Mazatlán Mexico

Jan 07, 2013 View Comments by

Cliff Diving in Mazatlán Mexico

This photo brings back so many memories for me. The year was 2007 and I was in Mazatlán Mexico on my first big solo motorcycle trip. I was posting avidly on ADVrider.com and my thread “Three Months on a Husky Te610” was really starting to take off. Upon mentioning that my next destination was Mazatlán, a few guys suggested that while in town, I stay with Glen Heggstad (more commonly known as the Striking Viking). Glenn is a famous guy in the motorcycle community. He has published two books, and was once captured in Colombia by FARC rebels who dragged him across the mountains for a month trying to get a ransom for him.

A few emails later, and I was pulling my Husky into the secured basement-parking garage of the biggest condo on the strip. It turns out Glen owned the penthouse and that’s where I would be staying for the next few days. This was a welcome change from my budget motel routine. While in Mazatlán, I saw a Bullfight, ate some really good seafood, and had my first run in with a corrupt cop—but what really stood out to me was the Cliff Divers.

The first day in town, I was walking the beach and I saw a man standing on the edge of a tower that was built into some rocks. The tower looked to be about 40 feet above the ocean, but it didn’t seem like a good jumping spot. You had to jump out about 8 feet just to clear the rocks, but the biggest problem was the water level. It looked really shallow and it wasn’t that far off the beach. All in all it appeared dangerous and sketchy. Curious, I stick around to see if the guy jumps.

It turns out that these jumpers work as a team. The guy standing up on the tower right now isn’t even the jumper. He’s a decoy; he just stands up there for a while waiting for tourists to stop by and form a small crowd. The other jumpers are advertising the jump by talking to people passing by, asking them to stay and watch. Eventually enough people form a group and the real jumper runs up to the tower and the decoy comes down. This particular jumper crosses his heart twice, once for each of his two sons, and then takes the plunge. He lands head first in the peak of a swell, and emerges from the water unscathed. Before the crowd disperses, the other jumpers quickly ask for money and tips.

I decide to hang around all day and watch these guys jump. We become friends and eventually, I go up to the tower with one of them and film the jump from the top. Each jump makes me a little nervous and for good reason. A few months ago one of the jumpers died when he hit the bottom with his head. It’s all about timing, and even the tide plays into it, but if there is money to be made, they will still jump at low tide. There is a constant small swell that the divers aim for. They also arch their backs and scoop up when they enter the water to keep the dive shallow. For the tourist just passing by, they get a quick bit of entertainment and toss over a few pesos, but for the jumpers—this is life or death.

Cliff Divers in Mazatlán Mexico

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About the author

Commercial fisherman to pay the bills. Adventure Rider for the smile on my face. Documenting it all as proof that anyone can live this dream.