The 920 days in Mazatlán report (part two)

April 5, 2010

As soon as I published the previous blog post I remembered a whole bunch of things I should have included… so here goes!

Around the house

  • When I come home from the store I immediately put all pasta, beans, rice, flour, nuts, etc. in the freezer over night. I can’t even tell you how many times I have found bugs in food I had carefully sealed in ziplock bags… quite a disheartening feeling to look into a kettle of boiling water and penne to see a thousand little black bugs! I use ziplock bags a lot but also reuse plastic jugs and jars to store anything and everything.
  • Water is something you manage here, not just take for granted. We feel lucky because we have a large cistern (cisterna) underground, and a storage tank (tinaco) on our roof. Water comes in from the street, but unlike in the US, it isn’t under pressure. It dribbles into your storage system and is distributed throughout your house from there. Often it only comes in at night. I am very happy we have a cistern since we can easily manage when there are water outages. Some people might have more than one tinaco. Whatever the arrangement, it is something to look into before you rent or buy, for sure.
  • Construction can be a real shocker here… especially if you don’t like dust! Everything makes dust! And things like troubleshooting an electrical problem might involve either bashing out the wall to find a short or chipping away a channel to place new wiring. Either way, there will be dust!  And don’t be surprised when the workers show up on Saturday as a half day work on Saturday is the norm.  I’m sure you’ll notice how hard everyone works – carrying buckets of debris or pounding cement or carrying buckets of cement up ladders all day long… well don’t be surprised at lunchtime if they eat and then spread out a piece of cardboard or relax in a wheelbarrow for a nap after.  They’ll be back working hard before the hour is up.
  • If you have the newspaper delivered, don’t expect one on the day after Christmas, or the day after New Years, etc.  The newspaper takes the holiday off, so a paper doesn’t get printed the following day, usually.


  • Most communities with much of an expat population will have online forums for sharing information. These can be very helpful, especially if you can ignore the inevitable random sniping! There are also some countrywide forums, such as MexConnect.
  • If there is something you like to do, you can usually find like minded people to share with you.  You all know I like to knit.  Well, I have now gotten to know a group of women who knit, and we get together regularly to knit and chat.  And my frustration with yarn stores?  I started a group on Ravelry for English Speaking Knitters in Mexico that now has 86 members sharing information and supporting each other! If you’re interested see the link in the bar at left.

Around town

  • I like to sew, and the fabric stores here are unbelievable.  Sewing is not a lost art here in Maz!  The fabrics are of varying quality but there is plenty, and I mean plenty, of nice fabric in this town.  When you find a bolt of fabric you want to buy, go find a sales person, DO NOT pick up the bolt and take it to the cutting table!  They’ll cut it and if you want more you will take them here and there around the store picking up the fabrics you want.  At the end you’ll be given a slip and will go to a window to pay.  From there you go to a different window to show your receipt and receive your goods.  If you need a pattern?  One of the stores I go to has a rack with a dozen or so, but those are the only ones I have seen.  Better to bring your own or buy them when you visit NOB.  If you need buttons?  Then you go to a different store, a merceria.


  • Before we moved here I ripped all our music off our cd’s and put them on our computer.  We each have an iPod and we have my old Zen attached to the stereo in the kitchen filled with all our music. (60 gigabytes worth)  I know some people love their high fidelity systems and records and all but we are perfectly happy having all our music at our fingertips. I don’t miss all that fumbling around with CD cases at all! 
  • Paul and I read a lot, and we are thrilled with our Kindles.  We love the English Library here, and have read a lot of their books, and will continue to be members and check out books on occasion… but most of our reading is on the Kindle now.  It is so easy to use, and for those of us that need access to a lot of books to be happy, it is perfect.  I used to need to have at least a dozen unread books in the house “just in case” – I guess just in case an earthquake came and I was stuck home for a week!  I just don’t feel comfortable unless I have a bunch of unread books around, so score another point for the Kindle!

Social Stuff

  • Semana Santa is just winding down here and if you have never been to the beach here during the holiday you would not believe how crowded it is!  It is fun, and loud, and there are competing bands and lots of laughing and craziness.  But if people tell you there will be big crowds and lots of music, believe them!  And I think I’d recommend you either get in the spirit or just stay home!
  • Parties can be a real experience here, too. Our friends Dianne and Greg wrote a great blog post on the topic here.  But if you’re invited to a party, first thing is were you invited by a gringo or a national?  If it was a gringo, RSVP and arrive at the appointed time.  If it was a national, you can say you will come and not… or the reverse!  And what time to come?  Something within two hours of the time they told you.  The worst are mixed gatherings, people don’t know how to respond!
  • What to wear?  All I can say is, dress up more formally than you would think.  I seldom wore a dress in my life NOB but dresses and skirts are normal around here.  People dress nicely.  And if it is something special, like a dinner in the Machado on Saturday, watch out!  The clothes you wear walking on the malecon are very different from the clothes you wear elsewhere…. and here in Mazatlán, you are even going to see matching shoes and shirts a lot!  People in Maz are a forgiving bunch and you won’t feel hostility if you dress down, but please, men – leave the tank tops at the pool and put on a shirt!

I am sure there are more things I’ve forgotten, but I will keep a list and publish part three when the mood strikes!

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Thanks for the follow-up on my question, Nancy. Your update is interesting and helpful as well. Keep up the good work!


    1. I loved that last line! Every time I see a big hairy- bellied gringo strutting his “stuff” without a shirt, I cringe. It is rare to ever see a Mexican man doing that and it feels, to me, so disrespectful. Save it for the beach! Not the mercado, the pulmonia, the malecon or an eatery.

    1. What’s a pulmonía? pulmones are lungs, so my first idea is a place where they sell lungs, which even for Mexico seems a bit odd.

      I have gotten so used to living here, that I don’t notice stuff anymore, I need to start looking at things with fresh eyes again.

      I look forward to Mondays when my craft group gets together. We all have different things that we work on, it’s nice to have the camaraderie.


    1. Hi Theresa, a pulmonia is a small golf cart type vehicle(kinda like a VW Safari) that whisks people all around town via open air sides…thus the name. Apparently Mazatlan is the only Mexican city that has them. Great adventure to ride in them. I loved my visit to Merida many years ago, but would miss the ocean.

    1. Comment for Zoe and Theresa: Pulmonia derives its name from the disease in Spanish which is pneumonia. Since these vehicles are open, i.e. there are no doors nor windows, there is no protection from the elements,thus if you ride on one of these vehicles, specially in the winter, whatever mild you think it is, you are likely to catch a “pulmonia” or at least a cold! At least, this is what we Mazatlecos think.

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