San Carlos to Mazatlan

Trip Start Jul 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 21, 2012

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Where I stayed
Casa de Leyendas B&B, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Flag of Mexico  , Sinaloa,
Saturday, July 9, 2011

We decided it was time to say goodbye to the desert of San Carlos and make our way to greener pastures: Mazatlan. As we get going at 11.45am the Homer Simpson copilot plans an arrival at 8.30pm, much later than we anticipated... and we have not been able to book a pet-friendly accommodation yet. Finding one on a Saturday evening could be a challenge but we put our faith in our guardian angels and drive.

As we cross Ciudad Obregon, two teenagers rush towards our car with a water bottle and a squeegee in hand. They wash windshields of cars stopped at traffic lights, hoping for tips. With our California license plates these guys spot us a mile away. Despite the cleanliness of our windshield, our hands waving frantically, and our mouths shouting "NOOOOO", we get one of these wash-and-run jobs on average twice a day. So far we haven't tipped any of washers, and this one is no exception. Traffic light turns to green: drive on...

After 3 hours in the car my bladder is about to explode. I stubbornly refused to stop at gas stations because we don't need gas yet… and mostly because I'm not thrilled to find out what Mexican gas station toilets look like from the inside. At this point postponing is no longer an option so I pull over on the highway shoulder (that’s hard to find) near a tree (even harder): in the desert sun I would probably get terminal sunburn by the time my bladder is empty. I step out of the car, immediately turn into a melting popsicle in this 100 degree heat, and quickly find shelter under the providential tree. At this moment I realize that 1) I am standing 3 feet away from a cemetery, and 2) I am not the only living creature enjoying shade: something moves in the bush – probably a gecko, though it might also be a snake or a scorpion… I don’t want to know, I just want to peeeeeeee! Unaware that Mai is taking photos, I do my business and get back to the air-conditioned car. In the desert even a bathroom stop can turn into an adventure.

Mai takes the wheel after we cross the stateline into Sinaloa, and the landscape changes dramatically from arid sand and cactus fields to lush green mountains and cultivated land. There is definitely water here. Birds fly above the road. Mai wonders why they fly so low, and … SPLAT! One of them commits suicide on our hood. It doesn’t just die and fall on the road, instead it stays stuck on the hood with its wings moving in the wind as if it was still trying to get away. Mai is horrified by this macabre display. She calls herself a murderer and tries to zigzag in order to get rid of the body… to no avail. At the next toll booth the cops on the side are giggling at the sight of the dead bird flapping its wings on our hood. I find it pretty funny too but murderer Mai is not laughing.

It is now 6pm and we are approaching Mazatlan but all the hotels I’ve called and emailed are either completely full or do not accept pets – or both. I call the rental agent who has a few pet-friendly houses to rent by the day: he can show us something tonight but he can’t have us move-in until tomorrow morning. We start picturing ourselves sleeping in the car. In one last attempt I email back several hotel folks and ask them if they know of any pet-friendly place to stay because we’d rather avoid sleeping in the car. I have nothing to lose and my evil side knows that guilt is a powerful weapon. Half an hour later I get an email recommending a B&B called “Casa de Leyendas”. I go to their web site and the place looks awesome but I can’t find the exact address or the complete phone number, only a partial one (Mexico’s phone area codes work in mysterious ways). I send an email, praying that they are geeks. It is now 6.30pm and we still have no place to stay tonight.

At the first traffic light in Mazatlan a wash-and-run approaches us, and for the first time we smile back: “SI, SI”. We point to the hood and the guy sees the bird. He chuckles and compliments us for our ‘trofeo’ (trophy). I joke back that we don’t have a Rolls Royce but we do have the emblem. In one swipe of his squeegee he disposes of the body and then proceeds to turn our assorted splattered bug windshield into the shiny see-through glass it was meant to be. I hand him 5 Pesos and wish him a good day.

Not having heard from the B&B, we proceed to the first and only downtown hotel that is rumored to accept pets. The front desk attendant informs us that the hotel is sold out… and they don’t allow pets anyway. My stress level shoots up and I get really cranky at the thought of sleeping in the car after having spent all day in it already. To top things off, rain starts falling. Mai says that the B&B should be really close and whips out her iPhone… a dot on the map shows “Casa de Leyendas” two blocks away. We walk there and are greeted by the owner’s voice “Are you Cedric?”. We have a place to stay, it’s dog friendly, it’s gorgeous and very affordable! May the improvisation gods be blessed again.

After unloading the car we take the dogs on a long-awaited walk along the ocean – the B&B is located one block away from the ‘Olas Altas’ beach (it means ‘Big Waves’, and it is very aptly named). A rat runs for cover as I step onto the sand…

Dinner is in a restaurant on the beachfront recommended by our B&B host: La Cueva del Leon (the Lion’s Cavern). Excellent food and humongous portious – even though we only ordered guacamole to share and 1 appetizer each. I sip one of the best Margaritas I’ve ever had and for sure the strongest one: after a single glass I am completely trashed. People walk along the beach front, get driven in small golf-cart-like taxis or gather in “party bus” groups at the back of pick-up trucks. Local folks, tourists from other parts of Mexico, Americans, Canadians: a very diverse crowd with one common element: everyone is having a good time. Welcome to Mazatlan! 
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