¡First Annual GumboFest A Complete Success!

P1270023A most gorgeous, sunny yet not humid day; a historic setting; a view to die for; the joy of partying with some of the most entertaining people in Mazatlán; all the oysters, peel-n-eat shrimp, salad and gumbo (of course cake and ice cream, too!) anyone could possibly consume; plus beer and soft drinks—such was Mazatlán’s first annual GumboFest! The event was put on by Gustavo’s Kitchen and Amigos de Mazatlán, in an attempt to build community support for saving and restoring the Casa del Marino and Fuerte 31 de Marzo, and to teach us all a bit about local history. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon was that each table was covered with brown butcher paper, and the peel-n-eat-shrimp were theatrically dumped on each table from a bucket at the top of a ladder. Great touch and very fun! (Please try to ignore that fun-loving woman screaming at the end of the video below…) It looked to me that about 200 people attended, and Judith, Gustavo and Gustavo Senior tell me that the event was such a success that they plan to hold it again next year. How often do you get good gumbo in Mexico??!! Call us lucky!

A trio played live music, including both Latin and jazz, the children from the Salvation Army Home performed folkloric dancing, and Antonio Lerma and Nicolás Vidales told us, in English, the history of the battle with the French that took place here, dispelling some myths in the process. Gustavo Sr’s wife, Silvia Lorda, and the inimitable Rubye Hinton both graced us with their singing.

AngelTouchFilms published a wonderful short (30 second) video about GumboFest, with terrific New Orleans jazz, me eating an oyster, and loads of other smiling happy people. Enjoy it, below!

Congratulations to everyone involved! Can’t wait for next year!

Palapa Mariscos Los Porteños

IMG_0868 Lots of changes these days amongst the palapas on the malecon. Many of the changes were precipitated by the storms during the summer of 2014 while other changes are just natural turnover and expansion. One of the more intriguing changes for us is the addition of Palapa Mariscos Los Porteños. Why is this intriguing to us? Well Los Porteños is one of the better known Bandas of Mazatlán (click here for video). It is an interesting concept to have the owner of a banda group open a palapa with the same name. One of the other welcome changes along the malecon is more banda music beyond the strolling musicians. More palapas are welcoming bandas to play at their restaurant, including of course, Mariscos Los Porteños. The day we ate there the band playing featured various members of local bandas. They were getting in practice time and played very well together. Their vocalist lacked a microphone, so he would sing at your table with the band remaining stationary at the end of the restaurant. A nice touch. Songs were 100 pesos each, but spread among 12 guys, that’s not a bad deal. We negotiated four for 300. IMG_0884 IMG_0908 We found Palapa Los Porteños to be excellent as far as palapas go. First, it is new, which means it is clean and a little more modern than others. It is larger than some as well with ample beach seating under umbrellas or seating under palapas. The kitchen is fast and efficient and the servers friendly and dedicated to your satisfaction. The palapa is well built with attractive supporting beams. The kitchen pick up area features a matching wood face that is unique to Mazatlán palapas. It has a very unique and deceiving floor which you can check out in the photos.

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We have long kept a tradition of dining at a palapa each Friday. Originally this was to celebrate Danny surviving another week of school, but now just a chance to remember why we live where we do and celebrate the end of a work week. We have kept a list of palapas in order north to south with our likes and dislikes and relevant comments, but it is sorely in need of updating. After the commotion of Semana Santa, I am committed to getting this done and will publish it for everyone to use and comment upon. Until then, take off your sandals, order a cold beer and some fish or shrimp and enjoy Mariscos Los Porteños. You will find more or less across from the Sands Hotel. Coming south from the acuario, it is the second palapa. Across the street are things like Qualitas Insurance and the Mara Gymnasium, Scorpio V and the road to the bus station. Provecho!

Update: The band contacted me and gave me the website for the restaurant.

Happy Birthday Mazatlán/The Old Textile Factory

DSC_0130Quick! What was the first name of Mazatlán? Don’t read ahead… Do you know?

What was your answer? El Presidio? If so, you are correct—El Presidio de San Juan Bautista, established in 1596. But where was El Presidio located? Shall I give you another clue? The name of the town was officially changed in 1828 to Villa de la Union. Yes, indeed, Mazatlán’s initial location was in Villa Unión. On March 23, 1792, the first municipal government, under the command of Don José Garibay, was established by royal decree. The town was uninhabited, and Garibay was charged with protecting the security of the port. Mazatlán with the name and in the location we now know it was born in 1831, according to Mazatlán’s official historian, Enrique Vega Ayala.

