Travel Documents [top]
the exterior of the US consular agency in Mazatlán As of January, 2007 the rules for entering and exiting the USA have changed. You now must have a Passport. , If you fly in, you will be given a tourist card, which you need to fill out and present to the immigration officials. This tourist visa is valid for 180 days, and you will be given a carbon copy of it. Do not lose this copy. Yes, they will let you out, but it will be a big hassle, and you may miss your plane if you discover that it is missing at the airport. Should you find yourself in distress, the US and Canadian consular agents are here to help you. Pictured at the left is the office of the US Consular Agency in Mazatlán. The current consular agent is John Palmerin. They are here to assist you if you lose your travel documents, have a medical emergency, get arrested, or just about any other distressing situation. No, they can't get your money back for that timeshare you just bought, but they will do what they can to help. Their offices are right across the street from each other, near the Hotel Playa. It is best to call ahead and make an appointment if you can. The US consular agency's phone number is 916-5889 and their hours are Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm. Patti's private emergency cell phone number is 044-669-918-0303. The Canadian consular agency's phone number is 913-7320, and their fax is 914-6655. Their office hours are 9am to 1pm. John's email address is mazagent@prodigy.net.mx
Guns [top]

Guns and ammunition are illegal in Mexico. You can do some serious jail time if you are caught bringing any kind of weapon or bullets into the country without getting the proper documentation first. The possession of a single weapon or bullet carries a penalty of up to five years in a Mexican prison. Just recently there was a story in the news about an American who made a wrong turn and unintentionally entered Mexico with a hunting rifle in his car. He was immediately arrested and taken to jail, even though he had no intention of even entering Mexico. He was very lucky, for it only took him about a week to clear things up and get released. Any tourist who doesn't admit to possessing a firearm, and is caught with one, will be treated as an arms smuggler and will be ineligible for bail. Do yourself a favor, and don't pack any heat when you cross the border.

Money [top]
Dollars, both US and Canadian, and pesosare freely convertible, so there is no reason to change money in the US before you come down here. In fact, by my experience, the conversion rates that you get in the US are much lower than what you will get down here. Once here, you can exchange dollars or travelers checks for pesos at any bank or "cambio" which is a small business that only exchanges money. Cambios are all over the place in Mazatlán, you won't have any trouble finding one.
Don't change money at the airport. Every time I have gone there, the rate they give you is significantly lower than what is available downtown. You can pay for your taxi or bus transportation with dollars, and wait until you get into Mazatlán to change the bulk of you money. Also, I suggest that you not exchange your dollars at the hotel, or try to use them at individual stores. The exchange rates they offer are generally significantly lower than those of the banks and cambios.

One more recommendation: It never ceases to amaze me that tourists will stand in line at a bank to exchange money for hours, rather than go to a casa de cambio right next door and buy pesos without waiting. The largest spread I have ever seen between a bank and a casa de cambio is .10 pesos, or 10 centavos, and often the bank rate is slightly lower than the cambio rate. Why, I don't know, but it is. Now let's do the math. Say you are going to exchange $1000 dollars, which is probably a lot more than most of you tourists are going to exchange. The difference between a cambio and a bank would amount to 100 pesos, which currently is about 13 dollars. If you are exchanging $100 dollars it would be $1.30. Is that worth standing in line for? It's your vacation, you decide.

On the subject of ATM machines, they do exist in Mazatlán, almost every large bank and even some supermarkets have them. You can use them to withdraw money from your account back home and get cash pesos in your hot little hand. You will also find that most restaurants, many shops, and all the hotels take VISA and MasterCard. So don't worry about money, these clever Mexicans are prepared to relieve you of yours in all of its forms, and with great convenience to you.

ATM Scam Warning

There is a new scam in town. It works as follows. Usually, after a bank is closed, you put your debit card into an ATM and gulp, the card is swallowed but nothing happens. You then notice a sign on the wall that says something to the effect of if your card is stuck, please enter your pin number three times and press cancel. You will also notice one or two usually pretty and always nice young ladies who just happen to appear to assist you. Following the directions, you proceed to enter your pin, press cancel, and unfortunately nothing happens. The ladies than reassure you that all will be okay, just go into the bank (if it is open) or come back tomorrow (if it is closed) and your card will be waiting for you. After you leave, they retrieve your card with a piece of wire, and having watched you enter your pin number proceed to start making cash withdrawls all over town. This has just happened (April 2002) to a friend of ours, and the problem is so rampant that there have even been warnings written up in the local newspaper. Under no circumstances enter your pin number in any situation that "smells" fishy. Certainly never when you could possibly be observed.

