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Saturday, January 7, 2012

1/7.2012 - Where (and when) are we?

Yesterday started out excellently. There's a produce guy who brings his truck down to the docks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. He's here pretty early so this is the first time I've made it over before he left.

I'd gotten up early (about 6:30) and TelCel, our internet provider, was screwing up so I didn't have much to do besides drink coffee and read "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". By 7:30 or so, I figured the vegetable guy was there and I was ready for a little stroll. So I grabbed a shopping bag and wandered over.

His name is Gumen and he has a farm somewhere around here. That's not to say that he grows everything he sells but I assume he grows some of it. I picked out some baby spuds, mushrooms, avocados, brussel sprouts, tomatoes and onions. His wife makes tamales for sale and he had some there. They get rave reviews from the cruisers. I'm not usually much of a tamale fan. I loved them as a kid but the ones we used to get in San Jose (CA) seemed like they had a little bit of cooked masa surrounding a lot of chili or something like it. I remember the insides were red and spicy and good. Most of the tamales I'd had since then tended to be way too much masa with only a token filling of some sort. This includes the ones we bought from Mexican immigrants in Silverton. However, seeing as how everyone around here seems to love them, I thought I ought to at least give them a try. I chose one of each: pollo y res (chicken and beef).

I have no idea what anything cost. Once you're done choosing stuff, Gumen looks in the big bag and apparently counts up the number of smaller bags and tamales you have, then gives you a number. All my stuff came to 180 pesos (about $13.00). Then Gumen threw in 3 oranges, gratis.

Back at the boat, while Lulu was still sleeping, I heated up one of the tamales in the steamer to eat while I listened to the morning VHF net. These things were beautiful to look at, all tied up in their cornhusk wrappers.

Once rewarmed, I was pleasantly surprised when I tucked into it. It had a fairly thin coating of masa surrounding carrots, peppers, potatoes and shredded chicken. It was quite good. I saved the beef one so Lulu could have a taste after she got up.

The plan for the day was to get together with Dave and Marj (s/v Kievit) to head down to Centro and take in the First Friday Artwalk. They have these events all over the place. We even had one in Silverton, although I don't believe we ever attended. But this seemed like a fun thing to do. The Artwalk was supposed to start at 3:00 in the afternoon and it could easily take 30-45 minutes to get from the marina to Centro, depending on traffic and how soon the bus came. So, we figured we ought to head out at about 2:00. However, before that we had something else we needed to do.

Mike on the boat next to us (s/v Narwhal, a sweet little Falmouth Cutter) had told me about a little place right here "on campus" that served a nice lunch for 55 pesos. It was originally started for the guys who worked on the hotel/marina site. But, of course, the cruisers discovered it so the clientele was about 50:50. It's called Yolanda's. Dave and I walked up there about 11:30 just to see what was cooking. Yolanda was cooking "pollo en crema" and it would be ready in about a half an hour.

We wandered back up to Yolanda's at 1:30. There was one table with 4 cruisers and another with 2 Mexicans. We were directed by Yolanda to take a seat. We placed our orders for two lunches (Lulu and Marj decided they weren't hungry enough for lunch. Now I ask you, what's hunger got to do with eating?). The beverages were either Coke, Sprite, or agua fresca. Today's agua fresca was tamarino. Tamarind fruit steeped in water, a little sugar, chilled and there you go. Dave had Coke and I had agua fresca. After a short wait, Yolanda brought us our plates. Each one had a couple of chicken thighs smothered in a lightly seasoned cream sauce. White rice with a few vegetables in it on the side. "¿Frijoles?" she asked. "Sí, por favor." I answered. She brought us each a small bowl of refried beans and a stack of corn tortillas. It was delicious. Apparently every day, lunes a viernes (Mon-Fri), Yolanda cooks something for lunch. The price is fixed at 55 pesos (about 4 bucks). Sometimes she has a choice of 2 entrees and sometimes she also offers sandwiches. Going to have to go back until I've tried everything she knows how to cook.

After lunch, we caught the Sabalo-Centro bus and headed downtown. It was standing room only for awhile but we got on well before that point so we had seats. We got off at Juarez y Constitución and headed down the street.

I love the downtown architecture and the mix of viable living spaces and decay.

The Artwalk led us from one store or studio or café to the next. We saw some very impressive work of all kinds as well as some stuff that makes you wonder what made this person decide to identify themselves as an artist. For Lulu and I, the coolest part was being able to peek behind the walls that run along the street. Some of the interiors were amazing.

