Life on the Isla

In picking a path through Mexico this winter, the northbound option had an extra plus in the pro vs con analysis…getting to visit with my friends Contessa and Colin.   I’ve been a follower of Contessa’s blog for years.   She is yet another example of how my life has been enriched by meeting people through blogging.  We first met when I visited the Isla back in 2013, and have kept in touch regularly since, even meeting up in the desert on their way back to Canada.

Stopping at the Embarcadero to buy fish for Contessa's delicious Fish Chowder.

Stopping at the Embarcadero to buy fish for Contessa’s delicious Fish Chowder.

Arriving on the Isla the first night....makes my soul say "aaaahhh."

Arriving on the Isla the first night….makes my soul say “aaaahhh.”

Contessa and Colin's beautiful RV patio. What a view!

Contessa and Colin’s beautiful RV patio. What a view!

There's always something interesting happening on the beach.

There’s always something interesting happening on the beach.

Contessa not only arranged for me to rent a small studio just one block from the beach, but she also stocked it with two highly sought possessions of any traveler….a supply of Sauvignon Blanc complete with chilled wine glass in the fridge, and a roll of high quality toilet paper.   You’re probably not surprised to know which of these is the more precious in Mexico.  😉

My studio apartment for the week.

My studio apartment for the week.

My "front yard" on laundry day.

My “front yard” on laundry day.

The first night of my visit is kicked off with "Jazz Night" at El Velero, one of the oceanside restaurants.

The first night of my visit is kicked off with “Jazz Night” at El Velero, one of the oceanside restaurants.

A toast to good friends, good times, and good music.

A toast to good friends, good times, and good music.

Colin and Contessa and their two adorable doxies Carmeh and Caeli  travel from BC, Canada each year to winter at the Tres Amigos RV Park on Isla de la Piedra, or “Stone Island.”  (Unlike in English, with the Spanish pronunciation of “Isla” the “s” is not silent.)   Isla de la Piedra is in close proximity to Old Town Mazatlan, just about a 10 minute “panga” (small boat) ride across the shipping channel.   But while they are close in proximity, that’s where the similarities end.  Mazatlan is a bustling port filled with traffic, honking horns, and cruise ship crowds.  But step onto the panga, and instantly you leave the noise, crowds, and frenetic energy behind.

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Fishing is a big part of life on the Isla.

This woman is photographing the many fishing boats offshore. At one point, I counted 12 fishing boats lined up to enter the channel.

This woman is photographing the many fishing boats offshore. At one point, I counted 12 fishing boats lined up to enter the channel.

This man is getting his net ready for some night fishing.

This man is getting his net ready for some night fishing.

He untangles it and lines it up neatly along the shoreline...

He untangles it and lines it up neatly along the shoreline…

...then swims the net out to sea.

…then swims the net out to sea.

It takes a while to slow down to match the pace of Life on the Isla.  For this reason, I opt to stay a week, thinking I can use some down time from my typical maniacal pace.  I figure this will be a good chance to get caught up on the blog, read the yet unopened book that I’ve been carrying around in my backpack for a month, and just chill on the beach.

"Beach crowds."

“Beach crowds.”

What's not to love about a bike with ice cream?

What’s not to love about a bike with its own ice cream?

Coming home from work...

Coming home from work…

This car is made of wood! Contessa calls it the "Beverly Hillbillies truck."

This car is made of wood! Contessa calls it the “Beverly Hillbillies truck.”

The Isla is a sleepy little stretch of beach backed by a tiny village where remarkably, you can get just about anything you need.   There’s a market that will sell you as little as one egg, or ham by the slice.  There’s an old fashioned hardware store with heavily laden shelves of a hodge-podge of dusty parts.  A meat and cheese market sells by the kilo.  A string of local “feet-in-the-sand” restaurants line the waters edge.  And a local woman sells fire roasted chicken and Spanish rice from a 50 gallon drum fire pit on the weekends. Sleepy, yet sustainable.

This was my favorite restaurant on the beach, "La Palapa del Che."

This was my favorite restaurant on the beach, “La Palapa del Che.”

This place had the best Fish Burger I can recall...

This place had the best Fish Burger I can recall…Seriously!

