The Dead Will Show You Just How Alive the GZ Really Is!

EXCELLENT New Day of the Dead Event!b2b7db28-2f60-4e33-96cd-446bac619f77Mazatlán is internationally renowned for its Día de Muertos events, especially the callejoneada/alley parade in Centro Histórico (which will take place on Saturday November 2nd this year, Cultura confirms). Many tourists, however, come for a week or more, and locals and snowbirds would enjoy something beyond the main evening. How about fourteen days of cool, fun and traditionally respectful events in the Golden Zone?

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You will be able to take a tour of fourteen Day of the Dead altars in the Zona Dorada,  anytime between October 20th and November 3rd, receiving free gifts, cocktails, and entries to a raffle for terrific prizes that will take place on the afternoon of November 4th. You could alternatively go everyday, visiting the altars of places that have special events that day, and fully immerse yourself in the season. I’ll list the special offers below.

Some of these businesses have done altars for years, but this is the first time they’ve coordinated and expanded their efforts. The participating organizations are very clear that their goal is to honor tradition and gift a terrific event to their customers and the community. The hope is that this event can grow and contribute to putting Mazatlán further in the forefront of Day of the Dead festivities in México.

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So, put your shoes on and get your cameras ready. You’ll learn a lot about making an altar and about the historic personalities of Mazatlán, and it sounds like you can easily get drunk on complimentary beverages and return home with a bag full of swag. Below is a list of the participating locations. Please note that events will take place in the Golden Zone locations of each business:

  1. Señor Frogs Clothing: Altar dedicated to Pedro Infante and María Felix. Gift: Lollipops personalized with the brand. Special offer throughout the duration of the event, while supplies last: With the purchase of 500 pesos of merchandise men may purchase a t-shirt with Pedro Infante as a calavera while women may purchase a t-shirt with María Félix, made special for the occasion for just $149 pesos. Special day Nov. 2.
  2. Michael’s Gallery Giftshop (both Golden Zone locations are participating): Altar dedicated to The Family, all of our beloved family members that we’ve lost. Gift on Oct. 28: A pottery skull to use on your own altar.
  3. F.I.S.H Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Fishermen, who bring us the abundance of the sea. Special offer throughout the duration of the event: 10% off all purchases when you present your altar map. Special day Oct. 27.
  4. Onilikan Artesanal Liqueurs: Altar dedicated to Selena Quintanilla, who, like them, represents two worlds. Gift on Oct. 25: Mulatto cocktail with a base of coffee liqueur. Special offer for the duration of the event: Three for two on everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  5. Marimba Handicrafts and Jewelry: Altar dedicated to Frida Kahlo. Gift on Oct. 29: Complimentary appetizers and margaritas. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% off everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  6. Mazatlán 4 Sale Real Estate and Art Gallery: Altar dedicated to Francisco Toledo, the Oaxaqueño artist. Gift on Oct. 31: Free margaritas.
  7. Royal Villas Hotel: Altar dedicated to Alfonso Pelayo y Clara Osuna, the hotel’s founders. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary hot chocolate and pan de muertos. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% discount in the restaurant with your altar map.
  8. Rico’s Café: Altar dedicated to The Spirit of Coffee. Coffee has a unique position between life and death, present at births as well as funerals. Gift on Oct. 24: Complimentary pan de muerto filled with chocolate, with hot chocolate or Mexican coffee.
  9. Venados Store Athletic Wear: Altar dedicated to José Alfredo Jimenez, composer of the Corrido de Mazatlán. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary beer and tequila shot or candy for the kids.
  10. Inn at Mazatlán Hotel: Altar dedicated to Rigoberto Lewis, legendary Carnavál float designer. Gift on Oct. 30: Complimentary typical candies, hot chocolate and bread, plus a special performance in the lobby at noon.
  11. Panamá Bakery and Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Everyone who has made us who we are. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary pan de muerto and other surprises from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
  12. El Cid Hotels: Altar dedicated to biologist Julio Berdegue, founder of the hotel chain and important player in the development of Sinaloa. Gift on Saturday Oct. 26 from 6:00 pm: Complimentary drinks and canapés in the commercial center of El Moro Tower plus special prizes. Special offer for the duration of the event:  Discounts of 20% in La Concha restaurant when you present your altar map.
  13. Casa Maya: Altar dedicated to Coco, from the Disney film. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary shot of mezcal and traditional candy.

