Archive for August, 2010

Day 17: Mazatlan Day 2

Slept in at our hotel in Mazatlan as there was no rush to leave in the morning. The main thing I wanted to do was go see the market. Thanks to the Lets Go Mexico book we had a map and directions.

We decided to breakfast ourselves first at a small restaurant 2 stores down from our hotel. It advertises “desayuno $30″ (breakfast $2.50 US). I got some sort of red eggs and beans while Katie got machaca eggs (eggs scrambled with slivered beef) and beans. It wasn’t the best ever, but it was nice trying something new. Katie really liked hers.

We drove down to the market as it’s quite aways from our hotel. There are plenty of busses, but we figured we’d take advantage of having the car here. We parked 15 blocks or so aways from the market – the “mercado municipal”. On our way we passed another market, thinking it was the mercado municpal. There were fruits, vegetables, meats, pastries, etc all being sold by various vendors in a squished together indoor marketplace. We bought a donut for 4 pesos ($0.32 US).

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We continued on to the real mercado municipal and recognized it as soon as we got close. There were tons of people all around. Cars were lined up for at least a block in every direction and busses were honking, trying to get through the mass of traffic. We were glad to have parked farther away. We walked through the market and saw spices, sweets, butchered meats, souvegnirs, etc. I really enjoy browsing through that kind of thing. We bought cut up dish of pineapple for 12 pesos ($0.96 US) and sat in the shade on a bench at a nearby church to enjoy it. The heat was stifling! But the pineapple made it much better.

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We sat in the church for a bit and relaxed in the shade. Katie translated the message hung up near the front of the church, asking God to bring peace to the warring factions within Mexico. After leaving and heading back to the car, we had a panic minute where we couldn’t find the car where we had left it. We were at the right intersection, verified by what we had written down, but the car was gone! After searching a bit more, we found the car on the other road of the intersection. Phew!

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We went back to the hotel and took a 2 hour siesta. How time flies during a siesta! Dinner for me was pechuga empanizada, a salty chicken schnitzel type dish. Katie had carne asada (fried meat). Both were quite delicious. Along with orange pop the bill came to 120 pesos or so ($9.60 US). We walked back to the hotel and decided to head to the beach for a cool-off dip.

We arrived at the becah at the beginning of sunset and watched the sun dip behind a mountain on the horizon. We layed out on our towels and enjoyed the view – along with a couple Dos Equis beers with limes. My new trick – if you don’t like the beer, add a lime and everything’s fine. We jumped around in the waves, I body surfed a bit, and when my nose was adequitely filled with salt water we headed back to the beach. A man came up to us trying to sell us a boat tour around the bay. We weren’t interested, but I let him carry on anyways. When he said it was only 250 pesos each ($20 US) I perked up. A 6 hour trip that included pick up and drop off from the hotel, a 1.5 hour bay tour, lunch on Stone Island, an open bar, and a choice of 2 activities including banana boating, boogie boarding, and kayaking, I really perked up.

It was kind of sketchy as it was pitch black by this time. The really sketchy part was that he asked for a 100 peso deposit. We decided to go with it, and if worst came to worst we’d lose 100 pesos ($8.5 US). We were kind of worried about being kidnapped or something – the man came back with us to our hotel and collected the deposit from us right then, in the middle of the night. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how real it is.

Slept in at our hotel in Mazatlan as there was no rush to leave in the morning. The main thing I wanted to do was go see the market. Thanks to the Lets Go Mexico book we had a map and directions.

We decided to breakfast ourselves first at a small restaurant 2 stores down from our hotel. It advertises “desayuno $30″ (breakfast $2.50 US). I got some sort of red eggs and beans while Katie got machaca eggs (eggs scrambled with slivered beef) and beans. It wasn’t the best ever, but it was nice trying something new. Katie really liked hers.

We drove down to the market as it’s quite aways from our hotel. There are plenty of busses, but we figured we’d take advantage of having the car here. We parked 15 blocks or so aways from the market – the “mercado municipal”. On our way we passed another market, thinking it was the mercado municpal. There were fruits, vegetables, meats, pastries, etc all being sold by various vendors in a squished together indoor marketplace. We bought a donut for 4 pesos ($0.32 US).

We continued on to the real mercado municipal and recognized it as soon as we got close. There were tons of people all around. Cars were lined up for at least a block in every direction and busses were honking, trying to get through the mass of traffic. We were glad to have parked farther away. We walked through the market and saw spices, sweets, butchered meats, souvegnirs, etc. I really enjoy browsing through that kind of thing. We bought cut up dish of pineapple for 12 pesos ($0.96 US) and sat in the shade on a bench at a nearby church to enjoy it. The heat was stifling! But the pineapple made it much better.

We sat in the church for a bit and relaxed in the shade. Katie translated the message hung up near the front of the church, asking God to bring peace to the warring factions within Mexico. After leaving and heading back to the car, we had a panic minute where we couldn’t find the car where we had left it. We were at the right intersection, verified by what we had written down, but the car was gone! After searching a bit more, we found the car on the other road of the intersection. Phew!

We went back to the hotel and took a 2 hour siesta. How time flies during a siesta! Dinner for me was xxxxxx, a salty chicken schnitzel type dish. Katie had carne asada (fried meat). Both were quite delicious. Along with orange pop the bill came to 120 pesos or so ($9.60 US). We walked back to the hotel and decided to head to the beach for a cool-off dip.

We arrived at the becah at the beginning of sunset and watched the sun dip behind a mountain on the horizon. We layed out on our towels and enjoyed the view – along with a couple Dos Equis beers with limes. My new trick – if you don’t like the beer, add a lime and everything’s fine. We jumped around in the waves, I body surfed a bit, and when my nose was adequitely filled with salt water we headed back to the beach. A man came up to us trying to sell us a boat tour around the bay. We weren’t interested, but I let him carry on anyways. When he said it was only 250 pesos each ($20 US) I perked up. A 6 hour trip that included pick up and drop off from the hotel, a 1.5 hour bay tour, lunch on Stone Island, an open bar, and a choice of 2 activities including banana boating, boogie boarding, and kayaking, I really perked up.

It was kind of sketchy as it was pitch black by this time. The really sketchy part was that he asked for a 100 peso deposit. We decided to go with it, and if worst came to worst we’d lose 100 pesos ($8.5 US). We were kind of worried about being kidnapped or something – the man came back with us to our hotel and collected the deposit from us right then, in the middle of the night. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how real it is.

Day 16: Topolobampo to Mazatlan

Woke up and started driving the 20km to Topolobampo straight away to check the prices for a ferry to the baja. It turns out it would be ~$200 US for the both of us and the car so we’re not going to do it. Drove back through Los Mochis and onto the highway towards Mazatlan. Before it got too late we stopped for breakfast on the side of the road. It was a birria place, something we’d seen a lot of, read about on wikipedia, and finally decided to try. It’s a soup with pieces of beef, vegetables, and stock. You’re supposed to spoon the meat and vegetables onto a tortilla, add onions, cilantro, guacamole, salsa, and hot sauce as desired, then dip into the soup, then eat. It was very good.

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The road was great – very well taken car of, a big median in the middle of the road, fences on either side. But then again.. From Culiacan to Mazatlan we paid tolls of ~200 pesos ($16 US), so it was a rather expensive road. We could tell as we were getting closer to Mazatlan because the road came within sight of the ocean. We were pretty excited when we saw the Bienvenidos a Mazatlan sign.

Looked around for a hotel, but they were all more expensive than we wanted to pay. There were massive skyscraper hotels catering to tourists that were way out of our price range. We finally found the cheapest hotel we’ve found so far on our trip thanks to Katie’s Let’s Go Mexico book. Only 200 pesos ($16 US). We think we’ll stay here two nights.

