Beach-bumming it in Mazatlan
Crooked under one arm, he lovingly hugs a water-beaten body board as if it were his best friend. A mass of dirty blonde dreadlocks crowns his scalp and from under sun-faded Hawaiian shorts, his bronzed muscular body depicts a carefree, beach bum lifestyle. He bids us a "G'day, mates," and I have to remind myself what side of the globe I am visiting. "Heck of a splash out here t'day," he continues before journeying to the Pacific's gentle rollers. I agree, then sit back to reflect on this past one heck of a day, not from the waves where my new Australian acquaintance hangs out, but from my relaxing lookout perch, a comfy beach chaise lounge.
Our morning had begun with a graceful sail into Mazatlan's picturesque harbour. From my portside deck chair, I watched as the seventy thousand pounds beneath me was skillfully maneuvered into a resting berth for the day. The twenty-six hundred passengers of Carnival's "Fun Ship," the Elation, then disembarked at this popular Mexican port...and our family of seven was amongst the lot of them.
Mazatlan's historical centre, otherwise known as Plaza Machado, boasts several restored buildings, one of them being the famous Teatro Angela Peralta. Built in the early 1870's this oldest theatre in Mazatlan sparkles in architectural splendor and has been described as being the city's crown jewel. By taking the self-guided tour we could discover more of its history, and the bittersweet tale of the famous opera singer that the theatre was named after. Known by her beloved fans as 'The Nightingale of Mexico,' Angela Peralta had arrived by ship to perform at the theatre just before the turn of the century, however, en route she had contracted yellow fever and died in her Mazatlan hotel room just prior to her engagement.
Considering a couple of our kids were missing school in order to be on this vacation, I thought that this interesting and educational Mazatlan highlight would be worth checking out. I soon found out that our kids had other plans.
"Let's hit the beach," piped up our eldest. "There are some awesome waves here." They'd heard that Mazatlan offered some of the best beaches on Mexico's Pacific Coast and because there were not many land obstructions between the sandy sun spots and the wide open Pacific, there were some pretty dynamic surfing sites here as well.
There was no need for a democratic vote. I knew I was outnumbered. And although I certainly didn't object to catching a few rays, I was somewhat leery of the surfing idea considering none of our kids had ever even held a surfboard before, let alone balanced on one! "Let's compromise," I interjected, "I'll drop the history lesson at this port stop if you'll switch the white water rollers for some body boarding riders instead." In agreement, we all set off in search of just a little bit of surf and lots of sand.
The Malecon, Mazatlan's palm-lined waterfront promenade bridged the gap as we traveled via taxi from the old city to the newer Zona Dorado. Strewn over twenty-three kilometers fronting this popular stretch where resorts competed for space with restaurants and shops, were a variety of sandy havens. Beaches closer to this Golden Zone's hub, such as Playa Las Gaviotas, although sparkling with plenty of beach party energy, didn't seem to have enough chop to excite even the most timid type of wave rider...like me. In contrast, at the most northern end, Playa Bruja promised to thrill the swimming trunks off the most experienced surfer. And somewhere in between, and the place where we splayed our bodies, rallied the volleyball, cajoled with beach vendors and played in the waves, was perfection - at least in the eyes of our novice crew of five body boarders!
Yes, reflecting back on the day from the comfort of my beach chaise lounge I am in agreement. It has been one heck of a day and I'm glad that the kids have coerced me to joining them at this sun-splashed spot. Real-world concerns wash away with the crashing of each wave and while I bask in the warm winds that gently caress my body, the saying "life is a beach" takes on an entirely new meaning. The thought of adapting to the Australian's 'beach bum' lifestyle no longer seems that unrealistic. This would definitely be the place to give it a whirl. It's the place where people come from all over the world to enjoy a 'beach of a time' whether surfing, body boarding, or like me, just setting back to partake in a one-day escape from the fast lane of life.
For cruise lovers:
Carnival Cruise Lines
For reservations call direct: 1-800-CARNIVAL www.carnival.com
The 'Elation' sails from Los Angeles weekly - on this seven-day excursion to the Mexican Riviera.
To Arrange your flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles: Alaska Airlines offers daily direct flights to Los Angeles Reservations: within US and Canada: 1-800-252-7522 Web site: www.alaskaair.com
For those who prefer to fly:
Contact your favourite travel agent
Images form this article - Photo Strip 151