Summary of Today’s “Big Dig” Meeting

The body language says it all… Lic. Ochoa on the left, Architect García on the right.

UPDATE Monday 22 May:

The meeting on Friday did take place, and began at noon as originally scheduled. No plan was presented, however. Isaac Aranguré summarized the meeting on his Facebook page:

“Buenas tardes. Proyecto Centro Histórico.

Al final si tuvimos reunión con las autoridades.
No se presentó el plan.
No nos dieron fechas especificas ni etapas.

Lo que se puede rescatar:
Si existe un proyecto.
Si hay investigación e inclusión en el proyecto.
La rectificación por parte de las autoridades para SI tener la reunión.
La creación de comités vecinales para colaborar gobierno y ciudadanía.

Invitación personal:
Tenemos que sumar esfuerzos para que el proyecto salga adelante porque nos conviene a todos, pero no descansemos en garantizar que se mantengan las condiciones básicas de vida necesarias para residentes y comercios. Además será bien importante acercarse a las instancias correspondientes para resolver puntos en lo particular.

Punto extra:
Buscaremos hacer la solicitud a la instancia respectiva del proyecto integral, para poder socializarlo.

Un abrazo.”

Citizens of the affected area have organized themselves, with a leader appointed for each street/block. They have a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page, and have already met several times to come to agreement on priorities. Let us hope officials will listen to and honor the voice of the people who live downtown. Today there were at least two different streets reported as flooded, and very few workers showed up for work. Some said it was because they had not been paid last week, but I am unable to confirm this through official channels.

 

UPDATE 11:30 am on Friday 19 May:

Unbelievable as it seems, after CANCELLING the meeting scheduled for today at 11pm last night, today, one hour before, they reinstate it! See below. Meeting to take place in Casa Haas at 12:30 with state officials.

Centro Historico Mazatlan Aviso: En vista a todo lo que ha sucedido con respecto a la reunión programada en Casa Haas para el día de hoy, les comento que nos acaban de informar que para las personas que acudan, se contará con la presencia de los representantes del H. Ayuntamiento de Mazatlán que están involucrados en el proyecto para darles una explicación de todos los cambios que se están tratando de hacer en los planes de trabajo, así mismo se contará con la presencia del Subsecretario de Obras Públicas Estatal para que responda a todas sus inquietudes. Sólo les informo que esta reunión dará inicio a las 12:30 pm.

 

UPDATE Thursday night at 11 pm:
NOTICE!!! Tomorrow’s citizen meeting has been CANCELLED! See message below. How very disappointing. Let us hope they really go house by house as they say to deal with citizen and business issues directly.

Centro Historico Mazatlan
Aviso Importante! Les informo que la reunión de mañana viernes 19 de mayo en Casa Haas se cancela, el motivo por el cual no se llevará a cabo es que a partir de una junta q tuvieron las personas involucradas del H. Ayuntamiento de Mazatlan y los contratistas decidieron cambiar su plan de trabajo y llevar a cabo un acercamiento directo con la gente. Por lo q el día de mañana a partir de las 9 am harán un recorrido calle por calle para explicar el proyecto, conocer sus necesidades, dar una respuesta a los acuerdos q se tomaron en la reunión del miércoles y hacer compromisos de manera directa con todos los vecinos para poder trabajar de una mejor manera.

Favor de compartir el mensaje

Original Article from Wednesday 17 May:
Today at noon in Casa Haas was the first (!) citizen meeting regarding “The Big Dig”—as I call it—in “Centro Histérico” downtown. The city calls it a magna obra or “mega project.” The meeting was attended by city officials involved in the project, representatives of the 18 contractors, and about 140 concerned residents and business owners. Mayor Pucheta was conspicuously absent; Lic. Juan Manuel Ochoa led from the city side. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The latest round of “city beautification” in preparation for the Tianguis Turístico 2018—the national tourism convention—has affected at least eleven different streets downtown (though it’s scheduled to affect 25), rendering residents unable to get to their homes, disabled people confined to their homes, and many businesses losing 70% or more of their incomes. Don’t even ask about parking; for the past two weeks we take public transportation to get downtown because there is little if any parking to be had. Mazatlán’s Centro Histórico already had a dearth of parking, but now the city has removed at least 200 street parking spaces and has blocked access to several public parking garages, rendering them useless during construction.

“It’s easier to apologize than it is to ask permission” is a maxim. I’ve been told that in Mexico if officials announce their projects, citizens object and protest, often causing delays in the project and loss of federal or state funds. Well, this time, “The Big Dig” comes on the heels of an earlier nine-month-long dig, that one to remedy drainage issues (which didn’t work), and several other digs before that. Citizen confidence is low, and tempers are flaring.

