Thursday afternoon, my friends took me out on a drive to the neighboring state of Queretaro. The drive through the mountains was breathtaking and made me homesick for the mountains up north in Washington state.
Our first stop was Arroyo Seco, a town a little larger than San Ciro. The streets were very narrow and within minutes we were at the plaza. The plaza is the hub of the town with tiendas and taco stands surrounding it. Naturally the church is close by.
We headed back to the highway and continued our drive. We soon arrived in the quaint town of Conca. Our first stop here was the church.
Next we drove down to a park area close to the river. I chose to pass on the swimming. I was glad I did as my friends said the water was cold and the fish were nipping at their feet.
Instead I went for a walk and checked out the millenium tree. People tell me it’s hundreds of years old although I was unable to pinpoint the exact age.
I continued my walk for a while.
I wasn’t brave enough to walk across that little log bridge although I did see children running across it. I wonder if I would have done that as a child.
Jalpan is classified as a Pueblo Magico. Thankfully the sun was shining and it was warm on the day I chose to visit. The weather here in San Ciro has been quite a challenge. One day it will be 85 degrees and the next day only 60 degrees. Several cloudy days with sporadic drizzle as well.
Nonetheless Monday dawned sunny and warm and I accepted a ride to Jalpan with Froylan, the man who owns the hotel where I am currently staying. He also owns the junkyard that surrounds the hotel. And my ride that morning was one of the vehicles he buys for parts. Electrical tape secured the sensors beneath the hood and the back seat had been removed to accommodate space for an engine that needed transporting. However the vehicle made it to Jalpan with no problem once the battery had been boosted.
The drive was beautiful and afforded a view of the spectacular mountains. Actually it made me kind of homesick for the mountains in Washington state. It seems that I just can’t get enough of mountains!
My first stop, of course, was the church. This magnificent structure was at least a couple of hundred years old. I asked several people the age but none of them knew for sure.
I then headed for the plaza. There was a celebration going on and the stage was alive with music, a play and speeches. I was totally enchanted with some of the statues as well as the Christmas displays already in place.
I then wandered the streets. I came across this little footbridge near a hotel. It led to a steep staircase that ended on the highway. I chose to remain on the bridge and admire the view instead.
As I continued meandering through the streets, I saw the usual loncherias, taco stands and a variety of shops. I engaged in a variety of conversations with the friendly locals who were all curious about the single gringa wandering around their town.
I boarded a bus for the return trip to San Ciro and enjoyed the amazing scenery along the way.
I received an email this morning from a friend in Leavenworth. She wanted to know how long I was staying in Mazatlan. Well, you miss a blog post and you lose track of yours truly. Two weeks in Guadalajara, one weekend in Mazatlan, and now I’m in Culiacan. Right now the plan is to stay here for a week, and then your guess is as good as mine. After decades of routines and schedules I am completely caught up in the world of mindfulness and moving along when the time feels right. That’s why I found myself on a bus to Culiacan yesterday morning.
I mus tell you about the bus ride. ETN/Turistar is my preferred mode of travel but my route from Mazatlan to Culiacan has been discontinued. I reluctantly bought a ticket on TAP, on a first class rather than an executive class. The plan was to arrive in Culiacan around 2 pm so that Juan could pick me up after school.
It’s been years since I took one of these, and I forget how annoyingly entertaining it can be. The TV hovered inches above my head. Amazingly enough the movie was in English. No computer terminal at my seat on this bus. I put in my headphones and scrolled through the music channels. Nothing too exciting there. But the air conditioning was blasting and it was only a couple of hours. Suck it up princess.
The bus slowed down on the outskirts of the city and two vendors got on. I’d forgotten how amusing this can be. Vendors are not allowed on the ETN buses.
The first vendor to approach me was a young woman with a basket filled with wind-up toys. I smiled back and shook my head. No, gracias. But she was determined. She must have demonstrated four or five toys before she moved on to the next passenger.
Apparently the toy sales were not doing well. Moments later she was back with chocolate……melted chocolate. After all, the temperature outside was in the nineties before she boarded the bus. Once again I declined her offerings.
The second vendor was hot on her heels. This man had a cooler full of tamales. He wasn’t quite as aggressive and a shake of the head was sufficient enough to send him on his way.
She’s back! Vendor number one was now spouting me the benefits of the cream with marijuana she held in her hands. And then vendor number one was selling honey while she was still promoting her cream. I shook my head once again, reclined my seat, and closed my eyes.
Only another hour………………
Years ago when I’d go on short winter holidays, I always marveled at the fact that the locals from California, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida and Texas always looked pale. They didn’t have that bronzed suntannned look. However now that I actually live in that type of climate here in Mexico, I completely understand it. In the days when I was teaching, I had to travel to a beach area so that limited the opportunities. Even living here in Mazatlan and retired now, there are just so many other things I have found that fill my days.
But I finally did it! On Friday a friend and I ventured out to the beach on Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island). We took a bus down to the embarcadero and paid 30 pesos for a round trip ticket on the ferry. Of course “ferry” is a loose term for some type of watercraft that amazingly not only remains aloft but makes dozens of trips a day out to the island. I took advantage of the life jackets provided anyways.
There were two other gringos on the boat with us. They were two men from Penticton, BC who were looking for somewhere to stay on the island. There was a young Mexican with a huge tray of pastry he was going to sell out on the beach. The rest of the passengers were Mexicans and did not speak English.
Our brief voyage over was uneventful and minutes later we were on the beach. We claimed two loungers and were delighted with the prompt arrival of a server to take our drink orders. It’s important to keep hydrated and I carefully balanced my cerveza with bottles of water.
My friend prefers an area with more solitude but the photographer in me thrives on the hustle and bustle of vendors and other beach goers. A line was strung across the sand to keep the hawkers at a distance. Jewelry, tattoos, clothing, hammocks, sunglasses, hats, fruit, a variety of seafood, donuts, pastry and much more were readily available.
And this being Mexico, of course there was music.
The beach at Stone Island is very different from the rest of Mazatlan. There is a completely different feel to it. There are no strings of hotels along the beach. The restaurants are more casual. Bare feet and bathing suits are accepted attire. There is no evidence of Senor Frog’s or Oxxo.
I didn’t venture into the town itself. That will be for next time. I was quite content to hang out on the beach for seven hours instead working on my suntan.
Semana Santa has arrived, that dreaded time of year when the beaches here in Mazatlan are packed due to the invasion of vacationers from inland areas in Mexico. Children have two weeks off from school and the beach is always a popular spot. Of course there is also the added nightmare of the rerouting of traffic in an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion.
I will be hiding out at the pool in our condo complex for the next three days.
Then I will escape to Culiacan for a long overdue visit with my Mexican family. We will attend the procession Friday morning to the cathedral. There are also special masses to be celebrated. Although I am not Catholic, I enjoy attending church and observing the traditions with my family.