Insights

Articles written appear in the order of published date: ForeSer; Casa Aurora Surgical Recovery Home;  MOM, organic market; The voice of the people – the Angela Peralta choir; Friends of Mexico; Pedregoso: a wacky, winding street with personality plus; Artists under pressure; Our only school for the blind – a cultural chasm?; Ramps galore, but Centro needs more.

FloreSer – a safe home for teenage girls who have been victims of abuse and violence.

By Sheila Madsen, March 2022

FloreSer is unique to Mazatlan; there is no other organization that helps at-risk girls in all of Sinaloa. It’s impossible to gather the correct data on violence and domestic abuse that occurs every single minute of the day in Sinaloa, but it’s a high number. So large it would break your heart.

The purpose of this article is to shine a huge light on the organization that stepped up in 2008 to house and help girls between the ages of 9 to 18 years old. Their mission is to provide the girls with a home where they feel safe and can grow with their dignity intact.  Lucila Magaña Valdez is the director and her sisters were former directors; she’s not new to FloreSer and knows the growing pains. It started with a generous Mexican family donating a big house for the purpose of providing a safe haven for girls needing to escape their abusive environment.

Neighbours would call when they witnessed a family abusing a young girl, relatives would call, concerned citizens would call. At first, FloreSer would take them in but quickly realized there needed to be a formalized evaluation process. The volunteers couldn’t deal with emotionally disturbed girls, pregnant girls or violent girls. It became clear that taking girls, any girl, was not providing the safe haven they imagined.

The director and volunteers, especially a long-time volunteer Nancy Dietrich, approached DIF, Desarollo Integral de la Family, a well -established federal organization dedicated to helping the poor, the disabled and families in need. DIF in Mazatlan has always played an important role and they offered to evaluate the girls so that FloreSer could indeed become the safe home they had envisioned.

DIF ensures that each girl is assessed, and if they are on drugs, or have severe emotional problems that require regular medication [FloreSer has no nurses on staff] then they are placed in a more suitable environment. After a lengthy screening process the girls that arrive at Floreser need exactly what you’d think they need: food, clothing, bathrooms, personal supplies, mentors, tutors, counsellors, psychologists, chaperones, laptops, regular school, tv, games – all necessary to recover their dignity and self-esteem. In Spanish ForeSer means “to bloom.” Currently Floreser is a full house with 12 girls. Some stay for four years, some six months, many look for other relatives and leave. FloreSer is not a jail, it’s a safe home and they can return at any time. If a girl can’t read or write, then a tutor will bring them up to the right level, so they can attend a normal school. In some cases one-on-one tutoring has proved to be very successful to girls who are three years behind – they can catch up in just one year! Today, 10 out of the 12 girls are attending public schools; they come home after school and learn to cook, or take sewing lessons from another long-time volunteer, Heather Wanless.

Nancy shared two emotional success stories. One day she was shopping at Liverpool and saw a young woman she recognized. It was a FloreSer girl, grown up, working now and paying her way. They both smiled and moved on with their day. Another FloreSer girl, studied, left, got a job, married and at Christmas she arrived at the FloreSer home with $1,500. She said “you saved me, and I’ve been saving for years to help FloreSer so you can save other young girls.”

At 18 they can decide to stay and study or work, or both. Most choose to leave and carve out a new life but for those who wish to remain and study, FloreSer will continue to support their goals.

Support. Yes, it’s vital that you know that FloreSer receives no money from the government – city, state or federal. The tireless volunteers and staff raise money through various annual fundraisers. In the beginning, I mentioned a large house was donated, true, but now the house needs massive repairs and a big injection of pesos. Perhaps the next time you read about a FloreSer fundraiser you’ll think about 12 young girls who have been given a second chance, who are now leading a safe and violence-free life. Who are blooming. To quote FloreSer: “our success depends on your continued help. Every act of generousity no matter what size, makes a difference. Your generousity changes lives.”

[Visit  https://floreseriap.com  The PayPal account is not working but you can donate through Intercam Bank or go the FloreSer house on Rio Quelite #812 [just behind Lola Beltran] – gated with a buzzer. If you wish to donate – either money, an outing such as a pizza party, clothes, an afternoon at the beach, a morning spa treatment, please call Kathy Muñoz Vega at 669 229 7464 from Monday to Saturday, 10 am until 2 pm. – she’s the social worker, speaks English, and knows the girls’ school schedules. The volunteers are happy to pick up your donation and give you receipt, a factura, as FloreSere is a registered charity and your donation is tax deductible.. Francisca Genoveva Valencia Bernal is the director of FloreSer. Ivonne del Carmen Martinez Ramirez is the psychologist. Gabriela Peña Chico is the current president of DIF.]

