2 April, 2023

Mazatlán is gearing up for Semana Santa, a time I usually spend hiding away in my apartment! Really, things are crazy. Restaurants are busy with long waits, traffic is horrible (so a 20 minute bus ride becomes 40 minutes), and the beaches are filled with people.

This is usually the time of year that I start thinking about being someplace else for a while! Ok, I’ll admit – I think about that a lot anyway, LoL. In furtherance of my travel goals, I found a decent fare to Europe this summer. $460 USD roundtrip from Los Angeles to Copenhagen. This is considerably more than I usually pay, but Summer dates were available – so I jumped on it.

Just a quick plug here – I have purchased tickets from deals I’ve found on SecretFlying.com several times now. One time the airline kept changing flight times (and days), so eventually I took them up on their offer to cancel with a refund; but the other times everything went as smooth as butter!

Ok … Los Angeles to Copenhagen. This means I have to get to/from Los Angeles. There are several options available: 1. Fly. 2. Bus. 3. Ferry to La Paz, then bus. I have a bunch of airline miles, so I’m using some to do option number one. I would prefer to do option three – but I’ll save that one for another trip, or just the ferry to La Paz for the experience it would provide.

And now comes the twist to this travel story! I saw that Summer flights were available for this fare. Most of the published trips were from 7 to 10 days. When I travel I like to take my time so I plugged in a three month (well, 84 days) time frame – and the fare was still available. So I’ll be spending three months in Europe this summer. A few days in Copenhagen, then I fly to Istanbul for two months. Yes, two months. I want an immersive experience there, and I think with that much time I should get it! Then a week in Athens, a few days in Prague, 9 days in Budapest, and then back to Copenhagen for my return flight. This will likely be my last trip to Europe (never say never), so I think I’ll be glad I spent the time there.

After I return I’ll be heading to my house in Seattle to prep it for another winter. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve taken the Amtrak Coast Starlight so the ‘cons’ of doing the trip that way are dim in my mind. So I booked the train. Yes, it’s over 30 hours on a train – but someone else is driving and the scenery is really nice from the observation car! I’ll prep the house, spend a few weeks there, and then get home for a much needed decompression! And just in time for the snow-birds to start arriving!

Future trips will be to cities in México. I still haven’t been to the Yucatan; and have just passed through some cities in central México that I’d like to spend time in. I probably won’t be taking three month long trips; but maybe a month here, then decompress, then another month there, back to decompress, …

Time will tell!

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15 February, 2023

Just a couple of short updates ….

First, Jumapam has reopened their payment portal. You can now make online payments again. For those who aren’t always in town and don’t like to pay ahead, this works really well. Here’s the article from Jumapam: http://jumapam.gob.mx/?p=67955. Note that the ‘User Code’ that they’ll ask you for is near the upper left of your bill, and listed after ‘Código:’. Enter it without the dash. The site is showing that I owe for my current bill, even though I paid it at the offices a few days ago, so it’s still got a little work to go 🙂

Second, I’ve been asked a few times recently how people can join the Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteers group aka ‘Blue Shirts’. We provide assistance to visitors of Mazatlán on cruise ship days and during the Artwalk nights. There are several fixed positions, and also ‘roving’ spots. If you were thinking of volunteering please give Julie Morgan a shout via email at: juliemazatlan@yahoo.com.

And to plug my little Mazatlán newspaper endeavor again, please visit https://www.mazatlanweekly.com for news and events. I know it’s called ‘Mazatlán Weekly’, but I do try to update it daily from a conglomeration of English and Spanish newspapers. Note that I use Google Translate for the Spanish articles, and definitely don’t have the time to edit each one – so if the wrong pronouns are used, or there’s a strange translation … talk to the hand 🙂 LoL.

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22 January, 2023

If you’re a fan of Asian food, Mazatlán is a little lacking. There’s a lot of ‘Americanized’ Chinese food available – much of it not good. There’s Nao Kitchen Bar – very good, but it’s a mish-mash of Asian styles. You can go shopping at Toyo for ingredients, but stock up if you find something because it may not be there again!

