It will surprise you how much it takes to become a certified tourist guide. Many of you have “your guy” the person you turn to for day trips and for city tours. I always knew, to receive this designation, that it took time and money. A friend who has know him for 18 years introduced me to Akino Montiel  – a certified tour guide. He kindly gave me all the details of what it takes to become a certified tourist guide/Guia Turistas General. I think you’ll find the dedication and cost to be an eye-opener.

  • The certification allows a tour guide to work in any city in Mexico, but you must be a Mexican National and have finished high school.
  • To be certified requires 510 hours and costs between $30,000 to $40,000 pesos and you must past the bilingual [English/Spanish] test, as well as the CPR course.
  • Every teacher is an expert in their subject [architecture, wild life etc.] and has a master’s degree which is partly what makes the course so expensive.
  • Every four years Akino must renew his license, which involves 160 hours and approximately another $10,000 pesos.
  • Akino must renew his CPR course every two years.
  • If you have a federal driving license with a federal plate [which Akino has] he must pass a medical test every two years and every six months there is a mandatory engine and pollution inspection.

“I love to be a good host, it’s like when you have a new friend visiting your house, you just want them to feel comfortable and you want to show the best part of your place. It’s super fun and to give good service is my passion. For me it’s the best job in the world.” [These are all Akino’s quotes with no editing so you can see his English is excellent.]

He’s been tour guide since 1997, and his van holds six passengers. Not a requirement but Akino also has a degree in Tourism from Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. Akino will take you wherever you want to go, but his two personal favourite tours are the Tequila Factory with El Quelite, and Concordia and Copala. If “your guy” is busy or you want another recommendation for a tour guide judging from his FP page and all the rave reviews he’s your man. You can reach him on WhatsApp 624 122 0915, e: [ SM, November 2018]

Inside Casa de Leyendas there’s a new hidden gem that will appeal to those of us who enjoy spirits but are weak of flesh. The sophisticated cigar and wine store has been named Hecho en Mexico. Patrick Wood is the manager and he’s currently stocking over 100 bottles of wine, [good selection, good price range] an excellent variety of tequilas, plus vodka, gin, rum, liquers – all the spirits are represented. For you cigar smokers puff yourself out – over 40 types to choose from. Take your wine home, or have your big smoke on the street at Macaws Restaurant. The best part? The store is open every day from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. – and now Macaws is open every day so you may go through to Casa de Leyendas to buy a “hostess” gift – of course, it’s not for you. [Macaws/Casa de Leyendas is located in Centro at the corner of Sixto Osuna and Venustiano Carranza.]

Just look at what the Washington Post says about Mazatlan. Click here!

Perhaps you have tried “it all” for weight loss, to quitting smoking, to finding relief from chronic anxiety, for spider phobias, insomnia,  for grief – perhaps you’ve popped pills, had talk therapy and just perhaps, nothing has really worked. Deborah Rodriquez [yes, that, Deb Rodriquez – owner of  Tippy Toes and best-selling author] has completed her education in hypnotherapy, aka, hypnosis. She has been treating patients successfully now for over a year and is ready to make her new venture public with Green Daisy Hypnosis. All the research says if you are motivated this will indeed help you achieve your goals. Deb is good but she can’t make your rob a bank; in other words, hypnosis is the subtle art of helping you achieve what YOU wish. It’s by appointment only, in a quiet space in Centro [not at Tippy Toes, for heaven’s sake!] and Deb, depending on your issue[s], has package deals on sessions. Give her a call at 669 668 2450, [ e mail:]  and see if you can change what’s been bothering you for years. Or, what you’ve been WANTING to do for years – robbing banks not included.


