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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

12:20 pm. While everyone else went off on their various excursions, I took a taxi with Tammy and David into Mazatlán. Well, first I slept in an extra hour, and then we took a taxi to the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) shopping area.

The taxis here are open-air vehicles that look more like golf carts than cars. The driver took us up and down various streets in random directions, squeezing through tight spots here and cutting off slower moving vehicles there, grinding gears and gesturing broadly to the other drivers.

Somehow we got to the Sea Shell Museum, which is actually a curio shop (high quality) with several magnificent aquariums upstairs. We didn't buy anything there, or at any of the dozen or so jewelry stores we were begged and cajoled to go into. Everyone is so friendly here! And they really want you to spend your money in their store.

We didn't get away without spending some money. Tammy managed to find a few things she liked, and I picked up a couple of T-shirts in an out-of-the-way shop across the street from where we were supposed to be, and up a little alley. They were really friendly there.

After we'd exhausted the shopping possibilities (and ourselves, more or less), we took another taxi to Seńor Frog's, a restaurant a few blocks away. It was still only 10:30 am, and we had to wait a few minutes for them to get ready for us, but it turned out to be an inspired idea. As the restaurant's first customers of the day, we got a group of fresh waiters with nothing much to do. It was entertaining.

Our waiter was Alex, an older man who tried hard to get me to eat hot peppers. I wasn't going for that. We also drew the attention of Beto, a mischief maker who tickled my ear from behind with a towel (I thought it was a fly) and scared Tammy with a lime rolled up in a napkin, which looked like a live mouse when he rolled it across the table at her.

Before we left we had our photo taken with Alex, and then the real fun began. Somebody put a picture of Alex wearing a dress up on the video screen, and then all the waiters clapped and chanted as Alex danced through the room wearing a towel as a veil. He even got up on a chair and showed us a few moves. (He also brought David and me Kahlua and milk, on the house.)

We left the waiters a nice tip, with a little extra for Alex himself.

By this time we were tired, even though we'd only been in Mazatlán for about two and a half hours. We took another taxi to the dock, then wandered through the flea market there before taking the shuttle back to the ship.

Mazatlán is a big city, and we saw a lot of the downtown area on our taxi rides. We didn't see much of the residential part of the city, but it's a lively, colorful, interesting place, with one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen yet.

And it wasn't nearly as hot today as it was yesterday in Cabo, so it was easier to enjoy ourselves. Maybe the people who went snorkeling had a better time, but I'm glad I got a chance to look around and drink in the local atmosphere. Seeing Mazatlán, even just the shopping district, is something you can't do anywhere else except Mazatlán.

When Tammy gave Beto her camera to take our picture, Alex sat down in the booth and put his arm around me. We all smiled earnestly as Beto calmly and slowly walked away with the camera. Alex shouted "Beto!" and I shouted "Beto!" and soon all the waiters were shouting at Beto to come back.

Eventually he wandered back and pointed Tammy's camera at some other table. Then he aimed it at us and walked closer and closer, until it was obvious that he was too close to get all four of us. Just as Tammy put her hand in front of her and tried to wave him back, he snapped the photo. We have no idea what he got in the actual picture, but it was a memorable experience and that's what really matters.

3:50 pm. It feels weird being in port today. When I look out the stateroom window, I see not the breakers and swells of the open ocean but a truck parked by the cargo containers, with an occasional bicycle rider going by. When I ate lunch (my second of the day) up in the Windjammer Café, I could look across the bow of the ship and see the channel where the Mazatlán port is located, and beyond that the Pacific Ocean, where we'll be traveling again tonight.

11:40 pm. I just got back from karaoke, and no, I did not sing. There are some great undiscovered voices out there, though, if tonight is any indication. I especially liked the last guy, who sat on a stool with a Corona in one hand and a microphone in the other, singing in a Tom Waits-like husky voice and smooth, laid-back delivery. I don't know who he was, but I'd buy his album, or at least pay to see him in a club.

The big show before dinner tonight was a juggler, which might not sound like much, but he was awesome, and very funny. He's also a professor of mathematics (or so he claims) and very literate and witty. His patter is filled with obscure algebraic explanations for his juggling tricks, along with a running commentary on anything and everything, including sub-references and sub-sub-references. Even if you pay attention you miss a lot of it, but what you can catch is hilarious.

I'll always remember his name because he used it as a cuss word. Whenever he'd drop a ball or a hoop he'd say, "Dan Bennett!"

12 November 2003

Fountain in Mazatlán, taken through the window of our taxi (which didn't actually have windows, or doors either).

Dinner tonight was a little frustrating because everyone at my table likes to eat and then take off. I like to sit for a long time after dinner and drink coffee (and/or wine) and enjoy the conversation and laughter.

Since there wasn't much use in sitting by myself and laughing, I moved to one of our group's other tables and sat with them until they were ready to go. That got me an extra 30 to 40 minutes of companionship (along with two more cups of coffee, which is how I was able to last through karaoke afterward).

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