We’re Going to the World Series!!!

team shot 2 It’s not every day you hear that around Mazatlan, but such has been the case since April, when the Mazatlan Pony League baseball team (Colt Division) won a tournament in Guadalajara with 8 wins and no losses and the chance to represent Mexico in the World Series in Lafayette, Indiana, USA from August 7 to August 12 of this year.

Competing in the World Series requires a lot of commitment by players, coaches and their families. Also, making a trip like this requires money. The good news is that the kids will not have to pay any hotel costs, but instead will be hosted by local families as part of a global outreach for international sports. However, the team has many other hurdles to jump in order to make this trip happen. By winning the tournament, the team received $3,000 USD to help with transportation costs. The team has also received a verbal commitment from the State of Sinaloa for $10,000 MXP. They will need more, and the team has held some fundraiser events and has been selling tacos every weekend since the big win.

The cost for the bus to Indiana (36 hours each way) has been negotiated down to 187,000 pesos. The team has managed to collect in cash and pledges 119,000 pesos, including the tournament winnings and the Sinaloa support. The rest has come from families like ours, local businesses and fundraising. That leaves the team short 68,000 pesos. For this, they are asking for some assistance.

Readers of this blog can show support by dropping off a donation to Post & Ship in the Golden Zone or by contributing via PayPal by clicking on the link below the video. The team did not have time to set up a special bank account for donations via PayPal, so instead, we asking you to donate to my PayPal account trusting that all of the funds collected will be given to the team.

In addition to transportation-related costs, the team also has to purchase a special uniform and has hired a professional trainer to aid the coaches. The team has a commitment and at this point they will go. If they do not raise the needed funds, the families will find the money themselves, somehow, some way—most likely by high interest credit. Please help them out if you’re able and willing!

Here is a little video of these great kids.

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Thanks in advance for your support.

Gracias

Virginal Zarandeado

P1280223You most probably love zarandeado—the barbecue fish that is so iconic here in Mazatlán—as much as we do. We’ve ordered it from our friends at Pili on Stone Island for at least l5 years, and in Costa Marinera and other restaurants here for about 30. It is generally cooked over an open wood fire, and it ROCKS!

We also love Pescadería del Mar in Playa Norte. We’ve visited the fishmongers there three times a week every week that we’ve lived here. In addition to fresh fish brought in from the fishermen across the street, they make fresh paté of marlin and tuna that’s the best in town, and only 50 pesos a pack. They also have some of the best fresh-smoked marlin and tuna around. They are so helpful to tell us what’s in season, what’s fresh, and even how to best prepare our different local fish. Of course, I also teach them a bit about how to prepare more international dishes, but that’s beside the point. NOTE: the photos below were not taken today, but on an earlier visit. Click on any photo to enlarge it or see a slideshow.

The point is that this morning we got to the fishmonger rather late. The only thing that looked good to us was fresh pargo, and it was huge for two people—over two kilograms. Perfect for a zarandeado! But what’s the catch? In all these years, we have never before prepared a large zarandeado at home, and we were, honestly, a bit intimidated.

You perhaps prepare this lovely dish at home all the time. With the low price of it in restaurants, there’s no real need to do so. But, our fishmongers gutted and split the pargo, all ready for us to take home and barbecue.

I washed it and sprinkled spices on top. Greg then put it in the fish-griller-thing-a-ma-jiggy that our friend gave us years ago, and put it on the grill.

It turned out perfect—juicy and succulent and oh-so-savory—and it couldn’t have been easier!

If you have by chance not yet tried to do zarandeado on your own, please, don’t worry. Greg tells me to be sure to heat the grill and the fish holder well before cooking, and remember to oil the fish holder. He warmed the grill on high heat and turned it down to medium to cook the fish. After about 20 minutes—oilá! It was magnificent. And we now have terrific fish for the next couple of days.

I made the rice like Spanish rice, with diced tomatoes, but today I added a few chipotles to the mix. The rice was incredible! Really, really good. Ashamedly, we haven’t gotten to go grocery shopping since our return from Las Vegas over the Easter break, so we didn’t have fresh veggies to put on top of the zarandeado. That’s why the raw carrots. 😉

Thank you, griller extraordinaire. It’s wonderful to have a “virginal” experience with you today. I know we will be barbecuing many more fish over the summer, thanks to this success!

