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December 11th, 2009
December 11th, 2009

A Circuitous Route to Mazatlan

The restored Melville Suites Building
The restored Melville Suites Building
A Circuitous Route to Mazatlan

Leaving Barra and Melaque we took an eight-hour bus ride to Puerto Vallarta, winding through mountains, valleys and coastal villages.  P.V., as the locals call it, is much the same - big, brash and touristy - although the recent  press about Mexico (Swine flu and drug wars) combined with the worldwide economic slump have conspired to reduce prices and empty hotels of their usual foreign residents.

After a week we travelled north by bus again, taking the best part of a day to reach Mazatlan, a coastal city that has managed to avoid Puerto Vallarta´s glitz and golf courses and retains a colonial “centro” with grand old homes, many in various stages of restoration by gringos who appreciate the history and mid-nineteenth century architecture.

While here, we watched a two-day marathon which shut down 25 kilometres of “malecon” (waterfront boulevard) and enjoyed the ambience of old town with its two squares, open air restaurants and strolling musicians.  Being a seaport, Mazatlan supports a huge fresh fish industry and we dined regularly on “filetes de pescado” and “camerones”.

Having previously crossed the sea of Cortez three times under sail, we elected to reach the Baja peninsula by ferry and were pleasantly surprised to undertake the 13-hour crossing in style - a private cabin and well appointed dining room.  We spent one night in La Paz (where our haunt of previous visits, the grand old Los Arcos Hotel, was shut down due to political squabbles) and one night in the colonial centre of San José del Cabo (more upscale than Mazatlan, but smaller and more expensive.)

Returning by plane to Mazatlan we are now ensconced in one of the Melville Suites in “Old Town”.  This is a mid nineteenth century former school, sympathetically converted into a boutique apartment-hotel.  Many of the residents spend half the year here and the staff and atmosphere are very friendly.

In a week we leave for Puerto Vallarta for Christmas and a family reunion. Mounted on the wall outside the door of our hotel is this apt quotation:

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.  I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
Herman Melville, In Mazatlan, March 28-April 16, 1864


More Images

A sunset chess game at Los Arcos corner in Puerto Vallarta
A sunset chess game at Los Arcos corner in Puerto Vallarta
Float for the Virgin of Guadalope procession at the beginning of the Advent season.
Float for the Virgin of Guadalope procession at the beginning of the Advent season.
Advent procession in living colour.
Advent procession in living colour.
Sunrise from Hotel La Siesta balcony in Mazatlan.
Sunrise from Hotel La Siesta balcony in Mazatlan.
Martyn reading the plaque with quote from Herman Melville´s 1864 visit to Mazatlan
Martyn reading the plaque with quote from Herman Melville´s 1864 visit to Mazatlan
View of the arid landscape of the Baja Peninsula
View of the arid landscape of the Baja Peninsula
Artisan vendor in San Jose del Cabo
Artisan vendor in San Jose del Cabo

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