Venados, Venados, Si, Si!

Mazatlan! Famous in the 50’s as a getaway for Hollywood’s sportfishing elite and recently recognised as one of Mexico’s 13 manmade wonders – it’s a very appealing seaside city with five gorgeous islands in the bay, the world’s tallest natural operating lighthouse (now that Gibraltar is done).

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(Photo editing is randomly not working again – This is from the path up to the El Faro lighthouse, looking down over the port side of town, rather than the beach side of town)

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(Gorgeous statues on the Malecon near Olas Altas)

Travellers through Sayulita mentioned that one of their friends had opened a hostel in Mazatlan and so it was off to the Funky Monkey and Salem’s fantastic hospitality for me.  Which reminds me that I have to write a review for Funky Monkey.  Ahem. “AWESOMENESS.” That is all.

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(Salem and I developing the food tour of Mazatlan. Of particular note was a seafood restaurant out in Villa Union on the other side of the airport that was so, so good.  I would get very fat, followed by very broke, followed by very skinny if I stayed in Mazatlan for long. Yum!)

From my perspective as someone with very little Spanish and an horrendous Australian accent, Mazatlan was a very good starting point for me.  There is a strong American tourist and ex-pat presence in the town, so I was able to practice turning up with no clue about where I am or how to get to where I’m going and try out my Spanish on taxi-drivers with English back up if required.

While touristing, I met a few Snowbirds who were curious to know if the Mazatlan Venados were sucking again this year.  Um, sort of not really I don’t know? I saw them win a game and lose a game and they’re sitting in 4th and are over 0.5, so I think they’re doing OK for now, but they might want to get a wriggle on.

Mazatlan, the Venados and Estadio Teodora Mariscal have hosted the Carribean Series finals 5 times, the most recent being in 2005.  The stadium has a 12,000 person capacity, so it still feels pretty empty, even with a solid 5,000 or so people in there.

The Carribean Series? That’s the tournament where the winners of the off-season leagues in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico duke it out for series champ. Down our way, the Asia series is back up and running with some/all of the winners of the Australian, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese competitions.  Side-note to this side-note, Canberra Cavalry are playing Asia Series games this weekend (Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 November 2013) – give the guys a cheer.

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(This level of dressing up is in no way considered over-the-top in Sinaloa. Beautiful hair and make-up and tight clothes are the order of the day for women and the men are often dressed very well too. Despite this, I actually feel less like I’ll be taken behind the mountains and shot by the fashion police here than I did in SoCal.)

Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is pretty fancy for its age (built in 62) and the kind of things that would be a problem under other sets of regulations simply aren’t problems in Mexico.

You don’t have to get out of your seat to get beer, food, noise-makers… Toilet break and 7th innings stretch are the only time you need to get up and for those brief moments, the narrow concourses and lack of signage don’t really matter. I was a lot more uncomfortable at Wrigley Field.

This was my first experience of beisbol in Mexico and it was LOUD.   For a small crowd on a Tuesday night, they knew how to party.  I’ve now been to 3 parks and partying at the baseball has only increased across the week.

(The sound of a quiet Tuesday night out watching the Venados. I went for seats slightly further away on Thursday, as not only did I feel like I was sitting in the players’ laps, I also couldn’t see the whole field)

I had company at both games I attended. I went to the first game with a Japanese guy who was on his way down to Guatemala to teach umpiring. We were both pretty hyped to be going and he bought two Venados jerseys – one for him and one for his BFF.  Then I spent a lot of time looking around, deciding what to eat, drinking beer, buying raffle tickets and cheering loudly and he very diligently scored the game.  It was really nice to have someone to ask “Hey is that his second double?  DAMN.” and “Swinging very early, do you think they’ll move the field?” and he had sensible answers and cared and it was awesome!

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(Venados regular season ticket. Before it was clipped, I think it may be the prettiest ticket I’ve ever had. And it’s still pretty, even with its dimensions mangled.)

The second game I went with a crowd from the Hostel. And it was ladies’ night, so a bunch of us got in free.  This group contained several Europeans who were at their first-ever baseball game.  We were explaining the rules in a mishmash of English, French and Spanish.  This was also immense fun for me.  Apparently we were on the big screen a couple of times, which I mostly missed due to all the talking, eating and seat-dancing that needed to be done.

I skipped the Saturday night game to go to a farewell dinner and drinks for one of the hostel staff and later in the evening we bumped into some of the English-speaking import contingent from the two teams playing that series.  One of them was an Aussie guy from Melbourne – so that was fun to meet him and kind of mutually boggle at each other for both being in Mexico doing baseball things.

Tonight, I’m off to see a Tuesday night game again, so it is possible that we’ll be back down to midweek levels of noise and mayhem.

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(Still dragging my Perth Heat hat around with me 🙂 )

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