Mazatlecos are blessed with fresh fish and seafood. I love going to the fish markets, watching the fishermen unload their catch, and watching the sales people descale and filet the day’s offerings.
A week or so ago my photographer girlfriend Darlene and I spent a morning at the Embarcadero. I didn’t make a conscious decision to focus on eyes, but that is what emerged from my lens that morning; with a photo or two for context thrown in for good measure. I hope you enjoy!
Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. Please let me know which is your favorite pic!
Thanks, Darlene, for joining me! And to all who graciously smiled and posed for the photos! Mazatlecos rock.
Any of my photos are available as prints. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp to +52-669-122-8962 with the photo, size and backing (paper, canvas, etc) you would like a price on. You can follow my photography on Facebook or Instagram, or via my webpage at www.ThruDisEyes.com. Thanks!
We all talk about how blessed we are with the arts and culture scene here in Mazatlán. When is the last time you made it inside the art museum? Right now they have two incredible exhibitions running that are well worth your time!
The first is a photography exhibit that was over a year in the making, as it was Sichem Rizo Alvarez’s final project for his master’s in photography in Barcelona. You may have seen some of his imaginary Carnaval Queen photos that are reminiscent of Tammy Faye-Baker’s mascara-streaked, tearful face. The first time I saw one I thought, “cool, but a bit cliché.” Then I went to the exhibit! Sichem has combined his photographs with a narration that speaks to the power of Carnaval royalty, of our local “royal” dynasties in which great-grandma, grandma, mom and daughter have all been queens, the high highs of the week-long festivities followed by the letdown lows many royals can feel afterwards. He has set the exhibit up with lighting reminiscent of our iconic Mazatlán Carnaval lights. I black drape divides the space into before and after Carnaval. His mother stitched up the queen’s dress, which is displayed on a mannequin. Titled “Queen of Gold Tinsel,” (Reina de Oropel) the exhibit speaks to the ephemeral nature of beauty, youth and fame. You will find it in the gallery on the left as you enter the art museum downtown. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
The second exhibit resides in the gallery to the left of the stairs. It may look like another photography show, but it is a retrospective of the oil paintings of a young man from El Habal, José Luis Tirado Lizárraga. His work is so incredibly realistic that I honestly kept doubting it was oil painted! He works with a dry brush, so it’s hard to see any paint on the paper or canvas, and much of the framed work on paper is under glass, making it look like a print. But the television will show video of how he sketches and then freehand paints with incredibly life-like detail. What an amazing talent!
As always, entry to our state-government-sponsored art museum is free of charge. The exhibits will be there all of March, so be sure to stop in. They are open 9-3 Tuesday through Saturday except on Wednesday they close at 1 pm. Address is Sixto Osuna and Venustiano Carranza downtown, tel. 669-981-5592.
Indigenous people around the world have been marginalized for centuries, and México is sadly no exception. Please join me this holiday season to make a difference in the life of a native child by helping Tarámari schoolchildren here in Sinaloa. These kids live in unbelievably poor families, in isolated communities, and make herculean efforts to get to school. Their families often need them at home, so sticking with an education takes enormous the hard work and commitment of the entire family, plus a bit of luck.
We will work with the the Sinaloan Taramari Collective to support Tarámari children living right here in our state of Sinaloa. There are three terrific ways you can help:
1. Let us know you want to sponsor a child. We’ll get you the child’s name, gender, age and town of residence. You fill a backpack for them as you wish: you might include new toys, school or art supplies, and perhaps a set of clothing for your godchild. Please turn the backpack in by December 15th.
2. Donate money to the Colectivo Tarámari Sinaloense, and they will share with you a ticket that proves your donation went to buy products for the children. In the photo below are card numbers for you to transfer money to (you can pay at any OXXO if you don’t have a local bank account). The leader, Hortensia López Gaxiola, is well-known and trusted nationally for her social activism.
3. Donate non-perishable food items, basic food supplies. Local Mazatlán coordinator, Angela Mar Camacho, will pick them up.
Please pass the word around and thank you for your help. Let’s show these kids that Mazatlán’s foreign community supports them!
Ho, ho, ho!!! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Heri za Kwanzaa! Blessed New Year!
