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The resort city of Ixtapa was planned by the Mexican government and funded by Bank of Mexico as part of an investment program aimed at developing tourist attractions along the coastlines of Mexico. It is located in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Construction of the resort began in the early 1970's.

The first time I heard the name Ixtapa, I was only 11 years old. My grandparents were my guardians at the time, which was the late 60's, and they had heard from a friend that there was a beautiful beach near the fishing village of Zihuatanejo, where we lived at the time. At that time, the only one way to get to Ixtapa beach over land was to walk or ride on a horse or donkey. We packed lunches and, accompanied by some good friends, went on a day hike with a guide and his pack burro.

I don't remember much about the hike there, or back. What I do have a pretty vivid memory of, is the guide telling us how Ixtapa was going to be a booming tourist destination, bringing lots of money into the town of Zihuatanejo. "Z" (as we called it) was a quiet little fishing village at that time with a small municipal airport and very poor access by dirt road. When we arrived at the beach known locally as Ixtapa, there was no sign of development and our guide's big ideas seemed like pure fantasy. The only person in sight when we got there, besides our two family hiking group and our guide, was a Mexican coconut grove worker taking a nap under a palapa on the edge of the beach.

It wasn't fantasy. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo now ranks as the third most visited area in Mexico, right behind Cancún and Puerto Vallarta. I have not been back there. If, and when, I do return, I fully expect to be shocked.

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