You can have Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, though I'm still looking forward to a week in Tulum some day. For me Mazatlan is Mexico. Not only has it great beaches but it is a real city. Most of Mazatlan is like any city; it is about living. The industry includes ship-building, the largest Mexican Naval base on the west coast and the largest commercial port.
There are, however, many sites and locations for tourists. One whole area is devoted to tourism with bars and fancy restaurants, hotels and tourist shopping. There are also the real Mexico that tourists like to see; the huge open markets, the cathedral and other churches, public squares and parks. Mazatlan has expended a lot of energy to improve the experience of living there for the average Mexican.
It is a cosmopolitan city, not to the extent of Guadalajara or Mexico City, but for a city of 300,000 people, the amenities are not insignificant. For example, the Angela Peralta Theatre is the location for much professional music, ballet and other shows. There are art museums all over the city.
For over twenty years, I have vacationed in Mexico and usually in Mazatlan. In 2002 I spent six months, living there and studying Spanish.
In fact, beginning about that time, I started thinking about moving to Mazatlan permanently. I could have purchased a home for a very reasonable price and enjoyed the sunshine, the beach, the breezes–and a lot of friends. But, I didn't. And sometimes you don't get to remake decisions.
In fact, I haven't even visited Mazatlan for three years. During that time, my good friend David Bodwell died. David was the editor and publisher of Richard Grabman's book, Gods, Gachupines and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico, among the best books I've found for the non-historian to understand Mexico.
My friend Anne Fisher, from Akron, OH whose husband was my teacher and mentor through my Ph.D., will be joining me. Bill died over two years ago. Anne has never been to Mexico so I'm looking forward to showing her the many amazing beauties of Mazatlan as well as introducing her to many of my Mexican and expat friends.
We are already set with a beautiful suite at the Loro de Oro Inn, owned and run by Tony Feuer and his lovely wife, Lucy. I understand that they closed Lucy's restaurant so we will just have to find elsewhere to eat. Not to worry, it is only a block away from the Plazuela Machada, one of the main town squares which boasts ten or fifteen great restaurants in the few blocks around the open square.
Another friend, Martha Armenta is the organizer and energizer of a "wild animal hospital". Martha is going to give us a tour of Conrehabit, the hospital ranch, and maybe also the Mazatlan aquarium where she is a leading light.
Mazatlan is the source of some of the best shrimp. It is one of the prides of the city. There is a large shrimp market where you can walk along and find raw shrimp of every size imaginable and at unimaginable prices. The Mazatlan shrimp fresh off the boats is so much tastier than can be purchased in your local grocery. I'm sure we will eat some/much. I don't know Anne's taste in oysters, but Mazatlan is also known for several varieties of oysters.
For beer fanciers, Mazatlan is the source of the great Pacifico beer. Pacifico is not low-quality commercial beer like Coors of Budweisser. It is a high-quality light beer. (Unfortunately, beer connoisseurs tend to like heavier beers like Negra Modelo, Indio, Bohemia, etc. So Pacifico doesn't get much publicity.)
Then there is the Amigos de los Animales, the local animal shelter which is a model for others all over Mexico. We will take some time on the beach. It may be cold and wet here in Marin County, but it is 80 degrees and mostly sunny in Mazatlan.
Since Anne will be coming from Akron, Ohio, the weather change will be even more of a shock to her than to me. Still have to wait another month and a half. We're not going until March 2, and only for one week. I'm looking forward to this. It is always wonderful to reunite with old friends from Akron and from Mazatlan.