Mazatlán’s Great New Park

20-dsc_0173Have you checked out the wonderful new Parque Lineal? It’s an incredible addition to our city, built to improve the quality of life of middle-class Mazatlecan families. The park provides much-needed green space for recreation and sports, and a secure place for families to play as well as for commuters on bicycles, in a very strategic area of town. Over 85,000 Mazatlecos can walk to the park and it is serviced by 28 transportation routes. I love the new space! It’s clean, green, and colorful, and you should visit it while it remains that way.

Officially called Parque Lineal Pérez Escobosa, it is 5.7 km long and is located in the median of Avenida Oscar Pérez Escobosa from Avenida Clouthier to Fraccionamiento Real Pacífico, passing right in front of Sendero Plaza. That median, you may recall, was previously an unkept, ugly ridge down the center of the road. The new park has a total of 42.7 hectares (105 acres) and cost approximately 130 million pesos, paid for with federal, state and municipal funds. Its stated purpose is to build community, bring families together, get people outdoors and physically active, and promote sports. It will bring economic benefits to the surrounding areas, and gives young people a safe and constructive place to hang out. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Called a “lung of the city,” the entire length of the park has grass, trees, and flowers watered by a sprinkler system. The park includes bicycle lanes, a skatepark, outdoor crossfit gyms, areas for exercise classes such as zumba and yoga, bicycle and pedal car rentals, a water park, basketball courts, tables to play chess and lotería, quite a few covered spaces for events, climbing bars and playgrounds, a jogging trail, picnic areas and barbecues, esplanades, pedestrian bridges, security and first aid stations (Municipal Police, firefighters, and Red Cross), restrooms and commercial concessions (cafes and snack stands). On the corner of Cristobál Colón is a beautiful fountain called Acueducto de los Cantaros. If you haven’t seen it or done more than drive by the park, you really should take a bike ride, walk, jog or car ride along the length of this new jewel of Mazatlán. Just know that parking is a hassle and crossing the street to get to the median is not for the faint-hearted.

The park has been built and unveiled in stages—the first section opened in March of 2015, and the sixth was dedicated in September of this year. The inaugurations were attended by Governor Malova, Mayor Felton, and the two different Secretaries of State Tourism who’ve had tenure during the two year period. The six parks-within-a-park are:

  1. Parque El Pata Salada, which was inaugurated in March 2015. It includes multi-use sports courts, outdoor gyms with stations for the differently abled, a jogging track, concrete walking trails, bicycle lanes, playground equipment, and a dog park that is not a run park like northerners might be used to, but has exercise or performance equipment to use with your leashed dog. It is 850 meters long, between Santa Rosa and Francisco Madera, and cost 18 million pesos.
  2. Parque de la Juventud opened in July of 2016 and is the most active portion of the park. It contains 850 meters of skateboard park, crossfit, open-air gyms, areas for exercise classes, bike lanes, bike rental, security, first aid, restrooms and commercial concessions, and represents a 20 million peso investment. It is between Avenida Francisco Madero and Highway 15 (Ejército Mexican). There are regular fitness classes held here, as well as in other areas of the park.
  3. Parque del Arte y la Cultura, inaugurated in August of 2016, is located between Highway 15 (Ejército Mexicano) and Cristóbal Colón. At only 500 meters long, it’s the smallest of the six parks within Parque Lineal, and is designed to keep people connected to arts and culture. It features art exhibitions (painting, sculpture, photography) and performances (dance, poetry, theater), and was built at a cost of 7.6 million pesos.
  4. Parque de la Tranquilidad, which opened in Aug 2016, includes relaxation and exercise areas, a book lending library with computers, a cafeteria, green areas, jogging trails, bicycle lanes, a meditation garden, outdoor gym, a multi-use sports court, lighted esplanade, parking, security and first aid. This is where they projected the Festival Cervantino from Guanajuato earlier this year. This portion of Parque Lineal cost 22 million pesos.
  5. Parque de la Familia, where they cut the ribbon to open it in September of 2016, is located between Avenidas Manuel Clouthier and Munich, It is 1.5 km long and cost 36 million pesos. It has a jogging trail, bicycling lanes, picnic areas, barbecues, green areas and playground equipment, an open-air gym, a very cool pedestrian bridge over the Arroyo Jabalíes, three multi-use esplanades, and security.
  6. Parque de la Niñez was opened in two phases, with the second section that includes the water park opening most recently, in September. It’s between the streets Zapopan and Santa Rosa, 750 meters long, and cost 14 million pesos. This is a place for young children to play and has playgrounds, swings, slides and a colorful spray park.