When you visit the altars DO NOT FORGET to get a ticket to deposit in the box at each location! There will be terrific prizes from each participating business given out via a drawing to be held on the afternoon of November 4th at 1:00 pm and announced via Facebook Live. The more altars you visit, the more chances you’ll have to win.

I am so proud of this initiative! It unites key players in the Golden Zone, including Rico’s Café, El Cid, Señor Frog’s, Panama, Michael’s Gallery and the Venados Store in an effort to preserve and extend a Mexican tradition valued since prehispanic times. As a member of the foreign press, it also does us proud because it’s an effort led by and including foreign resident business owners (Rico’s, F.I.S.H., Maz4Sale, Onilikan) as well as locals in a quintessentially mazatleco multicultural effort. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Rico’s Mezcal Dinner

70903830_1322574954572374_1691694833715904512_oMany of us were heartbroken when La Copa de Leche left Olas Altas, mourning the death of a longtime favorite place reminiscent of Hemingway’s time in Mazatlán. We were then overjoyed to learn that Rico’s was taking over that spot. But what was taking so long? They worked on it for over a year.

As you’ve no doubt seen by now, the wait was worth it. Rico’s Olas Altas‘ space is gorgeous. You can sit outside on the terrace facing the street, inside in air-conditioned comfort, or on the interior patio, which even in this hot season is very pleasant. That interior patio would be a terrific private party spot. And the best is that they have a terrific chef—Rafael Gonzalez Medellín —serving a full menu alongside a complete bar tended by Edgar Sanchez, making Rico’s Olas Altas a truly European-style café.

Marianne Biasotti Fontes is the founder of Rico’s. One of our favorite local US Americans, she is fully bilingual, has raised three wonderful bicultural children here in Mazatlán in addition to her entrepreneurial prowess, and is married to popular local athlete and civil engineer, Rogelio Fontes Rosas.

On Valentine’s Day 2020, Rico’s will celebrate 20 years in business! Marianne tells me that they have put a “tunnel” on the north side of their new Olas Altas café and bar so that visitors will be able to see the kitchen in action along with the roasting of the coffee beans and the baking of the pastries. How cool will that be? She plans to open the tunnel for their upcoming anniversary.

The other good news? Rogelio has been heading up to the Sierras every weekend because they are planting coffee! He tells me it’ll take three years for the plants to sufficiently mature, but we will soon have locally-grown coffee! We asked about safety concerns up there in the mountains, and he told us that so far the local farmers have been happy to give up growing pot in exchange for coffee, as the bottom has evidently dropped out of that former market. Terrific news on all counts! I only had my cell phone with me, and I thank my friend Paco who has a Samsung phone with better quality camera, but you’ll get the idea. Click on any photo to enlarge or view a slideshow.

So, why was I down in Olas Altas learning all this great news? Because Rico’s put together a mezcal tasting dinner event that we attended with some friends. Oh my! The food was in-cred-ible! Honestly. The pancetta was to die for, appetizers out of this world… every course was really, really good. The first mezcal cocktail was also amazing—eucalyptus mint and smokey mezcal En El Campo garnished with a daisy. Kudos to the bartender as well!

Norma Bañuelos from AylluClub, a Sinaloan living and working in Guadalajara, chose the mezcales and provided her commentary, including the differences between agaves and magueyes, tequilas and mezcales, mezcal history, varieties and regional peculiarities. We were also treated to some storytelling by Angela Camacho, who captivated us with legends from the Aztecs and our Sinaloan Yoreme.

Rico’s is planning a complete series of events for their anniversary year, including wine pairing dinners with Mexican wine experts, coffee cupping, guest roasters, and a mock barista competition so people can see how it’s done. They plan music at these events and will hold them in the various cafes. The dinners will be in Olas. Marianne tells me, “we opened as the only café in town: ‘qué es un cappuccino?’, mostly to tourists in El Cid, and I’m most proud of the fact that locals were introduced to gourmet coffee through us. Locals are now our main staple.” Don’t miss out; be ready to help celebrate! For 600 pesos this cena maridaje was an unbelievable value—outstanding food, drink, venue, service and company!

Aviation Themed Restaurant

DSC_1747©We have all watched it for nearly a year, it seems—the restaurant on the ground floor of Torre M on the malecón. Why was it taking so long to be built? Why the name “altitude” when it’s on the ground floor?

The good news is Altitud Restaurant and Bar will open for business tomorrow, Saturday 31 August. We toured the inside today with manager Ariel Campos as part of the press conference for a local run.

