Thursday, March 6, 2008

Walking tour of Mazatlan #2 3.6.08

Perhaps the best known monument in the city, the "Monumento al Pescador" is a symbol of Mazatlán. Mazatlán, which began as a fishing town, is still known for fishing, both for recreation and for commercial activity. In fact, Mazatlán boasts the largest shrimp fishing fleet in the Pacific. The man in the monument represents the strength of the fishermen who labor every day. Fittingly, Mazatlán's fishermen can be found along the beach, just south of the monument, every morning, selling their catches of the day. The woman represents both the beautiful women of Mazatlán and the beauty of the city itself. In the middle of the monument is a lighthouse, which is, of course, El Faro (the lighthouse). And the ribbon that entwines the monument (and on which the woman rests) is the Tropic of Cancer, which Mazatlán almost sits right on. This monument is Mazatlán's oldest and is commonly used as a reference point along the malecón.

Next is Mazatlan's largest monument, the “Monumento a la Continuidad de la Vida” (Monument to the continuity of life), featuring a couple and nine leaping dolphins. The monument-- a naked couple on a huge seashell overlooking a school of dolphins-- is meant to represent life's continuity in harmony with nature. The man, who points to an infinite horizon, offers the future to the woman, a future where they will search for happiness together and protect living things. The snail shell on which the couple stand is particularly important because the snail traditionally represents continuity and eternity of life in the universe. This monument is particularly impressive at night, when it is all lit up.

Next on the walk is the Gloria Sanchez Taboada which is a large open area where the Cliff Divers perform. It's more of a meeting & gathering area than anything else, but there are a couple monuments there as well. The first one you see is called "The Siren". Not much seems to be known about this mermaid ("La Sirena") who sits on the rocks overlooking the ocean near the clavadistas (cliff divers). The cupid next to her seems to be ready to strike the lover she is searching or waiting for.

Even less is known about the next monument - that of a man who looks as though he has a cape, and is petting a small animal. I can find absolutely no one who knows anything about it!! There's not even a plaque on the statue. (The Siren is in the background, on his left hand side.)

The area that the cliff divers perform is a beautifully paved theater with several areas you can look out to the ocean. The observation points are un named and are perched atop a stony precipice. It takes considerable nerve to scale the arching brick staircase - there's no rail & a long drop to the sea on either side - but it's even worse coming back down!

We were in luck on Tuesday as it was Cruise Ship day... (the cruise ships come into port on Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) and since I had slowed us down quite a bit taking all these pictures, we got to see one of the cliff divers make the jump. You can see the below picture, the diver is positioned at the top of the platform and he dives directly below into the churning water. Timing is everything, as the water is only six feet deep at times.

The next monument is "La Mujer Mazatleca" and is for the women of Mazatlán, who are said to be among the most beautiful women in the world.

Looking on the other side of the street, you'll see a natural cave with a red gate covering the entrance called "El Diablo Cave". Known by local people as the Caverna del Diablo (Devil’s Cave), it had historically served as an ice locker for fish storage but was used during the Mexican Revolution as an armory, with the gated opening providing an escape hatch to the sea for the soldiers guarding the ammo. The folklore also goes on to say that when the malecon was being built, the dynamite that was used to blow up parts of the mountain was stored there. All the young kids were brought to the cave gate and when they smelled the sulfur were told it was the cave of the devil...and to not open it or else the devil himself would take them forever.

And one final monument I can find no details on...

More to follow! I hope you're enjoying the sights around Mazatlan...


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