Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Good and The Bad


I'm going to be really honest here. I've been working on this for awhile now, and have revised it many times. I just couldn't decide whether to post it or not, but realize that I can't work on anything else until I do.

It is a topic that I feel I need to address.

I'm not going to go into details here, but there have been some regretful incidents in recent months. Everyone is talking, speculating and worrying about them which, I suppose, is natural. The ex-pat community, short term visitors and the general population have not been targeted; this seems to be the 'druggies' fighting among themselves. These events have been random, and are not by any means an every day occurance, however, they are distressing, and have certainly lead to some bad press.

Carnaval was not what we, or anyone, expected. It was much quieter than anyone anticipated and the crowds of people just weren't there.

Yes, the fireworks were as fantastic as they have always been. The floats in the parades and the young people manning them were stunning. The vendors, and the selections of food and 'bling' offered were many, and varied. The music was as loud, and as fun, as it has always been. Okay, I admit, I even stopped to bop to the Banda - but just for a minute.

But generally speaking, is was just so much quieter this year. The streets were not as crowded, the music was not quite as loud, and everyone was more subdued. We didn't have the endless on-going street party we were expecting. People were nervous and many of them just stayed home.

It is just such a shame.

We feel so very sorry for the people who have worked so hard over the past year to make Carnaval the success it has always been. Our hearts go out to the servers in the local restaurants who count on the extra tips earned over the week to supplement their income for the year. Many of these are parents who are now wondering how they will provide for their children throughout the year. There are many vendors who come from all over the country solely to set up 'shop' on the streets of the city for Carnaval. I doubt they have made enough to get to the next town. It has been reported that the revenues usually earned over Carnaval are down 50%.

I also have to wonder about the people who have complained about the increased police/military presence in the city during Carnaval. Apparently some feel that it has created a feeling of unease. I taught my son at an early age that "Mr. Policeman" is our friend, and I still feel that way.

I have learned that it is not only the visitors to Mexico who worry about the increased level of drug related crimes in Mexico. The Mexican people are very very concerned. A March for Peace was held in Mazatlan recently, and another is planned during Semana Santa, the Easter Holiday.

Life seems to be returning to normal, people are more relaxed, and the smiles seem to be back on the faces of our Mexican friends and neighbours. We can only hope and pray, for their sakes, that all remains peaceful!

We have been welcomed to Mexico and I hope that we can all continue to give our support to this wonderful country. We all laugh and say that Mazatlan is Paradise. Paradise, however, is not always perfect. Neither is 'home', wherever that might be.

We have discovered a web site which focuses on the State of Sinaloa, where we live. The address is http://www.unmundomagico.com.mx/ It is beautifully designed and has won numerous awards. The site is in Spanish, but there is a selection for an English translation. The photographs are lovely.

There is also a short movie that I just cannot begin to describe. I have watched it over and over - the site is http://www.youtube.com/sinaloaunmundomagico

Watch it, and enjoy. I think perhaps we might be in Paradise after all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Around Town

I'm trying to remember to always bring the camera with me, everywhere we go. It's so frustrating when I forget it, because there is always something happening.

Restoration work on some of our grand old ruins is continuing. Work has started on this building, built in 1870! If you look closely you can see the open sky through the upper windows, and the trees growing in the interior.





Sometimes, however, rules are broken, and the work is halted.



As we were heading to the market , hoping for inspiration for dinner, we passed through the Plaza Revolucion, in front of the Cathedral. There are dozens of shoe shine stands around the Plaza, but it was a hot day, business was slow ....



It was a really warm day, and as we passed through the Plazuela Machado, we noticed a few of the vendors who were in town for Carnaval taking a break as well.



We decided to pass on the chicken feet for dinner. I'll eat just about anything, but chicken feet? I think not.



We picked up shrimp instead.



You just can't go wrong with shrimp!

When we get home, I'm going to shop for a new camera, a really small one that will fit into a pocket.

The Calendar

We've had a busy few weeks but things seem to be settling down a bit.

Carnaval was a great deal of fun, and, for us up here on the hill, not nearly as noisy as we had anticipated. We were able to come home after enjoying the festivities on Olas Altas to peace and quiet and a good nights sleep. Friends who live a few blocks off the Malecon had a different experience however, and mentioned that they have had trouble sleeping now that Carnaval is over - they got used to the noise, and now it's just too darned peaceful!

I looked at the calendar this morning and realized that we have had something written in for almost every day for weeks now. Sometimes it's just Mike's weekly lunch with the 'guys'. They meet near the Cathedral and then decide where to go, usually to one of the dozens of little restaurants in town, all of them serving a comida corrida (lunch of the day). They are usually delicious and cheap - around $4.00 for lunch and a soda. We meet friends for dinner several times a week, and that gets written down. We even write down my library shifts. Things are often erased. We've had to cancel our 'beach day' several times as we were rained out, but the forecast for the next 2 weeks is sun, sun and sun, so we've written it back in. We toyed with the idea of going to the beach on Sunday to watch the surfers, but changed our minds as we heard that the surfers were just youngsters on boogie boards. Erased. Instead, we planned a dominoes match with friends, but cancelled as our host wasn't feeling well. Out came the eraser again. We've rescheduled for Tuesday.

