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Teaching English in Queretaro, Mexico


Monday - 1 Apr 2002
Mazatlan , Sinaloa - Mexico


As I write this, I just got home yesterday morning from a week in Mazatlan! Its strange to be back in Queretaro. Nice though.

My bus left on Saturday evening at 6:30 PM. Well, it was supposed to leave then. At 6:30 the bus still had not pulled into the terminal, and I was getting nervous. Did I miss it? Eventually a bus came in, which had some other city besides Mazatlan on the sign. The person who had sold me my ticket (for 501 pesos, incidentally) had told me that the bus would say "Tijuana". Well I didn't see a bus that said Mazatlan OR Tijuana, but when a bus pulled in at 6:50, I showed my ticket to the guy for that bus and he told me to get on. It did get me to Mazatlan. The trip was supposed to take 12 hours . . .

One of Mazatlan's famous "Pulmonia" taxis

Most of my USA readership at this point probably has the image in their head of a horribly old bus, leaking oil, with no muffler, and chickens riding on the roof. Actually, most of the inter-city busses in Mexico are very luxurious, much nicer, in fact, than our Greyhounds in the USA.

They showed a movie for the first leg of the trip. It was some David Spade movie, dubbed into Spanish. I wasn't too upset to not be able to understand it. They did do a pretty good job of finding a Spanish voice actor with a similar voice to Mr. Spade, however.

At 11 or 12 PM, at about the time that the very last passenger had managed to fall asleep, we were all awaken by a window breaking. I was very near said window. I don't know how it broke- I imagine a rock flew up from the road or something.

breakfast at the Costa de Oro

By this time we were almost to Guadalajara, so after stopping for 20 minutes or so to clear the broken glass from the seats, we drove to the Guadalajara bus station. By this time I had managed to have something of a conversation with Alé, my neighbor on the bus.

We waited at the Guadalajara bus station (in the middle of the night) for hours while they got a new bus. Finally one arrived. It was not quite as nice as the first bus, because it was designed to hold more people. There were some passengers already riding on that bus. Maybe they were going to Tijuana. Anyway, we all got onto that bus and waited some more. When they finally turned off the interior lights, and started to back out of the terminal, the children on the bus started singing the refrain from Handel's "Alleluia Chorus" and then began chanting to request a movie- "pe-li-cula! pe-li-cula!" I pretty much felt the same way they did at that point.

Erin and Eric let me sleep here.

friends from home

Like I said, the trip was supposed to take 12 hours. I had arranged to meet my friends Erin and Eric at their hotel, Costa de Oro, early Sunday morning. Well when I finally got to that hotel, it was maybe 11 AM. I sat on the beach for a while, figuring they might be there. I hadn't eaten since afternoon the day before, so I bought a donut and later some mango from beach vendors. (Vendors walk the beach, hawking pretty much everything a tourist might possibly buy.) That was an awesome donut at that moment. I was still in low spirits, however, because I still had not found my friends.

Finally I did find them on the beach. I stayed that night (Sunday) and the next night in their room at the Costa de Oro. I'd like to thank them once again for putting me up. We had a good time together.

Erin and Eric showed me around Mazatlan, and we went to some of their favorite restaurants. Here, we ordered Bananas Flambé at a Spanish restaurant. They make it in front of you. Erin and I are drinking Piña Coladas, and Eric is enjoying Mazatlan's own "Pacifico" Cerveza.

Eric and Me

The Gold Zone of Mazatlan looks nothing like Queretaro. For one thing, there's the ocean. Besides that, the whole economy is based on tourism. English is really the first language in that part of town, and there are lots of chain restaurants I was used to from USA, like Subway, McDonald's, and DQ. There is a "Señor Frog's Official Store" like every 4 blocks, too. There is only one location in Mazatlan for the actual restaurant, but stores everywhere. So that guy you work with who wears his Señor Frog's T-Shirt on casual days- its very likely he never even set foot inside the actual restaurant.

Downtown Mazatlan is nothing like Queretaro either. Its also nothing like the Gold Zone. You really need to know some spanish to get around down there. Erin and Eric took me there. Unlike most American tourists, they actually make an effort to see some of the "Real Mexico". Most of downtown Mazatlan is far from the tourism culture, but there are a few shops for tourists there. This picture was taken in one of the tourist shops in the market downtown.

Erin did it!

Erin is afraid of heights. But she is also a bad-ass, and she likes to confront her fears. She was very excited to go parasailing, but also very nervous. These pictures are proof that she did it! After doing it she said it was the scariest thing she ever did, but she would love to go again!

