The moment our ferry docked, you could feel how different this new place was. It was hotter, the air hung heavy and damp while the stink of dead fish was in the air. Driving off the boat and out of the port Jacqui and I we’re immediately awe struck by the beauty of Mazatlan. After the desert landscapes of Baja we were greeted by palms, greenery and the bustling life of the city. Having officially seen one block of the entirety of Mazatlan, we decided we liked it.
We were late getting off the boat and had no knowledge of the area, so we splurged on an RV park for the night. The site decided on was barely a mile south of the city, but because of the water channel, it required a 30 mile drive, 10 of which was unpaved. There we settled into 3 Amigos RV park on an 8-mile stretch of beach with nothing but beautiful water to be seen. Immediately Jacqui and I had the itch to cool off and jump in the beautiful ocean. Within minutes we were playing like the little kids we are at heart, splashing, swimming, and trying to body surf the waves. Then my foot settled down on something wiggly, and BAM.
I was prison shanked by a stingray right in the bottom of my foot. The stab forced me to let out my warrior cry. All right, maybe it was a little less manly than a warrior cry, like a light whimpering, but still plenty manly. The wound was bleeding profusely and the venom left my whole foot throbbing up to the ankle. But I guess there was a bit of a silver lining. As we slowly worked our way back to the campsite, everyone in the RV park was gathering together to help. And as I sat with my foot submerged in nearly boiling water, which is the only way to treat a stingray wound, we made more than a dozen new retired friends, and got invited to their pizza movie night. Comically enough, the movie of the night was Last Vegas.
Our original plan was to spend a night or two in Mazatlan, then scurry out southbound in search of wind and adventure. But it was from our new friends at the RV park we learned a few important details: From our campsite on Stone Island there is an 8 pesos per person water taxi that takes you downtown, and that very week was Carnaval. Not just any Carnaval either, Mazatlan boasts the third largest in the world, or at least that’s how it was advertised to us. So there was only one decision to be made… stay, explore, experience.
Carnaval is a weeklong event, but the main events we wanted to see weren’t till the weekend. So in the days leading up Jacqui and I attempted to experience all that was Mazatlan. We hiked to the top of the world’s second highest natural lighthouse, visited several art galleries that scatter the city, and explored the Mercado, a collaboration of vendors selling everything from smiling pig heads to hand made leather sandals. We visited the waterfront where the daredevil diver’s plunge from amazing heights into unbelievably shallow water, and ate as much of the delicious street food as we could. In a flash the weekend was on us.
Saturday night was the main fireworks display. It took place not only from land, but also from a naval ship off shore. The land and the sea colorfully battled each other representing the French Colonial invasion of 1864. After that, and a few technical difficulties, was a good old-fashioned fireworks show with the streets crowded, venders selling delicious food, and everyone in a celebratory mood.
On parade day we showed up early with our camera determined to get some good shots. As we walked to the parade it became obvious that we had accidently approached from behind. However, this allowed us a golden opportunity to snap shots of performers while their floats waited to join the parade. Initially we would approach timidly for photos, however, we quickly realized we were being greeted with unbelievable amounts of enthusiasm. Some people would just light up with joy for a photo, and at one point a mob of teenage performers rushed into a massive group scrambling to fit into our photo. Jacqui speculated that because I was a foreigner wearing my news anchor look-alike hat, a button down shirt and holding a nice camera, they probably thought I was taking some very official photos. Whatever the reason, Carnaval was a fantastic conclusion to our time in Mazatlan.