Sunday, April 3, 2011


Mazatlan is a City of Beautiful Beaches

"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, 1844

Fog rolls in near Playa Olas Altas

Mazatlan is a city with an interesting past. In its prehistory, the area around the present city was inhabited by natives called Totorames. In 1531 a group of Spaniards arrived and founded a settlement here, but for three centuries it was little more than a stopover for passing ships and a hideout for the occasional pirate vessel, and by the 1820's it was still a village.

In 1847, in its first foreign invasion, the United States occupied the port of Mazatlan. Then the French followed suit in 1864. This was apparently in response to a group of Confederate soldiers taking over the place with the quixotic idea of forming a Confederacy south of the Border. Then the British, not to be outdone, briefly occupied the place in 1871.

Revolution came to Mexico in 1910 and Mazatlan earned the distinction of being the second city (after Tripoli) ever to be bombed in an aerial attack. It seems that one General Carranza in an effort to take the city ordered a biplane to drop a bomb made of nails and dynamite wrapped in leather on Neveria Hill. Naturally the bomb landed in downtown instead, killing two and wounding several others.
Downtown Plaza

After the revolution ended in 1917, things settled down in Mazatlan and it entered a period of more or less prosperity. More in the 1920's, less during the Great Depression and WWII. Today it is a prosperous port city with beautiful beaches and a magnificent old town. Of course there have been a few setbacks recently. The current global recession has hurt both tourism and business in the port. Mazatlan is also the primary port in the State of Sinaloa, home of one of the most prominent drug cartels in Mexico. There has been enough drug related violence here to cause many cruise lines to stop calling here, at least for the present. This has resulted in a lot of closed up beach palapa restaurants, much to my chagrin. Nearly all of the locals I've talked to blame Mazatlan's bad economic times on the drug violence, and indirectly on the demand for drugs in the US.

Anyway, we had a great time wandering around the city, enjoying the splendid architecture and excellent food here. The city is graced with beautiful beaches and near perfect sunbathing weather.
Locals relaxing at Playa Olas Altas

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