Brought to world fame by Tim Robbins as the little fishing village where his character Andy Dufresne dreamed to escape in the 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption”. Zihuataneho (as Andy pronouced it), was an idyllic place overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the only clue that Andy gave to his friend Red (Morgan Freeman) about where he might end up:
ANDY: I’ll tell you where I go. ‘Zihuataneho’. It’s in Mexico. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific Ocean?
ANDY: They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life.
Those three lines and a short scene at the end of the movie, were enough to make of Zihuatanejo the ideal tropical paradise in the minds of millions of people around the world. And although the place is really a paradise-like destination, it’s a little different from the image presented in the film.
One more of the Mexican ‘twin destinations’ formed by two different cities, regions, or beach towns. Really, just think in Cancun-Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit, Cabo San Lucas-San Jose del Cabo, and now Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, two different lifestyles into one destination.
Ixtapa, which is a Nahuatl word that can be translated as “in the salt” or “the white place”, is an Integrally Planned Center (CIP) developed on its entirety by the Federal Government to be a tourist destination just like Cancun or Cabo. It hosts most of the big resorts, golf courses, marinas and all kind of attractions specifically designed for visitors.
Zihuatanejo on the other hand, is also an ancient Nahuatl word which means “place of woman”. This town has a completely different feeling from that of Ixtapa. It is an authentic Mexican village that has developed its own personality in contrast to the resort town just a few miles to the North.
One could say that Ixtapa is the modern world-class resort, and Zihuatanejo the sleepy fishing village with the bohemian lifestyle and the laidback attitude. But that would be getting into clichés, and these twin towns deserve better.
Located in the southern state of Guerrero, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has had to compete with the godfather of Mexican resorts: Acapulco, which also happens to be in the same state. However, in that competition “Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has fared pretty well.
In a nutshell, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is a place that you have to see by yourself to fully grasp the magnitude of its natural beauty and the magic that captured the imagination of good ol’ Andy Dufresne…