We had an enjoyable dinner and show on the ship-at-sea with our new British mate, John (Boy) Walton. He’s been a lot of fun to talk to. In fact, he’s about the only reason we “dine” in the formal dining room versus the Buffet Line – we don’t want to leave him to dine alone ;-) The show was a lot of singing and dancing with a theme of “New Orleans”. This cast of folks works very hard to please us and I have to give it to them. I enjoyed their shows more than I have some “professional” shows in big cities.
Our next stop is Huatulco. I was a little surprised that we went right by Acapulco without stopping so I had to ask. Seems that Acapulco, once the land of the rich and famous, has fallen from grace. They did not take care of the tourists properly so most, if not all, major cruise lines have totally ignored Acapulco in favor of smaller, safer destinations such as Huatulco. From what I could find out, the Mexican Drug War has had a negative effect on tourism in Acapulco as rival drug traffickers fight each other for the Guerrero coast route that brings drugs from South America as well as soldiers that have been fighting the cartels since 2006. A major gun battle between 18 gunmen and soldiers took place in the summer of 2009 in the Old Acapulco seaside area, lasting hours and killing 16 of the gunmen and two soldiers. This came after the swine flu outbreak earlier in the year that nearly paralyzed the Mexican economy, forcing hotels to give discounts to bring tourists back. However, hotel occupancy for 2009 was down five percent from the year before. Gang violence continued to plague Acapulco through 2010 and into 2011, most notably with at least 15 dying in drug-related violence on March 13, 2010, and another 15 deaths on January 8, 2011. Among the first incident's dead were six members of the city police and the brother of an ex-mayor. In the second incident, the headless bodies of 15 young men were found dumped near the Plaza Senderos shopping center. On August 20, 2011, Mexican authorities reported that five headless bodies were found in Acapulco, three of which were placed in the city's main tourist area and two of which were cut into multiple pieces. On February 4, 2013, six Spanish men were tied up and robbed and the six Spanish women with them were gang-raped by five masked gunmen who stormed a beach house on the outskirts of Acapulco, though after these accusations, none of the victims decided to press charges. On September 28, 2014, a Mexican politician was gunned down at a hotel in the city and several other politicians have been targeted by drug cartels operating in the area. Investigations are under way, but no arrests have yet been made. The insecurity due to individuals involved with drug cartels has cost the city of Acapulco its popularity among national and international tourists. It has been reported that the number of international flyers coming to Acapulco decreased from 355,760 flyers registered in 2006 to 52,684 flyers in the year 2015, the number of international tourists flying to Acapulco dropped 85% in the interval of nine years.
I also read that corruption in the city government is so bad that the Federal military came in and disarmed all the local police. Yep, never mind about stopping off here for a vacation.
So that brings us to the sleepy little town of Huatulco, another tourist development in Mexico. Although this area has been inhabited for over 2500 years, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that resorts started popping up and things started happening for this area. Huatulco's tourism industry is centered on its nine bays, thus the name Bahias de Huatulco, but has since been unofficially shortened to simply Huatulco. Huatulco has a wide variety of accommodations from rooms for rent, small economy luxury hotels, luxury villas, vacation condominiums, bed and breakfasts, as well as several luxury resorts standing on or near the shores of different bays with clear, clean water and sugar beaches.
I think our visit was “off season” because I used my binoculars to scope out the villas, condos, etc. from our ship’s balcony and I could not find much movement at all. In fact, of the 20 or so buildings lining the shore directly across the bay from our ship only three seemed to have anyone living in them, unless you count the one half finished that seemed to have homeless folks living in it. Of course, this was only a snapshot of one bay. I don’t know what the other eight bays are doing and we weren’t docked here long enough to find out.
The population of Huatulco is around 50,000, but that must include the areas inland – we sure didn’t see more than a a couple of hundred folks. About 80% of all tourism in Huatulco is domestic in nature. Only about 20% of Huatulco's tourism is foreign, mainly because international air access is limited. Bahias de Huatulco has a small international airport just 20 minutes from the main resorts.
We didn’t see any tours that interested us or that we had time for so we just spent a couple of hours walking around. I do believe that until our ship docked, everyone was sleeping and as soon as we “up anchored” everyone went back to sleep. It was just too hot to do anything else and there wasn’t much to see or do except………….wait for it……………drum roll……….. SHOP!!!! Unfortunately (or Fortunately, depending on who you ask), Julieann hit the nail on the head when she said “Their prices are much higher than the last time we came to Mexico.” (works for me ;-)