I love bicycling, and it’s long been a dream of mine that our city would actually follow through on its plan to build ciclovías or bike lanes around town. One of the things I love most about the Parque Lineal is all the workers commuting in safe green space to and from work on their bikes! I still saw plenty of bikers not using the park, but rather riding on the street, so no doubt culture-change will take time.

As with any linear park around the world, in those places where major roads cross the park, walkers, joggers and bikers need to be very careful with the cross traffic. In some places city planners have installed topes/speed bumps on the cross-streets. I would hope those might be added in all along the route. Another great thing about the park is that the planners had the foresight to install loads of trashcans everywhere. Rather miraculous, no?

We know that many times public spaces get built and then fall into disrepair due to lack of maintenance (like that wonderful park for the differently abled that Rotary built, that’s now pretty much unusable) and vigilance (the Parque Lineal has already been hit by graffitists a couple of times, despite the security). I respect that this time the project seems to be much better thought-through: security on site, irrigation systems installed, LED lighting, first aid stations and commercial concessions, and an unbelievable amount of signage—very different from normal urban development projects here. In fact, there is SO much signage that I began to question who’s brother owns the sign shop. Let us hope that our beloved Mazatlecos can preserve this park in good condition and maintain it as intended: as a safe public space for the enjoyment and health of families.

The Christmas decorations that they’ve put up are really beautiful; yet another reason to get out soon and see this new park. It seems that instead of putting up Santa’s village, which for several years Mayor Felton and his wife installed in the Bosque/City Park, and then moved to the Plaza República, they invested in decorations here. The day I took photos a university was hosting a Christmas party for a group of local kids, transforming one of the covered areas into an energy-filled party zone.

I’ve read several articles saying that the Parque Lineal is the biggest in Mexico; you know how much people here love everything to be a record. However, Chapultepec Park in DF is 686 hectares (1695 acres), the largest in Latin America. Those claiming our park’s grandure may mean it’s the longest linear park or greenway in Mexico, but Parque El Encino in Chihuahua is 13.5 km long, and Ferrocarrilero in Aquas Calientes is 12 km. To me, Parque Lineal Pérez Escobosa doesn’t need to be Mexico’s biggest; it’s gorgeous, well-planned, -located and -built. Congratulations to all those involved! It will make a wonderful place to walk around and people-watch over the holidays.


The Best Views in Mazatlán


Looking back at downtown over Goat Island from the top of Deer Island

Where are the best views of Mazatlán? Atop the lighthouse? From up top of the Freeman? I believe that the views from atop Deer Island rival even those taken from the air in a helicopter. They are some of the most glorious vistas our fair city has to offer.

If you’ve taken a kayak, catamaran, or any other kind of lancha over to the islands, or if you’ve swum, you know that. The water around the islands is so crystal clear—the color of turquoise—and you can view Mazatlán in its entirety, from north to south, with the Sierras as a backdrop. Click on any photo to enlarge it, or to view a slideshow.

Then, as you climb up the island from the beach, each hill reveals new views and surprises. I have climbed up the first hill before, but I had not done a trek of three of the four hills, as we did this past Tuesday. I have not gone to the backside of the island, and looked out from different elevations. It is truly stunning!

Petroglyphs in Mazatlán. No, not Las Labradas. Here in Town.
And, on Deer Island, in a cave on the back side, there are petroglyphs. Not just those north of town, in Las Labradas. There are petroglyphs right here in Mazatlán!

When our friends saw the photos, they said the petroglyph of the footprint looks like proof that aliens were here. Right next to the foot is a petroglyph of an animal with a long tail.

