So we’re in Mexico, my brother Effie and me. I flew into Phoenix on a delayed flight Saturday, slept a few hours, and got into the car for a long, hard drive down through Tuscon and Nogales and into Mexico. From there we pressed on to the town of Hermosillo, got lost crossing it, and finally cruised into the tiny coastal town of Bahía de Kino, driving dead on into the sunset and racing to get there before dark.
Kino is really two small villages. Kino Nuevo is a string of hotels and condos and houses for snowbird norteamericanos. It’s really nothing more than a strip against the water, behind which begins the Sonoran desert. Kino Viejo, the older fishing village, is more oriented towards Mexicans. There’s a small fleet of motorboats for fishing, a little pier, a few taquerías selling fish and shrimp tacos, the sole breaded and cooked over wood fires. It made a pleasant enough stopover for a day on our way further south. Amusingly, the best food in town was to be had at the Restaurant Trailer Park.
On Tuesday we took off before dawn, driving the entire day and finally arriving in Mazatlán as the sun was setting. It was exhausting, and it took a while to find our way to the beach, and then out of the Zona Dorada, a hideous enclave of package tourists, full of hulking mega-hotels and restaurant chains from America. We opted instead to stay at the Belmar, a 1950s-era behemoth on the beach in Old Mazatlán, where John Wayne supposedly used to stay, and where nobody has done any maintenance to speak of since. It’s musty and absurd, but it does the job.
I’m getting by on what Spanish I can remember, dreaming now in Spanish, and wishing I could remember how to conjugate verbs in more than the present tense. In Mazatlán most folks speak at least a little English, because this is a town where cruise ships unload — we saw a group being herded into a crafts boutique, all wearing stickers saying,¨I’m ready to experience!¨ and being told by the tour guide that this place was ¨just like the West Covina mall.¨
But Old Mazatlán is lovely, and as my friend Patricia pointed out, the beach is always real. Typing on a Spanish keyboard is a little confusing, and Mazatlán awaits, so I’m off!