Next Cruise Stop…Mazatlan


(Land of Monuments and Chicken Feet)

by Richard Kiser
This is the second of a three-part series on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.
 Welcome to Mazatlan. Step out to the veranda and take a deep breath -pure Mexico fills the lungs. Your eyes are greeted by an industrial marina and the worker ants are very busy. Time to set out on our next adventure. In order to get to the main gate for cruise passengers you must first hop on a little trolley that winds it’s way through cargo containers and moving forklifts –sort of like a mechanized bull fight with steroids involved. We were dropped off in front of the exit and moved through the building that contains every Mexican trinket you can think of. Exiting the building we were greeted by the entire Mexican tourist bureau. Tip #1- I suggest to everyone who is going to hire a taxi for the day to make sure your driver speaks English well, maybe have some questions in mind to force them to demonstrate their English ability. What we found was when it comes to negotiating a price for the day where money is involved they all speak perfect English. Enter Henry. While we are talking money, this guy does everything but quote Shakespeare to demonstrate his command of the language. We hire him for $60 for the day. We climb into his open air taxi and are set to go, just one thing, we are parked in. As he tries to extricate the taxi I am thinking about Austin Powers, one inch forward, one inch back repeat 20 times. As we pull out he mumbles something about his English no being so good—whatever. We’re off! We wind our way through the marina district headed to the hills and beautiful coastal views that only mainland Mexico has to offer.  Travel tip #2 – take 2 cameras, extra batteries and memory sticks.  Within 5 photos, Laura’s camera craps out, my camera runs out of memory and that sinking feeling takes place. Luckily, our cameras use the same memory and disaster is averted.  This part of the tour is where no buses will take you, hillside homes, narrow and hilly streets with great views of the ocean and the city of Mazatlan. If you take this route you will see many homes under construction and you realize they definitely have different building codes than the U.S. and from this moment on we were not entering a multi-story structure. Here come the monuments. We leave the hills and head north along the coast. This stretch is marked with a monument every 20 feet. (Small exaggeration)  Henry drops us off in front of cliff divers just getting ready to perform. I have just enough time to snap a photo of the diver platform and I catch the diver in midair, perfect. We wander a little bit and find a monument to a mermaid and her child, this is a serendipitous moment as Laura has brought Dominic with us in the hopes of leaving a little bit of him behind in beautiful and meaningful places. (Dominic passed away the previous week). We continue viewing coastal monuments from motorcycle policeman to beer making, the only one I thought was missing was a bronze of the Frito Bandito, more on this later. Off to downtown. Downtown Mazatlan is alive. Narrow streets, beautiful buildings that give you a feeling of Europe and traffic congestion to complete the feel. Henry drops us off and we head to the Mexican version of Wal-Mart. The market is a block size building containing 30 stands that sell exactly the same tourist stuff but also fresh produce you will never see in the states, and the best part, meat stands featuring pig heads, assorted entrails, and of course chicken feet. We did look for iguana on a stick but had no luck. So instead we watched the little “Mexican Deli’s” located through out the market. Now remember, there is no FDA in Mexico and we have already viewed the slicing, dicing and handling of meat and poultry without  the sanitary standards we take for granted -time to eat. We found a stand with several locals and decided to take the plunge. We ordered and while waiting watched the locals to gain the proper application of condiments to our food. Mission accomplished and no one got sick. Next stop Forte de Mazatlan. Heading north, across from the El Cid resort hotel is a private country club and armed guards. This area is where the Mexican Mafia along with Americans and Canadians choose to live. Why? Remember the Frito Bandito? Kidnappings happen every day in this area of Mexico. The homes in this area go from about 350K upwards. Nice setting, golf, tennis, pool and spa.  We stop at the club house and have a margarita while watching some tennis. Tip #3. Just pretend you belong. Off to find another special place for Dominic. 

About a mile north is the gold zone. This area is way developed and has several ocean front palapas. Henry takes us to the first spot – an ocean front restaurant that he has a deal with. We reject it and after 3 u-turns and a couple of miles, accept it. Great lunch, great margaritas, and the music playing was the Mexican version of “I did it my way”. This was played at Dominic’s life celebration and it was only natural for Dominic to also rest here. A small sprinkle of eternal life and love and it’s time to head back to the ship. I wonder what’s for dinner?


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