3 Dead Turtles On The Malecón

dsc_0074In front of our home today was a gorgeous large sea turtle. I ran down with my camera because I thought she was going to lay her eggs.

Upon approaching, however, she stunk. She was bleeding. And her eyes were very, very dead.

Heartbreak. Click on any photo to enlarge or view a slideshow.

Carlos, from PROFEPA, was there making sure no one touched her. He told me he was not officially authorized to move the turtle, and he was waiting for his boss to give him instruction. But, he said, the turtle I saw was the THIRD one found dead on the malecón this morning! Carlos assured me all three would be examined to determine the cause of death.

Saturday Morning Beach Scene/Happy Mothers’ Day!

We had a Mother’s Day breakfast for my zumba group today, and it allowed me the opportunity to be at the beach in the Golden Zone fairly early this morning. I was very happy to see that even at 9:00 am the beach was beginning to hop, and there were numerous catamarans, sailboats, banana boats and kayaks out in the water. It was a beautiful morning, sunny with cloud cover and a gentle breeze. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.

Isn’t it wonderful that Mexican Mothers’ Day (May 10th) and US Mothers’ Day (2nd Sunday in May) coincide this year? Happy Mothers’ Day to all you wonderful mothers out there!

Palapa Mariscos Los Porteños

IMG_0868 Lots of changes these days amongst the palapas on the malecon. Many of the changes were precipitated by the storms during the summer of 2014 while other changes are just natural turnover and expansion. One of the more intriguing changes for us is the addition of Palapa Mariscos Los Porteños. Why is this intriguing to us? Well Los Porteños is one of the better known Bandas of Mazatlán (click here for video). It is an interesting concept to have the owner of a banda group open a palapa with the same name. One of the other welcome changes along the malecon is more banda music beyond the strolling musicians. More palapas are welcoming bandas to play at their restaurant, including of course, Mariscos Los Porteños. The day we ate there the band playing featured various members of local bandas. They were getting in practice time and played very well together. Their vocalist lacked a microphone, so he would sing at your table with the band remaining stationary at the end of the restaurant. A nice touch. Songs were 100 pesos each, but spread among 12 guys, that’s not a bad deal. We negotiated four for 300. IMG_0884 IMG_0908 We found Palapa Los Porteños to be excellent as far as palapas go. First, it is new, which means it is clean and a little more modern than others. It is larger than some as well with ample beach seating under umbrellas or seating under palapas. The kitchen is fast and efficient and the servers friendly and dedicated to your satisfaction. The palapa is well built with attractive supporting beams. The kitchen pick up area features a matching wood face that is unique to Mazatlán palapas. It has a very unique and deceiving floor which you can check out in the photos.

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We have long kept a tradition of dining at a palapa each Friday. Originally this was to celebrate Danny surviving another week of school, but now just a chance to remember why we live where we do and celebrate the end of a work week. We have kept a list of palapas in order north to south with our likes and dislikes and relevant comments, but it is sorely in need of updating. After the commotion of Semana Santa, I am committed to getting this done and will publish it for everyone to use and comment upon. Until then, take off your sandals, order a cold beer and some fish or shrimp and enjoy Mariscos Los Porteños. You will find more or less across from the Sands Hotel. Coming south from the acuario, it is the second palapa. Across the street are things like Qualitas Insurance and the Mara Gymnasium, Scorpio V and the road to the bus station. Provecho!

Update: The band contacted me and gave me the website for the restaurant.

Cerritos on a Puente Weekend

DSC_0664On this extended puente or “bridge” weekend, commemorating Benito Juárez’ birthday, Greg and I are both back from trips: he to San Antonio for a conference, me to Venice and Milan to teach a course. While it’s always great to travel, see new places, and connect with colleagues and friends, it is also such a joy to return home to the sunshine, the warmth, the affordable fresh seafood, and the joyous people.

Since it is a puente weekend, we wanted to join in a bit of the fun and be among the many local and national tourist families that are out enjoying Mazatlán’s dozens of miles of gorgeous beach. And where better to do that than at Cerritos and Playa Bruja?

We drove up, I ordered lobster and a coconut while Greg ordered fish and a Pacífico, and we commenced the people watching. While in town we have the fishermen and their pangas at Playa Norte, the sheltered swimming bay at Los Pinos (along with its great surfing farther out), and the miles of sandy beach along the malecón itself, Cerritos is a more complicated mix of sand and rocks, forming sheltered, shallow pools that are perfect for families with small kids to enjoy. It is also home to the fishermen up there, a juxtaposition of people eating, swimming, and working, all from the same rather small beach.

This weekend, I enjoyed marveling at the ingenious ways people came up with to shade themselves from the sun.

Around the point from Cerritos we of course have Playa Bruja, with Lionso’s Restaurant. There are so many people out and about that Lionso’s has a guard stationed at the gate, to ensure that only people who will eat or drink come in.

