The Sinaloa Symphony Orchestra is a wonderful blend of international talent. Reporter Eric Scigliano of Crosscut in Seattle recently had the pleasure of visiting Mazatlán and enjoyed meeting two members of the symphony, too. He wrote about it in his piece, Go South, Young Musician. Be sure t read all the way to the end of the piece.
Mazatlán is a unique city – has a lovely Centro Historico, a lively cultural scene, fantastic beaches, and lovely sunsets every single night.
I love México… but I especially love Mazatlán. Over the years we have had hundreds of special and memorable nights. Free performances of every kind. Moderately priced opera and symphony tickets in a renovated theater. Nights where the air is warm, the people stroll the plazas, and the music has a beat that makes everyone tap their foot or get up and dance.
Last Friday was another one of those nights, I hope you’ll enjoy it, too. Here’s my blog post Flamenco in Mazatlán.
Sinaloa gets a bad rap in the press because a drug cartel is based there. But people who live there know it just as where they live. They live, work, play, enjoy a day off or a cold beer. MazReal has captured the essence of Mazatlán in the two videos below:
The first is an evening at the bar at the Belmar Hotel, a classic hotel built in the 40′s and a favorite of John Wayne in the day. The hotel faces the Pacific Ocean.
This video shows a festive night in Mazatlán as the city enjoys El Dia de la Musica in 2011.
The talented photographer, videographer, world traveler, music lover and blogger over at MazReal will always give you something to think about. He’s got a unique viewpoint and enjoys getting out in the Sinaloa countryside and finding out what makes people or places unique. This post, about the little village of Copala on the outskirts of Mazatlán, is sure to make you want to head to the beginning of his blog and read your way to the present.
I have lived in México for four years now, and have written two blog posts that might be helpful to others considering making México their home.
Not everyone is suited to life away from their home country, and the decisionmaking process involves a lot of honest thinking about your needs and wants.
The first, How to Be a Successful Expat, was very popular and I received a lot of positive feedback (and ideas for a follow-up post!)
The second was written after an American expat here in México insulted our decision to live at the beach, as he considered his choice of location in the mountains “right.” That one I called We’re all Looking at the Same Moon, but could just have easily been called More on Being a Successful Expat.
I hope you find them both helpful.
Come along with Dianne and Greg as they hike up to Mazatlán’s lighthouse. At 160 meters above sea level, the El Faro de Mazatlán is said to be the highest naturally occurring lighthouse in the world. While they doubt that this is true, they do know that a hike up El Faro hill is WELL worth it. In every season of the year it is gorgeous!
Dianne and Greg moved to México with their junior high school aged son. This is the story of how he became bilingual, bicultural, and has developed into a incredible young man.
I got a disturbing call from a client in Texas the other day. I guess I should say calls. The phone started to ring fairly early, and just kept cycling between phones: home phone, cell phone, Vonage phone, repeat. We don’t keep any phones in the bedroom, but all the windows were open, so I could hear all the ringing coming from Chuck’s office directly above the bedroom. When I realized it wasn’t going to stop – ever – I got up to find out who needed to talk to us so desperately.
By the time I got upstairs, I was awake enough to start to be worried. Did something terrible happen to a loved one? The caller wasn’t leaving messages on any of the phones, so I sat down to wait for the phone to ring again. I didn’t have to wait long.
I picked up the phone and was instantly greeted with, “Are you okay?” It took me a few moments to recognize the voice.
“Yes, Mark. I’m fine. What’s up?”
“When you didn’t answer the phone, I was sure something had happened to you.”
Mark and I met when he hired me to develop and manage his web site and became friends. Well, maybe not friends exactly. We have never hung out or called just to chat about non-business related matters, but we deal with each other on an extremely informal level. Some of the things I say to him during a teleconference make his employees cringe, being a group of dedicated yes men. They are quite sure I am going to be fired at any moment.
With no small amount of acid, I said, “I was asleep Mark. There is a time difference, remember? What’s the emergency this time?”
It turns out he was calling on a minor business matter, but got terribly worried when I didn’t answer the phone. Mark has been watching the American news media, you see. And I live in Mexico. He was sure I had been kidnapped, or caught in a narco shootout, or come to some other equally heinous end.
Mark is a very aware type of guy and is constantly plugged into the news: on the computer, on the radio, on the television. Lately, all he has heard are stories about how dangerous it is in Mexico. The U.S. State department sent out a very strong warning about traveling to Mexico. No one has mentioned that the warning has remained largely unchanged for the past 10 years. It just featured a few enhancements this year.
