The last time I was in Mazatlan, Penelope and I camped right on the beach, and just across the road was a mosquito-infested wetland swamp. A big hotel was going up at that time, but other than that, there wasn’t much happening in Mazatlan, and the old central part of the city was rather rundown. Needless to say, there’ve been a few changes since that memory-laden trip in 1972. This time I stayed in that big hotel, the El Cid, but I was glad to see that the old Mar Rosa Trailer Park is still there, tucked in between resort hotels and condo projects that line the beach for miles. The swamps have been dredged, are now called lagoons, and are being developed as a large marina project.
Mazatlan has expanded hugely, in all directions, and is now a very large city, but it also has retained, or perhaps has now developed, it’s own special character. The malecon, a miles-long oceanfront walkway, features a number of large sculptures celebrating the culture of the Mazatlecos, and buildings in the historic downtown area have been renovated, re-establishing Plaza Machado and the area surrounding the cathedral as the heart and soul of the city.
The SATW conference took a break from meetings and tours yesterday and gathered around televisions in the hotel lobby to watch Obama’s inauguration. Wow! Chicken skin, as they say in Hawaii, all around, as we watched history being made. Lots of cheers, tears and hugs among our group.
A big part of these SATW chapter meetings is the Photographer’s ShootOut, in which 10-15 of us are provided with guides and drivers and are given a dawn to dusk time period to photograph the host destination. Each photographer then submits 10 images in a competition for best portfolio and best single image in designated categories. At the final night’s dinner, held Tuesday night, the photographs were shown to the group and our destination hosts in a multimedia presentation. Some of the best travel photographers in the country are members of SATW, and I’m pleased to say that once again one of my photos won an award. (I’ve been honored twice before at previous meetings with the top prize, the Gold Portfolio award).