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.
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.
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.
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.
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