You’ve made the decision to have plastic surgery – introducing Mazatlan’s Casa Aurora Surgical Recovery Home.

[By Sheila Madsen, January 2022, via phone. Please call Dawn Morrisonbrown or e mail: casaauroramx@gmail.com or call 669 269 1052 for your private tour.]

For years, Mazatlan has had world-class board certified surgeons.If you been thinking about any plastic surgery- from face lifts to bariatric or abdominoplasty – now you have a fabulous new recovery home.

Dawn Morrisonbrown is from Red Deer Alberta and when she arrived in Mazatlan 33 years ago she and her husband Dan decided to retire here. During their busy working years in Alberta they travelled Mexico from top to bottom , from coast to coast. Yes, another love story, Mazatlan was always the city to build their new dream. “ My soul is here, my home is here.” Their second act. Dawn freely admits she’s a believer in “if someone wants to make a change, do it, that makes you happy. I’m thin but have double chins, get rid of those. I wanted an eye lift, go for it.” She’s had several facial “improvements” over the years and the missing part – was not the quality of surgery but the lack of recovery facilities.

 “My main philosophy is to offer top notch care in a clean “at home” environment.  There is nothing worse than going out of the country for a medical procedure and being stuck in a hotel room alone.  This way, you have the convenience of health care, an adjustable hospital bed for comfort and someone around should you require help. “

Dawn knew exactly what a recovery home required: excellent hospital beds with proper mattresses, 24 hour nurses on call, [or in house] a person to drive you to and from your doctor’s appointment, even an airport pick-up is no problem. Casa Aurora is only 10 minutes away from one of the best hospitals if an emergency happens. Casa Aurora [ aptly named from the Spanish word meaning dawn] has one private room and two semi-privates each with their own bathrooms. The Casa  also has brand new energy efficient mini splits. Dawn and Dan are starting slowly, but they do have room to expand as demand grows. There are tvs to pass the time and two huge terraces filled with flowers and plants. All is calm, all is tranquil. Meals are catered to your dietary needs as well as the all-important lymphatic massages;  even manis, pedis and facials. Basically, whatever you need, Dawn will provide it.

Casa Aurora rooms are on the second floor but she assures me that even with a “mommy makeover” [ breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, tummy tuck, buttock augmentation, liposuction, arm lift, thigh lift] there is not a problem walking up the stairs. She didn’t admit to have a mommy makeover but friends of hers have – and easily climbed a few stairs – with sturdy hand railings of course.

Dawn Morrisonbrown

You have the freedom to choose your own surgeon or interview Dawn’s roster of approved surgeons. The surgeons will accept credit cards, Casa Aurora is cash only. Most stays are one or two nights, and all costs can be discussed with Dawn. The Casa Aurora team follows all Covid 19 protocols and will soon have “sterilization fogging” robots. Dawn ended our conversation with “Mazatlan has world class surgeons and I want to promote their talents. I would love to meet you and give you a private tour – we are open and ready to give you the best possible recovery care.”

Nine years later the Saturday organic market [MOM] is stronger than ever.

By Sheila Madsen, December 2019.

[Updated November 2021 – vendors for the 2021-2022 are listed below.  Please follow all Covid-19 protocols by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Also bring cloth bags [no more plastic bags! and lots of small pesos for the vendors. The Farmer’s Market is in its 11th year now and our entire world has changed – you may see less food products but the enthusiasm to keep the market vibrant is greater than ever.]

The foreign community counts on this market, we love it, we meet friends, we have a wonderful healthy [or not so-healthy] breakfast, drink coffee and hang out in the morning sunshine. It really has become a Saturday breakfast club where you chat, eat, buy flowers and do your morning shopping.

First, let’s clear up the name. Organic market, farmer’s market -no matter how it was introduced nine years ago the Spanish translation is Mercado Organico de Mazatlan – hence the acronym of MOM. For the purposes of this update I will refer to it as all the vendors do, as MOM.

