Our first view of Mazatlan was not encouraging: it's mainly a shipping port, and it is guarded by soldiers in cammo with semi-automatic weapons.
We were escorted through a sort of open-air vendor area and put in taxis for a ride along the waterfront to another shopping area. Inside that we went to a small open amphitheater. A narrator told us about the Indians who would perform for us - they first did a dance, then climbed onto a sort of pinwheel and spun about. Lastly they climbed up onto a 60-foot pole and one danced while playing the flute and the others swung lower and lower on ropes. It was interesting and sort of scary.
Of course we were encouraged to buy things - it was, after all, a shopping tour. I had no cash with me and not everyone takes debit cards (first lesson). In an unpleasant moment, Debra was buying something and putting her cash back in her wallet, when she looked up and noticed one of the Indian dancers fixatedly staring at her wallet. Bad juju. She hurriedly put it away. We wandered through the shopping area and onto the shopping street where we were besieged by men trying to get us to come into their shops - "Free gem," "free bracelet," free this and that. It became ridiculous, then annoying. We did buy a few things (from stores that DIDN'T badger us) and then proceeded to the Playa Mazatlan Resort down the street (a taxi tried to pick us up as we walked!) for lunch.
Lunch was outdoors on a covered patio-type area, right on the beach. It was a buffet of Mexican food plus two drinks (included in the excursion). Again, vendors came up constantly to the tables to try to sell their wares. We had to say no, no, no over and over. A crippled man was selling Chiclets gum and this made us realize: they think we're rich, which we definitely are not - but compared to these people, we're privileged. It was sobering: how poor must you be that you'd sell gum? After a while it became exhausting and sad, and we asked for a taxi back to the ship. We passed through the same vendor area by the ship where we did a little shopping.
Honestly - I don't think I would go back to Mazatlan, or if I did, I would choose another excursion. The area of town we were in was torn up with construction and there was a lot of desperation and poverty. It certainly made us aware of how well off we are - and it saddened us.