“Charming” — HA!

Mazatlan: March 07 Monday

I don’t know how else to say it:   we inadvertently landed in Mazatlan’s low-rent district — or maybe even the slum district. The Guide Book explains that Mazatlan has two different boating centers: the “Old Port” commercial center in Mazatlan Harbor “entered near the S end of the charming downtown” and a modern Marina District seven miles north at the other end of town. “Charming downtown” sounded attractive enough to draw us so we anchored there.

We dinked to shore and found that the one possible location for Internet at the “small historic club” (white cement building in decay – no charm) was closed for the day. Open tomorrow? No one knows. Undaunted, we boarded a local bus and found our way to what the guide book describes as the “beautifully restored downtown Centro Historico“. But my experience was closer to a bad New York, with its walled-in streets chocked with buses and smog, and endless rows of small commercial shops pushing into the streets, and the scourges of an over-populated city.   When we’d had enough we searched for an oasis for a beer and found none. Finally we took refuge in a thriving no-alcool restaurant for our early-evening meal.

Then we hopped the bus home – but in the wrong direction. In 30 minutes of roaming it took us to the end of the bus line. We were shooed off the bus by the Spanish bus driver who looked at us quizzically. We mirrored the look back, but we could not speak to each other. After considerable walking we found an open-air taxi driver who returned us to our marina 120 pesos poorer (bus rides are 7 pesos).

As I sit here this evening I can smell the fragrance of the neighboring waste treatment plant. I can hear the clanking of some heavy machinery and a few miscellaneous industrial noises. And I can see several commercial docks in their years of decay. There are no convenient stores close by and we couldn’t get Internet.   “Old” was more code for “decay” than for “charm.” Perhaps I’ve fallen for the curse of expectations (continuing the string of paradises we’ve recently visited) but all and all in spite of Bob’s good company we have landed in the wrong spot, and our frustration makes us resolved to get our arms around this fair city.