It had been a long winter. A long couple of years. And we needed a break. We chose a resort in Ixtapa, near the fishing village of Zihuatanejo in Mexico…The little town mentioned in Shawshank Redemption. We’d go from Saturday, February 25 to March 3, 2006.
Our hardest decision every day was whether to sit at the blue tiled pool or at the private beach first. We liked to end the days on the beach–in chairs pulled up and into the ocean, watching the sun go down, admiring the busy sandpipers scurrying around the edges of the water, or simply staring into the waves with our feet in the water.
Beach stories: We saw a seahorse one day–six inches long and washed up between the rocks. He was alive and writhing to get back to the water. We assisted and saw him right himself and thrust into the deeper water. We hunted for shells or colorful pieces of seaglass or interesting stones. We watched the waves break and collide with each other.
In the town: It’s a fishing village at heart. I can’t tell you how many times I saw fresh fish being transported here and there–in tubs on women’s heads, in plastic bags, or held by the tail…always fins up. Ice was delivered in blocks as big as microwaves. Colorful cut banners hung over the streets. Bicycles and Volkswagons galore. A church that never shut it’s doors–exposed to the elements, candles always burning. The movie theater was showing “La Pantera Rosa” and of course, we went. Kids with bags of trinkets and gum smiled and showed off their sales skills. Blankets, pottery and bags in a chaos of color displayed for tourists. The cruise ship docked–and for about four hours, oversized ladies roamed the stalls for floppy hats and tent-like dresses in island colors. A toothless old man rolled his xylophones around and tapped out songs for a few pesos…though dollars were preferred.
At night, lights wrapped trees sparkled, candles dripped and flickered, mariachi bands wandered the sidewalks strumming. We met a pale man in his 70s who had retired there. Bright blue eyes beneath striking white hair. He’d married a Mexican lady and bought a condo there. He shared stories of the past with us one morning over coffee. We listened and watched while the beautiful lady across the street scrubbed the sidewalk in front of her shop and hung out her wares. She looked Indian–hair braided down her back, flip-flops and a blue dress modestly covering her shoulders and falling just to her knees. We talked with the man about simplicity and hard work.
We visited the animal shelter there and made a donation. There were many strays–dogs and cats. Some hung out by the fish market waiting. Others lay in the shade on sidewalks. I thought of our own dog, staying at my parent’s house while we traveled. I wondered for about the millionth time about working with animals…can I handle the daily despair? Would my efforts ever feel like I’m doing enough?
We came home tanned, relaxed and thoughtful. Simple living on our minds. And we hugged our dog.