My Mazatlán Misadventures with Munching Minis and a Missing Flame

Mrs. ItchyFeet in front of Mazatlán letters

Mazatlán has really surprised me! It’s a much bigger city than I expected, but it feels very community centric. People say “Hola” on the regular, along with “Buen Día” (switching to “Buenas Tardes” even a single minute past noon). My apartment is right behind a lovely park. Every morning folks get together to play pickle-ball or dance while doing Zumba. Every evening (Tardes!), there’s basketball, yoga, and an impromptu dog social. For weeks, a large group of ladies have been gathering to practice for the upcoming Carnaval Parade. It’s so fun to watch!

For the Arts!

This place is very committed to encouraging artists to do their thing. There are statues and sculptures and fountains all over the place. Especially along The Malecón, one of the longest in the world. That ocean front walkway is seven kilometers long! It connects the historic old center of Olas Altas to the brand new skyscrapers of Zona Dorada (The Golden Zone). If you end up walking from one end to the other, I highly recommend jumping into an open air Pulmonia (think golf-cart meets tuk-tuk) to get you back home.

Mrs. ItchyFeet inside a giant Christmas ornament
The Malecón was decorated for Christmas with all kinds of these!

Besides absolutely spectacular Pacific Ocean sunsets, The Malecón is also one of the best places to spot various city sponsored decorations. You should have seen the erections they put up for Christmas! And now, with Carnaval fast approaching, many ginormous monigotes (“puppets”) are showing up along the waterway. It is essential to get pictures during the day, but then also go back at night for more while they are all lit up.

My apartment is just north of Olas Altas but still in the historic center. I’ve already scoped out all the best vendors in the area. I have my favorite lady who sells eggs, and my favorite raw chicken lady, and veggie lady, and shrimp lady (Google “Shrimp Ladies of Mazatlán”… it’s an entire industry!). You can buy a 1/2 kilogram of shrimp for ~$4 USD! I’m still working on a source for tamales as I got spoiled in Guadalajara. According to the googles, the “best tamale stand in Mazatlán” only sells sweet tamales. Which are delicious, but only for dessert.

Tell me a story

Okay. I got one for you. There I was, minding my own business, when I noticed a brown’ish-orange powder under the brand new wooden barstools in my apartment. That’s weird. I’m the first one in this freshly remodeled bungalow, and I’m very careful with all the new furniture. I flipped that sucker upside down to spot tiny holes in the unfinished underside of one of the spindles… and some bugs. What the what!?!

Mrs. ItchyFeet under sombrero sculpture
I think I found a new hat!

Dry-wood termites! I kid you not! I sent pictures to the owners and moved the chair away from the other chairs (it’s in time out for unacceptable behavior!). The owner stopped by with some dude who insisted they were not termites. I showed him pictures and let him know that I don’t keep any breads or foods or trashes that bugs eat outside of the fridge/freezer. Plus, I know my tropical food bugs and they don’t consume wood. Termites eat wood. I google’d household termites. I showed him pictures from the internet, but I’m not sure I convinced him.

Doesn’t matter. They took that contaminated chair (and a second with a couple of tiny holes) back to the manufacturer. The barstools are brand new, so they could just replace the spindles with new spindles and bring them back, good as new. The chairs most likely came with the bugs, so I’m glad I spotted them. Termites!

Sunset at Olas Altas
Truly, some of the best sunsets are from The Malecón in Olas Altas. That’s a pianist sculpture btw.

Olas Altas

My apartment is so close to Olas Altas. I have been having a wonderful time wondering around this old historic neighborhood. There’s this wonderful cathedral right near the central Mercado. And that Mercado is hopping! It’s one of the prime tourist destinations right off the cruise ships or from Zona Dorada. You always know when it’s a boat day with all the boat people. The Mercado is where my favorite veggie lady and chicken lady have booths. I get all my groceries super fresh for super cheap.

Olas Altas is also where I head for the best sunsets. It’s a lovely three kilometers from my apartment to the hills to the south of Olas Altas Beach and back again. The best Pacific Ocean sunsets you have ever seen! There is this hotel there for rooftop pool sunsets. You ride the elevator to the 10th floor. Walk up two flights of stairs. Order a drink or an app. Then walk up one more flight to the rooftop deck to enjoy the view from the pool!

If you keep walking south past Olas Altas, you can hike up some hills for gorgeous views. One hill even has a lighthouse (the highest in the world!) as well as a fancy clear walkway out over the water. I’m not a huge fan of heights, so I haven’t done this one yet. Go early, not on a cruise-boat day, not on a weekend. If you fail to follow these suggestions, the line for the clear walkway can take a while, but you can pay extra to skip it.

You know I love cemeteries

While I haven’t gone to the famous Mazatlán lighthouse yet, I have made it to the cemetery in Centro. It’s small but worth the trip. I’m always fascinated by each community’s cemetery. This one is super old. You would think that Mazatlán is a fairly new tourist community, much like Cancún, but you would be wrong. Okay, Zona Dorada is fairly new, but the Historic Center of Mazatlán dates some of its buildings all the way back to 1836. How cool is that?

My apartment is in Centro, so I can see a lot of that cool history. The unfortunate part about being in this area is it is quite the distance to the nearest good liquor store. If you want a wonderful bottle of tequila, you got to walk up into Colonia Tellería, which is almost all the way to Zona Dorada. It’s like seven kilometers there and back! Luckily, I have finally figured out the bus system. Easy peasy and only 13 pesos (~75 cents USD).

