Category Archives: review

Mazatlan’s Unsettling Beginnings: The First Street

New Recruit Cheryl the Walker D Angelo and myself are off to investigate the Barrio of Skulls , the Chapel Miraculous, ghosts, rumors and tales. We have our marching papers,  Chief investigator Bette Schwarz has sluiced the Con Agua Report from  the internet in her relentless search for the truth. She also holds dear several books by Oses Cole that are probably priceless by now.

As we trudge along, I explain to Cheryl that me and “Babel Fish” aim to unravel  research written in Spanish in hopes that  our visitors will be dazzled by  “tidbits of history” we extract.  How great to expand the mind!  I’ll say, “Guess  what happened here?” And everyone will love it. Right Cheryl?

When I use that line with Bette, she scolds me about my ghost book, saying  “if you torture the data long enough, you can get it to confess to anything! Ghosts even.” I remind her that I am from Friday Harbor. I grew up listening to Joe Friday. “Just the facts Maam.But I say it with a wink. Bette has her eye on me—you know, she likes to tell it like it is. And was!

The Grid? What Grid?

“ Cheryl points out “that the streets we are walking along curve, and some of them disappear all together because they are not laid out on a grid but follow the mud line of high tide in the estuaries and the beach.  Never fear, our gal Cheryl has her feet on the ground. She has been reading a fascinating thesis written by Dr. Leticia Alvarado Fuentes and is fast becoming an expert on  how the original streets were named.

The Midas Touch Wins Out

Yep-Mazatlán  was great for hiding pirates, treasures and a specialized type of antelope called “hooded deer”almost extinct now. At the beginning 17th Century attempts to settle in however were twice abandoned,  the hills and estuaries dubbed “unlivable. “Historians say the soil was salty, the water was “not acceptable as water goes, lest to ingest it “and it smelled bad too. Dangerous bugs, monsters and rats lived in the estuaries. Floods and YEEK! HURRICANES! But in the late 1500’s, silver and gold had been discovered in the foothills to the East. Overland transport to the Port of Acapulco was dangerous and expensive.  Mazatlan’s harbor was world class and deep enough for any boat in the 1600s. The place lacked water but had the “Midas Touch” so of course there was another attempt at settling in, and this third time was the charm.

The Principle Way

We are crossing Calle Belisario Dominguez,  aptly called “Principle”. This first trail  began with a nascent farmhouse called Puerto Viejo on San Felix Bay (today North Beach)and crossed Mazatlan to the sheltered inner harbor,  where tree trunk boats, each carrying up to 5 tons of fruits, seeds and livestock, plowed the estuary trade routes. Villa Union (where the first would-be settlers had built farms) and many other places where there was good water and rich soil for growing things, supplied  food and water to Mazatlan. It was a time when the estuaries were primary routes  for communication and supplies between tribes and towns. Everyone pitched in, the slaves and Indians that worked the fabled mines married in, and the First Town took the name: Mazatlán de los Mulatos. In distant Spain, visitors brought alarming news of  disorder, chaos, and terrible living conditions, but like a bad weed, the city sprang up. Urban sprawl spilled fast and faster across flood zones between the watchtower hills manned by the “brown Militia.” It was an out of control race, a material boom-time to “hurry-up” before Mexico thought about regulations and taxes!

Mazatlan! Mexico’s Fabulous Port on the Pacific

People called “mules” were bent double under the weight of precious metals headed out to the world. Every language was spoken except religion.  Not a lot of that. Nor was there reliable water enough to sustain a big brawling city. The early folks were not so interested in planning a great city as they were in “getting rich” and maybe “getting out” if need be, especially those from other nations. San Felix was crowded with ships coming mostly from Europe, Asia, and North America; proudly waving flags of England, France, Italy Holland, Spain, the Americas and Ecuador. Commercial houses spawned fabulous fortunes  from trade in silver and gold, opium and contraband. And the characters that came to Old Mazatlan ?  Salty, uncivilized, fearless, heroic and legendary! I remind myself that they walked these very streets and shiver to imagine such ghosts as they would be. By 1855 the very diverse population of Mazatlán was 6773 . Regional markets had grown to include the States of Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayuarit, Baja California and Alta california. Until the railroads gave ease of transport to inland cities, Mazatlán was Mexico’s most important Pacific port.

