Bar with a View

Panoramic cell phone shot of the view from Bar 15

The new Holiday Inn isn’t much to look at, if you ask me. I was rather disappointed with the design as they were building it: small pool, lackluster lobby. But thanks to HI, we now have what is perhaps the most scenic bar in all of Mazatlán: Bar 15!

Opening at 5pm Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday), it stays open till 1am. Prices are steep by local standards (90 pesos for a cocktail, 40 for a beer), but you are paying for the view! And, having just come back from five weeks in Europe, these prices are a third of what we paid most nice places there.

The view goes clear from Delfín in the north to Centro Histórico and beyond to the south. The deck on the 15th floor wraps around a bit, so you also have a view out over the city.

You can reserve “Bar 15,” Holiday Inn’s rooftop bar, for a private breakfast or lunch party if you have a minimum of 30 people. I know where I want my next shindig!

See you all there soon!

Comparing Hospitals in Mazatlán

Mazatlán is blessed with a number of private and public hospitals ranging from basic, clean and caring to world-class. Many locals and expats have a clear favorite, but the choice varies depending on whom you ask. Such disagreement of opinion causes me to wonder: what are the real differences between them? Obviously there are price differences, but what are the differences in equipment, facilities, caliber of the staff, and safety procedures?

International media has shared horror stories of foreigners not being released from Mexican hospitals until their bills are paid. In contrast, friends have regaled me with effusive accounts of wonderful care here in Mazatlán that saved their lives. I’ve heard reports of foreigners being gouged on prices, and tales of people paying just a few hundred dollars for several days of attentive ministrations.

To bring some clarity to the matter, I reached out to four hospitals popular with local expats, receiving answers to a 35-question bilingual survey, a tour of their facilities and an extensive interview. I chose hospitals with a variety of price points as well as locations throughout the city: Hospital Marina Mazatlán up north, Sanatorio Mazatlán in Centro Histórico, and Sharp Hospital Mazatlán, just south of the Golden Zone. Unfortunately, after initially agreeing, Clínica del Mar, with a price point higher than Sanatorio Mazatlán but normally cheaper than our other two participants, later declined participation.

The good news is that you can get excellent care at any of these three hospitals. They are all clean, well maintained and have an attentive staff. Each has surgical facilities, an emergency room, intensive care, laboratory, x-ray equipment, general practitioners, on-site specialists, a chapel and physical therapy. They are open 24/7. All three provide food for patients and have nutritionists on staff; some other local hospitals depend on families to provide that service. None of them are huge facilities, ensuring a more intimate environment, and all three have exclusively private rooms with handicap-accessible toilets and showers as well as small closets. There is a sofa bed or cot in every room for a family member or friend to sleep at night. All have transparent price lists for services with room rates posted on the wall in the reception area—per Mexican law. All in all, we are pretty darned blessed! And this is only three of the many neighborhood clínicas and public hospitals in our fair city.

Representatives at each of the three facilities told me that, yes, Mexican law requires patients to pay their accounts in full prior to leaving the hospital; so get used to that cultural difference! Marina and Sharp have their own ambulances, while Sanatorio uses the Red Cross. In an emergency dial 911 and request transportation to your preferred hospital. Depending on which ambulance comes for you, you may have to get pushy as some less reputable hospitals are said to pay ambulances to bring them patients. Remember that public ambulances such as those of the Red Cross may not have the services expats are accustomed to; often they have oxygen and can take your blood pressure, but not much else. The private ambulances from Sharp and Marina are both equipped to international standards, with Sharp’s having a bit more room for those attending to move around and Marina perhaps having a bit more in the way of supplies and equipment. If you want to be guaranteed to be taken to the hospital of your choice, direct number for Hospital Marina’s ambulance is 669-989-3336 and for Sharp’s ambulance 986-7911.