The prognostic today from an incredibly prestigious panel of Mexican biologists gathered in the Art Museum to celebrate Son Playas’ third anniversary: Mazatlán is in a “via crucis” or “perfect storm” regarding its natural environment. Beaches here will continue to erode and disappear due to over-building, damming of rivers, relocation of sand, destruction of mangroves and internationally rising tides. Already beaches are impassable in various places. There are obvious irregularities to federal laws, as well as even state and local ones. These experts say that Mazatlán seems to be following the same environmentally and economically destructive path as Acapulco, rather than learning from it. If this path continues, tourism will be greatly curtailed, as there will be no more gorgeous and seemingly endless beaches. While the 100+ towers under construction in the city are hoped to benefit the local economy, the unplanned-for growth and lack of coordination between the three levels of government (federal, state, and local) is causing a trajectory toward the opposite.
This article will focus on the main points and learning gained from the panel today, but first allow me to congratulate Raquel Zapien and her team at Son Playas on their third anniversary. Son Playas is one of a very few journalistic outlets in Mexico dedicated to environmentalism, and Mazatlán is blessed to have this resource. Their reporting has served a hugely needed role in our community. Today, Saturday 28 May, was also a blessing, as their anniversary brought together this prestigious panel, a capacity audience, all-day cultural programs, as well as an exhibition of thirty sustainability and environmental organizations—governmental, private and non-profit—all in one place. What a huge gift to be able to learn about so many different organizations and opportunities all in one place!
If, like me, you get frustrated by the fact that local “federally protected environmental areas” are so frequently developed and cemented over, you may find some of the main points below interesting.
Points Made by the Panel:
A lack of coordination between the three levels of government—federal, state and local—is a huge contributing factor to environmental degradation in Mexico.
Even though the city likes to say, “the municipality has no power; that was a federal (or state) decision,” per law municipalities have control over the “suelo” or “ground.” Municipalities pass zoning and usage laws and can prosecute irregularities, thus curtailing federal or state permits. We need to remember that municipalities benefit financially from the use of beaches.
There has not been a census of the beaches in Mexico, so there is no official count of how many there are.
There are few if any systems of control and vigilance for environmental laws, and no incentivization to comply.
I have always been told that as non-citizens we should not participate in political activities, protests, or voice our concerns over development. Today we were told that as foreigners we may not be (or maybe you are) legal citizens (tener ciudadanía), but we are residents (ciudadanos). Those of us who own property are also property owners. Thus, there are two reasons why we are legally able to voice our concerns, particularly about events which affect our lifestyles as residents or our property values as owners.
The federally mandated right of all Mexicans to have free and open access to beaches provides excellent leverage to those seeking environmental sustainability, as does protection of endangered species.
Every resident in Mexico has the right to transparency on the part of the government. Yes, this made most in the room chuckle. But we were assured that this is the law. We were told that federal projects are on the federal transparency site, as are many of the projects in Mazatlán as well. If we go to city hall or the municipal archives and ask for building permits, etc., we are entitled to see them. Sheila Arias stood up from the audience to tell us she would help anyone who needs public information.
Sinaloa does have earthquakes, and the building of such tall towers on the beach is a disaster waiting to happen.
40% of the species fished in Sinaloa are in danger of extinction.
Municipalities can pass and enforce laws to keep our beaches clean. Some cities prohibit the introduction of cans and single-use plastics to the beach, others require that beach visitors return with everything they brought to the beach. Cities have power.
“Natural disasters” are not natural but man-made, caused by us building where we shouldn’t, taking what we shouldn’t, destroying and degrading the protections nature offers.
The key to environmental sustainability is in the people, the residents of a location. We need to use our voices to make our desires heard, to ensure that government acts on our behalf. We need to plan to prevent disasters.
Any new building project requires a public hearing, input from the public. We should all be making sure these happen, that our voices are heard.
Corruption everywhere is rampant. One of the best remedies is the court system: suing those projects that are built “irregularly.” We were assured there are lawyers who help with this pro-bono.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am very concerned about the “irregular” building in the Delfin area of our city: apartment buildings and homes right on the beach with no setback, and private piers appearing in the Escopama Estuary. During the Q&A period I asked the panel about this, specifically what we private citizens and residents could do. Below is the recording of that answer.