Costa de Oro hotel, from the air

Erin took this picture with Eric's digital camera. Eric used my camera to get the picture of Erin from the ground.

She got some great pictures from up there. This is an arial shot of our hotel, the Costa de Oro.

These people never got back to me!

So Erin was in the air, Eric was taking her picture from the ground. What was I doing during this time? Well, the parasailing guy told me that I could wait under a nearby umbrella. I wanted to avoid sunburn, so I did that. I thought that the others beneath it were waiting to go up.

It turns out that this umbrella had nothing to do with the parasailing business at all. But the people sitting there were very nice and invited me to stay. I started talking to them using my best Spanish. One of the guys told me that one of the girls wanted to meet me, said I had beautiful eyes- I'm not sure if she really said that or if he was just trying to embarrass his friend.

Anyway, everyone was distributing e-mail addresses. I shyly asked if they would like mine, and they all said they did. I really wanted people to spend time with later in the week, when I would be alone in Mazatlan. I explained that and they said they would get in touch with me via e-mail.

Hotel Zaragoza

Alone in Mazatlan

Erin and Eric left for Minneapolis on Tuesday morning. I never heard from the umbrella people. I had also made plans to meet up with a guy I know from Queretaro, but that didn't work out either. I spent three days alone.

I was worried about finding a hotel for those days, because I had no advance plans, and this was vacation week in Mexico when hotels all fill up. All the cheap hotels I called told me they were full.

I happened to just walk by this hotel, called Hotel Zaragoza. I went inside and inquired. At first the guy said no, but after I talked to him a little more (I don't know how exactly I did this) and I agreed to pay in advance, he said OK. Paying in advance was no problem, since the hotel only cost 120 pesos per night. I stayed 3 nights for under $40 USD.

Hotel Zaragoza was quite a contrast from the beach resort I had been staying in with my friends. This is a picture of the inside of room 35, where I stayed, and its actually a pretty flattering picture.

It was hot, and it was old, but there were no bugs and the water worked just fine, and nothing got stolen. Well worth 360 pesos. But man was it nice to sleep in a nice hotel again on Friday night.

During my time alone, I read books and walked around the market during the day. At night, I would go into the Gold Zone and look for something to do. I thought it my duty to check out Señor Frog's at least once while I was in Mazatlan, so I headed there on Tuesday night. I stood in the line outside, until I found out that there was a cover of 150 pesos. I thought that would not be worth it since I was going in there alone, so I didn't go for it. I spent my time just walking around the Gold Zone, which is quite an experience. Music was playing everywhere, hundreds of people everywhere . . . really something to see.

Wedensday and Thursday nights, I hung out at this live music club. There was no cover to get in, and one of the bands was really good. They played both nights.

Mi Familla

My mom and sister showed up on Friday morning. I met them around noon at their hotel, the Holiday Inn Sun Spree.

We walked around the Gold Zone a bit, and changed money. Then we all took a nap. Caly and Mom had not slept much the night before.

That night I took them for some real mexican food. This is a picture of the taco place we went to. It was outdoors, and you could hear the sounds of the mariachi bands and the car stereos.

After that we just walked around the Gold Zone. My mom was amazed by the party atmosphere.

Like I said, it was awesome to sleep in a nice hotel again.


I'd like to point out that our hotel had HBO.

Señor Tomato

On Sunday we took a tour of the city. This is a picture of our tour guide, Luis. His nickname is "Tomato".

Luis did his best to make jokes and stuff, but the crowd were all from Minnesota and Wisconsin so they weren't very responsive. For example, he showed us one of the nice neighborhoods of Mazatlan, with a beautiful ocean view. Luis said that most of the people living there are businessmen, and he imagines that they must be in the coffee business, because they make lots of trips to Columbia. The crowd didn't really catch that one. Ah, well. Its funny because its true.

One last thing- I'd like to thank Luis for working on Easter Sunday!

For our big dinner out, our celebration of being together again, we went to the Guadalajara Grill. Its part of the Señor Frog's chain. Its a really fun place, we all enjoyed it a lot. You have to take a picture like this at least once, if you come to Mexico.

Adios, Mazatlan.

San Miguel de Allende
Adios Joseph
  Joseph M. - Bio and Journals
  Teaching English in Queretaro, Mexico - Intro Average Rating of 128 Viewers
Chapters of Teaching English in Queretaro, Mexico
  Starting out
  More pictures, etc.
  A typical day
  An interesting weekend
  Museum Photos
  Another weekend
  The Awful Truth
  San Miguel de Allende
  Adios Joseph
  The best part

Happy Trails to You

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