It’s been a while since I posted about grocery shopping so I thought I’d give a little idea of the prices of some of the things I buy on a regular basis. My neighborhood doesn’t have a supermarket proper, but does have a few abarrotes. They only carry small portions of things though – so they’re great for things you need last minute, but not for a weekly shopping trip. Ley Express is a ten minute walk away, the mercado Pino Suarez is 15 minutes, and there is a Fruteria Alicia on the way home from either.
Mercado Pino Suarez is the place I go for meat, dried chili’s, grasa (the rendered pork fat that isn’t ultra processed), and sometimes fruit and veggies. I also get some of the more Méxican items here, like epazote. El Marino has a stall here so I get my coffee and coffee filters here as well.
Ley and the other supermarkets are where I go for canned and packaged foods. I also buy the bulk of my veggies from Ley as they are consistently better quality and I don’t have to go to multiple places to find everything. They don’t have the best prices, but they are pretty reasonable. Soriana is the only place I’ve found that has cheddar cheese that tastes like cheddar cheese. It’s expensive and not really on my diet, but it’s an indulgence. I can often find dill pickles in the import aisle too!
Fruteria Alicia, at least the one near me, is often out of things like tomatoes. Or jalapeños. Or all of the carrots are split. But the ladies there are nice, and if I can’t find (or more likely, have forgotten) something at Ley or the mercado, then I’ll stop on my way home and pick it up. I think out of the three places, they have the best bargains.
I only shop at OXXO when I’m traveling, and then only until I find the local mercado. Prices aren’t as bad as 7-11 is in the USA, but they are higher than other places, have a limited selection, and really – there are abarrotes every couple of blocks and I’d much rather do business with them.
Here’s a photo of my purchases from the last trip to Ley Express. The trip was mainly for veggies, but I also picked up some orange drink, fish sticks, worcestershire sauce, oregano, and jelly.
And then the prices. EVERYTHING (well, all the food – the instant pot, glasses, and my silverware need to be excluded) in the photo above came to $11.62 USD. Take note that tomatoes were on sale – at .13 cents USD a pound! Yes, fruits and veggies are incredibly cheap here. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian you could live super cheaply. I find that chicken is about the same price, maybe a little less, than what I paid in Seattle. Beef and pork are less, but they aren’t crazy low. The big benefit is that you buy from the butcher and develop a relationship with them – it’s a much more personal experience than throwing a plastic wrapped package in your cart.
Que Pasa, in the Gold Zone, is holding Spanish classes on Saturdays. 50 pesos for an hour class – not bad, PLUS I discovered that Genaro from the Costa de Oro is now working there! I arrived a little early, so I wandered to the beach for a while.
Tonight I felt like a little sunset walk, so I made my way from my apartment to Olas Altas, then down almost to the Fisherman’s Monument – and back. Almost 15,000 steps for the day so the extra calories I ate this week shouldn’t be a problem with my diet! We’ll see tomorrow!
My stove is getting more difficult to light, which is one of the signs my gas tank is almost empty. I think I might be able to get through until Tuesday or Wednesday, but a new tank is definitely going to be needed soon. I always feel sorry for the delivery guy that has to lug the full tank up my 35 steps, and the empty one back down – so I tip him fairly well. I use Gaspasa and it usually only takes around 20 minutes from the time I call until they arrive. One of these days I’ll get them to change the customer name from “Gringo” though!
And a little heads up for anyone thinking about buying a wok here in Mazatlán. Yes, Toyo foods has them – but they have some strange coating on them. I think it’s supposed to be the non-stick coating. I always use a little WD40 to remove the adhesive from price labels, and when I sprayed it on the adhesive on the wok, the coating came off too. Getting all of it off was a major pain in the butt. There was a warning label on the wok saying it DID NOT meet California health standards. I’m pretty sure the coating was why. But, now it’s gone, and my rice will now be fried easily! The last trip down from the USA I tried to bring my wok, but it’s HUGE and wouldn’t fit in my medium sized suitcase! I did bring a new set of bamboo steaming baskets, so that’ll take care of the awkward metal steamer whose legs keep falling off.
