Tianguis Turístico—My Expo and Behind the Scenes

DSC_0036I am enormously excited and honored to have a photo exhibition at the entrance to the Mazatlán International Center during the Mexican National Tourism Fair. Honestly, beyond words lucky and blessed. With over 30,000 people attending from over 50 countries, and all of them walking through my photos to get to their meetings, workshops and conferences, it is a privilege I never would have dreamed of!

The exhibition is entitled, “Mazatlán: City of Contrasts,” and is comprised of 19 photos plus my biography and the exhibit overview. CULTURA Mazatlán commissioned 10 new outdoor mounts for the exhibition, structures which will now be available for other outdoor art exhibitions. They look great! I hope you’ll agree.

We set up yesterday with Maritza and Don Gus from CULTURA. They worked past midnight last night, and today it all looks beautiful. THANK YOU all so very, very much, from the bottom of my heart I appreciate you! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

While we were up at the convention center today, we took a tour around. Many of you  have asked if “normal people” can get in. As I explained in a previous post, the event is for tourism and hospitality professionals and is primarily a business event. You can buy a US$150 ticket to attend, though that doesn’t get you entry to the private dinners and shows; those are by invitation only. For the first time in the 21 year history of the Tourism Fair, there are several events open to the public—that is because our local and state officials made that happen. See my previous article for details. Note also that I’ve seen people advertising on Facebook that Credence Clearwater Revisited is at 2:00 pm. The official press release we received says it’s at 8:00 pm, though I’d recommend you get there by 6:00 pm as it’ll be crowded.

Anyway, the convention center is completely transformed from the usual. They have built a huge new building on the back yard, they have built loads of new walls and rooms inside, and many of the huge promotional stands are still being built. There is a food court outside at the entrance, another one upstairs, and they are LOCAL PROVIDERS! Woot woot! Fish Market, Muchacho Alegre, Pedro y Lola, Wing’s Army, Costa Marinera and Carnitas El Bigotes.

Here are some photos of the inside of the fair at the convention center, which they are still setting up. The temporary building they built in the back has a grand entrance opening up to the Sinaloa state stand. That portion contains stands for each state of the Republic.

That new temporary outdoor building has a second section with stands for private enterprise: hotel chains, tour operators, travel agencies, bus lines, airlines, car rentals, beer companies, etc. The lower level indoor room contained more of those private stands, but off to the side of the main thoroughfare.

The upper level ballrooms are equipped for workshops, speeches and meetings, as is the upper mezzanine.

One thing I absolutely LOVED is that upstairs they have a display of footballs—NFL style footballs—decorated by indigenous people from all over Mexico. Excellent exhibition of art, play, creativity and indigenous pride!

I know everyone living downtown is having a hard time as they are taking cars off the streets today and moving them to parking garages/areas, and movement will be restricted during the inauguration tomorrow (Sunday) evening in the theater and Olas Altas. Let’s all remember it’s for a good cause, a chance to show our pride in and love for our fair city and state, and to showcase it on the world stage!

 

Parque Central / Central Park Update

4d55d780179b1adbc4563c98da8f4dc1I announced the new Central Park to you back in 2014, to be built on the site of the current Bosque de la Ciudad in front of the baseball stadium. Plans, naturally, have changed significantly since then, as you can see on its new website. The developers are excellent marketers, the designs are very modern and world-class, and I know this will be a huge boon to tourism and hopefully to schoolchildren and the general community in Mazatlán.

Construction of the Avenida de la Bahía and the park thus far have been a total destruction of the environment, preceded by the burning of the laguna which murdered thousands of turtles, nesting birds, iguanas and badgers, then by filling in nearly two-thirds of it. The one saving grace is that the new avenue will provide much-needed parking for those nearly 1000 spaces lost when they remodeled the malecón, and it will provide access during the sporting events (marathon, triathlon, etc.) that so often close the Avenida del Mar.

