Scared of Acapulco? Do not be. Habla bien de Aca (speak nice about it)
10th – 12th April 2011. My three days in Acapulco in Mexico. Finally. I was always dreaming about this place. It all started already when I was still a child when Acapulco used to be the number one beach resort in Mexico. The most known in Europe and all over the world.
But the things have changed. The reputation of this awesome place is going down, every time it is worse and worse… You ask why? I was asking myself, too. Well, Acapulco nowadays has around 2 millions of inhabitants, with approx. 800,000 of them living at the coast and the rest in the mountains. The coast is very safe. Seriously, EXTREMELY safe. Trust me, I have been there.
What about all the violence between the gangs, shooting themselves and everything bad you hear in the news? I will not lie now, it does exist, but it all happens in the districts (colonias in Mexican Spanish) far from the places where the tourists go. If so far you have been refusing to come to Acapulco because of what you hear of it, do not be scared. I had to visit to see with my own eyes how the situation in Acapulco is. True, right now I hear the sirens of the policemen and ambulance somewhere really far, but being a tourist you will never get that far. And now when I experienced this awesome beach city by myself, I am one of many doing as the slogan says HABLA BIEN DE ACA – I speak nice about Acapulco (aca is the abbreviation of Acapulco and as well it means aquí = here in the Spanish of Latin America.)
Acapulco was first called Acatl Poloa Co in a native Indian language. Literally it means donde abundan los carrizos – a place with a lot of reed. There is a legend behind the name, as usually about everything in Mexico. Acatl was a king of náhuatl tribe and he fell in love with a Princess but they could not been together. From the unhappiness, poor Acatl died and turned into the earth and when his Princess learned about this, she died from sorrow and turned into a cloud. Climbed up to the sky and then started to rain (she was crying) and this is when the rain drops fell down on the earth which was Acatl so they finally connected for eternity.
Later on, when the Spaniards came to Acapulco bay on the 13th December 1521, they did not know the native name of the place and they designated it Saint Lucy Bay (Bahía de Santa Lucía) as the 13th December is the day of Saint Lucia. Until now the name is often used. Later on, very slowly the native Acatl Poloa Co shortened into Acapulco which is the name used nowadays.
When I used to dream about Acapulco, in my imagination it was just a huge beach with nice white sand and uncountable high hotels along the beach. Full of discos (the most expensive one is Baby O with the entrance fee of 500 Mexican pesos – around 31 Euro), restaurants, bars, pubs, great night life, shopping centres and Cici – the aquapark with dolphins and slides. Yes, Acapulco is all that … and much more. What I saw in my dreams was what is now called Acapulco Dorado (Golden Acapulco).
When the visitors from the U.S. started coming here for holidays in the 70’s, they brought the idea of building up hotels right at the beach so once you get out of the room, you step on the sand with the sea just a couple of meters away. Maybe it was out of laziness, who knows, anyway it changed completely what Acapulco used to be before – now this area is called Acapulco Viejo (Old Acapulco).
Acapulco Viejo is in the present poorer than the rest of the city. You will find here some destroyed colourful buildings, with broken windows and probably rubbish on the streets. It is where the harbour lies with all the small ships, cruisers, fishing boats, catamarans (such as AcaRey) and expensive yachts.
Acapulco Viejo is what is left now from the times of Acapulco fame during the 1930s to 1970s. Then all the major hotels were constructed along the coast, and when all the violence started and Acapulco began to fade. In the present, Acapulco Viejo is the place of the local people. The beaches here have many palm trees, are wide, public and you can see the sea from the streets as there are almost no buildings at the seaside. Totally the opposite to the newer Acapulco Dorado I just mentioned above.
Anyway, there are three different Acapulcos, not just two. Apart from Acapulco Viejo and Acapulco Dorado, the most expensive one – the residential area of Acapulco Diamante (Diamond Acapulco). The old house of Silvester Stallone is here, then houses of Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias, a mansion of the family Dolores Olmedo where Diego Ribera spent some time after the death of his wife Frida Calho and decorated the main wall of the house next to the entrance with the snake Quetzalcoatl. A very expensive hotel Las Brisas is situated here in Diamond Acapulco as well, which has 350 rooms and 255 out of them have their own swimming pool.
Like I said, Acapulco was one of the places on my dream-list and I have to say it was different than I expected, it was much more. It definitely needs more tourists because it is still a very interesting and beautiful place to see. So do not be scared and go to visit Acapulco, the cliff jumping at la Quebrada, take a tour through Acapulco Bay by AcaRey catamaran and visit the Chapel of the Peace.
This trip was a press trip organized by Hotel Alba Suites in Acapulco and the tour through the city was done by Arturo Ramírez Rivera from Excursiones Aca. However, all the opinions in the post are honest and just of my own.