Nearby to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, there were lots of delightful day trips. We visited the Zona Arqueológica Soledad de Maciel-Xihuacan, an archaeological gem that has only barely been unearthed – literally. The ancient city, which was occupied for more than 3,000 years and at its height was a major population center, saw its demise as the result of a catastrophic flood around 900 C.E. Excavations are slow but ongoing, and have already resulted in major finds, like the largest ball court discovered in Mexico to date.
The surrounding village, La Soledad de Maciel, almost certainly sits atop other ancient ruins – the homes are perched on mounds that jut at the same angles as the nearby pyramids, and when it rains, they constantly find more artifacts. We hired a guide whose parents still live in La Soledad de Maciel, and whose family traces back generations in the region. His family invited us to lunch for tamales, pink pomegranates straight off the tree, strong coffee, fresh coconut water, and a home-grown cigar to celebrate Charles’ birthday. It was unspeakably hot, but the family was very kind and the food was spectacular.
Artifacts from the archaeological site are everywhere – including the museum and the site itself, but also at the church of La Soledad de Maciel. I am glad we visited the site, and the village.
I am always humbled by the fantastic construction at ancient sites – thousands of years ago, but built by people with brains just as complex as ours. I believe, as a society, we could use more often to be humbled by our surroundings and what has come before us. It is also surreal to know the fate of this major population center, occupied for hundreds of years, and to somehow still feel like San Francisco will never go anywhere.

Secluded Beauty: Playa Punta Valentina

After the Zona Arqueológica Soledad de Maciel-Xihuacan, our guide took us for quite a journey – out through Petatlán, under the bridge, and then following the road through Río Chiquito until it dead-ended at a lagoon. As the crow flies, we were only about 8 miles from where we were staying in Barra de Potosi, but it was deserted other than the folks who pulled up in their boat to bring us on to the next stage.
The lagoon was quiet (other than the diesel motor pushing us through, I still don’t mind it but Charles has become quite the diva about electric silence!), with startling colors all around. Impossibly white cranes, shade-defining lavender flowers, and tropical trees and vines crawling their way out to meet us on the boat. Absolute magic. Then we got to the beach, again nearly alone. We walked from the lagoon side to the ocean side, where waves crashed and called us in on the hot day.
After swimming, we wandered back towards the lagoon, and came across three men sitting in the palm tree shade. We got to talking, and one of them asked if we wanted to come see the turtles. Obvious yes, and off we went.
He lives out on the lagoon, and watches each year for turtles as they lay eggs. He rescues them from the dogs and other scavengers, brings them into a shaded hut, buries them under the sand, and keeps notes on which types of turtles they are and when they came in. On days like today, he locates a burial that should be ready, unearths them, and starts welcoming turtles into the world.
It was just the five of us in there, and turtles were hatching right out into our hands. They were so tiny, so sandy, so soft. We put anybody ready for the sea (i.e. out of their shells) into a bucket, carried a few more in our hands, and started walking them down to the shore.
As soon as sun hit their bodies outside the shade of the hut, they activated, starting to “swim” on our hands and spin towards the ocean. It was magic. When we got close to the surf, we started placing them down and watching their final scoots towards the water. More often than not, a wave came in and their tiny bodies were immediately hurtled back up the beach, but eventually all of them caught the right moment in the wave and off they went. We have seen so many turtles out visiting us in the water while sailing, it was a joy to launch some of our own.
Goodbyes and goodnights from this goat.