Taking the Village Panga

I really needed a day off today and knew that I’d most likely spend it at my computer surfing aimlessly if I stayed home. Even though I didn’t have many pesos left for a shopping trip to Maz, I decided to head over there anyway to get a better lay of the land and figure out where the Ley grocery store is.

Rather than taking the beach panga like I did last time, I took the one from the village. This panga is 16 pesos round trip for residents, just a little less than half of the 30 peso fare for the beach panga. For this one, you pay on both sides, so 8 pesos each time, and you don’t have to worry about losing your return ticket.

This panga drops you off at the docks downtown. It’s actually not that much farther from the historical district than is the beach panga, but it’s closer by a hair to the Ley and the big mercado.

I’d printed out a map showing the location of the Ley, but I didn’t know where I was going to land and my map wasn’t detailed enough for me to figure out where I was. I tried my phone. Google Maps could find the Ley, but could not route me there. Apple Maps (Siri) knew exactly where I was, but couldn’t find the Ley.

I walked around in circles (literally) for a full hour and found the street the Ley was supposed to be on, but I couldn’t find the store. This was fun for the first 45 minutes, then, it wasn’t and I spent the last 15 minutes trying to locate the cathedral, my only real landmark. I really didn’t have enough pesos for a shop and lunch, so I decided that I’d try again next week now that I have a starting point on the Maz side (Pemex 1760).

And, yes, I could have taken a pulmonia to get there, but that didn’t seem like a good use of today’s tight budget. Asking for directions would have also not helped seeing as I doubt I could have followed them.

Despite all that frustration, I did have one bright moment when I found myself standing outside the Pacifico beer brewery! (Why am I not drinking a beer right now? BRB!)

Once I could see the cathedral, finding the mercado was easy. I went in to look for avocados. Everyone had some and there didn’t seem to be much difference in product quality, so I picked a vendor at random and pointed to the avocados, which I could not reach.

She picked one up and said, ‘ripe.’ I didn’t want super ripe ones because I want to have some for a few days, so I shook my head, trying to figure out how to say that I wanted them firmer. I settled on English and said, ‘harder.’

She frowned and then comprehension dawned. ‘Oh, eat tomorrow!’ She touched a few and found one that was nice and firm. I asked for one more, plus the ripe one. Total cost for all three, 20 pesos, which was a bit shocking. I’ve paid less in Assiniboia for good avocados in the dead of winter by watching the specials!

From the mercado, I wanted to go to Waldo’s, the Mexican version of a dollar store, to get a few things for my casita. I knew there was one right there by the mercado on the way to the cathedral. So I circled around the mercado until I saw a stand I recognized and which told me I had to take the next left and the Waldo’s would be across the street.

The Waldo’s was exactly like a dollar store and felt very familiar. I found all but one thing on my list. I picked up a small plastic wastebasket to use as a utensil crock in the kitchen, a square flower pot to hold bathroom items, dish cloths and scrubby pads for the kitchen, a colander, plastic storage containers for leftovers, and plastic wrap. The only thing I couldn’t find was a cheese grater. Total cost was 107 pesos. Plastic wrap is called ‘meat film’, by the way…

It was coming onto 1:00 by this point and I was ravenous, so I headed off to the sushi place, the closest one to the mercado that I knew I could find on my own since it’s right on the water and next to where I had the nachos with Dale.

I knew that it would be a bit of a walk, so I decided to see if the fruit ice cream stand was open today. Yes! There was no guava today, so I got strawberry and ciruela, which is a new word I learned earlier this week, in a cup. I was asked what I wanted for a third flavour (I can get three flavours at once?!) and asked for a surprise, which turned out to be walnut or pecan.

Like the vanilla, the nut was more like real ice cream and quite rich with big pieces of nuts. Very lovely in a small quantity.

As far as I knew, ciruela is plum, so I was a bit surprised to discover to bite into prune ice cream.  I would have expected them to say ciruela seca, or something along those lines, the way that you’d say dried plum in French. At any rate, I absolutely adore prunes and am not so nuts about fresh plums, so this was a wonderful surprise! I could have had a whole cup of just the prune flavour!

Strawberry was on the bottom and exactly as expected, very fresh and sweet and nummy!

I meandered my way down to the water front and turned left on Olas Altas to get to Akita Sushi. I perused the wall menu and decided that while it didn’t look great, it was fine, so I agreed to sit down with a menu.