For the past five years Lindsay Goodman has been the manager of MOM. This is a paid position, not a volunteer job. She’s a busy mum with a six year-old and a three year-old; originally from Denver she arrived in Mazatlan as young woman and married a Mexican and had successful career in Mazatlan as a wedding planner. She’s flexible, organized and efficient – you’d have to be after organizing bridezillas for years. Lindsay is quick to say “the vendors are not bridezillas, but we do have to vote on any changes and often that can take days of gathering information and obtaining an unanimous vote.” There are many vendors [see list below] that Lindsay oversees and assists them when needed.

Lindsay remains excited and optimistic about MOM and that’s not always easy as the city has not been exactly super co-operative with such small things as power outlets and fixing park benches. That is one of her challenges to get the city on board with MOM to embrace all the good things MOM brings to the community.

The participating restaurants buy over 50% of their food from MOM – it’s a like a group hug, everyone supporting each other. The same is true for visiting chef demos – most of the produce is bought at MOM. The artisan kiosks also must meet a certain criteria – it varies from artist to artist but ideally recycled materials must be used and the jewellery, feathers, etc. sold- must be local.

The elephant in our interview is price. This dialogue has been going on for twenty years all over the world – some people do not want to pay more for organic [or chemical-free], some do not see the value, and then there’s the group who don’t care and just want to purchase the best produce possible. Lindsay has taken weeks to do cost comparisons with MOM products versus Walmart and Soriana; on average she feels one pays about 4 to 5 pesos more at MOM. Again a big deal to some, not a big deal for others. This will continue to remain a universal conundrum.

MOM is now is a plastic-free zone – farmers may package their greens in Ziploc bags, but buyers please bring cloth bags for all your purchases – the vendors may offer you paper or cloth bags to buy but there are no more plastic bags available. This is a natural evolution to reduce waste and certainly most expats have been shopping with cloth bags for years. Also, please remember to load up on small change before you leave your house; MOM vendors travel a great distance, they schlep their tents/awnings, they set up at 6 a.m. and are ready for you by 8 a.m. – please have the courtesy to have small pesos for them. The last thing on their mind is to go to a bank to have change!

Many exciting events are planned for every Saturday – depending on Covid; there will be tango lessons, cooking demos, essential oil classes and so much more. [That’s Lindsay the wedding planner for you – providing interesting events.] If you happen to miss the event announcement on Facebook you can always find it in the calendar of MazatlanLife.com.

MOM’s Saturday breakfast and shopping club awaits you with open arms [child and pet friendly too!] and we all know that a good MOM is worth sharing – because “she” is unique and there is no other market like this in all of Mazatlan.

[MOM is open every Saturday, from 8 a.m. until noon, in the Plaza Zaragoza from November to April. If you wish to become a vendor at MOM you can e mail Lindsay Goodman at: mazmercadoorganico@gmail.com. Vendors are vetted and inspected all summer long and the closing date is November.  However, organic farmers are most welcome now to be interviewed by the MOM team. In 2020 “farm” vendors pay $1,200 for a MOM membership, while restaurants and artisans pay $1,400. All vendors pay $200 to be there every Saturday.]

BUSINESS / EMPRESA for 2021 and 2022

NEW AND THRILLED TO BE BACK:

Gail Blackburn, La Rosa Organicos

Marcela’s Hot Dogs/Marcela’s Foods

NEW:

Paraiso Organicos

Arte Madera

Jiaru Chocolate

Cuerdas y Nudos

Xaynat productos belleza organices

Oralia’s Dried Fruits

RETURNING

Yeya’s Pollo
Ramses Osuna Lizarraga
farm raised free range chicken & eggs, farm raised organically fed pork meat products. / pollo y huevo de granja de libre pastoreo , carne de puerco alimentado organicamente, libre pastoreo

El Macetero
Enrique Ochoa
Variety of plants in artisinal pots and containers. / Variedad de plantas en macetas artesanales.

Oralia Frutos Secos
Oralia Collom
Artesano

Yuca Chips
Rigoberto Armienta
Variety of products made from Yuca and Taro Roots. / Variedad de productos hechos en base de raiz yuca y taro

Don Armando del Rancho
Hector Manuel Urena
Dairy products pesticide / hormone free, farm raised beef hormone free, season fruits from farm. / Productos lacteos libre de pesticida y chemicos, carne de res libre de chemicos y hormonas, frutas de temporada del rancho.

