Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mazatlán Moto Week

As the dying echoes of thundering motorcycles fall silent we can all count ourselves lucky that another spectacular show that the Mexicans are so good at organising in that characteristic haphazard way has livened up our expat lives once more.

We can put away our spectator folding chairs, our portable beer insulators, our leather waistcoats, skull and cross bone do-rags and chaps and go back to our lives of folding chairs on the beach and beer insulators and our uniform of baggy vests and shorts to the knees and flip flop shoes and grey ponytails daydreaming that we were the guy riding the Victory bike whilst a glamorous Latina in tight leather was perched on back with her arms wrapped around our jiggling beer belly.

Moto Week and the sound of heavy rock and rumbling exhaust pipes has swept through and out of town for another year along with its cast of characters and clowns and village idiots and female accessory pillion passengers.

We generally think of motorcycle gangs as being like something out of the movie Mad Max 2; roving leather clad unwashed evil sons of bitches terrorising small towns, gang raping women, chain whipping grannies whilst their equally greasy abused female pillion poseurs look on smiling through rotten teeth. However this gang of thousands that tore up the malecón were pussycats by comparison and would rather crash and burn than knock an old lady or even a diminutive Chihuahua over on a pedestrian crossing.

These participants, equally leather clad and in gangs – Los Halcones, Los Dragones, Los Butres del Desierto, MC Vikings, Murcielagos, Moto Brothers all get together on this day and drink cheerfully together, slapping backs, ruffling kiddies hair all conducted in a spirit of jolly bonhomie.

However who knows what happens after they hit the open roads of Sinaloa? Maybe a truce is established for this one-day of the year and the rest of the time they get back to dealing in drugs and weapons and slaughtering one another? But to our worldly trained eyes we feel that most of these guys are dentists, doctors, mechanics and even maybe Seventh Day Adventists who like posing in leather and pretending to treat their women as goods and chattels sitting uncomfortably with their ass in the air on the seat of a large dangerous rumbling hunk of steel and chrome.

We sent our world famous documentary photographer out to mingle and risk his life lying in the path of Harley Davidsons and Victorys to get that icon shot and capture the feel of the day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

NoMa - The City Of Lost Souls

Hang on, where the hell is NoMa? It is a land of lost souls north of WeMa, EaMa and SoMa.

NoMa is the snappy txtmsgN nomenclature chosen by magazine editors and marketing people in Mazatlán to describe an area of Mazatlán roughly situated around La Marina and Sabalo Cerritos that is rapidly being turned into a microcosm of modern North America – restaurants, pizzerias, coffee shops, high rise apartments and artificial lakes that used to be home to nature.

After the shenanigans of April Fool's Day we took a Toreos bus and hopped out on top of a hump back bridge on Avenida Sabalo Cerritos. Overlooking the Marina we could see across the razor wire and high brick walls that surround the NoMa residences of modern houses uniform in design with a patch of grass out front and a patch out back. Interspersed amongst the finished buildings were half built skeletons of brick and wire and piles of dirt and overturned wheel barrows and empty bags of cement. A guard sat asleep in a guardhouse next to a big gate.

Further on we can see high-rise condos with large banners draped across the entire frontage – For Sale and one pronounced it was SOLD! Almost like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. I was expecting to hear The Star Spangled Banner and see a Star and Stripes being hoisted up one of the numerous flagpoles.

Outwards in all directions across scrubby and thorny tracts of land were interspersed gated high-walled concentration camps of uniform modern houses with For Sale signs everywhere.

A golf course cut out the scrub to the left and just down the road a blue stylised sculpture of a dramatically leaping marlin proudly proclaimed PACIFICA! Yet more tall apartments overlooking a circle of water. The apartments draped with colourful banners shouting at everyone to INVEST, INVEST! VIVÉLO! Live what? A marketing person's vision of your future. Living behind high walls and razor wire.

And on street level behind more brightly coloured banners sat construction machinery idly waiting. I pressed my nose against the window of the flashy marketing suite with its nautical motifs but it was locked and empty.

