February 27 – March 4, 2008
The pictures from this trip can be found at
Wednesday, February 27
We went to San Francisco Airport in a private limo—we had a coupon with a very good deal and with three of us (including my father), this was no more expensive than the shuttle van. At the airport we met Ryan’s parents Ron and Alberta, his grandmother Katherine, and his brother Kevin and sister-in-law Katie. His (great) aunt Margaret had fallen and hurt her ankle and was unable to make the trip.
We flew Alaska Airlines to Los Angeles International, where we met Steph, Ryan, Jenn, Emily, friends Art and Kim, Daria, and Camille and her daughter Brooke. We all got on the Alaska Airlines flight to Zihuatanejo, flying right along the east shore of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). Mark was already at the airport when we arrived, having flown in through Dallas and Mexico City, and met us as we got through customs.
Steph and Ryan rented a van, the rest of us got into two big SUV taxis. We stopped at a WalMart-like store in town for groceries and supplies. (We didn’t know the resort rooms didn’t come with Kleenex, napkins, or paper towels.)
We drove to Troncones Beach (http://www.zihua-ixtapa.com/zihua/beaches/troncones.shtml, http://www.troncones.net/), about 30 miles north of town, along a two-lane road and then a side road to the beach, where the road was unpaved. We checked into the resort, the Casa de la Sirena (House of the Mermaid, http://www.casadelasirena.net/). Dad, Kevin, Katie, Art, and Kim were a short way down the beach at Mi Casa Su Casa (http://www.hoteltroncones.com/index), which is actually a hotel with a bar and restaurant and which takes credit cards. Because of various delays, dinner at Casa de la Sirena was served after dark, so my little travel flashlight was essential.
There had been an offshore storm, and the ocean was very rough the entire week. The tap water is not drinkable, there was a water dispenser in the room and we also bought bottled water.
Troncones is a small village centered around tourism, at least in the winter (October to March). Surfing is good at the area though apparently not at Troncones itself—the beach is too rocky. (Bumper sticker: “Troncones is a small drinking village with a surfing problem”)
Dad’s room at Mi Casa Su Casa did not have a kitchen or even a refrigerator, so he ate almost all his meals at the hotel restaurant. He took cabs to and from the Casa de la Sirena when he needed to be there. We had bought crackers and cheese for him for snacks but there was no place to keep the cheese.
Thursday, February 28
For breakfast we fixed some instant oatmeal we had bought in town the day before. It wasn’t very good.
On Thursday and Friday, most of the ladies had manicures and pedicures.
Steph and Ryan were in town all day, working on the photographer, music, flowers, the officiant, etc., for the wedding. They had intended to pick up the supplies that we didn’t know the day before that we would need, but didn’t have time and were late even so.
Lunch was at the Casa, very informal. We had planned to engage two cooks for the week but only one was available so those staying at the hotel were on their own for most meals. Chips and some fixings (dips etc.) were served at the Casa at 4 PM most days.
The rehearsal dinner was at the hotel restaurant. Some other guests had arrived—Alex and Alicia from Arizona and a friend who now lives on Aruba. The Alaska Airlines plane with Amy, Ali, and Steph (White) Berner had to turn around and go back to Los Angeles, so they did not arrive until very late.
Sandy had a very good massage. The lady spent some extra time working on her back so we gave her a small extra tip, but she thought that was all she was being paid. Stephanie had arranged to prepay all the massages, manicures, and pedicures, including regular tip, so we surmounted the language barrier and straightened out the misunderstanding.
Friday, February 29
Sandy had to pay $400 cash for the mariachis for the wedding, so somehow we were running out of cash. ($50 for groceries and supplies + $100 to Jenn + I had $100 = ?) Nobody takes traveler’s checks so I had to arrange to go into town with the Casa owner to cash some. He dropped me at Banamex while he did his errands. It was the day before payday and the bank was very crowded. They use a take-a-number system and there were 100 people ahead of me. It took over an hour. They cashed my checks but would not take one of Ryan’s that he had signed over to me.
As a result of this errand I had to miss my planned surfing lesson. But apparently the conditions were not good for novices anyway.
Mark and I walked to the hotel for breakfast with my dad. Mark took his computer but the wireless connection was almost unusable. While we were eating, Amy, Ali, and Steph (W) B. came in—they had arrived late the night before.
Later in the day I was able to use Ryan’s computer and the wireless at the Casa to catch up on my e-mail and the news.
Most people walked to lunch at the hotel but I did not have time as I had to be ready for the ride into town.
Mark and Jenn went to dinner at Costa Brava while Sandy and I baby-sat Emily. My dad took their place at the Casa dinner. Ryan gave him a ride back to the hotel. Steph and Ryan gave the guests gifts; we got a lovely local painted wood platter. Emily was tired and fussy but eventually went to sleep. Sandy and Steph worked on the wedding gown, which had not been properly fitted.