I absolutely love the interior. There are not many themed restaurants in Mazatlán, and this one has kept with theirs to the letter. The kitchen is housed in an airplane, the stairs to the second floor are through an airplane door, the upstairs seating area looks like the waiting area in an airport, the bar includes the tail section of a plane, the tables all have aviation themes as do the photos on the walls, the wait staff are dressed like flight attendants, there are even airline seats and storage cubbies in the reception area! Needless to say, I was charmed and impressed with the attention to detail. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I can not vouch for the food, as this morning’s press conference included sandwiches, fruit and coffee—not Altitud’s normal menu items. The menu seems creative and keeps with the theme. The pictures of chef Alex Gutierrez’ food on the television screens looked very delectable.

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The wait staff this morning were very friendly and highly attentive; let’s hope that continues. Let’s cross our fingers, as a delicious and fun addition to Mazatlán’s restaurant scene, and one with an ocean view, is highly welcome!

When I asked about operating hours, I got ambiguous answers, so I’d keep checking back with their Facebook page or give them a call. Fingers crossed!

 

Symbols of the Spirit

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Book Review—Symbols of the Spirit: A Meditative Journey Through Art
By Glen Rogers, ©2019 Luna Arte Contemporáneo
Paperback, 104 pages, US$30 or 500 pesos plus US$5 shipping from glen@glenrogersart.com

You will want to savor your time with this gorgeous volume created with love and wisdom by very talented printmaker, painter and sculptor, Glen Rogers. The book is filled with Glen’s beautiful artwork expertly laid out and printed in rich colors, accompanied by short text and guided meditation.

Glen’s work has long been grounded in archetypal imagery—metaphysical symbols from the collective unconscious. As a young feminist artist, Marija Gimbutas’ insights in The Language of the Goddess spurred Glen to walk in the footsteps of early goddess cultures. Over the next several decades Glen made spiritual and artistic pilgrimages to sacred sites around the world. On these journeys and in her art and life in between, Glen discovered and nurtured an internal resonance with sacred archetypal symbols, which then became a focus of her work. When she began authoring this latest volume, she set out to write a book about two of her favorite symbols: the bird and the lotus. Once she began, however, she quickly realized there were eight key symbols that appear again and again throughout her body of work.

In Symbols of the Spirit Glen writes a two-page essay on each of these eight symbols that have imbued such meaning and beauty into her art and daily life: the bird, circle, lotus, moon, seed, spiral, vessel and vesica piscis. She covers the symbols’ historic use and meaning as well as how they came to speak to her personally. Glen includes a short meditation or experiential activity inviting the reader to connect with the energetic properties of each of the symbols: to “experience it with your heart and allow the images to become part of your visual and spiritual vocabulary.” Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

 

The effect is one of pure joy and thoughtful contemplation. If you are looking for reading that nurtures the spirit, the heart, one’s creativity and authenticity, you will find it here. Merely touching the rich pages deepens and calms one’s breath. Keeping this book near you in your home or work space provides a quick escape from the harried world we live in.

Most Mazatlán residents have much to thank Glen for, including the First Friday Art Walks in Centro Histórico and the OMA Gallery at the airport. She owned Luna Art Gallery in Mazatlán, and currently splits her time between our city on the bay and San Miguel de Allende. Born in Mississippi, Glen holds an MFA from San Jose State University and has a long and esteemed art career. For decades she worked in public art and as a community leader. Glen has had solo exhibitions throughout the USA and Mexico plus several in Peru, and group exhibits on four continents.

Glen feels that these eight archetypal symbols offer a promise of healing and transformation, a spiritual and artistic anchor to the Sacred Feminine. She views the creation of art as meditation—a communing with a higher power. Working with ancient symbols provides a bridge to our ancestors and a heart connection to the past. Glen’s experience tells us that these symbols provide healing on a subconscious level, and that once we’ve healed ourselves we can heal the world, because archetypes allow us to go deeper inside to find new truths to the dilemmas we face individually and collectively. Do we really need reasons more powerful than these to invest our time and talent?

Glen’s record of giving back to the community and trying new things is evident in this book. Making such personal works available to everyone—artist and non-artist alike—allows us a peek into what pushes someone as amazingly talented as Glen, and in doing so inspires us to look inward as well. Meditating with Glen via these precious pages is a truly therapeutic endeavor.  Contact Glento start enjoying your copy.