The meeting got off to a positive start, with the citizen organizers reading a message to the officials and contractors present. The organizers (including Laura Medina and the “señoras of Calle Libertad”) had wisely gathered questions from the local community and presented them to the city ahead of time. The agenda was that there would be the opening statement by the citizen representatives, we would hear the city officials’ answers to the community’s questions, and then there would be discussion.

The citizen representatives’ opening message explained that the community very much supports the idea of city improvements and beautification, but that we are concerned about an apparent lack of coordination: so many streets closed at the same time, no alternative routing, public and emergency services unable to access various locations, and no instructions for residents on where to park their cars. The message explained that Centro Histórico residents are suffering the effects of previous poor public works projects, with uneven paving, frequent flooding and poor drainage, and that many businesses and homes have had their electric, gas or water cut during this latest project. They pleaded that health issues are a concern: dust affects residents’ lungs and irritates the skin, and there has been far too much sewage backing up onto city streets. The message as read concluded by saying, “We need to understand what’s happening in order to support the project. Please respect us by giving us answers rather than just asking us to cooperate (aguantar/put up with).”

Lic. Ochoa introduced city architect Joel García. Mr. García got off to an unfortunate start when he stated that city streets, in cooperation with the state, had been “torn up starting two weeks ago.” Everyone present knows we’ve been living in chaos for over six weeks, since March; Mr. García’s comments were greeted with the meeting’s first round of booing and shouting, losing grip on the positive start to the meeting.

Arq. García told us that 14 more streets will be torn up before the project is complete, according to the Executive Plan, which garnered a second round of booing and shouting and the meeting’s first of dozens of pleas to “trust us.” García’s schedule of when streets have been/will be torn up was met with jeers by many residents attending, who said it was “alternate reality.” Photos of Arq. García’s Powerpoint slides are below.

A resident asked where she could park, since her street is torn up and she has street parking. Arq. García told her that Public Security would help her find a place. Another resident said, “Contractors have come from Escuinapa, Rosario… everyone has known about this project except those of us who live here. Why weren’t we informed?” A gentleman then asked what kind of compensation businesses could expect for loss of income; Lic. Ochoa assured him there would be incentives.

Several times the citizen organizers attempted to quiet the crowd, explaining that if we all spoke out of order, we wouldn’t get a chance to hear what the city had to say. For a while Lic. Ochoa encouraged people to vent, and said the city would respond once everyone had spoken. After an hour or so of that, it became obvious that the original agenda would be a better way forward, and Arq. García retook the floor. A gentleman from Atención a la Ciudadanía/Citizen Relations got up to speak, but had trouble holding the floor due to the shouting and jeering.

The most common phrase of the day was “trust us,” followed by “you can’t blame us for the prior administration’s shoddy work.” We were assured that there is a committee of architects supervising the project and ensuring that all work is performed in good order before contractors are paid. We were told contractors have deadlines, and their pay is linked to keeping those; which of course raised concerns about quality and coordination, since all streets seem to be torn up at once.

Some of the key things we learned, and some of the agreements made, include:

  1. There will be a second meeting on Friday May 19 at noon in Casa Haas. At that time the city will present the Executive Plan to us. NOTE: As of Thursday May 18 at 10pm the city cancelled this meeting! They say they will go house to house to be in direct contact instead. See notice at top of this post.
  2. Each contractor is obligated to stay on the street on which it is working; they are not to block cross streets unless they are actively working on the intersection. If such happens, we should report the incident to the police.
  3. García presented a plan of “alternative routes,” and said these are the routes that will be used by public service and emergency vehicles. Sadly, according to the residents present, many of the routes don’t work because though the immediate road may be open, the road it feeds into is closed. García said they will work with Tránsito to change the direction of traffic on several streets to ensure that alternative routing actually flows.
  4. García showed us a map of three parking lots that residents can use free of charge for the duration of the project. He said these lots will be open 24 hours a day through the completion of the project, and that a police officer will always be present. He told us stickers would be handed out at Friday’s meeting enabling residents to use the parking.
  5. García fortunately told us that three new vertical (multi-level) parking structures are planned as part of this project, each accommodating about 60-80 cars. While in my humble opinion these should have been built first, prior to tearing up the roads and removing the existing parking, the plan is to build them only after road construction is complete. By that time the price of land for building parking structures will be much higher, of course. There was no mention of location for the vertical parking structures, nor whether they would be architecturally consistent with the look of Centro Histórico.
  6. García said there will be compensation (incentivos) for Centro Histórico business owners. Lic. Ochoa said he would put a committee of residents together to figure out specifics.
  7. There was talk of doubling up on the shifts so that the work can be done sooner, prior to rainy season setting in. My concern on that is noise for residents.

