We weren’t sure how long we would stay here in Mazatlan, but it has been over three weeks already and we are not packing up any time soon. This is a big city with lots of different neighborhoods and outlying beaches and there is a lot to do and see.
One day we took a series of buses down to the commercial fishing district. Mazatlan is allegedly the biggest shrimping port in all of Mexico.
On the other end of the scale, we have also really enjoyed the Plazuela Machado area in Historic Mazatlan. We have eaten at some lovely (and expensive, by Mexican standards) restaurants here. This area is extremely gentrified and caters to North American tastes while retaining its Mexican charm. The folks who come here tend to be ex-patriots living in Mazatlan, on their way to or from a theater event or a charity fundraiser. You would see few people wandering off the cruise ship that would find their way here, and since the streets bordering the entire plaza are pedestrian only, and the neighboring streets are narrow and brick, no sightseeing buses make it here either.
Another one of our favorite restaurants is called Water’s Edge. This is where we had our first meal since coming to Mexico that felt like a nice bistro restaurant meal in California. We went back there for a Valentine’s Day dinner before enjoying the Carnaval fireworks.
Another activity we were told about was sunset cocktails on the rooftop outdoor lounge at the old Fortman Hotel above the Olas Alta’s beach near Old Mazatlan. It was beautiful.
Another one of our bucket list items was to have dinner at Topolo’s, one of the highest rated traditional Mexican dining establishments in Mazatlan. It is mostly housed outside in a courtyard with the surrounding walls painted red, with Mexican murals and art adorning the walls. I was especially enchanted by the Platanos Flameados dessert, where the waiter poured butter, liqueur and who knows what else over sautéing bananas at our table and lit the whole thing on fire before serving it to us.
We also discovered a little restaurant called Zarapes a few blocks from our marina where we first observed salsa being made in a molcajete (mortar and pestle made from volcanic rock) at our table. They did the same thing at Topolo’s. We were so glad to have it made in front of us so I could refine my salsa-making techniques even more. Here is a picture of the ingredients: roasted tomatoes, chopped white onions, whole garlic cloves, salt, cilantro and chile peppers. Zarapes used chile de arbol (dried skinny red chiles that are pretty darn hot), but Topolo’s used serrano chiles like I have been. Actually, I started out using jalapeños and graduated to serrano and now think I might switch to arbol! I don’t know if we are just getting used to the taste or if it gets less hot with refrigeration or what, but both Rick and I are craving spicier and spicier salsa.
We really enjoy taking the bus into Old Mazatlan – the bus ride is always an adventure. Several times now, a guitarist has boarded the bus and entertained the passengers for tips. This one was really very good.
We have also discovered some new venues out on our side of the city, away from the intense life of the central city. We rode our bicycles out with some other cruisers one day to Playa Bruja, and on the way back, decided to take a detour and discover another beach called Emerald Bay. There, we found a cute beachside cafe called Surf’s Up. Yesterday we went back there on our bikes for breakfast, them walked the beach and explored a nice Pueblo Bonito resort, and came back to the cafe to spend the afternoon listening to a live Reggie band.
While having breakfast, I couldn’t help but respond to the guy’s comment at the next table over. He was staying at the all-inclusive hotel down the way. He was telling the waiter how surprised he was that there wasn’t more development on the beach, as he expected Mazatlan to be more crowded. I laughed. He had no idea that he was miles and miles from the actual Mazatlan, maybe an hour’s bus drive, and was on the very edge of the encroaching beach development. We had a nice chat and I think I may have convinced them that a trip to Old Mazatlan would be worth it, although they had not planned on leaving their resort at all..
We also met a nice single retired woman with a pit bull/border collie mix who joined us at our table and then brought us back to her condo to show us how landlubbers live. She was quite the adventurous spirit but smart and financially stable too, with four grown children up in Seattle and an ex-husband near Puerto Vallarta.
Well, I don’t know how much of a forbidden sea we could really consider the Pacific, or how barbarous Mazatlán really is, but considering some people wouldn’t even come here at all because they fear the Sinaloa cartel or some other less clear demon, I think Rick and I have something in common with Herman Melville: