Monday, September 7, 2015

Zihuatanejo Guitar Fest - March 2015

In the spring of our first season in Mexico, we met Bob & Sherry on s/v Nirvana and Kenny & Betsy on s/v Alcyone. They talked about how much they enjoyed the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival. It's a 10 day music festival with top artists from around the world, so we decided to attend the following year. Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo share a major airport, so my daughter, Carrie, flew down to join us on Agave Azul for the festival.

Carrie & Kathryn on the beach in Zihuatanejo

The name Zihuatanejo comes from an Aztec word meaning "place of women". Throughout the town there were statues of women representing each of the seven regions in the state of Guerrero.

Costa Chica - Little Coast, coastal town south of Acapulco

La Montaña - The Mountain

Guitar Fest has 10 days of activities, starting with a Meet the Artists lunch. The anchorage in Bahia Zihuatanejo is in the background.

Nancy & Rob - Shindig, Katie & Mike - Pangaea, Kathryn & Carrie

Two of the artists I wanted to meet were from Cuba and they sat at the table right next to us. They played flamenco and classical guitar, and I was really looking forward to their performances.

Josue Otero & Magela Romera from Havana

Concerts happened every night, at small restaurant venues and at a large stage on the beach. Josue & Magela played together early in the week at Coconuts restaurant. As you can see, the food was excellent … obviously the margaritas were pretty good, too.

Carrie at Coconuts restaurant

Josue & Magela were my favorite artists at the festival. Both were very technical, but they played with lots of passion and joy. 

Magela & Josue

They performed together, then separately. To add some fun to their performance they played together on Magela's guitar … it was amazing.

Josue & Magela

Another group we met at the Meet the Artists lunch was Tres Hombres. Their music was an invigorating mix of flamenco, pop, rock & lite jazz. 

Tres Hombres from Dallas

Two very happy cruisers at the end of the evening's performances

We really enjoyed Zihuatanejo, but we wanted to give Carrie a taste of what it's like cruising in Mexico. We heard good comments about an anchorage just 10 miles up the coast, Isla Grande, across from Ixtapa. The weather was good for a short sail and when we arrived, there were only 2 other boats in the anchorage - perfect. The anchorage was beautiful and well protected from the ocean swell.

Isla Grande anchorage from restaurant Paraiso Escondido

Behind the palapa was the wood fired grill where they cooked fish. You pick out the fish you want, and about a half hour later the whole fish arrives at your table. 

Our chef

I'm missing Mexico and Mexican food as I look at this photo

As you can see, we picked the bones clean

Isla Grande was a great place to swim and kayak, too.

Robin & Carrie

A spectacular sunset to end our stay at Isla Grande

The alternative to the small restaurant venues were the concerts on the Playa la Madera beach. Like a regular concert, but with your feet in the sand and beverage and food stalls … a relaxing way to enjoy some great music. Four different artists performed each night at the Playa.

Diego Garcia, "El Twangero" Latin-Twang from Madrid, Spain

One night after the small venue concert, we all got in our dinghies and rafted up about 100 yards offshore from the concert on the Playa. The weather was calm so we could hear the music just fine. The added bonus was that Rob from Shindig brought his tequila tasting kit with him. What a fun night!

Tequila tasting courtesy of Shindig

Although the event lasted 10 days, there were different artists performing at different venues and lots to do during the day in Zihuatanejo.

Carrie, Kathryn & Katie at Loot restaurant

One night Kathryn and Katie were having fun and were maybe just a bit too spirited. As you can see they promised to be good.

"Katie" & Katie in Ixtapa

We asked the locals their recommendation for the best Mexican food in Zihuatanejo and Tamales y Atoles Any was it. We enjoyed it so much we returned several times. Here Mike from Pangaea, is enjoying Pizole, a delicious soup that comes with either a red or green sauce. Yum!

Mike enjoying Pizole at Any's

I didn't want to start our Zihuatanejo blog with a fish story, but it did start with one. The morning after our overnight sail from Manzanillo, we sailed into one of the most spectacular sights we have seen while cruising - a large school of feeding dolphin. They were having their own festival - thousands of dolphins jumping, diving and feeding on whatever school of fish was below. I went to get our video camera and just as I was ready to press go, our fishing rod bent over. Usually a fish will jerk the rod tip, letting you know it's there. This time the rod just stayed bent as the fish took about 200 yards of line off the reel. I tightened the drag on the reel, the fish stopped for a few seconds then took off again. When it slowed we began the long process of bringing the 100# tuna back to the boat. Two days later all our cruising friends came aboard for Yellowfin sashimi.

Robin's birthday Yellow Fin tuna

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