We dropped the keys at check out and confirmed that there were no room charges...yee-haw. After carrying our clothes, dishes and left over food back to the van, we went back into El Cid to find Bill F. and thank him once again for his generosity. As usual, Bill was relaxing poolside with another group of Calgarians.
Ol 'Nilla took at bit of convincing to get started up. We think she was happy resting in the parking lot and shaded by the big fancy hotel towers. Sorry 'Nilla, time to get back to reality. A few pumps of the gas and a couple turns of the key and we were up and running. Driving the van again after a week off was a bit odd, especially along the packed and zany roads of Mazatlan. Thankfully, La Posta RV park was only 5-10 minutes down the road. We had reserved our spot for the weekend because we knew that it would be tough to get a place during the middle of Carnaval. When we arrived back at La Posta, the office clerk recognized us immediately and told us that site #37 was ready and waiting. Great news!
There was a buzz of conversation around the park about the 'Coronation Ceremony' that was to be held at the baseball stadium around dinner time. Geraldine made a quick run to the ticket booth at a nearby shopping mall to grab some cheap general admission seats. The 'Coronation Ceremony' is the event where the queen of Carnaval Mazatlan is crowned.
We were advised to arrive early in order to get a good seat. We walked from La Posta to the Baseball Stadium and still made it in good time to get a decent seat. There were very few gringos in the section we were sitting, which made it better for us to watch the show with locals. The show was a fantastic display of lights and all sorts of dance styles. The costumes were elaborate for some acts and skimpy and revealing for others. We were a bit shocked that the show was so racy given that it was supposed to be an early evening family show and there were tons of kids present. We gathered that the cultural differences account for most of our shock.
After scores of dance acts, the queen finally emerged from the shadows wearing a white dress embossed with a intricate gold pattern. The train of the dress was easily 20 feet long. The queen, Lucia Aikens, is the daughter of Willie Aikens, a retired professional baseball player. He played with the California Angles, Kansas City Royals, and Toronto Blue Jays. He played first base and was a great home run hitter, however his fielding skills left a lot to be desired. Later in his career he was used as a designated hitter, which is likely where he should have been playing all along. Anyway, back to the 'Coronation Ceremony'. After the queen came out and took her place in a throne atop a small staircase, the headlining music act came on. A local music celebrity usually headlines the show. This time the singer was Ricardo Montaner, a Venezualan heart throb and when he walked on stage all the girls in the audience screamed and squealed. It was as if we were watching a black and white video of the Beatles coming to town. Montaner was a decent singer even though we had no idea what he was saying. Once the sky was dark enough, the crowd pulled out their cellular phones which took the place of lighters to illuminate the night sky. The entire stadium was shimmering.
All of a sudden during the performance, we noticed a second man was on stage. We were oblivious as to why this second person was singing, but the crowd seemed to be cheering him on as much as they were the star of the show. Asking the lovely lady next to us, we found out that this man won a contest similar to the Canadian 'Wish Foundation'.
His dream was to be on stage singing with Montaner and this was his night to shine. He had a great singing voice and we could barely make out who was singing when they were both on stage. A short while later we again surprised by Montaner as he walked amongst the crowd and selected roughly thirty women to join him on stage. Once on stage they all danced around while he sang to them. Unfortunately our seats were a tad too high up as Montaner did not seem to notice Geraldine's hand waving frantically in the air as she wanted to be one of the chosen few.
We decided to duck out early from the show in order to catch a taxi. We assumed with good reason that everyone at the 'Coronation Ceremony' would be headed down to Olas Altas in Old Mazatlan after the show to watch the big fireworks display. It was a bit tricky getting a taxi as not many taxis wanted to head into the heart of the street party. The cab could only get us close enough to where we still needed to walk 10-15 minutes to the actual entrance of Olas Altas. This was not such a bad thing as we found a food stand on the way selling tacos for $0.60 USD. What a steal.
We had some on the way in and on the way home....mmmmm...yummy! The main street in Olas Altas was lined with taco stands, BBQ's, clothing and souvenir shops. The vendors were directly adjacent to massive stages that were on both sides of the street. There must have been ten or more stage and speaker set ups along the way. Music of every variety was being played to large crowds gathered in front. It was next to impossible to walk past the stage areas as the crowd was so dense with people. The walking crowd would come to a complete standstill, shift left and then right before being able to take a firm step forward. We were intent on getting closer to the fireworks and pushed on through the mass of people. There must have been a few hundred thousand people down at Olas Altas for the fireworks. The fireworks show is advertised as a 'Sea to Shore Battle'. According to the locals a ship enters the bay and there is alternating fireworks from the guns at shore to the sailboat in the bay. The concept sounded cool and the actual event is a spectacle to be seen at least once in a lifetime.
