National Geographic : 1964 Dec
The old road brought with it Acapulco's first real-estate boom, beginning in the early thirties on Ias Plavas Peninsula. "Before then, not even squatters wanted to live up on these rocks," Martin Marsalis told me. We were sitting beside the pool at El Pozo del Rev, the charming 22-room hotel that Martin operates near the tol of Las Plavas. Martin is in his early sixties, with white wind blown hair and humorous blue eves. He is an engineer and used to own the American Metal Products Company in Fort Worth. "I was about to crack up from overwork," he said. "So I came to Acapulco to crack up) in style. My wife and I built this place in '52, and I never did crack up. "What made-and still makes-Las Plavas are the breezes," Martin explained. "The peninsula rides high above the heat of the town." American real-estate developers saw this as an ideal site for luxury hotels and vacation homes. With Mexican associates, they landscaped, dug wells, put in lighting, sold lots, and grew rich. The chief developer, Albert Pullen, once an office sulpply salesman, is today a millionaire. It was a delicate business for Americans, I learned later. No foreigner is permitted to own in his own name-land within 50 kilometers of the coast. He may, however, in effect purchase property through a Mexican bank trust. Threats Twice a Week Only, Please The federal government took a hand in Aca pulco's development in 1946, purchasing and improving land and building roads. The hotel boom spread from Las Playas back into town and all along the bay. The local federal man in charge, Melchor Perusquia, got many a tongue-lashing from the natives whose land he had to expropriate. They had received small plots when the haci endas were broken up after the revolution. Senior Perusquia gave them each 10,000 pesos plus a house and land farther back in the hills, but they preferred their own. They had a point. Beach front land that sold for 10 pesos a square meter in 1946 now goes for 1,000. Sefior Perusquia went into the market place periodically to explain his program. He put up a sign there that said: "Threats of death and assas sination received Tuesdays and Thursdays." The people liked his machismo, his he-man behavior, and the work went forward. Martin Marsalis showed us El Pozo del Rev's orchid garden. "I collect all these myself," he told us. "I go out into the wild mountain country back of here, 5,000 to 12,000 feet up. "I have about 5,000 orchid plants, more than 100 species. But that's just a snilppet of the 900 varieties in Mexico, 30,000 in the world." Cycling cowhand drives cattle home through coconut palms. Each year the port ships 60 thou sand tons of copra, the dried coconut meat that yields oil used in soa) and margarine. Planters drink the water, sell the husks for mats, and roof homes with the fronds. The industry is second to tourism in the Acapulco area.