“Remember Acapulco, remember those nights…” - Mexican musician Agustín Lara
This week, we’re pleased to welcome our latest Contributor, Jesus Catalan Meneses, an ex-journalist turned blogger and very Mexican Taconnoiseur. Jesus and I met in Cuernavaca through our work with the Mexican Tourism Board and he’s here to inform our readers about his love of Acapulco, a city that remains in his heart as one of the most interesting beachfront cities in Mexico. Whether he’s writing, researching social media, travelling, cooking or finding the greatest places for tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, Jesus’s love for Mexico can only be matched by his love of Mexican food.
A few months ago I had the privilege to return to Acapulco for work.
Classic: I had not even arrived when I started an intimate and animated conversation with the taxi driver who took me to the hotel. Each and every memorable time one interacts with an Acapulqueño, they find themselves satisfied by the hospitality and smile that only they have.
How’s my Acapulco? I asked.
Beautiful, as always. With its problems and all, but pretty as usual, he replied.
Moving forward along Costera street – like steam in between the walls – hundreds of remnants of me begin to emerge. I will always live in Acapulco. It is the dream destination of my grandmother, who worked all year round to save money and spend one week with my mother and my uncle at “La Quebrada” beach, Pipo’s restaurant, and “Puerto Marqués” beach.
It is the place where my parents enjoyed their honeymoon, during that golden time when the entire world wanted to be around the jet-set that populated the beautiful beaches. I was there as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. With budget and without it. I have slept in Elcano, in the Mayan, in the Pierre Marqués… in all those typical and legendary fancy hotels; and also in a car inside the parking lot of the Costera’s Wal-Mart, in time shares, little houses and the most modest bungalows.
Acapulco has seen me without a shirt, without clothes, white, bronze-coloured and red. Drunk, accomplished, sober, hot in every way, defeated, at the top of the Paladium nightclub, as a gopher and as the boss. And it has always treated me equally well.
In Acapulco, I feel the hand of my mother, guarding mine in the sand, showing me the sound of the sea inside snail shells. And I remember those magical excursions by glass bottom boat to see the underwater statue of the Virgin of the Sea, a big shock for any child.
My first nightclub: Andrómedas in Acapulco, at the age of 13 (and my first ever tequila shot). Wow. In Acapulco, I see my friend Christopher, so many times, whether we’re bungee jumping or in so many other places, he is always with me. With him, they told me to ‘beat it’ at the door of the Disco Beach club, that tragic night when we went out to meet and hook up with Spring Break girls but they didn’t let us inside the clubs.
From the very shore of Acapulco’s sea I cried tears of joy at the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended: Karen and Terry’s, when the four elements of nature sealed the couple’s love together. That evening, night and dawn arrived and my sister seemed like a goddess to me with that beach gown while we danced until the sun of the following day came.
On another trip, she and I returned to be part of the inauguration of the El Encanto hotel, to be behind and in front of everything and everyone, working our faces off and enjoying ourselves in spite of an old bitter woman who hired us and deceived us.
There’s also Eduardo (driving his red convertible, very Luis Miguel) and Gaby and Lorelee and Paola and Rodrigo and Alan and the wedding of one of ‘the big ones': Don Arturo Muradás who married below Acapulco’s sweet rain.
And I could continue like this.
With all that, I am sure that millions of Mexicans and foreigners have recollected the same – and more – memories as I. Spiritual material that is there, alive, immortal.
Acapulco is amazingly versatile: few destinations in the world adapt so well to the measure of the wallet and have so many options to meet the needs of every budget. There, coins are spent as good as millions.
Beyond the politics around Acapulco, to which I cannot refer at this time because to walk or reminisce along the Costera is to enjoy, and this joy intoxicates, overwhelms and prevents any remote thought about political matters, but I am confident that we all are – like me – filled with the desire to come back and re-live or harvest new stories.
During the same taxi trip, after passing the “Diana” statue before arriving in my hotel, I felt something very strong: Acapulco is identical to us (Mexicans). Being Mexican, it’s inevitable that we identify with a landscape that – like our own bodies – speaks at the same time of many eras of prosperity and many eras of tragedy. A landscape that expresses how, in ourselves, we know what it’s like to fall down and to get up. Facades of tanned, demolished skin, rebuilt and ready to recover from the following disaster, whatever it may be.
With it’s own, rich and natural history: Acapulco was not built artificially like other places: what you see is what exists, what stays after the overexploitation and the trials of life, which certainly still is great and still alive, abundant and beautiful as it was in the beginning, is just like our own bodies.
The best Acapulco souvenir is a panoramic photo – taken with the eyes and the mind – of the bay: probably one of the most striking and beautiful in the world. ‘Acapulco Bay’, Sinatra would sing about. By night, it is a prodigious embroidery full of light and life. While I mentally click click clicked one night before coming back to the capital in the middle of a yacht surrounded by happy gringos who danced La Macarena, from the heart I sent gratitude to Acapulco and – knowing that I was never going to be able to say goodbye – I promised… I will come back soon.