There is another debit card scam going around. Apparently some enterprising crooks have gotten their hands on a device that allow them to clone debit cards. In some restaurants, you are presented with a little machine that reads your debit card and asks you to enter your pin. The device dutifully records all the info it reads from you card, as well as the pin you type in. That night, or the next day, the thief goes on a spending spree at your expense. My advice, is that until further notice, do not use a debit card anywhere, ever. (That includes the USA and Canada, as these devices supposedly come from Canada.)

You can see what pesos look like before you get here, and learn about the people who appear on the current crop of peso notes. They range from bandits to nuns, and provide an interesting glimpse into the national heroes of Mexico.

The following table gives you a peso to dollar conversion table. The numbers in the peso column are the denominations of the currently available bills. The most popular bills are the 100 and the 50 peso note, so if you remember those conversion rates, you should have little or no trouble in figuring out the prices in dollars. The conversion rate I quote is what I see on the signs of the various cambios that line the main avenue. It is generally lower that what you see in the New York Times, which quotes the interbank rate. I will endeavor to keep the following table up to date.


This table was generated on March 10, 2012

Exchange Rate is 12.6415 pesos to the US dollar.
and 0.9906 pesos to the Canadian dollar.
Pesos500200100502010
US39.5515.827.913.961.580.79
Canadian504.74201.90100.9550.4720.1910.09
These are most popular denominations you will find in Mexico. Please note: This data was generated by downloading the official exchange rate. The local banks and cambios rates are typically 5% less.
TippingYou know, it feels nice to be generous, but it really starts to bug me when I go to Las Vegas and the guy who opens the taxi door for you reaches his hand out for a tip. On the other hand, I feel good about giving a generous tip to the guy who carries my bags for me or the waiter who is attentive. In Mexico, I think you'll find that the people who make a living on tips earn every peso they make. I'll let you in on a little secret, a lot of these people who are working for you, like the maids, porters, cleaning crew, etc. make about 4-5 dollars per day , so if you hand them an extra dollar or two, you are contributing a substantial amount to their income. There is nothing like travelling to some other countries to realize how fortunate we are to be living in the US, so please, take the opportunity to act like generous ambassadors of a rich and powerful country and make sure you tip the people who are making your stay in Mexico a pleasant one. If we ask someone to move one of those beach tables, chairs, or umbrellas, we are happy to tip the young man doing the lifting. Even the guy who hands out the towels, who doesn't expect a tip, will be a happy man if you decide to show your appreciation by giving him a dollar. We always try to bring about 20-50 one dollar bills and use them for tips during our stay. That way you will never get confused about the different bills, and you will always know exactly how much you are giving. ElectricityThe electricity in Mexico is the same as the electricity in the USA, 110 volts, 60 cycles. The only difference that you may find down here is that most electrical outlets only have two prongs.If your equipment requires a third ground wire, you may have difficulty plugging it in and should probably bring an adapter. Two-prong polarized plugs are fine.
Don't ever take a very close look at the wiring down here. I'll be kind and call it creative. Fortunately all of the buildings down here are made out of brick and concrete so fire isn't much of a hazard.
WaterThis is one of my favorite pet peeves with tourists down here. For some reason, many tourists refuse to add ice to their drinks, and grill each restaurant they dine in about their water supply. Unless you are in the habit of drinking the standing water that may collect in puddles in the streets, you are really going to have to make an effort to get sick drinking the water down here. Any restaurant you might frequent is going to have purified water and ice. Remember, the primary industry in Mazatlán is tourism, and what kind of repeat business would a hotel or restaurant get if it was in the business of poisoning it's customers? So relax, and enjoy yourself. After all, you're on vacation aren't you? AlcoholWondering what the drinking age is in Mazatlán? Officially I think it is 18, though unofficially it is probably around 4. I have never seen anyone here refused to be served, even though to me they looked considerably younger than 18. Of course, not that I'm on the slippery side of 40, everyone is starting to look a lot younger to me suddenly. Groceries Nadine standing in front of Sam'sThere are lots of places to shop for groceries in Mazatlán. There are mini supermarkets everywhere, as well as large supermarkets like Soriana and Commercial Mexicana and Plaza Ley's. But life changed forever for us in 1996 with the opening of Sam's Club. The price, quality, and selection is better than anywhere else in Mazatlán. If you are planning on staying for a week or more, make Sam's your first stop for grocery shopping and you'll probably find what you are looking for. You may have to buy more than you really need, but if you have anything leftover, I'm sure your maid will be happy to receive it as a gift when you leave. If you aren't a member, you can get a one day guest pass at the membership desk, but only if you're a Canadian. If you're from the USA, you must either have a USA membership card, or you'll need to buy a full membership at the desk.
Take a close look at the expiration date labelon whatever food item you might be buying. Even the large stores, like Soriana, and Sam's have been known to paste another label with a later date over a previously existing label in order to be able to move the merchandise.
Local TimeMexico follows the same pattern as its big brother up north when it comes to messing with the clocks. Daylight saving time in Mexico, (and in the USA until 2007) starts the first Sunday in April and ends the last Sunday in October. However, starting in 2007, Daylight saving time in the US begins at 2am on the second Sunday in March, and reverts to standard time on the first Sunday in November. Thus it looks like Mexico will be out of syncwith its northern neighbor for a few weeks each year. Otherwise, Mazatlán is always the same as Mountain time, or one hour later than San Francisco. Want to know what time it is in Mazatlán, right now? TelephonesThe quality of the phone service in Mazatlán is first rate, but it is very expensive. The public phones generally only accept phone cards, which you can purchase at many grocery stores and even the airport. Coin operated phones are pretty rare these days. You can connect with an international operator by dialing 090. Yes, they speak English. Finally, if you are using a private phone, the prefix for dialing the USA is 001, following by the area code and number. To dial Mazatlán from the USA, dial 011-52-669 followed by the 7 digit local phone number.