My annoyance at being woken up turned into annoyance at ignorance. But I quickly squashed it. What I was hearing was the product of genuine caring, and I appreciated that. But I am still annoyed at the media that is sensationalizing problems in Mexico.
Here is the ironic part: Violence here, where I live, is down.
I think the news outlets in the U.S are very aware that the people are stressed out and really tired of hearing about the economy, joblessness, and foreclosures. What do most people want to hear about at a time like this? Someone else who is far worse off. Enter the Mexicans.
I’m not saying that the murders and kidnappings don’t happen. They do. In certain parts of Mexico. The drug violence in the border towns is astonishing. But so was the violence in Dallas three years ago. So is the violence in Detroit, with 47.8 murders per 100,000 people. Gee whiz. I just wish the news would put things in perspective when they report it.
Mark’s daughter and her sorority sisters had booked a trip to Puerta Vallarta for Spring Break. But the news has made them scared to come. They recently saw the movie Taken, and that sealed it. The girls are going to Florida.
To his credit, Mark did not forbid his daughter to come to Mexico. He interviewed body guards to send with her, but he never even implied she shouldn’t come. She made the decision on her own.
Even the young, who usually believe they are immortal, are scared to come here. I think the first reaction of most of the expats who live here is, “good riddance. The last thing we need is more drunken gringos making fools of themselves and making us look bad.” But the reality is, we need the dollars they bring with them. Part of the Mazatlan economy depends on the money tourists bring, and when they don’t come, businesses fail, people lose jobs, and children go hungry.
I think the State Department warning is having the exact effect intended: it is keeping American tourist dollars in the U.S., something that could never be accomplished by any “See America” PR campaign, no matter how good. I think encouraging people to keep their money in the U.S. is a very smart thing for the U.S. economy, but I really don’t think using scare tactics is a responsible way to do that.
I told Mark how very safe I am here. I told him that our little city of 450,000 people was just descended upon by 800,000 partiers for Carnaval and the police handled everything very well. I told him that his one U.S. Dollar buys 15 Mexican Pesos, making a trip here a very good value. I told him his daughter was a lot less likely to make an appearance in “Girls Gone Wild” if she came here. She is still going to Florida.
Note: This article originally appeared here.
There’s been a lot of talk about safety among the expat community in Mexico lately. It seems like the press and the US government are going out of their way to discourage people from vacationing in Mexico. Those of us who live here – who love it here, wonder why.
I’m not going to try to figure out what their agenda might be. Some people speculate that it has to do with keeping American vacation dollars at home to help the economy. Maybe it’s just more of the nanny style of government. I really don’t know. But I do know it is taking a toll on Mazatlan and other communities that rely on tourism for a fair bit of their economy. I’ll talk about that in a minute. For now, let’s go back to the topic of safety.
We all want to be safe. What is that, exactly, though? Does that mean that there is a zero percent chance of something unexpected happening? I doubt that anyone expects that! I mean the world is full of random events – you come around a corner a little too fast and a truck is stopped in your lane…you hit it…someone is hurt…and everyone involved feels shaken and unsafe. But that doesn’t mean you never drive again, does it? And random events don’t just happen in Mexico, you know!
I have been getting numerous letters every week from people who aren’t sure if they should come on their long-planned vacations to Mazatlan. It’s good that they are looking for more information and need to decide for themselves whether they’ll feel safe or not. I tell people that write me that I feel safe, and that I love it here, and if they want a fuller explanation as to why they should read my blog.
We all know there is a war in Mexico between drug cartels and each other and drug cartels and the government. High ranking police officials have been killed. There have been graphic pictures in the media of bodies lined up where they were executed. This is horrifying, no doubt. But aside from the slim chance that someone would be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it feels far removed from everyday life.
But one thing that isn’t far removed is the effect that the loss of tourist dollars especially hurts the poor here in Mexico. Many people here are already living a very marginal existence, and losing a job or having hours reduced is an impossible situation. And here in Mazatlan we had already been feeling the effect of the financial crisis reducing the velocity of construction and hence construction related jobs.
I love it here. I love traveling all over Mexico. I take common sense precautions and keep my eyes open. But…you know, I do that where ever I am, and I imagine you do, too. Mexico is a delightful country filled with warm hearted, generous people who would like nothing better than to share with you the Mexico they know and love. I hope you choose to see for yourself.