Tag Archives: Mexico

Mazatlan’s Unsettling Beginnings: The First Street

New Recruit Cheryl the Walker D Angelo and myself are off to investigate the Barrio of Skulls , the Chapel Miraculous, ghosts, rumors and tales. We have our marching papers,  Chief investigator Bette Schwarz has sluiced the Con Agua Report from  the internet in her relentless search for the truth. She also holds dear several books by Oses Cole that are probably priceless by now.

As we trudge along, I explain to Cheryl that me and “Babel Fish” aim to unravel  research written in Spanish in hopes that  our visitors will be dazzled by  “tidbits of history” we extract.  How great to expand the mind!  I’ll say, Guess  what happened here? And everyone will love it. Right Cheryl?

When I use that line with Bette, she scolds me about my ghost book, saying if you torture the data long enough, you can get it to confess to anything! Ghosts even I remind her that I am from Friday Harbor. I grew up listening to Joe Friday. Just the facts Maam.But I say it with a wink. Bette has her eye on me you know, she likes to tell it like it is. And was!

The Grid? What Grid?

Cheryl points out that the streets we are walking along curve, and some of them disappear all together because they are not laid out on a grid but follow the mud line of high tide in the estuaries and the beach.  Never fear, our gal Cheryl has her feet on the ground. She has been reading a fascinating thesis written by Dr. Leticia Alvarado Fuentes and is fast becoming an expert on how the original streets were named.

The Midas Touch Wins Out

Yep-Mazatl  was great for hiding pirates, treasures and a specialized type of antelope called hooded deer almost extinct now. At the beginning 17th Century attempts to settle in however were twice abandoned,  the hills and estuaries dubbed unlivable. Historians say the soil was salty, the water was not acceptable as water goes, lest to ingest it and it smelled bad too. Dangerous bugs, monsters and rats lived in the estuaries. Floods and YEEK! HURRICANES! But in the late 1500’s, silver and gold had been discovered in the foothills to the East. Overland transport to the Port of Acapulco was dangerous and expensive.  Mazatlan’s harbor was world class and deep enough for any boat in the 1600s. The place lacked water but had the “Midas Touch” so of course there was another attempt at settling in, and this third time was the charm.

The Principle Way

We are crossing Calle Belisario Dominguez,  aptly called Principle. This first trail  began with a nascent farmhouse called Puerto Viejo on San Felix Bay (today North Beach)and crossed Mazatlan to the sheltered inner harbor,  where tree trunk boats, each carrying up to 5 tons of fruits, seeds and livestock, plowed the estuary trade routes. Villa Union (where the first would-be settlers had built farms) and many other places where there was good water and rich soil for growing things, supplied food and water to Mazatlan. It was a time when the estuaries were primary routes  for communication and supplies between tribes and towns. Everyone pitched in, the slaves and Indians that worked the fabled mines married in, and the First Town took the name: Mazatl de los Mulatos. In distant Spain, visitors brought alarming news of  disorder, chaos, and terrible living conditions, but like a bad weed, the city sprang up. Urban sprawl spilled fast and faster across flood zones between the watchtower hills manned by the “brown Militia.” It was an out of control race, a material boom-time to “hurry-up” before Mexico thought about regulations and taxes!

Mazatlan! Mexico’s Fabulous Port on the Pacific

People called “mules” were bent double under the weight of precious metals headed out to the world. Every language was spoken except religion.  Not a lot of that. Nor was there reliable water enough to sustain a big brawling city. The early folks were not so interested in planning a great city as they were in “getting rich” and maybe “getting out” if need be, especially those from other nations. San Felix was crowded with ships coming mostly from Europe, Asia, and North America; proudly waving flags of England, France, Italy Holland, Spain, the Americas and Ecuador. Commercial houses spawned fabulous fortunes  from trade in silver and gold, opium and contraband. And the characters that came to Old Mazatlan ? Salty, uncivilized, fearless, heroic and legendary! I remind myself that they walked these very streets and shiver to imagine such ghosts as they would be. By 1855 the very diverse population of Mazatl was 6773 . Regional markets had grown to include the States of Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayuarit, Baja California and Alta california.Until the railroads gave ease of transport to inland cities, Mazatl was Mexicos most important Pacific port.

What’s Next?

Bette Schwarz is researching the water systems that served Mazatl . And the streets? Cheryl says she is On it!” Stay tuned to hear some tales about them as we head for the center of the old city and the Barrio of Skulls. As for me, I aim to solve the mystery of how that neighborhood got that name. Tune in next week for answers. Just the facts. Well, maybe a little fancy to add some flourish.

NEWS FLASH: The City is going to restore Panteon No. 2 to its original glory. Congratulations go to Joaquin Lopez Hernandez for his “Graveyard Tours” (called by fellow historians stupendous citizen efforts) that inspired Gringos, tourists and the Powers That Be!!!!! Hooray.  A city justly proud of Her History!!!!! Mazatl

I have written a song to celebrate!

You Do Not Walk Alone

Along avenues of heros
'N Streets that sing of praise
Watch tall waves on the seaside
Drench the sunset colors blaze

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Rolling echoes of the canons
Searing fire from the shells
Rise up nation bent on freedom
To the tolling of the bells

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

The green spark of salvation
Whirling skirts and stamping pride
Fiestas loud and merry
Jest that no one ever dies.

