Mexico
Comunidad Isla de la Piedra

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9 travelers at this place

  • Day78

    Mazatlán

    November 24, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The ride on the cargo ferry wasn't as bad as expected. There was a small room with some seats, so Meike slept on two seats and me on the floor. They supplied blankets so it wasn't too hard on the floor. We also got dinner and breakfast.
    After arriving in Mazatlán, we explored the old city center with its beautiful colonial buildings.
    For the night Meike had organized a place via couchsurfing at Irene's home. So we cycled to the beach restaurant of Irene's parents where we were spoiled with a couple of yummy fish and seafood dishes. We talked about our trip and listened to different types of music. I tried to advertise German Schlager and apres ski music but I wasn't very successful 😔
    In the evening, we went out for some ice cream and a drink. The atmosphere in the town was very nice as there was live music and dancing people at many places.
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  • Day4

    Airbnb Nb Nb

    December 16, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    AIR BNB
    For most of our travel, Brenda and I book our accommodations through Airbnb and we have, for the most part, been very happy with our lodging and with the service provided by Airbnb.

    In June, when we were booking our Mazatlan stay, we were already a little late to get the choicest spots in our desired location. We figured that our options would only diminish as we got closer to tourist season, so we booked our entire 85 day stay at a listing in Centro, Mazatlan's historic area.

    Before we arrived we had several email exchanges with the host, who was always responsive and helpful. As we were uncertain of our ETA she left the keys for us in a lockbox at the entrance door.

    By the time we arrived night had fallen, but we couldn't initially get the lights to turn on. There was an overwhelming chemical smell in the apartment that I thought might be insecticide. We couldn't find the wifi address or password to contact the host. The last straw was the bathroom layout. When we opened the door we realized the shower stall and toilet shared the same space, which we've seen before in Europe. However, in this case, one had to go through the shower area to get to the toilet. In other words, if we had to use the toilet after we had showered on the morning, we had to walk over the wet floor.

    Things were not going well.

    After we got our phones working, we contacted the host and told her we could not stay under these conditions, particularly since we were scheduled to be here for three months. She came and met us the following morning and agreed to let is out of the contract with no penalty, which was very nice of her.

    NB
    In the interim, Brenda and I had been scrambling to find alternative accommodations, but as we suspected, picking were pretty slim. Brenda found a place in the relatively upscale Machado area, but it was already booked from December 24 through January 3. We decided to book it for all the available dates through March 6 and moved in here for the first part of our stay to December 24.

    NB
    So what are we to do over Christmas and New Year's? Brenda has generously invited me to spend the holidays and my birthday with her in Mexico City until January 4. We've heard there's a booming vegan culture there and were excited to try it out.

    Our hosts at our Machado Airbnb have agreed to hold the bulk of our luggage while we're in Mexico City so we can just travel with our carry ons.

    So that's it. After our European trip where we were packing and unpacking continuously, we were looking forward to arriving here, unpacking only once and repacking when we returned to Vancouver. Sometimes the best laid plans find a way to go awry.
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  • Day27

    El Faro

    January 8 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    This morning, rather than go for my usual jog along the Malecon, I decided to visit one of Mazatlan's top tourist attractions, El Faro.

    This lighthouse is located at the peak of Cerro del Creston on the southernmost tip of Mazatlan's peninsula and is located three kilometers from our Airbnb. Piece of cake, right? Only six kms there and back. WRONG!

    Once you reach the entrance to the park, there is a steep 900 meter climb along a partially paved path, with several switchbacks, before you arrive at the 325 step staircase that takes you to the top.

    With a height of 157 meters, it is the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas, and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world.

    The first use of the Isla de Creston as a lighted marine signal was in 1828. The installation was very modest, consisting of only a small stone structure on which fires, fueled by whale oil and wood, or coconut chips, were lit. This provided little visibility to ships at night, particularly in bad weather.

    El Faro became the answer to the problem. First lit over the Pacific Ocean in 1879, the lighthouse's original lamp was constructed in Paris. It was made of an oil lamp surrounded by mirrors, and a Fresnel lens to focus the light.

    In 1905, the lamp was converted to hydrogen gas, and was made to be able to revolve in a full circle. The final update of the light source came in 1933, when it was converted to electricity, which is what is still there today. In order to emit its powerful light, El Faro uses a 1,000 watt bulb, which is focused by a Fresnel lens.

