Eric Fernandez Ballesteros (2012-2015)
Zihuatanejo , or Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, is the fourth-largest city in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Politically the city belongs to the municipality of Zihuatanejo de Azueta in the western part of Guerrero, but both are commonly referred to as Zihuatanejo. It is on the Pacific Coast, about 240 km (150 miles) northwest of Acapulco, and belongs to a section of the Mexican Pacific Coast known as the Costa Grande. This town has been developed as a tourist attraction along with the modern tourist resort of Ixtapa, 5 km (3.1 mi) away. However, Zihuatanejo has kept its traditional town feel. The town is located on a well-protected bay which is popular with private boat owners during the winter months.
There are two possible origins for the name Zihuatanejo. One origin might be from the Purhepecha language meaning “water of the yellow mountain;” another possible origin might be from Nahuatl (Cihuatlan) meaning "place of women." Cihuatlan, or "place of women," refers to the western paradise of the Nahuatl universe, the home of the “goddess women.” According to tradition, these women arose in the afternoon to lead the sun at dusk to the realm of the dead, Mictlan, to give a dim light to the dead. "De Azueta" is in honor of Jose Azueta, who died fighting a U.S. incursion into the country in Veracruz in 1914.
Zihuatanejo spent most of its history until recently as a sleepy fishing village. The federal governments decision to develop the nearby resort in the 1970s has had major implications for both the city and municipality of Zihuatanejo. The area is now the third most-visited area in Mexico, after Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, and the most popular for sports fishermen. Zihuatanejos population jumped from 6,887 to 37,328 by the early 1990s. Recently, a new highway called the "Maxipista Siglo XXI" was built to connect Zihuatanejo with Morelia, cutting the travel time from Mexico City to about six hours.
The first human inhabitants of the region were nomadic tribes with a hunting and gathering culture. By the 15th century, the area was inhabited by groups called the Chumbia, the Panteca and the Coixcas. These groups mined salt in what is now Ixtapa. The two main settlements in the area were Cihuatlan, which is near the modern Zihuatanejo, and Petatlan. These two settlements along with much of the surrounding area was part of a pre-Hispanic dominion called Cuitlatepan. It extended from the Atoyac River along the coast and inland to the borders of what are now the states of Michoacan and Mexico State. Little remains of these two settlements, mostly because they were abandoned by most of the local inhabitants after being conquered by the Aztecs.
The area had always been sparsely populated before the colonial era. There are some myths and legends related to the place. There is a story that states that Zihuatanejo was a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Cihuateotl, who was of Olmec origin. She was considered to be the mother of the human race and the goddess of women who died in childbirth and of warriors who died in battle. In modern Zihuatanejo, there is an area called "La Madera" to the east of the port that may have been a shrine or sanctuary due to the significant number of pre-Hispanic clay figures that have been found. It is thought that this was dedicated to her. The area also appears to have been a sanctuary for the burial of important persons. In pre-Hispanic times, Tarascan kings used this area as a recreational area.
Cuitlatepan was conquered by the Aztecs under Ahuizotl in 1497. It was renamed Cihuatlan and turned into a tributary province.
The town is an important plot point of the 1994 American film, The Shawshank Redemption, as it is where the main character, Andy Dufresne, wishes to live should he ever get out of prison, and eventually does live; and where Andy instructs Red to come after he is paroled.
British alternate rock band Fightstar released a song named "Zihuatanejo" on their B-sides and rarities album Alternate Endings
In the television series Chuck, on the episode called "Chuck vs the Third Dimension," Big Mike mentions that Zihuatanejo "is the Mexican name for Philadelphia."
In the television series How I Met Your Mother, in the episode called "Something Borrowed", Marshal freaks out on his wedding day, shaves part of his head, and says "Im gonna go find that money under the rock by the tree and go live with the guys on the beach in Zihuatanejo," a reference to the sequence of events in The Shawshank Redemption.
In the television series Psych, Zihuatanejo is briefly mentioned.
In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic micro-comic featuring Princess Luna, Princess Luna mentions wanting to have "dreamings of Zihuantanejo."
In the last segment (parodying the Shawshank Redemption movie) of the Family Guy episode Three Kings, Peter (playing Andy Dufresne), tells Cleveland (playing Red) he will live on an island called Zihuatanejo (which he describes as a filthy Mexican village) and asks him, when he gets out of prison, to find a tin containing $1,200 and a postcard telling him to travel to "The place he told him about" - however he never does arrive, having forgotten the name of the town.
In William S. Burroughs novel, "Queer", he mentions Zihuantanejo several times as a good place to go boating.
Local specialty is Huachinango or whole red snapper, usually prepared Veracruzana (savory tomato sauce) or Al mojo de ajo (garlic sauce).