Depending upon your walking speed and your level of interest, this is a two hour self- guided walking tour; you’ll be walking about a mile. Don’t leave home before 10 a.m. (stores don’t open until 11) and don’t leave home without: sunscreen, comfortable footwear, bottled water, hat, $10 pesos for the green bus each way, lots of small pesos for shopping in the market (they don’t take any credit cards), a print out of this guide, and remember, look down at the sidewalk before you look up. The sidewalks of Centro have steep steps and “sudden endings” – literally, you should stop walking and then gaze.
When you stroll through Centro Historico you’ll notice Mazatlan architecture is a portrait of Spanish, German, French and the British influences. It’s a combination of all these countries which inspired an historian to refer to the architectural style as “tropical neo-classical.” Other things to keep in mind are: the older the building the less decorated, and the newer the building the more ornate. Often the first storey was built by one country, time passed and another country would add a second storey; providing different details in designs, balconies (iron and wood), window frames, tiles and shutters. Much has changed since that 1922 National Geographic article on Mazatlan. The rollers still come in from China, the port did become important as predicted, but three major manufacturing industries emerged; coffee, beer, and shrimp. This gives Mazatlan the honour of being the only working town on the Pacific coast with a strong manufacturing infrastructure and a rich cultural and arts community.
Today, Mazatlan has the added distinction of being the only Pacific coast city with an historical theatre – The Angela Peralta. During your time here you’ll see how warmly the hard working Mexicans treat visitors. That’s our secret weapon; the sheer sweetness and kindness of the Mazatlecos.
You may encounter street beggars, they appear in various disguises: showing maimed limbs, sitting on street curbs, or often it’s a pretty eight year old girl selling flowers, and gum. You may also be asked to give to local re-hab centres. It is up to you, but my advice is to say “no gracias”. The city and business owners look after all these poor people in their own way.
Now it’s time for you to stick out your hand out and flag the green bus (in 2014 the bus could be white too – they’ve had a face-lift!) The words stay the same: SABALO CENTRO, coming or going. There are a few formal bus stops, but mostly the bus will pick you up wherever you hail it.