Of the three in our comparison, Sanatorio Mazatlán has been around the longest; built in 1934, it’s run by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is also the smallest and most economically accessible option in our comparison. Located at #1 Dr. Hector Gonzalez Guevara downtown, the facility has just 14 private rooms averaging 4.5 square meters/48 square feet in size that cost an incredible 550-650 pesos per night. Rooms have slightly different sizes, configurations and natural lighting; cost varies accordingly. Sister Martha Alicia Ramos told me that any doctor can provide services here. The hospital does not deal with insurance; patients pay cash and then file with their insurance for reimbursement. The facility is built around a central courtyard with a nice garden, keeping the interior cool yet filled with natural light. I found the space tranquil and quiet, with staff considerate and attentive. Telephone 981-2508. Quite a few local expats swear by the quality of the care here. Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Sharp Hospital is located at Ave. Rafael Buelna and Jesus Kumate, tel. 986-5678 (to 5683). It was built in 1994 and modeled after Sharp Hospital in San Diego; thus, it has wide corridors and is the only local hospital with sterile medical facilities completely separate from public access, built according to the USA Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospitals standards of the time. It has 38 private rooms—26 standard and 12 VIP—with an average size of 24 square meters or 258 square feet. Room rates are 2089 to 3160 pesos/night; SHARP cardholders receive a 30% discount off those amounts. The higher rate is for the VIP rooms, which have added luxuries such as nicer furnishings, art alcoves, an amenity kit and medical hookups that are hidden by paintings. General Administrator Tarsicio Robles and Dr. Juan Barraza, head of Medical Tourism, told me that only doctors and surgeons who are vetted by Sharp’s Certification Committee, headed by the Medical Director, have surgical privileges. The hospital is certified by the Mexican Health Council and is the only hospital in Mazatlán endorsed by the National Transplant Center. Emergency room cost is 136 pesos, and use of the surgical facility is 1650 pesos/hour.

Sharp has a dialysis unit built to Canadian standards—Get Away Dialysis, a cath lab, neonatal ICU, shock and trauma room, fertility clinic and blood bank, as well as MRI, CT, EKG, mammography, fluoroscopy and stress test equipment. They are the only facility in my survey that answered the question about percentages of national vs. international patients: 5.16% foreigners. Things such as the ample size of the intensive care unit, numerous comfy waiting rooms, outpatient dressing rooms and posting of a “Patient’s Bill of Rights” will give Sharp a familiar feel for many expats.

Sharp has a bilingual Medical Tourism department and a team specializing in foreign insurance assistance. They tell me that in most areas on most shifts they have a bilingual Medical Tourism Department staff member available, as well as a list of interpreters in various languages. All signage is bilingual. www.hospitalsharp.com

The newest hospital in our comparison, Marina Mazatlán, was built in 2014. It is located at #6048 Ave. Carlos Canseco, telephone 669-913-1020. They have 22 rooms averaging 30 square meters or 323 square feet in size—the largest rooms in our survey—plus 3 beds in ICU. Rooms cost 1678 pesos/night. The facilities are beautiful, modern and sleek. Claudia Caballero told me that Hospital Marina welcomes any doctor, though they do need to register their medical curriculum at the hospital prior to attending a patient there. Hospital Marina has staff that helps out with foreign as well as domestic insurance. Emergency room cost is 492 pesos, and use of the surgical facility is 1326 pesos/hour.

Hospital Marina is in the process of accreditation with the Public Safety Council. They have a pain clinic, dialysis, a cath lab, neonatal intensive care, and an emergency room, and services provided include endoscopy, hemodynamics, stress test, Xrays, regenerative medicine, pneumology, neonatology, clinical nutrition, orthopedics and trauma, radiology, intensive therapy and intensive pediatric therapy. I was told they transport patients who require an MRI. I was told that quite a few of the nurses, doctors and staff are bilingual, so someone is usually available to translate in a pinch. www.hospitalmarinamazatlan.com

Both Hospital Marina and Sharp have bilingual signage, a fertility clinic, nursery, CT scans and pharmacy. They both have a restaurant with a full menu, while each of their patient rooms has a flat-screen TV and both a recliner and a sofa for guests. Sanatorio Mazatlán has a cozy, Mexican feel while Marina and Sharp both feel more generically hospital-like. Sharp proudly showed me their own generators and fire fighting equipment, as well as protocols for handling a community-wide emergency or an evacuation. If you drive, it could be worthwhile noting that Sharp has a large parking lot, while Marina Mazatlán’s is surprisingly small and tight for such a new facility; Sanatorio Mazatlán parking is on the street but readily available. Sanatorio Mazatlán and Marina have numerous doctors’ offices in their facilities, a common Mexican practice; Sharp has the Polimédica offices right next door. Speaking to the culture of each institution, I feel it’s worthwhile noting that at Sharp two doctors including one administrator toured me, while at Marina a very helpful public relations person conducted my tour; at the Sanatorio I was invited to show myself around.

