Day Trip Outside of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico

Having been to Mazatlán for six years for the sun and surf I finally got curious as to what was in the mountains I had flown over so many times. It is worth a day trip to see the historical villages of Malpica, Concordia and Copala.

First of all, let me say that while these places are steeped in history, even pre-Spaniard history, these families do have electricity and television. If you see someone wearing traditional clothes it is either a costume or a celebration. I say this because some of the complaints of tourists is there aren’t enough old world residences to take photos of. This would be like if I came to your town, grabbed your niece and wanted to see her in wooden shoes or a sarong from the old country. The reason you should go to these villages is to enjoy their traditions, art and crafts. And also their amazing food.

That brings us to the first village on the tour, Malpica. Here you will find three points of interest. First there is a floor tile small manufacturing shop. You will watch as an artisan (who learned the trade from his father) mixes sand and pigment into a mold. The ornate design is made by dragging a stick through the colors and around the surface of the tile. These are for sale.

Second is the silver shop. If you don’t like enthusiastic sales people don’t go in. Near an old silver mine this shop is proud of the workmanship and designs in rings, necklaces and sculptures. They will customize any piece to fit your needs and deliver it back to you in Mazatlán.

The third shop is an amazing in-home brick oven bakery. The flakey pastry with almond sugar was my breakfast. The warm rolls were supposed to be the next day’s breakfast. Oops. All were consumed before the next stop.

The town of Concordia welcomes you to their town square with 4 foot high colored lettered sign. It is home to the large Catholic San Sebastian Cathedral finished around 1785 built on the town square. When the Spaniards finally left the area two guardian statues of Spanish guards outside the church were “beheaded” in protest. The church is open for view and photography. There is also a very modern municipal building and art gallery on an adjacent street on the square. Concordia is known for their wooden furniture throughout Mexico and a large rocking chair sits proudly in the square (think Edith­-Ann from “Laugh-In”). Yes, a lot of folk scrambled up there for photos.


The final stop was down a narrow dirt road into the jungle. We arrived on the side if a mountain in the cobble stoned village of Copala founded in 1565. The square hosts another massive Catholic church, Iglesia de San Jose Cathedral built in 1748-1775. On the side of the church is a carved head of the devil to commemorate the time the town prayed to rid the residents of cholera. The curse was lifted and the town wanted to show that God defeated the devil. You are also allowed to take photos inside the church. Outside there are ropes attached to the tower bells so they can ring for special occasions or for tourists.

Copppola mask

Copala has many art and craft shops. The one that caught my eye was a young leather worker who shapes masks from leather and wooden carvings. The work is lovely. After purchasing such a mask I was whisked away to a local Mexican lunch at “Daniel’s” with soup, bread, burritos and their famous Banana Coconut Cream Pie. It was worth the “weight”.

The ride home was through bougainvillea, yellow daisies, purple morning glories, and red trumpet vines winding through mountain passes.  I started to drift off just as we passed under the entrance for the new 140 mile Highway 40 that connects Mazatlán to Durango with 115 bridges and 61 tunnels. But that is an adventure for another time.


Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to MenopauseShe hosts a local radio humor segment, “Baby Boomer Humor with Sassy Sally”.

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