When I first learned that Mazatlan’s lighthouse in Mexico – el faro – is considered to be the highest lighthouse in the world, I was impressed. I did a quick calculation…hmmm, 157 meters high, that means it would be nearly 500 feet tall. Wow, I thought, that is tall, wondering why I hadn’t actually seen it. I figured that a tower that tall should be easily seen from anywhere in town, but just assumed it was hidden by one of the hills that I hadn’t yet made it around. Two days later, having walked almost the entire length of the oceanfront promenade without spotting the lighthouse, I began to inquire as to its whereabouts.
People kept pointing to the hill at the mouth of the harbor inlet, but no matter what angle I got on the hill, I still saw no evidence of a lighthouse. Eventually someone made me understand that the lighthouse sits on the peak of the hill, and that the claim of highest in the world refers to the elevation of the land it sits on rather than the height of the tower. I looked into the distance at the perfect cone-shaped hill; if I squinted I could just make out some sort of structure at the very peak.
Now really intrigued, I headed for the path that would lead me up the hill. At the southern end of the broad Malecon, the seaside promenade that parallels the ocean, I turned right onto the narrow peninsula leading to the hill. Passing through a concrete archway, I picked my way over rocks jutting up from the dirt path, carefully climbing in the hot afternoon sun. The path was well trod, with benches placed at intervals for resting, but I plodded on, anxious to reach the top. After a while I looked up to check my progress and was delighted that the top seemed close, but as I stood there another couple passed me on their way down. “You’re about halfway there; around the curve there’s about 300 steps to take you up the steepest part of the path.” The look on my face must have been a dead giveaway. Already I was sweating in the hot sun and the back of my neck was burnt to a crisp. “Don’t give up,” they encouraged. “The view is worth it.”
Indeed it was. From the top, Mazatlan’s coastline was a necklace dotted with jeweled beaches and vibrant colored buildings, perfectly illustrating why this town is often referred to as ”The Pacific Pearl.” The view was so enchanting that I almost forgot to check out the lighthouse, an unassuming squat concrete box painted in blue and white, with an even more squat light perched atop the box. I chuckled half way down the hill about the squat, fat lighthouse that is the world’s highest.
Photo credit: Barbara Weibel
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels