Cerro de los Chivos/Goat Hill

P1110859©Who doesn’t love Stone Island? In the 35+ years we’ve been coming to Mazatlán, it’s been one of our favorite hangouts: pescado zarandeado/bbq fish over an open fire, hammocks,  calm ocean for swimming and killer views. Every time we go, we say, “we should climb Goat Hill.” And, every time, for 35+ years, we don’t. The hammock, a horseback ride, swimming, margaritas, a walk on the beach, a massage… these win out over the hike.

Well, today changed all that. Our friend Dallas loves hiking Goat Hill. His wife Rocio runs Restaurant Cerro de los Chivos (great food and service, open Fri-Sun) at the base of the hill. He has told us that the views are spectacular and that there are, indeed, wild goats. Both proved very true; we counted at least 26 feral goats. The top of the hill is like a tropical forest, and the bottom closer to a desert with lots of cacti. The view is 360 degrees and incredible. Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

No doubt you are smarter than we are, and you’ve made the hike to the top. If you haven’t, be sure you do sometime soon!

A Morning in the Botanic Garden

Yesterday morning a photographer friend and I went to the botanic garden on Stone Island to see if we could capture a few pictures. It was a clear pleasant day and so very enjoyable! We saw a LOT of birds, and while my friend knows the names of most of them, I do not. Here I’ll share a few photos though.

I also really enjoy bees and butterflies. Sometimes these photos turn out well, and sometimes they don’t, as I don’t have a macro lens per se. I just zoom in on them and do my best to get good focus.

Since I last went to the garden, Amaitlán has built a whole new section. It’s not yet finished, but it looks to have three new ponds. The colors of the flowers, accompanied by the green of the trees and the water, sure delights the soul. Reflections also fascinate me, so I’ve always got to take a few of those as well.

After our photo safari we stopped to get a drink and have a few snacks. I couldn’t resist a few pics of the dive-bombing pelicans and the island in the bay, which is the reason Stone Island got its name.

On the way back to Mazatlán in the water taxi, I had to get the requisite shot of the two cruise ships in port with the lighthouse in the background. And the brewery 😉

Thanks for the beautiful morning, John!

Santa Visits the Isla

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Don Wood, the Santa of Isla de la Piedra

I’ve been touched by the cool tradition of the “Gringo Santa” who hands out candy to the children on Stone Island. I find it encouraging when someone does their best to spread good cheer to others, and especially so when that someone is an immigrant in an adopted home.

So when our friend Dallas and his wife Rocio invited us to join the parade this year, to meet Santa and his helpers and enjoy the fun, we were ready to go! Danny and Rohit joined us, as did our friend Genaro and his kids.

Don Wood has been playing Santa on the Isla for about nine years now. He has a wonderful team of helpers who support the effort. The crew purchases 8000 pesos worth of candy-stuffed stockings, and then they pull a sleigh with a three-wheeler to be sure kids—old and young alike—get one. Click on a photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We spent about two and a half hours handing out candy today, winding along the streets and alleys of the village and, at the end, right down the beach as well. The kids were so excited! Albañiles stopped working, and grandparents came running as well, so candy is obviously not just exciting for the little ones.

Santa has some very well-dressed and happy helpers, and the recipients of the candy stockings were all quite thrilled as well. Since Dallas drove the three-wheeler that pulled Santa, and Rocio played Mrs. Claus, Greg drove the rest of us in Dallas’ truck. Oh did we have fun!

After all the hard work, we enjoyed a terrific lunch together with our new friends at a palapa on the beach. We are very grateful to have been included. It was a great warm-up for handing out chickens tomorrow morning!

Below are just a few more pics I took today.


Happy holidays, everyone! And, Dallas, Rocio, Don, Nancy and crew—thank you and God bless you for what you do each Christmas!

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!

Nos Fuimos de Pinta/Playing Hooky

This is for you, Irma and Jeanette!

We’ve been working wwaaaaaayyyy tooo hard the past few weeks. We definitely needed a day off. And, now that Danny’s out of school, we thought we’d go over to our own local “Gilligan’s Island” (Stone Island) and enjoy a relaxing day of swimming, eating, and lounging on the beach.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge them or see a slideshow. Mouseover a photo to read the caption.

Relaxing:

Village life:


The season:


Musicians:

Vendors: