Acapulco - Think of Acapulco and what springs to mind? Highrise hotels as far as the eye can see, discos, nightclubs, fast food restaurants, Wal-Mart and Gap stores. All the paraphernalia I like to leave behind.
But in the Las Playas area in the old town, all is quiet. At the legendary Hotel Los Flamingos, perched high on a cliff, you can step back in time to the days when Acapulco was the playground of Hollywood stars and playboys.
The hotel was purchased in the 1950s by the "Hollywood gang," led by John Wayne and Johnny Weissmuller. Photographs in the lobby chronicle the antics of the rich and famous - Errol Flynn, Red Skelton, Richard Widmark, Cary Grant - who used the hotel as a hideaway from the turmoil of Tinseltown.
Weissmuller fell in love many times, but his most enduring romance was with Acapulco, where scenes for some of the Tarzan movies were shot. He made his home at Los Flamingos, in La Casa Redonda, the vermillion-painted circular house near the main hotel.
Juan, the friendly barman, unlocks the gate to a unique world. From the Casa's wrap-around porch, I peer into the gloom of the two-bedroom suite. Here, the desk used by Tarzan, there the bed.
Tarzan is everywhere: at the bottom of steep steps cut into the cliff are stone ramparts in the shape of a crocodile's head. The view from this rocky perch is spectacular: in the distance, villas nestling amid lush vegetation, La Roquetta Island in the glittering emptiness of the ocean. I scan the rocks below, hoping for a glint of glass, the remnants of broken tequila bottles and shot glasses tossed away during late-night drinking sessions in the hotel's heyday.
Legend has it that during filming, Weissmuller's stunt double, Angel Garcia, plunged to his death while making a spectacular dive at nearby La Quebrada. Now, five times a day, cliff-divers perform that "leap of faith."
In blistering heat, crowds line the precipitous path. Divers scale the cliff face. They bow their heads at small shrines. Tension builds as each diver waits for the right ebb and flow before launching himself into the pool of foaming waves pounding the rocks far below.
For a glimpse of part of the backdrop used in some of the early Tarzan movies, I take a cab to the swamp around Laguna de Tres Palos, 32 kilometres southeast of Acapulco. Where once Tarzan's distinctive cry - Awweeawweeaw! - was heard, today there's only the rhythmic splash of oars as visitors row through mangroves, watched by herons and other waterfowl.
As my cab begins the long descent back into the city, Sylvester Stallone's mansion comes into view, its modern grey concrete facade stark amid deep green vegetation. Elderly blue and white Volkswagen Beetles race toward us. They're everywhere in Acapulco, providing a cheap alternative cab service. Their windshields sport a variety of names. I sigh over Norma y Angeles - romance is still alive in this part of the world. The cab's engine idles in the snarl of traffic blocking Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán, which borders the main strip in Acapulco.
I watch the beach crowd already abandoning the palm-fringed beaches and sparkling water of Acapulco Bay. Bars and discos beckon. Partygoers' limbs move in time with the throbbing beat. It's happy hour, which in this part of town stretches into eternity. In the distance, the peace and charm of La Casa Redonda.
Back on its porch, I had run my fingers over hooks in the ceiling. My imagination ran riot: Johnny Weissmuller lounges in a hammock, a warm breeze wafts through his hair. He sips a Coco Loco, the rum and tequila drink invented here in the 60s, as the sun slips slowly into the Pacific.