The other day I saw a post about a new Asian food store called Super Oriental Price Market. It’s on the Av. Del Mar, just North of Intercam Bank. So I endeavored to walk there yesterday and check them out.

My usual walk these days takes me down Av. Ejército Mexicano so it was nice to walk the malecón. Plus, they’re installing the carnaval statues! Here are the ones I walked past …

They’re cute, but I liked last years better. And a couple of them didn’t look like they’d survive a hard breeze – there was a little bit of a breeze yesterday and they were moving noticably.

Back to the topic … I made my way to the Super Oriental Price Market. Inside not very big, about half the size of Toyo. Less offerings – a lot less offerings. BUT, they had the magic food that I’ve never seen at Toyo. Something I’ve been schlepping down from Seattle every time I make the trip. It’s not cheap, but it’s also not the crazy high price you’ll find on Amazon.mx or Mercado Libre.

Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp!

CHILI CRISP!!!!!! It’s the small 7.41 oz jar, and it’s $90 pesos (~$4.65 USD). I bought two jars to join the half jar I had in the fridge. I will still have to ration it, but now I can be a little more free – like a teaspoon on my morning eggs. Or a rice + chili crisp side dish. Or maybe a little on the tortas I buy from Loncheria Zambrano. I was so excited that I took the bus home instead of walking!

It looked like they had the better part of a case of chili crisp on the shelves, so there’s plenty available right now. If you are a chili crisp aficionado then run, don’t walk, to the Super Oriental Price Market and buy up as many jars as you desire.

This has been a public service announcement from your local chili crisp fan!

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18 January, 2023

Living in Centro I’m a little removed from the Colonia Francisco Villa, but I’m surprised it took me this long to find out there’s a Sunday tianguis there, just like the one in Juárez – except this one is at night!

Turn on Closed Captions, and translate!

The couple of posts I’ve been able to find about the tianguis say it’s at the Plazuela de la Solidaridad. Seems to start at dusk and go until ????

In any event, looks like a lot of food and t-shirt stalls – I didn’t see any kitchen sinks and auto side mirrors like I do in the Juárez tianguis though! So, Sundays you can get your fill … Juárez in the day, and Francisco (Pancho) Villa at night! Eat some good food. Buy a new t-shirt. Have a great time!

Plazuela de la Solidaridad

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15 January, 2023

January is my tinaco cleaning month. Usually it’s the air conditioner maintenance month as well, but I wasn’t in town during the summer, and haven’t run them since I’ve been back – so I think I can wait another year.

Tinaco was cleaned and new filters put in, and I replaced the filter at my sink unit as well. These get changed every 6 months. They’re not cheap at Home Depot, but better than lugging garrafones of water up my 30+ stairs! I’ve discovered a store that sells tinaco’s and supplies. It’s called ‘La Casita del Plomero de Mazatlán’ and is on Josepha Ortiz de Dominguez – just at the North end of the panteón municipal #2 (the one in Centro on Gabriel Lleyva). I should pop in there next time I feel like tacos from Tacos Borrachos Emlio and see if they carry them (and how much they might be). I should also ask if they sell tinaco lids – we have roof jumpers in my neighborhood who steal them. The previous owner of my apartment had a great idea, and screwed the lid down! The roof jumpers don’t usually carry screwdrivers, but they might catch on 🙂

On another note, the new Mayor of Mazatlán, Edgar Augusto González Zatarain, met with a group of us from the Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteers. Nice to see the inside of the municipal building and meet the mayor – and he was very responsive to our suggestions for a few maintenance and upgrade items that would help the cruise ship passengers have a better experience. Here’s the link to an article: https://www.mazatlanweekly.com/2023/01/14/no-mayor-of-mazatlan-had-asked-us-about-our-needs-foreign-volunteers/.

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8 January, 2023

Permanent Residency Card

I shake my head thinking it’s already been four years, but Microsoft Outlook reminded me the other day that it was time to convert my temporary residency over to permanent status!

