Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mazatlan - Part One

A vacation from our vacation. That’s what Doug calls it. We’ve been in Mazatlan for a little over two weeks now and we are loving it. The weather is perfect. Each day the temperature rises to the late 20s, then cools off in the night. Perfect for sun-tanning, perfect for sleeping. Although there have been strong winds outside the marina, we have only experienced gentle breezes in the afternoons on most days.  The rest of the time it is calm.  No rocking and rolling, no fetch, no hobby horsing. It is very pleasant.  It is very secure. It is very unstressful.  Life is good.

We are tied to the dock at Marina Mazatlan. ( Through a small opening on the beach, past the El Cid resort, down a narrow passage and into a lagoon there is an island surrounded by docks. On the far side is our 260 slip marina encircled by a tiled walkway, restaurants, cafes and other small businesses.

Marina Mazatlan is in the forground. Our slip is on the second dock to the right. El Cid Resort is at the entrance to the lagoon in the upper left corner.

We have power, water, access to unlimited hot showers, and inexpensive laundry services. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday a produce truck arrives with the most incredibly luscious array of fruit and vegetables, eggs, fresh bolillos and tamales. Beside him is a fish monger who brings three sizes of shrimp, all for under $10 a pound and any other kind of fish we ask for the next time he comes. Close by is a little tienda that sells beer, liquor and wine. Almost every night there is live music from one of the restaurants or bars. On Monday and Tuesday we can hear the haunting notes of a solo saxophonist floating through the docks. Wednesday is a modern day version of Jose Filiciano, a man who’s haunting tenor voice sends chills up your spine as he sings, of all things, “Phantom of the Opera”. We enjoy listening to him as we are curled up under a blanket in the cockpit. The weekends are a bit more rock and roll as the disco down the boulevard cranks up and the bass latino beats reverberate around the area. Good thing I like Shakira!

Ka'sala at the dock - island in the background

Sidewalk looking to marina office

Security gate leading to our dock

These aren’t the only sounds. Because this marina complex has been built in an estuary, which is surrounded by lagoons, the place is full of birds. Every morning I am awakened by the soft cooing of a mourning dove, followed by the familiar kwiss, kwiss of some kind of jay. In the evening swoops of swallows divebomb in the sunset and frigates and pelicans are ever present. I’m not a birdwatcher, but based on all I have seen and heard, I think this may be a paradise for them.

Our cockpit is south facing and the sun is perfectly placed for a warm breakfast in the cockpit. Later in the day I can sit in my bathing suit and work on my tan. If we stay for a week it costs $30 a day. If we stay for 2 weeks it costs $20 a day. If we stay for a month, $15 a day – all retroactive and amounting to a little more than we pay to keep Ka'sala on her slip in Comox. Now I know why this marina is nicknamed “Hotel California” from the song’s famous line: “you can sign out any time you want, but you can never leave”! It would be very easy to forget about everything in the world and fritter away your life on good books and margueritas. Hmmmmmm………

However, we have not spent the last two weeks in the cockpit. Instead, we have been exploring this fascinating city and catching up on boat work. We have been doing a lot of reading and planning and really giving some thought to the meaning of life we have been hoping to find on this journey. More on this later….

The day after we arrived in Mazatlan we were delighted to hear from Meredith. She had spent the Christmas holidays with her mother and sister in Sayulita and was here to catch the ferry back to La Paz to rejoin Silas Crosby. We shared the morning with her, catching up with her news, before we accompanied her to the ferry – a 60 cent, 30 minute bus ride across the city. Her mother had given her a trick ukulele for Christmas and she entertained us with a few songs.

Ukulele Lady

We tried to convince her to stay longer and visit with us, but if she didn’t catch the ferry that day, she would have had to wait another 4 days and she was keen to return to her own sailing adventure.

We'll miss you, Meredith!

Meredith paid about $90 to catch the overnight ferry. This price entitled her to dinner and breakfast aboard, as well as a first come, first served reclining chair. The ferries are large and carry vehicles as well as people. From the looks of the freight trucks lined up it is a central route for delivering goods.

Chihuahua Star

The terminal was bustling with all kinds of people. Mexican families of many generations and backgrounds, mothers with their children, young men, workers, and the occasional gringo backpacker milled around, getting tickets and checking luggage. The terminal is a secured place with a guarded entryway and security patrolling the premises.

When Meredith had everything in order, we made our way down into the central market area to find lunch before her departure. Near the cathedral, we found a little Mexican restaurant and had “gorditas”. Gorditas are basically two tortillas with a hot stuffing in the middle, pressed together. They look a little like an enclosed stuffed pita. We had the choice of about 10 different fillings and I chose marlin and a type of pulled, spiced beef (I can’t remember the name of it), but there was also shrimp, chicken, cheese, bean stuffings as well.

Beef Gorditas

 These little rounds were our second adventure in Mexican food that day. Earlier I had bought chicken tamales from the produce man which we devoured for breakfast. Tamales are little packets of food wrapped in corn husks.


Inside are vegetables such as carrots, onions, tomato, peppers and jicama. The meat is seasoned and then the whole thing has a cornmeal mixture around it that, when cooked, has the texture of polenta.

Inside a beef tamale

They can be served warm or cold and, we discovered later, can be stuffed with a variety of meat and fish. They are truly the perfect food. They cover all the food groups, are incredibly delicious, low fat and totally organic.

Oh, and when served with a Pacifico with lime!   Mmmmmmm.    Move over lamb stew and Guinness!

After lunch we parted company with Meredith and continued our exploration. We headed out to see what the harbor looked like and to see if we could find Club Nautico – where cruisers anchored in Mazatlan before the marina district was built. We didn’t find the Club, but we did find the harbor with several boats at anchor, though only a couple of them were cruisers.

Looking east,  the anchorage in Mazatlan Harbour - moorings close to shore, cruisers outside.  Note the Baja ferry middle ground and 3 (yes 3!) cruise ships in the background.

We continued our walk along the water front. First we climbed a hilly area crowned with luxurious villas with spectacular views, where we were able to get a better perspective of the harbour.

Looking south, you can see the anchorage and harbour entrance.  Club Nautico should be one of the buildings midway along the landbridge.  To the left is the road we are walking on.

Looking west, Don Carbon is pensive

We then descended into a quaint little beach area called Olas Altas (High Waves).

On the malecon at Olas Altas

We could see by the age of the buildings that we were near the original centre of town but, after fortified by a Pacifico :) on the waterfront, we continued over another rocky hill and down onto one of the largest malecons I have ever seen, extending miles around a deep, sandy bay.

Fishermen's Pangas line the southern end of the beach.  The malecon stretches out into the distance.

We couldn’t resist. We kept on walking through the afternoon and arrived at the other end just as the sun fell into the ocean and the sky lit up with hues of red, orange and purple. We found ourselves in the Gold Zone which reminded us a lot of Cabo San Lucas – expensive hotels, overpriced souvenirs, touts, Burger Kings and many, many gringos paying four times the price of a beer on the Mexican side of town.

Our walk this day began at the ferry to La Paz, around the point, through Playa Olas Altas, and along the beach to the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) - a distance of about 8 miles. 

We were pretty tired by then and, rather than becoming cranky, we jumped into a pulmonia, (a funky open air taxi halfway between a golf cart and a volkswagon) after fiercely negotiating a fare of $5, to whisk us back to the marina.

These chariots rocket around town and are quite a thrilling way to end your day.

1 comment:

  1. As report cards and exams LOOM over my head, I am officially jealous of you right now. Wish I could jump on a plane right now and head your way...dang job. Drink a large margarita for me and think of us, here in the snow...have fun! Chantel