Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mazatlán

We awoke on the morning of our visit to Mazatlán to find the boat docked but the area totally socked in by fog. Oh, oh! However we were assured by the Captain that it was expected to burn off fairly early which of course it did. Another fine day in Paradise. Well actually a very, very warm day. More towards the uncomfortable. I don't know when I lost the ability to cope with the very hot weather but when it comes, it reminds me of how much I like the more moderate temperatures of San Diego or even Hawaii.

As I said before, we had stayed in Mazatlan more than twenty years previously. Then our hotel was way off at the end of a very long beach, sufficient unto itself and we had spent the week mostly there, not venturing out too much. When we did it seemed there was a continuous row of hotels, stores and restaurants lining the beach and I found the people rather rude there, after the two weeks we had already spent elsewhere in Mexico and where people were very friendly.

This time we decided to avoid the hotel strip which probably now has many more hotels and stores and explore the old town of Mazatlan. We could see the Cathedral from the ship and it did not seem too far away and with our trusty map we set off. At the gangway a young Mexican lady gave up a useful walking map of the old town with a set route to include the highlights.

Mazatlán was established by Spanish settlers in 1531 to export the gold and silver from the Sierra Madre mines although it was off the traditional shipping routes of the period. It remained a relatively quiet port until the eighteenth century when the fishing industry was established because of the rich harvest of the surrounding sea. Native people did not ever live here although Mazatlan means deer hunting grounds and they used the area for that purpose, so there are no ancient ruins and the history is totally of the colonial Spaniards.

We started the walking tour in reverse since it ended at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but since it was such an obvious landmark it was easy to find. It's a fairly ordinary structure, begun in 1857and completed in 1899. But every building has its own charm and we wandered around in the cool interior. Externally it has two spires and it's said to be neo-gothic in style with the usual long interior with tall stone columns and two side aisles, but no transept. The arches of the high ceiling were very light with light grey and dark grey bricks and the "old scientist" was worried about them falling down as he could not find the keystones.

The Cathedral faces the Plazuela Republica which was a nice oasis of different palms and other trees and seemed well used by the Mexicans themselves. A variety of booksellers had stalls around the edges and there were shoe polishing stands along one side which were in good use.

Since it was nearby we headed to the local market which was very interesting. As well as the usual Tshirt sellers this market is for the locals since there were fruit and vegetable stalls, cold cuts and even meat stalls. The butcher stands there cutting up the meat to order with his cleaver and I saw some things that one does not usually see at the Granville Island market. For example there was a huge tripe, and I mean huge. Most of you will never have seen tripe let along tasted it but this one was very large and all folded in layers. I suppose the butcher cut pieces off it to order. I also saw several whole pig heads looking out on the shoppers but unfortunately my photo is out of focus so you will be spared this image.

I have to tell you that we rather veered off this route as we saw things that interested us although we did enjoy another square, Plazuelo Machado, surrounded by old buildings which have been restored to their former glory and now house outdoor restaurants, bars and cafes as well as hotels, with the Angela Peralta Theatre, built in 1874, on one corner of this square.

The Art Museum was closed for lunch between 12 noon and 4 pm so we crossed the old town to find the local beach, not the ten mile long one where all the hotels are. The view was still quite hazy, due to the initial fog of the day I suppose, but we did find some surf, although rather flat, which did not stop half a dozen locals trying to catch a wave.

We were quite grateful to return to our ship and spend the rest of the afternoon reading on our deck and watching the boating world pass by. I guess you can tell that Mexico is not my favourite place although I have many friends who love it and come back year after year. To each his own I guess.

Our next and last port of call is Puerto Vallarta and we have been there before on that same trip, twenty years ago. I liked it more than Mazatlan then and I wonder it will be true still.

The plan is for two images to accompany this post. Unfortunately it's just not happening. C'est la vie!






3 comments:

Rositta said...

I'm of the same opinion as you on Mexico, not a place I would choose to visit again, be safe...ciao

Janice Thomson said...

Make that another - I've never had a desire to visit there but I enjoy hearing about it all the same. Heard lots about your next stop too- hope it's more enjoyable for you.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fab history lesson again, jmb!