    But the real attraction here is the 360 degree view of the city below. One can see the cruise ship port, the Malecon from the southern tip to the northern tip, the cathedral, all set on a backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains.

    Needless to say, the hike down was much easier than going up, but I still had one more obstacle before I could have my shower: forty two more steps leading up to our apartment.
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  • Day73

    Combate Naval

    February 23 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    In 1864, the Mexican army and navy succeeded in repelling a French force that was intent on capturing Mazatlan. The French flagship, La Cordelière, was heavily damaged by Mexican cannon fire during the battle.

    Every year during Carnaval, the battle is recreated with a free fireworks display that is, for many, the highlight of the celebrations.

    Last night, Brenda and I braved the crowds and patiently awaited the 11:00 PM start of the pyrotechnics. The number of people attending was truly impressive, with every inch of El Malecon filled with revelers.

    The show started with a spectacular display put on by dozens of drones that was, as far as we were concerned, the highlight of the show. "Mazatlan" was spelled out in the night sky with a pulsating red heart behind the word. Then the drones reformed to announce "Carnaval '20". The music changed and the drones drew out a line of three cannons and a blue, blanc et rouge masted ship, which was rapidly sunk by cannon fire.

    The drones retreated and the fireworks got under way with a bombastic, but somewhat frenetic, display. Frankly, both Brenda and I were a little disappointed by the performance which was impressive in its aggressivity, but chaotic in its presentation. There was no lull in the action with shells constantly exploding at both low and high altitudes. Although one could argue the display was synchronized to the non-stop upbeat Latin rhythms blasting over the PA system, it all came across as a little heavy-handed.

    Nonetheless, it was something we felt compelled to attend and can now check it off our to do list.
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  • Day28

    Jesterday....

    January 9 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    When we arrived in Mazatlan we saw posters everywhere advertising a Beatles tribute concert at El Teatro Angela Peralta, a fully restored 19th century opera house. Given my love of the Fab Four and our desire to visit the opera house, we went to the box office and snapped up tickets for the January 9 show.

    The opera house is a beautiful piece of architecture with a facade graced by four Roman columns. The theater originally opened in 1874 and, while it operated continuously until 1964, poor maintenance caused it to fall into disrepair and, eventually, ruin. In 1975, it was flooded by Hurricane Olivia and was for a time used as a parking garage with a giant ficus tree growing at center stage. In 1985, the city had the building slated for demolition, but a group of concerned citizens staged the first Mazatlan Cultural Festival in the ruined and roofless structure, complete with a symphony orchestra performing in front of the dilapidated stage and under the ficus tree at it's center. The grand lady was saved!

    Through public and private funding, the building was restored to it's former glory and was declared a national historical site in 1990.

    Attending a concert there is a treat. The hall has only eight hundred forty one seats, and there's not a bad one in the house. Acoustics are outstanding and the restored cast iron balconies project the history of the venue.

    It's a must see for any visitor to this city.

    Now, about the show. Last year Brenda and I attended a "Beatles" concert in Vancouver that included orchestration provided by the VSO. Admittedly, we were a little spoiled by that one and I guess our expectations for last night's show were pretty high.

    As it turns out, the band on stage this night, Grupo Help!, was formed in Mexico City in 1985 by three Beatles-loving brothers. During the show, they covered three eras of the Fab Four's career, and did an admirable job with the music and hitting the right notes vocally. But there was no disguising their Spanish accents.

    She loves you, ja, ja, ja....

    Jesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away...

    They even managed to perform one of my favorites from 1967's Sargento Pimienta, A Day In The Life.

    And despite the Latin rather than Liverpudlian accents and a few annoying technical glitches, the show was very entertaining and well worth the 500 peso price of admission.

    I am the walrus, koo koo kachoo!
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  • Day3

    Vegan in Mazatlan

    December 15, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    On our first night in Mazatlan, we went to La Ruta Vegana, the best vegan restaurant in Mazatlan... well, OK, the "only" vegan restaurant in Mazatlan but it nonetheless deserves the accolade that "best" conveys.

    Roch ordered a plate of 3 quesadillas and I ordered a couple of tacos along with an order of crispy potato wedges to share.  The only thing lacking was a good bottle of Dos XX.  The restaurant doesn't serve alcohol so we had to settle for non-alcoholized beer which was surprisingly satisfying with our meal.  Our dinner altogether was a mere $18.11 and we left the restaurant thinking, we gotta come back to this place...

