Acapulco

What a wonderful day.

Before I go on, I need to clear something up. Acapulco is a DUMP and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It has a very expensive part of town (where Sylvester Stallone and Timothy Dalton have houses and have filmed and where Bob Hope and Liz Taylor used to stay) and a very cheap part of town (where the ship moors). It has one historic building (the fort) and several shopping centres. But, man, is it ugly. Acapulco has to be one of the ugliest seaside cities we go to. It may have a glamorous history from the fifties and sixties, but these days, it’s a dump. Don’t get me wrong, the people are lovely, and although they speak Spanish, most of them speak, if not English, then Spanglish, which is perfectly understandable! But it had a major influx of money and prestige In the sixties and seventies, when aesthetics were not particularly sought after, which has resulted in an agglomeration of ugly concrete high rise hotels that stretches right around the bay, along the beach, obliterating the view from behind and also of the bay from elsewhere. Seriously, U-G-L-Y, you ugly, Acapulco. It doesn’t matter how lovely your golden beaches (all public, no such thing as private beaches in Mexico), and they are lovely, and it doesn’t matter how luxurious your hotels and their congruent swimming pools, and they too are lovely, and it doesn’t matter how good the food, how cheap the souvenirs, how friendly the locals, and they are, they are and they are. It’s an ugly dump – a mixture of expensive concrete and cheap shanty wood and metal structures, side by side. There are at least three McDonalds, plus all the other major Americans – Burger King, Starbucks, Walmart, you name it, it’s here. These do not count as redeeming features.

An hour’s drive takes you to what our tour guide repeatedly called the New Acapulco for the 21st Century. He said it at least a hundred times. This translates as ‘just as ugly but one bay over’ and with more greenery between the ugly, i.e. a golf course. Oh good. That’s better then.

We got up at the crack of disgusting (7.30am) to catch our excursion bus for a trip called Highlights and Baby Turtles. The hotels were the highlights and, although our guide, Juan, and our driver, Mario, were brilliant and quite funny, that’s pretty much it. Just hotels, oh, and the conference centre. I kid you not. It was all just so much filler on the way to the turtles, but no one minded much.

We stopped at the top of the cliff at the edge of the bay to take photos of the bay, which is very pretty, as long as you keep the hotels out of shot. Some of the less developed islands in the bay look rugged and interesting, but you should photograph them soon, because land without buildings on it doesn’t stay that way long in Acapulco. Last time we were here, I took a taxi up to Senor Frog’s bar to buy a t-shirt. At the time, Senor Frog’s was a ramshackle bar on the side of the cliff with nothing around it but trees and wild bougainvillea. Now, there are four bars and restaurants, with tarmaced car parks, and viewing platforms and toilets and refreshments and stalls selling souvenirs while you gaze across at the bay. In addition to which, Senor Frog’s now has three merchandise shops down in the town, so you wouldn’t need to come up here anyway.

Filler duly filled, we went to the Elcano resort, where they host the turtles. First we were offered a free drink (and coupons for two more, which was a nice touch), and then we waited for the other coaches to arrive. The pool looked lovely, but as we had not been told that we would have time to use the pool, or, indeed, permission, no one had bought swimming stuff with them. I made my feelings on this subject clear to the excursion escort, Claire, and then I took off my denim shorts and went in in my clothes. I’m not letting P&O incompetence get in a way of a swim in a pool that inviting! When I got out, they gave me a towel and then the talk started.

The guy giving the talk, from the turtle conservation charity, had a very strong accent, which rendered some of it unintelligible, even to me, but the gist of it was that the turtles come back to the same place each year (within a couple of kilometres, anyway – they’re not as accurate as penguins!) to lay their eggs on the beach and only 1 in a 1000 makes it to adulthood, although by releasing them under controlled conditions, we increase their chances 100 fold. Then we got to hold some little ones, that fitted in my palm, born yesterday and this morning, mine hadn’t even opened its eyes yet, and then we went down to the sea, where we released each one onto the sand and cheered it on its way to the ocean. We held them between a thumb and forefinger and you could feel their tummy muscles tensing as they flapped their flippers. They were clearly very eager to get to the sea. The surf was up to about four to six feet in places, so I was a bit worried about them, but they seemed happy enough to be swept up, tumbling around in the water until the waves bore them away. In fact, it was the conservation staff’s footprints that caused the most bother! We stayed behind the rope, but their footprints in the sand were rather deep and once a little fella (or fellarette, they don’t DECIDE their gender until they’re about three years old) fell in, he either quite wore himself out climbing out, having to then stop for a rest to recover, or the staff lifted them out, which was the better option, overall.

Then, when they were all safely in the big blue, we retired back to the hotel restaurant for chips and guacamole, tortillas and tacos, which were very popular indeed. In the queue for the buffet, several people came up to me and said how jealous they were that I had gone in for a swim, but I couldn’t persuade anyone else to give it a go!

We then took a circuitous route home, via some more developments that are being built and planned and got stuck in traffic on our way back to the terminal. Once in the terminal, there was time for shopping or having your photo taken with the local parrots (for a fee). Then it was back on board for a late lunch. I then went on deck and found a sunlounger in the shade, where I read my book in between bouts of swimming in the pool. It felt odd to be back on board and done for the day by 1.30pm, but there really isn’t that much to see in Acapulco that we hadn’t already done (apart from the cliff divers, which I wouldn’t go to if you paid me). Added to which, I got quite burned yesterday, so it was good to get the damp t-shirt off my back and air my sore bits.

Tonight is hoedown night, which means country and western garb for dinner. I can’t find my checked shirt. I must have forgotten to pack it. Oops. One man came to dinner dressed in a full Sheriff’s uniform, complete with hat, which I thought was taking things a leetle bit far!

We have a new person on our table, Monica. Her friend was taken off today with a burst appendix, and her husband went with her, which left Monica all alone, so she joined us. She has a great sense of humour and fitted in very well. We are not sure how long she’ll be sitting with us, but she is very good company, however long it is for, and there was a lot of laughter tonight. She is disembarking in Vancouver, as she has family there. She thinks her friends will rejoin the ship somewhere around Seattle, but, personally, I’d be very surprised. Even if the appendix is removed, it has already burst, which means a probable infection. I’m not convinced that will have abated enough in the six days between now and Seattle for them to fly to rejoin the ship. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.

Today I met three people from St Neots! Well, Eynesbury and Great Barford, to be precise. One of them has a nephew who runs the farm shop at the end of my road! They even recommended a good Chinese restaurant for me, when I mentioned the firey demise of Yim Wah House. The Golden Cross at Great Barford. Duly noted. In return, I told them about the restaurant in Lisle Street in Central London, The Empress of Sichuan, which has the chef from the old Ming Wai that used to be in Little Paxton and was widely thought to have been the best Chinese in Cambridgeshire.

This evening they are showing a talk with the Captain, recorded a few days ago, on one of the television channels. He’s got a point, though. There cannot be many people who have been thrown out of the Cubs for wolf whistling at a nun… Other tidbits worth noting: We burn about two tonnes of fuel an hour on Arcadia. Catching up from Barbados to Aruba, we used 48 tonnes more of fuel than was planned. He was once on a cruise ship that was trapped in a hurricane for three days and one of the decks actually broke in two. It was able to go back to port for repairs and luckily had no passengers on board at the time. But what a terrifying thought.

My sunburn seems to hurt even more today than yesterday. I’m going to bed.

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