Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mazatlán is the place

We arrived in Mazatlán on Saturday afternoon, and were able to meet with the neighbors who let us in to Marina´s house. Marina, thank you so very much for allowing us to stay there! Anai, Marina´s sister-in-law, was there with her daughter. Anai was very nice, and willing to share her home with a couple of strangers, which we definitely appreciated, and we did our best to not be a nuisance. The house was a fantastic place to stay! It sits in a nice quiet neighborhood, where people of all ages sit out on the street at all times of day. We had our own bedroom that even had a small A/C unit to keep the nights comfortable. And the neighbors were incredibly accomodating, insisting that they give us a lift into town to eat at their favorite seafood restaurant, el Guamuchilito. It was good, and we were ready for a hearty meal of mariscos after our long day of riding.

(Mike and the Transalp in front of Marina´s house)

A phone call to a couple of repair shops revealed that we would have to wait until Monday morning to have someone look at the battery and charging system on the TA (a multimeter did not make the packing list). What a problem though, huh? A couple of ´forced´ days in Mazatlán.

Sat evening after dinner, we sat at the beach for a minute, but then decided to catch a pulmania back to the house. Apparently, it´s important to mention the neighborhood we were in first, then the street and address. I told the driver the street and address initially, and we agreed on a price (35 pesos = US$ 3). We got to drive along the coast, seeing the full length of the Playa Norte beach along the older side of Mazatlán. When we arrived at a destination that was certainly not the house. The driver was mad that we didn´t correct him en route, but we told him that how were we to know what route we were taking. So after some minor cursing and steering wheel hitting, he moved on towards the house. We paid him 50 pesos since my rusty Spanish factored into his excessive driving, and he seemed happy with that. Still not a bad cab fare...

Sunday we walked back to the Playa Norte and found a great spot on the beach to sit, enjoy the water, and watch some people. That part of the beach was our favorite. There were lots of families out playing, a few restaurants right on the beach, and no pushy salesmen so common on the tourist beaches. We were the only obvious gringos along that coastline, and absolutely loved our day there on the beach.

Monday, we dropped the TA at a Honda shop in the morning, and were close to la Zona Dorada, so walked down to the resort area beach to pass the day. Immediately, we felt like we were walking wallets. Store keepers would speak to us in English and insist that they had what we needed. This is opposed to the older part of Mazatlán where store keepers would exhange a pleasant ´buenas tardes´ with us in passing. We used our gringo-ness to our advantage though and walked straight through the lobby of the Ramada and on back to their private beach. The palapas were unoccupied and gave us a perfect spot to enjoy the beach.

We were also able to enjoy their pool, which was cool and refreshing.

It was almost sad to be in the Zona Dorada then, since there were basically no tourists there. The locals that spoke with us about something other than the souvenirs they had to sell told us that 2 years ago, the swine flu put a big dent in Mexico tourism, but just when the stage was set to pick back up again, all the narco violence news keeps people away. It made us wonder how an economy set around tourism is going to sustain.

We stopped in a surf shop on our walk back to pick up the TA and spoke with the owner for awhile. He was stoked about the Quiksilver classic that just took place in town, giving him a chance to meet and surf with some of his idols. He was also excited to tell us about some of the beaches just south of Mazatlán, so San Blas turned out to be our next stop.

We got back to the moto shop just after the 2-4pm lunch break. The charging system was thankfully working fine, and the battery was holding a charge once the water level was filled properly again. Doh! It´s usually something simple. And in this case, it was the simplest possible solution. It´s been so long since I´ve run a battery that wasn´t sealed, or AGM, I hadn´t been keeping up with the water levels. At least it was a fairly cheap lesson to learn. The shop bill was less than $15 and they even washed the bike for us.

On our way home, we stopped at a neighborhood pizza place, and had a fantastic pie with chorizo and jalapeños for only 60 pesos, with breakfast slices leftover. Even though we were right on the coast, the seafood prices were a little higher than other options. Seafood dishes were often 70 - 110 pesos at restaurants, which given the quality and quantity of food, is not that bad. Especially relative to US prices. But relative to other good meals available at half that price, we aren´t springing for seafood on every meal.

The following morning we eventually got the bike loaded up after wrestling with our crappy new straps from Durango (another engine guard bag attachment system will be in the works soon). And off to San Blas we went.

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