Friday, April 15, 2016

My son David's wedding in Mazatlán, Mexico (2013)

Our family had the unique opportunity of participating in a "destination wedding" in December 2013 when our son David and his wife Wendy, who live in the Philadelphia area, decided to have a Catholic ceremony in Mazatlán, Mexico, a seaside resort to the north of Puerto Vallarta. Wendy is a native of Culiacán, a few hours' drive from Mazatlán. 

We were delighted to be able to meet Wendy's extended family and friends and enjoy the surroundings. There was time especially for us men, who were not involved in the planning, to relax at the resort. At that time of year, Mazatlán has a wonderful climate: warm but dry, in contrast to its very hot summers. The water temperature in December is a little cold, but the resort where we stayed, El Cid Marina, had a heated pool. The resort is popular with Americans, Canadians, and Europeans as well, and some retirees call it home at least part of the year, so you will most likely run into English speakers. The beach area is filled with modern hotels, as can be expected, but there are parts of the city that do not look Americanized at all, so you can experience the best of both worlds.

The night before the wedding, Wendy's family invited us to the restaurant "Pedro y Lola" which faces the city's plaza. As it was during Christmas season, the plaza was abuzz with activity and adorned with plenty of lights. Musicians came to our table to play both Latin and American favorites. Mazatlán is well known for its seafood and we had plenty of opportunities to sample it during our stay: a breaded fillet that I ate at Pedro y Lola, shellfish, ceviche, and fish tacos, to name a few. 

Pedro & Lola Restaurant facing the plaza in Mazatlán

After our enjoyable evening, we eagerly anticipated the following day's wedding ceremony. The church where the Catholic ceremony was called San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus) and was a great place to start our day. The church faces a small plaza with plenty of trees. David and Wendy looked great, her family and friends were obviously enthusiastic, and the church had a nice floral arrangement in front of the altar and a large picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall to the left of the crucifix.

David and Wendy at their church ceremony
Mexican law requires a civil ceremony in addition to the religious ceremony, so when we went to the Hotel Emporio, the location of both the ceremony and the reception afterwards, we saw that a nice kiosk was set up near the beach for the civil ceremony. At about the same time, there was an outdoor reception on a second-floor patio at another part of the hotel, and I heard the Luis Miguel song "Delirio" playing, which was a perfect complement to the pretty beachside setting. After the ceremony, there were lots of pictures taken on the beach by the photographers hired for the occasion as the sun was beginning to set.

The happy couple poses with their parents
The reception, which was held in a room on the first floor, opened up to a spectacular evening view of the sea while we enjoyed the food and drink, with a mariachi band to start with, followed by a dance band featuring a nice mix of Latin music.

Pictures on the beach

The day after, we were invited to a nearby, picturesque town called El Quelite, a name derived from the Nahuatl language that refers to a class of edible plants common to Mexico. At El Quelite we ate lunch at a popular restaurant called "El Mesón de los Laureanos." The word Mesón refers to a type of restaurant with a traditional look, while Laureano is a family name. After we finished, but before returning to Mazatlán, we were able to stop into the church across the street to view their beautiful Nativity scene.

The Nativity scene in the church at El Quelite

With a little free time, I walked through downtown Mazatlán to see the historic buildings. It was December 31, which happened to be the date that new mayors in Mexico are sworn in. When I arrived at the plaza, a party celebrating the inauguration of the city's new mayor took place. The mayor understandably had bodyguards, but the festivities were open to the public and I had the chance to sip some punch and listen to a band playing for the occasion.

As we were flying out early the next day, our New Year's Eve celebrations were focused on having dinner at the hotel. (There was a New Year's Eve party at the hotel that we could have attended, but we thought it pricey.) For us, it was the perfect way to cap off an experience that remains etched in our memory. I would definitely enjoy going back to Mazatlán if the occasion presented itself.