Speaking of phones, I've compiled a little table that should get you through just about any emergency. Why not print it out and take it with you.


Emergencies 066 Tourist Info 916-5160
01-800-903-9200
Fire Department 981-2769
981-3600
City Police 080
983-4510
986-6585
Traffic Police 983-2816 State Police 985-5311
Highway Patrol 980-6880
980-6879
Blood Bank 984-0262 Red Cross 065
981-3690
Consumer Affairs (Profeco) 982-5200 Water Department 073
982-1544
981-2325
Electric Company 071
01-800-69-9500
Sharp Hosptial 986-5677 Social Security Headquarters 987-7866 Drug Rehab 986-1861
Attorney General 982-1237
982-0262
City Hall 982-2111 Mayor's Office 982-2111 x 2120
Teacher's Social Security 984-8621
986-3914
986-3343
Secretary of Education 984-7938 Government Secretary 982-2801
State Housing 982-4722
982-4743
Federal Election Board 916-5367
916-5368
Humane Society 986-4235
Lions Club 983-2800 Mazatlán Airport 982-2399 American West 981-1184
Alaska Air 985-2730 Aero California 913-2041 Mexicana 982-2888
Continental 985-1881 Bus Station 982-8351 Ferry to La Paz 981-7020
US Consulate 916-5889 Canadian Consulate 916-7320 Belgium Consulate 985-1466
Finland Consulate 981-3907 Italian Consulate 985-1478 German Consulate 982-2809
French Consulate 985-1228 Alanon Meetings 914-0033
986-1864
American Legion 988-0406

Dialing 800 numbers in the USA

In the past (before February 2003) it was impossible to dial a toll free number in the USA, even if you were willing to pay for it. Well now you can finally make such call, though you will have to pay a per minute fee. Here is the secret handshake you will need:
1-800 Conversions
USA Mexico
1-800 001-880
1-888 001-881
1-877 001-882
1-866 011-883
That's simple enough, isn't it?

Unlike the USA, when you dial a cell phone user in Mexico, the caller pays, not the receiver. You can tell this is happening to you because local cell phone numbers always begin with 044. Well, starting Nov. 4, 2006, you can now call (and pay) cell phones that are not in your local area. To dial a long distance cell phone number from a phone in Mexico, you need to prefix the number with 045. To dial a cell phone from north of the border, you must dial a 011-521 prefix. Now isn't that just so user friendly?