Footprint petroglyph on Deer Island, Mazatlán on the right. Modern-day pedicured foot on the left. ;)
Footprint petroglyph on Deer Island, Mazatlán on the right.
Modern-day pedicured foot on the left. 😉

Our Photo Class
It’s a funny story how I discovered this. I’m taking a (wonderful!) photography class with Salvador Herrera, and loving it. Well, he invited us to Deer Island for photography practice. He advised us to wear tennis shoes, and to bring sunscreen, a lunch, and water. He also said we’d be home by 2:00 pm. Little did we know that we’d be hiking all day, in quite precarious conditions, seeing the most spectacular views imaginable, and then even rappelling down into the cave with the petroglyphs, to return home after 5:00 pm! You gotta love Mexican communication style and spontaneity! It was an incredible day!

One of the students in our class is a cheerleader. He had a friend visiting him from León, and she’s a cheerleader, too. They were kind enough to do some jumps and flips for us, so we could practice our photography skills. Take a look.

Where is the Cave?
The cave with the petroglyphs is on the back side of Deer Island, just below the crest of the third hill. You climb up from the south side of the island, on the southern end of the beach. From the top of that first hill, you’ll proceed along the crest of the island, down and up two more hills. Then, on the top of the third hill (not the fourth or northernmost, the second from the north), you turn west and hike down in altitude a bit.

The climb gets steep and is not for anyone without great balance as well as good strength and stamina. The final entrance to the cave involves a five-meter sheer drop. Agile climbers can find footholds and handholds, but we used a rappelling harness and rope for added safety.

The Three Islands/Las Tres Islas
Quick! Do you know their names? Starting from the south: Isla de Lobos/Wolf or Sea Lion Island, Isla de Venados/Deer Island, and Isla de Pájaros/Bird Island. Many people and websites erroneously call the southernmost of the three islands Isla de Chivos/Goat Island, but that is actually the island in front of the lighthouse.

The biodiversity of the islands in our bay is an incredible treasure. Four climactic zones are found within such a small area: semi-desert, tropical, coastal and mountains. Over 500 species of birds can be found here, including gorgeous waterfowl and my favorite, blue-footed boobies! 20% of the species found here are unique to this area—you can’t find them anywhere else! The islands are composed of volcanic rock, landslides and foothills. On the islands you can find cacti, agaves, lichen, and deciduous shrubs including lots of beautiful plumeria. Plus, of course, goats, lizards, a multitude of butterflies and other wildlife.

The middle island, Deer Island, is the most-visited of the three. Its attractions include its beach, with fine white sand and crystal clear water, rippling out from the beach in increasingly darker shades of turquoise. The north side is great for snorkeling, lobsters and scallops, and it makes for a terrific kayak trip. Deer Island is 2.3 kilometers off the coast, 1.8 km, long and between 250 and 700 meters wide. It’s highest point is 178 meters (and don’t my legs know it!), and it has an area of about 54 square hectares.

Bird Island, on the north, is 120 meters high and has an area of 48.5 hectares. Goat Island is pretty much inaccessible.

For Sale?!
While most anyone in town will tell you that these three islands are an ecological preserve, and I sincerely hope they are protected by legislation, there is currently an advertisement to sell these three natural treasures.I do hope it’s a joke!

Do You Know the Legend of the Three Islands?
It is said that the indigenous people of this area were suffering from a succession of horrible hurricanes and flooding. The Mazatl people were beside themselves with grief; they were exhausted and starving.

The village chief asked the curandero what he could do to put things right and bring prosperity back to his people. The curandero went into a trance, and told the chief that the only way to put things right would be to sacrifice one of his three daughters—one of the three beautiful princesses—in order to restore the welfare of the pueblo. The chief loved all his daughters dearly, and was distraught because he loved his pueblo, too. He just could not bear to sacrifice one of his daughters.

Unbeknownst to the chief, his daughters swore a secret pact. The three of them loved their home, their neighbors, and their father so much, that they would sacrifice themselves and thereby restore the prosperity of the area. One night, under a full moon, dressed in white and with the diamond their mother had given each of them when they were born, the three princesses held hands and walked into the ocean, drowning themselves for the sake of their people. One sister’s hand came free, and she was swept slightly away from her sisters, but the other two sisters hung onto each other tightly.

