Haziz and Our New Iranian Friends

DSC_4447I am in Dubai to present at a conference directed by the author of Cultural Detective Arab Gulf, Abdulhamied Alromaithy. His wife, Dr. Layla Al Bloushi, will moderate my panel. It’s my first time here, so I’m excited. Today was my tenth anniversary cancer-free, and we planned to celebrate by going to the top of the Burj Khalifa. It was beautiful.

In the morning, however, we walked around the old part of the city. Greg and I were fascinated by the organized chaos of the port. Boats were anchored three to six deep. How in the world did they get out once they were loaded? Packages were stacked everywhere! How did they keep track of what was where? Aren’t there waves in the Gulf? Wasn’t the loading precarious? Here the longshoreman show up in pickup trucks, SUVs and small trucks, to hand-load packages of textiles, boxes of spices, and many, many appliances to be shipped around the Gulf. We even saw electrical transformers.

The boats themselves were absolutely gorgeous, wooden structures brightly painted with filigree and other details. They looked very old. And the men who were working them were so very welcoming, cheerful, hardworking and happy.

The highlight of our day serendipitously became the invitation we received to board and tour an Iranian shipping vessel at the port in Dubai Creek. Our visit was accompanied by tea, lunch, shisha, and some great non-verbal communication that bridged my non-existent Farsi with our hosts’ non-existent English. Thankfully a spice trader helped us out with some translation…

More via Haziz and Our New Iranian Friends

High Tides/High Sands

 

The last 2-3 weeks have seen tides higher than we’ve seen in a long time here. Often this time of year the waves splash up over the seawall near Valentino’s, sometimes even onto Avenida del Mar. But this year, the waves have even been splashing onto the Avenida in Olas Altas.

Last Thursday we were taking our morning walk and we had to turn back because we were getting sand blasted. We’ve noticed the last week or so that there are 2-3 inches of sand all along the malecón in various places, as well as onto the street.

The surfers are of course happy with these waves, as are the body boarders. Though the waves are too high for some. The fishermen have not generally been pleased. The waves have overturned quite a few of the pangas, and the port as well as the beaches have been closed a few times due to the high seas. The fishermen have had to put their pangas up on the malecón several times for safe keeping. Shrimp season this year is predicted to be fantastic, thanks to all the high seas plus the rain.

Today we bicycled down to the Pedro Infante statue. We were, gratefully, splashed by waves a few times as we rode. What was most remarkable, however, is that the beach is AT LEAST ONE METER HIGHER than it normally is! There are places where you can now almost walk from the malecón onto the beach. There are numerous palapas into which the waves are now entering freely. The few palapas that have laid concrete flooring, that are normally a foot or two above sea level, they now have sand for flooring. La Corriente and other palapas near the Hotel De Cima have had to bring in bulldozers to dig their spaces and furniture out from under the sand.

In the photo at left, note that the round table is normally about one meter ABOVE the sand. The lower part of this palapa, normally, is well above head height. Not this week!

In this next photo, please note that the sign normally has a pole that keeps it a couple of feet/half meter or so ABOVE the sand.

And all this, with no hurricane, and with no real horrific storm. It’s eerie.

In addition to all the high seas, of course, we have had heavy rains. It is rainy season. Saturday a week ago we received in one day one-third of the rain we normally get in one year! Nine inches poured down in seven hours. Thousands if not tens of thousands of homes have been flooded repeatedly, and most of those families have lost all their furniture. It rained high in the Sierras as well, and as the rivers brought all that rain down to the sea, the rivers carried in them tree trunks, dead cows and pigs, silt, sediment, and trash of every sort. The tides were just right that the rivers washed it all out to sea, and then the waves came in and washed it all up to the beach. Everyone has spent the last two weeks cleaning up wood and other items from the beaches. It’s been a remarkable, community-wide effort.

 

Los Pescaderos/The Fishermen

One of our dreams in moving to Mazatlán has been to be more physically active in the course of daily life, to be able to enjoy the outdoors more, and to eat more healthily of fresh, whole foods. With these dreams in mind, we’ve taken a long walk or bike ride most every morning along the malecón, the oceanside promenadehere in Mazatlán. A round trip bike ride from our house to the Pedro Infante statue is about 8 miles. A walk from our house to the pescaderos (fishing boats) and back is about 3 1/2 miles.

What is truly special for me is the fact that we can enjoy the incredibly gorgeous views, people-watch Mazatlecos of all ages and walks of life exercising, and we can buy fresh fish directly from the fishermen as they put in in the morning. This season of the year (June-August) they seem to come in between 7:30 and 8:30 am. Most of them have an axle with two wheels that can cradle their boat as they bring it up on the beach. Once they arrive, they unload their fish, put some of it up by the malecón for sale to the public, and take most of it across the street to what appears to be a cooperative store. They then head back to their boats to make fresh ceviche (cut up fish, carrots, lots of lime juice, onion) and wash it down usually with a ballena (whale, large bottle) of Pacifico beer (our local brew). 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning is already their lunch time. Most of the fishermen are very friendly and happy, and the boat launch beach is quite the community hangout, especially in the morning. You can see this photo I took of a domino game on the beach.

The boats are all small lanchas, with outboard motors, and seem to hold 2-4 fishermen. The lanchas remind us of the fishing boats in Cinque Terre, Italy, but they are not painted quite as colorfully. Most are named after women; we are guessing wives’ names, daughters’, girlfriends’.

If we are a little too early or too late, there is a sort of fishermen’s cooperative store right across the street from the boat launch beach. The prices are amazing, and so far there has always been a good selection. Over the last couple of months the people have gotten to know us already. The store manager is more than happy to teach me about the best methods for cooking which kind of fish. They seem to stay open as long as they have fish, so it’s best to go early.
Another thing that is amazing to me is that in the big supermarkets (Mega, Soriana…), they usually have frozen fish, not fresh. All the more impetus to take my daily walk or bike ride! I have a little basket on my front handlebars, and I carry a little cooler with ice. I can then put in the fresh fish, or pork, beef or chicken if I go to the mercado on the way also, and carry it all back safe and cool.
I’ve tried out a few new recipes, relying mostly on mangoes, limes, onion, chiles, cilantro, occasionally some cream or curry powder. Mmmm. I have not yet tried to make ceviche, as buying it is affordable and just so convenient, but I look forward to trying it out.