Have You Got Your Laugh On?


Laughing is good for your health; there are loads of studies showing that. Do you get enough laughter in your life? One of our own local expats, Cheryl Gaudet, singer and guitarist extraordinaire, is looking out for us. Soon, everyone in Mazatlán will be able to easily and enjoyably improve our health with loads of laughter therapy at the new Mazatlán Comedy Club (MCC).

Nationally recognized comedians from the US will be joining us for five all-English shows, one Sunday each month, November through March. The comedians have all been on primetime TV and have played some of the best clubs in the world. Many of them have multiple albums. Each show includes performances by two comedians.

Doors open at 5:30 so that the show can begin at 7:00 pm. Get there early to eat, so you don’t choke while you’re laughing at the show! Each 500 peso ticket gets you a buffet dinner, OPEN bar, parking and the double-headliner performances. What a deal!

The shows will be “clean,” family-friendly, and will take place at the gorgeous Venados Showroom in the Hotel Playa. Tickets can be purchased at the concierge’s desk in the lobby of the Hotel Playa. The venue seats 350 people, at tables set up for anywhere from 1 to 15 people. You can choose your seats on a chart at the concierge desk, and you can reserve a table for your family and friends. Get all your mates together and enjoy a night of fun! There is also balcony seating. Please note that only cash is accepted.

We bought our tickets a couple of weeks ago, and today I sat down with Cheryl to see if I could get some of the inside scoop. I learned that she has always led a double life, and a very interesting one at that. This is what she had to say.

Here’s the schedule for this season:

When you go, remember to bring non-perishable food items to donate to Friends of Mexico, who will get it out to those who need it. I’m proud to learn that Cheryl continues her lifelong passion for inclusivity and community outreach by partnering with FOM in this way. We hope the Mazatlán Comedy Club will be laughing its way into our hearts and to success!

How is Mazatlán Dealing with Ayotzinapa?


I’ve had quite a few friends and colleagues ask me how the reaction has been here in Mazatlán to the horrifying and heartbreaking Ayotzinapa events. I tell them that everyone here that I talk with is outraged, but, sadly in my opinion, not much is being done about it. I have told them disappointedly that we on the west coast are a long way away, both geographically and psychologically. I tell them about one march that was held here, but that it seemed to me to be like so many other peace marches…no real public engagement and nothing very meaningful other than, perhaps, to those who participated.

I was so happy, therefore, to be proven wrong in the Plazuela on Saturday night. God bless the students—they are not giving up! They will hold another march this Thursday, November 20, from 4:00 pm. Please put it in your calendars! Gather in front of the Palacio Municipal in the Plaza República, and we will march towards UAS. Thursday there is a call for people nationwide to wear black, in memory of the lost students, so I assume we will wear black in the march as well. Once we arrive there, the students will hold a cultural festival in the library, in memory of their departed fellow students. The festival will include live music, theater and dance.

The students were letting people know about this march amidst the happy revelry in the Plazuela on a Saturday night—amidst the live music, dancing and dining, during the world premiere of the Angela Peralta opera. And they were doing it in a most magnificent way! I’m sure many of you saw it, and perhaps, as I did, participated. The students had hung out photos of the kidnapped (and supposedly murdered) students, with brief biographies. They had white paper and markers ready to hand to anyone who wanted to express themselves. Some pictures below; click to enlarge or view a slideshow.

And express they did! The outrage, the disgust, and the hurt were palpable. The resulting display was heart-wrenching and powerful. It was gratifying to me to see Mazatlecos make their voices heard. I pray it has influenced even a few more people to become more civically engaged, and help to make our beloved, adopted home the best it can be. We all need to say “no” to corruption, north and south of the border. Honesty, respect and responsibility begin with each of us.

I hope to see you Thursday!


