Memories of Mazatlan - Prairie SeaShell Sea Stories by Lynn & Don
Bienvenidos Mazatlan - Mermaids everywhere!
Now that Carnaval activities are over, it's time to get on with a few boat chores. The first order of business is to block off the end of the boom, because from the moment we arrived here, these little black and white birds (swallows I think) have been trying to build a nest in there.
It seems we are quite a bird magnet. They got rather angry with me when I chased them out and stuffed an old towel in the hole.
While Don worked on windows for the bimini one day, I baked a cake and Vic & Nancy, our dock neighbours, joined us for coffee that evening.
Times have really changed ... Nancy is able to hold down a full time job, working on line from the boat.
Candies, nuts, gummies, etc. ... but no chocolate!
The next day, they invited us to join them at the Juarez Market. This market, aka Flea Market, covers 12 square blocks, and you could find anything from food, flowers, hardware, clothes, jewellery, appliances, new and used.
Nancy and I checking out some embroidered tea towels, Don and I buying a bag of pistachios and a glimpse of the treasures available at the market.
Shopping around here is always an adventure. There are shopping malls similar to at home where we buy most of our groceries, but the adventure begins when you need to buy something specific. All the plumbing stores are lumped together in one section of town, hardware another, electronics yet another and then the banks are in still another.
Fortunately, there are no shortage of buses, and they are quite reasonable, but it still takes all day just to pick up a few items when you have to go all over town. This does seem to be how most of the local folks shop, the malls are relatively empty, except for the food courts that are very popular with the school age kids.
There are no marine hardware stores here, so we must depend on the few long term residents of the marina who operate small marine businesses, and of course the Swap & Trade on the local net every morning.
If you need something, or you have something you want to dispose of, you can announce it on the net, and trade with other cruisers for "coconuts". If that doesn't work, there is always the Swap meets, every other Saturday, and you just never know what surprises you may come across there.
At the last Swap meet we were at, we were trying to sell a radar extension cable that we didn't need. I had my back to a group of women who were talking amongst themselves, and one of their voices seemed familiar to me.
I have met so many new people in the past few months and I was trying hard to place this voice. I turned to look at the group only to discover that I was standing right behind Elaine from Goolka. I tapped her on the shoulder and it was instantly "old home week".
John and Elaine had built their boat in Calgary and they were now on the last leg of their 11 year circumnavigation. John was the President of the Chinook Boat Builders Club when Don first joined the club, and they didn't even know that we had left Canada yet.
Needless to say there was a lot of catching up to do, so they joined us for coffee & muffins and had a quick peek at Prairie SeaShell. Last time they had seen her, she was upside down in our backyard. A few days later we were treated to an excellent meal aboard Goolka, who has weathered the years at sea extremely well.
Our days here are always busy, just can't seem to find enough time to do everything. For example, started off one morning with an early morning walk on the beach with Nancy (Charisma) and Faye (Okochacha), when we returned, there was a Pilates class starting in the cruisers lounge, so Fran & Lee (Royal Exchange) and I got in a little fitness fix.
Jorge and his wife invited a few of us to his house for a typical Mexican dinner.
Before it was even over, Merry (Willow) was recruiting some people to visit with a few local people from an English class. They were looking for people to practice their English with, which gave us a chance to practice our Spanish.
We met with several students and gave them a tour of our boats. Their teacher Jorge, invited us to come to dinner at his house, and also to visit his school.
After our students left, Merry & BJ joined us for lunch aboard Prairie SeaShell (La Concha Pradera) and we made plans for a sunset walk on the beach to Playa Bruja, about 1 1/2 miles away, where we enjoyed a dinner of chimichangas & empanadas complete with a Mariachi family band. What a busy day!
Other days have been just as busy, dominoes in the cruisers lounge, Spanish lessons, bike ride and brunch with Jan & Denise (Shilling), two for one rib dinners with Royal Exchange where entertainment was Mexican version karaoke ... entertainer singing at the top of his lungs (no microphone) along with the CD playing at full volume. The singer also treated all the ladies to a rose ... the Kleenex tissue variety.
