Thursday, July 29, 2010

Celebrities in Zihuatanejo from Timothy Leary to Britney Spears

The first celebrities that visited Zihuatanejo date back more than four hundred years ago when
it was the favorite retreat of Tarascan kings, one of whom "built a stonewall breakwater in the shallow cove so his daughters could swim in a sheltered lagoon" (1). With the passage of time, the stonewall has grown into an active coral reef that offers great snorkeling.

Fast forward to the early 20th century, when the American author famous for his Westerns, Zane Grey, wrote his 1925 book, "Tales of Fishing Virgin Seas," inspired in Zihuatanejo, where he caught a year earlier a 135-lb. sailfish that was then a world record catch. The author, enamored with the place, wrote on the back cover of his book: "Zihuatanejo has more authentic South Seas atmosphere than the South Sea islands themselves."

Around 1963, Timothy Leary, an icon of 1960 counterculture, dismissed from Harvard for experimenting with psychedelic drugs, established in Zihuatanejo the "Mexican Freedom Center", where he and his followers aimed to give continuity to his life project of "Turn on, tune in, drop out".

Five years later, Owen Lee, a member of Capt. Jacques Cousteau's diving staff, got hooked by the magic of Zihua-- "In 1968, he sailed into Zihuatanejo Bay aboard an old wooden sailboat. He has lived here and loved it ever since" according to the back cover of his 1996 guidebook, entitled "Owen´s English Language Guide". Lee owns the Las Gatas Beach Club.

In 2005, Daniel Kennedy released "The Cooking School at Z," subtitled "a novel of romance and food in Mexico." Reviewing the book editor Catherine Krantz said it "reminds us why we love Zihuatanejo, the beauty of the place and the people here." Kennedy says his best-selling bookstore is the international airport in Sacramento, "where people want a novel for a long plane ride to shift them into a vacation frame of mind." (2)

A short time later, Canadian snowbird Elizabeth Ashe released "The Jade Pendant," totally set in Zihua. Ashe says she feels "Zihuatanejo is the most romantic and inspiring place on earth, particularly for women, and it will always hold a special place in my heart no matter where my future takes me." (2)

A moonlit beach in Zihua is the ideal place for love, as it was the place chosen by Mark Burnett, producer of hit shows such as Survivor and The Apprentice, to get down on his knees in 2006 and propose to TV actress Roma Downey. (3)

Last year it was Britney Spears´ turn to enjoy Zihuatanejo. The Princess of Pop Music, her beau, the actor and musician, Jason Schwartzman and her two sons, Sean and Jayden relaxed and enjoyed a few days under a splendorous sun.

Tom Morley, renowned yoga instructor to film celebrities such as Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Helen Hunt has also chosen Zihuatanejo to offer his health and healing therapies.(4)


(1) NYT Travel Section, Sunday, May 19, 2002

(2) Michel Janicot, a writer who lives in Grass Valley, CA in