Please note that this article is based on the answers I received during interviews, in the questionnaire, and during my tour. It is possible some points are not fully accurate or that, since I am not a medical professional, I misunderstood something. Please be sure to conduct your own investigation and determination on fit for your needs. Questions to ask yourself when choosing a hospital in Mazatlán might wisely include: Do I want or need English- or French-speaking staff? Does my favorite doctor have privileges at the hospital? Does the hospital have the equipment that my treatment will require? Does the hospital provide a specially priced package for the service I require (a common practice and well worth asking about).

The time to plan for your first or next hospital experience is now. You probably have a clinic or hospital right in your neighborhood. Taking a day to become familiar with what is available and most appropriate to your health needs and personal preferences, as well as budget, is time well spent. I certainly hope this article has motivated you to do so.

Below I post a complete recap of the survey results, word for word as the surveys were submitted to me. I trust you find it helpful. Click to view the images full size. You can also print these out, if you wish. To download original PDFs, click here.

 

Please help your neighbors and our visitors by sharing your experiences with hospital care in Mazatlán, and your advice. Thanks!

Haziz and Our New Iranian Friends

DSC_4447I am in Dubai to present at a conference directed by the author of Cultural Detective Arab Gulf, Abdulhamied Alromaithy. His wife, Dr. Layla Al Bloushi, will moderate my panel. It’s my first time here, so I’m excited. Today was my tenth anniversary cancer-free, and we planned to celebrate by going to the top of the Burj Khalifa. It was beautiful.

In the morning, however, we walked around the old part of the city. Greg and I were fascinated by the organized chaos of the port. Boats were anchored three to six deep. How in the world did they get out once they were loaded? Packages were stacked everywhere! How did they keep track of what was where? Aren’t there waves in the Gulf? Wasn’t the loading precarious? Here the longshoreman show up in pickup trucks, SUVs and small trucks, to hand-load packages of textiles, boxes of spices, and many, many appliances to be shipped around the Gulf. We even saw electrical transformers.

The boats themselves were absolutely gorgeous, wooden structures brightly painted with filigree and other details. They looked very old. And the men who were working them were so very welcoming, cheerful, hardworking and happy.

The highlight of our day serendipitously became the invitation we received to board and tour an Iranian shipping vessel at the port in Dubai Creek. Our visit was accompanied by tea, lunch, shisha, and some great non-verbal communication that bridged my non-existent Farsi with our hosts’ non-existent English. Thankfully a spice trader helped us out with some translation…

More via Haziz and Our New Iranian Friends

Participate in Online Auction to Benefit Mayo-Yoreme

Please participate in this very affordable online auction to gain a photo for your home or office, plus support people who will very much appreciate your assistance! Below from SIETAR France. You are also invited to my photo talk and exhibit in both Paris and Vienna. I look forward to seeing you there and to having you enjoy a taste of indigenous Sinaloa!

VENTE AUX ENCHERES DE PHOTOGRAPHIES !
SILENT AUCTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS!

Nous espérons que vous allez bien. Nous sommes ravis de pouvoir vous annoncer notre toute première vente aux enchères qui commencera le 1er novembre à 9h00 et se terminera le 19 novembre à minuit.

Nous avons 10 photographies originales qui nous ont été gracieusement fournies par Dianne Hofner Saphiere et qui sont le résultat de son travail avec la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme au Sinola, Mexique.

We hope you are well. We are very pleased to be able to announce our very first SIETAR France Silent Auction which will begin on November 1st at 9h00 and end on November 19th at midnight.

We have 10 original photographs to be auctioned which have all been graciously donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and which have come out of her work with the Mayo-Yoreme community of Sinaloa, Mexico.


Comment participer à notre vente aux enchères — 10 photographies  originales données par Dianne Hofner Saphiere

How to participate in Our Silent Auction —10 Original photographs
donated by Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Pour participer à cette vente aux enchères, il vous suffit de vous enregistrer sur notre site web dédié au :
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Une fois votre profil créé, vous aurez la possibilité de miser sur les différentes photographies et configurer votre profil pour recevoir des alertes par mail ou par SMS si quelqu’un surenchère.

Les gagnants seront automatiquement avertis à la fin de la vente et recevront leur version électronique de la photographie par mail.

Les recettes de la vente seront partagées à égalité entre SIETAR France et la communauté des Mayo-Yoreme.

To participate in our silent auction you will need to register on our dedicated website at:
http://www.biddingOwl.com/SIETARFrance

Once you have created your profile, you will be able to bid for the different photographs and configure your profile to receive alerts by mail or SMS if you are out bid.

The winners of the auction will be automatically contacted and will receive their electronic version of the photograph by email.

The proceeds of the auction will be shared equally by SIETAR France and the Mayo-Yoreme community.