Residents remained outraged throughout the meeting. Complaints I was able to note included:

  • Alternate routes such as Aquiles Serdán have so much traffic now, and are so congested with buses, that using it is not viable, according to some.
  • Residents should have been included in the planning process, not at this late date, shouted others.
  • Many said it was obvious the city had no plan for residents and businesses during the project, and that it’s only just now beginning to think about it, thanks to citizen demands.
  • Privately, several Centro Histórico business owners told me they are afraid to complain to the city, despite the huge hardships, due to possible reprisals (inspectors, licensing, etc).
  • Wheelchair access is impossible now, as there are no sidewalks.
  • The elderly have trouble walking so far to get to their houses, and are in danger of assault, particularly at night.
  • Historic homes in the area, made of cantera and also adobe, are suffering from the vibration of repeated redoing of the streets. We are ruining the very heritage we are seeking to show tourists, explained two residents.
  • Buses are running on alternate routes, and people don’t know which bus heads where.
  • Gardens and greenery are great, but they need to be maintained or they become garbage cans.

Let us hope that the chaos we are suffering is worth it in the end. Functioning drainage, potable water, and well-groomed streets in Centro Histórico would be completely wonderful. I personally think more pedestrian areas will add to the area—as long as there is sufficient parking for residents and the public, and access for the handicapped and elderly. It is a shame to me that there needs to be citizen outrage in order for the municipal government to share its plans and take resident concerns into account, but, let us hope these meetings result in positive steps forward.

Fire in the Bosque

DSC_0071EditedHeartbreak! The bird sanctuary behind our house, the estuary in front of the Bosque de la Ciudad (city park), has gone up in flames this afternoon. We have lost dozens of nests, with eggs and hatchlings, of ibis, cranes, herons and storks. All because of human negligence. Bless the volunteer firefighters who came out within fifteen minutes of our call! As I write this, they are still fighting the flames.

The fire started just in front of the construction site to the south of Las Gavias Residencial on Avenida del Mar. We called the fire department, and that is the location where they arrived. The first thing the fire fighters did, even before the firetruck made it in, was to remove some old tires that had caught fire on the edge of the estuary. Once the truck arrived, they got out a hose and quickly used up the truck’s full tank of water. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Fortunately, shortly thereafter a water truck arrived on the City Park side, followed by more firefighters. I was so afraid the fire would blow through the park, killing the animals in their cages, endangering the children. It moved so quickly! Within twenty minutes the entire estuary was in flames, and in our 11th floor apartment the heat from the flames was incredible! We are at the height of dry season, and wherever there is not water out there in the estuary, is no more. Trees, grasses… all torched. I believe the city park is safe, but the firefighters will need to keep the grasses and brush wet.

The poor birds—ibis, cranes, herons, storks—were flying around seeming confused about where to go, their habitat filled with smoke and flames, their babies stranded in the flames.

It is now about an hour after the blaze started, and more fire trucks keep arriving, thank goodness. The fire continues threatening the pond in city park, but in general is heading north towards Avenida Insurgentes.

We’ve lost power… more later…

4:16 pm, it looks like the firefighters have gained control of the blaze. It has stopped moving. It went as far north as the salón de eventos south of Insurgentes, and from the Avenida del Mar side it doesn’t look like it destroyed any of the Bosque itself. Thank goodness for our volunteers!

The whole time it burned, Greg and I kept asking ourselves why the construction workers next door hadn’t called the fire department. They just stood there watching. The fire started very small. We immediately called 911. And, the construction workers had bulldozers, water, all kinds of equipment there; they could have put the fire out when it was still small. Perhaps they were afraid to use the equipment for something they weren’t authorized to do.

Such a sad day for our bird sanctuary. Thank goodness that Mother Nature will regrow it, though the loss of dozens and dozens of hatchlings and eggs is heartbreaking. Let’s use this as reason to FINALLY step up and stop permitting people to build in the estuary!

Final note: In the evening firefighters came with multiple bulldozers, and dug a perimeter/fire line around the burn zone, at least wherever land permitted (bulldozers can’t go in the water…). They did such an admirable job! Please take care of our environment, everyone. Mazatlán used to be one big estuary, full of mangroves, shrimp, and water fowl. In the city now we are down to just a very few. Let’s treasure and keep them!

