Written by HeatherPat on 28 Jan, 2003
--Get your hair braided. One of the vendors on the beach will want to braid your hair. You can have just part done, or your whole head. Beads are negotiable. The cost is $10-40 US. You get what you pay for, but bargains can be…Read More
--Get your hair braided. One of the vendors on the beach will want to braid your hair. You can have just part done, or your whole head. Beads are negotiable. The cost is $10-40 US. You get what you pay for, but bargains can be made.
--Parasailing. We didn''t get up enough nerve to try getting pulled behind a boat with a parachute attached to us. A lot of other people said it was great. We saw people doing this all day long. Just ask at the shop on the beach, just north of "The Inn". They also rent all sorts of water sports equipment there.
--Go to the city market. They sell everything you could want, like fruits, vegetables, canned goods, meat. It''s a little lax on refrigeration though. Taking a taxi to get to the city market is the best way to get there. There are buses that go there regularly and they would be an "experience." They are inexpensive. Asking at the front desk would help you catch the right one.
--While in the city, check out some of the cathedrals. There are some very fine, older ones found there.
--Get a beach volleyball game going. Ask the activities coordinator and he''ll get you the ball and net. A great way to meet people!
--Go across the road to the pizza place and order a Hawaiian pizza. Instead of the ham and pineapple that we were used to, it came back as bananas and cherries!
Written by Ken & Alice on 04 Feb, 2001
The things we really enjoyed were: the swims in the very warm water, the boogie boarding till we couldn't even walk anymore (including the crashes when we tried to double up on a board), the sailboat ride, the games in the pool, the beer drinking…Read More
The things we really enjoyed were: the swims in the very warm water, the boogie boarding till we couldn't even walk anymore (including the crashes when we tried to double up on a board), the sailboat ride, the games in the pool, the beer drinking contest(which Alice won), sitting next to the ocean being waited on hand and foot by the hotel staff (whom we got to know by name), buying souvenirs from the beach vendors (maracas with names and dates carved on them, a hammock, a necklace, and too many pairs of sunglasses), dining in the moonlight next to the ocean in the restaurant, the ride in the truck/cab back from El Shrimp Bucket when we yelled and waved at the passersby, swimming at midnight, getting kicked out of the pool, and sitting in our hotel room listening and watching the lightening storm. Ken also liked the 18 holes of golf at El Cid where mosquitos ate him alive, and driving the piece of crap Volkswagen Derby offroad that we paid too much for to rent for one day (~$80). Ken's caddy at El Cid was Jesus. Marce and Genaro were very nice at Costa De Oro. I don't think Mom liked getting trashed by the waves when she tried to boogie board, but she did like parasailing. Jason found the secret bathroom hidden in the waterfall at the pool. The retired marine and his wife (that he called the sleeping fox) were fun. The waiter at Tequila's sure seemed to appreciate the ~$20 tip we left after our second (&last) time there on the last night before we left........ Close
Written by javili on 02 May, 2001
My home state, Sinaloa, has the biggest and most intense narcotics industry in North America. Never mind about the famous Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez "cartels": they are dependent upon Sinaloa financing, production, and control. Apart from most of them having come from Sinaloa…Read More
My home state, Sinaloa, has the biggest and most intense narcotics industry in North America. Never mind about the famous Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez "cartels": they are dependent upon Sinaloa financing, production, and control. Apart from most of them having come from Sinaloa in the first place. This primacy of Sinaloa in the drug world is so well-known that it has passed into the language and everyday speech. Heroin is thought of as "Chinese" in Mexico, even the brownish Mexican heroin is called Chocolate Chino, so Sinaloa gets referred to as "Chinaloa". The mere mention of Culiacan, the state Capital, can be a reference to drug processing. In the most recent election, the winning candidate angered (or amused) everyone around here by calling Sinaloa a cua de narcos, meaning "cradle of drug traffickers": and he made his accusation stick. I have spent years investigating this trade and writing about it (and have not yet been shot down, I'm happy to say) but
more than the lurid stories of poppy farms, clandestine airstrips, high-level corruption, and bloody massacres, I find it interesting that the narcotics industry has spawned a culture of its own, a culture which reaches deep into public attitude, expression, and identity.