Rico’s Cafe
Marianne Biasotti
Certified organic coffee beans and prepared on site, hot cocoa, variety of coffee beverages hot / cold. / CafÇ en grano y para tomar certificado organico, cocoa caliente, variedad de bebidas preparadas con cafÇ caliente/frio.

Helarte Sano
Anis Ainara
Variety of artesanal ice cream, baked goods, sweet breads, desserts./ Variedad de helado artesanal, pan dulces, reposteria, postres.

Kokis Kombucha
Guadalupe Aguilar
Kambucha variety of flavors. / Kambucha de sabores variadosQuesart

Quesart: Cristina Pena
Variety of imported artisanal cheese’s from the state of Jalisco. / Variedad de quesos artesanales importados de Jalisco

Mercado Verde
Karyna Pina
Variety or certified organic products imported, spices, dressings, cereales, snacks, pastas. / Variedad de productos certificados organicos importados como especias, cereales, botanas, pastas, salsas

Heather’s Pie’s
Heather Wanless & Alex
Homemade pies and meals to go like chicken pot pie and lazana. / Pay’s caseras y comidas para llevar como estofado de pollo o lazana.

Maria Dessert’s
Maria Lopez Torres
Cakes and cupcakes made with organic and high quality ingredientes. / Pasteles y bollitos hechos con ingredientes organicos y otros de alta calidad.

Kalinka Pan
Jonnatan Valdez
Sweet bread, loaf bread, muffin, gluten free, speciality needs bread. / Pan dulce, pan de barra, bollos, sin gluten, necesidades espciales pan

Yerbabuena
Carolina Escobosa
Ecological and biodegrable diapers , feminine pads and mensuration cups. / Venta unica de panales ecologicas, toallas femininas ecologicas y la copa menstrual.

Caty’s Breakfasts
Catalina Loreto
Desayunos preparados a la minuta para comer en la plaza hechos con mayor ingredientes del MOM

Floreser Casa Hogar
Francis Valencia
Homemade cookies and treats, breakfast creps, arts and crafts. / Galletas caseras, crepas para desayunar, articulos bordados como mandiles etc.

Productos Zavalos
Jorge Sanchez
Fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, salsas, products from their ranch. / Fruta, verdura, hierbas, plantas, mermeladas, salsas, productos variados de su rancho.

Productos Rivera Mango
Rocio y Jorge Rivera
Organic mango dried, various. / Mango deshidratado organico, varias.

Rancho Sacramento
Maria Sacramento
Fruit, vegetables, tortillas various, eggs, chicken, tamales, salsas. / Fruta, verdura, tortillas varias, huevo, pollo, tamales, salsas.

Mielisima
Edith Sanchez
Honey and all honey made products, seasonal fruits. / Miel y todos los productos hechos con el, frutas de temporada.

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The voice of the people – the Angela Peralta choir.

By Maaike Hoekstra, February 2019, proud choir member [left in the picture below] plus the owner and founder of Flavor Teller – Mazatlan’s original street food tour.

If you would ask me what has helped me most to integrate in Mazatlan’s society, my answer would probably surprise you. Want to know where I learned the Mexican anthem and ‘Las mañanitas’ (Mexico’s happy birthday song) and the local banda anthem ‘El Sinaloense’? Want to know why I know so many people in town? Want to know where I go for stress relief? Want to know where I found my inner actress? It’s all the same place: the Angela Peralta choir.

The Angela Peralta choir was founded in 1992 by Maestro Antonio Gonzalez. He is an accomplished pianist and he founded another community choir in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz before settling in Mazatlan. The Angela Peralta choir is one of the pillars of the local cultural scene, together with the classical ballet, Delfos Modern Dance Company and the Fine Arts music school. Each of these cultural groups were founded before or shortly after the remodeling of the Angela Peralta theater in 1992. The Angela Peralta choir has been the cradle for successful singers who have built their careers outside Mazatlan like Adan Perez (New York), Carlos Osuna (Vienna), Armando Piña (Philadelphia), Penelope Luna (Mexico City) and Eimy Osuna (Mexico City).

Why join a choir?

I’ve been asked this question many times. With almost no choir experience and a limited music education, it seemed daunting at first to sign up for this prestigious vocal group. However, there is no requirement for aspiring members apart of interest in singing. There is a short audition to see which voice you are (soprano, mezzosoprano, tenor or baritone) and you’re ready to go. Mostly we know several months in advance when our next performance is. Sheet music is handed out and the tough work starts. There are new choir members that have no previous knowledge of reading sheet music so at the beginning of the season a speed course is offered.