Beautiful botanical gardens just behind the RV Park.

Beautiful botanical gardens just behind the RV Park.

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For the past four winters, Contessa has held an “International Bloggers Conference.”    I have been honored to be an attendee at two out of four of the conferences   Timing and schedules netted a smaller group this year, with participation from Canada and the US.  Let’s just say we had more bottles of wine than we had attendees.  😉    Maria is another Mazatlan friend and blogger from Canada who doesn’t write often, but when she does, it’s from the heart…an intimate look at life in a place she’s called her winter home for almost 10 years.   Thanks, Contessa and Colin for your wonderful hospitality in sponsoring the conference!  😉

Participants at the 4th Annual International Bloggers Conference.

Participants at the 4th Annual International Bloggers Conference.

Refreshments are superb, especially Colin's secret recipe Salmon Pate.

Refreshments are superb, especially Colin’s secret recipe of Salmon Pate.

Contessa and Maria in position for the sunset.

Contessa and Maria in position for the sunset.

International wines to go with the international theme. ;-)

International wines to go with the international theme. ;-)

Our entertainment for the evening...Colin is a master on the Classical Guitar.

Our entertainment for the evening…Colin is a master on the Classical Guitar.

I quickly learn for such a laid back location as the Isla , I don’t get as much down time as I anticipated.  The daily life, as slow as it is, provides endless entertainment.  The long, flat, deserted beach offers hours of solitude and beachcombing opportunities.  There are friends to visit.  A botanical garden to admire.  And boat trips back to Mazatlan.  There’s kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding to nearby islands, and Las Chivas beach and El Faro to explore.  And for those who might not know, stay tuned for the translation of “El Faro…”

El Faro at sunset...

El Faro at sunset…can you spot the coming attraction?

13 thoughts on “Life on the Isla

  1. My kid-brother has a sticks-n-bricks in Mazatlan, he is there now for Carnaval! Too much excitement for me :) I like ‘aaahhh’ of your beach front accommodations at Stone Island better. Your photos are perfect and tell the story of your visit.

  2. Am wondering how one gets an RV to the isla? So happy you were able to spend a week and share your photos of such a beautiful place!
    Kat

  3. Thanks for sharing your adventures! Your photos capture the beauty and serenity perfectly. I too wonder how the RV’s get there!

  4. Been reading your Mexico posts and feeling a bit overwhelmed. All so fabulous and wonderful, really. Then along comes this one, and your links to Contessa and Maria, and I finally slipped into quiet mode, reading mode, feeling the beach and the sand and the food mode. Thanks Suzanne.

  5. Mazatlan– fun ride on the train for the first time folks to mexico!.?.
    thx for the 1000 words photos, as always.
    Us kids would get “cultural” on school holidays from San Diego. One of us (the smartest( came back 3 weeks late.
    We swam the channel to the Isla – nothing there back then. But definitely the deserted palm beach island.

  6. What a quiet and laid back location. We would love to visit someplace like that at some point. I thought it was very interesting how the fisherman laid out his net and then swam out to set it, very cool!

  7. Do they cut the heads off on the fish burgers?
    Not really a fan of fish tacos so I’ll pass. Maybe it’s an “acquired” taste… like warm beer, cheap cigars, and (gag) Rocky Mountain Oysters…
    Mark

  8. Thanks, everyone for the nice comments and questions.

    The “Isla” is really more like a very long peninsula with the village at the end where it dead-ends into the shipping channel. There is a road that goes there. Contessa has written in the past about the conditions, as it was always quite a rough dirt road filled with potholes until recently, when all but one small section has been paved. If you put Mazatlan as your starting point in Google Maps with a destination of Tres Amigos RV Park, you will see the road in…

  9. You have once again woven your special magic and created a wonderful post about the Isla, my special paradise. It was so special having you here for a full week.

    The road to the Isla is just off the road to the Mazatlan Airport. Follow the directions to Estrella del Mar, a golf resort. The road continues from there with the first 1/2 mile being unpaved. I hear that that portion is to be paved this month but then this is Mexico. I do expect it to be complete by next fall. Not only is there the RV park here but a few hotels as well and some private rentals to be had.

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