Jun 14, 2013

Mazatlan’s Old Port/Harbor

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,
It's about learning how to dance in the rain.
Vivian Greene 

Size of swells hitting jetty at Stone Island - (thank you SV Fluenta)
We moved over to the old port/harbor for what we thought would be a couple of days but inter-hemispheric swells started building.  The Port Captain closed down the entrance (red flag days) to the port we were going to be heading next, the swells so large it made the entrance very dangerous.  

Fisherman (red shorts, white T-shirt in low middle) gives you a sense of size of breakers (up to 35' tall).
Very calm inside.... (from SV Fluenta)
We ended up staying here 6 days so we took more time to visit old Mazatlán.  We found a couple of excellent restaurants (Molika [also a bakery] and Topolo), interesting ice creams (right across from entrance to Angela Peralta Theatre) like sweet basil, salted butter caramel or Ferrero Rocher flavors.  At the old downtown market we found red tamales – most tamales are made with meat in them.  This particular type is made of corn only and is supposedly eaten with milk or coffee in the morning.  It seems the red comes from beet juice, the red is found only on the leaves holding the tamale together with the corn inside colored only about 2/3 of the way in.  We also found tortillas made with nopales (cactus pads), corn, and flax seeds.  They were kind of greenish from the nopales and tasted more bitter than the full corn version.  Very good with goat cheese and red wine!

Red tamales from market - they are called a salty (unlike sweet) tamales...
From French Pastry Chef in Barra de Navidad, we purchased frozen sweet rolls - baked
two for breakfast this morning...  We also bought pains au chocolat and croissants.  Yummy when warm...
It was great to have more time in old downtown.  We visited museums and art galleries, and saw interesting architecture as well as the oldest home in the area (Casa Machado).  It is so nice to be around some culture again, we appreciate it even more after a lengthy absence.  Near the Peralta School of Art we saw dancers, heard opera singers, and a few men were out practicing a play in the main plaza.  In another part of town, the sidewalks are about 15-20 feet above the street; not sure why they were built this way.  The malecón is dotted with various bronze sculptures but on this occasion, since it is not Carnaval, we have more time and space to enjoy them with hardly anyone else nearby. 

One of the old buildings we like
Close up for details
There are several amazing old abandoned buildings.  Peeking inside one sees 15’ ceilings, arches held by beautiful columns surrounding no longer green open courtyards.  The ceilings are lined with hand-hewn wood beams dangerously curving down but still holding on.  It would be such a great project to refurbish these beauties and they are found in nearly each block of the city. 

Being in the old port/harbor, we get to see super tankers, ferries, an ocean research boat and huge fishing boats traveling inbound and outbound.  One of the fishing boats is so large that it comes equipped with its own helicopter to help find the schools of fish they are looking for…  Navy ships are also predominant as well as the many catamarans taking tourists around the jungle, mangroves, and islands. 

The swells, although they were perfectly timed to grace the Mazatlán surfing contest of 6/5 to 6/9, are finally abating and we can safely move on.  We decided to make one more stop to an island just outside of Marina Mazatlán before heading in for a few days of cleaning, small repairs, and provisioning.  We spend the night at Isla Pajaros (bird island), less than ½ mile from the Gold Zone beach.  The beach is spotless even when so close to a multitude of people.  It is not a well protected anchorage (mild weather only) so few people actually spend time here.  It was quite amazing to have the place to ourselves with a view of Mazatlán’s skyline instead of nature. 
Mazatlan (Gold Zone) skyline from bird island anchorage
Before we left we met a sailor who came all the way back from El Salvador where he spent five years refurbishing a catamaran that had grounded on a sandbar.  Before departing the most southern part of Mexico, about 800 miles from here, he took aboard 5 small baby birds he didn’t know were there.  Unbeknownst to him, swallows had made a nest in his sailboat’s boom.  He found out about the babies after having sailed away for a day or so and didn’t have a clue how to keep them alive without a dropper or the proper food, but tried.  To his utter dismay, the parents of the 5 babies would show up 5 to 8 hours later to meet with and feed the babies after he would anchor somewhere to sleep.  They did that for 600 miles up the coast – all the way to Manzanillo where the chicks were old enough to take off on their own so that whole family finally left his boat.  I had no idea birds could do this!

Back at the marina where we are welcomed back with embraces and kisses on the cheek by the staffs who remember us after 6 months.  It’s so nice to be back where people are so friendly and helpful. 

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