A community choir is a bit like a human body, each voice performs a different task but they can’t function without each other. The sopranos are the drama queens, singing too loudly and always wanting to be the center of attention. The mezzo-sopranos (or altos) are having beautiful voices, if you only could hear them. The tenors are always a little bit distracted and the baritones and basses just fell asleep (zzzzz….). It might seem like an exaggeration, but after being part of the Angel Peralta choir for more than a decade there’s truth in it.

There are tedious rehearsals deciphering melodies and tempos, there’s chewing your way through foreign languages (ever tried to sing in Russian?), there is sharing sheet music because you forgot to bring that specific piece. But bit by bit, like a puzzle, separate parts come together and the spark of vocal harmony lights up the room. Then you have to polish the details: the quiet pianissimos, and thunderous fortes, the sharp staccato and dreamy andante. Finally, the count-down for the concert comes to an end and you enter ground zero: the performance hall. It might be the humblest podium in a poor neighborhood or the grand stage of the Angela Peralta Theater. Lengthy last days rehearsals mix with make-up sessions, behind the scenes chit-chat over coffee (and cookies if you’re quick), costume fittings, squeezing 80+ people on an ever-too-small platform, sore legs from standing up too long. At times you wonder: why did I sign up for this? But then you hear: “Tercera llamada… Comenzamos!” (Third call…we begin). An adrenalin rush flows through your veins, the curtains slide open, the lights flash on and it’s SHOWTIME!

What would be the highlight of my choir career? After 13 years there are many things to choose from: singing monumental chorale concerts like the Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem or Berlioz’s Te Deum are a physical, mental and team-work challenge. Participating in operas like Bizet’s Carmen and working with local opera guru Maestro Enrique Patron de Rueda, has a charm of its own. Having to sing and act on stage is a wonderful enriching experience.

Most importantly what I’ve gained after all these years, are the friendships. Who else would have thrown me a baby-shower including floral corsage and diaper games? Who else would have helped me out when I was stuck in a bureaucratic mess? This is why I proudly call myself a member of Mazatlan’s Angela Peralta choir!

[Interested in joining? Contact Mari Murillo on the Coro Angela Peralta – 25 años Facebook page for more information. The choir rehearses on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday from 7-9 p.m. at the Fine Arts school next to the Angela Peralta Theater. Rehearsals may be more often if a concert is coming up. While you are a volunteer you pay a small inscription and monthly fee]

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Exciting news from Friends of Mexico.

[Updated, January 2022: Chuck Hall is the new president of FOM.]

By Sheila Madsen [November 2018]

Just about everything! To begin with in February 2018 they elected a new president, Wendy de Graaff. Friends of Mexico [FOM] was founded in 1998 and over those 20 years it has been through many iterations. Like a blackboard with multiple chalk markings let’s clean the slate and start in the present.

The association has decided to focus on one primaria [grades 1-6] school only. For now, it’s La Nueva Creacion de Jardines del Valle. FOM put in a new kitchen, they donate monthly food supplies so the kids can have lunch, they provide tutors for ESL classes, building supplies, books and other school supplies and they even go in and paint desks. Because of this laser-like focus [“getting it right”] the school was brought up to government standards and now has permission to change its name. And guess what they decided on? Amigos de Mexico. This name change acknowledges the support they have received from FOM.

The scholarship program is still very much intact. Anyone can donate $2500 pesos and put a child through secondary school. Teachers recommend students who have high marks and potential and then FOM monitors their marks, the participation, the attitude and if there is a fall-off in any area they are removed from the program. It’s $2500 a year – that pays for school fees and other supplies.

How to become a member of FOM: currently there are 350 members but Wendy and her team need more, way more! It’s easy to join: every Friday at Rico’s in the Golden Zone from 10 a.m. to noon, [November to end of February] a member is there to sign you up, it costs only $350 pesos a year and that fee will go into the school’s piggy bank and you will get a 10% discount on the FOM’s discount list. Once you’ve signed up and paid, you have access to their discount list. As a member you will be able to find a list of volunteer opportunities – from one hour a week to more. Whatever time you can give would be appreciated.

