Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Juarez Market & the old Marina in Mazatlan 2.26.08

We had been told of a wonderful tradition in Mazatlan called the “Juarez Market”. No one seemed to be able to tell us exactly what it was – the best description was a huge swap meet. The market is only on Sundays and begins early and is all wrapped up around 1:30 or so. We were expecting to go with Danni on Kinship and Judy on Deja Too but both had things come up so we went ourselves. The market can only be described as a combination flea market, garage sale, thrift store, & swap meet, with odd sprinklings throughout as well. The market’s center is beside a beautiful cathedral with bells that chime every hour and the merchants pour out into the streets surrounding the cathedral – some 6 deep! You can find everything you might want to….and those you wouldn’t expect! It seemed like the merchants all had about a 6’ x 6’ space. Some laid their wares out on tables, some overhead & on displays, some on tarps on the ground, some just on the ground. There was a lot of tarps overhead, shielding the sun from everyone which was very welcome as it was very warm & sunny out. There were lots of clothes – some new, some used – Mom’s selling clothes with their little ones just beside her, knowing they had just grown out of them, and new items, still packaged. There were food vendors, selling either fresh fruits & veggies or plenty of items to eat immediately. There were a lot of vendors selling fresh eggs, and some random ones selling seeds for planting and some that looked just like twigs that we couldn’t figure out what it was. The staples were there – tacos, burritos, tortas, candies, fresh bread, ice cream, fresh squeezed juices, etc. but my favorite was the pancake vendors! 3 pancakes for $2…yummy. Again, all you wanted could be found here – hats, shoes galore, TV’s, electronics of every kind – laptops, computers, video games, tools, used car stereos, comic books, lots of kids toys, belts, needlework supplies, arts & craft supplies, exercise equipment, etc. My favorite spot was a tie between the area where the ladies could get their hair cut and the men & boys were getting their heads shaved – with lots of people lining up for the barber chairs (I didn’t dare…) and the already cooked tomatillo’s you could purchase. The fresh juices are sold in small & large. If you order a small, they give you a sandwich baggie with a knot tied in the top and a straw sticking out of it! A large is a HUGE container like something you’d put soup in….with a hole cut in the top for the straw. Very bizarre indeed. There were tons of people there, but we counted only a dozen other ‘gringo’s’ – it was a true Mexican tradition and an amazing experience, the pictures don’t do it justice. We attempted to talk to several of the merchants but our Spanish was not good enough to hold on a decent conversation so we’ll be practicing for the next time! We ended up at a little taco stand where we enjoyed 5 tacos & a drink (Rene had a Tonical, which is similar to a darker ginger ale and Michael had a Coca-cola, which they had to go purchase down the street) for only $5 and a $1 tip.

Yesterday we took a bus into town, headed for the Tortilleria beside Ley’s. Well, there are 3 in town and we took the wrong bus so we decided to ride the bus until the end of the line and figure it out from there. We ended up at the old harbor in Mazatlan, near the ferry dock and saw a lot more of the city in the process. The picture below is of the walkway just opposite the old harbor. And below that is the Hotel El Mirador….how many steps do you thing that is?!

We were planning to get some info on the ferry to La Paz with some other cruisers anyway, so we walked through the area and found the info we wanted. We’re thinking of taking the ferry next week or so over to La Paz for 3-4 days. After finishing up at the Ferry, we jumped on another bus and went to the large Mercado for lunch. Upstairs from the Mercado are a bunch of restaurants, some with outside seating that overlook the busy street below. We had been told of one specific place but it was closed so we winged it in another place we saw a familiar face come out of. The funny thing we’ve noticed being here is there are people who just seem to be at the same places at the same time, a lot. We met a fellow from Santa Barbara about a week ago on a bus and he’s turned up in several other places we have since then. Anyway – the restaurant…it’s a little hard to describe. There were about 5 booths outside and one table inside. The kitchen was open and you could see the food being prepared, the dishes from past customers, and even had to walk through it to pay & exit. We had a wonderful meal…I had a meal called Pollo Veracruzana (Chicken Veracruz) that was fantastic. It was a bit odd, had a chicken leg & thigh covered in French fries with salsa over the top with beans & rice on the side…but was absolutely excellent. The chicken was the most tender, perfect chicken I have had in quite a while. Michael had Gorditas and they were good as well. Again, our total was $5.80 with two drinks. We walked through the Mercado purchasing some avocados, a pineapple, & those yummy coconut stacks I like. Unfortunately, Michael strained his knee again and we high-tailed it back to the boat for the rest of the day.

Today his knee is still causing him pain and the sun decided not to come out all day so we stayed busy with boat chores & I attempted a fruit & nut bread recipe that I’d been given a year or so ago by another cruiser. It called for yeast and everything, my first attempt with it. It turned out pretty good, is either missing something or has too much flour in it, I think. But a success anyway – they’ll definitely be eaten! I’ve been walking with a group of gals in the mornings on Tues, Thurs, & Sat but today everyone decided not to go so I went for a run instead. It’s a beautiful area and all the locals are very friendly. On Mon, Wed, & Fri a group of ladies meet in the cruisers lounge for a “Stretch & Strengthen” class that I’ve begun attending as well. It’s a tough one and has me sore from the first class!

We start Spanish classes tomorrow – twice a week and are really looking forward to it. We’re both getting much better as long as the person we’re speaking to slows down (repitame, mas despacio, por favor) when they talk to us….or at least gives us a couple seconds to translate before starting again. And we’ve found if the other person knows even a little bit of English, it helps significantly. Geez, before too long our days will be planned out with just our regular commitments! That’s OK…it keeps us sane. And at least this way we know what day it is! Cruiseheimers is certainly easy to get out here…forgetting what day it is, what month it is, etc!

OK so tomorrow is Wednesday – I have the S&S class from 8:30-9:30 then we have Spanish class from 10-noon. And Wednesday is 2 for 1 at the local movie theatre where they have English movies with Spanish subtitles. Whew! It even sounds exhausting! Haha…

More to follow…


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