“The man who speaks with primordial images speaks with a thousand tongues.”
—Carl Jung

 

Women Artists of Fishing

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The fish scales remind me of flower petals. These bracelets look like leis.

Today I bought some gorgeous handmade jewelry at unbelievably good prices, and my purchase directly benefitted families in need in Mazatlán. This is not a story of charity but rather self-help—a terrific model of women-owned micro-business of the kind that development experts tell us builds strong and healthy communities.

Called Mujeres Artesanas de la Pesca, these twelve local women have officially registered as a cooperative of artisans dedicated to building better families, to personal development, social responsibility and environmental sustainability. They are a strong team of women who have experienced some of the worst that life has to offer yet remain hardworking and committed to helping their families and one another, as well as to growing their outreach and membership in support of our local economy. The day I visited, the women were bustling about, everyone working hard and shoulder to shoulder, so many projects at once that it was difficult to keep track. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We all know that Mazatlán is home to Mexico’s largest shrimping fleet, an industry that employs thousands. The shrimping season, however, can be as short as four months a year. How is a fisherman to sustain a family on four months of wages? Of course, they try to find another job during the off-season, but that is challenging.

A year and a half ago this group of fishermen’s wives joined one of ANSPAC Mazatlán’s classes on personal growth to learn skills and cultivate the confidence and connections to help provide for their families, including education and healthcare for their children. During the program the group developed the idea of making jewelry out of fish scales, and after completing graduation they ran with it.  They have beautiful earrings, bracelets, necklaces and keychains available for 50 to 200 pesos, though they are contemplating increasing their prices.

Their husbands’ employer, Operadora Maritima del Pacífico, set aside a storefront and workshop space for them. The women manage the enterprise themselves; Maribel is the manager and Chabelita is in charge of sales. Jessie is disabled and works from home. They’ve furnished their workspace and sales area themselves and purchased a coffee pot and water dispenser for the kitchen. The group has sold their jewelry at the cruise ship docks, the Aquarium, and the El Cid Bazaar. They are very excited that the State Secretary of Tourism has recently begun purchasing their items—local, socially responsible and eco-friendly handicrafts—for their incoming guests.

The women hope that their project will help discourage illegal fishing and over-fishing as well as encourage others to be more responsible in putting garbage in its place and limiting the use of plastics to protect the ocean and our environment. “The ocean is the heart of our planet,” is one of their sayings.

The company has also helped by bringing in experts to teach the women what they need to know. On the day I visited the shop, Gabriel Aguilar Tiznado, an engineer, was visiting for the second time. He is from Tepic, Nayarit. He first came to teach the women how to cure and dye the fish scales for use in jewelry. This time his task is three-fold:

  1. The women want to dye the fish scales silver and gold, in addition to the bright colors they are already producing.
  2. They want to learn to tan the fish skins into leather, and have already made wallets, keychains and earrings with a gorgeous texture and color.
  3. Perhaps most interesting of all, they are learning to extract collagen from the fish scales. Collagen is the most expensive substance made from fish, costing more than the meat itself, and has been found beneficial for skin, hair, joints, internal organs and, at certain stages of cancer, can be used to inhibit tumor growth.

Soon a Mazatlecan artist who resides in Guadalajara, Tusi Partida, who recently won an award for her artisanal leather shoes, will work with the women to teach them more skills. They are currently looking for a sewing machine and leather working tools, including manual stamps, to help them with this next phase of their project. Below are a few photos that I received of her work.

Working with the wives of their employees is something that Operadora Maritima del Pacífico sees as a social responsibility. They view their enterprise as a family and want to educate everyone from the captain of the boat to the fishermen to take care of our oceans and value them. According to the women, one of the biggest joys of their venture, in addition to the income and learning, is the friendship, the fact that they’ve learned to collaborate and support each other. “Too many women spend time pulling each other down. Here we pull each other up. We are in this together,” one of the ladies told me.

The women use fish skin that is cast off at the embarcadero and even some of the markets around town—tilapia, sole, mahi… Going forward they envision that a husband could get a panga and his wife and kids could make these handicrafts with what they catch, thus producing a family-owned business. In the meantime, they’re dedicated to finding more outlets for their products and to diversifying their product line.

You can visit the Mujeres Artesanas de la Pesca shop between 9am and 1pm Monday through Saturday. It is located near the embarcadero to Stone Island—the one with the fish market, on the port side of the street right across from the Pemex station. The group’s name is on the sign out front.