At breakfast under the palapa, we spotted the cargo ship going out to Islas Marias, the “Mary Islands”. This group of islands about 62 miles off the coast of the Mexican mainland is named for three biblical women. The area was named a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2010. There is a federal penitentiary that was built on the largest of the islands in 1905. Although operations ceased for a while, it was reactivated in 2004. Prisoners live in huts, often with their families. All the prisoners are male and all must work. However, they can move about freely, although they are banned from the water and shoreline. The cargo ship goes out several times a week to deliver food and bring back the goods manufactured by the prisoners. This was our second sighting of the cargo ship during our visit.
Today is a travel day. 3Jack2 wanted to pick up a few things before we left so we made an early trek into town. It was the most active I had seen things. There was even a little aerobic activity. Like all our trips into town, you run across the “Chupa peso” as 3Jack3 likes to call them. The “money suckers” will watch your car, wash it-with the dirtiest rag you have ever seen-or anything else for a little money.
The Mazatlan airport is small and easy to navigate. Upon arrival, they still hand check all luggage. There is also a second screening when you enter the secured area. The second half of your tourist visa will be collected at the airport, so just leave it in your passport so you can find it on the day of departure.
The Mazatlan airport features free “entertainment”. We saw a mime walking around the terminal; he was there again to wave goodbye as we boarded the airplane. Rather strange if you ask me. There was also an artist doing free caricatures. He was actually quite good. Finally, there were free popsicles, a welcome treat on a hot day that I would come to regret later.
Ivan was traveling back with us, in route to New Orleans. He made the suggestion that I keep my camera out on the plane and I was able to get a nice shot of the city from the air. I felt a little queasy on the flight, but I attributed this to a small plane and a little turbulence. Later I remembered Ivan’s comments about the popsicle, “just colored water” and realized my mistake. The kitchen water and water used in the ice machines had been filtered while in Mexico. We had actually brushed our teeth using bottled water. When the “Montezuma’s revenge “ hit, I figured out that the popsicle was not made with filtered water. Wish I had just gotten a caricature.
We enjoyed the time with family and had a nice place to stay with unparalleled views. We also had the luxury of a chef that meant we did not have to venture out in the evenings. Under other circumstances, I am not sure I can recommend Mazatlan. It is a dying city, especially for foreign tourists. I love the colonial architecture, but the decay saddens me. Game fishermen will continue to find their way to Mazatlan, but short of these anglers, I suspect their visitors will be more national tourists rather than foreigners. It is a shame that the drug wars have resulted in fewer visitors. The crime in all this is that it is only the high demand for these drugs in our country that fuels the problem. I was fortunate to have had a positive experience. Next up is the Philippines in July.