Perfect Antidote to the Pandemic!

Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez

Today I met one of the kindest, happiest and most inspirational people I’ve met in eons. I’ve also figured out how to make this Christmas merry. My hope is that you will choose to join with Yolanda Medina (from the Chicken Breakfast and DIF) and me to help Juan Manuel Tovar Valdez and his father, Rodolfo in a project we are calling, “A Home for Juan Manuel.”

Juan Manuel is a 34-year old young man who smiles from ear to ear. Diabetic since birth (he was diagnosed at two years of age), his health took a huge turn for the worse three years ago. Training as a graphic designer, his heart broke when he began to lose his sight. Renal failure then took one of his legs. Now legally blind in both eyes and walking on one leg with crutches, there is a joyful glint in Juan Manuel’s eyes and his words are all upbeat. “The sun feels so good on my face! It’s really nice to be outside in the fresh air,” he told me as he stood, masked and on crutches, this afternoon in front of the home the father and son rent in Pradera Dorada. 

DIF Certificate of Disability

Cute, colorful government-built concrete townhomes from the outside, there isn’t much inside: a sitting room, bedroom where both men sleep, and a kitchen/bath. Their main furniture is a plastic patio table and two chairs. Rodolfo, 63 years of age, normally sells funeral services door to door. COVID-19 has put a stop to that, and he finds it increasingly difficult to buy the diapers and medicines that Juan Manuel needs, in addition to food and rent. Juan Manuel’s mother died from breast cancer 21 years ago. Their younger son, married with two children, lives nearby and contributes money to his brother and father every Saturday. But it’s not enough. They pay 1200 pesos/month rent, and receive 1300 pesos/month disability plus 500 pesos/month from DIF. “We have been gifted a vacant lot in Colonia San Antonio. There, if we build a simple room to live in, we won’t have to pay rent. The savings will help so much!” Rodolfo tells me. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Rodolfo has been working for months to pay the electric and water bills on the new lot, so that as soon as he can get the funds together, the pair can build a 6-meter by 3-meter (194 square feet) room to live in. “But, Don Rodolfo, here now you have a home with a bedroom, living room and kitchen. Why do you want to build a much smaller home?” “Because we can’t keep paying rent. I can’t do that and pay the bills. Now that we have been gifted a lot on which to build, that’s the wiser choice for us going forward.”

Meeting Juan Manuel today brought me so much joy! How can I be frustrated with being shut inside when this young man—with his whole life ahead of him—had the professional skills he worked so hard for robbed from him, his eyesight and his leg taken, and he’s still happy? “I love to draw. I can draw in every medium except paint; I never mastered that. And I love baseball. I played center field. Now I’m a passionate fan, listening on the radio.” 

 

My personal hope is that you all will be so generous that Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo will be able to build a home bigger than 18 square meters. Fortunately building a simple home here is very reasonably priced. I hope you’ll find it in your heart to help. Reality is that the father and son will be over the moon happy with their new room. “We already have electricity, and I’ve been paying our share of water to Maestra Zulema in Colonia San Antonio. In our room we can have a small kitchen as well as a bath. We can live and sleep in the same room,” Rodolfo explained to me. 

Yolanda has worked to obtain a list of the materials and labor needed to build the one-room home. If you are able and see fit, won’t you donate to help these men out?

“A Home for Juan Manuel” Budget

1500 Bricks ($2800 millar)

$4200

15 Kilos of annealed wire ($40/kg)

$525

Bags of mortar ($150/each)

$3000

10 Bags of cement ($195/each)

$1950

1 Cart of sand

$1900

1 Cart of gravel (6 meters)

$2000

10 Pieces concrete reinforcement mesh ($170)

$1700

30 x 3/8 rods ($130/each

$3900

Rent of concrete formwork

$2000 (pending confirmation) 

Concrete mixer

(Pending confirmation once the walls are up)

Materials Subtotal

$21,175

 

 

Labor

$18,000

 

 

Grand total

$39,175 pesos (approx. $2000 USD or $2500 Canadian)

Together we can do this, folks! We can make 2021 brighter for Juan Manuel and Rodolfo, and for ourselves! Giving and helping out do the heart and soul good! To donate, you have several options:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this VidaMaz.com website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand: jleraand@gmail.com
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com and I’ll pick up your donation.

Truck Lovers

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The first Semana de la Troca hit Mazatlán this week and over 500 pickups—from classic and beater to custom and modern—hit the Avenida de la Bahía facing the new Central Park this weekend. Participants arrived Friday for a parade last evening followed by a concert (we live streamed it on Facebook), and are partying again this evening. The event will finish tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

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We met truck lovers from several states, lots of families, members of truck clubs, Mazatlecos now living outside the city and coming home for a visit. The car show, rally and musical event is sponsored by Mzt Trucks and the Asociación Trokera Nacional. We experienced a whole lot of excitement and bonding, and big hopes for making this an annual tradition. I guess Mazatlán is becoming the motorized vehicle capital of the area?

