Hurricane Willa

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Sunset over the malecón pre-Willa

Mazatlán proved itself ready; it was encouraging to see. Businesses and homes boarded themselves up and put sandbags in place. Most everyone taped over windows to try and prevent flying shards of broken glass.

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The morning after Hurricane Willa

We lived here during Hurricane Lane (Cat 3, 2006) and Tropical Storm Rick (2009), and remember what I felt was a lack of safety precautions then: people not taking down billboards or boarding up windows, surfers pursuing their passion even during the storm, people unsure of flood areas and where to take shelter. This time around there were maps of potential flood areas and shelters, lists of items to have at the ready, and regular updates regarding the weather and evacuations. We’ve come a long way. Commercial activity was ordered stopped at 2:00 pm on Tuesday (so people could get home to their families), and public transportation to stop at 3:00 pm. Protección Civil evacuated some tourists and residents from flood zones to the Convention Center. Most importantly to me, people took the threat seriously. Of course, Willa quickly became a Cat 5 hurricane, which was extremely intimidating.

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Fortunately we in Mazatlán were spared Willa’s wrath; those south of us, in Escuinapa, Teacapán and Agua Verde, were not so lucky and need our aid. And today they are evacuating El Rosario and other places due to potential river flooding. Here we experienced very high tides and incredible beach erosion. There was very little rain or wind, fortunately. Most of the damage I have observed is with the palapas on the beach, and with the beaches themselves. Even without a hurricane our sandy beaches regularly move, so most mazatlecos consider ourselves incredibly blessed. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

 

The day before Willa was scheduled to arrive, there was a double rainbow over Mazatlán. The photo below doesn’t show the second one that well, as I did a panoramic of the full rainbow. Of course all the memes circulating said this was God’s way of telling Mazatlán it would be safe.

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The evening before Willa’s arrival we had one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve seen in my 11 years living here full time. The sky and the ocean were orange for as far as the eye could see. The huge waves crashing with their orange color was a sight to behold!

 

Then, the day Willa was supposed to arrive, Tuesday, there was a second double rainbow. God wanted to be really sure we felt safe. We in Mazatlán are blessed with a bay sheltered both by the Baja Peninsula and by our three islands. There is a legend about how the three islands were formed after the death of three indigenous sisters, and another legend about how we are protected by “Our Lady of the Port.” So, once we dodged the bullet, so to speak, everyone thanked the Virgin of the Port—you can find her in the parking lot of La Puntilla restaurant in Playa Sur, if you’d like to pay your respects.

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Thank you, God of the seas and the skies. Thank you, Virgen de la Puntilla. Thank you, three sisters in our bay. Let us use our gratitude to share drinking water, food, toilet paper, moist towels, diapers, toothpaste, flashlights and batteries for our friends to the south. You can drop off your donations at one of the many Centros de Acopio around town, including the Soriana Híper on Rafael Buelna today. And you can also join in a peregrinación of thanksgiving to the virgin today (Wednesday) starting at Hogar San Pablo at 4:00 pm, concluding with a Mass at 5:00. The virgin has already been showered with flowers, as you can see in this photo by my friend Jessica Aviles.

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La Virgen de la Puntilla hoy, miércoles, foto tomada por Jessica Aviles

Chicken Breakfast 2018!!!

 

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Kids charming the camera woman while they line up for candy!

I’m excited to announce the Chicken Breakfast (Desayuno de los Pollos) for 2018! Mark your calendars now for Saturday, December 8th at the API (cruise ship) dock. Help us feed 2500-300 families for two weeks during the holidays. Tickets are 200 pesos for the full breakfast, Christmas bazaar, bake sale, silent auction and raffles. We’d love it if you’d help us sell breakfast tickets! Contact Yolanda at (669) 431-4529, Jorge at (669) 110-0744, or me (dianne@vidamaz.com). We’d also love you to help collect items for the silent auction. Download a gift certificate for restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares, or donate your artwork or cool gift item!

Also set aside the morning of December 24th to hand out the food, clothing and toys in Mazatlán’s poorest colonias! Begin collecting your items for donation now—gently used household items, sheets, towels, blankets, coats, shoes, clothes, new toys. You can also donate money, 100% of which goes to help those in need.

More details on the 29th annual event follow.

What is the “Chicken Breakfast?”
It is a two-step process to feed the neediest in our community.

First is a fundraising breakfast held in early December to raise money to buy one whole chicken and ten days’ worth of food for each family—we buy for as many families as we possibly can.

Second, on Christmas Eve morning (24 December), dozens of us gather together to load trucks and go out to the invasiones, the poorest, “squatter” areas of Mazatlán, to make people happy and hand out the goods! We give the chickens and foodstuffs, plus gently used clothing, linens, shoes, coats, and new toys and candy.