We have reported on concrete mixers and painters cleaning out their trucks into the estuary with zero regard for the environment. Our video on that was shared tens of thousands of times, to no avail. The road is nearly done now, and the estuary is nearly completely filled in with reclaimed land. The builders have a lovely video on their site where they show a biologist relocating some of the animals from the current Bosque de la Ciudad to make room for construction.

It looks like the plan is to completely scrape out the existing lagoon and build small islands that will be accessible by paddle boat to visitors. Our current park is a habitat to so many large migrant birds; I do pray they will continue to visit the new man-made, modern lagoon.

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The new park does look lovely if you don’t think about the flooding that it is most likely to cause. I hope it will be accompanied by civic education around litter and the environment as they’ve said, because otherwise those small islands in the pond are going to become trash heaps. Good news is that designs include water circulation to keep things fresh, and hopefully lots of trash cans and cleaning staff.

I love that the new 5 million liter aquarium, which looks like it will completely replace the old one, will have an exhibit dedicated to Jacques Cousteau, champion of the Sea of Cortés, though no doubt he is turning in his grave to know the environmental destruction leading up to its construction. Greg is excited for the Food Truck Park and the promise it brings.

 

I am excited about the museum as well, designed to look like an oyster, since we are the “Pearl of the Pacific.” It is supposed to contain an IMAX theater and the second floor will have a killer view of the ocean, supposedly, though I think we have so many towers on the malecón that that could be challenging. Best part? The map seems to show it occupying the corner of Insurgentes and Avenida del Mar, where Geronimo’s has stood vacant for how many years. Will be great to get rid of that eyesore!

Plans still include two walkways from the park out to the malecón, which would be hugely welcome to all those who enjoy sports and the outdoors. I’m confident the park will be a huge boon to the city, as long as we can keep it clean and maintained. I remain saddened that “development” has to mean “destruction of nature.”

Morning Boat Ride

It’s nice to have friends who love photography, and who are birders. I’ve lived in Mazatlán all these years, I’ve made how many trips out in our bay in a boat, but I’ve never seen one of our famous blue-footed boobies. I have been longing to see them as they look so incredibly geeky in the pictures I’ve seen.

As of this morning, and thanks to friends with good eyes and birders’ instincts, that is no longer true! Below are a few photos of the funny little guys, out on Dos Hermanos Islands. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

My friend John retold a legend I had heard several years ago and forgotten about. Do you know why the two white islands off the lighthouse are called “Dos Hermanos”? There were identical twin brothers, and both had girlfriends. They were both happy and healthy, and one day the brother proposed to his girlfriend. When she accepted and he told his brother, he also decided to get married, and they planned a joint wedding. On the wedding day they discovered—oh dear—that they were dating the same woman! She thought she was dating only one man, not realizing they were two brothers! The brothers became enraged with each other and challenged themselves to a duel, during which both died and fell into the sea. The woman then cursed them both to a life stuck in the sea, having birds defecate on them everyday. Poor guys. And that’s how we got our two white islands, lol.

This morning was rather foggy, which made for lots of changes in the light depending on whether the sun made its way through the fog or not. It seems to be sea fog, with plenty of blue sky above it, so when it clears it is nice and clear. I fell in love yet again with the rock formations out in our bay. The sedimentary layers, the colors, and the shapes are mesmerizing. In addition to Lion’s Head and Laughing Face, our guide today also showed us Trump Rock: complete with yellow cowlick above his face!

You will recall that for several years the sea lions abandoned Mazatlán. I fear they might do so again, as they get so harassed by fishermen and tourists. Today our boat pulled up pretty close to them, which scared me, but they didn’t seem in the least perturbed by us, fortunately. I do love these creatures, and I loved how the sky and the light kept changing as we went around Turtle Island.

Behind the lighthouse we found a whole bunch of fishermen catching baqueta, which is a fish new to me. Online it translates to “ramrod,” which I don’t know in English, either. When I asked a guy to hold up one of them, he held up a pargo, as you can see. So, I guess I’ll have to google the fish.

