Welcome to Mazatlan, all you former dot com billionaires who didn't feel comfortable with the usual safari in Kenya, tour of the pyramids in Egypt followed by a Mediterranean cruise, then on the Himalayas. Good old Maz, where the closest thing to a terrorist is an aggressive I-want-to-write-your-name-on-a-grain-of-rice artiste, and you can watch the sun set slowly into the west for a fraction of overseas prices. So if you've had a rough year, and had to sell the Rolls to pay off the Ferrari, let me offer you a few tips on how to get more fun for your peso while you're in town.
Walking around is pretty much free as long as you don't spend any money. You can soak up sun on the beach in the ritzy Golden Zone, where the sand is the best and the waves are surfable. After a couple of pampered days your bones should be thawed out enough to brave some exploratory expeditions.
One of my favorites is the connect-the-statues route, which starts at the Faceless Family Statue next to Valentino's and after a couple of hours of sauntering along the malecon ends up at the Deer Statue in the middle of the road in Olas Altas. Maz is truly blessed with world-class sculpture, most of it in a nude classical style that people go all the way to Italy to ogle. They just don't make them like this, anymore. If you stick to the seawalk, one of the world's finest strolls, you'll pass a bronze pulmonia taxi, looking like a giant Monopoly token. On the eastern side of the road, look for the statue of Lola Beltran, the Pasty Cline of Mexico. The Fisherman's Monument is not as dull as it might sound, and around the bend dolphins and more nudes abound. And any city that proudly displays its first beermaking device on a pedestal can't be all bad.
After you've gotten enough sand and surf in your socks, you might want to head inland. A fun experience the whole family can enjoy is the let's-get-lost-and-try-to-find-the-Cathedral route. Old Mazatlan is filled with ancient buildings which feature awesome architecture and even the occasional street sign. Why go to Greece when there are ruins right here? Just spend a few hours wandering in circles around the Cathedral, then try to find your way back to the ocean. First one to whine loses.
The movie theaters here are a real bargain even if you just want to escape all that warm sunshine and sit in the dark, air-conditioned room for a few hours. For a free blast of cold air, go into an ATM booth and pretend to use the machine, or step into the post office and scribble on a piece of paper until you cool off.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but if you go to Edgar's Bar (see ad) around two in the afternoon, the waitress puts a delicious little plate of Mexican food in front of you whether you're hungry or not. It is kind of like a museum that serves cheap beer, the walls are covered with old historic photos, and the ceiling is full of piñatas for that ambient Mexican.
If you take advantage of all the inexpensive stuff that Mazatlan has to offer, you can actually come out ahead on your vacation. Stock up on cheap yet exotic gewgaws and trinkets, and you can take care of all that pesky Christmas shopping in one pleasant, sunny afternoon of browsing and forget about Toys R Us and Nordstroms. Have a couple of teeth capped, maybe a mole or two removed, and don't forget to stock up on prescription drugs, duty-free liquor and cheap cigarettes. Don't worry if you go broke in the process.
As a last resort, if you find yourself completely tapped out, you can always scavenge for coconuts and stay for free at the Hotel Camarena, where the cama (bed) is arena (sand). All in all, Mazatlan is the perfect place to pass the time frugally while you're waiting for the technology job market to pick up, or your Argentine investments to rebound. See you on the beach!