One of the Carnaval statues on the Malecón in Mazatlán.

After our two day crossing from Bahía Falsa to Mazatlán we dropped anchor in the harbor and caught up on sleep. The harbor hadn’t changed much. There were only a couple other cruising boats at anchor, but there were a number of pelican boats on mooring balls, boats that had been taken over by the birds. Club Nautico was still around, but missing its roof, probably blown off when the hurricane came through last fall. Since it was falling apart when we were here a couple of years ago, we weren’t surprised. There were still party lanchas running back and forth, full of Mexican tourists in town for Carnaval. The sea wall around the harbor had been reinforced with new rip rap and new big jack shaped concrete pieces. The entrance light was leaning a little, but it was still there. We watched the loading of one of the ferries we’d seen in Pichelingue, the San Jorge. When it left, the Baja Star arrived the next morning.

One of the things we like about Mazatlán is that from the old harbor, it’s a walking town. Nothing is too far away and you can have a tourist experience or easily get to the market to provision up. We assembled the dinghy and rowed to the dinghy dock to check in with Martín, the caretaker. We walked toward el centro, the main downtown shopping area. We stopped by the quilt shop, but it was closed. We walked around Plazuela Machado, in the historic district and stopped in a gallery space to took at art done by students based on Picasso’s work. There’s an art school and a ballet school next to Teatro Angela Peralta. We found a nice bookstore we hadn’t seen before, and then walked up to Mercado Pina Suarez, the main market, and bought some groceries.

Back at Gypsy, we watched the tour boats going by, some with live bands. The boats were packed. The street leading to Club Nautico was busy with people. Mazatlán claims to have the third largest Carnival celebration in the world, after Rio de Janiero and New Orleans. We talked to one of the ride hawkers and they had a special Saturday night cruise for 1500 pesos each that included live music, an open bar and a view of the fireworks from the water. We didn’t go for it. That night we could see some of the fireworks, and they were massive and spectacular, even with a hill in the way. A good thirty minutes of flashes and bangs and very loud music. At the end, all the boats rushed back into the harbor, and it was crazy. Every boat was blaring different music, people were dancing in their bright orange life vests. The malecón was probably packed with people. At midnight the party was still in full swing.

The next morning we thought we’d walk up El Faro, the lighthouse hill. The line extended for blocks and since they were pacing how many got to go up at once, we figured we had at least an hour’s wait. We climbed the stairs up to La Marea instead and walked down toward the malecón. There were Pacifico booths every 50 meters or so. Platforms for different bands were set up along the malecón.

The next morning we headed to Marina El Cid. We’d reserved a slip, but the boat that was supposed to leave had extended its stay so we had to wait at the fuel dock while they found us a slip. They, like everywhere this year, are full. The Baja Ha-Ha was huge this year, all the Canadians who couldn’t get down during Covid were back, and the boats that hadn’t jumped off to the South Pacific were still around. We got a slip, and waited for Bill’s sisters to arrive.

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