Yes, I’ve been bar hopping again. Guilty as charged. But there are just so many bars in Mazatlan. And they’re all so different. They feature a variety of music. I especially like the ones right on the beach. And of course they all feature their own drink and food specials.
Steve and I ventured out to the Chill ‘n’ Grill in the Marina area one night after I’d finished teaching. Our friend John was singing and playing guitar. We were sitting out on the terrace by the water and it was most relaxing.
Saturday night found us at Joe’s Oyster Bar in The Gold Zone. There was a popular boxing match on the jumbotron and really loud music. By ten thirty the bar was swarming with a much younger crowd and we were the only gringos. While it was nice to be by the water, we decided to leave. I was astounded that there was a lineup to get in. This place is huge and holds hundreds. I was also quite shocked to see that they didn’t ask for identification. There were scores of teens there who were extremely underage for this type of establishment. Yep, definitely a meat market.
Off we went to GusGus, another bar in The Gold Zone. Once again the boxing match gained prominence. When it ended, a band played briefly until about 1:30 am. The music was primarily English rock ‘n’ roll, with the odd Spanish song.
Monday night Etziel, Steve and I went to an awesome little bar right on the beach, steps down from the Malecon. La Corrientes is quaint with great ambiance, and of course the sound of the waves crashing in on the shore. Yes, there is yet another hurricane approaching. It was a weeknight and the bar closed at 10 pm, my only complaint.
Tuesday night Steve, Patricia and I went to Vancouver Wings in Sabalo Country. Once again John was the featured artist. This bar is not on the water, but we were outside on the terrace, one of the things I love about Mexico.
Today is American Thanksgiving. Etziel, Steve, Patricia and I are headed to a restaurant for a turkey dinner. Etziel and Patricia are Mexican, Steve is American and I am Canadian. But turkey day is turkey day, so we’re taking a break from bars today.
My friend Steve volunteers his time at Ciudad De Los Ninos. Last Monday was a holiday and I wasn’t working, so I decided to tag along. I have never been to an orphanage before, and my experience has been solely what I have viewed in movies or on televison. I was completely blown away by what I saw here in Mexico.
Ciudad De Los Ninos is a Catholic orphanage that was founded decades ago by a priest and a nun. While the priest moved away years ago, the nun still resides here. Her name is Velia and she is in charge of the organization. Here she is in a photo with Nalleli, my guide for the day.
Velia left a good administrative position with the government at age 26 and her life changed forever when she helped to found this orphanage. She had worked for the government since the age of 15.
Ciudad De Los Ninos was initially a one room operation in the colonia of Juarez. It moved to the present location in 1970. The nuns all live on site. Each nun is a mother figure to a group of children.
The children sometimes arrive here immediately after birth as well as when they are older. Children who live here cannot be adopted out. They stay for varying periods of time. If a family is in financial distress the children may stay here until the situation is resolved. Occasionally parents are incarcerated and are then reunited when they are released from jail.
The ages vary and children are welcome to stay as long as they want. Nalleli told me that she and her two sisters have been here for over ten years. She is now 24 and works in customer service at a hotel in Mazatlan. She is hoping to move out soon along with her sisters into a place of their own. She has already bought a fridge, table and some kitchen utensils. Nalleli learned English when the Rotary Club sponsored her to live in California for a year to attend school.
The children attend either private or public school where they also learn English. Boys and girls have separate dorms that are strictly supervised by the nuns. The dormitories are colorfully decorated and feature both ample closet space and washrooms.
The kitchen facilities are amazing! The kitchen itself is huge and there is a utility room off the kitchen that contains a variety of pots, pans and other cooking utensils.
There are two dining halls, one for the nuns and one for the children. This photo is the children’s, bright and cheerfully decorated.
There is also a beautiful sanctuary where daily masses are held as well as a lovely garden adjacent to it.
The statue in the above picture is the founding priest.
I was deeply moved by Nalleli’s story and am in awe of Velia’s dedication to this institution and to the children. I look forward to visiting Ciudad De Los Ninos again soon.
Here in Mexico, I am constantly bombarded with questions by my students. Where is your favorite place in Mexico? What is your favorite Mexican food? What is your favorite Mexican music? These are the three most common questions. It is obvious that they are proud of their country and their culture as they eagerly await my answers.
I have a lot of favorite places in Mexico. Culiacan will always have a special place in my heart. This is where my new life began almost five years ago. This is where I started my new career. This is where I found my Mexican family.
I took an incredible train trip through the mountains up in the Copper Canyon during Christmas break. The view was breathtaking and I made some really great Mexican friends.
Next came almost four years in Guadalajara. My favorite place there is definitely Parque Mirador. I spent hours gazing out at the canyon, sipping a Negra Modelo. This was also a great place to read and to journal. I also loved going to the zoo and exploring museums and parks.
I traveled to several smaller pueblos all over Jalisco. I enjoyed visiting magnificent old churches and sitting on benches near the kioskos in the plazas. Puerto Vallarta was the local beach although it was five hours away by bus. I also checked out Manzanillo, but it was just a little too quiet for me.
I traveled up in the Baja Norte. Rosarito was quite disappointing and Tijuana was ugly. I have yet to visit Cabo or La Paz in the south, which several of my friends have raved about. But there is a ferry out of Mazatlan, so perhaps that lies in the future.
Favorite food is definitely a tough one as there are so many amazing dishes to try here. I’m allergic to fish and seafood so I can’t comment on those items. Tacos here are fabulous and do not resemble the ones offered by Taco Bell in Canada. I adore the many stands on the streets that offer chicken, birria, tortas, burgers, roasted vegetables, mullettas, hotcakes and hot dogs. The fresh fruit juice is always welcome in the heat of Mazatlan. I enjoy the tortillas made fresh daily instead of the packaged ones in Canada. Pizza is also popular here although I can’t quite bring myself to put salad dressing, ketchup or crema on it. I have also come across some awesome Chinese restaurants as well.
Mexican music is definitely different from what I used to listen to in Canada. I was first introduced to Banda when I lived in Culiacan. I enjoy the lively style and it is most conducive to dancing. Then when I moved to Guadalajara, Mariachi strains filled the air. I lived very close to El Parian and Calle Independencia, so this type of music constantly filled the air. Interestingly enough, English rock music is very popular here among my students. Often when I am on buses the drivers have English music blaring as well. Many of my students enjoy metal and rap, but these are definitely not my faves.
But my big faves are the people and the culture here in Mexico. Smiles, hugs and kisses are the norm here. Holiday celebrations are amazing, filled with music, dancing and fireworks. People here are very proud of their country despite the political unease. When the Mexican national anthem is played, voices ring out loudly.
It goes without saying that the beach here in Mazatlan is definitely one of my favorite places. The sunsets are magnificent, as are the sunrises. I don’t miss the snow in Winnipeg winters or the torrential rains of Guadalajara. Although the temperatures and the humidity soar in Sinaloa, I am quite content to call Mazatlan home for now.