The process was the same, and different. First I went to the INM website to see what I’d need to bring with me. I copied my passport and my temporary residency card. Then I filled out the online form and printed it. I also printed a copy of my RFC and my CURP – just in case. I know each office wants slightly different things and I was going to be prepared! Oh, and I went to the bank and took out the maximum daily withdrawal of pesos from the ATM so I could do it again the next day and have enough to pay the INM fees.

Tuesday morning I set out around 8:30 am. Immigration offices open at 9:00 am, so I thought this would be enough time to stop at Hogla’s (yes, it’s Hogla, at least that’s what her sign says) tienda where she gets paperwork ready for you for just $500 pesos. I’ve tried doing things without Hogla’s help, and INM always makes me go to her, even though my paperwork is complete. I have no further comments on that. But this time she was BUSY! There were five or six people ahead of me, and that meant that I didn’t get to the INM office until 11:15 am. I was number 20 – things were not looking good for getting things done in one day!

The INM offices have been updated! Wow! New windows! New paint inside! Screens that drop from the ceiling so they have a nice background – because THEY take your picture now, they don’t have you bring them! And … wait for it … they accept debit/credit cards!!!! No more bank runs in the middle of the process! They have also hired more staff – there were two additional people assisting us (never more than two employees at a time, but there was a gentleman who worked until the woman who’s been there ever since I’ve been going there came in to take over).

At 4:15 pm my number was called! Wooo!! Went to the window. Gave them my packet of paperwork prepared by Hogla, along with my passport and temporary residency card; and then paid my fees (currently $1,632.00 processing fee and $6,226.00 for the residency). They told me to have a seat and they’d call me back up. Waited 30 minutes then signed some papers, and they gave me a piece of paper with some information on it. They said that their cameras weren’t working and to come back on Friday. They’d told a few people before me to come back on Thursday – so I figured they told me Friday to spread things out. It was 4:45 pm when I walked out the door. No coffee or food all day – so I Whatsapp’d an order for Chinese food and picked it up on the way home!

Friday. 8:15 am. One of the couples that was there on Tuesday were waiting at the door. They’d been told Thursday. This was the Thursday that Ovidio Guzmán was captured in Culiacán. INM had ushered everyone out of the office and closed up shop because of the gang violence in the state of Sinaloa. So, Friday I was number two.

Around 10:30 am they started calling numbers. When they called me I handed them the page with info they’d given me on Tuesday. Almost 11:00 am they called me back up. Took three photos – one from the front, and one from each side. Then they took my fingerprints. Right hand 4 fingers, left hand 4 fingers, and both thumbs. At 11:10 am they gave me my permanent residency card and asked me to verify everything was correct! It was, and I was out the door at 11:15 am – hopefully never to return again!!!

I’m going to say that this was so much easier than the last time when I renewed for three years; and immensely easier than the initial visit to get my temporary residency card. Just the ability to pay at the office saves so much time – not to mention that they print the cards right there now and you don’t have to wait the 6 to 8 weeks I did previously.

One final note … when I was there on Tuesday a gentleman came in and went up to the windows. It was evident he’d been there previously and was trying to get residency. The clerk was telling him he needed to bring in his FMM and he kept yelling at them that they hadn’t given him one at the airport. Then the clerk would say ‘online’, and he’d yell at them again that they didn’t give him one at the airport. First, NEVER yell at the person who has this much control over your life. NEVER do it to anyone who is just there to help you – but especially not if they can deport your ass. Second, she was trying to tell him that he could print it online, but he wasn’t listening. Yes, there are no more printed FMM’s at most of the airports in México. That doesn’t mean the information isn’t in their computer system for you to print. It is. Here is a link to a Youtube video that will tell you how to print yours if you need to. And you WILL need to if you are applying for residency: https://youtu.be/w6YOjYj8W0Q .

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2 January, 2023

Mazatlán Property Taxes

I’ve been checking the payment portal for Mazatlán property taxes, and today it was up and running. This is their web address: https://servicios.mazatlan.gob.mx/predial/. You’ll need your ‘Cadastral Key’ (I’m assuming it’s like the parcel number).