Viajando Por La Libre

DSC_0037©Take a moment to think back on a time you jumped into the unknown with little more than trust? Maybe it was when you decided to move to Mexico. Remember the exhilaration? The joy and excitement? The blessings that flow from such a leap of faith?

Today we found kindred spirits in two twenty-somethings from Tijuana who are living life to the fullest in just this manner They are Sergio Vazquez and Iuvet Sanchez, who quit their jobs, sold their homes, cars, business and clothing, and set off with their two dogs, Ponyo and Ginger, on an open-ended journey through Latin America. These two adventurers prepared for their journey for two years, purchasing and renovating a VW bus (“combi” in Spanish) and starting a fan page on Facebook—Viajando por la Libre—so they might meet people along the way and make some new friends. That fan page currently has 13,000 followers, many of whom are eager to host the couple when they arrive in their city. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The two were married in Mulege, Baja California Sur, eight months ago. They began their honeymoon trip two months ago, traveling from Tijuana through Sonora and along the US border to Chihuahua and the Sierra Tarahumara: Casas Grandes (Pakimé in Rarámuri), Cuauhtémoc, and Valle de Jimenez. They went through Coahuila to Torreón, and then entered the state of Durango, where they visited the pueblo mágico of Mapimí. I’ve got to visit Mapimí; it sounds gorgeous, and their saint’s day is my birthday! Sergio and Iuvet also loved the nearby ghost town of Ojuela. In fact, they told me that the German engineer who designed the suspension bridge near there—Wilhelm Hildenbrand—also designed the Brooklyn Bridge.

They have obviously learned and seen a lot already, and their trip is just beginning! Their favorite stop thus far has been Durango, where they ended up staying for eight days because they had such a good time. There they were treated like a king and queen, VIPs in every respect: welcomed with a community dinner of discada, entertained in huge and simple homes, given a house in which to reside during their stay, taken out to dinners, tour-guided around, welcomed as friends. Vocho or VW clubs along the way have been unbelievably hospitable to them. Their bus has broken down three times, and each time the people repairing the bus refused to accept payment. Sergio and Iuvet are discovering how good and generous people are, happy to help young people get out and see the world.

Iuvet is a nutritionist who had her own office, and Sergio is an electro-mechanical engineer who worked for a maquiladora in the medical industry. They had good jobs, made good money, owned homes and cars. Neither of them were born to wealthy families; they are representatives of Mexico’s new and growing middle class. Though successful, they could both feel themselves part of the “rat race,” doing repetitive, mundane things in order to buy a better car, a bigger house and nicer things. Iuvet looked around at her female doctor friends, most of whom were very successful at work but not so successful in their personal lives, and she didn’t want that for herself. They were both convinced that life had a lot more to offer.

Sergio told me he has followed the journeys of other travelers for many years: Chilenos, Argentinos, a Frenchman. Most of them traveled in VW buses, and so that has always fascinated him; travelers in combis are “a brotherhood,” he says. The couple took a year-long class on Buddhist spirituality and psychology that they say changed them both as individuals and as a couple, and gave them the confidence to set off on their journey. Both of them see the trip as a chance to let go of ego, which according to Sergio can “grow and grow but never explodes.” They originally dreamed of traveling all of Mexico, but that quickly expanded to include all of Latin America.

Before they started their journey, there was an aunt of Sergio’s who was aghast that they would try to travel in a VW bus. “You’ll never make it up the Sierras,” she chided. Sergio’s eyes fill with delight when he tells me they climbed to 2500 meters and took a photo to prove it to her. While largely a positive trip, the couple has had a couple of scares, one of them with a drunk guy who was convinced they had stolen his van. Fortunately all ended well; they found a safe place to spend the night and left the town at earliest light of morning. They’ve also had a few naysayers on their page, people who scold them for being irresponsible and foolhardy. But, as Iuvet says, “if we don’t take the chance, we then let fear rule our lives instead of love and a sense of adventure, and I much prefer the latter.” We trust their good luck continues.

Iuvet tells me that the trip so far has been nothing like she imagined. In her mind’s eye she saw herself sleeping in the combi, cooking in the combi, bathing in cold water… In reality, during their two months of travel they have only spent a few nights sleeping in their bus, and have cooked only a handful of meals, thanks to the incredible hospitality of the people they have met. Iuvet imagined an austere lifestyle but, in fact, she has gained weight thanks to the incredible generosity of so many new friends along the way. They are fortunate, because looking inside the bus, it is a very simple lifestyle indeed!