The King lives on ... in Mazatlan
Another night, we joined the crew of Willow and Guiding Light (our Spanish class friends pictured above) at a Dinner Theater featuring an "Elvis" impersonator. The "theater" was an outdoor restaurant, dinner was a wonderful roast turkey with all the fixings, and Elvis even joined us in the buffet line.
Since the venue was small, it was very personal, with Elvis making the rounds at all the tables. He not only looked like Elvis, definitely sounded like him and he had lots of Elvis trivia to share with the crowd. Very entertaining, better than anything we had seen in Vegas, and the whole evening, complete with Mango Margarita, was only $36.00.
One Sunday, we spent the day at the beach watching the Sand Sculpture Competitions. Some were done by professionals, others by local Girl Guide or Scout Troups, and some by families enjoying the day together.
Road Trip! We left the marina about 9:30 A.M. one morning with BJ, Merry, Steve & Sheila and headed for the local bus depot. About an hour after we boarded our $2.50, air conditioned bus, we arrived at the quaint little village of El Quelite.
Ulama game in El Quelite
A very clean, brightly painted town with a huge town square, and bougainvillea in flower all over the place. We took a walk around town, on the cobblestone streets, and up to the local cock farm, then stopped in for lunch.
Not only did we have a great meal, served to us by waitresses and waiters in local dress, but we are treated to all sorts of entertainment. However, after the game, they went on to perform a traditional Deer Dance, and we watched a brief cock fight and a demonstration by one of the local caballeros.
We watched a demonstration of the pre-hispanic game of Ulama, a game played by young men, similar to soccer, but instead of kicking the ball with their feet, they bunted it with their hips.
The ball, made from tree resin, similar to rubber, weighs about five pounds, and their "uniform" of a leather wrap around their middle and brightly painted skin did not necessarily cover their bruises.
Stone Island - one of our favourite places.
Our next trip was to Stone Island, actually a peninsula, at the south end of town. Took a bus into town, and then got on a little panga to take us to the island.
There is a wonderful beach there that is frequented mostly by locals. We had lunch at the palapa on the beach, and I couldn't resist a local delicacy, mango on a stick. The locals seem to prefer it covered with lime juice and chili, but I passed on the chili.
We bought some candy from one of the vendors, and these two little girls, Emily and Annette, just stood looking at our table until we finally figured out they were hoping we would offer them some candy.
Our next two excursions found us on a hike up to the lighthouse, El Faro, and at the Aquarium. When we arrived at the Aquario, we were very surprised to see several big yellow school busses "Grande Prairie, Alberta to Mazatlan".
Apparently the Lions Club in Grand Prairie had donated these busses to the Aquarium, and they are used to transport kids from local schools to the Aquarium.
We are really enjoying our time here in Mazatlan and finding it hard to leave.
We had another visit from our English class, that turned out to be a pot luck lunch. We made submarine sandwiches and fruit salad for them, and they brought ceviche and tacos for us.
One of the new students, Sonia, talked to us for quite a while. She works at the Angela Perrault Theater, and her daughter, Carla, is a percussionist in a school band.
I was able to tell her all about all the different bands, and instruments that Shannon plays, and she then invited us to a concert at the Theater that night. She met us there at 7:00pm, with her daughter and son, she gave us a personal tour of the Theater, that was built in 1874, and then left us in the line for the concert. We watched an excellent violin concerto complete with flute and clarinet, and a little opera, but never did see Carla and her school band perform.
Finally, after stocking up with groceries, dingying over to the fuel dock to fill up the jerry cans with diesel, I think we are almost ready to leave.
Just one more day, believe it or not, I'm trying to do some Christmas shopping so I can leave presents in Calgary when we return in July. We will start making our way up into the Sea of Cortez and leave the boat in San Carlos. Quite likely this will be the last story until we get home as internet connections will now be a luxury.
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