Friday, April 2, 2010

NoMa - The City Of Lost Souls

Hang on, where the hell is NoMa? It is a land of lost souls north of WeMa, EaMa and SoMa.

NoMa is the snappy txtmsgN nomenclature chosen by magazine editors and marketing people in Mazatlán to describe an area of Mazatlán roughly situated around La Marina and Sabalo Cerritos that is rapidly being turned into a microcosm of modern North America – restaurants, pizzerias, coffee shops, high rise apartments and artificial lakes that used to be home to nature.

After the shenanigans of April Fool's Day we took a Toreos bus and hopped out on top of a hump back bridge on Avenida Sabalo Cerritos. Overlooking the Marina we could see across the razor wire and high brick walls that surround the NoMa residences of modern houses uniform in design with a patch of grass out front and a patch out back. Interspersed amongst the finished buildings were half built skeletons of brick and wire and piles of dirt and overturned wheel barrows and empty bags of cement. A guard sat asleep in a guardhouse next to a big gate.

Further on we can see high-rise condos with large banners draped across the entire frontage – For Sale and one pronounced it was SOLD! Almost like winning a gold medal at the Olympics. I was expecting to hear The Star Spangled Banner and see a Star and Stripes being hoisted up one of the numerous flagpoles.

Outwards in all directions across scrubby and thorny tracts of land were interspersed gated high-walled concentration camps of uniform modern houses with For Sale signs everywhere.

A golf course cut out the scrub to the left and just down the road a blue stylised sculpture of a dramatically leaping marlin proudly proclaimed PACIFICA! Yet more tall apartments overlooking a circle of water. The apartments draped with colourful banners shouting at everyone to INVEST, INVEST! VIVÉLO! Live what? A marketing person's vision of your future. Living behind high walls and razor wire.

And on street level behind more brightly coloured banners sat construction machinery idly waiting. I pressed my nose against the window of the flashy marketing suite with its nautical motifs but it was locked and empty.

Dodging traffic we crossed Av. Sabalo Cerritos we came upon a lonely mall of three high walls hiding the surrounding thorny scrub splattered with rubbish, the ubiquitous cement bags and paper caught in the thorns of trees. Inside a restaurant called Bengali and a coffee shop called SoleMare, both empty with waiters in aprons lounging outside waiting for custom and a small supermarket Scorpio 2 and Scorpio 3 and the other shops empty.

Already feeling depressed by the emptiness and lack of soul this place called NoMa exuded we chased down a Cerritos bus heading for SoMa or is it WeMa or EaMa.

NoMa is American living. Take Phoenix Az. for example, it is a rapidly expanding city outwards into the desert like a Big Bang. People want to live there to get away from the crime of LA or the weather and the crowds of the Big City East and play golf so the city expands to accommodate them. First streets are built then houses next to them and a mall is placed conveniently close by and filled with coffee shops and branches of businesses that are in every other mall dotted around Phoenix and desert sucking golf courses. It is clean and easy to park and familiar. But that formula also spells soulless, boring, uninspiring and unstimulating. However as many new American towns have been built to that formula it is part of the way of life and it tends to be exported when we invest in developments in other countries. So here in NoMaz that is what you get. Many people will feel comfortable with it but for this writer it is an example of the slow creep of a monoculture based on an American way of life, a community of people hiding behind walls. Only going out to drink coffee or take a meal. The reality is that they are making themselves prisoners in their own lives.


In the future that thorny land between high walled developments may be built upon and the gated communities may fill up but I know for certain that most of those new restaurants and coffee shops we see today will have packed up and long gone and new ones may have taken their place or there may be For Sale signs on the front windows. But NoMa will still lack soul and be uninspiring. But if that suits you why not come here and VIVÉLO!!!!

Or Mazatlán?

We here at MazReal would like it if they gave the Mexican names back – La Marina and Sabalo Cerritos.
We may even start a campaign - NoMore NoMa!! However the staff at MazReal are a lazy good-for-nothing bunch so they will probably not get around to it.


To give a balanced picture we ought to mention that the English exported their lifestyle to half the globe for over 400 years as did the French and the Spanish. The English, their global vision somewhat reduced these days, are doing it now in southern Spain (they even had the clout to elect an Englishman as mayor in one big expat community), the Germans on the Spanish Canary Islands, 380 cultures are exporting their lifestyles to London as are the white South Africans and to anywhere else that will have them, the North Africans in Paris and the Turkish people to Germany, Koreans to Seattle and the Chinese in Las Vegas, Indonesia and Africa. The list goes on. So as not to make the Canadians feel left out, they are doing it in a small bar on the Malecón. The one with a maple leaf on the outside.


  1. AMEN!!! (and I'm not even religious)

  2. Fabulous Photo-blog! Keen eyes, witty text. I love all of Mazatlan, thanks for reminding me why.


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