I sadly missed Mazatlán’s first Holi festival due to my travels, but fortunately returned just in time to attend the Conselva “Nuestro Patrimonio Natural” dinner on Tuesday night. Over 300 people enjoyed the event in Casa Garcia, at which chefs from Cocina!—the community outreach program of local Mazatleco chefs—collaborated on a fundraiser dinner for Conselva: Coasts and Communities. Mayor Felton and First Lady Sylvia, along with many municipal government and business leaders, attended. I was very happy to see that we also had a good expat representation—WTG for supporting environmental sustainability in our region!
Those cooking included Mariana Gomez Rubio from Pedro y Lola; Julián Portugal, from El Parador; Luis and Ignacio Osuna, from Grupo Panamá; Héctor Peniche, from Hector’s Bistro; Diego Becerra, from El Presidio; and Marino Maganda, from Pueblo Bonito. Proceeds from the event were earmarked to purchase highly efficient Patsari wood stoves/comales for families of the Monte Mojino ecological zone. “Patsari” means “the one who takes care of” in the Purhe’pecha language. In addition to conserving wood, the stoves preserve the quality of indoor air.
The Monte Mojino ecological reserve is located in the mountains of southern Sinaloa between Concordia and El Rosario. Its 200,000 hectares of dry tropical and pine forest contain 66% of the fauna found in the state of Sinaloa and 56% of the plant families found here, including 160 species that are endemic to Mexico. According to Conselva, the reserve has a biodiversity richer than that of Costa Rica. Conselva has worked hard to teach the 12,000 residents of the region conservation and eco-tourism, so they can thrive while protecting their natural environment.
The seven chefs welcomed all of us through the doors of the Compañía Minera bar and restaurant portion of Casa Garcia with a selection of terrific fish and seafood ceviches and drinks at the first food station of the evening. Wine and beer were included, but strangely non-alcoholic drinks had an up-charge.
Once inside the large outdoor patio we were entertained during the cocktail hour by a jungle-clad drum and dance troupe, while three dancers made up as jaguars pranced among us. It was delightful.
We were able to see a Patsari stove in action as throughout the evening two ladies from Monte Mojino used one to make tortillas.
Seating was throughout the central patio, both downstairs and upstairs. As usual the venue was gorgeous and the weather was perfect. For dinner we were able to enjoy three different food stations. The station downstairs served fish, soup and tamales made from regional products, while another upstairs served delicious meats from the Monte Mojino region. The fourth and final station was inside the cleared El Presidio restaurant, and consisted of about seven different desserts!
Click on any photo to enlarge, or to view a slideshow.
Puzzling to me about the event was that food was served on plastic dinnerware. While more ecologically sound than styrofoam, Greg and I found it very strange that a conservation organization would use plasticware, and particularly for an event that cost 1000 pesos per person. Hopefully the materials were recycled or recyclable. The other unfortunate reality was that seating was extremely awkward, with many people unsure where to sit or having to move after they’d already been seated. With an event of this size, a few hiccups are perhaps to be expected. All in all, the night was quite magical, and very savory!
At the conclusion of the evening everyone attending was given a gift bag of Monte Mojino honey to take home.
I’m very happy we have several organizations in Mazatlán that are dedicated to preserving our natural environment and to educating people about conservation and eco-tourism. It is my most sincere hope that southern Sinaloa can become a champion of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism before it is too late. We’ve already lost so much. Southern Sinaloa is blessed with an incredibly vibrant biodiversity, and we will be wise to work together to create sustainable ways of making the most of its beauty and riches, for both ourselves and the generations to come.