Touring the Cuauhtémoc

Our mermaid and the Cuauhtémoc

Our mermaid and the Cuauhtémoc

Earlier I shared with you our photos of the Cuauhtémoc’s arrival in Mazatlán, as the cadets and staff stood on the spars of the three-masted barque, singing the anthem. It was a once in a lifetime experience, for sure! Many of you seemed to think they were just standing up there, but we could tell they were fastened on in some way. As we toured the ship yesterday, some of the staff members demonstrated the harnesses they use to climb up into the rigging. They also told us some of the favorite ports of call they’ve had, and whether we’ll be able to see the Cuauhtémoc with its sails up. See the video below.

The captain of the Cuauhtémoc is Juan Carlos Vera Minjares. The ship is traveling with 254 people on board, including 69 fifth-year cadets who will receive degrees in Naval Science Engineering. 19 of the cadets are women!!! Woot woot! I most unfortunately did not meet any female cadets, or you’d be hearing from her. ;) We were also told that on Sunday 4300 people toured the vessel.

Upon boarding the Cuauhtémoc, the first thing that struck us is just how many thousands of kilograms of rope this Class A tall ship uses! Rope, rope, everywhere rope! Officially called cordage, we saw everything from thick halyards (used to raise heavy yards) to thin, smooth, flexible sheets (used to control the orientation of a sail). We even saw rope tied around steel cable. The rigging looked incredibly complicated and intricately woven. And, of course, we saw impressive knots as well. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

Second to the quantity of rope everywhere, we were impressed with the beauty of the wood on the Cuauhtémoc. The deck itself was gorgeous, most of the pulleys we saw to help hoist that rope were made of wood, but also the stairways of the ship, the lifeboats, seating areas and doors were all wooden. After leaving Mazatlán the ship is headed to an astillero in Acapulco for repairs and refinishing, but it looked in fine shape to us.

What would a historic replica barque like this be without brass? Lights, portholes, binnacles, telegraphs, cleats, bells, propellers… all shined to a brilliance. There were even brass plates on the deck where heavy equipment is serviced, so that it doesn’t scratch the wood decking.

One very interesting bit of trivia that we learned is that the Cuauhtémoc sports a unique innovation: tercudos, or handwoven yellow “fluffy things” that cushion the rigging to protect the sails from damage. A cadet told us that when they are punished for misbehavior, they are often ordered to make tercudos.

As with any community, part of what makes the Cuauhtémoc so special is its crew. Everyone we talked with during our tour of the vessel was outgoing and friendly, ready to tell us stories and answer our questions. We learned that the staff (tripulación) wear blue and white striped shirts, and the cadets, the day we visited at least, were in white uniforms. They all seem to enjoy purchasing gifts for family and friends as they travel, but the huge challenge is where to store the gifts, as they only have very skinny tall lockers into which to cram their loot. The cadets sail on the Cuauhtémoc in their final, fifth year at the Naval Academy. Most of the staff are older and have family at home, and have made multiple journeys: Istanbul, Barcelona, Tokyo, Shanghai, Alexandria, Ukraine, Venezuela…

Because this ship is so special, even the signage and trademarks are very cool. See below.

Because it is such an old-fashioned ship, I converted a few of our pictures to black and white. I like how they turned out; I hope you’ll enjoy them.

I guess the photographic opportunities of this gorgeous vessel have seduced me, because we drove over to the port again today at sunset, just to see if we could get some shots with the colored sky and, closer up of the lights at night. The sky, unfortunately, didn’t cooperate so well—not one of those over-the-top sunsets that we are so frequently blessed with.

Thank you for reading and watching along with me! I sure have enjoyed the Cuauhtémoc’s visit. Thank you to all the staff and cadets who helped us learn and kindly showed us how things worked!

“Chicken Breakfast” 2014!