All in all, a great hour spent this morning with some good friends on the water, followed by a warm cup of cappuccino. Life does, indeed, get worse!

Best Mexican Military Bands

_DSC9039On Friday afternoon Greg wanted to treat me to something special. That morning while running he’d seen that the huge flag was out at the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada, so he suggested we take a trip down there at sunset to photograph it.

Well, we all know that nothing in Mazatlán ever goes as planned and you need to be open to surprises. Surprised and delighted we were, as while we were setting up my tripod, a convoy of military vehicles arrived, hundreds of soldiers jumped out, and in addition to their rifles they were carrying… wait for it… musical instruments! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

It seems Mazatlán has been host to Mexico’s top military bands, who were competing to be the best in the country. The top three performed a concert on Friday evening in the oceanside plaza. Sadly, they decided to take the flag down just before sunset, so I didn’t get the photos that I had hoped to, but I got a whole lot of other pictures that I’d never imagined I might.

My final question for you: how many people does it take to retire/carry that huge flag that flies over the glorieta?

Spanish Royalty in Mazatlán

Quinta Echeguren 1My neighbor Daniel owns the big lot just in front of Colegio el Pacífico, at the top of Olas Altas where the “castle” used to stand. Last year when I was on the roof of the school photographing the fireworks of Combate Naval, we saw him and his friends down below on their lot, having a nice party. Greg and I said to each other, “what a great site for a party place.”

Well, fortunately, Daniel seems to have thought so, too. I feared they might be building yet another tower on the property, but the workers assure me they are only filling in and leveling out what they dug up of the old chalet on the hill, planting grass, installing bathrooms in the downstairs of the home, and building an office street side. Yeah! Some green and less cement in Mazatlán! According to the construction workers, the place is to be a salón de eventos.

I visited yesterday to take a few photos while the antique home was still a bit revealed. You can see the commanding view it had. I was astounded how solidly built the home was; even after a century of abandonment, and being buried, the walls stand strong, the plumbing is still in place. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

 

You may have heard of the misfortune that has plagued that home. We’ve been told that anyone who builds or lives in a home there will die. Scary stuff.

Enrique Vega Ayala, official city historian, has written a history of La Quinta Echeguren, the palatial home that stood on the site, for Amigos de Mazatlán. I’ll summarize that article in English for you, below.

Family History in Mazatlán
Don Pedro and Don Francisco Echeguren y Quintana established businesses in Mazatlán in the 1860s, even though they continued living in Spain. They quickly became one of the richest families in Mazatlán, owners of various mines—including the Guadalupe de los Reyes in Cosalá—businesses, industries and properties. By 1863 they were the owners of the majority of all mining operations in our region.

Don Pedro Sr. died in 1877 and his inheritance was distributed between his widow Doña Concepción Moreno, his five children and his brother Francisco. The “Compañía Echeguren Hermanos” changed its name to “Francisco Echeguren, Sister and Nephews.” The sister and nephews ignored the Mazatlecan business. Three of Don Pedro’s four daughters married French and Spanish noblemen: the Baron of Dampierre, the Viscount of Chollet, and the Count of Mayor. Only the husband of the youngest, a wealthy Spaniard, ever made an appearance here in the port to check on their businesses.

Don Francisco held the family business until 1901, when it was transferred to Pedro Echeguren y Herrerías (Jr). It’s probable that he paid part of the reward for the capture of Heraclio Bernal, the generous bandit who ravaged gold and silver from the mines and interfered with the fortunes of the Echeguren. Under the protection of the good relations that Pedro Sr. and Jr. had cultivated with Sinaloan Governor General Francisco Cañedo, their income increased even more and very quickly.

