Published: December 27th 2010December 2nd 2010
Prawns on the bus
The three big no-no's in one meal.
Street food, sea food, and uncooked. Was delicious though.
The day in El Fuerte dawned warm, much warmer than we had become used to in the high desert country, so the subsequent cold shower wasn't the rude shock it could have been. We packed up and headed out to the front desk where the change from the 500 peso note we had been promised the night before awaited us.
The front desk was deserted. We had a bit of a look around, but to no avail – the desk bloke must have seen us coming and, ninja-like, concealed himself behind a secret panel, thinking he might be enriched by our unwillingness to wait around.
He was right, and 100 pesos richer, and we walked up town to find the bus stop, such as it was.
El Fuerte is nice little town, and actually looked like it might be worth spending a couple of days there, but at this stage of the trip we had a bit of a timeline, although not super strict. Got some money for the bus out of the ATM and helped an ancient bloke with his transaction. Helpfully, someone had written down the instructions and his PIN on a bit of paper which he had
sticky taped to his card (the safest place, don't you know).
We found a bus, and it said Los Mochis on the front of it. It wasn't the prettiest bus, but it looked functional, and cheap. And cheap it was – about a quarter of the price of taking the train for the last leg, and much faster.
Got in, crammed into a seat at the front with our packs, then uncrammed when another pushy Mexican lady yelled at us and told us it was her seat.
Whoops, I thought, she must have been there first.
Actually, no, she had just realised that we were likely to cave.
The bus ended up at a place that wasn't where we wanted to be, but we managed to locate the new bus station at Los Mochis with the phone. Well, we assumed it was new because it wasn't where Lonely Planet said it would be, so maybe it is..
The bus trip was long, one of the longest so far. The movie came on. Sarah Michelle Gellar (looking like she hadn't eaten since Buffy) and Alec Baldwin.
Spotting the Spanish subtitles Klaire asked excitedly “Is it in English?”
Unfortunately it was also batshit boring
Some inane garbage about editors and literary wankery. Avoid.
One of the great things about bus travel in Latin America is the on-board hawkers. I scored the holy trinity of what-not-to-eat on travels food – it was a prawn cocktail type thing. Street food, washed in local water and sea food.
Bloody delicious, prawns full of flavour, chilli salsa, lime.
At every bus station so far there has been taxis inside the terminal area. Not so Mazatlán at 9pm, but right outside the terminal there were plenty.
The hotel we picked looked to be in a rough looking area, but was pretty nice. Hotel Del Rio, room 26. Nice place but ask for a different room as the sound from outside seemed to all bounce straight into our room. Wifi, cable. 300 pesos. We checked in, dumped our bags and went back to find something to eat. The manager was more than a little standoffish, and looked at me suspiciously as I approached him to ask if he knew a place to eat nearby.
When I asked the question in Spanish he became a different person, all smiles, the friendliest
bloke ever. We were to find out why the next day.
I listened to his rapid fire Spanish directions and confidently led us out into the night to the taco place he recommended. We soon ended up at a reasonable looking Chinese restaurant. I had more work to do on my language skills.
The Chinese place looked pretty good, so we tried the door. It didn't open, maybe they were closed. As we turned to leave a buzzer sounded and the door unlocked. It did serve to heighten the menace just a little bit.
We were seated, and there were a few tables already occupied. More and more people started to arrive, and it did make a nice change from eating in mostly empty restaurants. An interesting thing was happening, though – every new arrival was greeted like family, kisses, cuddles, smiles. As every table was filled we realised we had ended up at some sort of family gathering. Clearly some sort of Mexican-Chinese family and connections gathering. There was one other table there that didn't seem to be part of the celebration – they looked just as confused when the official photographer rocked up to record the
event, taking photos of everyone, us included. Still, the food was pretty good.
The first sign that this place was a little different from the Mexico we'd seen thus far was the fastidiousness in the Centro Historico the next morning. Bright yellow paint was being applied to kerbs, leaves flew as machetes flicked through the ficuses, and the footpaths were being all but vacuumed.
The main plaza was the neatest we'd yet seen, and surrounded by restaurants and cafes. The prices were high, but not exorbitantly so, but all the shops accepted US dollars – a first so far. Suddenly, a rogue tour group appears.
Apparently there was a cruise ship in. The cruise boats park up the other end – the Zona Dorada – and get bussed down to the old town end to have a look. This is the reason a lot of the proprietors are a touch cranky. Tourists here generally don't even bother to try speaking Spanish, and that's simply rude. The end result is that the waiters all have to know english, to the extent that they would reply to me in English when I spoke in Spanish. And
this is why the guy at the hotel was cranky at first – he's sick of having to talk in English all the time.
And it's not a relief, it's a little frustrating. But I realise they want to practice their English, and I understand that we're a part of the problem.
Found the beach. Not bad, as beaches go. And while the beach was not as nice as back home, it did have a range of beach shacks to eat and drinks at, right on the beach. You could sit in the sand feet pretty much in the water as you ate very fresh seafood and drank ice cold beers.
And at this point we realised that our dodgy hotel was less than 100 metres from the beach, we simply didn't look in the right direction – arriving at night has its drawbacks.
We decided to walk up to the are called Zona Dorada. Mazatlán has two main bits. Old Mazatlán is where we were staying and is the place you want to be, really. Zona Dorada is where the big hotels, Maccas, flash restaurants, etc are. You can't really get to beach unless you go through
a hotel or a bar. Think the worst bits of Bali but with mariachi music rather than gamelan. We stayed long enough to have a beer and go to Mega Pelican (you've not seen a pelican til you've seen Mega Pelican!) then got the hell out.
It was a 3km walk back along the beach to the beach hut, but we managed to time it well, getting there a couple of hours before sunset and chilling out. I grabbed a few beers, Klaire ordered a piña colada that came out in a hollowed out pineapple. As I always say “Never eat anything bigger than your head”, but as it was a drink I guess it was all right. The waiter was very happy we had some Spanish, and the other patrons were far more relaxed than up the street. Sitting there, feet in the sand, watching the sun sink into the ocean, life was pretty tough, let me tell you.
Next day, we awoke to the news that Qatar had been awarded the 2022 World Cup. Travesty!!
And, let me tell you, the Mexicans were just as mystified.
I asked a couple of people (everyone here likes football
it seems, as it should be) and they were outraged. A lot of them wanted it to go to the US, mainly so they could go and watch, but...QATAR!?! WTF!?!
The rest of the day was spent just hanging about. Found a little coffee shop – best coffee yet – and chatted to a few “snowbirds” (folk from further north that come to Mexico for the winter – not the worst idea in the world). They're everywhere, and are not as big a wankers as your typical expat Delicious fish tacos for lunch, another night of watching the sun go down on the beach, and we were definitely on holidays now.
There are more photos below