The website has been redesigned, and not everything worked smoothly. Here’s how I got it to work.

First go to the website. Enter your cadastral key. My account information came up. There were three payment options. The first was to pay via BBVA in full. The second was to make payments, and the third said payment in full via another bank.

I tried option three. It would take my information then when I submitted I’d just get a blank screen. Perhaps it’s my browser (chrome)? I don’t know. I do have a BBVA account, so I tried that option.

The BBVA option basically takes you back to the older payment portal. You can use a debit/credit card from a bank that isn’t BBVA there – which is what I did. It took my Charles Schwab debit card and gave me a payment confirmation screen.

I also print every page along the way for my records. The pre-retirement accountant in me prints them to a .PDF file which gets saved locally and in the cloud, but the point is to have the property tax statement and the payment confirmation in case it’s needed later.

Not much else going on at the moment, other than with the start of the new year I’m back on my diet. I’m easing into it the first week though! LoL.

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21 December, 2022

I am usually up North during the winter months, so being here now is a little disconcerting! I am definitely enjoying the 80 f. weather instead of the snow, wind, drizzle, and grey that I get during Winter in Seattle! And it’s cool enough to wear jeans instead of shorts – which is another nice change.

Other than the weather, there have been a couple of discoveries. Something in my head said that it was time, after these few years of living here, to finish getting furniture for my apartment. Had a couch, a bed, a computer desk (recent addition), a wardrobe from the previous owner that raid resistant termites really liked, and a couple of end tables. Oh, and some very wobbly stools for the kitchen nook that could be leaned on, but not sat on.

I’ve been playing with getting Amazon deliveries. First to the local DHL office near the Jumapam office. That worked really well and got a few steps in towards my 10,000. Then I decided to see if the delivery people would read the special delivery instructions you can add … so I left a little message saying ‘call my cellphone so I can come open the door at the street’ (remember, I have an interior apartment).

It worked! Not once, but twice! So I ordered furniture! I was going to do it in stages, so I replaced my stools.

Stools – but NOT my apartment!

Furniture from Amazon is like Ikea – you have to assemble everything; but the new stools were pretty easy. Then I changed my mind and pulled the plug. Metro Shelving unit for clothes. Coffee table. Bedside table. End table. Shelf unit. Ordered them all on the same day, and of course they were scheduled to arrive on different days! LoL. Delivery was actually pretty quick, and I think within 10 days I had everything. I believe I could now get a job at Ikea demonstrating how to assemble furniture!

Metro Shelves for clothes
Living Room with furniture and plants!

Now I have furniture, and it still looked a little bare … so time to find houseplants! There are far too many places listed on google maps that aren’t there any more. Made a trip to the Sunday tianguis in Colonia Juárez for a few, and then found a place in Playa Sur that primarily sells succulents called Distrito Verde (https://www.facebook.com/distritoverde.mzt). I still need a few more plants, but for now I’m good!

The apartment, with furniture, is now telling me that the walls need attention. I’m going to seek out a place that will print photos on canvas and take care of that situation, but not right away 🙂 I think the next purchase will be a full length mirror for the bathroom door. Now THAT should inspire me to stay on my diet!

Speaking of diet – I finally stopped at Santas Ahogadas on Av. Ejercito Méxicano. Not as good, in my opinion, as El Mono – but pretty close. Will keep them on the list as a backup. Here’s a parting shot of the torta ahogada I had! Have a good holiday season people!

Torta ahogada from Santas Ahogadas

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21 November, 2022

Sometimes I think everyone else knows the things I do, but if you haven’t heard Mazatlán’s mayor (Benitez, ‘The Chemist’) resigned and a replacement (Zatarain) was installed. This was after a financial issue with replacing and installing street lights. The company involved didn’t go through a bidding process, and from what everyone seems to think, charged an outrageous amount of money for them. This issue is still being resolved, but in the midst the mayor, who had approved the deal, resigned. The governor of Sinaloa has appointed him Secretary of Tourism though. Lawsuits and possible criminal charges are being considered so that may not last long either. Sadly it appears that Mazatlán’s financial reserve is totally gone and projects such as the repaving of Av. Emilio Barragán has been halted. You should walk down and take a look – it’s not pretty, and the people living and trying to make a living there are not doing well.

