Fuerte 31 de Marzo

Tell anyone you’re heading over to the fort, and odds are they won’t know what you’re talking about. El Fuerte 31 de Marzo, built in 1894 to commemorate the battle against the French 30 years after it happened, lies neglected and largely inaccessible beside Casa del Marino, another building in huge need of saving. But this article is about the fort.

On Thursday night this week several groups of concerned citizens united forces, including Toto Tirado, Mario Martini, Gustavo Gama, and Fernando Higuera, Friends of Old Mazatlán, Friends of the Fort, among many others, in an effort to restore the property and use it for public education and entertainment. They have had architectural plans drawn up by Arturo Garduño that involve not just the fort but the entire Paseo Claussen area.

Plans for the fort itself include two salons of history on the Revolution and the Reforma, restoring and protecting the remaining walls, base and ceiling, so that the space is accessible to the public and usable for events. There are plans for an esplanade at the entrance, complete with a monument to Mazatlecos who died protecting our city. Click below to view the project’s video proposal.

Vídeo Presentación PROYECTO PASEO OLAS ALTAS por arqagu

With its setting right on the water, overlooking the three islands in our bay, restoration of the fort would be a huge asset to Mazatlán, and a perfect way to interest people in learning about our history!

The event Thursday night was attended by 200-250 people, I estimate, and included three wonderful musical acts, the debut of the video outlining the proposal, and some terrific fireworks. They are selling a booklet with DVD for 120 pesos each to raise funds, and of course will welcome donations as well.

Personally, I think getting the vendors off the malecón and down onto the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada, as shown in the video proposal, can happen next week! Let’s do it rather than wait any longer!

Moving to Mexico (Mazatlán) with School Kids

Dianne Hofner Saphiere:

We have had several inquiries recently from parents who want to move to Mazatlán with their children. More and more Mazatleco-born parents seem to want to return here with their US-born-or-raised children, as well as Canadians and US American parents. So, I am reposting the below. Of particular importance to SEP (Mexican Education Ministry) is the apostille, and it takes the most effort on your part BEFORE you leave the USA or Canada, so be sure to get it before heading out, everyone!

Originally posted on ¡VidaMaz!:

The goal of this blog post is to explain some of the things we have learned while parenting a school-aged child in Mexico (or at least in Mazatlán, Sinaloa), and some of the contrasts with the US system of education. Much of the information below comes from the questions we are most frequently asked by those who are thinking about or planning to relocate.

Obviously the below is based on our experience as a family; many will have different opinions and experiences. It is worthwhile noting that people moving to Mexico City, Monterey or Guadalajara will have many more choices than we have here in the “provinces,” as they say in Spanish.

I hope some of this might help you as you think about relocating. I only wish this sort of information had been available to us when we moved!

Choosing a School
Make the decision around choice of school…

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Bento Grill: Worthwhile East Asian Food

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If you read this blog you know I crave Asian food. I make it at home, but finding good Asian food in a restaurant here (I know you all have your favorite Chinese place) is not easy. My favorite sushi place (Mahi Sushi), which opened with huge success, has sadly fired their chef in an effort to save costs, and the food is definitely not what it was originally. Bummer!

This past week we visited a new place, owned by a Korean-American guy from Orange County, Brad. He also owns the yoghurt place in La Comercial Mexicana/MEGA. It’s called “Bento Grill,” “box lunch” in Japanese, and is housed where Boba Tea/Saigon Sandwiches used to be. Sad loss of great noodles and bubble tea now that that’s gone!

Anyway, Bento Grill is offering up a few different kinds of bento-box lunches that include a deliciously spicy miso soup, and in the box lunch itself salad, kimchi, fried shrimp, white rice, and your choice of main dish. I had bulgogi beef (ribeye) and Greg tried the spiced pork, which we both very much enjoyed. The menu also includes short ribs and chicken bento boxes, as well as okonomiyaki/seafood pancake, and tacos made from the same Korean-spiced meats. The bento boxes were 120 pesos and very hearty and tasty, and we really loved the soup, too. Greg and I both took some home as there was too much food.