Here in Mazatlán the couple are staying with Iuvet’s cousin, who works at Sea Shell City. They have been loving our beaches and seafood. This afternoon her uncle is barbecuing them some pescado zarandeado; they have plans to kayak to Deer Island, and to chill out on Stone Island. They met with the Mazatlán VW Club a couple of days ago.

The couple do not make plans, and are taking each day as it comes. They’re not sure how long they’ll be in Mazatlán, but want to get out of here before the craziness of Semana Santa and MotoWeek. They do intend to head to Tepic, San Blas and Vallarta from here, and visit her family in Guadalajara. They want to go to Aguas Calientes, San Luis Potosí and the Huasteca, and the Bahía: Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Puebla and Chiapas, before hitting Guatemala. They are not on a schedule, but are open to advice from people along the way on places they should go, things they should do, and people they should meet. They have a fan in Guatemala that corresponds with them nearly every day, asking when they’ll arrive. Their intention is to wind through Latin America until they reach Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego—the southernmost tip, though already Iuvet mentions the possibility of continuing on to another continent.

Sergio’s parents have been very supportive and encouraging, urging them to travel while they are young and able. Iuvet says her father “almost had a heart attack” when she told him she was giving up her successful medical practice to travel. Now he is respectful of her decision, though he can’t quite understand it.

When I asked what they’d like me to be sure to say in this article, they replied, “Get out and travel! It opens you to new worlds! Don’t put limits on yourself, such as you don’t have enough money. If you want to do it, you can!”

Sergio and Iuvet have been selling t-shirts, cups and stickers to help pay for gas and fund their journey. However, those items have pretty much sold out, and they only sell them live and in person. Greg and I told them about our local t-shirt maker, but something tells me they’re not interested in doing that right now with the ocean calling. So far they are not set up to receive donations, but they may eventually try to get some sponsors for their journey. Sergio loves to write and take photos, and would very much enjoy publishing an electronic book of their adventures. Iuvet enjoys making videos, and has started a YouTube channel.

Readers, I trust you will be able to meet Iuvet and Sergio while they are here. They are upbeat, enjoyable people whose excitement for life is contagious.

Best of luck to both of you, Iuvet and Sergio! We will most definitely be following your journey as well as your advice, and sending very positive travel energies!

 

Women’s March Mazatlán

15994459_10157977649845548_2358998656532222780_o

(inglés y español) Sábado, 21 enero 2017, a las 4 de la tarde frente el Escudo en Olas Altas, una marcha hasta la Glorieta Sánchez Taboada/el Clavadista. ¡Vengan e inviten a todos! ¡Mazatlán está en el mapa y se cuenta entre los más que 600 marchas internacionales! Detalles y registración gratis aquí. En México, habrán marchas en México, Ajijic, Campeche, Chetumal, La Manzanilla, Mérida, Oaxaca de Juárez, Playa del Carmen, San Miguel de Allende, San Pancho, Todos Santos, Tuxtla Gutierrez, y Zihuatanejo. Página en Facebook está aquí.

Saturday January 21, 2017, at 4 pm, meet at the Sheild in Olas Altas, on the malecón in front of Hotel Freeman, and march to the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada/Cliff Divers. Join us and invite everyone you know! Mazatlán is on the map and counts itself among the over 600 international marches! Details and free registration here. Marches in Mexico include Mexico City, Ajijic, Campeche, Chetumal, La Manzanilla, Mérida, Oaxaca de Juárez, Playa del Carmen, San Miguel de Allende, San Pancho, Todos Santos, Tuxtla Gutierrez, and Zihuatanejo. Facebook page is here.

map.jpg

Women’s March Global invites individuals and organizations committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion and those who understand women’s rights as human rights to join our local coalitions of marchers in representing the rights and voices of progressive people around the world. As concerned citizens standing up for human rights, Women’s March Global is a proactive international movement, not a U.S. election-specific protest per se, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.”

El sábado 21 de enero de 2017 millones de personas se reunirán en Washington DC y en cientos de ciudades alrededor del mundo. Este es un evento local para aquellos que creen en la misión y los valores de la “Women’s March on Washington” y quieren mostrar su apoyo. Lea más sobre la Women’s March on Washington aquí: www.womensmarch.com.

16112816_227802494344632_8977447224765482083_oEn solidaridad con las mujeres de todo el mundo, nos reuniremos a las 16:00 en el Escudo de Olas Altas y marcharemos pacíficamente por el Malecón y la Madre Océano hasta la Glorieta Sánchez Taboada/los Clavadistas, donde nos uniremos en un círculo de Amor y Paz. Este es un evento no político, no violento, con el propósito de mostrar apoyo y respeto por los derechos humanos básicos de las mujeres, las minorías, los marginados y los que son diferentes, dondequiera que vivan. Nos solidarizamos con la protección de nuestros derechos, nuestra seguridad, nuestra salud y nuestras familias, reconociendo que una comunidad vibrante y diversa fortalece y enriquece a la sociedad, a nuestros países y al mundo.