Walked along the main road that runs beside the beach looking for a restaurant. We found one right on the beach with a deal on pescado zandeorado. We had a couple Pacifico beers, which is the beer of Mazatlan. It was so much better than the Tecate. We watched the sunset and people playing in the waves as we ate. It was beautiful.

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On the way home Katie had a sweet food craving as it had been a while since we’ve had anything sweet. We caved and got an ice cream sandwich and pack of small donuts. We also picked up a 6-pack of Dos Equis which I turned out to be not too fond of.

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Day 15: Los Mochis

PS – good moments from yesterday.

First – As we were driving into Guaymas we had to slam on the brakes as a runaway horse charged away from a circus and down the 4 lane highway through oncomming traffic.

Second – Our 20L tank of water that had lasted us since Vancouver was running out yesterday at the campground at San Carlos. Somehow fate new and a man drove right up to us in the campground an offered us a 20L jug for 12 pesos ($1 US). So convenient – especially since water must be purchased in all of Mexico because tap water is undrinkable.

Woke up and made a steaming cup of coffee to start. Oh how I love having the Bialetti with us! We broke camp and commenced with our drive to Los Mochis. Rather quickly the highway cut right beside the ocean and at one point went over a very thin strip of land with water on both sides. It was beautiful! For about a kilometer there were stands which said almeja every 10m or so. Katie identified it as “clam”. We were going to just keep driving, but after passing 10 different almeja stands I couldn’t resist any more and decided that if we saw one more that I would stop. And that we did!

Went to a couple to make sure we were getting a fair price. Each vendor had a colourful tent set up on the side of the road with a table displaying various piles of clams. We ordered our clam for 15 pesos ($1.25 US) after some verifcation of what we were getting. I said I wanted a clam to eat, “quiero comer una almeja aqui”. I made sure to tell him I was wanting to eat it there, as opposed to taking it home to cook. I also asked if it would make me sick, “voy a ponerme enferma?” (Katie corrected me – “enfermo” as I had inadvertantly referred to myself as female). He assured me it was fine by pouring cold water on the pile of clams and they all closed up. It was then we realized they were all still alive! “Estan vivas” he said, “they’re alive”. I figured we couldn’t get any more fresh. He asked me if I wanted it prepared, “preparado” and I said yes and he started talking about a variety of clam cocktails he could do for 60-100 pesos. I decided to try to be more clear – “quiero pagar quince pesos y quiero comer aqui.” He laughed “jejeje” and offered clamato juice along with freshly squeezed lime. We picked our clam and he prepared it immediately. Another clam stuck its tongue out at us shortly after choosing ours. I had half a mind to eat that one too for its cockiness. The clam ended up being delicious – a great way to start the morning and something I would definitely do again.

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The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful. The scenery got nicer and we stopped at a bustling Sunday morning market in a small town on the side of the road. We only bought a couple manzanas, but it was cool to see all the vendors set up.

Mexico is pretty religious and we saw this on the side of the road. My first thought was that it meant “Jesus Christ is the walker” as “camino” comes from “caminar” – “to walk”. Katie corrected me and said camino was like walkway, or “Jesus Christ is the path”. Lots more beautiful scenery followed.

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We got to Los Mochis with tons of time to spare before dark. We looked around for a hotel and found one walking distance from downtown. Unfortunately it was a Sunday late afternoon so the streets were pretty deserted and most of the stores and restaurants were closed. We ended up buying some coronas, we got 3 free limes because there was a massive line at the supermarket and the cashier would have had to transact us for 50 peso cents (4 cents US). We had a very cheap, nothing-to-write-home-about dinner for a grand total of 48 pesos ($4 US) for 3 tortas (a penini type sandwich with ham, cheese, meat, avacado, and onion) and a coke. It wasn’t great – but then again only $4 total between the both of us.

Now back in the hotel room just finishing up our coronas with lime.

Funny moment today – Somewhere random on the highway with many miles to any small town we saw a Mexican with his shirt half-way unbuttoned, wearing a sombrero, riding a donkey down the highway. It was like a character from the movies.