Bento Grill is well worth checking out if you have a craving for some Korean flavors in your day. They have indoor, air conditioned seating, which is so important this time of year, both upstairs and down. Brad told me we are all welcome to bring our own bottle (wine, alcohol, beer) to enjoy with our meal. The restaurant is open noon to 10:00 pm every day except Monday. Located at Camarón Sábalo #552, just north of Munchkins and across from and north of Dairy Queen. Telephone 669 913 0787

Lucha Libre: Despedida de El Angel

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Last night was a huge milestone in the life of a dear friend of ours, and also a major event in the sports history of Mazatlán. El Angel, the first world champion in Lucha Libre from Mazatlán, retired from the ring after a 30 year career. Some of you may know Tony Acuña, who owns a stand in the Pino Suarez Market, and previously owned several shops in the Golden Zone as well. We felt very privileged—and had oh-so-much-fun—helping him celebrate!

We invited a bunch of friends to this historic event—about 50 bought tickets to join us. I had been to Lucha Libre once before, in the bull ring, and don’t remember enjoying it very much. But last night ROCKED! I’d made signs supporting Angel, bought a bunch of noise makers, we all wore black shirts, and many of us bought masks as well. OH MY GOSH! Was it fun!

Yes, lucha libre is like a dance—one fighter follows the other’s lead, and there are some basic moves fighters must master plus variations and frills added on. It is absolutely full of joy, whether the luchadores are back-flipping off the ropes or hitting each other over the head with chairs. These men are up there to entertain. The luchadores are skilled athletes, many of them gymnasts. They love the kids, they take time to play with and take pics with the audience. They were even game to pose with us middle-aged sexy women ;)

Last night El Angel was joined by the very famous Blue Panther and the Mascarita Sagrada, who flew into town for this event. The Kempo Dragon, a young local lad with abs of steel and contact lenses that made his eyes look very spooky, was another hit with our group. We saw dozens of luchadores fight last night. It was a wonderful, action-packed, 3 1/2 hour event.

Most of the lucha teams last night—there were six or seven fights total—were composed of four members each. There is a técnicos team—the good guys, and the rudos team—the nasty guys. Booing the nasty guys is sooooo much fun! They came over and grabbed some of the signs I’d made, right out of my friends’ hands, and ripped them to shreds. My girlfriends scolded them and enjoyed themselves to pieces yelling at and then posing with them.

Our son had several young adult friends with him, and I haven’t seen them so happy since Carnavál.

If you are like me, and you haven’t really been to Lucha Libre, because you weren’t expecting to like it much, I’d recommend you reconsider. Going in a large group, revving everyone up for the event, and having some noisemakers, t-shirts, and signs to make sure the event is fully enjoyed, will really help.

Beer is sold in the Cancha German Evers, and usually you can get ceviche or salchichas or some other snacks as well. Masks are sold, as well as some other toys for the kids, and a guy walks around selling peanuts and chips. Highly recommended.

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La Cancha German Evers/German Evers Gymnasium is way up at the beginning of Zaragoza. It is across the street from the girl’s orphanage. Remember that Zaragoza is a one-way street. Both boxing and lucha libre are held here. Taxis and pulmonías wait out front to take people home after the events.

People ask me how they can know when there is a lucha libre or a boxing match. The sports section of the newspaper is the easiest bet. These events are also announced on radio and television sports programs (shot of me below on TV with El Angel), and on posters all over town. Keep your eyes and ears open!

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Tony, congratulations on an outstanding career! Thank you for doing so much to promote the sport in Mazatlán and throughout the Americas! We are proud to call you friend. And everyone who joined us, thank you for coming and for making this night so very special for Tony! PS, the mask-maker was VERY psyched to sell so much last night, and hopefully he’ll now be able to get his hip surgery done!

 

“Minority Boy” Nears High School Graduation

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My oh my oh my! Time most definitely does fly. This morning, as I was sitting in the Rigodanza Auditorium at ICO, looking out on the nearly 300-strong “Generación 59″ graduating class, I just kept seeing them as youngsters! What a journey this has been.

Six years ago, after our son Danny graduated primary school, we moved here to Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México, where he would start junior high. He didn’t speak Spanish, though he’d worked with a tutor twice a week for a year. So many people told us how crazy we were.