Ok, time to rest my feet. This post was just to put up a few current photos of Mazatlán for those in need of a little remote visit.
Note that I haven’t been able to get the website to load. Perhaps they’re doing maintenance, or it’s just overwhelmed. Your mileage may vary, and it’s not a bad idea to just keep trying every now and again.
Quarantine is finished, so yesterday I decided to take a long walk. I live on a MAJOR bus line, and I think all of the Juarez buses go past my apartment (several at a time, in 5 minute increments). One of my to-do’s is to hop on them and see where I wind up. I haven’t done it yet because there has to be something to put off for a rainy day!
So, yesterday when I decided to take a long walk I thought it was the perfect opportunity to follow the buses. I logged about 15,000 steps for the day doing it too!
Set off from my apartment at the East end of Ángel Flores, down through the ciudad perdida, and made my way to Avenida Gabriel Leyva. Made a left and just kept walking. A lot of the route was slightly familiar as most of the cab drivers from the airport take me home this way. Much of the beginning was industrial/waterfront and not much to see or do, but then it made way to the Juarez area where there were lots of shops and restaurants. Very colorful and there were a lot of people out shopping. When I hit Insurgentes I turned and followed it until I arrived at the malecón. Two hours, and a couple of blisters later and I was ready to hop on the bus and make my way home.
Of course, since I love anything chicken and being on a diet, I noticed every chicken joint along my walk. There were many. MANY. And most of them had the same special – two rotisserie chickens for $150 pesos. Google maps did let me figure out just where I was, but I didn’t have the timing down so I passed up the offers not knowing how long I’d have chickens getting cold in my backpack. What I *did* do however, was jump off the Sabalo Centro bus at Zaragoza and walk over to El Pechugon (https://www.facebook.com/elpechugonmazatlan)! They have pretty tasty chicken – not two for $150 pesos, but the paqueta #1 is a full chicken, 4 of what I call taquitos and they call tacos, a bag of salsa, and a big bag of potatoes for $145 pesos. If you haven’t had El Pechugon’s potatoes you’re missing out. They cook them at the bottom of the rotisserie. All the chicken fat drips on them while everything is cooking. Keep in mind that the whole rotisserie is HOT, and the chicken fat has to be fairly hot to get to a dripping point. You’re not likely to get food poisoning because of the process! El Pechugon is also a chain, and if you visit Puerto Vallarta there’s one in old town too. I think they’re all take-out only, so don’t expect to find a place to sit and eat.
After two hours of walking I was past ready for lunch, and my daily nap! The nap went from my usual 15 minutes to 60, so now of course, it’s midnight and I’m wide awake! Today is definitely not going to be a day to go walking – my feet need to have their day of rest, but I absolutely do plan on hopping on one of the Juarez buses and doing the trip in style next time!
I’m still quarantining, with daily walks at early hours and less traveled streets. Yesterday I decided to explore in a direction I haven’t gone yet. Yes, I know – I’ve been here almost three years now. You would think I’d explored at least all of my neighborhood! Anyway, I turned the corner going towards the CFE office and BOOM! There it was in my face! They’d been clearing the lot when I left – why is it that some things take years to build, and others are up in 3 months???? I’m not sure I’m liking an OXXO a block from me. There are already 2 abarrotes and a panadaria. And the mercado and Ley Express are both only 15 minutes away walking. And it’s going to increase traffic to Marisqueria El Changuirongo, which is right across the street – now I’ll never be able to get a table (once Covid-19 is handled)!
I’ve been back for four days now. At first I felt like the cold and drizzle followed me from Seattle. It was in the 70’s during the day, but I had to break out my travel blanket at night!
A trip to the mercado, and one to Ley Express and my refrigerator and pantry are restocked. I will now be quarantining in my apartment for the next 10 to 14 days. This time around I’m not going to forego my walks. There are several walks I take where I see very few people – and I can walk in the street to avoid them. I will also continue to wear my mask.
