Symphony of Shadows: A Mesmerizing Mazatlán Eclipse with an Orchestra Soundtrack

Eclipse statues of sun and moon

OMGah! OMGah! I’m going to make this short because I had an entirely different blog written, but then the Total Eclipse of the Sun happened in Mazatlán, México and I just have to tell you all about it! Exclamation point! I’ve been through a total eclipse before with a good friend near Salam, Oregon, USA way back in 2017 (on my birthday, no less!!!). It was a very surreal and wonderful experience. If you get a chance, you just have to do it.

Who’s coming?

Right after that 2017 eclipse, I was looking at spots for the 2024 eclipse to meet back up with my friend somewhere in the US. Maybe Texas? Who knew where I would be at the time? Fast forward to the beginning of 2024. I’m in Guadalajara looking for the next city to stay in and realize that Mazatlán is right smack in the path of totality. What a fabulous place to see the eclipse. Plus, it will be the first place in North America to view it. How fun!

Solar Eclipse Monigote
This Solar Eclipse themed Monigote is left over from Carnaval. Very fitting!

Unfortunately, for various reasons, my friend can’t make the trip. This apartment has an extra sofa-bed. Someone should definitely come to use it. I’m hearing stories about hotels and short-term rentals going for thousands of dollars right now. People getting their rentals (which they booked a year ago) cancelled days before the eclipse because of outrageous offers. I had so many maybes, but no takers. And then a friend I met in Costa Rica texted me, asking if the couch was still available. Absolutely!

Here’s the problem. This close to the event, flights to get here are also thousands of dollars. NASA is coming here for the eclipse. They expect more than a million people are coming here. Mazatlán is to have the least chance of cloud cover during the eclipse other than the northeastern United States. How was she getting down here from Arizona? …by bus. Yup. Overnight 17 hour bus from Arizona. Ignore all those movies you have seen about México busses. The busses here are nice. You can put your feet up. They have movies in the seat in front of you. They stop a bunch so you can stretch your legs. Really nice.

Olas Altas Beach
People are lining The Malecón in Olas Altas in anticipation of the eclipse. Some light clouds are present, but it’s not too bad.

The buildup

So my friend gets down here, no worries. Now I’m in full host mode. I take her to see all the sights. Cook her a few delightful meals. She reciprocates by taking me out. It’s lovely. Then I’m walking her back to my place through Olas Altas after dinner (are those NASA folks at the next table?) and there is a crowd of people waiting on both sides of the road. Parade? Maybe? All these people have got to be waiting for something, right?

Turns out, there was a parade, and it was so much fun. Fire spinners. Someone was shooting off fireworks. Excited dancers in lovely costumes. The King and Queens of Carnaval showed up and the lady next to me abandoned her purse and her child to jump into the parade to get a selfie with the King. Her family and I were just cracking up to see her! You go, Lady! Get that picture!

Parade in Centro
We happened upon this parade in Centro while walking home from dinner!

The next day, the local paper’s top story has videos of the parade with those NASA folks from the restaurant dancing in the street. I should have gotten a selfie with them! Missed opportunity. We had a great time walking around and people watching the next day. The park in front of my apartment is getting all fixed up for the eclipse. There will be an orchestra! The electric company is there fixing an issue that occurred when they turned off all the street lights so the park would get dark during the eclipse. Our power was out of phase for a bit, but the fridge still works and that’s all that matters.

What is that music?

We get home from watching the sunset over Olas Altas, and there is music playing in the park. I’m assuming that the orchestra is practicing for the eclipse tomorrow. Nope. This is an event. They are performing everything from Star Wars, ET, The Gladiator, Inception, all with scenes from the movies playing on a giant screen behind the orchestra stage. It is amazing! The owner of my apartment had sent me info about this, but I had misunderstood the date. So glad I caught this.

Orchestra in the Sister Cities Park
The orchestra in the park was such a wonderful surprise! And free to the public!

