Being a good Texas boy, my only exposure to Mexico had been to the sleazy border towns, but now, in 1971, to see the budding metropolis of Mazatlan, its traffic, 500,000 inhabitants, now over a million, beautiful harbor and recent awakening to Gringo tourists, was a real eye opener for my ex wife and I.
Having moved to Phoenix in January, during the following summer all of our new friends were excited about Mazatlan, Mexico. At the time a quaint old town located on the mainland directly across the mouth of El Golfo from Cabo San Lucas. Their excitement was kindled because you could catch the Ferrocarril Del Norte (Iron Horse Of The North), ie tren or train, in Nogales, Mexico, right across the border from Nogales, Arizona. Then it was a 12, hour, plus or minus, overnight trip depositing the travelers in Mazatlan. Shopping and partying were the sports of most, but for me it was the fishing and finding out later, the fine hunting, too!
Our first trip’s accommodations were at the Playa Mazatlan, the best spot in town that only catered to wealthy Mexican families, but they did take U.S. dollars. It was right on the beach, clean rooms, but no air conditioning and once you got past the night sounds of Mexico, music, horns, laughter and the roaring surf, you slept like a log. Within a year of our first trip the Playa offered air conditioning.
Sleeping in the first morning, we got up and rented a “Yeep”, a Volkswagen Monster, then headed south from the Playa toward the harbor to set up a fishing trip. To the left, on the way to the harbor, as we rounded a long curve, there, on the corner of the first floor of a multi story building, was “El Shrimp Bucket”. Pulling a uwey I shouted “I’ve got to stop there,” and pulled in right in front.
There was an atrium inside the building, much like the atriums we have in our prime office space, but the first floor was a big patio, and to the left was “El Shrimp Bucket”. Little did I know that the patio was part of the restaurant, but 12 years later I would witness a very unusual display in that very patio, which is, as they say, another story.
Entering and picking a booth with an ocean view, we checked the menu. A bucket of shrimp for $4.95US and since it was 10:45 AM, why not enjoy lunch. Lunch was served and mine was a full bucket of fried shrimp, not as good as Clary’s or Casey’s in Galveston, but probably a close third. Out of this world fried onion rings and guacamole were served separately and washed down with Margaritas, it was a feast!
As we were leaving, I noticed a picture of John Wayne, my favorite, hanging over the door and he had signed the picture, as best I remember, “Best shrimp ever! Duke”. Having met him once in Las Vegas, but for the next 12 years, El Shrimp Bucket was my headquarters in Mazatlan, but I never saw “Duke” there.