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

Final Cover

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.

V.I.D.A. Awards in Mazatlán

DSC_6493Jeweler to that stars as well as some of us mere mortal folk, Taxco-born Daniel Espinosa is Latin America’s most successful jewelry designer. He was in town today to honor nine Mazatlecan women with his VIDA Award (Values, Intelligence, Dedication, Attitude). Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. 

The honorees were selected for the many positive changes they have made in local society. VIDA awards have also been given out in Veracruz, Chihuahua, Morelia, Toluca and Tampico—locations of a few of the 75 worldwide boutiques the brand has opened in its 22-year history.

Awardees are well known in our community; many of us are friends with several if not all of them. But, somehow, it would seem we either don’t realize the extent of these women’s achievements and hard work, or we just accept it as part and parcel of who they are. Listening to it summarized this morning filled my heart nearly to bursting. I was so proud of my girlfriends, acquaintances, and those I had the pleasure to meet for the first time this morning. 

Below is a list of the winners. Congratulations and thank you to each of you, for striving to make our Mazatlán a better place in which to live, and for bringing our community recognition on the world stage.

  1. Balbina Medrano: Award for Altruism. Balbina is one of the founders of the Food Bank of Mazatlán and is a member of the Mexican Association for Family Betterment (AMSIF).
  2. Karen Jonsson: Award for Altruism. Karen created the MAPA Foundation for people with mental illness, with homes in Mazatlán and Hermosillo.
  3. María Esther Juárez: Award for Altruism. Esther is a founder of ANSPAC Mazatlán and Separado No es Basura (recycling program), and President of the Lighthouse Patronato.
  4. Ana Belén López: Award for Arts. Ana Belén is the author of poetry books that have been translated into three languages and presented at various literary events.
  5. Itzel Manjarrez: Award for Sports. Itzel ranks among the top five women athletes in the world at the Olympic level. She is a sergeant in the army and air force of Mexico.
  6. Cynthia Cristina Angulo: Award for Business Leadership. Cynthia has a news show and is President of the Mazatlán Association of Executive Women.
  7. Karina Bárcena Vega: Award for Ecology and Philanthropy. Karina is the creator of HoliFest Mazatlán, on the board of the orphanage and awards yoga scholarships.
  8. Cristina Peña: Award for Philanthropy. Cristina is cofounder of Florecer and is currently working with Save the Children to build a safe house in Mazatlán.
  9. Tere Gallo: Award for Philanthropy. Teresa is a lifelong teacher and philanthropist as well as the former director of DIF Mazatlán (municipal family services). 

The ceremony took place in the event salon of Cimaco Gourmet; Cimaco carries Espinosa’s jewelry. Waiters passed a variety of breakfast canapés, coffee and mimosas. It was a very professionally orchestrated event. Those attending were treated to a terrific short video about the VIDA Award and the brand’s history; Espinosa gave a short presentation and then personally gave each winner one of the gorgeous custom-designed awards; and every woman attending was generously given a gorgeous memento as we left.

Madame Butterfly Today for Students

DSC_60341500 primary and middle school children were treated to two operatic performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly today in the Angela Peralta Theater accompanied by our beloved Camerata Mazatlán. What a dream come true, right? Or a nightmare, depending on what kind of child you are. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I have long been a fan of the free performances, “Cultura in the Community,” and today’s event was no exception. It was a win for the children and for the performers, as the cast who were given the terrific opportunity to play these major roles are all from our Municipal School of the Arts:

  • María de Jesús Herrada sang the title role of Cho-cho, the spurned Japanese girl
  • Alejandro Yepes and Alejandro Pacheco took turns as Pinkerton, the spineless American who marries her for convenience
  • Rodolfo Ituarte and Mario Canela performed as Sharpless, the US American consul who is tasked with delivering the bad news that Pinkerton has married another
  • Daniela Cortés and Mariela Angulo rotated as the maid, Suzuki
  • Bonze, the Buddhist monk who curses Cho-cho, was wonderfully performed by José Lora and Miguel Valenzuela
  • Goro, the marriage broker, was, in true kabuki fashion, performed by Eduardo Tapia

The choice of opera for the crowd of students seemed appropriate, as it can be seen as a cautionary tale against teenage pregnancy. The students’ were audibly shocked when María de Jesús announced she was fifteen years old, and then again when she appeared with her child conceived with Pinkerton. The kids absolutely loved Bonze, Cho-cho’s evil uncle, the Buddhist monk. The role was superbly acted. Of course, in the end Pinkerton and his new wife Kate adopt the child, and Madama Butterfly commits seppuku with her father’s sword.

Marsol Quiñonez Castro, General Director of Cultura Mazatlán, reported that it is the first time in the past five years that there has been a full house for an opera performed for children, and that she was very pleased with the audience’s response. Some of the kids looked spellbound, fortunately, and others slept or talked through the performance, causing Maestro Enrique Patrón de Rueda to “shush” the crowd several times.

Roberto Rodríguez Lizárraga, director of DIF Mazatlán, said he was grateful for the opportunity to host students from junior highs Eti #5, Federal #2, Federal #5, Santa Teresa y Solidaridad, and the Valladolid primary school.

There will be one more performances for students tomorrow morning, Wednesday the 20th, followed by a second at noon for the elderly and disabled.