There are reasons why Mexicans would be more accepting of narcotics culture than the United States would be (although everyone saw American popular culture become marijuana-soaked in the sixties, flirt outrageously with cocaine usage in the eighties, and even have outbreaks of "heroin chic"). For one thing Mexican families are much less afraid that their kids will start doing hard drugs. Mexicans are much less involved in drug consumption than Americans. Also, in Sinaloa, marijuana has always been around: up in the mountains, grown and smoked by colorful characters. It has a sort of Old West flavor, a romance like that of rum-runners. NOBODY blames anybody for growing drugs and shipping them to the United States. Quite the contrary. Of course, the current drug cowboys have gone far past mota, and it was with the transhipping of South American cocaine that the game got obscenely rich and corrupt...and obscenely bloody deadly. One statistic that might interest you: Mazatlan, a city of around one quarter of a million, has over five hundred murders per year. Almost every day, and I mean that literally, there is a story of a drug-related murder in the paper. This is a frontier situation, and the frontier is between Mexico and the United States, between the civilized ideas of government and the gang anarchy that drug profits create here.
And like any frontier, like any focus of obscene power and wealth, the drug trade creates a glamour. There are stories to be told. And, most of all, there are songs to be sung. The biggest influence of El Narco on Mazatlan culture comes through music. When you walk into a record store in Mazatlan, you are surrounded by posters that show the recording artists dressed up in very fancy cowboy clothes and in poses that definitely refer to the drug industry. El As de la Sierra (a cowboy singer: As means "Ace", not what you might think) is shown holding an AK-47, standing with his musicians, similarly armed, around a light plane being loaded in a remote airstrip. We do not assume that he is going skydiving in his satin cowboy suit and endangered species boots. Another poster shows a singer driving a stage coach, holding an M-16. As I mention in my entry about Banda music, there is a close relationship between the music of Mazatlan and the narco industry. This can partly be traced to Banda's Norteño antecedents: particularly the tradition of the corrido, a song form much like ballads, in which the hero shoots it out with rustlers or police, wins cockfights and collects his winnings at knifepoint, steals away women with mucho casualties, and, in corridos as early as the Forties, fights the Mafia. One of the Tigres del Norte's early hits was "El Corrido de Un Soplón", in which a Mafia squealer gets his. Another famous corrido is "Pedro Navaja"--so amazingly similar to "Mack the Knife" that when I first heard Bobby Darin doing that song, I thought it was a clumsy Gringo knockoff of "Pedro Navaja". In the Nineties the songs "La Camioneta Gris". featuring a gray pickup with California plates that runs afoul of cops, Mafia, and narcos alike, was so popular it was actually made into a movie. So the tradition of songs that tell stories about crime, violence and smuggling has been around for a long time. In fact, I once read an English poem called "Lochinvar", that told about a lovesick suitor kidnapping his woman and heading for the hills, killing her kinfolk as he went. I was immediately reminded of dozens of corridos with similar theme.
Some of the most beautiful Mexican music, and the music which is easiest for foreigners to appreciate, is Trios. I don't mean that in the jazz or classical sense of anything played by or written for three musicians: Trios is a special kind of…Read More
Some of the most beautiful Mexican music, and the music which is easiest for foreigners to appreciate, is Trios. I don't mean that in the jazz or classical sense of anything played by or written for three musicians: Trios is a special kind of music that can be played by two, three, or four people. It is essentially vocal music accompanied by guitar, or the same songs just played instrumentally, on two or three guitars.
This is a lovely music, romantic, lush, and full of harmonies and intricate embroidery. The best way to hear it would be to obtain a record by "Los Panchos", the classic Trio. On several albums they play and sing with Edie Gorme, which makes them even nicer to listen to. Her wonderful voice is well known in Mexico: I understand she also records in English.
