Sightseeing – Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco, Mexico – June 2004 The rainy season ordinarily begins in June and runs through September, so there are relatively few tourists and prices are low. During the season it rains occasionally during the day and more often at night – when the temperature drops into the 70's. Afternoon temperatures range about 90°F, so the shade is comfortable but the sun is hot.

Sightseeing
City Center
The Cathedral, built in 1936, has vaguely Bizantine domes and towers. It faces the little town square, or Zócalo, which was re-done in the 1960's and again in 1997. There are a number of little handicraft and shell shops in the immediate area.

Cliff Divers
The cliff divers perform at La Quebrada, about a 10-minute uphill walk from the Cathedral. You can watch from inside the Hotel El Mirador, where drinks will cost you a bundle, but I'd recommend you walk down the outside steps to a viewing area where you can watch for free – except for the tip which the divers or their assistants will collect. Twenty pesos per person should be enough.

Chapel of Peace
This beautiful Chapel, beneath the huge cross on the mountain east of the bay, has lovely gardens and the most spectacular view of Acapulco Bay. In the crypt beneath the altar there is an interesting little statue of Jesus, resurrected, seated upon the cross.

Beaches
Inside the Bay
All beaches are public to the high-water mark, and you can walk for miles on sand. Virtually all the better hotels have roped off their beaches to discourage vendors, who are arrested if the guards can catch them. The beaches in front of Papagayo Park – where there is a gigantic flagpole on the Costera – are popular and wide open.

Outside the Bay
Caleta and Caletilla Beaches are on the ocean side of the peninsula which protects the old harbor, and are protected by the island of La Roqueta. The sea is cleanest and wave action is usually gentle.

La Roqueta is usually peaceful; a "direct" round-trip ticket costs about US$4.00; a 20 minute, glass-bottom boat tour of the channel between Caleta and the island will cost about US$5.00. You get to see the underwater shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. If you like a short hike, check out the path up to the lighthouse on the summit of la Roqueta. From the lighthouse you can see the coast from Pie de la Cuesta to Puerto Marqués.

Bonfil – East of town, just beyond the Mayan Palace Hotel. The best surfing, but there are rarely any life guards.

Pie de la Cuesta – West of town, the "Sunset Beach". The waves and the sunset (if there are no clouds) are impressive but you should not plan on entering the water: this is where they fish for sharks, and the "remolinos" (rip currents) are very strong. ALWAYS ask for prices in advance.

Bullfights
The bullfight season usually runs from late December to April, and the fights take place every Sunday at 5:30pm (sharp). As a rule, three men will face three bulls in ritual killing that dates back several centuries; the fighters wear suits ("traje de luces") derived from Spanish street wear of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The fights in Acapulco are "novilladas" meaning that the bulls are between three and four years old and weigh not more than 450 kilograms (1000 LB).

Tickets
Bullrings are divided into two sections, "Sombra" (shady) and "Sol" (sunny) sides, and the cost of tickets is somewhat higher in Sombra. Tickets can be obtained at virtually any of the larger hotels or travel agencies. On the day of the fight there are almost always good seats available at the ring right up to the time of the fight. Prices vary from about 50 pesos for general admission to 300 pesos for reserved seats on the front row.

Getting There
For any bus marked "Caleta," the western end of the line is the old Jai Alai Frontón near Caletilla Beach. The bull ring is just behind the frontón, a short walk up the one-way "loop" street which circles both the frontón and the Plaza de Toros.

If you walk to the right of the Frontón, with the traffic, you come to the "Sombra" entrance first. If you walk to the left of the Frontón, against the traffic, you'll get to the "Sol" entrance, where tickets are slightly cheaper and there may be more room.

Charities
Be very wary of private organizations claiming to help the children of Acapulco. If you wish to help Acapulco's children, you can make a direct tax-free donation to either of two legitimate organizations providing shelters and assistance:

(1) D.I.F. (Contact Dr. Luis Rodrigo Barrera Ríos, Director General, Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, telephones 483-3032 / 483-3442 / 483-9812); or
(2) The Salvation Army (Contact Major Daniel Guerra, telephone: 482.3974)

For more information on Acapulco, email me at wyliejordan at yahoo.com ——–

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