Taxis and Busses [top]
Taxis are convenient, plentiful, and inexpensive; plus you don't need to know where you are going. There are two taxi fleets in Mazatlán, the Red & White and the Green & White Eco Taxis. Both are quite new, with comfortable seats, fully enclosed, and air conditioned. Generally $30 to $50 pesos will get you anywhere about town. There are also open air taxis, called pulmonias, which scurry about everywhere. Some of them have stereo systems that will knock your socks off. They are generally a little more expensive than the fleet cabs, but are part of the Mazatlán experience.
Always decide on your fare before you get in the taxi, that way they can't hold you up for ransom(anything over $50 pesos) when you get to your destination.

The busses are another convenient way of getting around. The Sábalo Centro line runs from the heart of downtown, through the golden zone, and continues to the North. The cost is about $5 pesos to $7 pesos, depending on the time of day and the bus that you board.. The air conditioned Mercedes busses cost about $7.00 pesos. You should probably avoid these during rush hour (from 5pm to 7pm) because they tend to fill up quickly and you will definitely know what kind of deodorant your fellow passenger isn't using. If you are in the golden zone and want to go to another part of the golden zone, any bus that runs in your desired direction will stop pretty close to where you want to go, so just jump on. Also, the Cerritos Juarez bus stops at the Gran Plaza mall and the baseball stadium, and the Sábalo Cocos bus stops at the Soriana supermarket and Plaza Ley. The Sábalo Centro bus runs along the main road connecting the golden zone to old Mazatlán, and stops at the Cathedral and the Mercado. Finally the Playa Sur line will take you all the way down to the lighthouse. A map of the bus routesin Mazatlán is now available online. It is a large file, so please be patient. Try to carry change with you when you board. Driver's will make change, don't expect them to break a 100 peso bill. If you need to transfer to another bus, you will have to pay another fare. There is no such thing as a transfer here. To catch a bus, either wait at one of the designated bus stops or hail the bus by waving your arm when the driver is about a block away. Normally they will stop for you, unless they deem it unsafe to do so. For a cheap city tour, pick a bus line and ride to the end of the line. Then ride it back again. Unlike busses in most US cities, the busses in Mazatlán are cheap, frequent, and safe.

Take the bus whenever possible. We are both big believers in having mass on your side,and when driving in Mexico, this is a big advantage. Always remember, other than against a cement truck, the bus wins.

As a quick reference, here are some of the major routes and stops. I'm assuming your catching the bus in the golden zone and that the bus is heading southbound, towards old Mazatlán.

Sábalo Centro Aquarium
Fishman's Monument
Senor Frogs
The Mercado
The cathedral
Angela Peralta Theater
Plaza Machada
Olas Alta
Inf. Conchi Central Bus Station
Old Plaza Ley
Plaza Las Americas Cinemas
Red2000 Office
Cerritos Juarez Baseball Stadium
Gran Plaza Shopping Mall
Sam's Club
Urias Sábalo Sharp Hospital
Office Depot
Soriana Supermarket
Sábalo Cocos Sharp Hospital
Office Depot
Soriana
Plaza Ley
Walmart
Soriana's
Playa Sur Olas Altas
The Lighthouse

Want to know more about busses? There are over 350 of them in the city, and each is owned by its driver and driven along established routes set by the union, which oversees the busses. Drivers buy books of tickets 650 at a time, and are obligated to issue a ticket to each passenger that gets on the bus. Drivers get to keep 20% of the fares, with the remaining 80% going to the union. Occasionally, a union inspector will get on the bus to confirm that each passenger has a ticket, just to make sure the union is getting its 80%. In dollar terms, you are paying the driver less than a dime for the ride, so if you want to give him a little extra, it would certainly be appreciated. I never ask for change back whenever the fare isn't an exact number of pesos, and the drivers are always happy to pick me up.