Pedro Echeguren y Herrerías (Jr) is the one who built the chalet on Paseo del Centenario and who sought to maintain a life near his businesses here, even if during only certain seasons of the year. Pedro Jr. died in 1907. After his death no one wanted to take direct responsibility for the businesses: La Mercería Nueva (the new haberdashery), Almacenes Echeguren (warehouses), Guadalupe de los Reyes Mining Companies, the textile factory in Villa Unión, the Water Supply Board, and innumerable real estate properties came to be administered by agents in Mazatlán. The family’s riches here that had been built over 50 years soon went broke. The family’s influence declined not just because of its loss of fortune but also due to the Revolution.

Quinta Echeguren 2The Castle on the Hill
Formally called “La Quinta Echeguren,” the home was designed and built in the late 1800s by architect Elizalde from San Sebastián, Spain and built by Ramírez y Cia. It would burn down twice and its inhabitants would suffer many misfortunes, leading to rumors that the lot is cursed.

Long after the home’s heyday, local newspaper Correo de la Tarde of September 13, 1944 said this: “Mr. Echegurén, desiring to bring his wife who lived in San Sebastián, Spain to this city, wanted to give her the impression that he had transplanted their finca from home. He brought photos and plans to build La Quinta, an exact copy of the house in which Mrs. Echeguren lived in San Sebastián. No detail was forgotten: they built gardens just like at home, bedrooms, the orientation to the ocean was the same. They planted similar plants, brought over the same furniture, rugs and wall hangings, even the acoustics were the same. They didn’t forget the exotic plants and animals, either.”

However, “When Mr. Echeguren started the journey to bring his wife, she died, and they would never live in the home he had especially designed for her. In this way the Quinta remained generally uninhabited, with only the caretakers cleaning and maintaining it.”

Huge parties were held at the Quinta in the late 1800s, hosted by Doña Plácida Herrerías de Echeguren. Amado Nervo was a reporter at the time for the Correo de la Tarde and discussed the parties in some detail. Sadly, the lady caretaker of the house died in the bubonic plague in 1903, and, according to Dr. Martiniano Carvajal, the Junta de Caridad burned the home due to its location in the neighborhood where the plague originated.

One year after the house burned down it was rebuilt even bigger and better. The main house was 27 meters long by 20 wide, and on the ocean side they built a three-story section. The servants’ quarters were on the ocean side, 16 meters x 10, and below that was the wine cellar. Dining room, smoking room and living room were downstairs. On the second floor were five bedrooms, various living rooms decorated luxuriously, a bathroom, a lookout, and a terrace. The residence had three servants’ apartments with bathroom and dormitories. The building was 20 meters tall with another 5-meter tower. 80 men worked on its construction. Rocks in the walls are from the cerro. They lowered the road so carriages could get up it more easily. The new one would be better than the one that was destroyed, more elegant.

On September 12 of 1944, however, the Quinta de Echeguren was semi-destroyed in a huge electrical and wind storm. Lightning hit the lightning rod of the home but the ground for the rod wasn’t fastened down, causing the home to ignite. Firemen and police were called about midnight; the second floor was lost but they were able to save the ground floors.

That’s when the rumors started: two fires, the supposed death of Pedro’s wife, the death of the caretaker, bubonic plague… black rumors about the house.

Vega Ayala cites Cleotilde Bernal: “The Quinta was gorgeous. It had parquet floors and decorations brought from Europe, very luxuriously furnished. It was almost all wood, only a few walls were made of brick. The floors and staircases were all fine wood. The Quinta went unoccupied until they rented it to the Corvera-Gibson. The wife had been Carnaval Queen in her youth. They paid 600 pesos in rent, which was a lot of money, a fortune, but Mr. Corvera was the owner of the textile factory in Villa Unión and had a lot of money. The house still had the original furniture, but the renters replaced it with their own and stored the originals below the house. I took care of the children of Doña Carmen and Don Bernardo until they left Mazatlán. Then a family named Páez lived in the Quinta. He got sick from tuberculosis and died in the house. His family left, leaving the house alone. That’s how the home was when it was hit by lightning.”

So, maybe rumors of a curse have saved us from yet one more condo tower! I will say I’m happy to be getting some grass and an open view!