Saturday, February 17, 2007


Becky, Jeanie and Ray all seemed surprised by the size of Mazatlan, surprised that it is a big city. It IS big - the population is set at 400,000. Coming into Mazatlan via cruise ship bypasses the impoverished edges of the city, but the half hour ride from the airport approaches through the least appealing outskirts.

In Mexico, “least appealing” is very unappealing - housing that we would define as slums, huge amounts of litter, apparently deserted and decaying buildings, piles of rubble. Factories and agricultural burning sometimes drape a heavy pall of smoke in the air. The evident poverty can be disturbing.

Mazatlan doesn’t exist for or because of tourists - although there are many, and in fact an entire large section devoted solely to visitors who want to enjoy the climate and the beach for a week-long vacation, eating food not too different from what they know (Burger King, McDonalds, DQ franchises all thrive in the “Golden Zone”) returning home with plenty of inexpensive souvenirs. But the fact that it is a big city, independent of tourism, makes it so much more interesting than a seaside village to us - we don’t have to rely on our imaginations for entertainment!

Carnaval is underway in Mazatlan, and tonight we will have our first experience with it. The opening salvo of fireworks is scheduled at 10:30 tonight: the Ship-To-Shore display, shot back and forth from a ship to the shore at Olas Altas, the old town section of Mazatlan. This commemorates the French attack on Mazatlan in the 1800's, repelled by cannon fire from a small group on shore.

We will be viewing the fireworks from the B&B where Becky stayed, and have been warned to arrive by 6 pm because the crowd will be so large later that it would be difficult to get through. For a couple hours, we will be visiting a couple we just met who moved into an apartment around the corner from the B&B on February 1st. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

This photo is my favorite of the dozen or so huge figures that are put up around town for Carnaval.

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