Car Rentals [top]
There are quite a few car rental agencies in Mazatlán. In my opinion, the renting a car is expensive, and not very convenient. Unless you plan to do a lot of driving you are probably better off just hiring a van and a driver on a daily basis. They also know the easiest way to get from A to B, and can be a lot of fun and a fountain of knowledge. But if you insist you want a car, here are some agencies you can contact:
Budget Camarón Sábalo 402 Tel.- 913-2000
Price. Camarón Sábalo 224 Tel.- 986-6616
National. Camarón Sábalo 7000 Tel.- 913-6000
Hertz Camarón Sábalo 134 Tel.- 1 (800) 6954-3030
Avis. Camarón Sábalo 333-3 Tel.- 914-0040
AGA. Camarón Sábalo 316 Tel.- 914-4405

According to the 1998 published National Car Rental price sheet, there are two different rate plans, one that includes unlimited mileage and one that has a per kilometer charge. The per day car rentals range from $135 pesos per day plus $1.85 per kilometer for a VW bug to $520 per day and $3.65 per kilometer for a GM Suburban. The unlimited mileage plan ranges from $267pesos per day for the VW to $980 per day for the Suburban. Insurance is an extra $95 per day and there is a 15% VAT tax on top of that. You need to be at least 25 years old, with a valid driver's license and a major credit card. All of these prices are as of Nov. 1998 when the peso is at $9.80 to the US dollar. I can tell you that even $135 pesos will buy you a lot of taxi rides.

Pets [top]
A 4 pound chihuahua crouching and ready to pounce. Crickets beware One of the great things about traveling to Mexico is how easy it is to bring your little doggie or kitty into the country. We have two cats and three dogs,so we speak from experience. All you need to bring them into the country is an up to date health certificate, which should be available from any vet in the US. There are a couple of gotchas, however. First your health certificate should be issued within 5 days of entry. We have been known, in our earlier lawbreaking days, to alter the date on the certificate ourselves. So far the FBI has not caught up with us. Second, each person is only permitted to bring in two pets. Since we travel with three (two dogs and a doglet) we have the vet in the US put Nadine's name on two of the certificates, and my name on the other one. That way we comply with the two pets per person rule. We have found most of the restaurants here very tolerant of our little Gatita dog. You'll have to check with your hotel as to their pet policy, but most vacation rental houses will permit them. Maybe your beloved little friend deserves a vacation as well!

To go in the other direction, ie from Mexico to the USA, all you need is a recent (again 5 day) health certificate. In our experience, the customs officials in the US don't check as thoroughly as their counterparts in Mexico.

The Pacific Pearl [top]
The yellow on blue logo of the Pacific Pearl newspapers, now at a location near you This is a wonderful little English newspaper that is published once a month and available free at many locations. It always has interesting articles about what is going on in Mazatlán, as well as loads of tourist tips and local advertising. Now you can reach them via email at yooper@pacificpearl.com Their local phone number is (669) 913-0117, and foreign subscriptions are available for only $28 dollars per year. They have their own www site at http://www.pacificpearl.com New in 2000, now you can subscribe to their online edition for only $12.99 per year. They are making the entire edition available as a PDF file online. In order to subscribe, please make your check payable to Michael J. Veselik, and send it to:
In the US:
413 Interamerica Blvd. WH1
PMB 15-345
Laredo, TX
78045
In Mexico:
Mail Boxes Etc.
PO Box 345
Mazatlán, Sinaloa
82110
Mike has published his own excellant guide to Mazatlán. Copies are available at the Pacific Pearl Office. It is very handy, with excellant info, and designed to be put in your pocket or your purse so that you can refer to it as you explore Mazatlán

I would like to thank the Pacific Pearl for their permission to allow me to reproduce their tourist maps of Mazatlán for my WWW site. Thank you Michael and Maricha!

The Mazatlán Messenger [top]
The green and white logo of the Mazatlán Messenger Newspaper Another friend of mine, Maureen Dietrich, decided to get in the newspaper business in late 2008. She and her team have put together a first class semi-weekly newspaper, called The Mazatlán Messenger. It is availble at about forty different locations throughout Mazatlán, and contains timely and interesting articles about current events. Marureen tackles things that are little discussed in other publications, for example her lead article in the Jan 11 2009 issue talks about a guy arrested for real estate fraud. We happen to know a little about this case, and were that told the victim knew he was in trouble when he bought the entire fifth floor of a new condo development going up in Mazatlán, and witnessed the workers starting to put on the roof after only four floors were completed. You can contact Maureen at maureend@mazatlanmessenger.com, and her office is at:
2108 Avenida Camarón Sábalo #2
(in front of Pueblo Bonito Hotel)
Mazatlán, Sinaloa, 82100
Tel: 913-0050
Mazatlán's Internet Connection [top]
Recently we flew back from the CES show in Las Vegas, and met a nice woman who was coming to Mazatlán for a bridge tournament. Apparently she had made a bunch of money recently speculating on Qualcom options trading. She was so worried that she wouldn't be able to keep on top of her trading activity, that she closed out all her positions before getting on the plane. She went so far as to buy a celluar modem so that she could connect while she was here.

