We’ve all heard the old saying “When in Rome (do as the Romans do).” Well, we only have a week left of vacation and time has flown by without accomplishing everything we’ve wanted to, so we’ve decided to start getting busy having some authentic fun with the locals. To tell you the truth we should have left for home by now, but we’re only a couple days away from Carnival, so we decided to extend our stay by another week.
It’s Sunday and every Sunday morning at Punta Cerritos RV park there is usually a group of people who meet at the gate and ride their bikes to a local place to have breakfast together. This time the group must have had their extra cup of coffee, because we rode all the way down to old downtown Mazatlan. It’s a beautiful day and it feels good to get in some exercise so early. We stop into an old restaurant that has a big patio facing the ocean with enough room to accommodate our large group. It’s a neat place with lots of history and old photos of famous actors from the 40’s and 50’s. I can picture John Wayne, James Dean or Errol Flynn having a whiskey and a smoke out here on the deck back in the day.
We all have a good breakfast and the group goes their separate ways. Jen and I decide to go check out the big market that we’ve heard so much about. We walk around the shops that seem to sell all of the same old tourist crap. I don’t understand how that works, but it obviously does, because they’re still in business. Anyway, I forgot that I’ve given up on figuring out why things are done the way they are here in Mexico, and instead just enjoy the experience. We walk through the meat market next and at first I thought I’d be totally grossed out by the blood, guts and smell, but I wasn’t. It smelled fresh, clean and real. No artificial colors, preservatives or steroids added here. Some of the more peculiar items I wonder how they were consumed such as chicken’s feet, pig noses and ox tails, but I’m just not that brave to attempt such fate to give them a try.
Next stop: the oldest barber shop in Mazatlan
We just stumbled upon it as we were searching the outskirts of the town square. I’m in desperate need of a shave and a haircut, cause I’ve ran out of sharp razors, or more like Jen started using them on her legs, about a week ago, so I’ve got a week old beard that’s starting to get really itchy. I ask how much it cost and how long before I can get in. They tell me it’s $50 pesos for the hair cut and $30 peso for a shave. The young barber tells me to come back in 30 minutes and they’ll be ready for me. I forgot it’s “Mexico” time and it was more like an hour, but it was good to take a break from walking and watch the locals do their thing. Finally it’s my turn, and usually I like getting my hair cut; it’s relaxing, so I thought having a shave would be equally as relaxing, if not more. Wrong, there’s nothing like having a total stranger holding a straight edge razor to your jugular vein to make you feel relaxed. Not only that, but while I was waiting several cars had back fired and I thought for sure it would happen now and my throat would be slit from ear to ear. I was so nervous that I really started to sweat. I mean really sweat and my palms could have been used as little humming bird baths from all the sweat collecting in them. It was the closest shave I’ve ever had in my life and didn’t need to shave for another 3 days afterward, but I’ll never do that again.
Next stop: Yoopers
Yes, that’s right Yooper’s bar right in downtown Mazatlan. If you don’t know I grew up in Upper Peninsula of Michigan who are kindly referred to as UP’ers or better known as Yoopers. I went in there thinking it might look a bit like Deer Camp, and it did in a Mexican sort of way. Lot’s of Green Bay Packer paraphernalia and old photos of the owners in their younger days holding up trophy fish, deer or elk… I tell the bartender that I’m a Yooper. He’s not really sure what the hell I just said, but as I try to explain with my elaborate hand gestures I’ve mastered while down here in Mexico, he says “Oh yes, your from Michigan, Mucho Gusto” and then gives me a free bumper sticker. It’s not exactly what I was expecting, but I would imagine every Yooper who has ever come through those doors has tried to get a free beer here.