I walked to Olas Altas yesterday and noticed a few changes. First, the Brazilian buffet that’s been there for years (Encanto do Brasil – https://www.facebook.com/encantodobrasilbuffet/) is gone. I tried them once, which was enough for me. Not that the food was bad, but they had a fly problem – INSIDE. And they went pretty light on the portions. Just not a combination that makes me want to return. Their Facebook page says they’re re-opening in a new location. Hopefully they’ll be cleaner and more successful. Anyway, the place that’s now in their location is a cervecería called, “Cotorritos” (https://www.facebook.com/cotorritosolasaltas). Looks like there’s another one located at the Marina as well. Will have to give them a try in a few weeks!
Yesterday was a typically beautiful day in Mazatlán! The rain had stopped, the clouds had left, and it had warmed up enough to be a little uncomfortable in jeans.
On the way back home, I noticed that there’s a new Intercam bank branch opening in Centro Historico! They aren’t my favorite bank, but they have my fideicomiso. Hopefully they’ll be open soon and save me having to schlep a couple of miles down Av. Del Mar when I need to visit them. They’re between Olas Altas and the Plazuela Machado.
Craziness in the USA has now come to an end, but the travel restrictions that should have been in place from the beginning are now going into effect. Covid-19 test required to enter for international travelers, and a mandatory quarantine (Haven’t heard how many days yet). Will make a post when I know more about the types of approved tests and the quarantine length.
Thankfully 2020 is almost over. In less than three weeks, I’ll be home – back in the land of sun and warm! At least once a day I open my door here in Seattle and take in the grey and drizzle, just to reaffirm my decision to relocate!
People are constantly asking how ‘safe’ México is, and I’ll tell you now that I feel infinitely safer in Mazatlán than I do in Seattle. Crime here is skyrocketing and Seattle isn’t alone. There’s a different feeling in the United States these days, and it’s not a good one. People think they’re entitled to be nasty to one another, and the police have a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ attitude. Whatever happened to protect and serve? Where are the rubber bullets? And if I, as an older white guy, feel intimidated I can only imagine how minorities feel.
Now the vaccines are being distributed, but it will likely be several months before my number comes up and my turn in line moves to the front. So I’ll quedate en casa in my little apartment, but I’m going to resume my daily walks. During my trip down the Pacific coast of México, I saw a lot of great sights – and many of them were food. The fifteen pounds I’d lost are back and I’m ready to get back on the diet wagon!
I’ve been thinking that when I get back I might make a few videos to show some of the places in Mazatlán I enjoy. Until then, Mazatleco.com and their associated Facebook and YouTube pages will have to do. Things are in Spanish, but you can turn captions on in the YouTube videos, and have YouTube translate them. I’ll admit that Gustavo is putting out some great videos – there’s a recent one that he took at the aquarium. If you haven’t been, this will give you an excellent overview. Of particular note is the board listing events that appears eleven seconds into the video. The aquarium has four shows (twice a day?), and if it’s your first visit I suggest you follow the crowds to see them. I’ll warn you that sitting up front at the seal performance might not be the best of ideas if you want to stay dry! The aquarium is well worth a visit. I’m looking forward to the new aquarium opening too. Not sure if they’ll close this one, or not – we’ll see!
There are also videos of El Faro, the Malecón, Isla de la Piedra, and a lot of restaurant reviews. In fact, there’s a review of my favorite marisqueria (El Changuirongo) coming up! Take a look at the Mazatleco YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/Mazatlecom/videos) even if it’s just for one of their sunset videos!
I will say that it was a bit of a shock going from 90 degree weather to 45 degree weather, but the worst are the grey skies and drizzle. I spoke with a doctor and she told me not to expect the Covid-19 vaccine before late Spring, so I decided I would go home to Mazatlán in a few weeks and then come back up a few weeks before my scheduled trip to Europe this coming Summer. Five more weeks and then I’ll be home! Seems like forever!
And while I’m waiting to return, I’ll have to be happy with videos from other people . . . Mazatlán certainly has some stunning sunsets!
Being that I’m away from Mazatlán for a while I rely on my security system to keep an eye on my little apartment. I have two types of cameras monitoring the apartment – a Blink camera outside my entry and one on the roof. Inside the apartment I have a Canary Pro.