Hola cheese lovers! Kualikua is now doing a booming business in catering to large and small groups with wonderful cheese platters complete with all the garnishes – like fresh bread, crackers, meats, olives, etc. etc. If the name sounds familiar, for one brief moment Kualikua had a store on Rafael Buelna and they have a booth every Saturday in the Farmers Market in the Plaza Zaragoza. Kualikua carry all the Mexican favourites as well as Brie, Camembert, Gruyere, Port Salut, Morbier and Raclette. You can mix and match; Cristina Peña Miranda will ensure your party platter will please all taste palates. Just add the wine! You can reach Cristina at 669 918 0670 or e:


If you have ever thought about giving your mattress a deep cleaning then Noë Guadiana Villareal is your man. He started his business, Deep Extraction Cleaning [yes, that’s the name – “Mexicans love English names”.] three years ago. A deep cleaning takes about 1 1/2 hours depending on your mattress size and stains. Noë begins with a Hepa filter vaccuum [oh, the dust bunnies you would not believe!], then a soil remover and finally an injection suction for the deep clean. Allow a four to five hour drying time, with an approximate cost of $500. You may have two mattresses and there is a discount, or you may just need a light cleaning, for $250. He also cleans furniture, rugs, and car interiors. Noë works alone and is very punctual and texts right on the dot of the appointed time, “I’m here.” The English-speaking Noë can be reached at 669 134 8864, or 669 986 1314 or e: Sweet dreams.


If your body is craving a deep tissue therapeutic massage, then you may find relief in the hands of Miguel Angel. [Updated May 2018 by Sheila Madsen: I’ve been having massages for 45 years. That’s a big number, and I had a big problem in my right shoulder. Sometimes the knot was the size of a golf ball and with a talented registered massage therapist it would sometimes be reduced to the size of an olive. But the pain always returned – radiating from my jaw all the way down to my right fingers. In fact, I used to roll around on a golf ball to relieve the pain. I can’t explain why I took so long to avail myself of Miguel’s services. He has had nothing but rave reviews [see below] and people would stop me and thank me for “promoting” him. I think it was the fact that during low-season Miguel started to make house calls. Miguel appears in a smart uniform with his massage table [I supply the sheets and tranquil music]. I’m on my stomach and he says right away one leg is shorter than the other and that my hips are out of alignment and that’s my problem. What? He works on my feet, my hips and a little around my “golf-ball” knot. The next day my knot is the size of an olive. After four treatments the knot has unraveled; no more headaches, no more jaw aches, no more endless stretches. Miguel is a healer and if you have a chronic problem – say, for instance, for 45 years – I would really recommend him. It’s a treatment and certainly not what I call a “tourist massage.” Miguel is a problem solver with an intelligent knowledge of body mechanics and magic hands.]

A friend of Chatter has been searching every season for an excellent masseur or masseuse; someone capable of doing a good therapeutic massage, as well as a more relaxing one. This week he found the Angel of massages! He reports: “my wife and I have both been to Miguel and really enjoyed the experience. We felt he has good hands that know how to read the muscles. He really knows how to work out trouble spots and end with a relaxing massage. Fluent in English, Miguel Angel uses a combination of massage, reflexology, and myofascial release techniques to get at trouble spots or just give a relaxing workout, as you request. Located at Carvajal No. 2214 in Centro Historico (south of Zaragoza just across the street from Dulceria Don Juan), he operates an esthetics salon and barber shop which is open Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 8:00pm (Phone 982-8970 or 910-3749), but he prefers to do massages between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and is flexible if that does not fit with someone’s schedule. Miguel’s cell phone number, with WhatsApp messaging, is 669-223-9553. He charges $250 for one hour but we prefer one and half hours and pay $375 which includes a $50 tip.” Another testimonial from MC and PJ, January 5, 2016: “Just over an hour ago, I had my 4th massage in 2 weeks with Miguel. He is one of the best…using therapeutic, acupressure, and relaxation massage to work on those areas that need ‘fixing’. He finishes off with a very relaxing massage that makes you feel wonderful! He is very knowledgeable and speaks very good English. My husband and I both highly recommend him….not only will you have one of the best massages possible, but you will get to know a very nice, pleasant person as well!” Another testimonial from SA, Canada: “I have been going to Miguel once or twice a week for a month now, and he just keeps getting better and better. He has worked out many trouble spots that built up over many years and I feel great. It is not one size fits all with him and he continues to tailor his approach to my problems and introduce new techniques. My wife has been going as well and would not miss her weekly sessions with him. We have come to view him as a healer, not just a masseur. An added benefit is that he is a very nice person and is happy to help you practice your Spanish.” Another rave review: “Last week we made appointments with Sr. Miguel Angel after viewing your recommendation of his excellence for a massage. As great as your recommendation was I am not sure your accolades were sufficient. It was the best massage I have hand since the old glory days of Aroma Spa in Centro. In fact it wasn’t just a massage it was a miracle treatment. I am looking forward to this coming Wednesday for a repeat performance.” B.D.