Mexico may be a third world country, but it has a first world communications system. There are three different internet service providers here. They are Red2000, Telmex,the phone company, and Megared,the cable company. There are also several internet cafes in the Golden zone, where you can send and receive email or surf the web.

My local ISP is Red2000, which has been my provider since 1996. Why? Because where I live, we don't have cable access, and because Noe and Moises, two brothers who started Red2000, have always been more than helpful to me and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep their customers happy. Also Nadine and I are basically loyal. They currently have about 100 lines, and feature a one week unlimited access account in case you are in a place where you have a phone line available. Most hotels go through a PBX, and you may not be able to connect through your room. Their voice number is 011-52-669-985-3733, and there is always someone there who speaks English. You can also visit their offices at Plaza Las Americas, which any taxi driver can take you to, and connect via their LAN for blazingly fast access.

2002 Update I have arrived in DSL heaven! Telmex, the local phone company came over and hooked me up with an ADSL line. It is a little pricey when compared to a dial up line. The installation is around $300US, and the monthly fee is around $50US, but to a nerd like me, it is worth every penny. The installers came over and did a great job. My wiring is, how shall I put it, a bit custom, but they perservered and got everything hooked up, even though it took them almost all day and they had to call in a senior installer to help. Now a word of caution to all you Linux users out there, yes both of you! When you order DSL, which Telmex calls Infinitum, you must tell the operator that you are using a lesser operating system that eminates from Redmond, otherwise they won't even come out and install anything. However, don't despair, all you need is your username and password, and you can be up and running under Linux in 5 minutes.

There are lots of internet cafes around, just walk down the street and keep your eyes open. They are always opening and closing, and I can't really keep up with them. Chrissy's Hair Salonhas a nice coffee shop and a bunch of terminals set up, and has been in the same place for many years now. There are also several places around where you can have open wireless access. In El Centro, these are: Memorial Cafe, Deli 28, Altazor Cafe, Shrimp Bucket, The Melville, the lobby of the Belmar Hotel, and the lobby of the Freeman Hotel. In the golden zone, wireless access is available at McDonalds, Rico's Cafe, Heather's Place,Purple Onion, and the lobby of the Costo de Oro hotel.

In addition to these cafes, there are several little stores that offer telephone, postal mail, and email services, so don't worry if you come to Mazatlán you can still connect up to your email account back home and get all those important messages that you just can't live without, like those once in a lifetime money-making opportunities that I'm sure are in your IN box right now. On second thought, maybe you should just hang out at the beach.

Getting Married in Mazatlán [top]
A friend of mine, Jackie Peterson, was kind enough to give me permission to take advantage of her well done research into how to get married here in Mazatlán. I would also like to thank the Pacific Pearl for allowing me to use the article she wrote in their March 1998 issue on this subject.

First of all, let me dispel a rumor that I hear all the time. A wedding performed in Mexico is just as legal as a wedding performed in the USA, Canada, or any other country. It is recognized worldwide, so don't think you can get out of it when you sober up the next morning. Now to the practical aspects. The only wedding that is officially recognized here is the civil wedding, which is performed by assistant judge Nancy Llanes Beltran. Couples often go on to have a religious wedding performed by a priest, but these have no legal standing. The first hurdle that you have to clear is to find the office of Civil Registry. This is where official copies of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces are kept. It is located on the second floor of a building one block north of the city bus depot. Tell the taxi driver to take you to the Transito cerca de Central Camionera. The Transito office is at the back of the courts building. Go to the back door and up the stairs, turn left and the Registry is the corner office just a few steps away from the stairway. Get in line and wait for your turn with the clerk. Yes, that is a manual typewriter she is using, and yes, that is indeed carbon paper. Makes you wish you were the local Xerox rep, but that is the way it is. One of the forms that they require is an abbreviated prenuptial agreement. By the way, all of the forms as well as the wedding ceremony itself are in Spanish, so if you don't read and speak any Spanish, you will make things simpler for yourself if you bring someone along who does. You need to decide what you are going to do with the property you already own individually, as well as any outstanding debts. (I suggest that in order to save yourselves time and trouble during the divorce, you just agree right away that the wife receive all of the property, and the husband receive all of the debts.) You will also need a bunch of official paper work. These are:

