Day 011 15th Feb.2010 Acapulco.

Ash Wednesday. Went to mass. Think the priest had to pay for any ash he returned. We all had thumb prints the size of golf balls on our foreheads.
Acapulco, the city of sun, fun and glamour. A bit like a diva, maybe a little past her prime, perhaps overly made-up but still captivating her audience. At 5am its not all that impressive. The sun is rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she tries to get above the high-rise that are clinging to the shoreline. Maasdam is shadowed by some gung-ho military in his 4 high powered outboard 20ft aluminium powerboat. Un-preturbed Maasdam glides her way towards the port. As we dock, the sun has risen sufficiently to cast a pale golden glow over the Fort and Old town of Acapulco. 
It’s now 8am, the gangway is in place and the steady stream of guests snakes its way to the many tour buses ready to make a flying visit to the many ‘spots’ one has to see. A tour through the town, drive past the high rise of Diamond hill, release the baby turtles and the high-light of Acapulco, the cliff divers. We are not booked on any organized tour so take off in our usual manner, cameras, purple hat, a few dollars, the Visa card and loads of energy ready to discover what this famous Mexican town is willing to divulge. Acapulco, wrapped around the 11km. curve of Acapulco Bay is the archetypal package holiday resort-unashamedly loud and brash,with high rise hotels, trendy restaurants and swanky shops rubbing shoulders with heaving nightclubs, glamour golf courses, tour touts and street vendors.
To manoeuvre the mine-field of touts required all the talent acquired in Asia. Passed the test and we were on our way towards the fishing boats which lined the shore nearby. Timber structures, all with female names,Yoyita,Heidi,Bella etc. about 15 ft long and quite beamy(no wonder they have female names) were still returning from the morning trips. Other fishermen clad in Speedo bathers and with a type of net slung over one shoulder to save the skin from rope burn, were pulling huge nets into shore. About twenty men to each heavy net. 
Jostling for position were some hundreds of Brown Pelicans and even more sea-gulls, each waiting for the undersize fish the men were willing to discard. Wandering between all the mayhem was the odd sickly cat and dog, a pelican with its lower bill askew from a break, another with a gaping wound from a broken wing: the animals are not in good health and the few fish they do get obviously does not satisfy their medical needs. The noise is deafening. Men yelling, birds squawking, wings flapping and cameras clicking.

Walking on the pale coloured sands in the early morning, observing the white foam from the gentle waves licking the sand and making curvy patterns as it meets the previous retreating wave, watching and photographing the morning activity one observes the gentler side of life, nature at work.
Off to the markets with the locals. What a contrast to the sea shore activity. Noise;smell;colour; It’s breakfast time and the little holes in the wall are open for business. Locals chatting, laughing, eating and drinking. The spicy aromas hang heavy in the air. We take a few images of the activity then move through the butchers shop area adjacent to the CD and hi-hop music adjacent to the beauty gadgets and potents. What a mix: but this is Mexico, it’s colourful and vibrant. Further on we reach the typical tourist section. Touts are out again. “Just have a look, no need to buy” They are they body language experts. As soon as you eye glimpses and object they pounce. “You want to try; I have many more colours: what your size madam?” It is hard to resist but resist you must or repent that your dollars have not survived the limited shore time; there are more ports to visit. We did purchase some local arts and crafts and enjoyed the game of bargaining.
Arrived at the shaded zocalo or Plaza Alvarez,city square, to glimpse some local life colour. As usual men everywhere just sitting, chatting, smoking cigars and drinking coffee. Everywhere we go we see the men sitting and the women working. One group suggested they had an extra chair available for Len to join them.  Thank goodness he didn’t as he would have missed the beautiful cathedral Nuestra Senora de la Soledad. Its blue onion shaped domes and Byzantine towers are reminiscent of a Russian Orthodox church. It was originally built as a movie set.
From the church we made a turn and up a steep hill to an un-paralled views of Acapulco and the bay. Breathtaking. The aqua to azure to deep marine blue waters lapping the sultry beaches; the red tiled roofs of the white washed houses,the Maasdam resting at the wharf. A panorama well worth the hike. Turned another corner and reached El Mirador. The hotel overlooks where the divers at La Quebrada plunge the waters of the inlet just 7m wide and 4 m deep and 40 metres below. 
The bronzed taut bodies, clad in brightly coloured skimpy speedos,tantalise the audience by making low dives before climbing the adjacent cliffs to the dive platform. Looking like ants they climb the rugged cliff face to a small shrine to pray before making the highly dangerous dive. To the applause of the crowd they dive then make their way to the door of the hotel to receive congratulations and gifts of money.The 8 divers we saw ranged in age from 17 to 35 all are male. Apparently there is a daughter of a former diver in training. If she does dive, she will be the only female to do so.
Back to shopping, then the ship.
Acapulco! where else can you see mirror-shaded,darkly tanned studs on jet skis cavorting the waterways! the locals eating at street stalls under brightly coloured umbrellas; the smells tempting the taste-buds; the cool,colourful drinks in plastic containers,blocks of ice bobbing on the top as the street cart is peddled by. Ahhhh! for the hygiene of the Maasdam.

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