On June 26th at around 6 p.m. we boarded the ferry that would take us from La Paz to the city of Mazatlan. The ride took over 17 hours and I spent most of that time roaming the decks and practicing my Spanish with truck drivers and children (who are usually eager to practice their English and also are VERY patient with me).
It was a restless night. Although we had fairly comfortable seats (they were more like theatre seats than airline seats), we were in coach class, in a room filled with about 100 other passengers and to keep us all occupied there was a constant stream of movies being shown on two large flat screen televisions mounted to the walls. As with all things audio in Mexico, the volume was set at an eardrum-bursting level, which meant we were unlikely to catch a decent nap, even with ear plugs in. Around midnight the movies ended and for a brief 6 hours we caught bits and pieces of sleep in between the sounds of humanity – children crying, coughing, snoring, chattering and various genres of music coming from phones or mp3 players.
We rolled off the ferry and in to our third Mexican state. Heading in to Centro Mazatlan, toward our hosts’ house, we were enamored. Lush, flowering trees lined cobbled streets that meandered by tightly knit and colorful homes. The streets were alive with pedestrians, vendors, bicycles, buses, motorcycles, and pulmonia taxis (think golf-carts). It was obvious that the historic center of town was in the midst of a revival of sorts, crumbling edifices mixed amongst beautifully restored homes, worn-down business fronts mixed with modern and marketed fronts. Art galleries and museums, theatres and street musicians peppered the corners.
Our hosts, Cris and Fred, welcomed us in to their gorgeous and fantastically located home (only a couple of blocks from the malecon and historic downtown) and after we chatted a bit they surprised us by sharing a delicious lunch with us. They were so generous during our stay, we literally felt spoiled! After spending only a couple of short days getting to know them we knew we had made new life-long friends.
We found another gem of a person (and place) in Mazatlan at the Suitel 522 Ecological Hostel. Kai and I ended up spending an additional three weeks in town, due to a combination of having to extend our visas (a week’s wait for the paperwork to be processed), our website being hacked (twice in a week!) and Kai coming down with a nasty cold that lasted a full week. Sichem, the young and ecologically-minded owner, bent over backwards to accommodate our unexpected delays and to make us feel like his place was our home. He was fantastic and we quickly became friends, talking about politics, gardening, daily activism, and sustainability.
Just like us, Sichem believes that small, everyday actions can greatly affect the health of the planet. He helps to raise guest consciousness about nature and conservation through his on-site environmental programs. Guests are informed about food waste, conservation of resources, recycling and more, and invited to participate, voluntarily, in any of the programs during their stay. The goal is to give people the ability to take simple steps toward action, which will then, hopefully, spread beyond their stay to their personal homes, then on to others. Things we especially appreciated about his program: composting of food waste in an on-site worm compost bin, recycling (rare so far in Mexico), use of non-disposable/washable dishes and utensils (instead of plastic/throwaway), providing guests with biodegradable soaps, rainwater collection, lending guests reusable cloth bags for grocery shopping, and, of course, rental of bicycles! We were so impressed with Sichem’s ambition and determination to make a difference.
If you’re ever in Mazatlan and looking for a place to stay, check out the Suitel 522 Ecological Hostel. The private and affordable rooms at Suitel 522 come complete with a kitchenette, wi-fi, a lush garden just outside your door, an exercise room, access to washer/dryer, and a complimentary breakfast of fruits, jams and toast. Here’s a slideshow of some photos we took during our stay:
In between illness and work, we did find time to walk along the beaches, watch cliff-divers, ride along the malecon, visit local bakeries and bicycle shops, and to spend more time with our new friends, Cris and Fred.
Eventually we had to say goodbye to beautiful Mazatlan and it’s lively streets. We were feeling really out of shape, were ready to ride again and were looking forward to climbing into a cooler part of Mexico. We waved goodbye to our friend Sichem and made a plan to meet Cris and Fred in Patzcuaro in August then rode out of town late in the morning. It felt good to be moving again and we were excited to discover more about Mexico.