Next stop: Tourist Info
Better known as the Time Share Tourist Trap, but we’ve heard from our neighbor that some previous travelers at the park made the “Time Share” circuit and made $1,500 in a week. We got all the low down on what to say to get through the initial screening process and from there on just say “No.” We thought a couple hundred buck it would be worth slogging through their 90 minute sales pitch. Besides, we get a free breakfast, lunch and $200 US would pay for our gas back to the border. As we were walking out of the Yooper’s bar we came across one of these “Tourist Information” booths and the salesman instantly notices me checking out his glossy 8×10 photos. He immediately goes into his sales pitch about how great these places are and says he’ll throw in a free breakfast. I tell him “No way, we’re on vacation and it’s going to take a lot more than breakfast to get us to sit through that”. Well, he says “How about $100 US?” I said “each?” He says “Yes.” I ask him can he sweeten the deal any more? He says he can give us a $50 credit for food and drinks and that’s the best he can do. We sign up for a tour for the next day at 9:00am at the Emerald Bay Resort, which is just down the beach from where we’re staying. We would have walked, but one of the requirements is that we had to be staying at one of the hundreds of hotels in the area, but since we’re in an RV park we had to fib just a bit. (I had my fingers crossed) He tells me to just call a cab and the valet will reimburse the cab driver at the lobby when he drops us off. Perfect, maybe we should stay another week!
The place looks just like a set from “Fantasy Island”. It’s gorgeous, complete with pink flamingos, Greek goddess statues, perfectly manicured lawns and crystal clear blue swimming pools every where you look. If you only have a week of vacation and more money than brains, this is the place for you. It will serve all of your needs, but it’s not going to be cheap. Our guide Esmeralda is a true pro and does her best to try to squeeze water (money) from a stone (my wallet), but she soon realizes we’re a waste of her time. But giving it her best she slices the price of the time share in half, and then in half again, but finally giving up in disgust she throws the cash voucher on the table and tells us to have a nice day. And we do, thanks to her. We walk back to the RV park along the beach against the recommendation of the front desk clerk who tells us it’s “Muey Peligroso.” Yeah, I guess with a pocket full of cash it is, but we’ve done this short little hike several times before without seeing so much as a foot print, so we enjoy our stroll back home along the deserted beach smiling all the way.
Next stop: The Bull Fight
Some of my friends will definitely frown on this little excursion, but it’s something we would like to see. It’s not like we’re actually killing the poor beast and it’s going to happen weather or not we’re here, so “When in Rome.” The arena is a lot smaller than what I would have imagined and we can sit just about anywhere. The food and beer prices are cheaper than what you can find on the streets, bars or local mini supers, so all in all it’s a good deal. The show starts and there’s a long introduction and this being a Portuguese type bull fight the fighters are on horses. These pretty boys looks like a couple of major pricks with egos that barely fit into this small stadium, but what would you expect from someone who fights bulls for a living, making millions of dollars do so. Maybe, I’m just a bit jealous, because all the ladies seem to like these guys, but I’m sticking by my initial assessment until proven wrong. Aside from my prejudice of these guys, they really can ride. They’re not the best bull fighters according to the lack of applause from the crowd, and their failure to make a clean kill, but their riding skills make up for it.
Now for one of the more bizarre aspects of the show. There are about 8 guys who literally flip into the ring from the sidelines and they all line up in a single row separated by about 20′. The poor little fellow who drew the shortest straw marches proudly out to center ring, and yells loudly “Toro” to the bull who is still facing away from him. The little guy takes a couple more big brazen steps towards the bull and again loudly yells out “Toro”. This time the bull hears this and turns quickly to face him pawing the ground angrily. The little guy again takes a few more exaggerated steps towards him and yells out again “Toro”. This time the bull charges full steam towards him hitting him directly in the gut. The second guys quickly is hit and then the third, who is quickly swept under getting trampled and kicked in the face and groin along the way. The forth, fifth, sixth pile on trying desperately to stop this freight train of an angry bull. The last guy finally grabs hold of the bull’s tail and is being twirled around like a rag doll, but he gracefully holds on sliding through the dirt as if he’s weightless in one 360 degree circle after another until the bull gives up. He turns his back to the bull and takes a deep bow just a few feet in front of the breathless bull and then proudly exits the ring. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever witnessed.
Then the bull takes on the second guy.
Then the 3rd guy gets hit
and he goes down
and under the bull.
He’s probably thinking he should start looking for a new job.
A desk job doesn’t sound so bad right about now.
Looks like he gets kicked in the face.
Where do I sign up for this?
Wow, now that’s a show!
Thanks goes out to our neighbors Lorne, Bonnie and Loraine for sharing.