My Two Pesos

June 29, 2015

I love Mazatlán, don’t get me wrong. But I truly can’t believe that I’m the only person here who thinks that priorities are a bit out of whack. What’s going on, you ask?

Well, in the news recently the Fabulous – Will put us on the map – Designed by a famous architect – Museum and Central Park project that will cost A LOT OF MONEY. The museum is the anchor of the Fabulous Central Park project that is expected to make us a world class city or something like that. Lots of people are excited about it, but I’m not – not because of the project plan itself but for the reasons I outline below. Tourism’s picture of the museum is at the top of the post.

I don’t mean to be too cranky about it, but doesn’t it seem strange that we’re all excited about another new project when the five year old Shark Tank project is still not functional and the revitalization of the malecón also seems to have run out of gas (or are those barrels going to stay our garbage cans)?

I wonder whether there is a clear vision (maybe a mission statement) of what the city is and where it wants to head. How can they decide anything without defining that? Here’s how I would define that vision:

Mazatlán is a unique city with a working port, lovely beaches, malecón, and historic center. It is our vision that the City’s purpose is to provide for the basic infrastructure needed by its citizens and to provide a safe environment for all. In order to maintain and improve our standing as a tourist destination and for our citizens, we will provide for orderly enjoyment of special events and take care to maintain and improve the beaches, malecón, and historic center. We commit to preserving and protecting our outdoor environment.

Something like that.

But you know what? The infrastructure here continues to crumble and it’s a chasing game to keep it minimally functional. Traffic is horrible. The bus system is in bad shape. There are lots and lots of issues needing attention – believe it as I just deleted several paragraphs of examples.

I love Centro and I live here. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see how bad it is, just like tourists who visit here who have been to Durango, or Oaxaca, or Queretaro. In those cities you feel a sense of a plan, like a real vision was implemented. Maybe the thinking is this project fulfills the City’s vision. I just don’t see it, though. Seems like it would take away money, energy, and focus from everything that currently needs attention here.

I’m sure people who disagree with me would say that big projects take big vision and sacrifice – that without it there wouldn’t be subway systems or men on the moon. I agree… but is this project going to take away from things Mazatlán needs to focus on now?

I know that the gap between rich and poor is wide here in México but shouldn’t someone be thinking about those who live in colonias with erratic water service or streets that flood because the drainage clogs or is non-existent. I wonder how they feel about spending on a project like this?

There are a lot of groups working on these various issues, and they’ve made some progress in the last couple of years. I just wonder if a great new museum and Central Park project is in the best interest of the city when there are endless pending projects already. I worry about the sensitive estuary environment they’ll be putting at risk. I worry that if this project happens it will be a glittering jewel in the middle of a malecón dominated by crumbling structures behind fences promoting tourism, dirty beaches, and by our decaying Golden Zone and Centro. Well, that is until it starts crumbling, too.

It felt good to get that off my chest. Back to happier topics next time!

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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. Totally agree!!!!! Now to put this in Spanish and get it in El Debate or something… 🙂

    1. There is a Coppel involved in the project and he is funding part of it. I know they had to buy the estuary & land as it doesn’t belong to the city. Also, they have had to make sure the environment will be protected. This project will be a separate line item in the budget than water & sewer, etc.

      Yes, it seems that priorities are not straight. 5 new hotels being built and the city can’t service the people that live here. Crazy!

    1. Good cogent points, Nancy. My personal distaste for this project is somewhat weaker. I like the bosque de la ciudad as it is. Sort of broken down, but a very relaxed place to visit. Lots of families with kids. No rules, and no attractions, except for the nasty cages holding wild cats. Actually, Mazatlan could do without those.

    1. I understand completely. I am always complaining about the same issues here in San Miguel de Allende. We have beautiful new glorietas. They are huge with statues and waterfalls and gardens. Two of them. And the surface beautification goes on. At what cost? I imagine it is huge. Meanwhile the sidewalks slant dangerously into the street. There are manhole covers that are damaged beyond repair and people have fallen into them. When someone I don’t know sees me on the street with my walker and leg brace they say “Oh another San Miguel fallen woman?” They may joke but getting around this city is dangerous, particularly for the large elderly population we have here.

      It is also not just us gringos who don’t know how to deal with the street conditions. My neighbour Alicia recently had a fall in town and broke a leg, and our friend Antonio, who has a burger kiosk fell and broke some vertebrae in his back and is still waiting for Seguro Popular to get him in for surgery. There are people here with no water or electricity and very little food, and no work. These are serious issues, but apparently not as important as the making SMA look pretty for the tourists, who I am sure will not be impressed if they fall into a hole while admiring our city.

      Sorry, I am ranting again, but I do understand how you feel!

    1. I visit Mazatlan a couple of times a year and love it. But I guess it doesn’t matter where you live, some government/business decisions are hard to fathom. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      1. Thanks for your comments everyone… I think the thing that bothers me the most about the project is that the funds to be invested could be put to such better use – even if it was only for tourism! Improvements in Centro to fix sidewalks, paint crosswalks, fix sidewalks, improve the mercado, reduce the bus mess around the mercado, put better garbage cans and lighting and have more cleaning people, have the Cliff Divers area pressure washed in the early morning every day, have garbage cans on the beaches, etc etc. The hottest new thing in tourism is eco-tourism, too – why not create a plan to be an eco tourism destination? Can’t do that with filthy beaches, though. How about better parking and maybe shuttles or something for all the executive busses that clog town? More fix-ups in the Golden Zone, if there was enough money why not change the parking to the center of the street like on the malecon and recapture the angle parking area for traffic?

    1. Over the years they have made huge splashes about proposals that never come to fruition. There seems to be a fixation on announcing giant initiatives.
      I would prefer to see the estuary protected which it certainly is not now or how could that new development be allowed across from Gran Plaza?
      What we are doing now does not seem to be working. Today WestJet just announced increased flights to Puerta Vallarta and starting new flights to Loreto. Loreto?! But nothing to Maz. Such a shame.
      I love Maz and we live in Centro. I agree with Glen about needing to do basics like keep the beaches clean.

    1. I am so happy you made this post – it so needs to be said and said often. I agree, yes, I agree with you! Clean up the streets, the entrances to the beaches and the beaches themselves and fix the many broken manhole covers hiding all the stuff under the streets. We love Mazatlan but walking the streets as we do when we visit can be quite hazardous to your health. Thank you

    1. I understand your point, Nancy. But as an artist, I would love to see a world class museum in Mazatlan. The problem in my opinion is that I see a fabulous building, but worry that it has no specific purpose. A museum by definition implies a collection whether it be art, scientific, history, etc. What collection will it house on permanent display that will draw visitors? And tourist/marketing photos of Sinaloa don’t count as a collection. Without, it will be a waste of money.

    1. This reminds me of Boston’s desire (at least some people in Boston) to host the 2024 Olympics. This broke the news shortly after the snow melted, and many of us were outraged. We had just endured a winter from hell where the T (subway) stopped working, and the other trains were erratic. The city had trouble keeping up with the snow, and there was talk of running out of snow clearing budget. And then they want to spend $20 billion on a two-week athletic party?!?! Seriously?!?!

      But because this is New England, the grumps probably get their way and we avoid the Olympics.

      Still, I TOTALLY understand your feeling. If you’ve got a Mexican “green card,” maybe you can raise a stink. Otherwise, I guess you’ll just have to remain an observer.


      Kim G
      Boston, MA
      Where we think it’s pathetic that the city leaders promise to fix the “T” for the Olympics. How about fixing it for those of us who actually paid for it?

      1. Hi Kim G, Thanks for your comment. I think you misunderstood, I wasn’t wanting to raise a stink or be outraged. I had just noticed a lot of people on Facebook and around town acting all “isn’t it fabulous” about the project and I just wanted to put my two cents out there. I got a lot of positive comments too, not just from expats but from Mexicans too. By the way, I DO have a green card, it’s a visa called Permanente. Still until I am a citizen I wouldn’t want to carry a picket sign or that kind of thing. Saludos

    1. The city should have a moratorium on all above ground projects until the basic infrastructure is functional for the whole city. Water. Electricity. Roads.

      There’s a long list of projects over the last ten years that were supposed to be “game changers” – that would bring people and money flowing into Mazatlan. Many of the projects get started, but are rarely finished. Some never get off the ground at all.

      The easiest thing to promote Mazatlan would be to hire a PR firm to sell what Mazatlan already has in abundance… Unbelievably Inexpensive rent near the ocean in a tropical climate. Colonial Architecture.

      If the city would promote a cafe culture geared toward expat artists, the same way Paris did after World War I – it would not take long for a well-run campaign to rebrand Mazatlan “Paris of the Pacific,” or “Paris on the Pacific.”

      One thing Mazatlan is missing that every world class destination needs is a “Vista Point.” Mazatlan does not have one.

      Rome has the Colliseum.
      Pisa has the leaning tower.
      Paris has the Eiffel Tower.
      Florence has the Duomo.
      London has Big Ben.
      New York has The Empire State Building.
      Los Angeles has the Hollywood sign.
      Athens has the Parthenon.
      Hawaii has Diamond Head.
      San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge.
      Seattle has the Space Needle.

      It doesn’t cost a lot to create a vista point, and then promote it.

      It would give the tourists a destination and a gathering place when they get off the boat.

      A vista point would create an iconic image that people feel drawn to.

      What could that vista point be? There are many options.

      Some kind of gigantic sculpture on top of Ice Box Hill.

      Place the giant Carnival Floats along the road up to the top of Ice Box Hill or Lookout Hill in a way that the can be seen from all over the city.

      A large tower or giant statue in one of the lesser known plazas that could be seen all over town.

      Big letters that spell out “Mazatlan” on Herradura; above Olas Altas.

      Millions of dollars spent on a central park, that will likely not have enough funding for proper maintenance is not the best use of tax pesos. Sigh.

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