I am recovering from major surgery, so hobbling around with a cane. I was excited to get outside, if even for an hour, so put on my fisheye lens and had a bit of fun with what we saw. I trust you’ll enjoy the pics! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

 

Christmas in Parque Central

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The mayor and DIF Mazatlán have a terrific new offering for all of us this Christmas season: an interactive light show set to music on Avenida de la Bahía (formally Avenida Mazatlán), facing Central Park one block off the malecón behind the Olas Altas Inn. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The show debuted tonight as city residents and tourists were treated to The Nutcracker ballet performed for free in the open air. Hundreds of people were in attendance, including loads of families with small children ready to start the holiday season off with a bit of joy and merriment. Vendors sold salchichas and balloons to make sure they would benefit from the crowd and earn some money to buy their family’s presents.

The ballet was to have been preceded by the “spectacle of lights,” which was the reason most of the people were there—despite our terrific orchestra, dancers and chorus. All week the lighting guy has been setting up the electric Christmas trees and rehearsing to make sure tonight’s light show complete with fireworks, planned for 6:00 pm, would function well. It would have been terrific, too, as the full moon rose directly over the lighted tree display.

Apparently something malfunctioned even after all that preparation, and the audience wasn’t able to enjoy the show until the intermission of the ballet. By that time scores of families had left: disappointed, grumbling and sad.

The Christmas tree light show is enjoyable and worth a visit, especially if you have family or friends in town, have not yet walked the new mini-malecón—which we love, or  you are looking to get into the Christmas spirit. Greg’s terrific cell phone video of the show is below.

Four shows will be held every evening from now through the New Year at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 pm. Each show lasts about 20 minutes. The fireworks were only for tonight’s event, as far as I know.

Happy Holidays!

30th Annual Chicken Breakfast!

Cuando es más grande el corazón que la necesidad

Each year for over thirty years Yolanda Medina, her family and friends have fed the neediest of Mazatlán’s families at Christmas time in what is called “The Chicken Breakfast/Desayuno de los Pollos.” A multicultural group of Mazatlecos, Canadians and Americans have fed 2500 families/year, including a whole chicken, pantry items that last about a week, gently used clothing, bedding, coats, shoes and new toys.

THIS SATURDAY December 7th is the annual fundraiser breakfast. Tickets are 250 pesos and include a ticket for the raffle. The breakfast will be held at the Cruise Ship Dock, API, in front of the OXXO on Av. Gabriel Leyva. Start time is 8:30 am and it usually continues till about 11 am. Please join us! For tickets contact me, Jeanette Leraand, or Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744. You can purchase tickets at the door.

In addition to the breakfast and raffle there is a Christmas Bazaar, bake sale and silent auction. If you are unable to attend, please make a donation! 100% of the money goes DIRECTLY to the needy; we are all volunteers. If you have items to donate for our silent auction or bazaar, please contact me at 118-4114.

The gifting process is labor-intensive, but we want to reach Mazatlán’s neediest, and sometimes that’s not easy to do. We go out to the squatter colonies and visit each and every shack, to verify that the families are living there (some just put a house up in hopes of eventually getting free land) and to be sure we reach the elderly, handicapped and home-bound. Many of these families live in “homes” made of sticks or pallets covered with garbage bags or tarps, as they have no where else to go. Most do not have running water, electric or gas. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The whole chickens we hand out normally are not roasted for Christmas dinner, as we might imagine, as these people have no ovens. The happy recipients usually boil the chicken in a pot over an open fire, and occasionally rotisserie it over an open flame. We serve elderly people whose children have abandoned them, unwed mothers with babies who’ve been kicked out of their homes, people on crutches, in wheelchairs, the blind and deaf. It is heartbreaking to see how these people live, and it completely makes Christmas to be able to help out a bit.

Please join us, donate bazaar or silent auction items or monetary support (you can donate money here). You can download a gift certificate here.

Also you are MOST welcome to join in early on the morning of December 24th to experience a WONDERFUL Christmas Eve morning by helping us hand out the food and clothing. Prior to Christmas, you can donate gently used clothing, blankets, coats, shoes or new toys. Drop off is at Quince Letras, Jorge Medina’s wrought iron workshop on Francisco Villa just down from the corner of Tampico. Detailed information can be found here.

 

The Dead Will Show You Just How Alive the GZ Really Is!

EXCELLENT New Day of the Dead Event!b2b7db28-2f60-4e33-96cd-446bac619f77Mazatlán is internationally renowned for its Día de Muertos events, especially the callejoneada/alley parade in Centro Histórico (which will take place on Saturday November 2nd this year, Cultura confirms). Many tourists, however, come for a week or more, and locals and snowbirds would enjoy something beyond the main evening. How about fourteen days of cool, fun and traditionally respectful events in the Golden Zone?

