Hundreds of years ago, Mazatlan was founded as a fishing village on the north bank of a natural inlet from the Sea of Cortez. Over time, Mazatlan grew northward from the inlet as the protected deep-water lagoon beyond the inlet attracted a commercial fishing fleet that now numbers in excess of 800 boats and provides much of the fresh shrimp and tuna consumed in Mexico each day. Although the port, one of the largest on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is today also utilized by cargo and cruise ships, the strength of its fishing industry allowed Mazatlan to escape the descent into a tourist based culture that has befallen so many of Mexico’s other coastal cities.
After investigating El Centro – the old town of Mazatlan – the second best way to experience the everyday life of Mazatlencos is to stroll along the Malecon, a 6.7 kilometer long (about four miles) beach front promenade. I began my walking tour at Pescadero Beach (Fisherman’s Beach), where scores of gaily painted wooden fishing boats rested on the beach. Every morning, fishermen gather on the beach just before dawn. They form crews of six or eight and help one another drag their simple boats across the sand and into the sea. By midday the boats are back with their fresh catch and the process is repeated in reverse; returning boats are dragged back onto land, the larger of them using a simple metal axle with two wheels, which is pushed into the water and gradually shoved under the boat, allowing the crew to leverage the weight of the vessel and shove it back into its allotted slot.
I strolled along Pescadero Beach at midday, chatting up gnarled old fishermen with dark tans and faces deeply creased from too many years in the sun. What type of fish had they caught? “Dorado,” was the most common answer, although some showed me yellow-tail tuna and what appeared to be Red Snapper. The men nodded and smiled, demonstrating their talents at repairing nets and untangling fishing line. I shot a video of the final boat being dragged from the sea and asked one of the younger crew members what they had caught. “Ah, mucho Dorado,” he claimed. Lots of Dorado. The others laughed and shook their heads. “Pero manana,” he added. But tomorrow.
Further south along the Malecon is a park, officially named Parque Glorieta Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada, but which the locals call “El Clavadista,” named for the cliff divers that perform here. Jumping from a high rocky promontory into a narrow channel of thrashing Continue reading