The generous taquero: sharing food with those in need : Mother Teresa once said: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one”. The COVID-19 pandemic might leave us wondering what we can do as individuals, with so much hardship happening around us. Street food vendor Francisco Gastelum, better known as “El Veneno” (the Venom), didn’t give it too much thought and gave back to the community that has helped his food stand grow.
Last Saturday and the week before, he went out with his wife Alma and two sons to buy food. After finishing their day at the food stand and with help of some suppliers, they carried out their plan. Among the four of them they cooked up a healthy fish stew, served with tortillas. In the afternoon, they drove out in the family’s “Pulmonia” taxi to start the drop-off. They first stopped at the fisheries docks, then headed to La Juarez neighborhood and finished at the poorer periphery. They gave away over 300 meals, without any charge. Mister Venom told me he couldn’t believe how positive everybody’s response was. “It really fills my heart with joy that I can share my blessings.”
The Veneno food stand is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 7.00-11.00 a.m. serving crunchy breakfast tacos (take-away only) and is located on Gutierrez Najera behind the “yellow chicken rotisserie”.
[By Maaike Hoekstra, owner and founder of Flavor Teller, May 26, 2020
Gaby and Ruben Torres opened Artesano’s Bakery [panadero artesanal] in November 2019. If Ruben looks familiar, he started as a baker at Héctor’s when Héctor’s was Molika then he moved across the street to Héctor’s Bistro. Three years ago, Gaby and Ruben left Mazatlan for San Miguel Allende. While their bakery was successful in SMA they missed Mazatlan and returned last year. Brownies, carrot cake, cinnamon buns, corn bread, bagels, croissants [“light, fluffy, buttery, best croissant I’ve had since I lived in Europe, RH”, delicious, light, flaky” DW],”banana bread mini loaf also delicious, moist and buttery tasting, I won’t be making it anymore as the size is perfect and so much easier!” DW, muffins, white bread, multi-grain bread “a friend say it was great”], they make it all and serve it up with a warm smile. You can tell they are thrilled to have their own bakery and to be back in Mazatlan.
According to Gaby, she says she needs a bigger oven to make sour dough bread – that’s a couple of months away. Gaby and Ruben begin their day at 4 a.m.; it’s not a long commute as they live above the store. The coffee is fresh and the beans are not overly roasted – Americano, lattes, cappuccinos. It’s very popular with the workers finishing their shifts who enjoy stopping by for a coffee and muffin in the afternoon. Gaby and Ruben are dedicated owners, working hard to please their customers with delicious homemade breads – truly a panadero artesanal.
[Artesano’s Bakery, Guillermo Nelson #1813 at Melchor Ocampo, is open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., closed Sundays, pesos only, one tiny step for handicap people and now with ac! There are three tables if you wish to stay and have a coffee and a sweet. Ruben has just begun to accept quiche orders, give him a call 669 145 9533, Spanish only. Two lattes and a slice of fluffy corn bread [gluten free] the size of a brick was $105. There is a bathroom – but better suited for gentlemen as it has no toilet seat.]
Due to the coronavirus or even due to summer holidays some of these stores may be closed.
Colores Latina opened in 2017 on Sixto Osuna # 24 [2 stores from the Plazuela Machado] – so it’s not new to full-timers but perhaps new for visitors. Colores is a boutique shop filled with “artisan crafted items made with love”. The owners support both professional artists and Indigenous artists [all one -of -a- kind] and import from Brazil, Columbia,Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia and of course, Mexico. Take your time, it’s filled with hand-made purses, jewellery, clothes, gorgeous shawls, colourful comfortable shoes [even sneakers!], paintings, and objet d’arts you may never have seen before.Accepts credit cards. The other new shop in the square is Legado Zapoteco located around the corner from Pedro y Lola on Carnaval #1313. It offers unique homemade/handmade gifts from Oaxaca such as wool rugs, cotton bedspreads, table cloths, “alebrijes, and “black mud” pottery. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. accepts credit cards. As with speciality shops such as Casa Etnika [Sixto Osuna #50], Nidart [Libertad #45] Casa Venus, Heriberto Frias #1404 and Gandarva [Constitución #616] you just may find that perfect “suitcase” present, or treat yourself to a unique purchase. Most of these stores are open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What is so special about LaBeth’s Bazaar and Bohemian Boutique? “Besides all the gorgeous new clothes that are as colorful as Mexico, and fun to wear even in warm weather, vintage purses that are all the rage, short kaftans, long kaftans, jeweled kaftans, Palazzo pants that are breezy colorful and ohhh so light, brightly colored wrap skirts that are reversible, ruffled skirts, cotton skirts, wonderful manta crop tops and short jackets… all these things are wonderful, but what makes LaBeth’s really special is the fact that 20% of proceeds go to Hogar San Pablo Boys Home.There was a need to assist the Boys’ Home when the bingo and various pot- luck events ended. I offered to take up the slack and help provide toiletries that are in constant need with 37 boys. My lovely boutique is in its 3rd year – and fortunately, it has provided the Boys’ Home with much needed items. Please come by and shop and donate at the same time; I truly offer feel good shopping!” Elizabeth also sells a popular intimate number called Money Panties – yup, it has room for thousands of pesos, your passport and other valuables, perfect for travelling and no one would suspect you had hidden treasures down there. Elizabeth also designs and makes wrist purses – vintage-looking with lace, velvet, bobbles and beads and there’s a zipper inside to hold pesos, Kleenex and lipstick, so elegant and so easy to hold a glass of wine! [La Beth’s is located in Centro, on the corner of Constitución and Benito Juarez, kitty-corner to Topolo Restaurant, and is open Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.]
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. [ SM, November 2018]
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: email@example.com. Sweet dreams.
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.