Lighthouse Renovations

IMG_4320-1A welcome investment of over 14 million pesos of federal and state funds have gone towards the renovation of our long neglected yet incredibly wonderful lighthouse, a major tourist attraction as well as a popular workout space for residents here in Mazatlán. The design plans included a transparent, cantilevered overlook, and there was talk about a zip line to Paseo del Centenario as well.

While the lighthouse walk was closed for a while, it is again open and just as crowded as ever with happy people out for a walk in the fresh air. Most of the way up the formerly dirt path is now covered with concrete and faced with rock—it looks really nice. I feel for the workers who have to haul their equipment plus the sand for the concrete up the hill. I guess they will be in shape once this project finishes!

In most areas there is a two to three foot wall protecting visitors from falling; in one key area, at the last major turn to the right up the hill, the wall has not yet been built. At the bottom, before the stairs, there is still a lot of walkway that remains concrete and has not yet been faced. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.


At the bottom of the trail they have installed a rock wall in the roundabout and are in the process of building a nice sign. At the top, they have completed a round viewing platform, with stepped seating for visitors to take in the view. Supposedly they will install a statue of a whale in that space, which I find a bit confusing as it will block the view.


The lighthouse keepers will be moving to a new building just to the west of the lighthouse; the lighthouse building itself is scheduled to be turned into a museum. I have noticed a whole lot of trash from the renovation project. Hopefully workers will be cleaning all that up before they finish the job.

What I don’t see any sign of, yet at least, is a transparent, cantilevered overlook. Likewise there has been talk that the zip line is history. If you haven’t climbed up in a while, now is a good time. I find it interesting to watch projects as they progress, and adding some safety and beauty to the natural beauty of Cerro del Crestón is very welcome.

Porqué Me Gusta Tanto El Amanecer? Why Do I Love Sunrise So Much?

Sunrise over the Sierras

Sunrise over the Sierras

Why do I love sunrise so much? Acompáñenme, por favor. Pull up a chair and join me, won’t you? Here’s the walk I took just after sunrise this morning. Get why I like it? There was quite a bit of fog over the city, as you can see. Vamos a comenzar el camino un poco después del amanecer. Caminaremos hasta arriba del faro. ¿Ven porque me gusta tanto? Hoy había bastante niebla sobre la ciudad, como pueden ver.

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¿Y desde arriba? ¿Como se ve? Aquí arriba no había nada de niebla hoy por la mañana. How did it look up top this morning, looking out over the city, and down on the boats? There wasn’t a bit of fog up here this morning.

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After a short break up top, I start the walk back down. Now I don’t have to turn around to see the view—it’s in all its glory right in front of me! Después de un pequeño descanso por arriba, comienzo la bajada. Ahora no tengo que voltearme para apreciar la vista—todo está esplendidamente enfrente de mí.

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Al fin, tengo que volver a casa, para comenzar el día de trabajo. Pero me quedan unas vistas más. Qué difíciles las mañanas aquí en el puerto, ¿verdad? Finally, I have to make my way home so I can get to work. But I still have a few things left to see; it’s such a difficult challenge living here in our fair port. 😉

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Thank you for joining me! ¡Gracias por acompañarme!

History of the Lighthouse in Photos

DSC_0057Do you love the lighthouse as much as I do? Love how the seasons change, different animals and plants are at their best every couple of weeks? Do you enjoy the view of the city from up there—sometimes so clear, other times gorgeously hazy, and sometimes socked in with fog? Do you love the people who hike up, and the exercise and fresh air it provides?

This morning was a wonderful event up top of the lighthouse. The Movimiento Ciudadano Rescate al Faro group, to which I’ve belonged for a couple of years, opened a special photo exhibit. I knew about it because Irving Fregoso, the group’s organizer, asked me five or six weeks ago to translate the Spanish into English, so that the exhibit could be bilingual. It seems there was no money for the exhibition; all had to be volunteer. In addition to the historic photos, there were gorgeous photos of animals and plants donated by our own Alwin van der Heiden. It is a beautifully simple exhibit, and if you are at all interested in the history of Mazatlán or our beloved faro, you definitely should hike up and check it out. Great to know when the port was officially opened, the various stages of the lighthouse, and the old photos of the Lens are spectacular! The exhibit is along the wall of the lighthouse building, under the awning. A few photos of it are in the slideshow below, to whet your appetite and motivate you to go see the exhibit.

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Prior to the ribbon cutting for the exhibit, there were dozens of young people, including students from CONALEP, cleaning up trash. Members of the Asociación de Guias, the city’s official tourist guides, were also in attendance. They were along the ocean front, on the path, and all over the top of the hill. They picked up trash, they painted over graffiti, and they made the place look great. The Rescatemos al Faro group has organized several cleanups now, but this is the most well-attended event I’ve seen. I am glad to see it growing in popularity and support. Thank you all immensely! Such cleanups are a never-ending job and we are grateful to you!

