Mazatlan, Covid Edition
Wearing my cozy polka dot sweatshirt, we set off for winter on the Pacific coast of Mexico, taking the risk of two not-very-long flights to escape the cold and dark of New England. Yes, I’m wearing swim goggles with my KN-95 mask, and Jim sports a mask and protective shield. Our families expressed trepidation about our plan but we were undeterred. We will isolate in Mexico with a view of the sea. Can you see we are smiling?
One of the largest fishing ports in Mexico, Mazatlan is home to enormous tuna fleets and an extensive shrimping industry. Sportfishing, enjoyed by locals and tourists, became popular in the mid-twentieth century when movie stars such as John Wayne and Gary Cooper angled for marlin after filming Westerns in nearby Durango. Our one sea excursion this season was five-minute ride aboard a small ponga to the beach at Stone Island where grilled seafood and mango margaritas are served beneath shady palapas.
With the Sierra Madre Mountains on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other, Mazatlan’s sub-tropical climate in winter is dry (low humidity/ almost no rain) with temps ranging from mid-seventies in the day to low-sixties at night. By 11 a.m. the offshore winds shift and sea breezes blow till sundown. My office window offers a view of “Tres Islas,” aka Goat, Bird and Deer Islands.
The walk into town along the coastal road takes about seven minutes. We are in the southernmost end of the 14-mile long Malecon, in the historic Centro that is dominated by colorful 19th-century buildings in various stages of rehabilitation. A small scallop of beach at this end of town is called Olas Altas, or high waves, a popular surf spot in summer. Small cafes and bars with outside seating rim the road, and we are pleased to see more people than not wearing masks and social distancing.
Our third-floor rental this year is in a sprawling and somewhat ramshackle 1970s building designed by a local architect. We happily overlook its flaws (ants! no dryer vent!) for a magnificent sea view where whales and dolphins occasionally cavort. Sunsets are accompanied by a soundtrack of mariachi and oom-pah banda music blaring from car stereos parked along the coastal road where people stop for sunset-selfies. We rarely need to leave this aerie, and why would we?