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Buy Now:

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key

is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

ISBN:978-0-6921 139820 https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

The Author will have books at the First Friday Artwalk in Mazatlan. Click here to read reviews. Until then, going fast. Call 981-8072.

Other books by S.K.Carnes

ISBN:978-0692-84685-8 amxn.to/2nasO9S
Click description 
ISBN:987-0692-85172-2 http:bit.ly/SoldiersJourney Available in paperback, as an audiobook and e-book Silver Medal from Readers Favorite
ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author Click description


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ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author

Writing Historical Fiction is like Treasure Hunting

“Sure, ‘historical’ is a great idea, but why fiction?” you ask. For me, it has to be because of the ghosts. You see, I want to tell history from then, but it’s now. How to do that? And while you ponder the riddle of time and space, consider the focus of my next book of historical fiction, the haunted Hotel Belmar in Mazatlan Mexico.
This will be my fourth book. And,  I am excited about writing it. Why? Because  I am learning like crazy about this place.

Angel Flores in 1923

When I look back in time, especially after I have finished something, I see why events have happened.  So,  as I piece together the history of the Belmar in Mazatlan, I can see it alive and young through the eyes of those who experienced it that way, and realize that it is not too late because I have met the people to help me tell the story. A coincidence? And we bought a house on Angel Flores in the historical zone of Old Mazatlan.  The above picture is of our street, several years after the Belmar was up and running as the first Mexican luxury Hotel on the water.  It was taken in 1923 by American Edward Weston who, along with Tina Modotti, his model and a famous photographer herself,  made the  Belmar their home in Mazatlan.
The Great White Cloud in Mazatlán

Weston  wrote: “We found life both gay and sad, but always life — vital, intense, black and white but never gray.” Weston made a historic photo in Mazatlán, a classic called ” The great white cloud in Mazatlán”, labeling it one of his finest and most significant photographs, as it meant an artistic departure from figurative into abstract art, or negatives with intention as opposed to matter-of-fact records. I think about the ghosts in my writing just that way.
I am scribbling every day, reading dozens of books, and searching/translating the Internet for bits and pieces of facts and fancy, What fun. And along the way, I have learned some Spanish. Oh, I do love treasure hunting. Don’t you? Well stay tuned and I will share some gems with you to reflect on.

It will take me a year to complete this book.  In the meantime, order the historical novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, A Soldiers Journey.  Enjoy a sample reading below!

Front cover 6x9bleed size

The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audiobook at adbl.co/2f0UeOp       Published as a paperback next week!
 And now out as a paperback, Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. Go to  amzn.to/2nasO9S
Also a Kindle book:


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Packing Up to Go Home

Packing Up To Go Home

Another season in paradise-how many more will there be? I am packing up my suitcase to go back—Home? I’m not sure any more. ‘Cus there are these small things –things I can’t capture to pack them up! Like what happens along the way on our morning walk—Kathi, the dog, and me walking both hills and those merciless stairs. The small things—you know—like the cat that waits to take a swipe at our dog each morning, safe behind his fence, his face filled with concentrated hate, growling, hissing, spitting while the dog darts between us yipping, “don’t look at that cat—only meonly me. And then the broad smile of excitement on the dog’s face, looking back fiercely proud, as she heads for another adventure. “Stick with me girls-I’ll get you thru.”
And then there is the little rat—very fat—that runs between garbage cans and hides in the green hedge along the Malecon. Dog perks up, stops stalking birds, and is about to give chase, but our friend notices and says, “oh-don’t let her get it!” Now how do you pack that up in a suitcase?
Meanwhile, Lucky the little grey dog watches his mistress swim. Oh yes-see her head just beyond where you catch a wave. See you soon Glina-when you come ashore.
Some things travel well, like the crescent moon last night, looking like a sterling spoon over the surging sea. I will miss The Mazatlan Writers Group, where we read our hearts out to each other and spew forth suggestions to improve. Well, I don’t need to pack them up, for I hear them whispering over my shoulder whenever I sit at the computer to write. “Take a class in punctuation”, they say. They keep coaching the commas out, they keep calling for the gold.
But the music along the walkway at night—the two men who sing –sing with feeling most every night to passers bys and no one special. And the vendor with his arm straight out, dripping with silver chains—forever hopeful.   Has he sold even one? These things are of this place alone.
“Todo bien” calls the shoeshine guy, grinning ear to ear as he peddles his bike equipped with his home-made workbench and box, looking at all our sandals for a real shoe to shine. “It’s all good,” he says and pretends he shines toenails too. And this night the musician returns who played and sang at Canucks where we danced years ago. He remembers and smiles. Oh, we had some moments when we all rode along on the music, let it take us. Yes, I should leave some room in my suitcase for memories. Like the way we come out of the world class Recreo movies, teary eyed from laughing or crying past the line of our friends-“Did you like it? Was it good?”
It is the time for the Canadians to say goodbye with parties, already complaining about the minus degree temps greeting them when they get off the plane on the other side. Snowbirds are vowing to stay longer next year, even as we pack to go home—really—to go home? Where is home now that we have lingered too long in Mazatlan to really ever go back, now that we know we cant pack the small things up? Seasons spin around again, the year goes rolling by, and soon we will pack up to return, looking forward to parties of “Welcome Home.” The small things are waiting.