Retirement, Attractions, Costs, Medical & Dental Care
by Arthur Jones
Published: August 2001
Carl and Lorena, please... send more retirees to Mazatlan, we need 'em here, the fishin' (commercial) is terrible, though not for lack of fish -- in fact, the sport fishin is great -- but there is a recession here on top of the general national economic lethargy. I believe that Gringos are a great, clean, sustainable industry. As you know -- one Gringo, no matter how frugal, can support many locals.
As I told you before, I traveled extensively in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica for about a year before I settled in Mazatlan. I first came here because my son was in grad school in Tempe, Arizona. Mazatlan was convenient for him to make short visits on his school breaks. I guess I stayed here because of the Centro Historico. The old port of Mazatlan is absolutely enchanting. It is almost like living in a small port village. It is very easy to forget that we are surrounded by a fairly large city. It has a kinda Mediterranean feeling.
As a young man, I spent three years in Italy, the South of France and Spain. Naturally I have wonderful memories of those years, so when I arrived here, those old Med feelins and memories just naturally flooded back in on me. Another reason, of course is that Maz is still relatively affordable. We were fortunate enough to rent a 3 bedroom , 2 bath home w/ servants quarters, on El Cerro de Vigia, about 100 meters from El Colegio del Pacifico , with a view from the Colegio all the way to The Zona Dorada plus a view of the city -- for 450 dollars per month. Granted, we were extremely lucky -- but they are out there.
Health services are great here. We have the Sharps Hospital that most of the Gringos are crazy about and we also have a General Hospital of excellent quality, plus all the related stuff... Dentists?... have we got dental care here? I'll tell ya how good the care is -- my dentist was so concerned about me that she now gives me free dental care for life! Of course I had to marry her to qualify for that plan, but it was my pleasure, as she is as beautiful as she is competent.
My wife is a dentist and her brother is a general practice doctor and orthroscopic surgeon. My sister in law is a chemist and owns her own Analysis lab. I let my sky-hi U.S. med insurance lapse as I've got that pretty well covered. If you know anyone with medical probs that aren't being attended, in the U.S. or Canada, please feel free to give them my e mail address, as I have real strong ties to the whole medical community here in Mazatlan. My family, at least, charges Gringos the same as they charge Mexicans -- that is a fraction of what one has to pay in the States.
I have been wanting to get out the word about the Med/Dental care available here in Mazatlan. Not only can folks get fixed up cheap but, depending on the shape they are in, can probably have a good time doing it.
Movin right along , the weather is great about 8 months outta the year, but because of the heat in July, August, Sept, and part of October, it is better to be somewhere else. Fortunately you don't have to go far. Even one hour away in Copala, it is real comfortable in those months.
Notes on Mazatlan
As I mentioned earlier, the Centro Historico was the big attraction for me when choosing a home base in Mexico. There are only two Mazatlans as far as most Gringos are concerned, the Zona Dorada or el Centro Historico. Of course there are many sides to Mazatlan, as all Mexican cities that I know are made up of many, if not scores of colonias, each with its own small business center.
The Zona Dorada contains virtually all the comforts of Southern California: North American style homes, Burger King and Baskin &amp; Robbins. That's about all I know about the Zona. Except that it's located on the northern extremity of Mazatlan -- on the beach, of course. El Centro Historico is located at the southern extremity of the city (also on the beach) about 14 kilometers from the Zona Dorada, where the peninsula comes to a point . We live on El Cerro de Vigia (Lookout Hill), on the southern tip of the peninsula just a few hundred meters short of El Faro, the highest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast.
The two Mazatlans attract very different types of resident Gringos. The Zona types rarely come to el Centro, and el Centro types wouldn't be caught dead in the Zona. I guess you get the picture. I would guess, however, that the vast majority of vacation visitors and a majority of resident Gringos spend their time in the Zona. (and then they go home and tell their friends about their" Mexican experience ".)
El Centro Historico is not only on the beach it is, well, it's "Historical", (hysterical sometimes too). The homes and most of the other buildings are from the Spanish colonial period, the streets are narrow, and the way it is situated along the cliffs and hollows, along the coast, make it very easy to forget that you are in the city. As I said earlier, it has a feelin of a small port town about it.
Although more resident Gringos live in the Zona Dorada up north, in the past couple of years el Centro has been experiencing a "renacimiento" of sorts. Gringos are buying and refurbishing the old buildings at an ever accelerating rate. This process is still in the early stages as compared to the more touristed coastal towns such as Puerto Vallarta, but there are already an American owned La Jolla Mazatlan and a Canadian owned B&amp;B, as well as a couple of American owned restaurants.
Like many private homes, so far these businesses are all charming and completely in character with their surroundings. The city has some pretty strict laws concerning the preservation of el Centro, gracias a Dios.
We have a most wonderful feature here called el malecon. The malecon is like a sidewalk but much wider than than most and it runs about 14 kilometers, from the southernmost end of el Centro all the way to the Zona Dorada. Most mornings and evenings the malecon is the natural habitat of walkers, runners, strollers (w/baby), in line skaters, and bikers (bicycles are a no-no but they do it) as well as just plain sun worshipers and viewers of the immense beauty of the place.
Mazatlan is a place to be healthy, with miles and miles of beautiful beaches on which to sun and be seen, the malecon to stroll, hills (one with a lighthouse) and mountains to climb only an hour away. And there are any variety of Gyms, Judo dojos, Karate dojos and on and on. Not to mention the beautiful weather and beautiful people. Everybody wants to look and feel their very best.
Ok, I admit it, I am a health nut! with the emphasis on nut. I eat 4 or 5 small meals a day, I walk, run and go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week. Later in life I came to the realization that if my body was shot to hell, all the other accomplishments such as financial security, social standing, etc. weren't worth an old peso, in a word ...nothin.
Then there's the climate. I lived in Alaska for 25 years before coming to Mexico, and I can tell you from experience that these warm tropical brisas are much healthier than the icy blast of snow-filled wind "up north".
Is there a downside to living in Mazatlan? Sure, there's always a downside, but I can't think of it right now. I feel so good sharing this info/opinion with you that nothing negative comes to mind. If you like, however, I'll write more on that later on. Anyhoo, I'm lookin out my computer room window at the Pacific ocean, the sun is shining and I think I need to get outside. If anyone would like to connect with me, please feel free to give them my email <email@example.com>. And always remember "all that wander are not lost" .... your pal, Art