The best place to hear Trios, however, would be in a restaurant or on the street. Trios are the perfect wandering musicians, "Músicos Ambulantes" as we call them. In almost any decent Mexican restaurant, you will see small groups of musicians enter the dining area and stroll between the tables, hoping that you will pay them to sing for you. You, of course, are hoping that someone else will pay them, so you can hear them for free. Being an ambulante is not an easy life. In restaurants of the definitely lower class, or more "country-Northern" type--a carnitas joint called "Rincón Norteño", for instance--the musicians might be playing Norteño or ranchero songs like "La Puerta Negra" or "Tristes Recuerdos". There might be a drummer or bass player along with the guitarist and accordian player. Or in certain places the ambulantes will be mariachis, a big bunch of chavos in identical satin "cowboy" suits with violins, trumpets, and a huge, thumping guitarrón. But most likely, and certainly in classier places, you will just see two or three men, perhaps dressed in black suits and white shirts, walking through teasing you with delicate instrumental runs from their guitars. They stop by your table with a question in their eyes, or perhaps one man will lean in to ask if you want a song, the other instruments throbbing out interlacing lines of sheer romantic charm. If you agree, they will serenade you, singing harmonies above the gliding, dancing Spanish melodies of their strings.
The IDEAL conditions for listening to Trios, of course, is with a woman with whom you are in love, or better yet, a woman that you wish to be in love with you. Perhaps the little girl has already come through the restaurant selling roses, and you have bought a single red one for your hopeful enamorada. Now, for mere money, you can wrap her in beauty, in romance, in an endorsement of entertwining and harmonious togetherness. You would be a fool not to, she would be heartless to resist.
If you have chosen your restaurant for the evening unfortunately, and no musicians came by to stoke the fires of love, don't give up. You can still take a taxi to Playa Norte and listen to masters of this musical form while sitting on the rail by the sea. This area was once an entertainment zone, but time has moved on and left a great many empty clubs, caberets, restaurants and bordellos. But in its time, this was a neighborhood saturated with music, and several Trios still maintain their "offices" here. These are old men, veterans of musical delights, who are too set in their patterns to change just because all the people moved up north to the Zona Dorada. They still have little storefronts with metal garage doors in front, painted with fading signs saying, "Trio Tropical" or "Trio Los Isleños". In the evening they cross the street and sit on the seawall, waiting for the people to come back and here them play. Some of these old gentlemen can no longer sing, but they can still play. And the people do come back. Couples walk down from the Paseo Claussen, having watched the stars and waves under all those sexy bronze statues, and sit on the beach, listening to love songs. Taxis pull up, men in the back seat beckoning the Trio to come up and play in the window to help melt the hearts on the seat beside them. In the United States, you have drive-up dining, ordering food to eat in your cars. I have never understood this concept, and most Mexicans would think it perverted. Here, on the other hand, you can order drive-up music and romance.
On more than one occasion I have seen a drunk, or a crowd of drunks, standing on the Malecón in Playa Norte, listening to a Trio, holding out a cellular phone to capture the sound for somebody on the other end of the line. Probably an irritated wife, but it could be anybody: a boss awakened at 2:00 AM for a serenade, a sick buddy who couldn't get out drinking with them, a girl reluctant to drop everything and go meet a drunken Romeo on the sidewalk.
But however you listen to a Trio, the result is the same. You glide around on slippery phrases that converge into streams of shining sound that cascade down to a deep, dark, moonswept sea of romance and beauty. If you can't grab a cab down to Playa Norte right now, go order a CD of Los Panchos and La Edie singing "Vareda Tropical". Or better yet, call up a beautiful woman and tell her you are flying her to Mazatlan, taking her out to a fine restaurant, buying her an armful of the deepest red roses, and plying her with gorgeous songs. See what it gets you.
Those interested in Mexican politics and society might enjoy the articles on my Website.
Musically, Mazatlan is a major spot on Mexico's musical map. Not as much so as Mexico City or Guadalajara, perhaps, but for a city of our modest size (currently about a quarter of a million souls, another few thousand of the soul-less), and isolation…Read More
Musically, Mazatlan is a major spot on Mexico's musical map. Not as much so as Mexico City or Guadalajara, perhaps, but for a city of our modest size (currently about a quarter of a million souls, another few thousand of the soul-less), and isolation in the wild Northwest, we have produced some major impacts on the national musical character. Not necessarily for the better, as you will see. And perhaps not even agree. But one thing is obvious from the start: Mazatlan throbs with music.
