La Paz to Mazatlan

November 2006




2nd place winner
for costume

Stage at
cultural center

Left to right are Ron and Anita of Liberty Call II, us, Rhea and Stan of Vagari, and Phil and Madelyn of In the Mood.

Church in Concordia
built in 1785

Daniel's Restaurant in Copala

Revolution Day parade

Revolution Day parade


View from lighthouse

El Quelite

Church at El Quelite


Panga to Panama

Mexico celebrates Dia de Muertos or "Day of the Dead" to coincide with All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).

As described in the Lonely Planet book Mexico, the pre-Hispanic Tarasco people's belief was that the dead could return to their homes on one day each year to visit their loved ones. The underlying philosophy is that death does not represent the end of a life, but the continuation of the same life in a parallel universe. The occasion required preparations to help the spirits find their way home and to make them welcome. An arch made of bright yellow marigold flowers was put up in each home as a symbolic door or gateway to and from the underworld. Tamales, fruits, corn, and salt were placed in front of the arch on an altar, along with containers of water (or tequila) because spirits always arrived thirsty after their journey. A path of marigold petals and resin lamps marked the way to the altar. Traditionally, the spirits of departed children visited on the first night (when toys and sweets were added to the altar), and the spirits of dead adults came on the following night when they joined their living relatives to eat, drink, talk, and sing.

The Spanish conquest and the evangelical mission of the Catholic Church suppressed some pre-Hispanic beliefs but allowed others to continue in new manifestations. The Catholic celebrations of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day were easily superimposed on the "Day of the Dead" traditions. All Saints' Day is for the spirits of children and All Souls' Day is for the spirits of adults.

On Wednesday, November 1, we all decided to go out to dinner and then attend the celebration at the cultural center. Dancers and musicians were performing on the stage. There were approximately 20 altars that were decorated by the families, and it was fascinating to look at the detail of each of these altars. The paper cutouts were so beautifully done. It must have taken hours of work to complete these. One altar was done in all white, and the woman at this altar took the time to explain what the different parts of the altar represent. Her explanation was in Spanish, but among all of us, we figured out most of it. It was very interesting. There were also vendors selling food (including the delicious "Day of the Dead" bread that is flavored with anise and orange and has sugar sprinkled on top), drinks, trinkets, toys, and jewelry. It was a wonderful to be a part of this cultural experience.

On Saturday, November 4, we headed down to Cabo San Lucas in our rental car to visit with the Dorseys and the Hoppers for a couple days. The drive down Highway 19 was interesting to say the least. We spent Saturday with Bob and Barbara Hopper at the Playa Grande. In the morning, we left to have breakfast with Karen and Dwight Dorsey and Chet and LeAnn Hine, and then we decided to do some shopping before we headed back to La Paz. It was a quick trip, but it was fun.

We spent the next few days relaxing and getting ready to make the crossing to Mazatlan, and we went to the movie "The Illusionist" with Anita and Ron. On Friday, November 10, we left for Mazatlan. We had some wind at the beginning, but the rest of the trip had us motoring in light winds. Steve had his hand line fishing line out, and about half way across, the line gave a loud pop. Steve grabbed the line and started to pull it in. He thought that the fish had gotten off when suddenly the fish turned and ran. The line burned into the fingers on Steve's left hand leaving some nasty cuts. The fish broke the 150-pound test-line leader and elongated the eyes on the swivel--he obviously also got the lure. It must have been a very big fish! We made the crossing in 43 hours arriving at 2:30 in the morning where we dropped anchor behind Isla Venedos. Later that morning we pulled into a slip in Marina Mazatlan and cleaned the boat and straightened things up. The weather is hotter here and more humid, but it still isn't as bad as San Carlos was in October.

We got in touch with Gary and Judiee on Reverie, who are friends of Anita and Ron, and they have decided to go to Copper Canyon with us at the end of the month. The four of us made a day trip to Copala, which is about an hour's drive east of Mazatlan. We had a nice drive through the countryside, going through Concordia, and arrived just in time for lunch at Daniel's Restaurant. Copala was founded in 1565 as Mexico's first mining town, and it still has its colonial church (built in 1748), colonial houses, and cobblestone streets.

On November 21, Mexico celebrates Dia de la Revolución, which is the anniversary of the 1910 Mexican revolution. Mazatlan had a large parade with bands and people in costumes. A lot of people turned out for the celebration, and we had a great time.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with Gary and Judiee aboard our boat. Steve and I made turkey enchiladas, pinto beans, and Spanish rice, and they brought a delicious cheesecake for dessert. We enjoyed the music from the marina and later that evening we watched fireworks.

Ron and Anita were held up by Hurricane Sergio but finally got across from La Paz on November 24. On November 26 we all took the hike up to the lighthouse by the old harbor. This lighthouse is the highest in North America and the highest working lighthouse in the world at 515 feet. We all then got into our car and drove up to El Quelite, another small inland town. We had lunch at Meson de los Maureanos. The food was delicious (I had quail), and then we walked around this beautiful and very clean little town. The houses are colorfully painted, and, or course, it has a lovely church. It was a very full day, but we thoroughly enjoyed visiting it.

At the marina we met three young men who had come down from San Diego in what they call, "The Panga to Panama." We have to give them credit for their spirit of adventure and tenacity(?). When they left at the end of the month, we wished them well.

Zelda arrived in Mazatlan on the 28th of November so we prepared for our trip to Copper Canyon. The three of us joined Gary and Judiee on Reverie to meet with the other people going on the trip. Harry and Evelyn from Mariah, and Ron and Anita from Liberty Call II were also there. We enjoyed cocktails, and then we went out for a great dinner at Brochetta's.

We leave on the 30th to begin our trip to Copper Canyon. That log will be posted later in December.