Arrived on Thursday afternoon, after a significant delay in Mexico City, a place that has that unique smell of equatorial poverty -- a combination of burning wood and plastic. I could smell it in Guatemala, El Salvador, in Africa and even through the windows in the Mexico City Airport. But strangely enough, I love that smell in small doses, and I felt a sense of coming home.
Because of the ocean, Acapulco doesn’t have that smell, and there doesn’t seem to be much poverty, relatively speaking. Although John, the kid from Australia who arrived to the hostel last night said the surroundings were “dodgy”, Jacqueline and I have been getting around just fine.
When I arrived on Thursday, we made our shopping expedition to the Walmart and Sam’s Club to pick up much needed supplies for our training. I got a second mat, a drying rack, a plate, cup, etc as we won’t have time (or money) to eat out at night --- -most of us will partake of the big Fairmont brunch and then mix up our own meals the rest of the day.
Then we walked from the Hostel to the Fairmont, and enjoyed a beautiful dinner beachside. It’s a study in contrasts: we walked along the road, trying not to get hit by crazy cars and busses, avoiding the thousand broken plastic bottles of Fanta in the gutter and then entered the gates of the Fairmont to a lush garden and golf course, meticulous grounds and lovely accommodations. But in either place, the people here are so kind and helpful.
Yesterday, we made our way into town - took the rickety local bus for 8 pesos per person (less than 10 cents) and was immediately transported (in my mind) to Guatemala 16 years ago. The grinding of the gears, the worry that the brakes would fail and we would go careening off the side of the mountain, and the pure pleasure of being the only gringos in this form of transportation brought back very fond memories.
We saw the famous Acapulco Cliff Divers --“Los Clavaistas” . The boys collected 35 pesos (U.S. $3.50) from each of us, and then disrobed, climbed down halfway from the vista point, dove into a tumultuous inlet and then climbed quite a steep cliff on the other side. They made a big show of it, swinging their arms around, saying a prayer at the little altar, but when it came time to dive, they were nothing but serious. I took a lot of pictures, but for the last guy, who dove from the highest point, I just put the camera down and enjoyed the spectacle. Beautiful and amazing.
Then some time in the market. My new friend Jacqueline, with whom I’m sharing a nice enough room in the hostel, is from Holland, but she and her boyfriend live in Brisbane, Australia. She and I are getting along very well, she’s a bit younger than I, but equally as adventurous. As a flight attendant for KLM, she’s been to more places in the world --- I have to catch up! Jacqueline wanted to buy some silver, and she has quite the eye for beautiful pieces. She’s been to Taxco, the silver capital of Mexico and was able to spot the real stuff from the fakes (there weren’t many) and cut a hard bargain for some beautiful pieces. I ended up buying a new silver bracelet and think I got a good price. Anyway I like it, and will be my “requerdo” for the trip.
We finished off the day with a beer by the ocean. We have been warned to stay out of the bay waters as the rains bring all the garbage from the streets with it to the sea, and can cause that revenge I’ve been lucky enough to avoid thusfar. The Fairmont is on the open ocean, so we will be fine there. IF we have time for a dip.