We met in Mazatlan several years ago. Evelyn is also from Harlem—not Montana—the Harlem in that Big City eastern seaboard state. A world traveler, Evelyn takes trips every year to different countries. She is an intriguing, well-read and versatile woman. She annually spends three weeks in Mazatlan at the same resort where I stay with my friends, Kathy and Richard.
As we came to know Evelyn, we realized we like to do many of the same things; we diverge from the usual tourist paths and explore new territory. Evelyn is a master at nosing out new adventures. She is the one who found us the Christmas Tour Bus trip to Guadalajara just a few years ago, the trip where we were stranded along the roadside several middle-of-the-night hours after the bus broke down, one of our favorite experiences.
We kept missing connections this year; didn’t spend as much time together as we intended. So we crowded as much of ourselves into Evelyn’s last few days as we could. The four of us would meet at my casita before heading off to our destination. It was Richard who first posited the question, “What would it take for you to stay longer than three weeks, Evelyn?”
Hold that thought. Evelyn side-tracked the question skillfully but earned the nickname Three-week Evelynda. She flew home. Two couples, long-time friends of Richard and Kathy, flew in, along with the returning hummingbirds.
Now I have not met these four persons, but I am happy to join with Kathy in planning a range of activities they might enjoy during their introduction to Mexico. Being who we are, with excitement and anticipation, we compiled a list not found on any tourist map.
We headed the itinerary with a trip to Cerritos, where we enjoy the most succulent fish prepared in huts without basic amenities such as electricity, where ice and water is trucked in by barrels. Gleefully, we added a ride with Carlos, by pulmonia, out to the docks where the shrimp boats tie up for the day. Bring cameras for a primo photo op. A swing past the little tortilla “factory” for tortillas fresh off the rack, warm and delicious with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt.
Oh, we must take them to the tienda out on Santa Rosa Boulevard where the furniture from Concordia is sold—and the best panaderia in Mazatlan along the way, just a couple back streets to the north. Don’t forget an evening with our other friend Carlos, at his restaurant for the most unique cerviche and pescado empapelado. Our mouths were watering.
Do you think they would enjoy a massage with Elena? We must show them the fighting cocks at El Quilete. We could rent a van and take a day trip out to Tiacapan, with stops at Esquinapa and Rosario along the way. Oh, the possibilities. Oh, the fun we can have.
What we had forgotten, in our excitement, is that this is the four friends’ first trip. They had not tasted all the tourist things; sights and activities we had done our first years here. They were not interested in leaving the “golden zone”. They were not interested in wandering off the map.
Rejection felt personal, like when a friend doesn’t think your child is cute. Kathy backed off, suggested a list of the usual tourist activities, and let her friends be tourists, slowly and gently.
Return to the question Richard asked Evelyn: What would it take to make you stay longer than three weeks? Evelyn is quite happy to come to Mexico every year. But she is also quite happy to go home to New York City at the end of her three weeks in Mazatlan.
If Evelyn were to turn the question around to Richard, Kathy and I, we would have to answer that it takes a love affair. We three have fallen in love with Mazatlan. Long ago we tired of the well-trodden tourist pathway. For us the resort is simply a bedroom, a place to return at evening after a day exploring Mazatlan, learning the city, talking with its people. For us, three weeks is a flirtation. For Richard and Kathy, two months is not long enough. For me, living in my casita near the beach and the bus line, six months is not too long.
HDN: Looking out my back door
December 4, 2014