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Zihuatanejo: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

If you have seen the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ then you have heard of Zihuatanejo. It’s an overcast day and Andy Duphrane is sitting in the courtyard and has reached his ultimate low point in life. After his only legitimate way out of prison has been taken from him he is faced with two choices. [...]

If you have seen the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ then you have heard of Zihuatanejo. It’s an overcast day and Andy Duphrane is sitting in the courtyard and has reached his ultimate low point in life. After his only legitimate way out of prison has been taken from him he is faced with two choices. Spend the rest of his life in prison or break out. Talking with his best friend, Red, he mentions a small Mexican town that he wants to spend the rest of his days called Zihuatanejo. At the end of the conversation Andy says, “I guess it all boils down to two things. You can either get busy living or get busy dying.” That night Andy breaks out of prison and makes his way to Zihuatanejo to live the rest of his life. The movie ends with Andy re-uniting with Red on a golden sand beach that stretches on for miles.

Zihuatanejo – The Reality

From Mexico Pacific Coast 2010-08

Having stayed in Zihua (what the town is called locally) I can state that there is no picturesque golden sand beach that stretches on for miles. Zihua does have it’s beaches and it is a great place to spend some time relaxing. In reality Zihua is trying to balance the small-town-fishing-village-feel with a developing tourist industry. When you look at the bay you see some hotels but no massive buildings like what you will see in Cancun, Acapulco, or Puerto Vallarta. The town is now quite large and I would call it a small city than a ‘fishing village’. Between Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo I choose Zihua any day of the week (More on my review of each beach in a later post).

I’m staying in a small hostel that is next to the local market where you can buy any type of fishmeat, fruit, or vegetable offered in the area. It’s a five minute walk to the Municipal beach but since this beach pretty crappy and is really just good for looking out at the bay I preferred walking the 25 minutes to Playa La Ropa or the hour walk around the bay to Playa de Las Gatas. You could hop on a boat across the bay to Play de Las Gatas but where is the fun in that? So what have I done? I’ve sat on a different beach every day this week taking in the views, relaxing, drinking beer and reading my book on the beach.

Of the 5 beaches I’ve been to this week I haven’t been absolutely enamored with any of them. In my mind I have my ideal beach and none of these quite hit the mark (Again, more on this later).

A Pleasant Surprise

I knew when I came to Mexico I was going to be eating a lot of really good food and most of it would come from street vendors. So far this has most definitely been true. The food has been cheap and delicious and has had me going back for more. What I wasn’t expecting was that I would have one of the best hamburgers I have ever had in Mexico from a street vendor.

Two days ago I was hungry and most street vendors had closed for the night. The only one I could find open was one selling hot dogs and hamburgers. I was hungry so I thought, ‘What the hell’. My expectations were low and my had me thinking I was going to get a crappy piece of meat on a dried bun with some ketchup and mustard. What I didn’t expect was an explosion of flavor and one of the best burgers I ever had.

I went to a different vendor tonight for dinner and ordered up another hamburger. This one was even better than the first! What makes these things so damn good? When you order a hamburger they toast each side of the bun and add something similar to a Worcester sauce to the patty. At the same time they also grill up a slice of ham. After the ham has been grilled they throw on some Oaxaca cheese (similar to mozzarella) and then place the top of the bun on top of the melting cheese and let this sit on the grill while they start preparing your burger. On the bottom half of the bun they add a slice of American cheese and put the burger on top. On top of burger they put grilled onions, tomatoes, chile peppers, avocado, grilled pineapple and the normal ketchup and mustard. Then they put the grilled ham, cheese and upper part of the bun on top. All for 30 pesos (about $2.50). AMAZING.

A little over a month ago I was closing down life in Cleveland. That already seems like an eternity ago. I can’t help but think, ‘Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.’ I think I’m living. At the moment I think living pretty damn well.

Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Mexico

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Boomer September 8, 2010, 8:23 pm

    Sam,

    It sounds like you are having an amazing adventure…definitely living. Really enjoy keeping up with your trip through your blog!

    I hope you're enjoying the beer too.

    Boomer

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  • Sam September 20, 2010, 3:23 am

    Hey Boomer,

    Things are great. Everyday is something new and totally amazing. The beer isn't too bad. Not much of a selection but I'm getting used to only having Mexican lagers.

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