After our fun New Years Eve anchored out at Deer Island, we pulled anchor and headed over to the old harbor and anchored at Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra).
This anchorage is much closer to Old Mazatlan, so it’s easier to get to the heart of Mazatlan and be around the locals than from the marina area we were docked in. Leaving the boat, however, is always a process. First we have to pack the backpacks with whatever we may need during the day, then load up into the dinghy and row to shore. We land the dinghy at Pizzas Benji’s in a small, calm cove and then haul the dinghy a good twenty yards up the beach to be sure it won’t get swept away if the tide comes up. For frequenting Benji’s, the waiter there will take our trash and “watch” our dinghy all day (I say “watch” because we’re not sure there’s much worry of anyone taking the dinghy, especially since we don’t put the engine on it if we can help it. But it’s still nice to know someone knows who the dinghy belongs to). Benji’s will even arrange for you to get fresh water or ice if you need it. It’s a great stop for cruisers.
From the beach landing we walk about a kilometer to the water taxi that will take you for 25 pesos each way from Stone Island across the shipping channel to the main side of Mazatlan. Poncho the ponga driver would help us practice our Spanish. I’ve been working on my Rosetta Stone, so I was having fun saying thinks like, “We walk a lot today!” and “We walked to the lighthouse!” And Poncho would tell us things like his name and his age and that the water taxi stops running at 6pm (“Seis! No Mas!”). (Cruiser Tip: Pay for the taxi at the yellow embarcadero building – not directly to the ponga driver)
Water taxi stop from the playa side.
From the water taxi we walk about a mile into downtown to the Municipal Market (Mercado Central) or the Machado Plaza or wherever else we feel like going for the day.
Although it’s a long walk and a long day to go to the market and stock up on whatever we need, we felt like it was worth it to be able to see the sights and be around the locals. We ate at a counter in the market one day and then happened upon one of the freshest and cheapest fruit stands. We frequented this fruit stand every time we went into town and the proprietor (we never got his name) was always so happy to see us. I’d ask “Que es esto??” and point to fruits and veggies I didn’t recognize and he’d tell me how to serve them. He even threw in a bunch of peppers and tomatillos and instructions on how to prepare them the last time we came by and told me they were free for us. In all, we usually came away from this stand with two backpacks full of fresh produce for the low price of $10 USD.
The produce man in Mercado Central (L), our fresh loot (center) and our produce bill – $132 pesos, or about $10 USD (R). The most expensive item? Apples. Because they’re shipped down from the U.S.! The cheapest item – a head of of garlic (Ajo) for 5 pesos, or $0.38 USD.
After walking all day, we’ll head back to the water taxi, walk down the road and stop at Benji’s for a large pizza or a coconut. They won’t except money for watching the dinghy, so we always felt like we needed to have at least a drink there before rowing home.
Benji’s shrimper pizza (garlic, shrimp and ham) and Dave with a grande coco.
Once we’re back on the boat, we unload all the fresh produce or anything else we’ve got that day and take it out of any packaging and give a bleach/water dunk to kill off any possible roach eggs. Better safe than sorry! We make sure any bags or cardboard boxes stay in the dinghy until we go ashore the next day and give to Nic to put in Benji’s dumpster.
It’s always a long day, but also very satisfying. It’s an adventure every day.