Fire in the Bosque

DSC_0071EditedHeartbreak! The bird sanctuary behind our house, the estuary in front of the Bosque de la Ciudad (city park), has gone up in flames this afternoon. We have lost dozens of nests, with eggs and hatchlings, of ibis, cranes, herons and storks. All because of human negligence. Bless the volunteer firefighters who came out within fifteen minutes of our call! As I write this, they are still fighting the flames.

The fire started just in front of the construction site to the south of Las Gavias Residencial on Avenida del Mar. We called the fire department, and that is the location where they arrived. The first thing the fire fighters did, even before the firetruck made it in, was to remove some old tires that had caught fire on the edge of the estuary. Once the truck arrived, they got out a hose and quickly used up the truck’s full tank of water. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Fortunately, shortly thereafter a water truck arrived on the City Park side, followed by more firefighters. I was so afraid the fire would blow through the park, killing the animals in their cages, endangering the children. It moved so quickly! Within twenty minutes the entire estuary was in flames, and in our 11th floor apartment the heat from the flames was incredible! We are at the height of dry season, and wherever there is not water out there in the estuary, is no more. Trees, grasses… all torched. I believe the city park is safe, but the firefighters will need to keep the grasses and brush wet.

The poor birds—ibis, cranes, herons, storks—were flying around seeming confused about where to go, their habitat filled with smoke and flames, their babies stranded in the flames.

It is now about an hour after the blaze started, and more fire trucks keep arriving, thank goodness. The fire continues threatening the pond in city park, but in general is heading north towards Avenida Insurgentes.

We’ve lost power… more later…

4:16 pm, it looks like the firefighters have gained control of the blaze. It has stopped moving. It went as far north as the salón de eventos south of Insurgentes, and from the Avenida del Mar side it doesn’t look like it destroyed any of the Bosque itself. Thank goodness for our volunteers!

The whole time it burned, Greg and I kept asking ourselves why the construction workers next door hadn’t called the fire department. They just stood there watching. The fire started very small. We immediately called 911. And, the construction workers had bulldozers, water, all kinds of equipment there; they could have put the fire out when it was still small. Perhaps they were afraid to use the equipment for something they weren’t authorized to do.

Such a sad day for our bird sanctuary. Thank goodness that Mother Nature will regrow it, though the loss of dozens and dozens of hatchlings and eggs is heartbreaking. Let’s use this as reason to FINALLY step up and stop permitting people to build in the estuary!

Final note: In the evening firefighters came with multiple bulldozers, and dug a perimeter/fire line around the burn zone, at least wherever land permitted (bulldozers can’t go in the water…). They did such an admirable job! Please take care of our environment, everyone. Mazatlán used to be one big estuary, full of mangroves, shrimp, and water fowl. In the city now we are down to just a very few. Let’s treasure and keep them!

We All LOVE Our Monigotes!

dsc_0430We love Carnával, and it’s widely acknowledged to be the third largest in the world. I would posit it the best, as it’s so accessible to everyone, involves the entire community, and is HUGE.

About ten years ago, CULTURA started to put up papier-mâché statues on the malecón. The very first year, at least to my memory, these statues were egg-shaped. While the originals were a meter or so high, over the years, they have grown in size and they now tower over our fair city. One year they were soldiers from around the world—warriors, humongous guardians of Mazatlán. In 2013 they were movie stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis, Cantinflas and Pedro Infante. The monigotes, or giant statues, are made by Jorge González Neri and his artists in their taller. I love taking a peek every year just to see what’s coming up.

Well, it’s obvious that you love the monigotes, too! The first couple of years, my photos got a few “likes” on Facebook. Those likes have steadily grown, and as of tonight you have shared my monigotes 2017 album over 3000 times! Some of the individual photos have themselves been shared over 500 times! It gives me such joy to read how you think this one is a Pokemon, that you live in that block and it’s “your” monigote, or that one is your favorite. Kudos to CULTURA and to González’ taller; they only get better. Now we hope the carrozas or floats do as well, because we still miss Maestro Rigo Lewis in that regard….

There are 11 giant statues this year, unless you count the two in the Plaza República. Those two went up first, and tantalized us for well over a week while we waited for the others. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow. I’d like to give a MAJOR shout-out to Greg, who accompanies me and makes sure I don’t get hit by a car or bike or something else while I’m peeking into my camera! Often times he finds the best shots, too.

I like to take photos as soon as I’m able to after the monigotes are up. Thus, most of the photos don’t have the titles yet; CULTURA puts those in white lettering on the black stand of each of the statues. Sometimes they also make changes or additions. For example, the awesome-looking snail below had a papier maché rider added to it the day the queen was crowned. It’s in front of Valentino’s/Fiesta Land and was one of the first to be made; Greg and I saw it in the workshop, finished and waiting. Then by chance we were able to come upon it as the CULTURA workers hand-pulled it all the way from Playa Sur to its home at the north end of the malecón. It’s called Carrera del Tiempo or “Time’s Race.”

