What Summer in Mazatlán is Really Like

July 23, 2012

There aren’t many expats still in town these days, but the hotels are at 100% occupancy, mostly with visitors from other parts of México. It’s the rainy season, but except for our big rain back in June we’ve only had a few light sprinkles here in Centro.

We really need the rain. Almost every night the clouds build up and we notice the yellowish bruised looking sky near sunset that in past years always means the rain is coming. But no. Several mornings lately have been overcast and we had our fingers crossed. But no. It has to come sometime, doesn’t it?

The concrete buildings are hot to the touch. They’ve soaked up every bit of heat for the last month and radiate it back at you. We need the rain to come and cool the buildings down, and to do that we need a good rain, a big rain, a real rain.

The other night the power went out at midnight and stayed off for five hours. We thought at first it was CFE (the electric company) rationing power but we read this morning in the paper there was a car accident that took down an important power pole. But five hours in a dark house with no fans – that was brutal. We sat outside for a while when there was a bit of a breeze, then we tried to sleep again, and wandered again…. both of us making good use of a handheld fan but we were still dripping wet. How did they do it in the days before fans?

Want to know what summertime here is really like?

  • Need to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night? It will be HOT and MUGGY. That’ll wake you up!
  • Sit down on the toilet? The seat is HOT.
  • Take something out of the fridge? In moments it has sweat great puddles on the counter.
  • Forget the butter on the counter after you make your toast in the morning? That’s butter soup!
  • What do we say to each other before we leave the house? Not “do you have your keys” or “love you” but “do you have a sweat rag?”
  • The essentials in my purse – sweat rag, water bottle, and compact umbrella.
  • If you absolutely HAVE to walk cross town at midday there won’t be any shade. An umbrella sort of helps.
  • I pick where I’m going to shop by which stores have the carports in front.
  • If you notice a towel sitting on a bannister or counter – that will be my “rain” towel. We all know what doors and windows leak and I use the same towel over and over, drying it in the sun in between rains.
  • If you go to the malecón in the middle of the day it will be empty. Check it out from first light to about 8 am and it’s jam-packed with walkers, runners, skaters, and bikers.
  • I have three big insulated bags in my trunk to bring my groceries home from the store. Essential!

That’s all that come to me off the top of my head today.  But the big news is Paul just came and said I should take a look to the East.  It could be rain!

At the top of this post is a picture I forgot to include with my last post – my grapefruit tree with two nice fruits.  Every year I get one or two fruits, and they’ve been very tasty, too!


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More about Nancy

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

    1. We’ve been there in October and May, not the hottest months of course, but didn’t miss the “sweat rags.” Everybody got on the bus with a big washcloth. We learned quickly they were necessary equipment.

    1. I hope it’s rain tonight!

      Okay, what about taking a shower, washing your hair, getting out and towelling off, drying your hair with the blowdryer, then having to get in the shower again! Dang! I hate that.

    1. I had to laugh at your leaving the house list. A “sweat rag” is number 1 on our lists also.
      This is probably a dumb question; but why don’t people there use air conditioning? We have 2 mini splits, one in the bedroom that we turn on before going to bed and one in the kitchen/sala area that we turn on in the morning and off at night. We couldn’t live here without them. Too hot in the summer.

      1. Marty, I’ve wanted to do a “photo” post about sweat rags, taking pictures of everyone around town. Maybe this is the year!

        Judith, It sure feels like rain, fingers crossed! Oh, and I hate that getting wet again after you’ve fixed yourself up. Grrr!

        Brenda, Ours is an old house, and we have air conditioning in the bedrooms but not in the living areas. One bedroom has our tv and Paul’s computer so we usually retreat there after dinner. But our house old has high ceilings and is quite open to the outside…. and for the most part we are comfortable. We have ceiling fans all over and floor fans strategically placed. It’s mostly fine. Lots of people do air condition their whole house, and some turn it on in a room when they’ll be there for a while. Every household does it their own way.

    1. I would say summer is the perfect time to come to San Miguel where our highs are about 80 or less and the humidity is no higher then 30% – even in the rainy season!

      Really, I can’t imagine living with a sweat rag. Even when i was in Houston for 34 years we didn’t have to do that…….yuk.

      So, when I DO come to visit, I guess December is the best time?


      1. Babs, Yes, summer in San Miguel sounds wonderful. We have friends here who spend the summers in SMA, others who rent a place in the Lake Chapala area. We just have a big house and lots of plants and choose to experience it here year round! And please, come to visit, it would be lovely! – December through April is best, although May and June are lovely and warmer. Avoid July, Aug, Sept & Oct.

        Brenda, The rain came but it was just a little tease, darn it! And there are no wimps, we all just do what we prefer. And every house and spot is different for sun, breeze, etc.

        Marilyn, I guess I made it sound like I am miserable, but I’m not. I actually like it here in the summer, go figure.

        Steve, Those bananas are good for you when you perspire a lot, too. Potassium!

        Zoe, I think one of the reasons I like our house is that I don’t feel cooped up inside…. it always half and half!

        Theresa, I’m with you on the acclimatizing. We use fans a lot. Right now it is about 90 with 80% humidity and I’m sitting at my desk with the window open to the west and a curtain blowing in the breeze. A tiny desk fan is blowing on & under my laptop (and hitting me, too) and another is under the desk blowing on my legs. And I am not uncomfortable at all.

    1. Thanks for the explanation Nancy. I had heard others talk about not having air cond. and wasn’t sure why. The openness and high ceilings explain it. I imagine the high ceilings also keep it a bit cooler inside also.
      Anyway hope you get some rain to cool it off. Take care.

    1. Oh man, I do hear ‘ya girl. Miserable, that’s what I was my year at the beach. And, I’m from Hawaii! People would say: You’re moving to the beach? Are you crazy? It’s HOT at the beach. I’d say: Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m from Hawaii, I can handle it, no problem! arrrgghh Big problem!

      I used all the fans too and on really bad days I’d lay in the big sunken tub in cold water. The best relief was my hammock in the shade of the mango tree. Just keeping the hammock moving created a tiny breeze that was simply delicious.

      How about this one, all your silver jewelry turns black in 5 minutes from the sweat. Right?

      We’re getting little rain this year too, not good. The lake is low and we need the water. OTOH, Bela sent pictures of 6″ of hail all over her garden in Chiapas last week! Go figure. Hope you get some rain soon!

    1. The strangest thing about summer here in Melaque are the bananas. I usually like slicing one on my cereal in the morning. But during the hot months, the bananas taste as if they have been baked. I suppose they have.

    1. Brenda, when we lived there for several years, we just didn’t LIKE AC. We preferred the doors and windows to be open to the elements, the patios, and ocean and used strong fans blowing in our direction (when eating or reading) instead. Always, however, used the AC at night for sleeping. We are probably unique in that, but I just hate being closed up in a house. Some, like Nancy, have such gorgeous courtyards that one wants to be “one with nature” including the sweat. ‘-)

    1. Thanks Zoe. I prefer to have the windows/doors open also. I too, hate that closed in feeling; but once it hits 32C. it is too much for me and I need to cool off in the A/C. I guess I am just a wimp. We have been here full time now, (Guaymas, Sonora) for almost 7 years so I guess I am as acclimatized as I will ever get. We pretty much use our A/C for July, Aug., Sept. and shut it off if we get a cooler, cloudy day, which is seldom.

    1. Nancy,
      you are describing our spring humidity, except there is no rain to cool things down during those months.
      Right now (4pm) it’s 75 degrees and raining! It was hot and muggy in the am, but not as bad as it usually is in April or May.

      I am also amazed at how different our weather is from yours. Even with Merida’s fabled heat and humidity, Maz sounds worse! LOL…

      We don’t have a/c either but our reason is economy. It costs way too much to run, our normal 2 month bills average mxn$500 (as high as $600 and as low as $300) actually these days it seems to have stabilized at mxn$400 while our friends who have ac easily pay four to five times that amount. We simply cannot afford mxn$2000 electric bills (though we happily pay mxn$600 a month for high speed DSL, so you know our priorities!)

      Also I firmly believe that if you have a/c and use it all the time you will never acclimatize. Eventually you get used to it, and you do stuff to make life more bearable. We sleep outside sometimes and in hammocks. A dip in the pool does wonders and having fans that blow on you is a must. An afternoon at a museum, the mall or at the movies is a respite from the heat too.


    1. That’s why after living my entire life by the ocean, I now live in the mountains. I really don’t think I could take it. (the hot flashes are bad enough here)
      Although we are starved for rain here too right now.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      So good to read your columns. There is so much we miss about Mazatlan when we are away, especially centro historico, but certainly not the mugginess. Your description was amazing. I am wimpy like Brenda and run the air when it gets really hot. The difference is that I like AC…not as much as cool natural air…but for me it is a blessing. We had such a mild June and part of July this year that I am surprised to know how brutal it is now. My courtyard mus be a scorched mess!!!I am sending good thoughts and wishing you lots of rain.

    1. Nancy – I felt sweaty just reading the story. Here in Winnipeg we have had a great summer, hot and a little humid but no sweat rags. Some day, when I get older we might try a summer in Maz but for now I love our 6 months there and 6 months in Canada.

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