Every single one of their rolls comes with Philadelphia (cream cheese), which I absolutely abhor in sushi. It’s not just me being a snob, I simply don’t find that the greasy creamy texture that is so great on bagels works that well with vinegared rice. I decided to order three pieces of octopus nigiri from their starter menu (40 pesos!) and a tuna roll if I could get it without Philadelphia, otherwise I’d just do the nigiri and get something else somewhere else. Thankfully, there was no problem with skipping the cheese.

The meal was quite good except for one key ingredient: the soy sauce. I have no idea if that’s what passes for soy sauce in Mexico, but it was very citrusy, with none of the salty umami flavour that is such an integral part of what makes sushi so delicious.

Because of this, the meal was probably a 5 out of 10. It would have been a 7 or an 8 with Kikkoman soy sauce. The rice was surprisingly bland and they were skimpy with the octopus and tuna, but the fish and seafood were extremely fresh and the presentation beautiful. With the tip, lunch came to 125 pesos, about ten bucks. Totally worth it!

I’m going to try at least one other sushi place to get a point of comparison, but I’d definitely come back to Akita with my own bottle of soy sauce!

I was pretty beat by this point and decided to head home. Yes, I already had ice cream before lunch, but I knew I was going to pass a gelataria and I was still peckish. 🙂 I went in and got a cup of gelato for 20 pesos. I saw one flavour that I suspected would be chocolate hazelnut and the lady said it was ‘Ferrero’, which confirmed it. Yum! Ice cream portions in Mexico have so far been very small, closer to a child’s size in Canada or the US, which is absolutely perfect for me.

Returning to the panga was easy from the gelataria, which is just by the Plaza Machado. Apple Maps knew where I was and could find the Pemex, so I had no trouble making my way through the warren of streets to emerge on Emilio Barragán, and then it was a short walk past the docks and the naval base to the panga.

I went to the ticket booth and asked for residente ticket. The woman literally sneered at me and said suspiciously, ‘Residente?’ I held up my bag of shopping and said that I rent a house on Isla. She rolled her eyes and accepted my 8 pesos. Wow. I don’t know what the rules are, but I think that renting a house in the village for the winter should qualify me for the resident rate, especially if folks staying just for a month or two in the RV park get said rate!

I enjoyed the bumpy ride home and stopped off at the tortilla factory to get a fresh batch. I used my thumb and index finger to show the size of the stack I wanted and paid just 5 pesos for it.

Isla panga dock.

Isla panga dock.

Maz dock in the distance.

Maz dock in the distance.

The village panga has a nice handhold to get on.

The village panga has a nice handhold to get on.

Pelican on a panga.

Pelican on a panga.

I haven't been to this part of Isla yet.

I haven’t been to this part of Isla yet.

This is another panga stop for 'colonia', which I understand is the slums...

This is another panga stop for ‘colonia’, which I understand is the slums…

Heading to Maz!

Heading to Maz!

Maz getting closer.

Maz getting closer.

Pacifico brewery!

Pacifico brewery!

Maz panga dock entrance.

Maz panga dock entrance.

Pemex 1760 is a good landmark on the Maz side to find the panga.

Pemex 1760 is a good landmark on the Maz side to find the panga.

I remember turning here in my truck! I can't believe it was about 1.5 hours (not counting stops) to get to Isla from here when I made it in less than 20 minutes on foot and panga!

I remember turning here in my truck! I can’t believe it was about 1.5 hours (not counting stops) to get to Isla from here when I made it in less than 20 minutes on foot and panga!

Pacifico brewery!

Pacifico brewery!

After a very frustrating hour of walking around in circles, a familiar landmark at last! See the cathedral spires in the distance?

After a very frustrating hour of walking around in circles, a familiar landmark at last! See the cathedral spires in the distance?

Found him! (ha ha ha ha ha I crack myself up sometimes)

Found him! (ha ha ha ha ha I crack myself up sometimes)

I have this exact colander, only in pink, at Haven! I didn't buy this one because the holes are too big for rinsing rice, but the find amused me.

I have this exact colander, only in pink, at Haven! I didn’t buy this one because the holes are too big for rinsing rice, but the find amused me.

I came out feeling like I bought the whole store. :)

I came out feeling like I bought the whole store. 🙂

Strawberry, prune, and nut ice creams.

Strawberry, prune, and nut ice creams.

Octopus nigiri. Yuuuuuum. I was told I could mix it up and have my choice of four different kinds of seafood (forget what else), but I just wanted pulpo!

Octopus nigiri. Yuuuuuum. I was told I could mix it up and have my choice of four different kinds of seafood (forget what else), but I just wanted pulpo!

