Sunday, 20 January 2013

Adios Baja California, hola Mazatlan

Some of my last views of rugged Baja California on the ferry to Mazatlan.

Enjoying a different form of transport to the bike.
I caught the ferry from Baja over to the Mazatlan on the mainland on the 6th of January. I had hoped to head a bit earlier but it was very heavily booked due to the time of year. Nick had decided to chance his luck on a yacht headed for Puerto Vallarta a few hundred km further south of Mazatlan. I wasn't the only touring cyclist on the ferry though as Andrew Flansaas, one of the Alaskan Pan American cyclists was also on board. Andrew was heading ahead of the rest of his gang in order to meet his parents for a week down in Puerto Vallarta.

I had become very relaxed travelling through Baja as it is very user friendly for a touring cyclist and the people were extremely friendly but traveling over to the mainland was another step into the unknown. I didn't know much about Mazatlan except that it was a popular tourist destination, had a pretty old town and that it was a city in the state of Sinaloa, the Sinaloa drug cartel being one of the biggest cartels in Mexico!

It did not take me long to try out the pool!
Andrew had told me that he had been kindly offered a place to stay in Mazatlan and said that I could come over to the house if I wanted to. Not being one to turn down a possible place to lay my head I followed Andrew from the port to the location he had been directed to. Even though it was less than an hour on the bike we had worked up a decent sweat with the warm day and the extremely steep up hill to get to the house which overlooked the old town. We were welcomed by the very friendly Gloria who showed Andrew and myself around the house. Wow. This was not any old place to lay my head but a incredible holiday home with beautiful views of  the sea and the city complete with a swimming pool! A short time later I got to speak with Bill Hurley who very generously told me that I was more than welcome to stay. He didn't have to offer me twice. I have had the privilege to stay in some lovely places and beautiful homes on this trip so far but Bill Hurley's pad in Mazatlan certainly takes the biscuit! Thank you sincerely Bill!

Brendan and Gwen on our way to Stone "Island",
a relaxed beach area of Mazatlan.
Gloria told me that she was friends with an Irish couple in Mazatlan. Keen to meet my first Irish in Mexico I was glad when Gwen O'Toole phoned to arrange a coffee in the old town. Gwen and her husband Brendan were headed to Guadalajara for a few days shortly after I met them so we bid our goodbyes as I thought I would be long gone by the time they got back. Suffice to say when you've spent five months mostly in a tent and you might have to go days at a time without a shower Bill's palace was a very difficult place to leave! So when I was still in Mazatlan almost a week after I had said my goodbyes to the O'Tooles they kindly treated me to a couple of more days out. (Drinks are on me next time you guys are back in the Poitin Stil!)

Olas Altas - part of the Malecon by the old town
Cathedral by night
Street in the old town.
As I had heard Mazatlan has a beautiful old town which was only a steep 5 minute walk down the hill from the house. I really enjoyed getting to know the old town as well taking trips further down the malecon to some of the more touristy areas. Mazatlan's malecon, which is a kind of beach walk way, is the longest in Mexico and stretches for miles.
The Malecon stretching right along the bay
One of many beautiful sunsets I witnessed while in Mazatlan. 
Nick, with whom I had cycled Baja turned up in Mazatlan after a few days. His boat to Puerta Vallarta had turned into something of a nightmare crossing with the engine going on the first day and the main mast breaking a day or two later so I think he was quite happy to step back onto dry land even it was Mazatlan and not Puerta Vallarta where he had originally planned to boat to.

It wasn't all lounging by the pool. Looking pretty red faced after a run up to the local lighthouse.
One of the many large statues along the Malecon

Mazatlan is famous throughout Mexico as being the best place for Carnival (/Mardi Gras). Before I left you could see the city starting to gear up for this massive street party with lots of giant statues dotted along the Malecon and in other parts of the city.

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