Cemetery in the Historic District
Some of these old grave sites have seen better days at Cemetery Panteón Municipal No.2.

The walk up to the liquor store is actually really lovely. The entire route is along The Malecón so it’s flat with zero streets to cross. You can watch the waves hitting the sandy beach and check out all the statues along the way. You would not believe how much construction is happening around here! It’s insane! I personally would pick an old apartment in Centro over a new skyscraper condo in C. Tellería. To each their own.

I found an excellent dentist in C. Tellería, so there is that. He spoke English, which helps, and had all the latest technology for cleaning teeth. None of that scraping with metal nonsense. I’m a big fan of the water stream technique. Plus, he gave me all kinds of helpful tips to brush better and help with fixing my jaw (it’s dislocated on one side and has been for years). Dental tourism for the win!

Cruise ship from hillside
It’s a boat day! The cruise ship people-watching is very entertaining.

Tell me another story!

I know you just come to this site to read about my misadventures and I would hate to disappoint. Okay, so I’m responsible for filling this apartment’s gas tank on the roof as needed. In The Dominican Republic, I had a groundskeeper who took care of this for me. I ran out of gas and I would just ask him to replace the tank for me. Here you have to call a company and wait for them to make it over in their giant gas truck. Then they use a ladder to climb up onto the roof, carrying a hose from the truck to fill the tank.

Okay, so I want to be proactive about this and get the tank filled before it is empty. After several failed attempts at arranging the fill via email or WhatsApp, I try to call. But I’m just not quite good enough in Spanish to filter out all the background noise in their call center to get it scheduled. I text my apartment manager to ask her to schedule on my behalf. Then I check with my upstairs neighbor to make sure I know which tank is mine. Don’t want to fill her tank!

The dudes show up and I explain multiple times which tank is mine. North side. Not the empty one. Yes, I’m sure it’s not the empty one. Yes, I’m sure it’s not the one on the south side. Lots of pointing. Done. $1,300 pesos (US$75)! That’s a lot for a month of gas. My electricity was only MX$160. Luckily, the owner of my apartment is super nice. After letting her know about the cost of the gas, she came over with a plumber to turn down the gas water-heater and fix the clothes washer to only use cold water (the brand-new lines were accidentally swapped so it was all hot water). That should help with next month’s bill.

Fountain with naked humans
Look at those cheeks on the Monument to the Continuity of Life! The front of the fountain is filled with dolphin statues. So fun!

Is the stove broken?

Fast forward one week. I’m cooking chicken for curry on the gas stove and the flame slowly dwindles to nothing. Crap! I must have told the gas peeps the wrong tank… or did someone steal my gas!?! WTF. After putting the mostly raw but partially cooked chicken into the fridge, I got on a desperate WhatsApp conversation with the owner and told her the entire situation. She’s the best! Instantly came right over to help. She even offered up her house to cook the curry. Luckily, the gas people were there within the hour.

Turns out, the gas people just didn’t believe me when I told them which tank it was. They assumed I was wrong and filled the empty tank. My fabulous apartment owner paid for the gas and is working to get a refund or have the owner of the other tank pay her back. What a pain. However, the curry I made was amazing, so it was definitely worth it!

Mazatlán Cathedral
The Catedral Basilica de la Inmaculada Concepción is in this really cool square in the historic district with a lovely gazebo.

Now you may be wondering about safety in this big city. You may have also heard bad things about the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is a very safe city… except for the sidewalks. No joke! You have to pay attention as the sidewalks go up and down, surprise you with random deep holes, and employ various cables to guillotine the distracted walker. As for Mazatlán itself, watch your pockets, purses, and wallets and don’t be flashy, just like every other city in the world.

Am I in Europe?

My friend here in Mazatlán posted a photo on the socials of a Carnaval Monigote that I hadn’t seen yet. It was taken from Centro, which is my neighborhood. Must find! After throughly enjoying a gorgeous Pacific Ocean sunset in Olas Altas, I wandered into town. Holy crap nuggets, it is pretty in there! It’s all decked out with lights like a small European village. There are open-air cafes, art galleries, and sculptures.

The monigote was amazing and well worth the hike. I had no idea this area even existed. They have art walks on Friday evenings. Classes you can take to create your own art! Plus a really pretty theater. I stopped by the next day to get a sunshine shot for you all, but it’s not quite as charming without all the lights. There were a bunch of kids doing some kind of art project, which was fun to see.

Carnaval monigote
These monigotes are going up all along The Malecón for Carnaval 2024. I’m very excited about the massive festival!

I wish the swimming was better in Olas Altas. It’s a bit rough for me. Maybe it’s better for surfing than swimming? I tried swimming at what’s nicknamed Baby Beach, but it’s only about two feet deep. Not good for swimming. Plus, I saw some baby pooping into the water. Nope! Tiny humans are gross. Olas Altas is really great for photos at sunset though. If you make your way to Mazatlán, I highly recommend this Centro area. I really have been surprised. I can’t wait to tell you about Carnaval. It’s starting now, and it is very exciting!

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1 Comment

  1. Mazatlan- What fun!!! It sounds like an interesting place to be.
    Thanks for posting.

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