleto located high on the hill above Zihuatanejo Bay. We directed the cabbie to take us there and he was as thrilled as if we told him we wanted to go to Buckingham Palace. As we wound our way up the hill above La Ropa beach we stopped to pick up someone the cabbie knew. Our passenger perched himself on the edge of the trunk and the cabbie ground into gear and continued the steep ascent. Our hitchhiker was on his way to the night shift as a security guard at Amuleto. It was very fortunate that we picked him up as I doubt we would have ever figured out how to actually gain admittance to this place.

Amuleto appears from the outside as if it is a private home. Perhaps I missed something but I didnt notice even so much as a sign to tell you what it was. We followed our fellow passenger to a large ornate wooden door as he pointed to a buzzer/intercom. I rang it and after a bit a voice answered curtly. I tentively asked, "we.. uh.. would like to have cocktails". My answer was several moments of complete silence. Then like a scene from the Wizard of Oz the large door slowly swung open and a smiling young man beckoned for us to enter. Now my first impression was that this was an absolutely gorgeous place.. the architecture.. the interior design and the VIEW. We shly wandered into the bar area and I felt a bit odd, as if I had crashed a private party. As we took our seats in a comfortable assortment of cushioned furniture we were informed stiffly by the staff that there were NO credit cards accepted. I said, that's fine because all I have is cash.. (yeah.. the chip on my shoulder was getting bigger and bigger). But after ordering a bottle of wine I relaxed and enjoyed the view, gawking at my surroundings and eves dropping on the juicy conversations going on around me.

Would I go there again? Well.. probably not, as even though it offered a breathtaking view I just felt.. well.. awkward the entire visit. For even though I was dressed in a very nice summer dress and heels and the guys were in silk shirts and dressy shorts I felt as if we were the poor and down right suspicious relatives. I imagined them counting the silverware upon our departure. One of the guests explained because the rooms were all open - like a private home - the owners were very careful about who was admitted to the bar and restaurant. The view was extraordinary though and we spent a nice hour or so enjoying a glass of wine in sumptuous surroundings.

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