Plus, while watching the event, I suddenly realize that this park that I have been enjoying for my stay here in Mazatlán is not called “Sisters Park” or Parque Hermanas but is actually “Sister Cities Park” or Parque Ciudades Hermanas. There is a big monument to all the Sister Cities of Mazatlán. Places like Seattle where I am from. Padre Island in Texas, where my aunt and cousin are from. Punta Arenas in Costa Rica. There’s a city in Germany (that I might need to check out now). Several places in California and more in Texas. How cool is that!?!

So now it’s the day of the eclipse. I have been freaking out for weeks because everyone has been saying that it will be cloudy but it’s nice and sunny (Ha!). The park in front of my apartment is packed. The road along The Malecón has been closed to traffic since 4am to allow humans to walk freely and watch the eclipse without fear of getting plowed over. Smart! There are booths everywhere handing out free eclipse glasses so the humans don’t hurt their eyes. Even smarter! I brought mine from the 2017 eclipse (yes, they are still good), but I almost got a pair just for the memories.

Crowd in park for event
The park is packed in anticipation of the eclipse! This is the view from my roof.

To the roof!

I walked my friend down to Olas Altas just to people watch. The President of México was in town, so the giant Mexican flag was up. People are just so excited about this event and that it is mostly sunny. How sucky would it be to pay thousands of dollars to get here and thousands of dollars to stay here only to have clouds during the eclipse? That would be horrible, but Mazatlán did not disappoint with the sunshine. The temp is also a perfect 21 degrees (70 degrees for my US peeps).

Friends from the States start texting me that they can see my park on CNN and I should try to get in the shot. Love you, but I’m heading to the roof of my apartment for the ultimate view of the solar eclipse. You could not pick a better spot to watch this thing. It is so cool. Until you have been in the totality of a Total Eclipse of the Sun, you really don’t know what you are missing. No words can describe the excitement. The anticipation. The way the birds act when it goes dark mid-day. You could form a religion from this.

View of park during eclipse
It got pretty dark during totality. You can see the President of México’s military ship out in the Pacific Ocean and the massive Mexican flag flying on the left.

It goes dark and we get four entire minutes where we can stare directly at the sun with no glasses. It’s just a ring in the sky. So cool! After that, I grabbed my friend and dragged her to the park because this is where the real fun begins. The pinprick shadows from the trees create the coolest patterns on the ground. You can see the way the moon is in front of the sun within the shadows.

Eclipse shadow patterns
You can see how far the moon has obscured the sun in these pinprick shadows made by the trees in the park. My parents used a colander to achieve a similar pattern.

What is happening with the clouds?

When the sun gets obscured by the moon, it creates a fast moving cold spot on the earth which formed this kind of wind tunnel as it follows the moon’s shadow. The few clouds there were responded to this wind in spectacular fashion. I’ve never seen cloud formations like it. It was beautiful! I tried to get a ton of photos for you all, but I also just selfishly enjoyed the moment. This is why people follow eclipses all over the world. Astronomers and photographers came here from Germany, France, the US, Canada, and Japan for this. I can see why.

And then it was over… the park cleared out. Traffic sluggishly dispersed. The stage was dismantled. The area was cleaned up. That was that. This is an interesting area because it does a very good job catering to large events. Carnaval. Semana Santa. Solar Eclipse. Biking Festivities. You name it. I’m impressed with their organization.

Clouds during the eclipse
The patterns of the clouds rushing after the eclipse were so cool!

By the next day, Mazatlán was back to normal. My friend was able to find a reasonably priced short-term rental right down the street. I told her she could stay, but I think she wants her own space. Plus, the unit she got is lovely. I’m still going to try to feed her all the things though! It’s so much fun introducing friends to new flavors. All this before she gets back on that bus for the long ride home and I start packing for my upcoming move to Costa Rica. It’s always an adventure!

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1 Comment

  1. So jealous, we love an eclispe. We’ll have one near in 2026, see you then.

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