I walked to the little store near the junction of the beach road and the access road to the airport highway and bought Kleenex and some Pepsi Light. The wedding rehearsal was on the beach, and we picked the location for the chuppa.
Saturday, March 1 – Wedding day
There was no formal breakfast as such. Sandy cooked bratwurst and eggs for most of us. We ran out of eggs but Camille had more. I borrowed Steph’s computer again and got a good connection at the Casa. I interrupted my computer session to help the Casa owners install a printer on their new Vista computer. (They had a CD with only XP drivers so they would have to download Vista drivers from the HP web site; but apparently Vista knows how to download its own drivers, so once I turned the computer on and connected the printer cable, the printer installed itself.)
I walked back to the little store for more Kleenex and Pepsi Light. I took a quick swim and a nap.
I changed into my new suit for pictures and the wedding. The Sur family had pictures taken at the hotel at 4:00; dad rode to the Casa with the photographer. Steph had some trouble with her gown and we were late starting our 4:45 photo session at the Casa. We were at least 15 minutes late starting the wedding but the guests sitting in folding chairs in the hot sun on the beach held up. The intended officiant, Francisco, would not perform a Jewish wedding so his nephew officiated.
The ceremony itself was very beautiful, on the beach in the late afternoon sunshine. I walked Stephanie down the “aisle” of mats on the sand. There was hardly a dry eye in the house, including the bride and groom.
The post-wedding photo sessions also ran late.
Appetizers, drinks, and dinner followed. Although I had rehearsed the father-daughter dance with a professional instructor in San Jose and with Stephanie, we could not do the planned “twirls” because of her gown. The Casa owners joined us after dinner for dancing. Emily slept through the incredible noise.
Sandy left the party around 10 PM. I left around 10:30. After 11, I asked the DJ to turn the volume down a bit. After that, people began jumping or being pushed into the pool, including Steph, Ryan, and the photographer. All was quiet by 1 AM.
Sunday, March 2
Mark left by taxi about 8 AM for the airport to return to Knoxville for work Monday morning. I walked with Sandy, Camille, and Brooke to the hotel for breakfast with dad. We took a taxi back. Dad came to the Casa for lunch, replacing Mark. We had lots of leftover wedding cake and tarts. Again I took a nap and a swim, followed by a shower. I borrowed the computer again and caught up on the news and e-mail.
We had dinner and a good live show at El Burro Borracho (The Drunken Donkey).
Monday, March 3
We had some more of the packaged oatmeal for breakfast. We walked to the hotel to make arrangements for lunch—dad was going to bring a cab to the Casa at 1:00 and we were going to go to Costa Brava. But we changed our minds and went to the Inn at Manzanillo Bay (http://www.manzanillobay.com/), a few miles to the north (where the surfing lessons had taken place). Jenn and Emily came with us. Ryan and Steph went into town with his parents and grandmother to finish paying the bills.
The Inn has a spectacular beach on Manzanillo Bay where surfing is better than at Troncones. The Inn hostess fell in love with Emily and took her for a while. On the taxi ride back, my camera disappeared
We had the last dinner at the hotel. My dad joined us and we found some Scotch for him.
Tuesday, March 4
We walked to the Costa Brava, which is also taxi central, to ask whether my camera had been found. Shortly thereafter the taxi manager appeared at the Casa with the camera. He turned down a $50 reward but took $20 for himself and $20 for the driver. It turned out that all the pictures on the memory card in the camera were gone. When we got home, I tried to look at the card on the computer but still saw nothing. A professional data recovery service was able to recover the pictures, which indicates that they were not intentionally erased but perhaps the heat in the taxi had caused the problem.
The taxi manager mentioned that he was able to provide taxis to take us to the airport. I said that we had made arrangements. He said his cabs had not been reserved, and that cabs from elsewhere could drop people they had picked up at the airport but could not take them back, and vice versa for his cabs. After much discussion among Mike (Casa owner), Ryan, and Steph, it turned out we had indeed asked for foreign cabs and needed local ones. The manager arranged for four. So if I had not lost my camera, we would probably have been unable to return to the airport.
We continued packing. Sandy fixed breakfast for Jenn and we minded Emily. We went to the hotel for lunch with Dad, Jenn, Emily, Camille, Brooke, Ron, Alberta, Ryan, Steph, and Grandma. We took dad back to the Casa with his suitcase, where the cabs arrived at 2 PM as scheduled. Somehow we got all the bags and all the people loaded and got to the airport before 3:00.
Jenn, Steph, Ryan, Art, Kim, Camille, and Brooke flew to Los Angeles. Besides us, Ron, Alberta, and Grandma flew to San Francisco nonstop. (Kevin and Katie had left on Sunday). All flights were on time.
Although there is a lot of poverty, the village really did not look third world. Most vehicles were clean and in apparent good repair. The road was dirt but maintained, at least during the dry season.
It was a very relaxing week away from telephones, television, and radio. It was much warmer than we were used to for February but not uncomfortably hot. (Humid, though.) All in all, it was a very good experience to add to our lives—especially the wedding.