Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Bill's Dream City, the Mazatlan Peninisula

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Bill's Dream City, the Mazatlan Peninisula

Mazatlan and its long Malecon from our plane
We were in Mazatlan in 2009 for my family’s annual reunion. We had just bought our first RV then and had just come from the Arctic Circle in the Yukon, Canada as we traced the North American West Coast down to the Tropic of Cancer in Mexico. Before Bill’s first wife died, he frequently brought his family to Mazatlan for a vacation. With a population of almost 500,000, it has become a popular tourist destination, with its beaches lined with resort hotels. It has also grown as a port with its shrimps and vegetables exported to many countries. Bill had once dreamed of retiring in Mazatlan.

Zona Turistica

Teatro Angela Peralta
In 2009, we stayed in the city for only a week and chose instead to tour about six states of Mexico, including Mexico City. This time around, we had two and a half weeks. In the first three days, we booked ourselves right at the heart of the Zona Turistica, at the Jonathan Hotel. Right beside it was the fabulous elite theater, originally conceived in the 19th century as Teatro Rubio. It was closed in the 1960s because it deteriorated into a place of mass-oriented shows from the 1920s. In 1992, the theater was restored to the Teatro Angela Peralta, after the soprano born in 19th century Mazatlan.

Plazuela Machado
After enjoying opera or a modern ballet, visitors and locals alike relax at the lovely tree-lined Plazuela Machado just around the corner. It was a pleasant walk from the hotel and every evening the place came alive with shows and all the buzz from the well-patronized restaurants around it. The hotel itself was a delight with a rooftop swimming pool and patio that looks out to the Teatro, the Plazuela and the Catedral, the Zona Turistica.  Even the bed inside our room seemed to float atop blazing rocks!

The central part of this Zone is the Catedral de la Immaculada Concepcion, about three blocks away. Work on the church was started in the year 1856, and it was completed in 1899. In 1941, it was consecrated as a basilica. Its unique doors are fronted by three Gothic arches, supported by pilasters. In front of the Cathedral, there is a large green plaza with a huge Gazebo in the middle. Hundreds of pigeons flutter about and gather around anyone who feeds them (like me).

Beside the Catedral is a shopping district that has grown around an original and still thriving Mercado,  filled by vendors of vegetables, fish and seafood, meat and chicken, cheese and other dairy products, clothes, toys, household wares, handicrafts and souvenir items.  Around the Mercado are kiosks bearing snack items such as cut-up fruits, magnets to flies. There is even a section where, in the morning, hordes of vendors ply freshly caught shrimps, from little ones to giant prawns, at fractions of their prices in the US. Alas, by noon all shrimps are gone.

Zona Dorada

To the north of the Old City lies the Zona Dorada or the Golden Zone, born out of its outgrowth. This Zona is where merchants, like Senor Frogg, the city’s silver jewelers, flea markets of flimsy beach wear and colorful souvenir items, and the Shrimp Factory, had built their businesses. Bill and I also had our teeth cleaned at a dental office there at a tiny fraction of what it would have, cost us in the US. At its entrance stands the Valentino, a spot frequented by the young and young at heart that turns the whole district alive when the sun sets.  It ends where the resort hotels begin lining the beaches.

El Faro Lighthouse

To the south of the Old City, at the end of the bus line, lies the Hill where the El Faro Lighthouse , the tallest functioning lighthouse in the Americas and one of the world’s, stands. The structure  is located on top of the hill of Creston once an island but now the southern tip of the peninsula city of Mazatlan. It sits 523 feet above high tide and first cast its light in 1879. Unfortunately, Bill and I got exhausted walking to look for it since the bus driver could not understand what we were asking and let us off the bus too soon. Otherwise, we would have been rewarded with a fantastic view!

The Malecon
the Malecon
The Mazatlan Malecon is a 13 mile (21 km.) long corridor and it is considered one of the longest in the world. It is composed of 9 sections that go from south of the Zona Turistica to the edge of the Zona Dorada. Sunsets, sea views, and islandscapes are beautiful from a walk on this corridor. Both tourists and locals, early in the morning or before sunset, come to the Malecon in any of its sections to exercise or to enjoy the walk. The strip has 7 beaches and 3 of the city’s best monuments. From the south, after the fishermen’s piers, is the Fisherman’s Memorial. Then there is the Monument to the Pulmoniya, the open “taxi” that gives you pneumonia. Before the Valentino is the Family Memorial.

Touring around Mazatlan
There is so much more to explore in Mazatlan, either on a shuttle bus or on a pulmoniya. On our third, fourth and nth visit to Bill’s dream peninsula city, we will discover more. In the next post, we will show you where we stayed, how much we enjoyed staying there, and why we have chosen it to be one of our homes for the rest of our life. And then, after that, a post will dwell on a great day trip we took out of Bill’s Dream City!

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