Nomad Nan's Trippy Tales
By Nancy Van Veen
Being a freakishly fanatical beach walker and music lover, I jumped at the chance for a winter reprieve that would satisfy both these addictions. So off we flew on an easy-button, all-inclusive Mazatlan trip.
We chose the El Cid Resort for its dandy location right on the beach and close to the action. Thanks to my like-minded travel bud’s connection to a resident blues musician, we got the skinny on all the most happening local jams, which proved to be eclectic and plentiful!
Our escapades in Mazatlan kick-started with a city tour, escorted by our own private guide and bluesman Gregorio. Jumping into a pulmonia (open-air taxi), we cruised through the Golden District into historic Old Town. Our breezy introduction continued with an ocean stroll along the Malecon, which is enhanced with fanciful sea-side statues. Next, we ascended to the Freeman Hotel’s roof-top bar — which became our haven, on account of its awesome view and killer pina coladas! A slightly tipsy jaunt through the colourful streets ensued, bringing us to the Art Museum, town square and the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Lunch was at a hole-in-the-wall cafe dishing out scrumptious shrimp tacos. Later, we browsed the bustling market before bussing it back to home base to graze the buffet before hitting ‘Twisted Mamas’ to boogie to Greg’s band ‘The Truth’.
So started a fun-filled week of ‘dancing like no one was watching’ at popular spots such as Gus Gus, La Tortuga, Catrina’s and La Bohemia. All served up exceptional tunes from blues to rock to jazz, plus marvellous munchies, endless margaritas and neon sunsets. Serendipity struck and we even caught the infamous Dick Damron play to his steadfast fans. At eighty-four, Alberta’s own Damron has declared his golden years as “The Last Days of a Crazy Old Man in Mexico” (YouTube that!)
As intoxicating as this scene is, girl cannot live by pina coladas and bee-bopping alone. So we felt compelled to see some sights and explore area beaches: Stone Island, accessed by a brief water taxi ride, is an easy day trip. It features a lengthy stretch of sandy beach with dining options galore. A thirty minute bus ride north takes you somewhat off the tourist track to the rocky shores of Playa Cerritos. It’s a wild place where the tide leaves shallow water pools, perfect for soaking in and playing amateur marine biologist. The colourful fish, sea urchins and various creatures dwelling there are fascinating! Just a short walk away, past a hard-to-pass market you’ll discover Playa Brujas, home to a heavenly open-air restaurant. What bliss to watch the surfers ride the waves, whilst devouring the tastiest coconut shrimp and guacamole on the planet. Another must-see is El Faro Lighthouse. The steep, humid trek is well worth it for the panoramic ocean view that waits atop.
Mazatlan has a thriving music scene within a warm and welcoming community. The party crowd is funky and genuine. We came to recognize many local characters that frequent these lively watering holes during our week — like the happy-go-lucky biker dudes that looked straight out of a Quentin Tarantino meets Disney movie, or the irrepressible, pint-sized golden-girl, cheekily dressed to the nines and dancing non-stop or the suave young Mexican man determined to teach us Salsa. As for the Mexican people, I must say, in spite of the politics of fear and xenophobia propagandized by our mutual neighbour, the individuals I encountered were caring, level-headed and tolerant. ?