The reason for two systems is that I preferred the options of the Blink system for the outdoor cameras, and those of the Canary Pro for indoors. In addition to a camera, the Canary Pro tells me the air quality, temperature, humidity, and also has a microphone/speaker in case I needed to use it to speak with someone in the apartment. Note that the newer Blink cameras also have microphones/speakers so communication is available with them as well. I have the older mute model!
I have the camera on the roof because the previous owner of my apartment told me that he had trouble with roof jumpers stealing the lid to the tinaco. His solution was to screw the lid into place – which has worked pretty well. I have the Blink camera pointed at the tinaco to catch both the lid stealing roof jumpers, and my petty neighbor who thinks it’s great fun for him to turn off the water to my tinaco. I’ve caught him doing it once but didn’t say anything as that would let him know the camera is there. One day he might do something worse, and I’d like to have a recording of it.
The Blink cameras are small, weatherproof, run on batteries (which last a good year), and have excellent resolution.
Both of the systems work with Amazon Echo, and have apps for iPhone and Android. I recently purchased an Amazon Echo Show, and am impressed with the ability to see each of my cameras in Mazatlán with a simple voice command.
All of the cameras require an internet connection, and the Blink cameras require a hub. The Blink hub also requires an electrical outlet, as does the Canary Pro, so placement of each will be limited to areas where you have power.
I’ve had these systems for a few years now, and am extremely happy with them. Occasionally the Canary Pro will believe I’m away and will then send me alerts saying it has detected someone – but other than that it’s been reliable and worry free. The Blink is prone to activate when it rains hard, so I just temporarily disable them during the downpours in summer.
If you’re interested, here are links to each product. These are direct links – I don’t get a kickback if you buy!
I can now cross off one trip down the Pacific Coast of México! I started in Mazatlán, so I still have the coastal cities in Baja California and Baja California Sur plus those along the Sea of Cortez. I also didn’t hit Huatulco or Salina Cruz, so I didn’t go all the way to the southern border. I’ll leave those for another adventure!
Started the trip in Mazatlán and rode a bus to Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been going to Puerto Vallarta for 10 years now, so I didn’t take too many pictures. And this trip I played it lazy and stayed around the hotel. I own a timeshare week at the Lindo Mar, which is in Conchas Chinas – South of Puerto Vallarta proper. Just a few minute cab ride to get to town, but far enough out to enjoy a little peace and quiet. They also have deadly margaritas which they offer at half off during their two daily happy hours! It was a nice relaxing week.
The week came to a close all too quickly, and I was off on another bus to Manzanillo! This was my first time in Manzanillo and I found it to be very nice. Quiet, not a lot of tourists, and VERY dusty. I’m talking REALLY dusty. Not swirling dust devils in the streets, but the kind that gets under doors and windows and keeps you just a little gritty all the time. And all through this trip, the weather hovered between 80 f. and 90 f., with a ‘feels like’ of 10 degrees more. October/November is supposed to be the time of year the coast cools down. Someone forgot to flip the switch this year! Manzanillo was a nice area, but I think I may not have found the nice beaches. I did have some really good food though! Would I go back? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be first on my list.
Hopped on another bus and made my way to Zihuatanejo. I had never been there either – but here I would go back to. Very pretty. Big enough for some nice restaurants, small enough to be quaint. I think they get too many tourists though because the prices were Puerto Vallarta high. Reasonable if you’re used to the USA/Canada, but not really if you live in Mazatlán. Still, it is very pretty here and there are always lower cost options if you wander from the tourist areas. I did a little, but not much. I did do a little happy dance when I found a restaurant that specialized in chamorros (pork knuckle)!
And now it’s time for … another bus! I’ll say that the long haul buses in México are typically very nice. More room than an airplane, and considerably less expensive. If you have an INAPAM/INSEN card, you can routinely get a half price ticket too. The thing to watch for is the air conditioning. Some bus drivers like to blast it – so I always bring a blanket with me and am sure to wear jeans and a warm shirt.
