I wanted to walk around Old Mazatlan and see some of the sights. John didn’t, but agreed to take to the bus with me to the Central Market and walk to Plaza Machado for lunch. After that we parted ways, he to return to the boat to work on the radio, me to
wander around and soak in some of Mexican life.
Plaza Machado was built in 1837 as a symbol of the region’s growing wealth and commercial power. The iron gazebo in the center was added in 1870. Some of the buildings surrounding it were private residences and later commercial buildings.
Now they are mostly art galleries and cafes. Our favorite waiter here at the marina restaurant is Cesar; he recommended going down on Friday night because the cafes are all open (some open at 6 pm daily, a few are also open for lunch), there is live music and lots of people to watch. We missed the night-time adventure in favor of a pizza dinner here at the marina and Saturday lunch at the Plaza Machado.
John left me with a paper walking tour map and instructions not to get lost. I had the notes for the map downloaded on my phone – remember my phone works but only with wifi – no cell service so I am unplugged and offline as I walk around. I’m also kind of ditzy, so getting lost is a real risk for me. As it turns out I did fine – more on John’s experience later.
At the west end of the Plaza de Machado is the Portales de Canobbio, a home built in 1880 for a wealthy Italian pharmacist. It was listed as being open with examples of the lifestyle of a late 1800’s wealthy family, but alas, closed yesterday.
I especially wanted to see the cathedral, the Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepcion. The upper level stained glass windows all include a Star of David. When the church was first built, construction funds were donated by a wealthy Mazatlan Jewish family. In my opinion, a fine example of how we should all just get along….but just my opinion. Well me and Rodney King.
I didn’t take any photos inside because the first thing I saw when I entered was a woman about my age sitting alone in a pew, trying to hold back tears. A reminder that these sights and these people are not here solely to provide color and background for my tourist experience. I’m sure you can google the church name and see interior photos if you are so inclined.
Across from the Basilica is the Plaza de la Republica, constructed in 1870, bandstand added in 1909. For some reason, this Plaza attracts shoe-shine and shoe repair vendors, mixed in with the odd food and balloon stalls.
In between, I managed to stumble upon the Plaza Hidalgo, also called Plazuelo de los Leones. The building houses the Benjamin Franklin Library as well as the Mazatlan Municipal Library. I haven’t researched why there are two separate libraries or why there is one named for Benjamin, but it sure shows how the old guy got around.
Wandering around was a bit like wandering around the non-Bourbon Street streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Every now and then the sound of a TV from a ground floor apartment, quiet streets, small shops, interesting architecture but with the Mexican flavor of colors – lots of colors.
I ended my tour back at the Mercado Central, that place of pigs heads, chicken feet, and chotskies. I managed to bargain in my pidgeon Spanish at one stall for a pair of white capris and for a long-sleeved turquoise blouse at another. I paid less than asking price but I’m sure more than value – these women have way more experience bargaining than I do. I mentioned to Capri Lady that I liked the pair with pockets – that immediately seemed to raise the price because, after all, pockets are more expensive. Funny, both were Hecho in India, the world capital of inexpensive clothing, I think.
I may have to start collecting photos of toilets, and the various ways to flush them. In Bahia Santa Maria on the way down, I had to fill a small pail with water from the container outside, fill the tank, then reach inside and pull up on the plunger. At the Mercado Central, the plunger was attached with a thin black thread to tug for flushing. Some have two push buttons – a small one and a larger one, for (of course) number one and number two.
Then back to the buses – when we got off the bus this time, I noticed a sign overhead – the Mercado Central entrances are all numbered. The bus lets you off at Door #1 or #2 depending on how many buses are already lined up there, but the bus we want starts the route at Door #7 or #8. I thought I pointed this out to John, but he must have been distracted because after lunch, he went back to where we got dropped off, paid his 10 pesos, and was promptly driven to the Old Harbor where the bus line ends and the driver gets off for a break. So he had to get on the next bus to go out, pay another 10 pesos, and wait for that driver to finish his break.
Tomorrow morning early we will leave for San Blas. This is supposed to be the quintessential Mexican beach town, white sand, palm-lined beaches, with the one looming issue being the mosquitoes and jejenes (hay-hay-knees, in English called “noseeums”), a small biting bug that comes out when the wind dies or around sunset. Hence the need for a long-sleeved turquoise blouse…..lucky I found one at the Mercado Central!