Maestros, traigan a sus estudiantes; Madres, traigan a sus familias extendidas; Niños, traigan a tus amigos. Adultos jóvenes, por favor, participen y ayuden a lograr un cambio positivo en nuestro mundo. Hombres de todas las edades, marchen con nosotros en solidaridad y apoyo a todas las mujeres en sus vidas que aman y valoran. Esta es una marcha inclusiva y todos son bienvenidos!

Tendremos una pancarta con el logotipo de la marcha de Washington y el texto que dice, SISTER MARCH EN MAZATLAN, MEXICO ~ EN SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS MEXICANOS, liderando la marcha. El grupo de planificación también hará algunos carteles para que los manifestantes lleven. Y le animamos a que haga su propio signo en el idioma que prefiera (o ambos). (Nota para los extranjeros: Manténgalo corto, respetuoso, legible, y dirigido a nuestras preocupaciones, ya que los extranjeros están prohibidos por la ley de la participación en la política mexicana.) Sugerencias para los lemas incluyen declaraciones de valores que queremos; Por ejemplo, “Honestidad / Honestidad”; O “Dignidad / Dignidad”; Derechos Humanos Para Todos; (Derechos Humanos para Todos); “Los Derechos de la Mujer son Derechos Humanos” o “Derechos de las Mujeres Son Derechos Humanos”.

¿Quiere decir algo sobre la propuesta muralla construida por EEUU a través de la frontera mexicana / estadounidense? “No al Muro” (No a la pared) es corto y dulce.

No es una protesta específica de las elecciones estadounidenses per se, sino un movimiento internacional proactivo que ha galvanizado a la gente para defender los derechos de las mujeres y los de otros en respuesta a la creciente retórica del populismo de extrema derecha en todo el mundo.

“La historia de Mazatlán está llena de inmigrantes procedentes de muchos países (España, Alemania, Francia, Filipinas), siendo acogida en la comunidad y esta inclusión ha construido una ciudad que se enorgullece de su patrimonio multifacético. La tradición continúa hoy con los jubilados americanos y canadienses acudiendo a la ‘Perla del Pacífico’, integrándose en una comunidad cálida y hospitalaria y construyendo el futuro juntos. Es este sentimiento de inclusión y aceptación lo que me motivó a organizar nuestro Marcha de Mujeres Mazatlán.

La verdad es que para construir un futuro mejor para nuestros hijos y para nosotros mismos debemos hacerlo juntos, con respeto, honestidad y dignidad para todos. A pesar de aquellos que quieren construir muros que se separan, literalmente o ideológicamente, en última instancia, todos somos un solo gente, viviendo en un planeta. Parece lógico que las mujeres, las madres, estén difundiendo este mensaje de unidad.

Como Mazatlecas – nacidas aquí o ‘pata saladas’ – nos unimos orgullosamente con mujeres alrededor del mundo en apoyo de las mujeres en nuestras vidas que nos dan tanto”.
—WMM organizadora Janet Blaser

Encabezadas por los organizadores de la primera vez y los activistas experimentados, las marchas reunirá a personas de todos los orígenes, razas, religiones, identidades de género, edades y habilidades. Si bien son dirigidos por mujeres, todos son bienvenidos a asistir.

¿Necesita más ideas? Revisa:

http://theamplifierfoundation.org/experiments/womens-march/
https://www.facebook.com/WomensMarchesAroundTheWorld/ 

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands will gather in Washington D.C. and in hundreds of cities around the world. This is a local event for those who believe in the mission and values of Women’s March on Washington and want to show their support. Read more about the Women’s March on Washington here: www.womensmarch.com.

In solidarity with women around the world, we will gather at 4pm at the Escudo in Olas Altas and march peacefully along the malecon and Mother Ocean to the Cliffdivers’ Plaza, where we will join together in a circle of Love and Peace. This is a non-political, non-violent event with the purpose of showing support and respect for the basic human rights of women, minorities, the disenfranchised and those who are different, wherever they may live. We stand together in solidarity for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that a vibrant and diverse community strengthens and enriches society, our countries and the world.

Teachers, bring your students; mothers, bring your extended families; children, bring your friends. Young adults, please take part and help effect positive change in our world. Men of all ages, march with us in solidarity and support of all the women in your lives that you love and value and couldn’t live without. This is an inclusive march and everyone is welcome!