Eventually, though, all this art and architecture became very thirsty work. And this is where the title of this blog comes in.

We happened on this little thirst-slaking spot:

Right in the heart of old town Mazatlán, a Polish Pub. We went inside and took 4 stools at the bar. Their imported beer selection was truly awe-inspiring. The vast majority of the beers I had never heard of. The menu had them arranged by country. We took the path of least resistance and ordered a mug of Indio draft. Turns out that a draft is a full liter unless you specifically order una cerveza chica, which we didn't. While we sat at the bar, drinking our beer, we watched the television up on the wall. There were actually two TVs but only one caught my interest. It was showing vintage early 1980's MTV rock videos. Sheena Easton, Prince, Genesis, John Mellenkamp, Pointer Sisters, Tears for Fears, Al Stewart, etc. Guys with very fancy hairdos and suits and women with jackets with big shoulders that made them look like they were from the future. I couldn't tear my eyes away. It was just like being in Lewiston, Idaho back in 1981. "Just one more video and then we'll go." It was very weird to be sitting in a dark European bar watching old American videos in and old town in Mexico. Very weird.

Eventually, though, it was time to go. We wandered back to the central Mercado, stopping only to look at some handicrafts and to buy myself a mellow brim.

When we got back to the marina, we realized we hadn't had dinner so we stopped at La Mona for a pizza. Got back to the boat in time to watch another episode of "Tales of the Gold Monkey" as well as our first episode of "Walking Dead" (we finished "The Wire" yesterday).

So, a nearly perfect day: lots to eat, lots to drink, good friends to share it with, interesting sights to see, TV shows and a new hat. What could be better?


Anonymous said...

Your adventure sounds so cool. I have been reading your blog and now am caught up. Groovy that you are into art and art walk, from reading your blog you didn't really sound like an artsy fella. I bet art in mexico is quite different. Thank you for the entertainment and that is quite a chapeaux you have now. Jesus

Fixed Carbon said...

Steve: We are just back from an awesome 6 day sail around Isla Carmen and Danzante in the tiny! Catalina 22 chartered from tourbaja.com. Apropos your delicious post today, would like to post one image of the culinary enjoyments of our trip. Can I post images here?

Tate said...

Damn it, now you've got me wanting tamales. After Katrina, New Orleans filled up with Mexicans working the reconstruction jobs. So hopefully I can find a good local authentic tamale. The tamale trucks follow the workers around. Guess I'll be going downtown. ;)

Anonymous said...

Had tamales in Sacramento recently while visiting Lea. She got them at Costco and they were pretty good. Not like the ones we got in San Jose many years ago. but not bad. Bought some from a Mexican family while in Parker last winter but too much masa and not enough filling. Disappointed. Love, Mom

Shelly and Randy said...

Sounds like a great day; what could be better, maybe a pair of huaraches for the little lady.

Keith and Kay Schardein said...

Hi guys,
we are LOVING La Paz! Found your Rancho Viejo yesterday for early dinner - still full now...yummy chile rellenos y guacamole for me, and beef fajitas for the boy plus two TECATES each...some meal!

Today we hike up to Aramburo, the Allende bookstore and the little cafe (forget the name) across from the Bagel Shop. The cafe lady owner is teaching 5 of us a class Monday (preceded by lunch/menu planning this Friday). Can't wait.

Love your new hat, and yeah, Lulu - what about a pair of lovely huaraches for you?!

PS...it's MAS FRIO over here...you were wise to head across the Sea.

Steve and Lulu said...

FC: I don't think you can post images in the comments. Sorry.

Shelly, Kay: Okay, what's all this about huaraches for the señora?

Jesus: glad you like my mellow brim.

Tate & Mom: we had tamales for breakfast today. Yum!


Keith and Kay Schardein said...

Re: the huaraches, I was just picking up on Shelly and Randy's comment above, PLUS I recalled reading that last year you went window-shopping for huaraches for Lulu...just wondering if she ever bought any and how she liked them. I had three pairs in Albuquerque - very chic turquoise leather and hot pink leather flat pairs (!!) and a super comfortable pair of brown leather wedges which I loved and wore everywhere, including work (?!). I'm quite sure I was one very cool Senora! So, Lulu - how 'bout it? I probably would break an ankle nowadays! :)

The Ceol Mors said...

Hurray for photos of you!