If you want to say it with flowers, then Luz Elena is the florist for you. She’s owned Floreria Jardin de Rosas for 32 years and specializes in fresh flowers and creative arrangements; for years she has had her flowers shipped from south of Mexico City four times a week. Many are unique to Mazatlan! Wish to have a delivery? No problem, free delivery with a minimum order of $400. Luz Elena also accepts most major credit cards. If you don’t speak flower-Spanish don’t worry, Luz Elena’s English is perfect. In fact, you don’t have to worry about anything with Luz Elena, she’s just so professional. Jardin de Rosas is located on Paseo Lomas #248 [past Starbucks and the school], call 914 1754, and the hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.and on Saturdays 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Like every florist in the world, plan your order way ahead for Mother’s Day [May 10] and Valentines.


Centro’s Food Loop: When it comes restaurants it’s often difficult to be in the loop as there are spontaneous uncouplings as well as expansions, ownership changes and new names. As of November 2018, starting on Olas Altas: Barracruda’s, El Fish Market, El Shrimp Bucket, Encanta de Brasil, Rico’s Cafe [replaces Copa de Leche, not open yet and upstairs Vancouver Wings which is open], The Belmar, Café El Faro, Akaita Sushi, La Chila, The Looney Bean, Fonda de Chalio, Puerto Viejo and The Freeman. Walk through the Freeman lobby, out the back, hang a left and there is Angelina’s followed by Macaws. Now you are Sixto Osuna, aka restaurant row: El Guilo [“art gallery, restaurant, cantina, boutique”] Water’s Edge, Allegro/Raggio, – the walking street begins with Morena’s Taste of India, and Da Venzi Deli aka Eddie’s Pizza #22 [it was Kit Cat Pizza Deli.} On the south side of the Plazuela Machado there is: Il Mosto, La Famosa, La Cielo, Steak & Taco, and Mr. Lionso [of Playa Bruja’s fame.] Go right on Carnaval and there is: El Tunell Cenaduria, Helarte, and on Libertad is the Italian 8/8 – Ocho Octavos, Lalaguas Restaurante on Libertad too #409, swing back past the Angela Peralta and continue along Constitución you’ll pass Topolo, and then return to the north side of the square and you find El Aljibe de Pedro. Now you on the Machado square –  Pedro & Lola, El Bife, La Bohemia, La Tramoya, Brownie Mania, and Cafe Pacifico Restaurant and Bar at Heriberto Frias. Anchoring the west end of the square are: Casa Canobbio, beside that, below Casa 46, is Gaia with chef/owner Gilberto del Toro and above it, Casa 46. On Constitución, again underneath Casa 46, is Machado Public House, Gastro Pub. New to the area is Estini Café on Libertad and Heriberto Frias and La Antigua on Belisario #1201. Walking up Heriberto Frias is La Querencia Galeri de Arte, and Héctor’s Bistro/Via Condotti Pizza, Tótem Cafeteriá de Barrio [at Angel Flores]and crossing Belisario Dominquez – and then going north (right) on Niños Héroes there’s Casa Garcia which houses El Presidio and Compañia Minera, then [La Mona has moved and be renamed, Mona del Astiller on Vicente Guerrero #213 ], La Fábula [at Constitución] ending with Dos de Tres Sports Bar, and in between Life en Español Centro ; Papagayo Restaurant in Centro, part of Inn at Centro Historico, is now open and on the corner of Belisario Dominguez and Angel Flores as is Nanda’s Pizza and next door, is Nao Kitchen and Bar [Asian Fusion] and beside that is Mahi Sushi at #1410. Continue on Belisario and you’ll find Union Bakery & Restaurant on Belisario Dominquez # 1503 – still on Belisario at Sixto Osuna is the newly opened restaurant aptly named Belisario; almost at Constitución continue on #1201 on Belisario and you’ll discover La Antigua Mazatlan and the La Olivia on the south east corner of Belisario Dominquez #1216. and Libertad. Bahia reopened in March 2017, on the corner of Mariano Escobedo and Venus. Sixty-one restaurants alive and well [for today] within a 20 minute loop. You will find “introductions” to many of them here.