It is important to know that several of us go out to the squatter areas the week before Christmas. There we meet with area leaders and go around with them to hand out tickets, to ensure that those in need receive what they need, and that no one cheats or “double dips.” We especially want to ensure that we get food and clothes to the elderly and the disabled, so we go door to door to make sure everyone knows about the event, and to make plans to get things to those who can’t walk to the delivery site.

The history:

Yolanda Medina’s daughter, María Yolanda, was very sick. She and her husband kept vigil in the hospital, taking care of all their daughter’s needs. As Yoly’s sister-in-law Isa tells the story:

“It was Christmas Eve 1990, and María Yolanda’s days were counted. Yolanda and her late husband, Modesto, were in no mood to eat, let alone have a Christmas Dinner with all the fixings. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient. She came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas Dinner meal — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.

After María Yolanda passed away, Yolanda got us all together and told us what had happened. So, the first couple of years, we had culinary arts students volunteer their time to prepare a Christmas Dinner meal, with donated ingredients from friends and family, and all of us volunteered to fill disposable thermal boxes with the hot dinners, load them into cars and pick-up trucks, and off we went, to hospitals, traffic intersections, parks — wherever we thought we might find people that, for one reason or another, wouldn’t be privy to a nice Christmas Dinner.

However, this was a huge effort, and very expensive, so we couldn’t cover that much ground. So we thought in terms of something more practical, something that could be cooked and prepared at home. This way, we could make sure many more families could have a Christmas Dinner. That’s when we started the Desayuno de los Pollos.”

How to help:

  1. Buy (or sell) tickets for the fundraising breakfast. Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com, or buy them from anyone selling them around town. Post and Ship in the Golden Zone (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx) will have tickets also.
  2. Make crafts or baked goods to be sold at the bazaar during the breakfast.
  3. Donate (or gather) items for the silent auction (download a gift certificate, artwork, restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares…)
  4. Help set up, cook, serve or clean up after the breakfast.
  5. Donate money (in person or click on the link), gently used clothing, diapers, lightly worn shoes, linens, blankets coats, new toys, or candy. 100% goes to those in need. Post and Ship will be happy to collect items if you drop them off there (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx).
  6. Help pack the food into packets—the two weeks before Christmas.
  7. Join us to go out with community leaders to deliver tickets for chickens, to ensure all receive their fair share, the weekend before Christmas.
  8. Help us load the trucks and deliver the goodies on December 24th! This is, of course, the most fun and a terrific tradition with friends and family.

When and where is the breakfast?
It’s usually the first Saturday in December, 8:30-10:30 am in the cruise ship dock/API. In 2018 the breakfast will be on Saturday December 8th. Please join us and bring all your friends! Your ticket includes a full homemade breakfast, coffee and juice, a ticket for the door prize, a ticket for the raffle, and access to the Christmas bazaar. This is a very multicultural affair, with announcements in Spanish and English and hundreds of locals and expats attending.

API dock is on Emilio Barragón nearly across from the new OXXO. Below is a map. If you can’t find it, ask any taxi driver or blue shirt/Tourism Volunteer.

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How can I get to Quince Letras on December 24th?
Come by 6:30 am if you are driving a truck, 7:00 am if you are helping us load and deliver. We usually finish by 11:30 or noon, but some years it’s taken longer (depends how many routes you participate in).

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this “Coca Cola” store on the corner

LOCATION: 15 (QUINCE) LETRAS, corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico, just down the hill from the Church of Cristo Rey (Christ the King—photo below).

  1. From Avenida del Mar turn East at the Fisherman’s Monument.
  2. Go to the first light and turn right.
  3. Proceed one block and turn left (Francisco Villa street, just before the Pemex station).
  4. Go two blocks.
  5. If you are NOT driving a truck or transporting supplies, please park in the next block. This will give us room for loading. Once you’ve parked, walk another block down, past the iron works business called “Quince Letras.” On the corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico you will see a small store with a bright red “Coca Cola” hand painted on the outside, across from a tortillería. A door next to the Cocheras Automaticas business will be open. That’s Yolanda’s mother’s house, and it’s from there that we’ll be loading.
  6. If you are driving a truck or transporting supplies, please drive up to Tampico street (the “Coca Cola” store on your right on the corner), turn right, and park. We will be loading right there.

IMG_0669If you can’t find it, just ask someone for “Quince Letras” or “Desayuno de los Pollos/Medina family.” Everyone in the area will know.

Merry Christmas to all! And see you there!

  1. Download and view or use a PowerPoint presentation with a full explanation of the project: chicken-breakfast-presentation 
  2. Download a gift certificate to fill out, and we’ll advertise your business or service at the breakfast! Just contact us and we’ll pick it up!
  3. Download and print a poster to help advertise.