Another important arm of FOM is the social aspect and Vicki Taylor runs that with the title of Member Service Chair. Her mandate is to enhance your experience in Mazatlan and have fun. Trips to Guadalajara, Copper Canyon, a Costco run, a sundowner meet and greet – events like that. There is no profit for FOM in these events, you just pay for the cost.

Joining Friends of Mexico is a win-win. You get to help educate young school children in a decent environment and also receive a discount at many places. There’s no need to remind you that education of children is the future of Mazatlan.

[Wendy de Graaff is from Vancouver Island and lives full-time in Mazatlan now. She’s comfortable at managing large groups; she was president of the British Columbia Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists, which has 5,500 members. Her hobbies are portrait painting, cooking and adoring her Samoyed, Casey.  Please give her a warm welcome – believe me you’ll really enjoy talking with this lovely, talented woman – you can reach her via e:president@friendsofmexicoac.org.]

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Pedregoso: a wacky, winding street with personality plus

By Sheila Madsen (February 2013)

When you are two there are so many decisions to agree upon. Children, cat, dog, parrot, downtown, suburbs, condo, garden, squash, tennis, travel, stay, meat, vegetarian, organic, spend, save, eat in, dine out and the daily dialogues go on and on. For most of us who decide to move to Mazatlan, because of our age, the debates do become smaller. Something like this: view, no view, in Centro, out of Centro, to buy, to rent, house, apartment or condo? We knew within five days we wanted to live in Centro, and to buy a condo with a view.

While we waited two years for our condo, Vue Centro Historico to be built, we lived on the wacky, winding street of Pedregoso. Pedregoso has its ups and downs. Literally. It runs parallel to Angel Flores, but due to nature of the topography, namely a huge hill, it offers amazing views. The second floor of Pepe’s new apartment (he has since expanded and I refer to it as “Pepe’s Pedregoso Palace”) had most of our requirements. I won’t dwell on the deficits, but the assets were the location and the view. Four years ago we’d watch the surfers on Olas Altas, and a guy training his dog to surf. The dog became quite the surfer and knew exactly when to turn back to shore.

We always enjoyed watching the cruise ships glide in and out. But those ships have sailed. Often we’d climb up to the roof, very carefully, with our wine, and watch the sunset then star gaze. Waking up, we’d see the sun rise over the cathedral. Then there were the Pedregoso cast of characters. Poncho lived next door and did odd jobs and had odd hobbies. He changed his outfits three times a day and went from brown pigtails to a blond Mohawk. Susan Carnes was busy installing beautiful paintings in her windows. Angela Jackson had a lovely morning yoga practice on her roof. Sylvia, the talented seamstress in the peppermint green house, made me seven dresses. She still sews for me, as my shape is changing- probably because I am not walking up and down Pedregoso any more. Conchita would whip up a batch of tamales and we’d all traipse through her tiny kitchen to buy the sweet pineapple ones. She has since died. Patty Neal left Pedregoso when her husband died, tried different cities and has now returned “home” to Pedregoso. Bob and Diane would arrive from Canada and put a spring in our step. They walk up to El Faro every morning and are an inspiration.

Mexicans, Americans, and Canadians would all gather in Joaquin’s tienda and buy one egg, one cigarette, one onion; it’s a store for every one. Lourdes takes the morning shift in stilettos, tight jeans (and a lovely cleavage) and buyers stream in for their morning munchies. Joaquin’s wife, Gerenia, manages the afternoon shift, and the two daughters assist in the evening. No need to purchase a newspaper; you heard it all there. After two years we knew every single house, almost every single person, every single dog (and strays), and every annoying rooster. The street of Pedregoso is a community.

For twenty years, the Old Mazatlan Inn has been the king of the hill. Long term renters were always friendly and would ask us in for a swim, or to watch the sunset. Short term renters gasping for breath at the top of the hill, would remark how the “trek” was worth it and how they wanted to get in shape. The manager, O’Neil, never failed to give us a ride or to extend a welcoming invitation to us. We called it the “OMI”(Old Mazatlan Inn) and the feeling was always friendly and hospitable.

O'Neil Patrick McGean

O’Neil Patrick McGean
1964-2016

This past week we decided to vacate our condo on Passeo Claussen, with all the music from Carnaval, and walk to Pedregoso and spend the nights at the OMI. Nothing has changed, just improvements. It’s super clean, the drinking water is filtered, there’s Wi-Fi, the pool is immaculate, the gardens lush and from the top roof you have a breathtaking wrap around view. There is not another view like it in Centro, not even close. Immediately you feel at home, relaxed, and it’s just the right place to be.