Coming south, the next monigote is where Insurgentes intersects Avenida del Mar. It’s pretty scary looking, if you ask me, and is called Dragón Polinesio or “Polynesian Dragon.” Of course, the theme of Carnavál this year is “Alebrijes y Dragones.” Alebrijes are those hand-carved wooden animals from Oaxaca with all the little pieces, and dragons are, well, they fly and look fierce. The giant statue at the top of Insurgentes is a dragon alebrije. I waited for a pulmonía to come by, just at sunset, so we get a bit of Abbey Road al Mazatleco action going on:

Next up is the one in front of Las Gavias. It looks very much like a Carnavál clown, and is called Carnavál en Babuchas. “Babuchas” is a word for those Oriental or Arabic-looking slippers with the long curly toes.

Just south of that one, in front of SECTUR—or La Botana, or Franki Oh’s, depending on your preference— is a really cool dragon with a person on top. It’s one of my favorites. It’s called Elegancia Alada, or “Winged Elegance.” The monigotes of course look good during the daytime, with our bay as a backdrop, and they are lit up at night, so gorgeous then, too. I’m confident that shortly CULTURA will add a title to each and every one.

Where Avenida de los Deportes meets Avenida del Mar—the Aquarium street, where the liquor store/Cava del Duero is, we can see a monigote that is just the reverse of the last one. This one is a person with the dragon on top. Night lighting is not yet working on this monigote. The name of it is Pio Cabeza Madame, or “Pious Head Madame.”


You know that Mazatlán is “land of the deer” in Nahuatl, and on the malecón facing the Lola Beltrán statue (The Vue condos) is a monigote with a deer on top. It’s called Carnavál del Sol, or “Carnaval of the Sun”:

Continuing our journey south you’ll see a giant ostrich, on the malecón in front of Hotel Aquamarino, on the corner with Banjército, beside the pulmonía monument. She is called Una Diva con Patas Largas, or “Long-Legged Diva.”

At the Fishermen’s Monument you’ll find a Viking-looking guy riding a pogo-stick dragon, and it’s appropriately called Cabalgata Vikinga or “Viking Horseback Ride.” It’s creative, even if it’s connection to the Carnavál theme isn’t exactly self-evident.

Next comes another favorite of mine, Pio Cabeza Gato, or Pious Head Cat. People tell me this one seems to be based on the Pokemon character “Meowth.” Personally, he looks straight out of “Where the Wild Things Are”/”Donde Viven los Monstruos.” I love where this monigote is located, as you get the pangas/fishing boats and a good shot of the bay in the photo. It’s where Belisario Dominguez intersects Paseo Claussen.


From here you can take a detour into town and see the really cool alebrije statue in the Plazuela Machado. I love that in the past few years CULTURA puts a monigote here, as it’s where the original Carnavales were held in Mazatlán, and it’s a gorgeous spot for partying. I tried to photograph the giant statue with landmarks in the background: Casa Machado and our original hotel. The name of this gorgeous monigote is Equilibrio Frágil, or “Fragile Equilibrium.”

Ok, I’ve left the BEST FOR LAST!!!!! The southernmost monigote is in front of my BELOVED and screaming for restoration Casa del Marino. And is it every whimsical! I call it “fish cycle,” but CULTURA calls it Un Alebrije de Oriente or “An Alebrije from the East”:

Not that we need an excuse to walk, roller skate, jog or bike the malecón, but now is most definitely the time! Oh… don’t forget your camera or cell phone!

Our Beloved Malecón de Mazatlán

We all love the malecón, Mazatlán’s oceanside promenade. While Tourism sometimes says our malecón is 21 km long, that length would have to include the Zona Dorada as well, which is clearly not malecón. But from Valentino’s to Pedro Infante is 8-1/2 km. If we add in Paseo del Centenario and the real, original malecón in Olas Altas, our annual Carnavál party zone, it’s a few kilometers longer yet. The world’s longest uninterrupted oceanside path is said to be the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver.

Here in Mazatlán you can ride a bike, rollerblade, jog or walk amidst incredible views. When the tide is high you can even get refreshingly splashed. In the fall months you can often witness sea turtles coming into the beach to lay their eggs. You can watch parades, marathons, protests, and incredible fireworks along the malecón of Mazatlán.

Most of us realize how much our malecón has changed over the years: lengthening it, widening it, various concrete designs and paint jobs, different types and colors of benches, planters, lighting, and, most recently, the palmeras. Remember when we had to avoid dog excrement all the time? Fortunately that custom has mostly died out, and by and large pet owners are fairly responsible when using the malecón to walk their pets.

I’ve written previously about how the culture of the malecón has changed. Most significantly to me is how in the past ten years it’s become the world’s largest gymnasium, at the same time that Mazatlán has become a pulsating center of athleticism. Ocean-fed pools are a rarity worldwide, and our own malecón is home to the beautiful Carpa Olivera that’s both historic and refurbished, as well as the Swimming Club. In addition to the athletes, the mesmerizing views, and sunsets unlike no other, our malecón also houses a grand collection of statues and monuments.

malecon-usersOne of the newest efforts on the malecón are the signs to have walkers and runners use the side of the malecón closest to the ocean, and bicyclists, skateboarders and roller blades use the side closest to the traffic. With 14,000 people using the malecón on a daily basis, according to city figures, this can’t always happen, but already I’ve noticed it’s made a significant difference.

All you snowbirds, welcome back! Those who have survived the heat and humidity, rain and wind of this summer, we’re almost ready for cooler weather! I look forward to seeing you on the malecón! Sunrise, sunset, daytime and night views there are gorgeous. What better place to enjoy people watching and the beauty of our city, and get some exercise?

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.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.