OMG What a Nite! Cuerpo Gourmet

11038736_1397250817255943_3422775490219867973_n Last night was incredible. Honestly and completely. I arrived back from Venice and Milan in the morning, and was jet lagged but oh-so-excited to attend Delfos’ annual fundraiser, this year titled “Gourmet Body.” The event did not disappoint. In fact, it rocked so much I’m tempted to attend again today. Bless Omar, Claudia, Diego and everyone involved! This was an avant-garde performance that we would have been privileged to see in any major world city, and here we were, right in our very own Mazatlán! According to the program:

Gourmet Body is a hybrid performance that heightens all five senses. A game of chance where the viewer decides what to see and taste. It consists of eight scenes and eight tastings happening simultaneously in different spaces at Casa Garcia. It’s not just a dance performance; it’s not just a tasting; it’s not just a meeting among friends; it’s an entirely new way to experience art, food and social gatherings!”

It combined performance art—modern dance, music, lighting, acting—with delicious degustaciones made by Chef Diego Becerra and staff, and it took place in the beautiful surroundings that are Casa Garcia. There were eight “tours” we could take, and each person attending was able to do four. That’s the reason to go again—to do the remaining four. Last night’s event was attended by a good mix of locals and expats, and equally enjoyed by all. Everything was conducted bilingually, in Spanish and English. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

The Delfos troupe is one of the most renowned in Latin America, and we are blessed to have them based right here in our beloved Mazatlán. The group was founded in 1992 by Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz. Last night’s unbelievable event was an annual fundraiser (different each year) to support Delfos’ and the Professional School of Dance of Mazatlán’s social and educational projects. That includes community outreach to local colonias such as Urías, where kids without shoes are given the chance to learn the Delfos philosophy, joy of life, as well as dance.

Cuerpo Gourmet was conceived and produced by Delfos’ Omar Carrum. The architectural beauty of Casa Garcia, plus the fresh night air and clear sky in the courtyard were, of course, stars of the show. Having just come from Venice, where it is normal to pay US$40 for the privilege of good atmosphere or a scenic view, tonight I paid $40 for great views PLUS four incredible performances, four mouth-watering tapas, three glasses of full-bodied red wine, and the enjoyment of reconnecting with a whole bunch of friends.

Each of the eight performances had a theme and costumed tour guides. Each tour was limited by the number of people who could attend: between ten and 25 each round. Tour guides stood in line with their signs and tickets, and when a bell was rung, they handed out the tickets they had for that round. A program told those of us attending the theme of each performance, so we could approach that tour guide to get our tickets. In theory, each of us should have been able to attend any of the eight, but in reality the kids had so many friends and family there that some of the tours—such as #1, which took place in the bathroom, and another, which took place in the kitchen—were “sold out” each and every round before the bell even rang to begin giving out tickets. I will say, however, that every tour was wonderful—the performances, the costuming, and the food. It’s just that some were obviously more popular than others, and people were definitely pushy and psyched when they got tickets to their choice of tours!

The event had sold “VIP tickets” so that people could attend both nights. I had not heard about this option prior to tonight, probably because I was traveling. Since we were only able to attend four of the eight performances, attending both nights via the VIP option sounds smart, indeed. I assume they have a way to ensure that you get to see all eight tours. The first performance we went to was #8—Family Portrait: Sweet sighs of a layer hen. It took place on the second floor of the patio, in a small room with a terrace. Our seats were nests with eggs, and our degustación was a chocolate egg that was oh-so-delicious! Two dancers (Roseli Arias and Renato González) with masks and eggs danced in (and through) a window facing the audience.

Below is a video clip of this performance:

The second performance we attended was #7—At the Edge…The Oblivion: Hot passion served cold. This was also on the second floor, in a small room laid out with a long table dressed with white tablecloth, red roses and candles, on a balcony overlooking the floor below. Two girls (Aura Patrón and Karla Nunez) danced in a window, then we met two guys (Daniel Marin and Johnny Milan) dancing down on the floor below. Finally, all four were together down there in a ball of passion; the performance was a wonderful use of the architectural space in Casa Garcia. The tasting was a wet and spicy ceviche.

Here is a bit of video of this station:

Our third performance, #2—The Secret Ingredient: How people don’t know what they are eating—took place on the roof, and was the most energetic performance we saw. Also the funniest. Performers dressed as a chef, sous chef and cooks (Julio César Rendón, Sofia Ramírez, María de Lourdes Melo and Christian Jiménez) danced around with fry pans, and then served us a wonderful warm taco filled with chorizo.

Here’s a clip of this performance; enjoy! Our final performance, #3—Little Dudes: Four-creature cocktail in a fresh indulgence sauce—also took place upstairs on the roof, past the room with the pool table. It involved four performers (Alejandra Juárez, Francisco Herrejón, Jorge Luis Rebollo, and Ashley Pietro), and we were served a shrimp cocktail with a citrus dressing.

Below is a video of this performance:
I met two young dancers from the US last night, both of whom are doing a one-year residency with Delfos. The first, Olivia Fauver who studies at Smith College in Massachusetts, and the second, who I interviewed, Hillary Grumman from Seattle. Below is my interview with Hillary:

The performances we missed included:

  • #1—Anthropophagy: Dreams of meat in the sauce of craving and hunger
  • #4—The appointment: Meat pie of two religions with plantains and suburban pigs
  • #5—Bleeding in the sky: Blames of the cattle sandwich with BBQ sauce and farmer’s corn bread
  • #6—Absences: Memories of forbidden fruits covered with chocolate nostalgia

Hearty congratulations and many thanks to Claudia, Omar, Diego and everyone involved! What a wonderful, jet lag-filled welcome home to Mazatlán! Get your tickets to tonight’s event at Casa Garcia (Calle Niños Héroes #1511) or LOOK Gallery.

Part of the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up

Banda Baseball!!!!

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Went to a baseball game last night. Not your average baseball game however. Those of us who have been to see the Venados de Mazatlán play are familiar with the party-like atmosphere where the game almost takes a back seat to the music, the beer and extracurricular activities taking place on and around the field. Last night however, was not a Venados game. Last night was El Juego de las Estrellas – or Game of the Stars. By stars, I mean the stars of Banda Music, the style of music popular in this region of Mexico. (See my earlier blog post on the subject here).

Last night featured such stars as members of Calibre 50, La Bandononoa Clave Nueva, La Adictiva Banda San Jose de Mesillas, Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda, El Komander, Roberto Junior, Diego Herrera, El Coyote, Chuy Lizarraga, El Yaqui (Banda Recodo fame), Carlos Sarabia and many more, but you get the picture. All links are to memorable YouTube videos featuring the artist.

This is an annual event although the complete history of it is unknown to me, so if you can fill me in, please leave information in the comments below. Thanks.

The event is free to the public. The event has many sponsors, but the main sponsor was radio station 102.7 who gave away the tickets. The doors were set to open around 5:00 and people were in line before 3:00 to try to get the best seat. The real best seats, the box seats and cabinas, were not available to the public. We were lucky enough to score two tickets from our niece, Vanessa, to whom we are eternally grateful. Don’t know for sure, but I believe we may have been the only two foreigners in the crowd, much like our night at Julión Alvarez, a couple of years back (blog post here). Our seats were right behind the dugout for the blue team which gave us much amusement as we watched the stars interact with fans obliging them with photos and autographs and kisses for the ladies. The volume of screaming girls was deafening at time. El Yaqui is definitely the favorite of the young girls, but Julión Alvarez was the overall fan favorite garnering much attention. He played on the yellow team, so we could only see him well when he took the field. Did I mention there was a baseball game going on?

Each team was introduced one player at a time with full name, banda affiliation and a partial recording of a song the crowd would know. The team “managers” were introduced last: both legends in the banda business. Germán Lizárraga managed the yellow team while René Camacho managed the blue team. With introductions concluded the seven-inning game finally began around 6:30. The blue team got off to an early lead and never looked back – but who cares, right? Many players were rotated out, some only playing a single inning. El Coyote was the opening pitcher for the yellow team and lasted less than an inning.