The fireworks lasted for what seemed like an eternity however in reality we guessed that they lasted for over an hour. The actual fireworks were similar to what we have at home in Canada, but the way they put the show together in the a battle scene provided a story line to the show. We were only about 20-25 feet away from the one set of fireworks guns and during the show we were getting hot embers raining down on us. Some of the fireworks exploded a bit low and the embers did not have time to cool off before reaching the crowd. Everyone cheered and shrilled as the embers fell down. It was an amazing experience.
We were exhausted from being on our feet most of the day and decided to head home sometime between 12:00 - 1:00am. As we fought our way back through the crowd toward the gate, the party scene appeared to be just getting started. The younger crowd was arriving for a night of drinking and dancing. We were too tired to stay after our long day. As we exited the gate, we actually saw a line-up at the ticket booth for people to get in. At 1:00am, this place was just about to go off! We have since talked to locals and we learned that they generally dance and party until the sun comes up. That is a little too much for us right now. Maybe another place at another time. We were delivered home safely in a taxi cab and were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow. What a long day and yet another big day to come - Sunday was Parade Day.
Photos from February 17, 2007 - http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=16xvaj2z.azpcidsv&Uy=-95w4xe&Ux=0
The morning brought us more energy and we got up early enough to run a few errands. We walked down to the post office, which is generally open on Sunday, expect during Carnaval. Just our luck. Now we had to lug around a large parcel to finish our errands. Things could be worse. We found an international call centre with decent rates to call Canada and the US, so we purchased an hour of minutes and began calling family back home. Not many people were home on a Sunday morning/afternoon which was surprising to us. We left messages for those of you who missed getting to talk with us in person. Maybe next time. After running around town, we had just enough time to head back and eat before getting dressed and making our way to the parade route.
The parade comes from the downtown Mazatlan toward the tourist area at the other end. The parade actually ends just outside the La Posta RV Park. We headed out of the park and down to the boardwalk. The boardwalk was packed with people all over the street, in shops and hanging from balconies over the sidewalk. We did not walk very far before we were approached by Chewie one of the caddies from El Cid.
Chewie was sitting along the curb with his wife Lupita and son Jesus Alfonso (Chewie II). They were gracious enough to let us stand behind them along the median of the road, which was prime standing room. There was still a few hours before the parade would reach us and we decided to buy some beer to share with our new friends. We stood and chatted about life in Mexico and life in Canada and shared personal stories of how we met our partners. It was a very nice evening and again we were nowhere near any other gringos, which made us feel part of the Mexican crowd. We finally learned that the theme of Carnaval is 'Hechizos de Puerto Viejo', which translates to "Spells of the Old Port". This helped make sense of all the girls dressed up like ferries dancing down the streets.
The parade started with unusual lead floats that consisted of the new line of cars from Chrysler and Mitsubishi, followed by a few tour buses that had logos of local bars and nightclubs on them. There was about a 20 minute break before the elaborately decorated floats started to come down the street cranking loud music with swarms of dancers in front and behind the vehicles. This seemed to be the actual parade. The vibe of the crowd was wild. People on the streets were dancing and cheering along with the people on the floats.
There was a mix of wildly decorated floats and some that were simply flat bed trucks with live bands on them. We were enthralled nonetheless and cheered for everyone that came by. Geraldine actually hit the streets and joined some of the dancers, but the best part was when she was walking back and banged her face on the side of the costume heads some person was wearing. It was classic and Michael captured it on video, so we can show everyone when we get home. There is so much to say about Mazatlan Carnaval, however we have limited space on this site. We hope some of the pictures will do justice to the great time we had.
Photo link - http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?mode=fromshare&Uc=16xvaj2z.ashp4w9r&Uy=-tzwx3s&Ux=0
Today was the final day in luxury. We opted to sit by the pool all morning and take final advantage of the lounge chairs and pool. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating as it was very cool and overcast. We sat out as long as we could and there did not appear to be a break in the cloud cover. To pass the time we attempted to upload photographs and check e-mail, but the internet service was working so poorly at El Cid that we actually scrapped that idea and received a refund on the cost. The morning was flying by quickly and the noon check out time was fast approaching, so we headed back up to the room to finish packing and have a shower before taking off.