Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reflections on Spending a Winter Month in Mazatlan

It felt so good to wake up every morning to warm temperatures that lasted all day, while cooling off in the evenings; the temperatures ranged from 32 C to 25 C in the evenings; there was no humidity just warm and cool sea breezes to contend with each day and night. Since it was January, it felt surreal; in the past we did spend a couple of weeks away during the winter months, but a whole month felt odd. What to do was the question. Yes, we beach-combed by doing our exercise walk each morning along the beach followed our attempts to do some non-fictional reading while watching the waves of the sea. Mazatlan has a large expat community from the USA and Canada; everyone escaping the winters of their home bases; some are there for six months while others are there for one, two, three or four months. It was definitely a time to witness the baby-boomer generation enjoying their sunset years in the sun. The Mexicans appear to accept this phenomenon. It brings them employment of a wide variety that includes promoting time-share and beach club purchases all along the new development area of New Mazatlan.

We lived in the Golden Zone area; an area where all the hotels and tourists hang out. We decided to venture further and took day trips to the Historica Centro (the City Centre or old Mazatlan) exploring the history and learning about the restoration of the City Centre. There is a vibrant arts and cultural community as well as a variety of Mexican and other restaurants dotted throughout the Centre.

We went on a countryside tour that took us to Copala. On the way there we stopped to see how small family entrepreneurs made bricks for sale as a sole source of income. Despite fierce competition from the major industrial brick makers these families persist. Mid-way through our journey we stopped at Concordia to observe another family tradition of making floor tiles and other artifacts. Here we visited a Cathedral and a Town Centre with an impressive courtyard. Along the wall of this courtyard was a historical mural depicting the history of Mazatlan. It illustrated how the French, English and Spanish came ashore, pillaged from the local people and raped their women. The Tour Guide, in a matter-of-fact manner described this sordid past as their reality. He also emphasized how the locals of the time were forced into being converted to Catholicism. Once in Copala located among the mountains we visited yet another Church and an artist who specializes in creating art forms with the leather medium; they ranged from fridge magnets, brooches, lapel pins and masks. He demonstrated the use of one of the masks in preparation for Mardi Gras that is to occur in the middle of February. Apparently, Mazatlan has the third largest Mardi Gras with Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans taking first and second place respectively. Our tour ended with a Mexican lunch and a quiet ride back through meandering hills and roadways.

Mazatlan was a beautiful experience; one that we can easily repeat many times over.

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