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1.DSC_0087The ribbon-cutting that opened the photo exhibit was attended by several dignitaries: a young representative of the Governor’s Office, a representative from the port authority/API, the wife of the Secretary of Tourism, a representative of the Mayor’s Office, and our Diputado and probably soon-to-be mayor, Carlos Felton. It was great to see them there; we need political support to improve our Faro recreation area.

1.DSC_0080So, what was the really great part of the ceremony? Davíd Escobar, the architect, and the Rescate al Faro team presented an official proposal to all those officials! Hooray! They took advantage of the visionary words being uttered in those speeches this morning, and came through with a concrete plan of action. Fingers crossed!

The really gorgeous morning for me was couched, however, in a mini-culture-shock. Not that it’s surprising or unusual, but it’s a side of my México lindo y querido that I just don’t like. Here were all these volunteers—kids and adults, spending hours cleaning up an area that we all enjoy. Here was the volunteer group, Rescate al Faro, which has done so much for a couple of years now to raise awareness of the importance of this recreational area in our community. And, somewhere around but no where to be seen, was Irving, a young worker in the Secretaría de Turísmo, who seemingly organized all of this. He told me later he was busy tying up trash bags at the bottom of the hill during the ceremony, and couldn’t make it up in time to see it. So, the scene is one of lots of very passionate volunteers, making a difference in their community.

Irving Fregoso with yours truly this morning

Irving Fregoso with yours truly this morning

During the speeches that preceded the ribbon cutting, the dignitaries talked and talked, sharing their vision, but no one really thanked the citizen volunteers in attendance! I know there is a Mexican dignity in not expecting acknowledgement, but it was hard for me to watch it not extended. Irving, who got this whole effort going, organized the event this morning, and then didn’t even get to see its grand opening, was not acknowledged. No one mentioned the historian who put the exhibit together, or the photographers whose works were represented. I did count four times that official remarks mentioned the difficulty of the climb. A member of the Rescate al Faro group had to interrupt the proceedings in order to be able to present their proposal, even though they’d made this all happen. Today was the Governor’s Office debut of their Agente de Cambio campaign, yet it glorified the sponsors and the politicians rather than the doers—rather than the on-the-ground agents of change. Come on, Mazatlán, we can show more appreciation than this! We are all in this together! Maybe today might serve to get some of these dignitaries more engaged in the El Faro effort; that would be fantastic. I did witness Carlos’ joy as he was able to run down in seven minutes. Ok, gringa rant finished for now. I get it’s a cultural difference. And I get that politicians everywhere are, well, politicians.

None of the usual daily lighthouse climbers were at the event this morning. Greg and I really missed seeing our cohorts. Next time perhaps the group should post signs announcing such an exhibition or event, so that the “regulars” plan to attend. We asked Carlos, the lighthouse keeper, about it a couple of times, and he had no idea it was about to happen.

It was an absolutely beautiful clear morning here. The views were spectacular. Our citizens showed up in droves to clean public areas. We have a gorgeous historical photo exhibit, done for free and open to the public for free. All in all, wonderful for Mazatlán. Be sure to hike up and take a look! Final slide show of the view, below.

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Link to a story on this event in the Noroeste.

New Signs at the Lighthouse/El Faro

IMG_0974Can you run up the Mazatlán lighthouse in four minutes? The last running contest at the Faro that I know about, the winner got to the top in about six minutes. So what’s up with these new signs? I know I’m not in the greatest shape, despite climbing up twice a week for the past 18 months, but come on!

The guys who work there who walk up that hill every day tell me it takes them 21 minutes on average. Of course, they lug all those water and soda bottles in their backpack as they climb, and they don’t run up.

I found the sign rather demotivating, because I fell into the “second to last” of five categories. It was a great lesson for me in my cultural programming. With five categories, I would have expected the third/middle category to be the “average” user, the norm or central tendency. I also know that, having grown up in the US, we give “false positive” encouragement all the time. “Great batting, Jimmy,” we tell the Little Leaguer who strikes out. So what I would have expected on this sign might look something like this:

  • Expert: 7 minutes or less
  • Running: 8-15 minutes
  • Average Health: 15-20 minutes
  • Casual User: 20-25 minutes
  • Recreational User: 25 minutes or more

I might even add a sixth, humorous category:

  • Tourist with a Camera: around 40 minutes to the top

If you are able to get to the top of the lighthouse in four minutes, let me know, would you? I don’t take the shortcuts, but I know many people do. But I don’t think those shortcuts shave that much time off…

Since I took a photo of the sign above, I took a few others, also (slideshow below). If you visit the lighthouse you know the bathrooms have been installed now for months. They are gorgeous, very sturdy. Trouble is, no one thought to run any sewage lines to the sewage treatment facility next door. Or, at least that is what we have been told. The public sanitarios remain closed because they apparently do not function. 😦

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They also put a beautiful plaque in, with a few historical points on it. Trouble is, someone has planted a large plant right in front of the new plaque. Hopefully that will get moved a bit soon.

Recently Irving Fregoso sent me some documents to translate from Spanish to English, saying they are planning to do a photo exhibit about the history of the Faro. What I translated was really interesting. I’ll tell you more as I hear about the exhibit.