  • “Why in the world would you leave a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for a Mexican school?”
  • “How dare you neglect your kid in this way! It is irresponsible parenting to move with a child to such a dangerous place.”
  • “We are from here. If we had any way to educate our kids anywhere else, we would. I can’t believe you’ve purposefully brought your son to Mazatlán.”

Well, we did purposefully bring our kid here. We wanted him to grow up as a member of a minority, to know how that feels—to build empathy, and to develop skills for living as a minority—a skill any global nomad needs, a valuable life skill, and one he may very well be needing soon as a “white boy” in his birth country (USA). So we had a passion and commitment in our choice to move here. But, really, with so many people, locals and foreigners, scolding us with such abandon for the past six years, what parent wouldn’t second-guess herself?

The past six years have not always been easy. Watch what you wish for! As a minority, Danny was (inadvertently) excluded from so many important communications about school, social gatherings, and sports practices. It was hard not to feel left out. He is a good actor, and was given one of the starring roles in a school play—unfortunately it was that of the ugly American boss who treats immigrants poorly and is only out for money. Really? Give me a break!

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The first six months of our stay here were painful. As the person in our household with the best Spanish, it fell on me to tutor our son every night. Remember that in the eyes of a 13 year old boy, Moms know NOTHING. It was so frustrating, such a test of my patience, which is way too thin. Then, one night about six months into our lives here, he went to bed, and the next morning he understood Spanish. It was like a light switch flipped on. He didn’t understand everything, he didn’t speak or write perfectly, but I no longer needed to help him understand what his homework was.

The past few weeks this same young man, 18 now, has been interviewing local business and community leaders about our city’s future, what skills they feel our city needs, and how he might craft his studies and internships during university so that he can come back to Mazatlán and obtain a worthwhile position here. He loves this city as much as we do. He’s Mazatleco now; there is very often a culture gap between his immigrant parents and the Mexican, Blended Culture young man he’s become. Those interviewees are all telling him that his complete fluency in English and Spanish, his fluency with both cultures, is a huge asset that he must not lose when he goes to the US for school. He must find a way to retain and amplify it, ideally by adding Chinese language and culture. Wow.

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He’s definitely not the same little boy who celebrated his 13th birthday at our pool with his brand-new school friends here, and was shocked as all get out when they gleefully shoved his face into the cake! What a surprise that was for him, especially when they all laughed. But he is much more flexible than his mother, and he took it all in stride, laughing and vamping for the crowd with frosting covering his face.

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To those naysayers, who told us our son would not get a good education here, I am very relieved to have your prognostications proven wrong. Danny received an award from a Mexican university, and has fielded quite a few recruiting calls from other schools in Mexico. He also received six scholarships, several over US$80k, to well-respected US universities. He’s chosen a terrific small liberal arts college with an international focus, located in an ethnically rich metro area. I believe his incredible scholarship success is due, in major part, to the fact that he’s grown up abroad, and that he is able to demonstrate his biculturality and cultural bridging abilities. And the SAT scores show that, indeed, he received a very strong education here at local Mazatlán schools, both in junior high at Andes and in high school at ICO. He sure had a high school curriculum that put mine to shame—law, ecology, philosophy, ethics. My most heartfelt THANK YOUs to all his teachers—elementary, secondary and high school. Bless you for your patience and talent!

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Today I had the huge privilege of speaking to Danny’s graduating class. I was part of a panel of six parents, given the opportunity to share with the kids what life has taught us. What an incredible gift for a gringa Mom to feel included in this way! To me it is a testament to the open-mindedness of the Xaverian education at ICO. Our panel included business owners and housewives, parents who graduated from name universities and those who attended technical school, locals as well as those from outside Mazatlán. I loved sitting up front, looking out and seeing the young men and women who have frequented our pool, our home, our beach, my son’s life. I felt distracted as I spoke, so hoping that those kids who are staying in town to study will stay in touch with us, despite the fact that Danny is leaving. Several of them feel like my own children, and I kept getting teary eyed.

For those of you who have followed our family on this journey, thank you for your companionship. I am very happy to report that, so far, the experiment has been a success. As Danny, who did not want to move to Mazatlán in 2008, said to us on our first anniversary here, “One year since the best decision we ever made!”

The next journey will be reentry: learning how to live happily, productively, and multiculturally, in the US of A. And, of course, learning how to do those same things in college!

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com