Thursday, December 5, 2019

El Fuerte, Mexico, el cinco de Deciembre 2019

What to do today?  Well, I could sit in my room and listen to the chickens cockadoodledoo while the dogs bark and bark or .....

I had breakfast again at the market - same, same - cerdo asado (roast pork) on a couple of small tortillas with fried cebolla (onions) and cabbage.  Muy rico!  I then walked to the Malecon, believe it or not there is one in small El Fuerte-

It’s probably about a mile long and very peaceful.  I kept walking around the city and ended up at an ice ream shop.  I’m not sure why- I don’t even like ice-cream unless it’s in the cup of a Blizzard.  However I tried two flavours and they both tasted like cold cream.  Calories for nothing!

I came back to my room to continue reading a great book called The Alice Network.  It’s about women spies during WW1 and very good!  Later, I went looking for a couple of historic hotels I hadn’t visited yet.

At first, I thought Hotel Villa del Pescador was closed-

but no it’s open only there are no guests.  It’s very run down and should be closed but the hombre working was very friendly.  It must be hard to entice visitors to your hotel.  There are so many to choose from and from what I’ve seen, I’m one of two white people here right now.  A third visitor in town is Sandy from Hong Kong.  She’s my next door neighbour and catching El Chepe in the morning too.  She just arrived in Mexico two nights ago after a gruelling two day flight.  She’s travelling into South America, to Montreal, Spain, Morocco and France and flying back to HK March 17.  She’s feeling torn about being here - glad to be seeing new things but wishing she were in HK to join the protests.  She says there’s going to be another big one this coming Sunday.

Another hotel I visited is the Torres del Fuerte-

It’s gorgeous with seating areas next to the rooms and courtyard-

and a seating area by the bar at the back of the property-

Once again, I didn’t see one huesped!  So sad.  

I went to Mansion de los Orrantia for lupper.  It’s number two on TripAvisor which I only look at to get ideas of what to do and where to go.  El Meson del General, where I went yesterday is number one.  I ordered a cerveza and of course nachos and salsa come with it-

The nachos are homemade and so much better than not. The salsa on the left was delicious - tomatoes, onions and chilies. The salsa on the right was quite piquante and is a darker colour even though it has the same ingredients because the tomatoes were grilled.

Lupper was filete flameado which is bass stuffed with camarones and queso, no bacon this time and that was the missing ingredient.  The presentation was awesome and the salad “bowl” was a strip of pepino shappe in a circle like bowl a stuffed with verdura-

A funeral was going by when I left the restaurant.  It’s tradition to walk behind the coffin all the way to the cemetery but this procession used a hearse rather than people to shoulder it-

 More potales-

There are quite a few vendors selling statues of Maria and Jesus for Navidad-

Nightly, the Hotel Posada del Hidalgo-

presents a show with Zorro singing Mexican songs-

There were musicians too who were very good-

Entrance is free, but you’re asked to buy a bebida so I had a beer that cost three times what I usually pay!  Not so free after all.  I was visiting with a waiter who has recently returned to Mexico from the U.S.  He lived and worked in California and Las Vegas for 24 years.  He has two sons who are American but he was kicked out because he’s illegal.  He said he’s over the depression and anger - he lost his business, his home, everything. He had to leave with nothing!  

Tomorrow, Sandy and I will take a taxi to the train station. I’m looking forward to moving on!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

El Fuerte, Mexico, el cuatro de Deciembre, 2019

There are 121 Pueblo Mágicos in Mexico.  This tourist attracting idea was started in 2016 when the Mexican government chose these towns because of their symbolic attributes, legends, and history.  They show off the great cultural, natural and architectural wealth that Mexico has to offer and are identified on maps with this symbol.  El Fuerte is a Pueblo Mágico-

Today was a day to wander and there are many renovated Colonial buildings to ooh and aww at-

The Hotel Hacienda St Cruz doesn’t have the fanciest courtyard in town but it’s okay-

I don’t have a kitchen so I had to find the Mercado for breakfast.  I had delicious tacos with chorizo, cebolla and cabbage-

I tried to find El Cerro de Mascas which is a lookout point where there are petroglyphs. Yesterday at one of the hotels, I learned it would cost about $27 to go with a guide, kayak a bit, walk a bit, see the petroglyphs and get back to town in about one and a half hours. They’re close to town- 4.5 km and on my map so I thought I should be able to find them.

There’s a swinging bridge to cross-

and then paths.  A worker told me to go to the right because it was shorter and ran along the river.  So I did-

I walked a long way- up, down, up, down. I came to the path that came up from the left at the bridge. I had seen on the map that it made a big loop.  My phone quit working because it was overheated - wouldn’t work, Google Maps couldn’t find my location and all of a sudden it was 7 pm everywhere!  There were a couple of bright yellow arrows so I followed them along a very rocky road down into a gully so I knew that was wrong but kept walking along the path. I kept saying I’ll turn back at the next bend but then would think what if it’s just past that bend. So on I went even through barbed wire gates that were across roads.  I kept reminding myself that as long as I stayed on the road, I couldn’t get lost and I didn’t think I’d get eaten by any wildlife.  I saw a lot of birds that I scared out of trees and once I heard a humming coming closer and closer and overhead.  It sounded like a drone but when I looked up, it was hundreds of some kind of large flying insects.  Maybe it was a flock of hummingbirds because there sure are a lot of them around.  Eventually I turned around and went back to the bridge.  Serves me right for being so cheap I guess but I did get a long walk out of the deal.