I forgot. One thing has changed. The OMI is going condo. If we had known that four years ago…but we didn’t and hindsight is a waste of time. So if you want to rent, to buy, and have a view to live for in Centro, Pedregoso is your street, and just perhaps Old Mazatlan Condominiums is your place. This is an opportunity to rent, while you think about buying. It’s a combination we would have embraced four years ago. But it wasn’t available, and we will always have Pedregoso. Sprout_Lightbulb

Artists under pressure – Mazatlan’s first ever street printing event, was on October 26,27,28, 2012.

By Sheila Madsen ( July, 2012)

It takes a village to make a steamroller print. Leading this huge project are Glen Rogers director of Luna arte Contemporáneo, and Cecilia Sánchez Duarte representing the CMA – Centro Municipal de Artes. Starring in “artists under pressure” are ten artists from Luna and ten guest artists from CMA. Have no idea of what a steamroller print is? You are not alone. The Chinese invented paper around 105 AD. They carved images into stones, covered them in a dye and rubbed them into the handmade paper. Woodblock printing emerged in about 868 AD. Six hundred years later woodblock printing arrived in Europe. The process is: take a block of wood, carve out the design you want to appear in white, the remaining flat surface, when covered in ink, will print in black. It’s like looking at a negative. The carving is then pressed onto fabric, or paper. The invention of the printing press in 1440 did not hinder the art or production of woodblock carvings. In every century, artists are drawn to this rustic expression.

Fiat assists Nan Robb with her wood cutting.

Fiat assists Nan Robb with her wood cutting.

The star of this show rolls into the world in 1910; the steamroller. Horses were put out to pasture and the roller now powered by steam is used to compress the asphalt surface. Eventually steam evaporated and was replaced by the internal combustion engine. Artists were still carving their woodblocks, papermaking had evolved to large sheets, and steamrollers were everywhere flattening the roads across North America. Someone was thinking big picture when they got the idea to put these ingredients together and create massive woodblock prints. Meanwhile back in Mazatlan, Glen and Cecilia are busy coordinating 20 artists. Currently the plywood has been purchased and artists are digging in and carving their images. Artists have been asked to create images in honour of the Day of Dead, Dia de los Muertos.(José Guadalupe Posada is the Mexican artist responsible for these iconic images and they stemmed from his satirizing the upper classes as dandies, which explains the extreme elegance of the clothes on the Catrina drawings.

Since his death in 1913, his images have become associated with Dia de los Muertos.) On the weekend of Oct. 26,27, 28, “artists under pressure” will come alive from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Aurora, between Niños Héroes and Belisario Dominguez. You’ll be able to see the artist place her inked canvas of wood on the street, while the team prudently lowers the 3 x 4 foot sheet of paper onto the plywood, and then that paper is protected by a thick blanket. The two ton steamroller slowly runs over, pressing the image onto the paper. The group carefully lifts up the wet black inked paper and hangs it out to dry. The same process will be repeated on fabric for banners in the Dia de los Muertos Procession on November 1. It does take a village to create these “roadworks.” MazatlanLifeTV will be filming the creative process during the fall; stay on this page for the uncensored video of “artists under pressure.”

Participating Artists :Rubio Gallery -Manuel Alancaster,Manuel Carlock,Cecilia García Morales, Jorge LuisHurtado,Luis Kano,Alejandro Mojica,Blas Nayar,Dory Perdomo,Cecilia Sánchez Duarte,Gerardo Santamarina. Luna Gallery –Ken Augustine, Rafael Avila, Elina Chauvet, Pablo Corpus, Kathleen Baker Pittman, David Robb, Nan Robb, Glen Rogers, Lucila Santiago, Arturo de la Vega. The gala presentation of the steamroller woodblock prints takes place at Luna on Wednesday October 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Steamroller prints in Mazatlan – it’s a first and you don’t want to miss it.

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https://vimeo.com/38701669

If you wish to donate time, money, toys, a musical session please contact Rosa Angelica Garcia Ochoa : 982 1288, cell: 669 129 7404.

Our only school for the blind – a cultural chasm?

