Eyes of the Fish Market

Mazatlecos are blessed with fresh fish and seafood. I love going to the fish markets, watching the fishermen unload their catch, and watching the sales people descale and filet the day’s offerings.

A week or so ago my photographer girlfriend Darlene and I spent a morning at the Embarcadero. I didn’t make a conscious decision to focus on eyes, but that is what emerged from my lens that morning; with a photo or two for context thrown in for good measure. I hope you enjoy!

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. Please let me know which is your favorite pic!

Thanks, Darlene, for joining me! And to all who graciously smiled and posed for the photos! Mazatlecos rock.

Any of my photos are available as prints. Just email me at thrudiseyes@gmail.com or WhatsApp to +52-669-122-8962 with the photo, size and backing (paper, canvas, etc) you would like a price on. You can follow my photography on Facebook or Instagram, or via my webpage at www.ThruDisEyes.com. Thanks!

Get to the Art Museum!

We all talk about how blessed we are with the arts and culture scene here in Mazatlán. When is the last time you made it inside the art museum? Right now they have two incredible exhibitions running that are well worth your time!

The first is a photography exhibit that was over a year in the making, as it was Sichem Rizo Alvarez’s final project for his master’s in photography in Barcelona. You may have seen some of his imaginary Carnaval Queen photos that are reminiscent of Tammy Faye-Baker’s mascara-streaked, tearful face. The first time I saw one I thought, “cool, but a bit cliché.” Then I went to the exhibit! Sichem has combined his photographs with a narration that speaks to the power of Carnaval royalty, of our local “royal” dynasties in which great-grandma, grandma, mom and daughter have all been queens, the high highs of the week-long festivities followed by the letdown lows many royals can feel afterwards. He has set the exhibit up with lighting reminiscent of our iconic Mazatlán Carnaval lights. I black drape divides the space into before and after Carnaval. His mother stitched up the queen’s dress, which is displayed on a mannequin. Titled “Queen of Gold Tinsel,” (Reina de Oropel) the exhibit speaks to the ephemeral nature of beauty, youth and fame. You will find it in the gallery on the left as you enter the art museum downtown. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The second exhibit resides in the gallery to the left of the stairs. It may look like another photography show, but it is a retrospective of the oil paintings of a young man from El Habal, José Luis Tirado Lizárraga. His work is so incredibly realistic that I honestly kept doubting it was oil painted! He works with a dry brush, so it’s hard to see any paint on the paper or canvas, and much of the framed work on paper is under glass, making it look like a print. But the television will show video of how he sketches and then freehand paints with incredibly life-like detail. What an amazing talent!

As always, entry to our state-government-sponsored art museum is free of charge. The exhibits will be there all of March, so be sure to stop in. They are open 9-3 Tuesday through Saturday except on Wednesday they close at 1 pm. Address is Sixto Osuna and Venustiano Carranza downtown, tel. 669-981-5592.

Get to a Coronation!

Mazatlán is said to be the world’s third biggest Carnaval, spanning over a week of festivities. Each year we attend at least one of the four coronations. It’s so worth it! The pomp and circumstance, the dancing, the music. The performances involved in a coronation are comprised of hundreds of talented local young people and professionals, from visual artists, sculptors, costumers, stage designers, choreographers, musicians and dancers.

Each coronation of course involves the crowning of royalty, and it also pays homage to the sovereigns celebrating their 25-year (this year Alma Loaiza) and 50-year (Lupita Elorriaga) anniversaries. Plus, of course, there are fireworks. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

This year’s Queen of the Floral Games is Uma I. She was crowned by the winner of the Poetry Ward, Sandra Lorenzano. In 20 years of coronations I have never seen a queen struggle as Uma did to ascend the steps to her throne. Her gorgeous gown, designed by Sodelva García and embroidered with laurel leaves, must have weighed a ton!

The coronation itself is preceded by entertainment by local dancers and musicians, and followed by a concert. Friday night’s concert theme was “Rock You,” headlined by Gloria Gaynor. At 79 years old she still belts out a tune, thanks, of course, to her back-up singers. She was impressive! The crowd sang along and danced at their seats. Héctor Ortiz and Quintero Britania were the warm-up acts. The audience ate it up, dancing and waving their lit cell phones.

You will need to purchase tickets to the coronations. There are seats on the field of the stadium, and cheaper seats in the stands. People tend to dress nicely, and a coat is recommended if it’s chilly or damp. Binoculars may also be worth taking.

The Remarriage of Don Candido

Mazatlán is an amazing place to live, and part of its charm is how very close we are to so many wonderful small towns! Mountains or coast, friendly rural faces and places are easy access from the city.

Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, Greg and I decided to head up to the mountains. I had made a bunch of lavender/rose cookies that I cut into heart shapes and frosted in red, so we felt like a couple of cupids handing them out to the people we met. One of the people it was my joy and privilege to reconnect with was Don Candido Tirado, a 92 year-old retired carpenter and barrel maker.

We first met Don Candido and his charming wife, Doña Concepción Osuna, in 2017. My cousin sisters were visiting, and we walked through La Noria with Marisol Lizárraga, a delightful woman and the town’s historian. She introduced us to many people, including Don Candido. I took a series of photographs of Candido and his son working in their shop, and a few of his wife telling us stories. Sadly, Doña Concepción departed this life five years ago. But Don Candido is still going strong! His eyesight is gone in one eye and failing in the other, but he is as sharp and funny as ever. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Don Candido told us the story of how Concepción and he were married, but when the marriage was recorded way back when, the official in the registrar’s office had added an extra letter to Concepción’s name. At the time they didn’t think much about it, but over the years the error grew into a huge problem for his children. They needed birth certificates, copies of marriage certificates, etc. to go about their lives, but their mother’s name was always incorrect and considered invalid. It was going to cost Don Candido over 37,000 pesos to correct the mistake in the registration! He even complained about the cost to the President of the Republic.

