Fuerte de San Diego

On Sunday, we began our own sightseeing of Acapulco in earnest. We took a bus past the old town/zocalo area to the historic 17th century Fuerte de San Diego, walked the grounds and toured its many museum halls, taking tons of pictures.

Acapulco was settled around 2500BC by local indigenas that resisted even Aztec conquest, before the Spanish came in 1528. In 1565, Acapulco became the main trade market for the annually-arriving treasures of silks, porcelain, ivory, and lacquerware from China, as well as new foodstuffs, like mangoes, from The Philippines. These, plus gold, attracted Dutch & English pirates, like Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish, necessitating the building in 1617 of the fort we visited. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1776, the massive bayview hillside fort now standing was rebuilt in 1783.

Mexico's War of Independence 1810 stopped the Nao de China (aka Manila Galleon) forever. An interesting point of cultural influence was that every wealthy Spanish family had to have these prized porcelains as a show of status, and Spanish ladies in Acapulco wore the silk kimonos and jackets as high fashion.

Not a part of the fort's story, but for more recent history, Acapulco slumbered until the road to MX City was completed in 1927 and vacation hotels built on the ocean-facing cliffsides in the 1930s (old Hollywood stars hangouts), and finally huge tourism development & investment along the east beaches in the 1940s & '50s, and now.

A city of 2.5 million people, a driver of one of the ubiquitous blue-n-white Volkswagen taxis joked that there are twice as many taxis as people in Acapulco; it's funny to see all the usually empty taxis zipping around honking at anyone on the Costera sidewalks for fares. Also, we wish we'd have taken photos of the just as numerous but uniquely airbrush-painted and decorated privately owned buses that wisk one around for 4-5 pesos (40-50cents) along the bay. Sometimes you get a bucket-o-bolts, sometimes a new air-conditioned one, but all have cool names, cartoonish art on the ceilings, dangley stuff on the windshields, and music.

Speaking of music, a forever memory of our anchorage in Acapulco was hearing live bands every night from the docked nearby bayride party boats the "Fiesta Maya" and the "Bonanza" and/or from the zocalo bandstand. Also, there were lots of strolling kissing-in-public young lovers, unseen in previous Mexican towns, and more revealing dress; perhaps a factor of the 85F/30C heat??.