Dianne Hofner Saphiere

Photographe et consultante en développement interculturel des organisations, elle est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages dont “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” et de “Ecotonos : A simulation for collaborating across cultures”. Elle est la créatrice de Cultural Detective®, un projet de développement des compétences interculturelles impliquant plus de 150 experts interculturels partout dans le monde.

Au cours de ses trente années de carrière dédiés à la coopération interculturelle, Dianne a collaboré avec des personnes de plus de 100 pays différents. Née aux Etats-Unis, elle a vécu 12 ans au Japon et vit au Mexique depuis 10 ans.

Au cours de ces quatre dernières années, elle a développé sa passion pour la photographie, se spécialisant dans le photojournalisme – privilégiant l’approche ethnographique, les événements au sein des communautés et les “trésors culturels de l’humanité”.

Photographer and intercultural organization development consultant

Dianne has worked with people from over 100 countries during her 30+ years facilitating cross-cultural collaboration. USA-born, she spent twelve years in Japan and has lived in Mexico for the last ten years.

Dianne has authored various volumes including “Communication Highwire: Leveraging the power of diverse communication styles” and “Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures”, and is the creator of Cultural Detective®, an intercultural competence development project involving over 150 intercultural specialists worldwide. 

She has dedicated the past four years to her passion for photography, specializing in photojournalism — often through the lenses of ethnography, community events, and “human cultural treasures.”

Of Friends and Transitions

Living overseas seems to bring with it a mobile and transitory lifestyle of a caliber foreign to those who steward the home traditions. We become accustomed to a series of pronounced and frequent life transitions. In Tokyo foreign friends would transfer to assignments in other exotic locations every three to five years. It makes it nice for traveling, a privilege to be able to stay with friends around the world, but their departures leave huge holes in our lives. In Mazatlán there seems to be a frequent seven to ten year cycle to expat life, with beloved friends moving to the interior of the country or back home, closer to grandkids, so they can be an integral part of those children’s lives.

Transitions are a normal part of life; I know this. Life is comprised of cycles; I know and believe this from the depths of my heart. Yet dealing constructively with transitions is the reason I made a career as an interculturalist oh so many decades ago. I am not good at them. They hurt. Things change. They can even change for the better, open new doors and windows for which we’ll forever be grateful. But, they involve change nonetheless. Someone “moves our cheese.”

JANET BLASER-head shot

Our friend Janet Blaser

Right now I’m dealing with the wonderful new cycle of a dear friend who has done so very much for Mazatlán during her life here—astoundingly so, in my opinion. I admire her greatly and love her dearly. Janet Blaser started and has run M! Magazine, that terrific English-language monthly we are fortunate to have seasonally. As part of that endeavor, she’s thrown some of the best parties the expat community has had over the past decade, in some of the most unique venues in town. Janet also was the visionary and founder of the Farmer’s Market, our local organic produce market, which has played a crucial role in transforming the reality of food and restaurant offerings in Mazatlán. She pretty much single-handedly organized our Women’s March Mazatlán last January, bringing together nearly 500 locals and expats so that we could be “on the map” and have our voices heard with the rest of the world as Trump took office. Personally, she’s always ready with an alternative viewpoint, a contradictory opinion, the inside scoop on goings-on around town, and a good belly laugh. I will miss that.

She is so ready for her new life cycle. She’s rented a darling home with a killer view in Nayarit (the state south of Sinaloa), and has it fully furnished in her mind. She has a two-minute walk to a quiet and incredibly scenic little beach; it’s going to rock. She’s already made her first new friends, who share her passions for organic, sustainable living and surfing. She is excited about the new projects she’ll now have time and energy to work on, which will take her new places mentally, emotionally and physically. All is good. I’m thrilled for her. It’s full of growth and wisdom; it’s right. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

And she is doing it right. With a month before she actually moves, Janet has already cleaned many things out, packed up a bunch of stuff, and advertised for a garage sale. This way her apartment reminds her on a daily basis of the excitement of her new life, and helps her deal with the reality of the shift. She’s smart and wise. Damn her. 😉

What a gift to be that type of person, one who leaves a place better than when she entered it. A new owner is now the custodian of M!; the growers themselves are now in charge of the organic market. Good karma for beginning a new cycle.

Godspeed, my dear. We will be visiting you very soon. Know you will be missed, by so many, in deep ways. And know we are all rooting for your joy. Thank you for moving my cheese, even though I hate it. Life is change, it is a journey, it’s all about transition. Darn it.