The morning after their sacrifice, the Mazatl people saw three gorgeous islands out in the Bay of Mazatlán! One island was located slightly to the north, on its own, while the two to the south were connected. That was when they discovered that the princesses were missing! Such an act of pure, selfless love!

Thereafter, the climate changed and the weather of Mazatlán became tranquil and pleasant. To this day the three princess islands continue to protect the people, sheltering them from winds, storms and hurricanes. It is said that in the heart of each of the three islands can be found a diamond.

Do you know the name of the annual swim out to Deer Island? Yes? The Travesía!

Even if you are not incredibly mobile, you can get out to Deer Island on a boat and enjoy the views from the beach. If you haven’t done so, I highly encourage it. Spend the day; you’ll feel like you’ve gone to a Greek Island. If you are fit, take a hike up, at least to the first hill. The views will astound you. If you want to go to the cave, I’d recommend you go with someone who knows the route; it’s pretty tricky, at least for my level of adventurism.

And, of course, we couldn’t have asked for a better day!

An update/adaptation of this post appeared in M! Magazine in October, 2015 under the title, “Three Time’s a Charm.”

Another Gorgeous Friday Morning in Mazatlán

Sometimes routines can be a really good thing. We hike the lighthouse hill, as you know, several times a week. It’s wonderful to see those who also have that routine, and to notice the small, day-to-day and week-to-week changes.

Sunrises are always gorgeous here, and today’s over the harbor was no exception.

Flowers are in full glory right now. The smell is intoxicating, and they are also a definite feast for the eyes. I love how the flowering vines grow over and decorate the cacti, and I especially love watching the shrimp boats just outside the port.

The other day we noticed some young men painting new murals on the walls of Colegio Pacífico on the hill. There was already one there from 2011, but now there are quite a few more.

And, finally, as we worked our way home to start the day’s work, we met up with a march for World Mental Health Day. Marines, nurses, and a whole lot of young people took part in the parade. It was encouraging to see.

And, we’re showered and at our desks by 9:00 am! Thank you, Mazatlán, for all your beauty!

“The World Via Motorcycle”

malecon1“My name is Nate Clark Kayhoe and this spring I begin 2 years of traveling the world on my motorcycle — crossing 5 continents and through at least 75 countries. This page will be where I share in the adventure.”

We had the pleasure these past two days of hosting Nate and Chris Santacroce, friends of our nephew, at the beginning of their most wonderful adventure. And how exciting it is! They began by making their bikes, and departed from the East Coast of the USA. When they arrived here in Mazatlán yesterday they were on their fourth day in México, and enjoying every minute.

mapFortuitously, today is Nate’s 30th birthday. We celebrated in the Machado with cena last night. Both young men quit terrific jobs—one with Christie’s auction house and the other with the US government—to make this exciting journey. Chris will make the trip through the Americas for about six months; Nate will continue on, planning the two year around-the-world journey. His planned route is in the photo above.

Should you wish to track their journey, or give them a sofa or floor to sleep on, I know they would love it. You can do so by “liking” their Facebook page. We are so excited for them, and very grateful they brought their energy into our home and shared it with us. Below I’ll post a few more photos, in slideshow format.

Be safe, guys! Enjoy yourselves and your journey fully! We’ll be tracking your progress!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Skate Park?

We have the terrific skateboard park on the malecón in Playa Norte. We all love watching the kids enjoy themselves. Maybe some of you even enjoy it, too.

We’ve heard that the work being done right now in front of the Bosque de la Ciudad, city park, in the median there of the avenue, is another skate park. I can’t find where we read that now in my searches online, but we did take a few photos today.

Hopefully this will be one more terrific thing for kids to do in our gorgeous city. If that’s what you’re here wondering about, you can check out an earlier post, Visiting Mazatlán with Kids.

If you know more about this project, would you please let us know in the Comments below? We know quite a few teenagers eager and hopeful!