Oysters with a pearl of wisdom in Mazatlan, Mexico

Oysters. For some, the ultimate delicacy, for others just another mollusk.

And whether you believe it’s a myth or a fact that about its aphrodisiac powers upon digestion, I think we all can agree, the fresher the better.  And nothing is fresher than pulled directly from ocean after you place that order. That is exactly what I found in Mazatlán.

With a city name that originates from the indigenous Nahuatl language, Mazatlán,  actually translates to “place of deer.” Yet today with access to some of the most abundant fishing, savory shrimps, and as I discovered fresh oysters, its nickname ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ seems way more appropriate.

And one afternoon on my travels in port, the quest was simple. Seafood.

buckets of fresh shrimp for sale

Every restaurant offers shrimps every which way. Buckets from the day’s catch fill the markets at prices of just over $1 per pound. And for lunch we ate many. Prepared different ways; grilled, fried, with spices, with sauces – even raw. All delicious.

But after our shrimp fest, a fellow travel writer yearned for oysters. He loved shrimp, but his passion, his ultimate, was the raw oyster.  And that became our next mission. Our driver and personal tour guide for the afternoon made a recommendation for an off-the-beaten-path stop. Definitely not on the tourist trail, yet the stop was right in the heart of the city.

the view up the coast in Mazatlan

Just as the Malecón ends and right before the Zona Dorada (the golden zone), one of the three neighborhoods of Mazatlan, a turn off  takes you to the beach. Whether still dirt, or just a dusty road, I can’t recall but the distance was short. And a few gentleman sat at the end on the steps to the beach just watching the pacific waves in the heat of the afternoon.

We placed our order after the typical greetings had been exchanged; oysters – a dozen to share. Two gentleman went off with a rubber tube to find (fish for) our oysters.  Not at a restaurant, we realized we also needed some cervezas.  Handing over enough pesos for an ochito (an 8 pack, beers come in 8 not 6), another gentleman ran to the corner store. His tip – to share in the beer.

men off to sea to fetch some oysters...

The men returned from the sea and our feast began. I began to think about the story of the investment banker and the fisherman.  I’ll summarize a  lesson I learned early in my Wall Street career:

A banker goes on vacation to Mexico and meets a fisherman. After seeing his plentiful catch, he explains to the fisherman that he has great opportunity. If  he works very hard, builds a business, then goes public (IPO) he can make a lot of money. He can become rich.


“Really, why?” replies the fisherman.


“Well, then you can retire, spend time with your family, and go fishing everyday.”


The fisherman smiled and said, “but that is what I do now.”

Something to ponder. Perhaps the pearl of wisdom found inside the oysters, perhaps a needed reminder for me.

oysters served

I always said I’d retire by 35. As I tasted a few oysters and sipped a cerveza, I realized I did. Sure I was working, but I had definitely retired. I was no longer chasing “society’s success,’ but had created my own view of it.  A view I really enjoyed that afternoon.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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  • Alicia

    I can smell the sea and taste the food… I thought for a moment I should promptly make my plan of retirement, and then I realised how happy I am doing what I am doing.

    Stay lucky my friend

    • http://www.stayadventurous.wordpress.com stayadventurous

      Alicia, Ah, yes, that is the key (and retirement really) finding and doing what you love, doing your passion. Suerte.
      stay adventurous, Craig

  • http://www.adventurouskate.com Adventurous Kate

    “What’s the secret, Max? You seem to have it figured out.”
    “I think you need to find what you love and do it for the rest of your life…for me, it’s going to Rushmore!”

    Great post. Hoping to begin the “retirement” process at 26. Which I’ll be a week from today.

    And those oysters look SENSATIONAL! Love oysters!!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.wordpress.com stayadventurous

      Kate, Good luck with retirement. Wish i started as early as 26, but I am not complaining. And thanks for the Rushmore reference, Max does seem to have it figured out…

      Also, do have yourself a fabulous birthday bash.

      stay adventurous,

  • http://www.wheresmrpeabody.com Mark

    I don’t like oysters and I don’t like to travel, but you might be putting some chinks in that armor.

    Great post!

  • http://www.jimmbudd.com Jimm Budd

    You must be right about freshness. I had oysters au gratin in Mexico City last week and the au gratin was better than the oysters. But we are a long way from the sea.


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  • Jane

    While you are working, live like you are retired. When you are retired, live like you are working.

    Sent with love from Maz

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