Dodging traffic we crossed Av. Sabalo Cerritos we came upon a lonely mall of three high walls hiding the surrounding thorny scrub splattered with rubbish, the ubiquitous cement bags and paper caught in the thorns of trees. Inside a restaurant called Bengali and a coffee shop called SoleMare, both empty with waiters in aprons lounging outside waiting for custom and a small supermarket Scorpio 2 and Scorpio 3 and the other shops empty.

Already feeling depressed by the emptiness and lack of soul this place called NoMa exuded we chased down a Cerritos bus heading for SoMa or is it WeMa or EaMa.

NoMa is American living. Take Phoenix Az. for example, it is a rapidly expanding city outwards into the desert like a Big Bang. People want to live there to get away from the crime of LA or the weather and the crowds of the Big City East and play golf so the city expands to accommodate them. First streets are built then houses next to them and a mall is placed conveniently close by and filled with coffee shops and branches of businesses that are in every other mall dotted around Phoenix and desert sucking golf courses. It is clean and easy to park and familiar. But that formula also spells soulless, boring, uninspiring and unstimulating. However as many new American towns have been built to that formula it is part of the way of life and it tends to be exported when we invest in developments in other countries. So here in NoMaz that is what you get. Many people will feel comfortable with it but for this writer it is an example of the slow creep of a monoculture based on an American way of life, a community of people hiding behind walls. Only going out to drink coffee or take a meal. The reality is that they are making themselves prisoners in their own lives.


In the future that thorny land between high walled developments may be built upon and the gated communities may fill up but I know for certain that most of those new restaurants and coffee shops we see today will have packed up and long gone and new ones may have taken their place or there may be For Sale signs on the front windows. But NoMa will still lack soul and be uninspiring. But if that suits you why not come here and VIVÉLO!!!!

Or Mazatlán?

We here at MazReal would like it if they gave the Mexican names back – La Marina and Sabalo Cerritos.
We may even start a campaign - NoMore NoMa!! However the staff at MazReal are a lazy good-for-nothing bunch so they will probably not get around to it.


To give a balanced picture we ought to mention that the English exported their lifestyle to half the globe for over 400 years as did the French and the Spanish. The English, their global vision somewhat reduced these days, are doing it now in southern Spain (they even had the clout to elect an Englishman as mayor in one big expat community), the Germans on the Spanish Canary Islands, 380 cultures are exporting their lifestyles to London as are the white South Africans and to anywhere else that will have them, the North Africans in Paris and the Turkish people to Germany, Koreans to Seattle and the Chinese in Las Vegas, Indonesia and Africa. The list goes on. So as not to make the Canadians feel left out, they are doing it in a small bar on the Malecón. The one with a maple leaf on the outside.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mazatlán Disappears For A Couple Of Hours - Deadly Fog From North Dissolves Resort

Today April 1 the malecón disappeared for a number of hours. Hotels and bars simply dissolved in a veil of deadly fog which turned out to be a particularly strong sulphuric acid rain from the combination of water droplets and air contamination. One person was seen to climb the front steps to the Freeman and appear out the back on Calle Venustiano Carranza in a confused state. The hotel simply disappeared around him.

I saw early morning dog-walkers walk into a bank of this deadly gas and slowly dissolve into the ether. Nothing was left to show they ever existed.

Approaching me at a sedate pace, the grey brume came in from the north but luckily after hurriedly snapping some pictures I made it to higher ground and was fortunate enough to only have the soles of my boots disappear.

Here a man from the Heaven's Gate cult is waiting for his spaceship to take him away so he may hitch a ride on the Hale-Bopp comet and fly off into a world of sterility, but it was delayed due to the April 1 spaceship traffic build-up over the USA. These space buses were coming down to take their followers of other ludicrous cults up, up and away, somewhere to a better life according to these sorry people. This man soon disappeared into the deadly smaze.

The tops of these telegraph poles disappeared as the miasma slowly drifted to earth. Luckily by this time the on-shore breeze had begun to dissipate the phenomenom sparing all but the shortest people and smallest Chihuahua dogs.

Let's hope we don't lose more of our Mexican old town to another deadly vapor coming down from the North.

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