Sunday, December 02, 2007

Postcard from Mazatlan

Keeping up with our tradition of ''no shoes on Thanksgiving'', Baby Crumpet took her parents & grandparents to Mazatlan for a week long vacation.

Mazatlan is in the Mexican state of Sinaloa and boost the largest fishing fleet of the Pacific coast. It is especially well known for sports fishing (marlin, sailfish, billfish). The town is relatively young, the original tourist zone were set up in the 50s and it is quiet compared to the mega resorts of Cancun & Puerto Vallerta. Its key features include the Vieja (old town), the Malecon (ocean sidewalk) and two beautiful islands (Stone Island and Deer Island).

Naturally the first thing we do is eat. Mom & Dad found a place called Panama that quickly became our favorite. A chain of 3 locations Panama is especially popular with Mexican tourists & locals (we saw virtually no foreigners the entire week) and features a large menu with fun combinations. Their tortilla soup was outstanding and the chocolate flan should be declared an illegal substance.

Another favorite was Taco Martin. None of the staff spoke English so we simply ordered one each of their 8 kinds of tacos. Some were the usual - carne asada, y pastor...etc. But others, as we later found out, were more, er, adventurous (brain, eye, cheeks + one called head we still not sure what that meant). Taco Martin also served a ''soupy'' guacamole as well as whole beans cooked with bacon that were delicious.

Feeling tough, we tried another local, Mexican-only joint Taco La Carreta. The placed served just 4 kinds of tacos - carne asada, y pastor, lengua (tongue) and tripa. The taco man could easily get a job in Vegas as Blackjack dealer as his hands flew at incredible speed in turning out tacos (see video here). These tacos were AMAZING. Did I mention they cost 70 cents each? We ate, a-hem, 25 tacos in 20 minutes. They also served a ridiculously good horchata (rice milk w/t cinnamon) and tamarind drink.

Another local favorite was the central market, where they sell everything from whole slaughtered cows to jewelry & dresses, often right next to each other. The top of the market were little restaurant stalls that served a simple & wonderful fresh cuisine with dishes like camarone mojo de ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce), fish baked in tin foil & cream sauce and grilled pork chops with lime. You sit outside on a patio and watch the busy city traffic go by. The kitchen was small & the old ladies cooking & serving were all smiles. You feel like you're eating at her house even as you compete with pigeons & bees for your food.

OK taking a break from food. We took two trips out. First was to Stone Island on a Catamaran called - seriously - Titanik. Skipper said it's ok because it's spelled with a K. Riiiiight. We got picked up at our hotel by a truck, who also picked up tourists at other hotels but also made some mysterious stops for seemingly no reason (running drugs?). You take the boat out to the island where for the next 4 hours you can do anything you want. Mom & Dad wrote the ''banana boat''. Adrian & I did horse back riding near the beach while we all did a lot of sitting around and drinking from coconuts.

The Deer Island transport was a used US Army sea-land transport that had been painted to look like a shark (see photo). This alone would have been worth the price of admission but it got better. During the trip we discovered the skipper were also reading bible stories. Not making this up. We did the ''turistico el cheapo''. Basically the ''shark'' dropped us off at the island and promised to pick us up 2 hours later. You can see the other ''turistico el richo'' arriving via catamarans, tents, volleyball nets & servers with coolers full of booze. Anyway, we had a great time snorkeling & building sand castles with Baby Crumpet. The beauty of these islands really lie in the fact that there is nothing to do (not even a single restaurant on them)

An ubiquitous site around Mazatlan is Senor Frogs (any of you ever been to South Beach or Cancun knows it well). Just between our hotel and the town we saw 7 of them. It turns out it is owned by Grupo Anderson, the Mexican business that also owns other vacation-themed fun bars such as Carlos & Charlie and got their start nearly 50 years ago in Mazatlan with a restaurant called El Shrimp Bucket which still stands today.

There are 2 main ways to travel around town, bus or open-air taxis called Pulmonias. Buses are, well, buses. They're made more exciting by the fact that the bus driver are often watching football on TV while driving. The open-air Pulmonias are just awesome. A cross between the tuk-tuk from Thailand with golf chart and a gas lawn mower, they offer a quick & scenic way to travel around town and each driver have their own music taste, from Mexican ballads to reggae.

The weather were sunny & 86 degrees, everyday. General depression settled in when one day the temp dipped to 84 degrees but it was quickly resolved by some shrimp cocktails and a trip to the swim up bar. Life is good, and that is how Baby Crumpet likes it.

More Photos Here.


Blogger Dave said...

I think that would be "turisticos barratos" and "turisticos carros" but my Spanish is pretty rudimentary. I read your blog solely for the vicarious. We never go anywhere.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Kuo-Yu Liang said...

we're gringo - we invent our own spanish

10:02 AM  

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