According to the calendar for today Mike is going for lunch, and a haircut. We're finally going for our massages. (Santa gave us gift certificates for Christmas). I don't have to work at the library as I traded shifts last week, so that's been erased. We've decided to have dinner at home tonight as we've eaten out so much over the past few weeks. I've even written that down. We've written in Open Mic Night at Canucks, but I have a feeling that might be erased.

Good thing we always use a pencil.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Life Goes On







As we were hanging up the laundry this morning, I looked around and realized that even if are in the midst of Carnaval, life goes on. We still need the essentials to survive - rest, food, shelter - and clean clothes!!











Parades



Mexicans love parades and so do I!

We've seen quite a few since we arrived in November. There was the big one, of course, on Revolution Day, but also many smaller ones. One of my favourites was the baseball team, about 20 or 30 little boys, marching down Aquiles Serdan on a Saturday afternoon. They were preceeded by 2 police cars, sirens blaring and were followed by their proud parents. There was a car blaring banda music (what else?) and several more police cars in the rear. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch and cheer the boys on. It was priceless.

The first parade of Carnaval was on Sunday, going North from the Fisherman's Monument to Valentinos, the start of the Golden Zone. On Tuesday the parade will march again, going the other direction, heading south to Olas Altas (our part of town).

The parade is actually in 3 sections. The first part was the Pacifico pre-parade, and the second was the sponsor parade. The third, and final part was the official Carnaval parade.

We had been invited to watch the parade from the apartment balcony of friends who have a place right along the route, so once again, we had a perfect view of the festivities. We have so many nice friends! Just before the parade started several of us decided to improve the view even more by dashing down to the street and standing right in front of one of the beer tents! We were close enough to reach out and touch the participants.

We were also in the perfect position to catch the many items that were tossed to the crowd and came home with quite a haul - T-Shirts, CD's, water bottles, bags of tortilla chips, strings of beads, a lighter, and also the odd package or two of condoms. Hey, it's Carnaval, guess folks should be prepared for everything!!

The cab dropped us off on Av. Insurgentes, and as we walked up to Av. Del Mar (the Malecon) we were able to check out the vendors



and also the 'street' food. Yummy.



Of course, there was also food at the apartment.



We weren't the only ones having a picnic.



We've simply got to stop eating!!

The view was stunning. This was looking north



and this was south. Our casita is on the other side of the hill with the towers on the top (Ice Box Hill).



And then there was the parade!!

















Tonight we're going to pass on all the food and just watch the parade, again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

WOW!!

We're well into Carnaval now. We were a little surprised on Friday evening when we wandered down to the Malecon to check things out - there were not as many people as we expected and everything seemed a little low key. In retrospect we realize that things were happening in other parts of the city, and we were a bit early for the Malecon. Nothing starts til much later - and then the party continues til 3:30 a.m.

However, Saturday night was a different story. We set out around 8 p.m., picked up friends on the way, and headed over to Lookout Hill to watch the fireworks. The house was packed, and we know why! The view was magnificent, one of the best places in the city to watch the fireworks. We've decided that hosting the annual fire works party should become part of the rental agreement!!



The show is called 'Combate Naval' and the ship to shore battle fought in fireworks commemorates the Battle of Mazatlan, fought in 1864, when a small local force repelled troops from the invading French warship. The fireworks display was astounding. It started around 11 p.m., and ran for a least 45 minutes. It was breathtaking. It's difficult to take pictures at night, and the ones we did take really don't do justice to the display. This short mini-movie turned out rather well, however. Just hit the arrow on the left-hand side, sit back and enjoy. We certainly did. We noticed that the fire works shot from the ship were not nearly as large, or as dramatic, as those that came from the shore!

video

The four of us headed back to 'our hill' after the show was over, but decided to walk along Olas Altas to check things out. The streets were thronged with people, the bandstands were all pounding out music, and there were vendors everywhere.



It's amazing how enterprising the people are right now - homes along the side streets have t-shirts for sale hanging in the windows and garages have been turned into restaurants.

Our favourite spot by far was the garage with 3 porta-potties!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Photos

I was scrolling though the photographs that we've taken since we arrived and realize that there are hundreds of them. Today I think I'll let you browse along with me.

The sky in the early evening




The fountain at La Siesta Hotel



A favourite house




Restorations in progress





Our street, 2da Penuales




Smiling faces



Hard at work



Fishing Boats



Oysters



Fisherman's Monument



Water and Sand




Enjoy your day!