Back in town, I asked the  woman who owns the four rooms where I’m staying for a recommendation of a good restaurant.  She suggested El Mason del General and to have filete relleno de mariscos.  The waiter recommended it too.  It was one of the best meals I have eaten in my life-

It’s a flattened piece of bass rolled and stuffed with bacon, camarones and queso, then baked.  There’s a mushroom and onion salsa on top.  OMG!  The restaurant has an interesting history too.  Don Damien Bastillos bought the house in 1899 and for twenty years hosted lavish parties for the rich of El Fuerte.  However, during the Revolution, he fell on hard times so decided to raffle off the house.  He sold 30 tickets at 500 pesos each and announced that whoever’s name he drew would win the house.  General Pablo Macías was present and said that the only way anyone would participate was if Bastillos put his name in too, but Bastillos said that it wouldn’t be fair if he won the house as well as 15000 pesos.  No problem everyone said, expecting his name not to be drawn.  But, guess what!  It was!  The General immediately bought the house from Bastillos and then sold it again that evening to another woman on the condition that if she ever wanted to sell it she had to sell it back to him. It must have been a nice place!

After lupper, I found a Ley’s supermarket and bought my first bottle of wine since on the trip.  I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow in little El Fuerte.  I could take the El Chepe Express in the morning but it costs triple what the Regional does on Friday and I don’t have a reservation further down the line so I’ll stay here one more day.  I like travelling with the locals anyway.

P.S.  Cheering for the Flyers is a family affair!  Apparently Andi was jealous that she didn’t have a sweater to wear!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

.El Fuerte, Sinaloa, el tres de Deciembre 2019

It took 2 minutes for Uber to be at my apartment and another 5 to be at the bus station.  I boarded and once again we were on our way, just me and the Mexicans rattling around in an old school bus-

It was an hour and a half trip through mainly farmland-

and some scrubland-

Once in El Fuerte, I paid attention and got off a block and a half from my hotel, rather than having to backtrack.  My room is small but new and nice-

El Fuerte was founded in 1564 and sits on the banks of the river that bears the same name-

El Fuerte means fort and this one was reconstructed in 2001 to look like the old one, they think-

The original was built in 1610 to protect the town against Indigenous groups.  It has some interesting displays for a small town museum including a room filled with photographs of anyone and everyone who had something to do with the town, as well as weapons, art and a hearse that was built in 1885 and used only three times by the wealthy Orrantia family-

There’s also a Shaman‘s mask-

The town used to be a trading post for the gold and silver that was being mined in the Copper Canyon.  It also served as a link to the northern regions of California, Arizona and Sonora, which at that time were all Spanish territories.  There’s a monument to teachers near the fort-

that says-

which loosely translates to “Homework is not easy but with dedication and true vocation, everything has a solution and education is inheriting knowledge”. 

There are some gorgeous hotels in the historic centre including the Hotel Santa Elena which is the former hacienda of the Orrantia family-

The inside restaurant is beautiful-

The Hotel Posada del Hidalgo, also once a hacienda, is the birthplace and childhood home of Don Diego Della Vega, or as I know him, Zorro.  There’s a statue of him in one of the many courtyards-

There are many hummingbirds flitting around the bar-

There’s also a gorgeous dining room-

beautiful sitting areas close to the rooms-

and other courtyards-

There were religious ornaments at the entrance to most of the hotels.  This is Noah’s Ark-

And Adam and Eve at the Hotel El Fuerte-

The Hotel El Fuerte-

has a gorgeous lobby-

and front desk area-

The Rio Vista Hotel looks out at the river and the lobby is very strange-

Many haciendas have internal portales, but the Plaza de Armas-

complete with bandstand, palm trees and fountains-

is flanked by them on the south side at the Casa de los Portales-

The Palacio Municipal, or City Hall, was built between 1903 and 1907.  It takes up an entire city block and five archways-

lead through the brick exterior to an inner courtyard-

Murals in the stairwell depict the history of the town-

On one end of the Plaza de Armas is the Catholic Church-

 ready for Christmas-

Lupper was tacos el vapor - tougher than normal tortillas filled with mashed potatoes and frijoles, then topped with queso-

and minced chorizo in a tortilla, covered with frijoles.  Neither were as good as what I’ve become accustomed to-

I’m looking forward to wandering amongst more beautiful buildings tomorrow!

El Fuerte, Mexico, el cinco de Deciembre 2019

What to do today?  Well, I could sit in my room and listen to the chickens cockadoodledoo while the dogs bark and bark or ..... I had bre...