The magic of Mazatlan
21 February 2016
Under the full Moon foreshadowing the impending arrival of February, we had a beautiful warm evening crossing of the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan. We caught our first Mexican tuna, a small but tasty skipjack that took our line late in the afternoon. The winds were quite fresh when we departed Los Frailles at sunrise, then dwindled over the course of the day until, at just about sunset, we turned on our motor and headed into the night.
When we pulled into the Mazatlan harbor, we intended to stay a few days. That few days turned into two weeks. It’s now been two weeks since we departed Mazatlan, but the vibrant colors, images, sights, and smells are still vivid in my mind. What lingers with me most is how hard the citizens in this city work to make a good life for their families. All the while, there is not a strong infrastructure to support them. Yet, the feeling is not one of despair, but of joy. I sensed the city’s pride and deep commitment to community.
Mazatlan has a very international cultural feel. Throughout the city, we found beautiful small outdoor plazas – near the central Mercado and in residential areas. On a Friday evening, we happened upon one such small plaza – a horse shoe of chairs set up, filled with folks older than us, dressed up, listening, as one after the other, beautiful Mexican love songs were sung. Some folks stood and danced, so naturally. As we strolled through Plaza Machado, I was brought to tears to hear young opera singers practicing; artists painting and working with clay; and actors rehearsing. And yes, Carnaval – our primary reason for staying longer was to participate in Carnaval, supposedly the third largest in the world next to Rio and New Orleans. Days on end of music, miles of vendors on the Malecon, dancing in the streets, and the most spectacular parade we’ve ever seen.
We stayed at Marina Mazatlan; reputedly once a very hip and popular marina with cruisers, the landscape belies stories of a quick rise cut short by the withdrawal of investment monies during the recession. All around are signs of….deferred maintenance. But there remains a core group of live-aboard expats, who create an amazingly strong community and are very welcoming of a steady inflow of folks such as us, folks new to these parts and heading south. In stepping into this community, we were able to tap into their local set of resources, and have had a chance to talk with folks who’ve “been there.” There is a morning radio net, where one can sign up for haircuts that will be provided on the dock on Thursday, learn of currency fluctuations, hear the weather outlook, be invited to Karaoke at the local bar, or hear about items available for sale / trade.
One of our best experiences in Mazatlan was meeting our first cruising friends – Dan and Tammy. Having sailed to the South Pacific 12 years ago (currently enroute to Cuba), we loved listening to their stories and especially loved adventuring with them.
We hope you enjoy the photos (found in the Gallery) – they tell the best story.
We’ll write soon,
Susan and Rob