What’s Next?

Bette Schwarz is researching the water systems that served Mazatlán . And the streets? Cheryl says she is “On it!” Stay tuned to hear some tales about them as we head for the center of the old city and the Barrio of Skulls. As for me, I aim to solve the mystery of how that neighborhood got that name. Tune in next week for answers. Just the facts. Well, maybe a little fancy to add some flourish.

NEWS FLASH: The City is going to restore Panteon No. 2 to it’s original glory. Congratulations go to Joaquin Lopez Hernandez for his “Graveyard Tours” (called by fellow historians “stupendous citizen efforts”) that inspired Gringos, tourists and the Powers That Be!!!!! Hooray.  A city justly proud of Her History!!!!! Mazatlán!

I have written a song to celebrate!

You Do Not Walk Alone

Along avenues of heros
'N Streets that sing of praise
Watch tall waves on the seaside
Drench the sunset colors blaze

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Rolling echoes of the canons
Searing fire from the shells
Rise up nation bent on freedom
To the tolling of the bells

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

The green spark of salvation
Whirling skirts and stamping pride
Fiestas loud and merry
Jest that no one ever dies.

El Faro beams and flashes,
And the moon and streetlights glow
Walk the sacred streets at twilight
Walk deep purple streets at midnight
And you do not walk alone

Buy Now:

Hotel Belmar: the Ghost Has the Key

is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at: https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

ISBN:978-0-6921 139820 https://amzn.to/2pOpoMI

The Author will have books at the First Friday Artwalk in Mazatlan. Click here to read reviews. Until then, going fast. Call 981-8072.

Other books by S.K.Carnes

ISBN:978-0692-84685-8 amxn.to/2nasO9S
Click description 
ISBN:987-0692-85172-2 http:bit.ly/SoldiersJourney Available in paperback, as an audiobook and e-book Silver Medal from Readers Favorite
ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author Click description 

 

ISBN:978-0-9718600 2008 Golden Moonbeam Award. Available from author

Writing the Great American Novel!

(Featured Image courtesy of RedRoom.com)
  Writing my first novel was a truly unforgettable experience.

When I began this novel,
Booked a trip into my head,
The task nagged at me daily
Pulled me often from my bed,
Ripped asunder memory’s curtain,
Left me threadbare, weak, uncertain,
Chasing after, never knowing where I’m led.
Soon skeletons come creeping
From my closet to my page.
Lost in a sea of feeling,
Adrift in fear and rage,
Tis an impossible endeavor.
That will surely take forever
With no promise of succeeding and no wage!
I neglect my household duties,
Out of contact, out of sight.
My family may disown me,
Disturbed by what I write.
But lets forget the ticking clock,
For out beyond the writers block,
Words are waiting and may just come to light.
And now that it is finished, (See the Review below)
I’ve begun to write another book!
The Way Back  is in two e-book stores (all of them very soon).  Below is the link to Amazon’s Kindle where The Way Back is amazingly inexpensive . If you like it, please write a short review for Amazon and me.  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back

Rating: 5.0 stars

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers’ Favorite

The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey by S.K. Carnes tells the story of John Chapman, a World War I veteran with PTSD and a poet’s soul. He finds work as a farmhand with a dairy farming family who, in their own stalwart, beholden-to-no-one way, help him find the ‘way back’ to wellness and a happy life. The narrative is a kind of historical/poetic frame story, weaving together the lives of three generations of characters through the central prism of Chapman’s journal, found in a barn being torn down in present day Wisconsin and lovingly shared by the author as a tribute to Chapman.
The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey alternately features lush and lyrical narration, Chapman’s poems (copied from his journal), carefully researched historical and cultural references from World War I through the Great Depression and the dawning of World War II, and colloquial Wisconsin dialogue that is as heartwarming and educational as it is funny in that particularly wry Midwestern way that can only be depicted accurately by a native. S.K. Carnes is a gifted writer at the top of her game, capturing the images and episodes of an era and a heartland lifestyle that is rapidly vanishing from the American consciousness with a clarity and poetic vision that render the narrative unique and compelling. In an early glimpse of Chapman, Carnes describes her quiet hero as having “Muckelty-dun eyes rimmed in blue … eyes of that color could steal your heart away.” Prose like that does not come along every day!
The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.