At Tres Vidas recreation is extensive: golf, tennis on clay courts and grass, horseback riding on the beach, surf-fishing (this section of the coast has a high population of sharks, stingrays and sand fleas, as well as a powerful undertow that discourages surfing), freshwater fishing in Lake Papagayo and the Papagayo River, hunting for waterfowl, deer, wild boar, cougar and mountain lion. The clubhouse has saunas, reducing and muscle-building equipment, whirlpools and pressure hoses, massage tables, barber and beauty shops. Between the clubhouse and the beach is an enormous swimming pool with, at one end, a bar with stools in the water. The golf shop, run by pro Earl Whitten, and the tennis shop, run by former Mexican Davis Cup star Alfredo Millet, are owned by Tres Vidas, as is the boutique. At this boutique not long ago Lyndon Johnson ordered himself $200 worth of the white linen shirts so often seen around Mexican resorts. Rather than supplying the handmade shirts Johnson wanted, the boutique manager rushed into town, bought the shirts at J.C. Penney's and proudly presented them to the ex-President without removing the labels. The boutique is currently under new management.
One lady guest at Tres Vidas was sitting in the golf shop with an anxious expression as she waited for her husband to be rubbed and jiggled in the men's locker room. Finally she spoke up: "Those soldiers at the airport with guns, who are they protecting us from? Do the people hate us?"
"The soldiers are not protecting us, they're protecting the airport," replied Beto Batani, whose job title is director of special services. "We have our own guards."
The woman was only slightly reassured. She could still sense something wild, hot, nameless and probably threatening out there in those mountains and jungles, and she felt somehow uneasy even here in the air conditioning, behind glass and stone, with guards at every gate and dozens more patrolling the grounds. The state of Guerrero has no railroads, hardly any highways and few telephones. Zihautanejo has one public phone and its number is easy enough to remember—1. Guerrero is known for blood feuds lasting generations. Dope farmers in the mountains ambush soldiers with more bloody efficiency than was ever managed by moonshiners in the U.S. In parts of Guerrero the law may be two or three days away and coming on horseback, if at all. The state of Michoacán, on Guerrero's northern border, is even wilder and rougher.
But the arrival of jets and big hotels and Tres Vidas en la Playa with their accessory developments is pushing back the jungles at a rate far faster than man had been able to do with a machete for hundreds of years. "We are creating a whole new aspect of Mexico," says Post. In the midst of which privacy still is secure for those who can afford it.