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Mexico Guru

Party Down in Zihua!

Certain Mexican cities and towns are famous for their exuberant celebrations of Carnaval: with street dances, crowning of a Carnival King and Queen, and inspired parades. But while you need to book months in advance to score a Mazatlan or Cozumel hotel room, Zihuatanejo is a newcomer to this particular party, and therefore less well-known. Continued after photos.....

Zihua offers inexpensive two- and three-star hotels downtown, as well moderately priced to luxury digs on or overlooking the bay. Neighboring Ixtapa, just 8 km NW of Zihua, has 6,000 hotel rooms, including highrises such as Holiday Inn, Best Western, Barceló, Presidente and Club Med. From Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo is easily reached by taxi, car, or city bus.

A moveable feast that usually falls in February or March, Carnival (AKA Mardi Gras) precedes Lent, the 40-day period during which traditional Protestants and Catholics celebrate various events on the religious calendar leading up to Easter Sunday. The queen of the carnival is a title much coveted by local young ladies (and their mothers). Traditionally called “El Rey Feo” (the Ugly King), the male counterpart is now sometimes called “El Rey de la Alegría,” or the King of the Festivities. The juvenile editions of both queen and king are undeniably adorable in their miniature finery and sparkly wands and crowns. In addition to several fun parades, festivities include “la quema del mal humor” (burning of the bad mood), a symbolic “out with the old, in with the new.” An effigy is torched to start off the six-day program, which may include poetry readings and mock naval battles with fireworks. During the comparsas, local people recite poetry making fun of their peers or politicians in a lively parade through Zihua’s main streets.