It’s been a couple of weeks since we left Topo, but I’m looking back and want to share more about the city and its citizens. I’ve uploaded pictures on the blog, under the “Sailing photos” tab.
The marina and city are 14 miles in from the sea. There are breakers during low or ebbing tide across the shoals. Once inside the channel, it’s a piece of cake. The large bay has a dredged channel for the petroleum ships. Off the main channel lies the secondary channel, be prepared to have a second person with binoculars glued to their head to find the buoys and keep a very close eye on the depth sounder! The marina is off the second channel when you locate it, and will take you across very shallow water in some places. Be sure to go in on the high slack water. Beware of the garbage floating that also resembles homemade buoys, they look the same!
The city is built around and on top of a large rock hill. The main road circles the hill, the oldest part of town is in ruin and very dirty. The “newer” portion is a little more kept and cleaner, that’s where the restaurants are, closer to the newly built malecon. Palm and banyan trees grow everywhere. Chickens and stray dogs roam freely around the homes and streets. Friendly folks live here but very little English if at all. We felt safe walking the streets despite being linguistically challenged and very obviously “out of place”.
Very few Gringos travel to this remote city. The community is comprised of local farm workers, laborers from the gas plant, shop keepers and bus drivers. Most of the city is run down, homes have fallen to disrepair, littered with tons of plastic trash, stray dogs, broken down sidewalks, and dirt streets. And yet, the government spent an overwhelming amount of money creating a malecon along the bay hoping to bring tourists. They overlooked the peoples’ homes and daily needs, the need to collect trash, educate the citizens to reduce the usage of plastic, create a sewer treatment plant, help build local infrastructure that could sustain those who sit unemployed on the malecon. The government made another tremendous error in overlooking the dirty bay that can’t even sustain fish, that is so murky you’re afraid to touch the water for fear of contamination, further reducing the appeal to boaters who help create jobs and enhance the livelihood of a port city.
The reputation of corrupted Sinaloa state officials continue to drive Topo further into financial distress. The drug cartel made Los Mochis (15 miles away) and surrounding areas their home. Travel sites will try to deter you from visiting. I’m sure there are well founded reasons. You see it in the marina. 50′ yachts that have U.S hailing ports look suspicious, the local owners drive into the parking lot in expensive imported cars. They have money that doesn’t come from farming or rental properties in Topo, that is a for sure.
We ate at a restaurant and our happy waiter spoke perfect English. He was about 20 years old and talkative. We asked him how he mastered the English language so well. He said he grew up in California but was deported about 2 years ago. He was sent back to Topo to live with relatives. It was a sad story. But he was excited to serve us as we were the only Gringos to ever eat there. He added that very few tourists even come to Topo.
Aside from the poverty and primitive living conditions, I loved Topo. The people are kind and proud, they quickly give you a warm smile, greet you with respect, and welcome you to their home. I felt very connected to them. There is so much natural beauty in the vicinity. As the sun sets the large bay shimmers below the cactus covered mountains. The air is clean, the sky is beautiful blue, it’s sunny and warm, the food is fresh from the fields, the locals live a simple life. Sunday is family day at the malecon. Music, food carts, kids play on the playground equipment, cars drive through the small town with their radios blaring enjoying the evening air, it’s a festive time. They laugh and play to make up for the strife on other days. I would love to see the Topo citizens, the underdog city rise up from poverty level, they deserve it.
We found an apartment for rent, fully furnished too! Not sure we’d really consider living in Topo, but most certainly leaving Konami there in the marina for a short time would be just fine. Out of the hurricane zone, a dedicated dock worker to look after her in our absence and very cheap compared to expensive marinas such as LaPaz or Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re traveling through Mexico, look to some of the outlying cities for the real flavor of the people and culture, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.