    ... and indeed we did go back the very next day.  We didn't realize that La Ruta Vegana was the only vegan restaurant in Mazatlan until we went to Bliss Tienda Vegana which we thought was a cafe as well as vegan store.  Nope, it was just a small vegan store so we happily went back to La Ruta Vegana.

    This time I ordered the quesadillas and Roch ordered "Pozole", a Mexican soup typically made with hominy (processed corn with the germ removed) and pork. The thick soup is seasoned with a combination of spices and garnished with radishes, shallots, shredded cabbage, limes and tortilla chips. We'll never know for sure if the vegan version that Roch had was as good as a traditional meat version.  All I can say is, there wasn't a drop of soup left when it came time to pay for the meal.

    The owner of La Ruta Vegana told us that there were a few other vegan restaurants in Mazatlan but they have consequently closed.  How odd, when everywhere else we've travel to has seen an increase in the number of vegan establishment in light of the plant-based revolution.  La Ruta Vegana will be celebrating its 5th anniversary next week, and we have every intention in joining in on their celebration.

    Although dining out here is a challenge, the local markets offer a plethora of beautiful fruits and veggies. They even sell large packages of trimmed and diced mixed vegetables that is made into soup. In fact, that's what we had for dinner last night. Strangely, however, Sinaloa province is reputed to be the mango capital of Mexico (and home to most cartels), but we've rarely sen any. Those we did find were expensive even by Canadian standards.

    On the other hand, papayas and pineapples are plentiful and succulent, so we can't complain too much.
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  • Day46

    Mazatlán

    May 5, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    La Paz 3 und Mazatlán vermischen sich etwas, aber jeder, der mir bisher folgen konnte überlebt auch Weiteres.
    Nach dem Aufstehen und einer weiteren heißen Dusche, fühlte ich mich restlos vom Sand des herrlichen Strandes befreit. Lediglich die Schultern reagieren noch sensibel auf Kleidung. Da half auch Sonnenschutzfaktor XXXXXL nicht.
    Ich flüchtete aus dem Zimmer, um mir keine Unterkühlung zu holen (ich übertreibe), und kam mit einigen Leuten ins Gespräch. Ein 74-jähriger Mexikaner erzählte mir, er machte eine Rundtour zu Fuß durch sein Land und wenn er keine Lust hat, nimmt er den Bus. Jeden Tag braucht er aber seine Tabletten fürs Herz, und Zucker hat er auch. Eine junge Deutsche studiert in La Paz Ozeanographie, einer der größten Universitäten auf diesem Gebiet, ich kenne nur Kiel, und ein verwegend aussehender Typ reist mit seinem Motorrad durch Mexiko. Er hat früher als Architekt gearbeitet.
    Meine Beine sind immer noch müde von der langen Tour. Beim Tennis dürfte ich den Ball momentan zweimal aufkommen lasse.
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  • Day2

    ¿Hablas Español?

    December 14, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    For 1305 consecutive days I have religiously completed at least one Spanish lesson on the Duolingo app. So, naturally, I was quite anxious to test out my finely honed language skills in a Spanish speaking country.

    We landed in Mazatlan at just after 5:00PM local time and, dropped off our luggage at our Airbnb at about 6:00. We couldn’t locate the wifi code in our apartment, which made getting a local SIM card for our phones our first order of business. We had researched the best plans for expats before we left Canada, so we knew exactly what we wanted and even where to get it. Or so we thought.

    We walked into the closest Oxxo convenience store (a Mexican 7/11) and I confidently asked for two Telcel SIM cards and the 200 peso telecom package. The clerk replied with what sounded to me like, “nonovendemostarjetasSIMaquí, tienesquecomprarloenotrolugaryluegoregresasaquíyte venderemoselpaquetequedeseas.”

    Have you ever noticed how the contestants on TV game shows seem to get stupider and tend to choke as the pressure mounts? That was exactly how I felt. In response to the clerk, I blinked a couple of times, picked my jaw off the floor and could only manage to blurt out,”Errr.......ok, gracias.”

    In the end, after visiting several stores, we were finally able to acquire what we needed and get our phones connected to the network we wanted.

    In the process I learned that 1305 consecutive days studying Spanish on Duolingo did not really prepare me for real world interaction in my third language. But I am a very stubborn old goat and I am intent on being comfortable conversing in Spanish by the time we leave Mexico in March.

    Hasta la vista, baby!
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Comunidad Isla de la Piedra

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