Have questions? Contact the organizers:

  • Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744
  • Yolanda Medina (some English) at (669) 431-4529

Permanent link updated annual: https://vidamaz.com/pollos

Great New Spanish Vocabulary Book

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What do you call an ice cream scoop in Spanish? Yes, I know, most people would say cuchara para helado, but that is not its proper name. Specifically, that serving utensil, in Spanish, is called a funderelele, which is the title of Laura García Arroyo’s terrific little book of wonderful-sounding yet rarely-used Spanish terms. Funderelele y más hallazgos de la lengua is her attempt to share her love of words and encourage a more precise use of the Spanish language.

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Laura is a Spaniard living in Mexico City who grew up loving words. Her parents would read her to sleep, resulting in a lifelong love of the written word, and everywhere they moved the family’s books joined them; they were members of the family, as well. She is a translator and linguist, and has kept lists over the years of fascinating vocabulary she’s come across. Funderelele is based off that list.

The dictionary of the Real Academia Española contains 80,000 words, to which we could easily add another 70,000 Americanisms; there may be as many as 300,000 words in the Spanish language. It therefore saddens Laura that the average Spanish speaker uses only about 300 words in daily conversation—though most people have a passive (recognize the word when reading it but don’t use it in conversation) vocabulary of up to 4000 words. Laura is on a mission to help us improve our vocabulary, to love the Spanish language, to put into daily use some of its gorgeous terms.

Have you ever picked up a book that had some of its pages uncut, so that they stuck together? That’s called a libro intonso. Timar is what two lovers do when they understand one another with just one glance. I suppose that could apply to parents and children as well. The Spanish word for doppelgänger? Sosias. The smell of wet rain? Petricor. Isn’t that a cool word to know? Reminds me of some of the emotion-laden words in my beloved Japanese that have no equitable translation in English. How to say “fake news” in Spanish? Paparrucha. What about that gorgeous red color of the clouds we so often see in Mazatlán at sunset? We can communicate that beauty in just one word: arrebol.

One of my favorites in the book is giste, which refers to beer foam, that which so often remains on your lip as a mustache when you drink. And how do you describe someone who steps on the accelerator as soon as the traffic light turns yellow? Lord knows Mazatlán is full of people doing just that—flavilabando, which is much quicker and easier to say—with the slight downside that no one will understand you.

Most every word in the Funderelele has a two-page spread: a drawing at left with the word’s definition, and a short essay about it on the right. Its 152 pages aren’t meant to be read in one sitting, though that could easily be done. This is a book to have handy to peruse, so that the words insinuate themselves into our vocabulary and bring their history and culture into each of us and our daily lives.

In Laura’s opinion books don’t exist to make us happy, their purpose is to stir us, to move us: to feel, to take action, to think more deeply. She wonders why we spend more time dressing to present ourselves than we do in choosing our words, which she feels can count for much more in communicating our identity to the world. Like me, Laura feels she started to learn her birth language in a meaningful way when she began studying a second language; for her this was French, when she was in elementary school in Belgium.

I heard about Funderelele and Laura García via my book club. I’ve told you about my terrific book club in an earlier post—I am absolutely blessed with intelligent, talented, funny and interesting friends there and enjoy it thoroughly. Starting last year, Laura Medina, our wonderful local natural resource who has owned Casa del Caracol bookstore for the last 14 years, has organized an annual “gathering of the clans,” a reunion of all the registered book clubs in town. This year that included 16 different clubs who met in Casa Hass this Thursday evening.

In preparation, each club chose a minimum of ten books that our members loved, and which we wanted to share with others. Laura would lay the books out on a table during the event, one member from each club would be our representative, and choose new books for our club. It sounded like an interesting way to get some new books in the club library, although I’ll admit it was very painful saying adios to some favorite volumes.

The exchange was fun, and I’m excited about our club’s new books. I enjoyed sharing our favorites. The highlight of the evening was the talk. But, I have to tell you, the food was also wonderful! Oralia Medina makes delicious desserts, most Mazatlecos know that. But I did not know that she also makes some incredible savories: ceviche with coconut milk and mustard and empanadas with pumpkin seeds among my favorites.

Laura (Medina), thank you for your dedication to promoting reading in Mazatlán, and to always being ready to order the book we need or want. Thank you for arranging such a lovely and enjoyable evening for all of us. You are yet one more reason we are blessed to call this port home.

Two Great New Restaurants in La Noria

Most of us love a quick trip to the mountains to breathe some fresh air, enjoy a change of scenery and partake of a different style of cooking. La Noria is so very close to Mazatlán (45 minute drive), and late last season I told you about one of the new restaurants thereLa Vaca Lupe.

