Manuel and Ignacio

DSC_2283

Last Friday night after the opera, my friend and I were walking around the Machado. We meet a 23 year old Aztecan named Manuel, who told us he moved to Mazatlán two years ago from the interior of the country because he wanted to live on the beach. He said he loves it here, but misses home.

His totem or spirit animal is the jaguar, and he was gifted the skull and pelt of a baby jaguar when he was younger. Apparently that little baby killed a few cows, and the farmer then killed him. Manuel wears the taxidermied piece as a headdress, along with extensive feathers and beadwork that he makes, and often sells, to make a living. He and his friend Ignacio perform on the Plazuela Machado most weekend evenings, Manuel told me. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Nacho, Manuel’s friend, is only 19. Manuel dances and Nacho plays the drum. Manuel tells me that his father taught him to dance the traditional way as soon as he learned to walk, and he’s been dancing ever since. He jumps, spins, and uses fire in a pottery incense burner. He tells me there are dances he can perform in public, and those he can not as they are private to the community. He speaks a bit of Nahuatl, but not as much as he’d like.

Welcome to Mazatlán belatedly, Manuel and Ignacio. Obviously I need to get out more often, lol, as it’s the first time I’ve met you. I very much enjoyed meeting you both, and your performance. Thank you for sharing a bit of your culture. I hope to see you both again soon and learn more.

Mezcaltitán: 3 Hours South of Mazatlán

island Aztlan

Mezcaltitán is a small manmade island town that is the ancestral home of the Mexican people. Archeological evidence shows it may be the legendary island of Aztlán, from where the Aztecs (the Mexica) departed in 1091 AD on their long journey to settle Tenochtitlán in the Valley of Mexico.

Called the “Mexican Venice,” Mezcaltitán did remind us of Italy. Perhaps more of Isola dei Pescatori on Lago Maggiore than of Venezia, but definitely worth the visit. It’s streets often flood in September; its houses, streets and electric transformers are built and located accordingly. The island is very pedestrian-friendly as there are no cars, only a very few four-wheelers. It is a gorgeous Pueblo Mágico: beautiful old homes and buildings, a charming church and plaza, an informative history museum, handicrafts, excellent seafood, friendly people, serene views and wildlife all around.

Below are some of the photos we took during our day on Mezcaltitán; click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We very much enjoyed our visit and would highly encourage you to make the trip. You could wake up early in Mazatlán and make this a day trip, with a nice lunch and walk around Mezcaltitán. Or, you could spend the night and the following morning go out on a nearby birding adventure. Either way, very nice day trip or weekend getaway from our gorgeous home of Mazatlán.

Feast Days are June 28-29, Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul. While we were not there during the festival, I would love to attend. We’re told that it opens the shrimping season. There is a boat regatta with competing teams carrying statues of Saints Peter or Paul, and locals dress up in feathered headdresses and jaguar robes.

Directions from Mazatlán:
Drive 136 miles (219 km) south on Highway 15 toward Tepic. Exit four miles south of Chilapa at a signed turnoff for Mezcaltitán by a gas station. The road is initially paved but changes to gravel, finally arriving at embarcadero La Ticha after 28 miles (45 km).

Mexcaltitán is also accessible via a short boat ride from the dock in La Batanza, 25 miles (32 km) northwest of Santiago de Ixcuintla. Santiago Ixcuintla can be reached from Highway 15; exit at the Santiago Ixcuintla turnoff 38 miles (60 km) north of Tepic. About five miles (8 km) after the turnoff, you reach Santiago.Go through town on the main street, 20 de Noviembre, which runs by the central plaza and becomes the main westbound road out of town. Continue another five miles (8 km) to the signed Mexcaltitán turnoff, where you head right. About 15 miles (24 km) after the turnoff you reach the embarcadero for Mexcaltitán.