Last year we fed 2300 families, in Mazatlán’s poorest colonias: La Felicidad, Ampliación Felipe Angeles, Universo, Quinta Chapalita, Nuevo Milenio, Jardines del Valle, Villa Tutuli, Nuevo Cajeme, Montebello, Francisco I. Madero, Ladrillera, El Basurón, El Conchi 2, and the Ex-Hacienda de Urias. It’s a Christmas tradition dating back to 1990, spearheaded by our friend Yolanda Medina. It is the absolute BEST way we’ve found to celebrate the holiday here in Mazatlán. We are so grateful for this annual opportunity—locals and expats coming together, working shoulder to shoulder, to reach out and bring a smile to those less fortunate. I’ve met so many wonderful people through Desayuno de los Pollos, and have witnessed such strength of spirit. 2014 will be our eighth year participating. You can view photos of last year’s event here.

How did this whole effort start? And why in the world is it called “chicken breakfast” or desayuno de los pollos?

“It was Christmas Eve, and daughter María Yolanda’s days were numbered. Yolanda and her late husband, Modesto, were in no mood to eat, let alone have a Christmas dinner with all the fixings. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient. She came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas dinner — roll and all — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.”

Yolanda, her husband and extended family started repeating that gesture for others, and over the past 25 years the project has morphed into two main parts:

  1. The handing out of whole chickens, 10 days’ worth of food, plus clothes, toys and candy, to inhabitants of Mazatlán’s poorest communities. This event takes place each December 24th.
  2. A fundraiser breakfast (not chicken! Usually eggs, chilaquiles, beans, breads, juice, coffee), held to raise money to buy the food. This event takes place each year in early December or late November.

Read the full story of the Chicken Breakfast here.

Would you like to join in this incredible effort? There are so many ways you can help!

  • Attend the fundraiser breakfast on the Saturday the 29th of November starting at 8:30 am (serving till 10:00 or so), at the cruise ship port (API on Agenda Emilio Barragán). Tickets are 150 pesos per person and include a full, home-cooked breakfast, a holiday bazaar of handicrafts and baked goods, a silent as well as a live auction, and a whole lot of socializing and fun. You can buy tickets by contacting me, Dianne Hofner Saphiere, or one of the many other people around town who sell them (Yolanda, Jorge and Isa Medina; Jeanette Leraand, Barbara Narvesian, Lana Reid…). If you can’t attend the breakfast, you can still make a donation. 100% of what you donate will go directly to helping, as everyone involved is volunteer. You can browse photos of last year’s breakfast here.
  • Help us gather great things for the live and silent auctions! Each year Jorge Medina makes at least one wrought-iron table for auction. We often have artwork, and many gift certificates to hotels, restaurants and shops around town. Last year we had an original artwork by Armando Nava, and a 2-night all-inclusive stay at El Cid Marina in the silent auction. You can view just a few of last year’s great prizes here. Many thanks to everyone who donates to support this cause! If you know a business that would like to participate, you can download blank gift certificates here. Once you fill it out, be sure to get it to me, Isa or one of the other key people so we can put it into the silent auction. Thank you!
  • Be a cook! Cut vegetables the night before the breakfast (November 28th), or be one of the cooks on the morning of the 29th! We’ve had several of our cooks move away, so we are in need. It’s a great way to learn to make some Mexican staples, and to meet some new local friends.
  • Help set up and clean up the breakfast (setting out plastic chairs and tables the night of the 28th, and stacking them up after the breakfast on the 29th). My husband Greg is still gimpy, so we will be short-handed this year and could use your help.
  • Help pack food into smaller packets (e.g., bulk rice and beans into baggies), during the week prior to December 24th. A group gathers at the Medina family home in Quince Letras nearly every evening.
  • Gather gently used or new toys and candy, to hand out to the children on the 24th. Last year we had so few toys, the sadness on the kids’ faces just broke my heart.
  • Gather your gently used clothing, shoes, blankets, and jackets to hand out on the 24th. Please get these to us ahead of time, so we can sort things in preparation for the big day.
  • Bring your truck or large vehicle on the 24th, to help us transport the frozen chickens, foodstuffs, and all the Santa-hatted people out to our poorer colonias. Again, please let us know ahead of time, so we can plan. Thank you!
  • Join us on the 24th, to be in one of the six or seven caravans of cars and trucks that go to the poor outskirts of the city to hand out food and goodies! Directions can be found here.
  • Donate any amount that moves you. We are all volunteers, so 100% of what you gift goes to help those who need it. Just click on the button on the upper right side of this VidaMaz blog.