This is NOT soy sauce. Not sure what it is. I just took a picture because I was so shocked by the viscous texture and wanted to remember my reaction. :)

This is NOT soy sauce. Not sure what it is. I just took a picture because I was so shocked by the viscous texture and wanted to remember my reaction. 🙂

Tuna roll, very light on the tuna. The inside is a bit like a California role, with shrimp, avocado, and cucumber (pepino).

Tuna roll, very light on the tuna. The inside is a bit like a California role, with shrimp, avocado, and cucumber (pepino).

Hazelnut and chocolate gelato.

Hazelnut and chocolate gelato.

Part of my Waldo haul. Yes, I got another pink colander. :D (Bonus shot of my stack of tortillas behind the 'meat wrap.'

Part of my Waldo haul. Yes, I got another pink colander. 😀 (Bonus shot of my stack of tortillas behind the ‘meat wrap.’

This little waste basket will make a decent utensil crock, although it is a little tippy.

This little waste basket will make a decent utensil crock, although it is a little tippy.

The flower pot is perfect for the bathroom!

The flower pot is perfect for the bathroom!

I only have about 80 pesos left to get me through to a PayPal deposit I initiated on Friday, so I decided not to get a chicken today even though I was really tempted to for dinner. I might get one tomorrow.

But add in 10 pesos for a bottle of water tomorrow and 8 pesos for a trip back to Maz early in the week to get an ATM, that would leave me pretty flat broke if the PayPal deposit is delayed (which they tend to be when I’m eager for them!). So I’m likely to skip chicken this week. 🙁

I have to pay a hefty sum for a withdrawal, so it didn’t make sense to get cash today with what I had in the bank. I’ll make a decent sized withdrawal next week, then go back and get the rent the following week after I get the balance of my payments for December.

I am absolutely thrilled with how far I was able to stretch my pesos this month! I know that 80 pesos (6.50CAD/5.75USD really doesn’t sound like much to get me through up to a week, but I am not concerned in the least! I’ve got plenty of food and know that I can get, at minimum, a bottle of water, a block of cheese, a beer or two (at the grocery store), and another stack of tortillas with that and still have enough change left to take the panga to Maz.

It was a bit more of a trek to Maz than I thought it would be, but I think that once I figure out the shortest route between the panga and the Ley and mercado, it’ll feel much closer. Just based on the trip home, it looks like it’ll be just about the same amount of time that it takes me to go to Assiniboia, only I get exercise!

I’m really enjoying my life here and feel secure and comfortable both on Isla and walking around Maz. Now that the budget is loosening up, I suspect I’ll be in Maz more often. I’d sure like to find a movie theatre with afternoon showings (being optimistic?) and there are a few more museums I’d like to tour.

Loud early mornings withstanding, I remain absolutely thrilled with my choice of destination for this winter and continue to be in awe of the fact that I am in Mexico!

9 thoughts on “Taking the Village Panga

  1. Great story!
    After some time it would be interesting if you could share your expenses etc. of your daily life routine there on the isla. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the post idea! I have been sharing costs as they happen, but it might be easier to follow with an aggregated post.

    • I took the bulk of my Spanish courses 20 years ago. I feel like I made a deposit then that I had no idea would gain interest and I’m now making withdrawals from a small fortune. It would be such a different experience here if I didn’t have the language skills. I feel so incredibly grateful for them.

  3. I would not be surprised if you did not walk past Casa Ley the grocery store. It is most likely in one of the old colonial buildings with poor signage and is about 2 blocks from Waldo’s as you probably know. I have also come to think that your navigation skills are not as honed as many of your other skills are,
    You will find it on your next trip I’m sure!

    • Actually, I have very good navigational skills once I manage to orientate myself. This is evidenced by the fact that once I stopped looking for the Ley, I had no trouble finding anything else.

      I went on Google maps when I came home to retrace my route this morning and I basically skirted around the Ley.

  4. I guess I never had sushi in Mexico as I would have remembered the soy sauce issue as well. I feel the same as you about sushi and it is the salty taste I crave.

    • I’m definitely going to try another sushi place to see if the soy sauce is the same everywhere! Sushi is a complex experience, a mix of flavours and textures that is so wonderful it makes your brain forget out disgusting it is. Soy sauce is just a bit of that experience, but a very necessary one! I still very much enjoyed my sushi today and, to my surprise, most enjoyed the shrimp in my tuna roll! They were like the shrimp I had at Carmelita’s the other day, very chewy and sweet.

  5. Pingback: A Great Day in Mazatlán |

Comments are closed.