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a ceremony in the old textile mill there to commemorate the 223rd anniversary of the first military and political government of Mazatlán. I was so excited, as I have long wanted to get in there to take photos. The hacienda was host to a huge Queen tribute band concert with Gordon Campbell’s orchestra back in 2007, but I was unable to attend that event. At the time, they said the hacienda was spacious enough to accommodate 1200 people. I heard it was gorgeous that night, all lit up with luminarias along the walls.

Well, not only was I able to take photos last night, but the hacienda was lit up with colored lights, we had a gorgeous moon and Jupiter in the sky overhead, a military honor guard and drum and bugle corps performed the national and state anthems, and the Mazatlán camerata/chamber orchestra played as well! It was a gorgeous evening! Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

Originally owned by Francisco Echeguren, C. Corvera and Company textile mill opened in 1864, and closed its doors in 1956. The site includes the ruins of the textile factory, the family home, and huge gardens. The entire structure, or what’s left of it, is made of brick. Long corridors of arches lead to small and large rooms around at least two large courtyards. Some of the walls are still covered in tile, and trees grow from the walls in several places. A watchman also tends the gardens of the site.

To add to our good fortune, we met Jaime Coppel and his wife, who currently owns the historic site, and who kindly invited us back to take photographs during the day. Mayor Felton, Rosa María, the city’s Citizen Relations manager, and another city official kindly posed for my friend Jeanett and I in the ruins. We also met Manuel, owner of the world’s best aguas frescas, Tropico, who gave us a tasting of almost every one of the FIFTEEN water flavors he had on hand last night! He tells me he’ll bring a selection of 15 waters to any party you hold, for 1500 pesos for 100 people, and stay for four hours with his staff serving your guests. With every fresh fruit flavor you can imagine, you’ll make people happy and it’s easy enough to mix in a little piquete or liquor to add some punch to the drink if you wish!

We did not have tickets for last night’s event, so we were worried we’d drive all the way out there and not be able to get in. Fortunately, the event was open to the public and we had the pleasure of thoroughly enjoying ourselves—a great evening’s adventure for a couple of girlfriends who enjoy photography!

Siesta-time Visitors

Thank you, birders, for helping us! Click above to hear the birdsong as heard on our deck.

Every year this pair of petirrojos—rosy finches—or another very similar looking couple, makes a nest in one of the spider plants on our terrace. They lay their eggs and spend weeks frequenting our space, to our enormous pleasure. We are so blessed that they choose our balcony on which to grow their family! They wake us up with their singing in the morning, which is not a frequent occurrence when you live on the 11th floor. They serenade us through our mid-day meal, which we always eat outside, and they check us out as we take our siesta in the sunshine. Aren’t they purrdy? Click on a photo to see it larger or view a slideshow.

Back Up Our Beloved Lighthouse Hill

IMG_3269Readers of this blog know how much Greg and I enjoy hiking up, or, in Greg’s case, running up, lighthouse hill. You can read many posts on this blog about the lighthouse, the hike, the flora and fauna in different seasons, and events held there. After he broke his leg last April, however, the resultant nerve damage meant that Greg could barely walk for months, say nothing about running or hiking. We stopped going to the lighthouse. I could have gone alone or with a friend, but instead I immersed myself in zumba classes and the new girlfriends I met there. Our friend Carlos, who works at the top, got worried.

Finally, just in the past month, Greg is BACK. And, our hikes up the lighthouse are back. He’s run up a couple of times now, but he’s done it on Sundays while I’m in church. Today, the two of us made the first of our now-resumed twice-weekly treks. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

And what better day could there be to hike up the lighthouse? Clear, blue, warm but not humid. Oh, how I missed those views! Today we had a clear view to the bay, the Golden Zone all the way up to the marina, downtown, the port, and the length of Stone Island.

The sign at the bottom of the hill that rated your physical prowess against the number of minutes it took you to summit the hill is gone, replaced by an ugly yet I suppose functional bar code sign.

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There were many more hikers than usual, due to the holiday weekend. Lots of families and small children, which I always find encouraging. No better way to build strong families than enjoying the outdoors together.

We had three large ships anchored just outside the port today. Just look at how gorgeously clean and blue that water is!

An iguana enjoyed posing for my camera while he was sunning—at least until the kids behind me came running and shouting down the hill.

Great to be back, El Faro! We missed you!