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Since the last time I paid attention there are a couple of new little places to eat at Bruja—one called “Tiburones” along the beach, and another tucked into the shelter of the rocks. Both are basic palapas. It was wonderful to see the beachside service of food and drinks, and the number of tents put out for tourists and locals to enjoy the day.

The beach at Bruja is not the fine sand that caresses your feet, as it is in town. Rather, here you’ll find loads of gorgeous shells, just waiting to be crushed and ground up into sand, but, right now, they are razor-sharp and make footwear a requirement unless you’ve got very hardy feet.

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On a puente weekend the beach vendors are happy. They’re selling lots of jewelry, hats, sunglasses, cover-ups and cotton candy. The weather is absolutely perfect: sunny, clear, warm but not humid, and the band members from Mr. Lionso’s have to get outside to enjoy their tostilocos, even though they probably shouldn’t.

There’s a huge new housing development going up right beside Lionso’s, heading south towards El Riu. It looks to be a mix of single family homes and condos.

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This time of year, the snowbirds are starting to go home, and puente weekends like this, and soon enough Semana Santa as well, remind those of us who live in Mazatlán year round what it’s like to live in a Mexican town.

Our Beloved Favorite: Stone Island

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We all love Isla de la Piedra, Stone Island. We love the:

  • Serenity—the long stretches of gorgeous beach with, normally, very few people. In fact, our family describes it to our visitors as “Gilligan’s Island.”
  • Smiling, welcoming faces who greet us in this lovely little town.
  • Number of ambulatory musicians who come by.
  • Fishermen preparing their boats to take out in the evening, working tirelessly to repair their nets for their night’s work.
  • Vendors and, especially, those who have the thighs to bicycle along the beach.

And we love the fresh seafood, caught that day and served raw or barbecued over an open flame.

Our favorite place to spend the day is Pili’s. We met Rudy, Barbara and the family of Pili’s owners when Danny was just three or four. We were introduced by our compadre, Ruben. Danny fell in love with the pretty Alhondra, who was 11 or 12 at the time, and is now married with a toddler and living in Tijuana. Pill’s makes the BEST zarandeado. Barbara sells fresh oysters and clams, and the cold coconuts are always a hit. As is a bucket of beer, or a piña colada.

Stone Island is one of our favorites, and is always one of our visitors’ favorite places, too. No, it’s not an island. It’s a peninsula. We get there from Mazatlán by water taxi. It’s part of what all of us love about going to the Isla for the day.

We love how, despite Mother Nature’s havoc, the Islanders rebuild. August’s Hurricane Marie brought waist-high flooding to the places on the beach, and the water stayed for several days. It ruined over 27 of the restaurants on the beach, and despite promises from State Secretary of Tourism, Francisco Cordova, and Mayor Carlos Felton, the islanders never saw one centavo of assistance, from either the state or the municipio. At least that’s what our friends tell us, and the Noroeste reported. Since the islanders are no longer permitted to cut down trees, they had to rescue timber from the flood waters. But they did. They have rebuilt. The restaurants, at least most of them, are again open for business. Though you can still see bulldozers cleaning up debris.

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How much longer will we have the serene beauty that is Stone Island, this idyllic paradise that is only a five- or ten-minute water taxi away from our daily lives here in Mazatlán?

Soon they will widen and pave the road from the airport. It will be much easier for tourists, who arrive via the new highway or by air, to get to Stone Island without needing to come into Mazatlán. No doubt development will follow.

And the construction of Amaitlán continues. Planned to be an eco-friendly mega-resort with lots of green space, you can see the first parts of it in the “Botanic Garden” on Stone Island. The first few rental cabañas are currently being built.

Most of our friends on the Island, the ejidatarios, are excited about Amaitlán. They believe it will bring them jobs, income, sustainability for their families and the environment on the island. I am much more skeptical. But, I have my fingers crossed. I can hope. I do know that I would love to stay in one of these little cabañas, amidst all this lush, gorgeous greenery, assuming I could afford to do so.

I guess this post is really a homage to one of our absolute favorite places on earth these past 35 years. Nostalgic, because we don’t want it to change. Hopeful, as we pray things will change in sustainable ways that support the environment and local residents.

Let me close this post with a great story that Rudy told us during our last visit. He tells us that there was a rainstorm recently during which it rained fish—un aguacero de peces! And, even though they were drinking when this event occurred, he swears it really happened.

Furthermore, Rudy told us that it wasn’t the first time it’s rained fish here in Mazatlán! According to him, El Sol reported years ago about a rain of fishes in Playa Sur ( was unable to find such a story on the internet). Our interview took place during a perfect day on the beach, but somehow the ocean breeze caught my camera’s microphone. My apologies. I’ve done all I can to minimize that windy sound… The story is great though, so, heeere’s Rudy!