Disrespected Beauty

dsc_0107Mazatlán is blessed with estuaries, lagoons, the ocean, rivers, and all the water fowl and marine life that go with it. Everyday we see glistening fishing boats casting their reflections in the water, and we are blessed to eat the delicious product of their labors.

Perhaps because we are so spoiled by all the natural beauty surrounding us, Mazatlecos all too often seem to take it for granted. Without thinking, seemingly, people throw trash on the beach or the coastline, and that trash ends up in our waterways and all too often into the stomachs of our marine life, murdering them. Especially harmful are fishing nets, lines and plastics, as they entangle marine life and kill them.

One of the saddest of such beautiful places in Mazatlán for me is Estero del Infiernillo. It’s the body of water to the north of Avenida Gabriel Leyva as you go over the bridge, between Avenida Juan Pablo II and Avenida General Pesqueira. I love this place! It is gorgeous! Yet, it is horribly, heart-wrenchingly awful. The photos in this post were taken from where the star is on the map below.


I know the area fairly well, because our son was a Scout. The Scouts went out to Estero del Infiernillo about once a month for years and years to clean up the garbage. We, and mostly they, would pack dozens and dozens of trash bags full of garbage and remove them from the estuary. It would feel so good! Nature had a chance to shine again after our cleanups! Alas, the following month, you’d never known we had done a clean up, as the trash had somehow always reappeared. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

People in the neighborhood tell us that Mazatlecos come to the estuary specifically to dump their trash. The city has a big sign posted, warning that there should be no dumping of garbage here. The sign is obviously widely ignored. There are many fishing pangas that anchor here, making the area all the more scenic. It’s my guess that these fishermen, also, frequently throw entrails and other trash onto the shore, making the area stinky and unsightly.

Estero del Infiernillo is gorgeous! It has good views of the military school hill and the faro/lighthouse, and in the other direction great views to the cranes of Parque Bonfil/the port. Despite the trash strewn everywhere there are loads of water fowl, and on a sunny clear day the muddy, brackish water looks blue.

A couple of years ago the Municipio put in a nice park at the estero: a basketball court and soccer field combination, jungle gym and swings. Later, they added in one of the gyms we are fortunate to have all over town. At the time they built the park, there were plans for the city to clean up the area and to have kayak rentals in the estuary; plans that have never come true. Now it’s still usable but pretty run-down; the most remarkable thing are the many shoes hanging from the wires.

Kayaking in the area would be absolutely beautiful, even with the trash, but if we as community members could find a way to come together and re-educate ourselves, so that Estero del Infiernillo, and other waterways in town, stayed free of trash, how much better all our lives would be! I shudder to imagine anyone eating fish caught amidst all the garbage flung in that estuary, yet fish there they do.

About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

15 thoughts on “Disrespected Beauty

  1. Yes, v sad. I’ve wondered if the kids are taught in school that rubbishing is bad. When Danny was in school here was there anything? When I tell young shop assistants that I won’t take a plastic bag because plastic is very bad, the odd one will but most act like they think that’s weird.

  2. Your guess about fishermen is probably a good one. About a year ago we hired a local well known company for a half day fishing trip. I was appalled at the things they threw in the water. Cigarette butts,bottle caps, extra fishing line and broken items. When I told the owner about it,he replied: ” we didn’t know”.i told him that was not an acceptable answer. Sad.

  3. Do the poorer colonias have frequent municipal garbage pick up? If so, why would people take garbage to the estuary when they could leave it on the street corner? This wouldn’t help the fishermen, but maybe they need to be educated to the fact that they’re killing their livelihood.

    • That is part of what I so love about you, my dear Dee. You think of the context and others’ situation first. In my understanding there is trash pickup even in this area. During the last part of Felton’s administration there wasn’t pickup for major parts of the city. For over six months they said trucks were broken. I believe that is no longer an issue, but I could be wrong. Kids are educated in schools, but I think it’s just changing the culture, much as we did on the malecón with cleaning up when walking our dogs. I know there is so much more to learn about this. Would be a good research project.

  4. I appreciate your reporting on this. I was encouraged recently when I saw a group of younger elementary students on a field trip to the recycling center at the Soriana on R. Buelna each delivering a bag of recyclables. Education is key but so are reliable city services. I also wish the big grocery stores would do more to encourage bag re-use.

  5. I love your blog …. is this area still in the sad shape as you reported? We will be in Mazatlan in just 2 weeks (can’t wait) want to go to different areas this time. We have been coming to Mazatlan for several years; once or twice a year. Does the local bus take us near this place?

    • Welcome back, Theresa! Yes, buses take you here, or taxis and pulmonías. There are preliminary plans to convert this area into a lineal park, but that’s far off. Best to try to educate people to value our waterways and not to litter. It’s a beautiful and interesting spot; enjoy!

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