  1. Either birth certificates or passports as proof of identity.
  2. Divorce decrees if either partner has been married before.
  3. Your tourist card.
You will need to provide copies of each of these documents that will be kept here at the civil registry. Additionally the application form asks you for the following information:
  1. The names, addresses and nationalities of each of the parents
  2. Then names, addresses, nationalities, and ages of each of four witnesses
  3. The results of a premarital blood test.
I suggest you get the blood test done here, since if you have it done in the US or Canada, you will need to get it certified here by the local health department, which is an extra step. You can have it done at Sharp hospital. The test screens for AIDS, venereal diseases and blood type. The cost for the blood test is around $60 USD. Also, if you are short on witnesses, ask the staff at your hotel. They are usually happy to oblige. In a real pinch, look around the room and ask the secretaries and other around to fill in for the moment.

Okay, you've gotten the blood test, made the copies, filled out the forms, now you're ready to pay the fee and get married. The current fee is around $75 USD if you get married by the assistant judge at the civil registry, or $120 USD if you want to assistant judge to go somewhere else, say the beach, the hotel garden, Senor Frogs, wherever. This fee includes the taxes, license, form processing, and transportation for the judge. None of this fee goes into the judge's pocket, so you if would be nice if you included a little extra something for her trouble. This is not required, but would certainly be appreciated. If you want any extra "official" copies of your local marriage documents, (and you do) they cost around $4 USD each. This whole process can be done in one day, but more realistic is to do the paperwork one day and arrange for the ceremony on another. Needless to say, weekends are very busy in the local marriage business, so if you want the judge to travel somewhere of your choosing, a weekday and advance arrangements would be advised. Judge Nancy Llanes Beltran speaks very little English, but will do her best to make sure your wedding is smooth and pleasant. You can call her at 982-4488 extension 131 weekdays between 8am and 3pm, which are the same hours as the office of the public registry. Now maybe I can convince Jackie to do some research on Mexican divorces.

Getting help when you're not here [top]
My friend Moises Romero has just started (March 2002) a new servicethat tries to help people who aren't in Mazatlán get things done down here. For example, if you buy something and have it shipped to you, or deliver something to someone down here, or perhaps try to find that long lost best friend you met on the beach, this might be just the thing for you.
Finding a Church [top]
As you can imagine, you can worship in any manner you choose, as long as you are Catholic. Well, not quite. Here is a list of the religious services available in Mazatlán.
Templo de Cristo Rey
Canonero Tampico y German Evers
Tel: 985-1604
Temple de la Sagrada Familia
Cisne #2, Fracc. Gaviotas
Tel: 913-5287
English Mass Sunday at 9am
Sunday Mass for Tourists
Hotel Playa Real
Tel: 913-1111
Sunday 10 am
Cristo Redentor Luterano
Carvajal $1205, Sur Centro
Tel: 981-3636
Sunday 5 pm, Spanish Only
Iglesia Adventista del 7o. Dia
Rio Evora y Trop. de Cancer
Colonia Estero.
Tel: 985-2511
Chruch of Christ
Juan de la Barrera #1401
Colonia Olimpica
Sunday 10am 4pm, Wednesday 4pm
Jehovah's Witnesses English Congregation
Avenida de la Marina $899
Tel: 913-2428
Sunday 3pm
Vinyard Christian Fellowship
Camarón Sábalo #333-32
Tel: 916-5114, Vonage: 210-587-7342
English Sundays 9am, Spanish 11am
Iglesia Cristiana Congregational Church
5 de Mayo y Melchor Ocampo
Tel: 985-1607
English 9am (Jan-Mar)
La Iglesia de Jesuchristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias
Rafael Dominguez #401
Colonia Palos Prietos
Tel: 982-8396
Ejecito de Salvacion
Gutierrez Najera #514
Tel: 982-3453
New Apostolic Church
Tel 983-9716
Sunday 10am
San Judas Tadeo
Avenida Mojarra #55
Fracc. Sábalo Country
Tel: 916-6246
Sunday 9am
Catedral Basilica
Benbito Juarez y Canizales
Tel: 981-3352
Spanish Only
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Quote of the day:
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
Unknown

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