It is a terrific event, and we very much look forward to joining in with those who participate in this annual tradition, as well as welcoming those who are new to it! If you have children or grandchildren with you, it’s especially important to teach them to reach out in this way, and to let them see how simply other people live. We look forward to having you join us.

The Cuauhtemoc Tall Ship in Mazatlán

DSC_0266Quick! Do you know who Cuauhtémoc was? If you are an expat in Mexico, you should. Check your answer at the end of this post. The gorgeous tall ship that anchored in our bay this afternoon is named the Cuauhtémoc. She is scheduled to put into port in an official ceremony at the docks at 10:00 am on Sunday.

The Cuauhtémoc is a training vessel of the Mexican Navy with two main purposes: to train officer cadets in seamanship, navigation, leadership, and teamwork, and to spread the message of peace and goodwill from Mexico around the world. It sails with 55 officers, 74 cadets/midshipmen, and 120 enlisted crew members. The Cuauhtémoc was built in Bilbao, Spain in 1982, in a style similar to a 1930s German design. She has sailed around the world for the past 32 years, logging over one million kilometers. She is 90 meters long by 12 meters wide, with a sail area of 25, 500 square feet.

The ship and her crew have won many awards, including the prestigious Cutty Sark Trophy, which it received twice—during the Races for Great Tall Ships in both 1998 and 2000. In 2002, the ship won the Boston Tea Pot, a trophy awarded by the International Sailing Training Association ISTA for its nonstop sail of 1,342.7 nautical miles in 124 hours, at an average speed of 10.83 knots, setting the second-best record in the history of this competition. This record is better than all other ships in Europe and America that have received the trophy in the 12 years since then. It’s tough to get clear shots of a gorgeously lit ship floating and bouncing at night in the bay! My respects to those who do, and please teach me! Here you’ll see photos of the afternoon of its arrival (Saturday), sunset that evening, Saturday night, and Sunday’s sunrise. Click on any photo to see it larger or view a slideshow.

It arrived in Mazatlán this afternoon, Saturday November 8th, and anchored itself out in the middle of the bay. Oh is it gorgeous! It is supposed to put into port tomorrow, Sunday, though I’m unsure of the time. There will be tours while it’s docked here in town, so don’t miss out! Tours are Sunday and Monday from 11 am to 10 pm, and Tuesday and Wednesday 11 am to 5 pm. The Cuauhtémoc will remain docked here until its departure on Thursday, November 13th at 10 am. It last visited Mazatlán in 2005.

Track the Cuauhtémoc’s current position

History of the Cuauhtémoc by the Secretaría de Marina


We had the BEST time this morning! We followed the ship as it made its way to the port. It was accompanied by loads of smaller boats. As it rounded the lighthouse hill heading into the port, there were still no midshipmen up on the masts. But as they headed for the breakwater, the masts were gradually filled, and by the time the ship approached us on the outer edge of the breakwater, the masts were filled with cadets! It was a sight to behold. We were accompanied by ten or so other people looking to get good photos. I hooted and hollered and welcome them to Mazatlán, and quite a few of the cadets waved back at me. Oh so cool! As they got into the dock, we heard them singing the Marina anthem. So awesome! Because we climbed out on the breakwater, and I didn’t have the right shoes, we missed most of the opening ceremony back at the dock, but it was so worth it! Just to have them wave and know we were some of the first to welcome them in! So cool!

Cuauhtemoc-03Cuauhtémoc was the last Aztec emperor, who was executed by Hernán Cortés, Spanish conquistador, in 1525. Quite a few Mexican boys, streets and plazas are named in his honor.