Here Chivo Chivo...
I'm not one for tours. Whenever I run upon one of those ant lines of camera packing visitors led by some guide with a booming voice and clip board I smugly congratulate myself on my esprit de travel. I tend to lump tour takers into two types - the blue haired walker set who have no other choice and those that haven't enough cajones to do it on their own. So it was with great reluctance and humility I allowed Gerry to arrange for a taxi tour of Petatlan and the surrounding area. We fell into the 'no other choice' group as Gerry's injured shoulder won't permit driving and there isn't a Mexican bus driver alive who would put up with my "BANO! NOW!" requirements. So this led us to Juan. He is a charismatic forty-three year old father of four who, over time, has developed his own unique area tour. We drove out of town in his tidy air conditioned taxi, as Juan quickly gave a short history of Zihuatanjo and excitedly pointed out businesses along the way. Although we pretty much knew what a propane factory looks like or what water bottling plants entail, under the spell of Juan's enthusiastic commentary they somehow took on a new and interesting importance. Over the course of the day, as Juan showed us again and again what he termed 'authentic Mexico' we gained an appreciation for the work and thought he put into making what became a very special experience for us.
He first took a detour into the small town of El Pozas, where we experienced the raging inferno of a brick factory kiln and were treated to Juan's cousin's hospitality and a tour of his many fruit and medicinal trees. We squealed wildly (well I did) over the many small herds of goats or chivos trotting happily through the village streets. I dreamily considered how goat ownership might work within our neighborhood rules and covenants. Such lovely little innocent animals I thought as I watched a young goat prance gaily by.. We drove up and down one after another of the unpaved but quaint streets. Everyone smiled, waved and greeted us. I sighed and soaked up this Disney-esque version of Mexico.
Now although I had specifically requested a stop at the Iquana Sanctuary on the road to Petatlan, Juan only nodded and made a vague remark about the 'Iguana Tree' as we edged back out onto Hwy 200. A short time later we turned onto the road to the Zihuatanejo Aeroporto and pulled into the parking lot of the small but immaculate Restaurante Emanual. As we exited the car I looked over to the parking area and trees behind the cafe. My jaw dropped as I saw Iguanas... Hundreds of Iguanas. Iguanas eating.. running.. Iguanas climbing.. draped over the branches of the trees.. screwing...basking... this was frickin' IGUANA HEAVEN. The proprietors of this cafe have taken it upon themselves to be the guardians of the Iguana and it is an official/unofficial Iguana protected zone. We ran back and forth taking as many pictures of Iguanas as we could possibly need in a life time. Juan simply smiled as we piled breathlessly back into the car and were on our way.
As we drove south to Petatlan, Juan cheerfully pointed out the preponderance of 'Sex Hotels'. These establishments rent out rooms on an hourly basis and even provide a curtained carport in which to discreetly park. We then passed the "real" iguana sanctuary sign but at this point my Iguana obsession was satiated so I felt no regrets as we roared by.
Once in town Juan showed us the Petatlan Church and I lit a candle in the adjacent grotto for my recently deceased Mother. After a few prayers and tears we breezed through the gold market and wandered the dark, cool aisles of the Petatlan Mercado. Juan eagerly pointed out chamomile, the ubiquitous butcher stalls, noni juice, Uruapan avacodos finally guiding us into the bright sunshine of the city's streets.
I blinked and surveyed stall after stall of taco counters or Taquerias. You could pull up a stool and feast on a variety of small but delicious looking tacos. One sweet little hand painted sign caught my eye. One of my dear little chivo friends was featured in profile... "CHIVO!" I exclaimed and smiled at Juan. He clapped his hands together and called out, "WANT ONE?!". The next thing I knew I was gazing in horror at a glistening pile of hot cooked meat nestled in a small corn tortilla. Juan looked at me encouragingly and with his great roar of a laugh said, "C'mon!!". This was a moment of truth for me. Was I the true traveler I claimed to be or simply one of the plebeian hoards with fanny packs, strict food guidelines and a ridiculous Heidi goatherder complex to boot? I opened my mouth, took one delicious bite and in seconds it was gone.
The rest of the day Juan drove us to many other out of the way destinations all of which seemed to be accessible only by unpaved rocky roads. Despite the bumps and dust we enjoyed every minute of this 'Anti-Tour Tour'. But rather than divulge any more details, I believe it is best to experience it for yourself. Give Juan a call - Juan Solis Millan - phone number 7551102630... Cab #275 in Zihuatanejo.