I spent years looking forward to a long stay on Isla de la Peirdra (Stone Island) just across the channel, south of Mazatlan. Having been to Mazatlan in the late 80s I could not wait to return with my son for a visit and to see if perhaps we could add Mazatlan to the list of Mexican cities/towns that we’d like to eventually live in long-term.
It’s not actually an “island”.
This area of land is a remote peninsula and it takes about 45 minutes to drive here from Mazatlan. There is also a very affordable water taxi service that will take you to centro/old town Mazatlan. It runs every 20 minutes and costs the peso equivalent of about $1.50 US each, round trip. So totally do-able.
As we drove here for the first time, via a circuitous route that skirts the far reaches of countryside on the east side of Mazatlan, I started to realize that this place was not at all like the rest of Mazatlan at all. The last few miles takes you through some jungle (there are some crocodiles!) and acre after acre of coconut, mango, papaya groves, and I also noticed the humidity seemed quite a bit higher, too. The paved road turned to dirt/sand and we saw that most of the roads through town are, in fact, unpaved.
We arrived here in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave so temps were in the mid/high 80s and even low 90s. Our first priority was to figure out how to survive that kind of heat and humidity and not get heat exhaustion. The second priority was to figure out how to conduct daily life (online work, shopping & errands) under those circumstances. Since this is our new life and we are on a budget this is not a vacation…we can’t just take a week off or throw money at solutions like many of the retired ex-pats can.
Even though, after the first week, the heatwave is now lifting, the midday sun is very intense so life still needs to be structured around that. This means not planning vigorous exercise or errands on foot at certain times. If we must be out and running errands we tend to zigzag down streets to stay in the shade as much as possible and we stop to have electrolyte drinks (fresh coconut water is plentiful and works too).
Early mornings and at dusk it’s cool and comfortable and tempting to sit out and enjoy it but that is when the mosquitos and biting gnats come out at in droves looking for tender, white, gringo flesh. Constant situational awareness is necessary to stay comfortable and healthy.
We ARE on foot since we do not yet have any alternative methods of transport…
bikes or even a motor scooter, ATV or motorcycle are in our future plans, as soon as we can budget for them. But for now, all things we need must either come to us (many RV parks have weekly vendors with drinking water, propane and produce) or we must go out on foot or hire transport while the RV is parked.
Yes, we can certainly pull up stakes every few weeks and drive the RV into town for a stock up/errands but that would be a full day and we’re trying to avoid doing that.
One of the most unexpected realities of being here is how early the restaurants and many shops close.
The island is a tourist spot for both locals, cruise boat passengers and other tourists so was I was quite surprised to see just under a dozen bustling, beach-side palapa establishments, replete with live music and multiple vendors, all clear out and go dark right after sunset. We do not actually eat many meals out, we cook them ourselves and also buy whole roasted chickens to-go, but it would have to be a lunch or late lunch thing if we wanted to eat out at a restaurant.
Mazatlan, proper, is not like that though and restaurants and bars stay open quite late but then again we need to catch the water taxi back to the island and the last boat leaves at 7pm.
Not that we had plans to stay out late partying, anyway…
Life on the island is very different here than in Mazatlan…
Almost everyone (including the tourists) gets around on motorcycles and ATVs. They are everywhere including some on the beaches. Some locals still use horses although most horses are here because of the businesses that sell beach rides to tourists. (The horses that are tied up for hours every day on the roadside are not the happiest looking bunch so we will forgo any rides, ourselves.) It can be quite dusty, too, but fortunately many roadsides are lined with thick, tall hedges that help block the dust clouds from passing vehicles. There ARE taxis for hire in the form of open air pulmonias but we have yet to try one of those options.
There is a LOT of fresh seafood here and prices are very low.
This includes restaurants and local stores and there are also fish markets that only sell shrimp. The most popular way to eat this fresh seafood, including fish, scallops, octopus and shrimp, is as ceviche or the spicier Mexican version of that dish called “Aguachili con mariscos”. Like young coconuts for coconut water, it’s everywhere and it’s fresh, it’s good, it’s healthy, it’s inexpensive.
Another Mexican seafood dish we want to try soon is a whole fresh fish flayed/splayed in half, rubbed with spices and grilled over coals. This looks amazing and healthy.
Honestly I never thought I could get a bit burned out on shrimp and seafood but here I am…a little burned out on shrimp and seafood.