By Sheila Madsen (March 17, 2012)

For various medical reasons many babies are born blind in Mazatlan. In 1997 the city founded and funded the only school for the blind in Mazatlan, Una Luz Hacia El Mundo. Today, the city still funds 80% of the school’s budget. Children from the ages of four to 19 are being taught by a group of dedicated teachers five days a week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The school is located on Avenida Gabriel Leyva #2100, in front of the La Escuela Nautica. The annual fee is $100, and if the family can pay the monthly tuition it’s $100 per child. No blind child is turned away.

Children have access to Braille computers, Braille printers, and the very latest technology ipads – loaded with JAWS software especially designed for the visually impaired. Kids are taught math on an abacus. Many attend regular school, record the sessions and return to Una Luz to prepare and print out homework assignments on the Braille equipment. Why am I telling you this story?

The video above captures the essence of the school and the various programs it offers, but it can’t convey the delicate cultural situation. John Castro is a fully bilingual volunteer at the school who explains: “If you are a parent with a blind child in Mazatlan that child will most likely never work, nor ever live on his own. There are no white canes or guide dogs in Mazatlan. The parents are involved to a certain degree; the goal of becoming self sufficient is not on their radar. Aunties, cousins, siblings will always assist the blind family member.

Yes, it’s the Mexican way, but the result is that these kids lack self confidence, are shy, and will most likely never really be assimilated into a seeing world as our blind are in Canada and the United States. We’ve started two group therapy sessions, one for the mums and one for the kids. Tears are shed, stories are told, so this is a step forward to help with the low self esteem.” What can you do to help? Money is always helpful for the latest equipment, but John Castro passionately expressed “what’s needed most are volunteers to come to the school, sing songs, perhaps teach knitting, crocheting, play a musical instrument, bring tactile toys for all ages, just be there and give them a loving hug.

Peggy Sieber and Liz Bannister are two volunteers the kids live to see every Thursday. Peggy and Liz don’t speak Spanish, that’s not important, the little girls giggle and laugh along when they sing.” And so we return to the basics. While Braille and ipads may be leading the blind, nothing replaces machines like a soft human touch and a caring presence in the classroom. If you wish to donate time, money, toys, a musical session please contact Rosa Angelica Garcia Ochoa : 982 1288, cell: 669 129 7404.

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Ramps galore, but Centro needs more

By John Bannister [2012]

I have been riding around on my three wheel scooter (motoelectrico) for almost ten years. Spinal problems and surgeries have resulted in reducing my ability to walk more than a few steps. And now, getting on in years, my wife and I have become part time residents of Mazatlan. We chose this wonderful city because it provides me with access to most of the places we wish to visit. Many people come here to walk along the beach, play golf or fish in the amazing waters surrounding the city.

I can’t do that, but I can ride The Malecon and manoeuvre myself around Centro Historico. There are challenges, but I can get to the market, the Angela Peralta Theatre, and the Cathedral. Every day they are improving making new ramps, and curb cuts (slices of concrete removed with a jackhammer) which really helps people like me: as well as mothers with babies in buggies, older people on canes, or grandparents in wheelchairs. Curb appeal for me, would be lower; or no curbs.

Centro has high sidewalks due to the heavy floods which occur in the summer. I’m not here during the summer, so I often forget the practical reason for the height. Which is exactly why Centro needs to focus on more ramps, and curb cuts. Once I’m up on the sidewalk I can access most buildings or bring out my trusty canes and walk up that final step.

People are very kind and offer to lift my scooter over the step and into a store or restaurant. Of course, all the Big Box Stores in the Golden Zone are very handicap friendly. Even our new Canadian Consulate is ensuring complete access for the handicap. On the one way streets I have to be careful. If a car comes toward me I try to pull over into a space and I always acknowledge with a wave any vehicle that slows or moves over to accommodate me.

My wife, Liz, sometimes walks ahead of me on a busy road to show the driver I’m there. I really should have a high flag but I don’t feel comfortable flying it. My scooter is collapsible and will fit easily into a taxi or pulmonia – it weighs only 73 pounds. Recently I travelled to Guadalajara which is quite scooter friendly. One crazy scooter scramble was when I boarded the El Chepe train in Los Mochis. This train climbs through the tunnels of Copper Canon and over numerous trestles to a height of 7000 feet. To cross from one carriage to the next, in order to access the washroom, was a challenge in itself as the rocking train does not provide a level surface. I took a run at it and managed to cross the gap.

I’m a lucky guy to be able to get around as well as I do. So, thank you Mazatlan and please keep on improving your access for those with mobility problems.