Out in the "Golden Zone" of high-rise beach hotels, there is so much music you get confused. When good bands play at Tony's, people stand outside to listen and waiters circulate, selling drinks to people on the sidewalk. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of pulmonías passing: open Volkswagen buggies with huge stereos that turn them into mobile juke boxes, generally blasting the hot song of the moment, "Toda La Vida", replaced by "La Macarena", then "Mambo #5", and on to the next foolishness. The hotel bars, the discos, the bordellos in the Zone and along the miles of Malecón can keep you walking in rhythm from one end to the other. Down in the Old Quarter there are jazz cafes, art music bars, and several conservatories where young people play classical music. It seems as though every block has a record store, you squeeze by little stalls on the sidewalks selling pirated cassettes and CD's with photocopied jackets. The main reason that Mazatlan doesn't have an international reputation as a music Mecca, like Havana, is that the regional music is too crazy and cowboy to suit international tastes.
In a way, Mazatlan's location is ideal to create a vivid palette of Mexican musical styles. It is located in the Northwest, in cow country, gateway to the wild Sierra where the bandits and drug growers play, where a man would feet naked with out his cowboy hat, fancy boots, mustache, pickup truck and sheath knife. This is Norteño country, the home of Banda. We would be as ranchero as Monterey or Ciudad Juarez except that we are also located on the sea, which has always been as big an influence on this city as the countryside around us. Those cowboys sit in their bars drinking Pacífico beer, with the big whale on the quart bottle. So there is also a great deal of port music here, beach music. Which in Mexico means Cúmbia, the lilting Caribbean beats also known as Tropicales.
Mexico's lower classes essentially line up with either one of these musical poles or the other. Pop comes and goes, mariachis and protesta and trova are essentially novelties for the over-educated. Most common people favor either the rancho sound or the tropics. You can almost tell which by the way they dress. The cowboy hats are going to listen to Radio Ranchito and spend their Saturday nights dancing quebradita at places with "Rancho" or "De Norte" in the name, probably with picture of a horse or fighting cock in there somewhere. The more relaxed types in loose, bright-colored clothing and marlin fishing T-shirts are going to be doing cúmbias at some place made out of bamboo and palm thatch with the word "Tropical" somewhere visible.
Cumbia music is not actually of Mexican origin (nor is Salsa, which came from New York). It originated in Columbia, and Colombian cumbias are somehow hotter, slicker and faster than our local variety. The is Caribe music to us, Música Tropicál. If you want to hear to best of it, try a Sonora Dynamita CD, songs like "Oye" and "Saca la Maleta" are timeless. This is sunny, happy music designed to feel good lying on the beach or shuffling around the dance floor or making love under palm trees (or in sandy sheets under a rising moon and rotating fan). I've heard it called "Reggae without guilt"--tropical Caribbean island music racial distinction, and with the easy rhymes and beats of Spanish. It's very popular for dancing because you don't have to know how to dance to it. You just sort of move around, find something to do with your arms. Party music, even among the upper classes. This is the kind of music you will hear in Olas Altas bars like CopaCubana or the Shrimp Bucket, or Golden Zone spots like Alleluya Republic. It is for the part of Mazatlan with that keeps its toes in the water.
Norteño music, on the other hand, has a very definite lower class image. Nobody with a college education listens to it. It's great music for dancing: the basic two-step is simple enough, but you can have a lot of fun with the strutting, spinning, heel-kicking variations. But put it on at a party of the type of people who own cars and wear guayaberas and somebody will just go take it off and scowl at you. A woman I know who loves to dance (and does so very beautifully) told me her family has practically disowned her because she likes to listen to Norteño and dance the quebradita. I'll admit, the quebradita is pretty scandalous, can be a lot more pornographic than Lambada. It's an up between the legs, laying around on each other, hip shaking sort of dance done with flat cowboy expression. You will find low classes places out on Ejercito Mexicano, near the bus station, or even right in the Golden Zone, that feature this music. Look for horseshoes and ropes on the signs outside. You will not look right going there in your beach casuals and sandals: everybody else will have a cowboy hat and boots. Even the girls: there is a sort of Mexicana cowgirl look you see in ranchero joints that I find very sexy. Pert hats, blouses with holes cut for the shoulders to peek through, short skirts or very tight black jeans, shortie high heeled boots. Cute little vaqueritas out to kick up their heels and spin around.