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Chuy Lizarraga amused the crowd with a slow walk towards first after making contact with the ball to the infield for an easy out. Julión struck out his first time at bat, but made up for that with a single his next time up. Governor Malova showed up midway and joined the yellow team. He walked once and popped up to the shortstop the second time. This last at bat was booed by the crowd. Not sure if it was because the guy caught the ball and put the Governor out, or if they expected more from the big guy?

During the game there was a non-stop queue at each dugout to meet and greet stars. They were all extremely accommodating and gracious. Security had to intervene at times, but overall it was quite orderly. Somebody sitting in front of me was famous. I didn’t know who he was, but have since learned that he is Amilcar Gaxiola who pitched a no-hitter for the Venados this season. Thanks to our friends at Torres Mazatlan Vacation International for recognizing him and letting us know. The mystery is solved!

 

Mystery Guy?

Mystery Guy: Amilcar Gaxiola

The house band was Banda La Corona Del Rey. There were in the stands in box seats just near the yellow team dugout. They played before the game started and during each change of sides. The vocals were often handled by the stars including Julión Alvarez, Roberto Junior and Eden Muñoz of Calibre 50. Before each player batted, the house music would change to one of their hits which helped remind us who was who at the plate.

Click any picture below to enlarge or view a slideshow.

And now you can watch this amazing video:

It was a great night for music fans and baseball fans alike. See you next year!

The Best Views in Mazatlán

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Looking back at downtown over Goat Island from the top of Deer Island

Where are the best views of Mazatlán? Atop the lighthouse? From up top of the Freeman? I believe that the views from atop Deer Island rival even those taken from the air in a helicopter. They are some of the most glorious vistas our fair city has to offer.

If you’ve taken a kayak, catamaran, or any other kind of lancha over to the islands, or if you’ve swum, you know that. The water around the islands is so crystal clear—the color of turquoise—and you can view Mazatlán in its entirety, from north to south, with the Sierras as a backdrop. Click on any photo to enlarge it, or to view a slideshow.

Then, as you climb up the island from the beach, each hill reveals new views and surprises. I have climbed up the first hill before, but I had not done a trek of three of the four hills, as we did this past Tuesday. I have not gone to the backside of the island, and looked out from different elevations. It is truly stunning!

Petroglyphs in Mazatlán. No, not Las Labradas. Here in Town.
And, on Deer Island, in a cave on the back side, there are petroglyphs. Not just those north of town, in Las Labradas. There are petroglyphs right here in Mazatlán!

When our friends saw the photos, they said the petroglyph of the footprint looks like proof that aliens were here. Right next to the foot is a petroglyph of an animal with a long tail.

Footprint petroglyph on Deer Island, Mazatlán on the right. Modern-day pedicured foot on the left. ;)
Footprint petroglyph on Deer Island, Mazatlán on the right.
Modern-day pedicured foot on the left. 😉

Our Photo Class
It’s a funny story how I discovered this. I’m taking a (wonderful!) photography class with Salvador Herrera, and loving it. Well, he invited us to Deer Island for photography practice. He advised us to wear tennis shoes, and to bring sunscreen, a lunch, and water. He also said we’d be home by 2:00 pm. Little did we know that we’d be hiking all day, in quite precarious conditions, seeing the most spectacular views imaginable, and then even rappelling down into the cave with the petroglyphs, to return home after 5:00 pm! You gotta love Mexican communication style and spontaneity! It was an incredible day!

One of the students in our class is a cheerleader. He had a friend visiting him from León, and she’s a cheerleader, too. They were kind enough to do some jumps and flips for us, so we could practice our photography skills. Take a look.

Where is the Cave?
The cave with the petroglyphs is on the back side of Deer Island, just below the crest of the third hill. You climb up from the south side of the island, on the southern end of the beach. From the top of that first hill, you’ll proceed along the crest of the island, down and up two more hills. Then, on the top of the third hill (not the fourth or northernmost, the second from the north), you turn west and hike down in altitude a bit.