In the end, Don Candido and Doña Concepción found it cheaper, easier and more fun to just get married all over again. This time they got a legal and correct marriage registration, and then they could re-register their kids. Problem solved.

I was amazed to realize that Don Candido remembered Greg and me so vividly. He even remembered the year we first met! I know my brain is not that sharp; I had to search for the old photos. Sadly, many of the original photos of him working in the woodshop have disappeared, lost when I dropped a hard drive. Thankfully I do have one, and I have several of Doña Concepción. And now you know the story of why he had to get remarried. Candido can not read or write, but his proudest possession is a book that a professor friend gifted him from Barcelona many decades ago. It includes instructions for how to deliver a baby, including why clean sheets and hot water are needed (one shouldn’t touch the placenta).

His daughter, Rafaela Tirado Sanchez, and her grandson were in Don Candido’s yard sweeping up while we visited. That boy is one hard worker! Rafaela lives just down the hill, and brings meals to her father daily. I took a couple of portraits of these two as well. What a blessing to have one’s 92 year old great-grandfather living healthy and independently so nearby. I can only imagine what the kids learn from great grandpa.

It turns out the garden that fascinated my lens belongs to none other than Rafaela! The charm of small towns are the rural architecture, the fact that most families built their own homes, the bright colors of the homes and the pride of ownership in their maintenance. In La Noria there is also so much to see and do: mezcal tasting, zip lining, artesanal cheese production, leather making. Or, just sit in the plaza or walk around. Below I’ll post a few photos from our trip yesterday.

We met quite a few people yesterday, during our cupid adventures. Below are two portraits. On the right is Adolfo Velarde Osuna, El Chilolo, who was busy talking with a few compadres as held onto his horse, El Rayo. On the left is Rafael Osuna, who was supervising the remodeling of his brother’s historic home in this charming small town. The eyes of both of these gentlemen show the generations of European intermarriage in this area; you’ll see many eye colors during your journeys through the small towns of southern Sinaloa.

The trip to La Noria made for a wonderful Valentine’s Day. We enjoyed a terrific lunch in the warm sunshine, and a nice long walk around town. And we witnessed a gorgeous sunset! If you haven’t been up in a while, be sure to visit. On this blog you can find reviews of several La Noria restaurants, plus the distillery, the cheese shop and the leather shops; just use the “search” function.

Lighting the Angela Peralta on Fire!

One of the best musical, dance, and theatrical events of the year in Mazatlán occurs the weekend before Carnaval begins—the “Evening of the Arts.” The event makes the sold-out crowd that fills our historic Angela Peralta Theater beam with pride and delight at their good fortune to live here.

Saturday night February 11, 2023, talented Mazatlecos lit the stage of the Angela Peralta Theater on fire. In a program entitled “Pagan Love,” the night was directed by local legend, Maestro Enrique Patrón de Rueda—born, bred, and still residing right here in our port. The Maestro is Artistic Director of the Mexican National Opera Company, of the opera for the Mexico City Philharmonic, and of the Sinaloan Cultural Festival. Maestro Enrique was trained in the Mexican National Conservatory of Music, London Opera Center, the Royal Academy of Music, and Morley College. His conducting style is filled with passion and a heavy expression of emotion, as you can see in the photos below. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The Amor Pagano program united Mexico’s National Dance Company, founded in 1963 and the oldest in Mexico; Mazatlán’s Ballet Company, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary; Brújula Dynamic Flamenco from Michoacán; and the Camerata Mazatlán, founded in 2006.

The second Mazatlecan showcased Saturday night was Sarah Holcombe, beautiful and talented mezzosoprano, who sang the first half of the evening’s program: “Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla. Born here in our port, Sarah began her opera studies in our local School of Opera under another local legend, Maestra Martha Félix, in 2007. She further developed her skills in the Angela Peralta Chorus and the Gullermo Sarabia Chorus, demonstrating the high caliber of musical education available to local youth.

Director of our Municipal School of Classical Ballet, Maestra Zoila Fernández is Mazatleca by adoption and choice, though she was born and educated in Cuba. Maestra Zoila teaches students as young as seven years old in our local ballet school and sees many through to professional careers with internationally renowned companies throughout the Americas and Europe. She choreographed the program on Saturday night, including the first act’s Amor Brujo and the final act, Carmen by George Bizet. The flamenco portion of the evening’s dance was choreographed by Nashieli Buelna, another Sinaloan talent shining brightly this Evening of the Arts.

The four key dancers from the National Ballet who starred in Carmen were Ana Elisa Mena Chávez as Carmen; Argenis Montalvo as Don José; Roberto Rodríguez as Escamillo; and Martha Mariana Romero Iribe as Destiny. Their performances were breathtaking—incredible strength, flexibility and grace reminded the audience of the unbelievably perfect beauty of a healthy body. The dancers from our Mazatlán Ballet Company and the 43 talented musicians of our Camerata Mazatlán did an outstanding job, making for an incredible night.

The ostensible reason for this incredible night’s entertainment was to celebrate the winner of the Mazatlán Prize for Literature. This year the award went to David Toscana, from Monterey, for his powerful novel entitled, “The Weight of Living on Earth” (El Peso de Vivir en la Tierra).

Many of our resident foreigners and visiting international tourists love Mazatlán for its miles of beaches, her unbelievable sunsets, the warmth and joy of her people, and our wonderful seafood. Yet another reason to love Mazatlán is for the richness and affordability of her cultural arts scene. If you have not availed yourself of CULTURA’s offerings, you are definitely losing out!