View from my camp at Cerro Chivo.

A highly disputed concept for the future; outside of Mazatlan.

Sinaloa arises in conversations amongst gringos regarding two things: tourism and narco-trafficers. I’m experiencing a third, and well-known quality of Sinaloa amongst most Mexicans – the agriculture. This state has many expansive llanos (flat-lands) and valleys. Many areas have quality soils and the industry has not exhausted the water supplies here yet. As I drove along north from Mazatlan I entered a world of corn, the likes of which I haven’t seen since I drove through the mid-west of the US. Interspersed with the large cornfields lie mallas, or shade houses. Hundreds and hundreds of acres under shade house. The screens are so fine I can’t make out exactly what’s growing inside; likely tomatoes, maybe cucumbers or beans, maybe mota?.

About an hour north of Mazatlan I turned off the toll road onto a small dirt road, leading into a large industrial agricultural area. I was looking for a wave called Patoles, a long left point break. I could see it from the pull-out on the highway but getting down to it proved to be an entirely fruitless adventure. I tried every little dirt road possible – all gates were locked. I talked to a half dozen campesinos out there and they all told me the same roads and that the gates were locked because of some new land owners. I ended up getting back on the highway and got off at the next town to the north. I picked up a man and a woman who just got off the bus and saved them a long walk to their little town. They told me about one other way to try – go to the south from their town then take the beach. I followed the jeep trails they told me about until I could go nowhere other than the beach. I took the beach a few miles down until my path was blocked by a rock outcropping. If it was really low tide I might have been able to drive around it. But not my luck today. I had to stop, just out of walking distance, with the view of the wave right in my binocular sites.

So close, yet so far away. Patoles is in the far right background, on the other side of those rocks.

Patoles, the wave that got away.

That seems to be the difference of Sinaloa and Nayarit – private property rights. Every piece of land along the coast here is owned, gated, and sometimes guarded. I think it must be a status symbol for the Narcos around here to own a piece of ocean front property and put their mark on it. Even the agricultural areas were guarded and would not let me pass through. In one area I found a whole encampment of the poorest people I had ever seen in Mexico. Many of them were living in barrack-style housing on the edge of the big industrial farm. None were happy to see me and I got very bad vibes from the guards of the place. Something was going on there but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out exactly what it was.

A flock of birds put on an airial performance. They flew around in a figure eight twice each time before returning to their game of musical chairs (or in this case rocks).

The sunset light on la playa at Celestino Garza.

After my 4×4 adventure, I settled in for the night at Villa Celeste RV Park in the pueblo of Celestino Garza. I cannot recommend this place for any future visits – they wanted 250 pesos for a site right next to train tracks and road with a piss-poor (literally like a stream of piss) shower. I bargained them down to 200 because I didn’t hook up to their electricity. Not much to see along the beach here – just a small point with some rich guys’ houses overlooking it. The monte of Sinaloa doesn’t really compare to the selva of Nayarit.

El estero at Celestino Garza.

I moseyed on into Culicán today, checking out the main strip by the airport and then to my hotel. On my way in I was bombarded with advertisements for all sorts of agricultural chemicals and genetically-modified seeds. For example, fenceposts and telephone poles were covered with new glossy signs for Duresban, Ortho, Syngenta, and Pioneer. Many of the corn crops had shiny signs right next to the road to let you know which variety was growing. Even the billboards advertised to drivers the benefits of using all this great chemical technology.

Tonight I called a taxi from my hotel and asked him to take me to el Centro, or somewhere that I could walk around and see an interesting part of the city. He, and the clerk at the hotel, suggested that I go to the Plaza Forum, which turned out to be an American style shopping mall. After dinner at a good recommendation from the driver, Restaurant Panamá, I stepped inside the mall. I could stand it for about 2 minutes before I escaped from the same way I came. Nothing different in there, nothing interesting, just the same shit we see in the States on a daily basis.

The author at his Culiacán stronghold. Living to tell the story, another day in Sinaloa.

The night was all worth it though when I caught the cab back to my hotel. The driver told me about all his exploits running and selling drugs in the states. He knew more of the western half of the USA than I did. He had moved back to Culiacán because crossing the border has gotten to be too dangerous and expensive. He’s got a good cab business now. When the subject switched to mota, he told me that Sinaloa is known for its chronic. I asked him if the chronic came from the mountains or the llano. He told me that a lot of the mota is grown in mallas and special greenhouses in the agricultural areas. Probably tucked behind all those tomatoes and cucumbers. Haha I thought, no wonder those people guard their agricultural areas so heavily and no wonder those people gave me such a stink eye coming around there uninvited.
Tonight I’ll consider myself one gringo suerte.



  1. March 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    you look so serious in that picture!

    love, Amy

  2. g. craig hobbs said,

    March 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Consider yourself lucky brother! You know the old say, ylay with fire and you get burned ; ) Please be careful and wise. We want to see and surf with you again!

    By the way,

    • g. craig hobbs said,

      March 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      I meant, “play” with fire. No playing with the narco fire!

  3. Ron Tomich said,

    March 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Hey, I like the trip notes. Sounds like Amy is still in FL? How’s her mom doing? We’re back in Sayu after the intense ordeal in CA. Long drive and good to be back. A little south swell happening this week. The park is slowly emptying. Looks like you’ve found a few waves and bugs too. We’ll be going inland for semana santa next week, probably around Patzcuaro. Maybe we’ll run into you at some point on our way toward Colorado in May. Take care out there (I saw there was some Narco commotion in Celestino yesterday, but looks like you missed it).

    — Ron & Jill

  4. lianadevine said,

    July 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Love the sign: “Welcome Tourists Tourism is the New Reality”.

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