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You will be able to take a tour of fourteen Day of the Dead altars in the Zona Dorada,  anytime between October 20th and November 3rd, receiving free gifts, cocktails, and entries to a raffle for terrific prizes that will take place on the afternoon of November 4th. You could alternatively go everyday, visiting the altars of places that have special events that day, and fully immerse yourself in the season. I’ll list the special offers below.

Some of these businesses have done altars for years, but this is the first time they’ve coordinated and expanded their efforts. The participating organizations are very clear that their goal is to honor tradition and gift a terrific event to their customers and the community. The hope is that this event can grow and contribute to putting Mazatlán further in the forefront of Day of the Dead festivities in México.

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So, put your shoes on and get your cameras ready. You’ll learn a lot about making an altar and about the historic personalities of Mazatlán, and it sounds like you can easily get drunk on complimentary beverages and return home with a bag full of swag. Below is a list of the participating locations. Please note that events will take place in the Golden Zone locations of each business:

  1. Señor Frogs Clothing: Altar dedicated to Pedro Infante and María Felix. Gift: Lollipops personalized with the brand. Special offer throughout the duration of the event, while supplies last: With the purchase of 500 pesos of merchandise men may purchase a t-shirt with Pedro Infante as a calavera while women may purchase a t-shirt with María Félix, made special for the occasion for just $149 pesos. Special day Nov. 2.
  2. Michael’s Gallery Giftshop (both Golden Zone locations are participating): Altar dedicated to The Family, all of our beloved family members that we’ve lost. Gift on Oct. 28: A pottery skull to use on your own altar.
  3. F.I.S.H Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Fishermen, who bring us the abundance of the sea. Special offer throughout the duration of the event: 10% off all purchases when you present your altar map. Special day Oct. 27.
  4. Onilikan Artesanal Liqueurs: Altar dedicated to Selena Quintanilla, who, like them, represents two worlds. Gift on Oct. 25: Mulatto cocktail with a base of coffee liqueur. Special offer for the duration of the event: Three for two on everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  5. Marimba Handicrafts and Jewelry: Altar dedicated to Frida Kahlo. Gift on Oct. 29: Complimentary appetizers and margaritas. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% off everything in the store when you present your altar map.
  6. Mazatlán 4 Sale Real Estate and Art Gallery: Altar dedicated to Francisco Toledo, the Oaxaqueño artist. Gift on Oct. 31: Free margaritas.
  7. Royal Villas Hotel: Altar dedicated to Alfonso Pelayo y Clara Osuna, the hotel’s founders. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary hot chocolate and pan de muertos. Special offer for the duration of the event: 15% discount in the restaurant with your altar map.
  8. Rico’s Café: Altar dedicated to The Spirit of Coffee. Coffee has a unique position between life and death, present at births as well as funerals. Gift on Oct. 24: Complimentary pan de muerto filled with chocolate, with hot chocolate or Mexican coffee.
  9. Venados Store Athletic Wear: Altar dedicated to José Alfredo Jimenez, composer of the Corrido de Mazatlán. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary beer and tequila shot or candy for the kids.
  10. Inn at Mazatlán Hotel: Altar dedicated to Rigoberto Lewis, legendary Carnavál float designer. Gift on Oct. 30: Complimentary typical candies, hot chocolate and bread, plus a special performance in the lobby at noon.
  11. Panamá Bakery and Restaurant: Altar dedicated to Everyone who has made us who we are. Gift on Nov. 1: Complimentary pan de muerto and other surprises from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
  12. El Cid Hotels: Altar dedicated to biologist Julio Berdegue, founder of the hotel chain and important player in the development of Sinaloa. Gift on Saturday Oct. 26 from 6:00 pm: Complimentary drinks and canapés in the commercial center of El Moro Tower plus special prizes. Special offer for the duration of the event:  Discounts of 20% in La Concha restaurant when you present your altar map.
  13. Casa Maya: Altar dedicated to Coco, from the Disney film. Gift on Nov. 2: Complimentary shot of mezcal and traditional candy.

When you visit the altars DO NOT FORGET to get a ticket to deposit in the box at each location! There will be terrific prizes from each participating business given out via a drawing to be held on the afternoon of November 4th at 1:00 pm and announced via Facebook Live. The more altars you visit, the more chances you’ll have to win.

I am so proud of this initiative! It unites key players in the Golden Zone, including Rico’s Café, El Cid, Señor Frog’s, Panama, Michael’s Gallery and the Venados Store in an effort to preserve and extend a Mexican tradition valued since prehispanic times. As a member of the foreign press, it also does us proud because it’s an effort led by and including foreign resident business owners (Rico’s, F.I.S.H., Maz4Sale, Onilikan) as well as locals in a quintessentially mazatleco multicultural effort. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.