Monday, December 17
Today, we ventured into the “old” downtown, which differs from the Golden Zone in many ways. The Golden Zone consists mainly of hotels, shops, and restaurants and caters almost entirely to the tourist crowd. The old downtown area, while it still has many shops and restaurants, also appears to more residential, with more locals going about their daily lives. There are historic buildings in this area and, walking the streets, one can see many examples of the local architecture.
We got off the bus at the city market, which was overflowing with people, locals and tourists alike. This market reminded me, somewhat of, Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, because of the wide variety of items offered. Everything from fresh, local produce, to handcrafted items. There were also many meat vendors displaying freshly butchered meat, including pigs heads, hooves and skin. That was a site I could have lived without seeing!
From the market, we moved on to exploring some of the shops nearby. The sidewalks were very narrow and most had big, vinyl signs hanging down on the curb side in an effort to provide some shade for those walking as well as for the street vendors that spilled out onto the sidewalks. With the crowds this made a leisurely shopping experience difficult. We did step into a few stores and we found the combination shoe store/music store to be a bit comical.
The cathedral is mentioned often in anything one reads about old Mazatlan so we found our way to it and stepped inside. There was a mass going on, so we couldn’t wander around and explore too much. We did snap a couple of photos before seeing the sign asking that no cameras be used in the sanctuary. It truly is a beautiful building.
We realized that we were all hungry so we headed in the direction of the ocean, where we knew we would find a place to eat as well as cool breezes. We landed at the Shrimp Bucket, where Megan and I each got salads, Joe got shrimp prepared in a butter, garlic sauce and Tom ordered up shrimp tacos, which he declared his best meal so far since we got here.
While eating we were serenaded by a gentleman walking around the streets stopping to sing to those seated outside. This is one of the experiences that you so often see depicted in movies, but you seldomly see happen in reality. After singing us his version of Feliz Navidad, we handed him a tip and he went on his way.
There is a waterfront promenade in old town that stretches along 4 miles of the ocean and features statues depicting some of the history of the area. There is also a tower in the stretch from which cliff divers will dive many feet into the water below. We were approached by one of these divers as we drew close to the tower from which they dive. For some reason, I actually thought that the cliff divers were like surfers, in that they came out a dove off the cliffs purely for the joy and the sport of it, so I was a bit taken aback when the diver came to us and said he would dive for us, for a charge.
It just never occurred to me that this is probably what puts meals on the table for this guy and his family. We declined his offer, but looking back on it now, I regret that decision and wish that we would have paid him.
The walk along the promenade provided many photo opportunities which we took advantage of on our way to the nearest bus stop. We were all feeling pretty full, hot and a bit tired and were ready to go back to go back to the condo and rest and do a little water time (Joe and Meg in the ocean, and Tom and I poolside.)