The climb gets steep and is not for anyone without great balance as well as good strength and stamina. The final entrance to the cave involves a five-meter sheer drop. Agile climbers can find footholds and handholds, but we used a rappelling harness and rope for added safety.

The Three Islands/Las Tres Islas
Quick! Do you know their names? Starting from the south: Isla de Lobos/Wolf or Sea Lion Island, Isla de Venados/Deer Island, and Isla de Pájaros/Bird Island. Many people and websites erroneously call the southernmost of the three islands Isla de Chivos/Goat Island, but that is actually the island in front of the lighthouse.

The biodiversity of the islands in our bay is an incredible treasure. Four climactic zones are found within such a small area: semi-desert, tropical, coastal and mountains. Over 500 species of birds can be found here, including gorgeous waterfowl and my favorite, blue-footed boobies! 20% of the species found here are unique to this area—you can’t find them anywhere else! The islands are composed of volcanic rock, landslides and foothills. On the islands you can find cacti, agaves, lichen, and deciduous shrubs including lots of beautiful plumeria. Plus, of course, goats, lizards, a multitude of butterflies and other wildlife.

The middle island, Deer Island, is the most-visited of the three. Its attractions include its beach, with fine white sand and crystal clear water, rippling out from the beach in increasingly darker shades of turquoise. The north side is great for snorkeling, lobsters and scallops, and it makes for a terrific kayak trip. Deer Island is 2.3 kilometers off the coast, 1.8 km, long and between 250 and 700 meters wide. It’s highest point is 178 meters (and don’t my legs know it!), and it has an area of about 54 square hectares.

Bird Island, on the north, is 120 meters high and has an area of 48.5 hectares. Goat Island is pretty much inaccessible.

For Sale?!
While most anyone in town will tell you that these three islands are an ecological preserve, and I sincerely hope they are protected by legislation, there is currently an advertisement to sell these three natural treasures.I do hope it’s a joke!

Do You Know the Legend of the Three Islands?
It is said that the indigenous people of this area were suffering from a succession of horrible hurricanes and flooding. The Mazatl people were beside themselves with grief; they were exhausted and starving.

The village chief asked the curandero what he could do to put things right and bring prosperity back to his people. The curandero went into a trance, and told the chief that the only way to put things right would be to sacrifice one of his three daughters—one of the three beautiful princesses—in order to restore the welfare of the pueblo. The chief loved all his daughters dearly, and was distraught because he loved his pueblo, too. He just could not bear to sacrifice one of his daughters.

Unbeknownst to the chief, his daughters swore a secret pact. The three of them loved their home, their neighbors, and their father so much, that they would sacrifice themselves and thereby restore the prosperity of the area. One night, under a full moon, dressed in white and with the diamond their mother had given each of them when they were born, the three princesses held hands and walked into the ocean, drowning themselves for the sake of their people. One sister’s hand came free, and she was swept slightly away from her sisters, but the other two sisters hung onto each other tightly.

The morning after their sacrifice, the Mazatl people saw three gorgeous islands out in the Bay of Mazatlán! One island was located slightly to the north, on its own, while the two to the south were connected. That was when they discovered that the princesses were missing! Such an act of pure, selfless love!

Thereafter, the climate changed and the weather of Mazatlán became tranquil and pleasant. To this day the three princess islands continue to protect the people, sheltering them from winds, storms and hurricanes. It is said that in the heart of each of the three islands can be found a diamond.

Do you know the name of the annual swim out to Deer Island? Yes? The Travesía!

Even if you are not incredibly mobile, you can get out to Deer Island on a boat and enjoy the views from the beach. If you haven’t done so, I highly encourage it. Spend the day; you’ll feel like you’ve gone to a Greek Island. If you are fit, take a hike up, at least to the first hill. The views will astound you. If you want to go to the cave, I’d recommend you go with someone who knows the route; it’s pretty tricky, at least for my level of adventurism.

And, of course, we couldn’t have asked for a better day!

An update/adaptation of this post appeared in M! Magazine in October, 2015 under the title, “Three Time’s a Charm.”