The history of Casa del Platero
The original lower story, built in the early 1960’s, is said by locals to be the first home built on La Ropa beach. This probably accounts for its prime location, perched on high ground at the far end of the beach, facing due west for those perfect sunsets. The story goes that the site was chosen also because it is “where the 4 winds meet”, i.e., it gets great breezes that keep things cool, even in summer. At the time of its construction, there were no roads, so materials for the home were brought by boat and donkey. The classic Mexican hacienda-style home representing the lower house was designed and built by Hector Aguilar, one of founders of Taxco’s silver jewelry industry. His designs are internationally known and his pieces are highly collectable (and very expensive!); one can still see the copper downspouts in the shape of fish that were designed by Aguilar and cast in his Taller Borda in Taxco. He was also famous in Guerrero as an architect, collector of pre-Columbian artifacts (some of which you will see in the house), and scholar of pre-Spanish native languages. After retiring from the silver trade, he and his beloved American-born wife Lois lived in the house for many years, witnessing the development of Playa La Ropa. The old well house (now an office) dates from this period. After his wife’s death, so the story goes, the Hector took to drink and ended up losing the house in a poker game to a Dutch ship builder. Whether this colorful story is true is not known, but the house did end up in the hands of the Dutchman and his Mexican wife, who added a back room and bath on the lower floor for their twin girls, and later added the upper story with its glorious sunset view. We acquired the house in 2005, and plan to eventually retire part of the year there. In the mean time, we are delighted to share our little piece of paradise with a few select guests.
About the Owners
Dave and Melissa
Dave is a Professor at Emory Medical School, a bio-chemist, and has a research laboratory. He works on oxidative stress, and is widely-known in the research community for having discovered a group of enzymes that are important in cancer and heart disease. To prove he is not a total nerd, he also paints and plays finger-style guitar. Melissa is a TV/Video producer/director in Atlanta, works frequently with the Public Broadcasting Service and has an active business as a producer of web-site videos for corporations and non-profit organizations. She loves to cook, snow-ski (just not in Mexico) and is a classically trained pianist and violinist. They have a papillon named Lucca, who travels with them to Mexico is has perfected boogie-boarding in the pool.
Lois Cartwright Aguilar and Hector Aguilar c. 1964
Butterfly Pin and Earrings - Hector Aguilar, c 1940
Pre-Colombian style necklace by Hector Aguilar - c. 1940
Hector Aguilar and Lois Aguilar. In Zihua...circa 1977.
1. “Zihuatanejo” is not Spanish. It derives from the Indian word Cihuatlan meaning “land of women”. The –“nejo” just indicates a diminutive...meaning a small sized village.
2. The great stone “reef” at nearby Las Gatas beach is man-made, and was constructed centuries before colonization by the Spanish. It is said that powerful regional king had the reef constructed to protect the beach so that his children could play safely in the water.
3. Playa la Ropa means the beach of “clothing” or “cloth”. Legend holds that an oriental merchant vessel was sunk by pirates at the mouth of the bay, leaving Chinese silks strewn up and down the beach.
4. Las Gatas (the cats) beach was named for the harmless nurse sharks that used to be common. They have not been seen in many years.
5. Zihua was a favorite hang-out of pirates, being the closest harbor north of the major trading port of Acapulco, allowing the pirates to intercept trading ships.
6. Timothy Leary of “tune in, turn on, and drop out” fame held LSD workshops on Playa La Ropa during the 60’s where he and his followers explored magic mushrooms and other ways of achieving altered states of reality. Some of the residents of our neighborhood on La Ropa date from this period.
7. In the summer of 2006, an image in the form of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico, was discovered in the bark of a tree about 50 meters from the house (next to La Gaviota restaurant). It has become a shrine and a destination for pilgrimages. You can see wooden stairs apparently leading to nowhere, with votive candles all around. The Virgin is at the top of the stairs.