Friends of friends own the place, so we’ve gone quite a few times. La Vaca Lupe is a typical campestre/rural-style restaurant, serving very good grilled meat, fresh cheese and salsas in a rustic, open-air environment. They do menudo on Sundays, and bake wonderful conchitas and other breads in a traditional wood-fired oven. Greg loves the meat, and I love the huge grounds of the property. The owners have put in trails so you can work off some of those calories post-meal. One of the trails goes up and around the hill and the views are really pretty. Vaca Lupe also has lots for kids to do: there’s a wonderful petting zoo, awesome rope swings, and bicycles. I recommend it. It’s on the left side of the highway as you go into La Noria, just past Los Osuna distillery.

 

The second place we just tried this weekend—La Martina Sabor con Historia. It has been open for three months and is a similar campestre/country-style restaurant. This one, however, is less rustic and more hacienda-style. You enter a nice covered courtyard with a fountain surrounded by tables. Beyond that is a beautiful high-ceilinged, well-decorated room, and, finally, another terrace that overlooks the valley. Up the hill they’ve built a small chapel, so it’s all quite scenic. I had one of the best salads I’ve ever had, seriously. Greg wasn’t as impressed with his stuffed steak, but he did enjoy it. Total for two people at lunch? 295 pesos! Entrance to the restaurant is via the Los Osuna distillery driveway, just keep to the left instead of going into the distillery on the right.

Both of these places are only open during daylight hours, around 9 to 5, and you have to bring your own beer or alcoholic drinks.

 

La Noria is a wonderful little town with quite a few traditional artisans—cheese, leather, machetes, wooden barrels, pottery. Los Osuna distillery is there as is Huana Coa zip line. These two restaurant options make it even more of a draw for a terrific day trip. There are also a couple of balnearios or swimming pools in the area, if you would like that. These are the basic, rural Mexican variety and a lot of fun. The restaurant that’s been on the road for a long time—La Abuela Tina—is still there. It’s just past the entrance gate to town on the left.

Tickets (really) Available Online!

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Yes! It’s true! Really! This time it works! As of this past Monday we can buy tickets to CULTURA Mazatlán events in the Angela Peralta theater online!

Mazatlán is blessed with world-class cultural events—my beloved opera, classic and modern dance, theater, music—but until now domestic and international tourists have been frustrated by an inability to purchase tickets in advance of their travel to Mazatlán. Residents have also been frustrated. Those who live outside the Centro Histórico have for years been handicapped—we fight traffic and torn-up roads only to get to the theater to find the box office isn’t open. Good tickets get sold out before we can get any, or we have to impose on friends who live downtown to get them for us. Even those who live downtown can struggle.

Our prayers have fortunately been answered. Even though for years it’s been announced that people can buy online, the system never worked. Lic. Raul Rico and his staff wanted to farm out the work, but the municipality said they wanted to do it in-house. They never did. Finally, however, the IT people at the municipio have come through! So far, the online purchase does not work for events in Casa Hass and elsewhere, but I’m told that will come soon. Fingers crossed.

The process for purchasing tickets online is as follow:

  1. Begin at the calendar/cartelera: http://www.culturamazatlan.mx/calendario.php  Sadly this page is currently only in Spanish. Cultura has been looking for months for English-language assistance…
  2. Click on the event of interest to you, and you will see (in Spanish) the date, time and location at the top of the pop-up window. Below it will appear intended audience, ticket prices and a summary of the event. On the upper right you will see an aqua blue box that reads Comprar boletos (buy tickets).
  3. Once you click on Comprar boletos, on the next page you will need to select the time of the performance you wish, and then click Continuar sin registrarme, or “Continue without registering.” Alternatively you can enter your “Yo + Cultura” card information to track your purchase for goodies.
  4. Once you finish there, the system will take you to a map of the venue. As you mouse over the seats available the ticket prices appear. Click on the desired seats, and click on Confirmar tu compra or “Confirm your purchase.”
  5. You’ll be taken to a confirmation page where, if everything is ok, you’ll click Realiza tu pago or “Enter your payment.”
  6. The next page will ask you for your email (correo electrónico) and cell phone number. This is great, because you’ll get a confirmation email for your purchase, and they will send the tickets themselves to your cell phone!  So, be sure to enter the numbers correctly and double- and triple-check them. That way, you can print them out, or you can just have a virtual copy on your phone to show at the door and save a tree.
  7. On the final page you’ll enter your payment information:
    1. Cardholder name (Nombre del titular)
    2. Card number (Número de tarjeta). Supposedly any credit or debit card except American Express will work.
    3. Expiration date (month/year)—Vigencia (mes/año)
    4. Security code (Código de seguridad/CVV2)

I trust you are as excited about this news as I am. Kudos to the city, and to the folks at Cultura, for getting this done. It’s obviously the new administration who will get the advantage of all their hard work—what a wonderful parting gift—but the biggest winners should be all of us who enjoy our Cultura events!