Acapulco is the next stop, and has replaced Puerto Vallarta as my favorite vacation destination. Don’t get me wrong, Puerto Vallarta is a great place to vacation – but Acapulco has the mystique of the 50’s / 60’s jet setters and Rat Pack gang. Plus there are some amazing beaches (Barra de Coyuca), as well as the cliff divers I remember seeing featured on the 1968 Olympics and subsequent Wide World of Sports intros. I have a timeshare in South Lake Tahoe where I get a week every other year – and if I trade it for Acapulco, I can get a week EVERY year. That works for me! I’ve been to Acapulco twice now, and stayed both times at the Playa Suites. Directly across the street is a really good (price and quality) taco place that has four tasty tacos al pastor con queso for 65 pesos. Not bad for a prime tourist area spot! I noticed this year that they’ve banned the horses for the horse drawn carriages. Instead, they have these little ATV looking things pulling them. Not nearly as fun, but then the horses aren’t working on hot streets.
I’ve wanted to visit Puerto Escondido for a while now. I like surfing, and this is one spot in México famous for it. Well, I should say I like to watch surfing! My balance isn’t what it was, and when it was what it was, it wasn’t all that good! Still fun to watch, and I realized that everyone is telling the truth when they say Oaxaca has the best food in México. Don’t tell Mazatlán! Even the little places on the unpaved roads had amazing food! And not out of line price-wise. There were some palapas on the beach that charged $300 pesos (~$15 usd) to sit at, but it applied to food and drink. Not bad for four hours of wave watching, cerveza drinking, and botana consumption! This was the only leg of my trip I grabbed a plane, and ONLY because the bus line bumped my departure time forward by 12 hours. I would have arrived at 1 am, missed out on an evening in town, and then had to sit and wait for my hostel to open. No thanks. I popped for the flight!
At the end of my stay I hopped on a plane and flew to Seattle, with a 5 hour stop in Guadalajara. I learned a good lesson there – do not relax in the waiting area and nap for a few minutes if you have left items on a nearby seat – even if there’s no one around! I’d purchased a couple of things in the airport, and sat the bag and my baseball cap on a seat. When I looked around I saw a charging station just a few seats away, moved over to it with my backpack (but not the bag/cap), then closed my eyes for a moment and when I woke up, the cap and bag were gone! I really didn’t mean to nap, but it’d been a long day. Security got involved, and then a woman who had been sitting nearby told the guard that she saw the cleaning crew throw my stuff in the garbage! Just as my flight was boarding, another security guard ran up with my bag and a now wet cap (I didn’t ask, but one of the first things I did when I got to Seattle was wash it)!
I think I counted my trip as 26 days. It certainly feels like I’ve been away from Mazatlán for at least that! Hopefully I can take care of winterizing the house in Seattle and doing a few errands and get back home soon!
And before I end, I will address the Covid-19 situation as I saw it. First, the buses weren’t full, and everyone was wearing their masks. While I’m sure they don’t have hepa filters like the airlines say they do, I felt it was pretty low risk. Every bus terminal had someone taking temperatures and sanitizer gel was widely available. Same at the airports – but they went one step further and required you log into a government health website and answer a questionnaire. The website for one of the bus companies said they wanted that too – but then never asked for the proof.
All of the people working in the restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. were wearing masks. In Mazatlán, Zihuatanejo, and Manzanillo between 50 and 60 percent of the tourists and locals out and about were wearing masks properly and social distancing. In Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido I’d say MAYBE 10 percent were. It was the reason I stayed at my timeshare in Puerto Vallarta most of the time. Surprisingly, in Acapulco at least 90 percent were doing the right thing! I saw a handful of people without masks – otherwise, if they weren’t eating/drinking or swimming – they had masks, and were wearing them properly! Just reinforced my decision to move Acapulco up to ‘favorite’ vacation spot!
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming! I’m quarantining myself for 2 weeks. Made one quick run to the grocery store, and to pick up license tabs for my car … but I have the bulk of the groceries being delivered next week, and don’t plan on going anywhere. Honestly, I can use the vacation from the vacation!