We will have a banner with the Washington march logo and text that says, SISTER MARCH IN MAZATLAN, MEXICO ~ EN SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS MEXICANOS, leading the march. The planning group will also make some placards for marchers to carry. We encourage you to make your own sign in whichever language you prefer (or both).

Note to foreigners: Keep it short, respectful, legible, and directed at our concerns, as foreigners are forbidden by law from involvement in Mexican politics. Suggestions for slogans include statements of values that we hold dear; for example, “Honestidad/Honesty”; or “Dignidad/Dignity”; Derechos Humanos Para Todos; (Human Rights for All); “Women’s Rights are Human Rights;” or “Derechos de Las Mujeres son Derechos Humanos.’’

Want to say something about the proposed US built wall across the Mexican/US border? “No al Muro” (No to the Wall) is short and sweet.

This is not a U.S. election specific protest per se, but a proactive international movement, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.

“Mazatlán’s history is one that’s full of immigrants from many countries – Spain, Germany, France, the Philippines – being welcomed into the community, and this inclusion has built a city that’s proud of its many-faceted heritage. The tradition continues today with American and Canadian retirees flocking to the ‘Pearl of the Pacific,’ integrating into a warm and hospitable community and building the future together. It’s this mood of inclusion, and acceptance, that motivated me to organize our Women’s March Mazatlán. 

The truth is that in order to build a better future for our children and ourselves we must do it together, with respect, honesty and dignity for all. Despite those who want to build walls that separate, literally or ideologically, ultimately we are all one people, living on one planet. Somehow it seems only logical that women – mothers – are spreading this message of unity.

As Mazatlecas – whether born here or ‘pata saladas’ – we stand together proudly with women around the world in support of the women in our lives who give us so much.”
—WMM organizer Janet Blaser

Spearheaded by first-time organizers and seasoned activists, the marches will bring together people of all backgrounds, races, religions, gender identities, ages and abilities. While led by women, all are welcome to attend.

Need more ideas? Check out:
http://theamplifierfoundation.org/experiments/womens-march/
https://www.facebook.com/WomensMarchesAroundTheWorld/

Mazatlán’s Great New Park

20-dsc_0173Have you checked out the wonderful new Parque Lineal? It’s an incredible addition to our city, built to improve the quality of life of middle-class Mazatlecan families. The park provides much-needed green space for recreation and sports, and a secure place for families to play as well as for commuters on bicycles, in a very strategic area of town. Over 85,000 Mazatlecos can walk to the park and it is serviced by 28 transportation routes. I love the new space! It’s clean, green, and colorful, and you should visit it while it remains that way.

Officially called Parque Lineal Pérez Escobosa, it is 5.7 km long and is located in the median of Avenida Oscar Pérez Escobosa from Avenida Clouthier to Fraccionamiento Real Pacífico, passing right in front of Sendero Plaza. That median, you may recall, was previously an unkept, ugly ridge down the center of the road. The new park has a total of 42.7 hectares (105 acres) and cost approximately 130 million pesos, paid for with federal, state and municipal funds. Its stated purpose is to build community, bring families together, get people outdoors and physically active, and promote sports. It will bring economic benefits to the surrounding areas, and gives young people a safe and constructive place to hang out. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Called a “lung of the city,” the entire length of the park has grass, trees, and flowers watered by a sprinkler system. The park includes bicycle lanes, a skatepark, outdoor crossfit gyms, areas for exercise classes such as zumba and yoga, bicycle and pedal car rentals, a water park, basketball courts, tables to play chess and lotería, quite a few covered spaces for events, climbing bars and playgrounds, a jogging trail, picnic areas and barbecues, esplanades, pedestrian bridges, security and first aid stations (Municipal Police, firefighters, and Red Cross), restrooms and commercial concessions (cafes and snack stands). On the corner of Cristobál Colón is a beautiful fountain called Acueducto de los Cantaros. If you haven’t seen it or done more than drive by the park, you really should take a bike ride, walk, jog or car ride along the length of this new jewel of Mazatlán. Just know that parking is a hassle and crossing the street to get to the median is not for the faint-hearted.
15-dsc_0151

The park has been built and unveiled in stages—the first section opened in March of 2015, and the sixth was dedicated in September of this year. The inaugurations were attended by Governor Malova, Mayor Felton, and the two different Secretaries of State Tourism who’ve had tenure during the two year period. The six parks-within-a-park are:

  1. Parque El Pata Salada, which was inaugurated in March 2015. It includes multi-use sports courts, outdoor gyms with stations for the differently abled, a jogging track, concrete walking trails, bicycle lanes, playground equipment, and a dog park that is not a run park like northerners might be used to, but has exercise or performance equipment to use with your leashed dog. It is 850 meters long, between Santa Rosa and Francisco Madera, and cost 18 million pesos.
  2. Parque de la Juventud opened in July of 2016 and is the most active portion of the park. It contains 850 meters of skateboard park, crossfit, open-air gyms, areas for exercise classes, bike lanes, bike rental, security, first aid, restrooms and commercial concessions, and represents a 20 million peso investment. It is between Avenida Francisco Madero and Highway 15 (Ejército Mexican). There are regular fitness classes held here, as well as in other areas of the park.
  3. Parque del Arte y la Cultura, inaugurated in August of 2016, is located between Highway 15 (Ejército Mexicano) and Cristóbal Colón. At only 500 meters long, it’s the smallest of the six parks within Parque Lineal, and is designed to keep people connected to arts and culture. It features art exhibitions (painting, sculpture, photography) and performances (dance, poetry, theater), and was built at a cost of 7.6 million pesos.
  4. Parque de la Tranquilidad, which opened in Aug 2016, includes relaxation and exercise areas, a book lending library with computers, a cafeteria, green areas, jogging trails, bicycle lanes, a meditation garden, outdoor gym, a multi-use sports court, lighted esplanade, parking, security and first aid. This is where they projected the Festival Cervantino from Guanajuato earlier this year. This portion of Parque Lineal cost 22 million pesos.
  5. Parque de la Familia, where they cut the ribbon to open it in September of 2016, is located between Avenidas Manuel Clouthier and Munich, It is 1.5 km long and cost 36 million pesos. It has a jogging trail, bicycling lanes, picnic areas, barbecues, green areas and playground equipment, an open-air gym, a very cool pedestrian bridge over the Arroyo Jabalíes, three multi-use esplanades, and security.
  6. Parque de la Niñez was opened in two phases, with the second section that includes the water park opening most recently, in September. It’s between the streets Zapopan and Santa Rosa, 750 meters long, and cost 14 million pesos. This is a place for young children to play and has playgrounds, swings, slides and a colorful spray park.

I love bicycling, and it’s long been a dream of mine that our city would actually follow through on its plan to build ciclovías or bike lanes around town. One of the things I love most about the Parque Lineal is all the workers commuting in safe green space to and from work on their bikes! I still saw plenty of bikers not using the park, but rather riding on the street, so no doubt culture-change will take time.

As with any linear park around the world, in those places where major roads cross the park, walkers, joggers and bikers need to be very careful with the cross traffic. In some places city planners have installed topes/speed bumps on the cross-streets. I would hope those might be added in all along the route. Another great thing about the park is that the planners had the foresight to install loads of trashcans everywhere. Rather miraculous, no?

We know that many times public spaces get built and then fall into disrepair due to lack of maintenance (like that wonderful park for the differently abled that Rotary built, that’s now pretty much unusable) and vigilance (the Parque Lineal has already been hit by graffitists a couple of times, despite the security). I respect that this time the project seems to be much better thought-through: security on site, irrigation systems installed, LED lighting, first aid stations and commercial concessions, and an unbelievable amount of signage—very different from normal urban development projects here. In fact, there is SO much signage that I began to question who’s brother owns the sign shop. Let us hope that our beloved Mazatlecos can preserve this park in good condition and maintain it as intended: as a safe public space for the enjoyment and health of families.

The Christmas decorations that they’ve put up are really beautiful; yet another reason to get out soon and see this new park. It seems that instead of putting up Santa’s village, which for several years Mayor Felton and his wife installed in the Bosque/City Park, and then moved to the Plaza República, they invested in decorations here. The day I took photos a university was hosting a Christmas party for a group of local kids, transforming one of the covered areas into an energy-filled party zone.

I’ve read several articles saying that the Parque Lineal is the biggest in Mexico; you know how much people here love everything to be a record. However, Chapultepec Park in DF is 686 hectares (1695 acres), the largest in Latin America. Those claiming our park’s grandure may mean it’s the longest linear park or greenway in Mexico, but Parque El Encino in Chihuahua is 13.5 km long, and Ferrocarrilero in Aquas Calientes is 12 km. To me, Parque Lineal Pérez Escobosa doesn’t need to be Mexico’s biggest; it’s gorgeous, well-planned, -located and -built. Congratulations to all those involved! It will make a wonderful place to walk around and people-watch over the holidays.