In Mazatlan, ranchero music is a sort of proto-Banda (please see my entry "PART III") but it's still very much a part of the culture, and has produced some of Mazatlan's best-known and best-loved musical stars. Please continue with "PART II" if you are interested in that.
Written by tedblais on 24 Jan, 2004
This was great. We're big baseball fans, so when we found out the Mazatlan Venados had a playoff game, we had to go. Our concierge was able to get us tickets---not usually a problem but these were the playoffs---for about $10 each. It's very much…Read More
This was great. We're big baseball fans, so when we found out the Mazatlan Venados had a playoff game, we had to go. Our concierge was able to get us tickets---not usually a problem but these were the playoffs---for about $10 each. It's very much like going to a minor league game. Good baseball with several Major Leaguers that I recognized. The atmosphere was very lively. There were fans from the other team waving these enormous new years eve type noisemakers - hilarious! Beers were 10 pesos - less than a buck! Hot dogs - 10 pesos. The monopoly money goes a long way here and adds to the fun. After the game they let the crowd onto the field to goof around - great for the kids. The players all walk through the stadium with the fans to get out onto the field. I had a chance to tell Vinny Castilla what I thought of him. (I was very nice.) Close
Written by imop on 07 Mar, 2004
Getting around in Mazatlan is very easy. Grab a bus for just a few cents and you can get anywhere you want to go. Pulmonias are open-air taxis that are also very reasonable. Taxi drivers are not tipped in Mazatlan, though I…Read More
Getting around in Mazatlan is very easy. Grab a bus for just a few cents and you can get anywhere you want to go. Pulmonias are open-air taxis that are also very reasonable. Taxi drivers are not tipped in Mazatlan, though I really don't know why.
Fresh shrimp can be bought at the fish market at a very good price. We bought 2kg of shrimp, brought them back to the resort, and had supper two nights for four people. It was excellent. We just picked up a few things at the grocery store and we were set for a romantic evening watching the sunset and eating shrimp.
One of my favorite restaurants is El Paraje, where you can enjoy good food at a very cheap price if you are on a budget. Chili Peppers is also very good for seafood. Another favorite is LaCasa Country, which is a little pricier, but still reasonable. It has a country western flare and serves good steak and bar-b-q ribs. They put on a short show at 7:30pm daily.
Mazatlan is very laid-back and the people are very nice and helpful. Of course, as with most places in Mexico, you have to put up with the vendors and timeshare sales people, but most are good about taking no for an answer and then leaving you alone.
You can shop until you drop here. Leather goods and silver are good value.
For a fiesta, I would recommend the fiesta at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan -- good entertainment and food.
Written by katyjill on 30 Mar, 2004
Each year when we spend our week in Mazatlan the first thing we do is hop on a bus to the market in the central downtown area. What a colorful place! You will find bakeries, cheese makers, vegetable and fruit stands, and a…Read More
Each year when we spend our week in Mazatlan the first thing we do is hop on a bus to the market in the central downtown area. What a colorful place! You will find bakeries, cheese makers, vegetable and fruit stands, and a meat market as well as leather goods and tourist trinkets. The sales clerks can be very aggressive in the T-shirt section, but it's all in good fun. Many of the vendors do not speak English, but we manage to communicate just fine.
Our favorite items to buy are produce. Everything is so fresh and it smells wonderful. We will usually buy pineapple, strawberries, grapefruit, bananas, onion, tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else looks good at the time. The only produce I've gotten that wasn't so great was oranges -- I should have known not to buy them when I saw a sticker on them like you see in a US supermarket. We always wash the produce at our resort, where the water if filtered. We have never had any problems with illness, but I was advised by one American tour guide to purchase a product that is specifically made for washing produce. We will probably do that next year, just to be safe.
I also like to visit the bakery area at the market. Many of the pastries in Mexico are not as sweet as we are accustomed to in the US, so you may want to purchase a small variety of items to see if its something you would like. They often have some tasty quick breads -- carrot or other flavors -- that I enjoy.