Summary of the experts’ responses to my question about building on federal lands in Delfín and Estero de la Escopama:
Dr. Abril Montijo, CIAD: It’s a lack of political will, but there are mechanisms for citizen participation, including protests. She just heard about two upcoming opportunities. IMPLAN and the municipal government will hold two events in June. One will be a workshop to help people understand the diagnostics conducted, and the other will be an open meeting. We all need to attend and make our voices heard. Our government is combatting corruption, but there are so many realities that make us doubt that. We probably can’t destroy towers already built but we can prevent more from starting. Please attend the meetings and speak up.
Dr. Omar Cervantes, President Pro Playas: In theory the towers must have a permit, and those are public information. That is the place to start: verify who did it, did they have permission. It’s called “Uso del suelo.” Could be that they are not following what they were approved for. Someone would need to denounce them. Other places people have filled in the ocean and the waterways; that’s illegal.
Dr. Esteban García Peña, President Oceana México: How did they give those permissions? SEMARNAT and the Secretary of Federal Maritime Zones and the municipal government, all three must give permission. El Químico is an open person; talk to him to verify if the buildings have these permissions. What is happening with environmental planning in our country? We have laws that regulate development, especially in federal zones, but the sticking point has been an abuse of the words “por excepción”… The law agreed to only give permissions to those who are going to respect the environment. But nowadays, politicians give so many “by exception” permits. They will agree to have a developer plant a few trees on the street as compensation for destroying a wetland. He is sure those buildings in Delfín were built under this laxity. These out-of-control towers create wind tunnels, impede the flight of birds, impede access to the beach by the people, and erode the beaches.
The politicians follow through on what pleases them. The exception, as Esteban said, is the chain around our necks. Meet the Químico and talk to him. They are political points.
Unbelievably, the Angela Peralta theater was nowhere near COVID-capacity Friday night for Delfos Contemporary Dance’s Vientos de Cambio (Winds of Change), which kicked off the 2022 Spring Season for Cultura Mazatlán. If you weren’t there, you lost out on an incredible performance! Each of the four pieces presented from the Delfos repertoire were stellar, sharing with us the emotionality, power, and drama we are privileged to expect from them.
The third dance, with only the women on stage, was what stuck with me. It hit my heart and soul hard. Each woman’s mouth was taped shut with what looked like electrical tape. They all wore ponytails and hauled and pulled one another around by the hair in disgustingly realistic ways. The performance was way too close to home. Any woman of my age has lived through the experiences portrayed in the dance. The piece culminated with the women removing their tops; their body movements and lighting were reminiscent of the best fine art nudes. At its conclusion, the audience was heard to openly gasp for air; it obviously moved most everyone the way it did me. To me the piece illustrated the pull of our patriarchal systems: how we are all victims when power is not shared; how cruel women can be to each other—something we’ve sadly absorbed from an inequitable, unjust system; and the crucial importance of sorority, equity and social justice. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
I also loved the piece with the origami boats. The light on the white paper made them absolutely glow on the stage; I’m not sure if my photography was able to capture the wonder of the moment that the audience experienced, with dozens of origami pieces lining the stage.
Choreographers of the night’s works were Xitlali Piña and the company’s co-founder and director, Victor Manuel Ruíz. The dancers included Surasi Lavalle, Johnny Millán, Xitlali Piña, Luisa Escobosa, Diego Alcalá and Rodrigo Agraz, plus two special guests, Vanya Saavedra and Katia Rivera.
When I think of Delfos I think emotionality, power, and darkness; their lighting has a theme that, while dramatic, is very challenging to photographers. Friday night’s scenography was an event in itself, as usual; the graphic and powerful lighting, minimalist set and creative costuming were contributing stars of the show.
During the performance and as I write this article, I want to shout out how much I MISS THE PROGRAMS that for years were handed out at every performance in our theaters!!! I know they ostensibly were stopped because of COVID, but then couldn’t we perhaps be told the content by the announcer pre-performance, or read it online? I for one was eager to understand the title of and intention behind each piece, and I love knowing for sure who choreographed and performed what. EDIT: Having published this, Johnny Millán kindly sent me the program that I had been unable to locate; it had been posted on Facebook. Here it is:
The public here in Mazatlán has a lot to look forward to coming November, when Delfos will celebrate their 30th anniversary with a series of performances including Minimal, which debuted last year. The company will also perform at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City with a new piece.