I always hesitate to post anything political because the Méxican Constitution, Article 33, states that non-citizens cannot be involved in political matters. Opinions I have, I just don’t give them voice. And I’m not pointing the finger at The Chemist – others have, but I will wait for a court procedure to make a determination.

Moving on.

I have an interior apartment in a small building. We have a common door at the street. Open the door and climb the stairs and you’re at the ‘first’ floor. There’s a small open area and another set of stairs that leads to the ‘second’ floor where my apartment is. 35 steps in total 🙂 And one more at my doorstep! I have a nice balcony to look over into the area below – not that there’s reason for me to do it, but I can 🙂 The balcony is several inches of brick and cement – wide enough to put planters on. Which I had. Then one of my neighbors was concerned that the planters would fall on her head as she walked under them. Only three scenarios would cause that – 1. Earthquake; 2. Big giant bird; 3. My elbow. The first two are unlikely, but I’m a clutz at times and #3 could conceivably occur. So I purchased two sets of planters that attach VERY securely (https://www.amazon.com.mx/gp/product/B08QZC4KPR/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Before I left on my last trip I purchased a water faucet timer and a watering kit – but couldn’t get it working so I gave all my plants (not many) to a neighbor.

Now that I’m back, I bought a new more expensive timer, and several replacement plants. Plants were very reasonably priced (40 to 80 pesos each at the Sunday Juárez tianguis). Hopefully I can get the system up and running as I still have trips I want to take!

So that was the long story to get to the reason for my post. With an interior apartment, delivery people don’t have a way to deliver to me easily. I always put a note in the delivery comments to call me when they arrive, but that doesn’t always happen. And then I have to plan on being home all day on the scheduled delivery date as they never give you a time. I’ve used my property manager’s address to have things delivered – but that puts her out. And then I discovered that Amazon.mx will deliver to DHL offices! There’s a DHL office by the Jumapam office, which is not far from my apartment. Problem solved!

While I try to buy local, sometimes you just have to get something from Amazon or Mercado Libre. Knowing that there’s a simple and easy way to have it delivered just makes life a little easier. Plus, Jumapam’s payment website has been offline for months – I can stop there on the way to DHL and pay my bill!

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7 November, 2022

Well! It’s been a while!

Traveling is a good thing, but it’s also nice to be home. A couple of months in Seattle, where the weather was unusually nice. Then a week in Puerto Vallarta, a week in Acapulco, and a week in México City. 15 hour bus ride home today which wasn’t bad in comparison to the 23 hour bus ride from Puerto Vallarta to Acapulco! Did you know that the bus leaves Puerto Vallarta going NORTH – almost to Tepic? Then it goes to Guadalajara, México City, Cuernavaca, and finally Acapulco! Crazy!! I tell people that the buses in México are luxury buses, but not even a luxury bus is luxurious after 23 hours!

I’ve posted a multitude of photos from Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and México City so I’m going to skip those. I did visit Teotihuacan, and have posted photos from there too; but there’s been one place on my list for a while and it’s been closed because of Covid. Well, it’s open now so I took a 2 hour bus from México City to see it!

Tula de Allende has an archaeological site from the Toltec peoples that is crazy fun. The museum on site is still closed, but the site is open AND YOU CAN CLIMB UP the main attraction – something you can no longer do at Teotihuacan (they first stopped people from climbing the pyramids of the sun and moon ‘because of covid’. Now they’re saying they want to stop erosion from foot traffic. Don’t get me started!). And now that I’ve visited, I can say I’ve been to the State of Hidalgo as well!

So here are some photos of the site to entice you to go. If you don’t want to take a bus there are several organized tours from México City. Teotihuacan is still my #1 recommendation – but Tula is a solid #2. Sadly, Tula doesn’t have a restaurant in a cave close by like Teotihuacan does! Enjoy the photos, and I’ll get back into the Mazatlán mode and begin posting about local things again soon!

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