I have never purchased any meat at the market since we don't do any complicated cooking while on vacation. It is worth a visit if you're not too squeamish. You'll see pig heads and chicken feet for sale as well as things you might like to eat.
There are also restaurants right at the market, which I haven't tried. The bathrooms are upstairs, and you have to pay to use them. They are not pleasant. There is a department store about a block away with very nice (and free) bathrooms. I think next year when I go, I'll have to do some shopping in the department store -- after all, they've provided me with relief on many occasions!
Written by Coronado Bob & Berie on 12 Nov, 2004
As soon as we arrived in Mazatlan, we felt the general air of fun. Tourists and locals alike just seem to be happy, relaxed, and friendly. While there are guidebook recommendations of places to eat, we are convinced that it would be difficult to have…Read More
As soon as we arrived in Mazatlan, we felt the general air of fun. Tourists and locals alike just seem to be happy, relaxed, and friendly. While there are guidebook recommendations of places to eat, we are convinced that it would be difficult to have a bad meal, especially if you stick to shrimp, since it is the shrimp capital of the world. Even the beach shacks along the boulevard between Old Mazatlan and the Gold Zone look as if they have good food. You also cannot have an expensive meal, unless you go to Senor Pepper for steaks!
On this trip, we did not take the tours to the outlying villages and sites that the guidebooks discuss, because we decided that we will go back. From people that we talked with, however, we recommend renting a car and taking some of those tours yourself. The roads are good, and you will be able to stop where YOU want to stop, not where the buses stop so you can shop, whether you want to or not.
If you like walking beaches, this is the place for you, because you can literally walk for miles on the beach.
Mazatlan is trying to reinvent itself and clean itself up. It is a historic city with a long past.
Written by jump4joy on 10 Aug, 2003
Highly recommended is a trip or two or three by bus to downtown Mazatlan. By this, we do not mean the Golden Zone, but the streets outside of the market, Viejo Mazatlan, and all the areas of the ocean walkway known as the Malecon. It…Read More
Highly recommended is a trip or two or three by bus to downtown Mazatlan. By this, we do not mean the Golden Zone, but the streets outside of the market, Viejo Mazatlan, and all the areas of the ocean walkway known as the Malecon. It is here that you will truly get a feel of what life in Mazatlan is all about. Activity goes on about you, drawing you close to places that you might only have read about in books and magazines. One need only to ask one of the many English-speaking locals how to get there and then set off on foot for a day of exploration you won't regret.
The market is the first area to see and it seems like every tourist goes there sooner or later. Bargaining is a way of life but check when the cruise ships come in to avoid crowds and higher prices. Upstairs there are a number of eateries with the lowest prices that you will find in the city. However, we did not eat at any of them -- maybe next time!
The cathedral is also located nearby with its beautiful statues and design. It's a wonderful place to stop in and visit or take some photos.
On Sundays, it seems like family day along the Malecon with vendors selling food and wares about every 1/2 mile or so. You will see families at all of the beaches and eateries that line them enjoying a day of fun. It is possible to take the 3 mile walk from the end of the malecon to the beginning of the Golden Zone at Punta Camaron. You'll be surprised at the familiar faces you'll see (workers in the hotels and restaurants relaxing with their families).
Viejo Mazatlan has a number of art galleries and stores that sell local and national crafts. This is also where the Plazuela Machado is located. The Angela Peralta theater is located here as well, and you may be lucky enough to look in upon a dance class through a window or catch a show in season. It is also the home to a number of good eateries and a news cafe. One night there was a party in the plaza complete with fireworks and live entertainment. If your hungry don't forget to stop at one of the eateries (see dining) mentioned.
Also recommended is a bus trip to the Guerrero market, which is in one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the downtown area. The produce is magnificent! This is a relatively unexplored by "gringos" area where you really get a glimpse of Mexican life. It is a short walk from where the bus lets you off, but the sights and people will make you happy that you decided to embark on this adventure. Some streets remain unpaved, however each day you will see woman sweeping and washing the sidewalks in front of their modest homes.