A Magic Town – Mocorito

“Pueblo mágico” – “Magic Town”, is a denomination granted by the Mexican Tourism Secretariat to recognize locations around the country with outstanding or unique features regarding their history, natural beauty, architecture, gastronomy or cultural heritage.  The program started in 2001, and currently there are 121 magic towns.  The state of Sinaloa has four: Cosalá, El Rosario, El Fuerte, and Mocorito.  During my most recent trip to Culiacán  – the state’s capital city – my brother in-law was going to Mocorito for work, so my sister and I tagged along to explore this “magic town.”  The town’s welcome arches (photo above) seemed like the gate to a haven in the middle of the region’s semi-desert, a perfect location between the ocean (about 50 km. to the West) and the mountain ranges, seen in the photo below at the end of the entry road, with that old-fashioned look that transports visitors to simpler times, down memory lane:

002 entering Mocorito

As if that great entrance was not “magic” enough, the main square and nearby hotels were already decorated for the Christmas season:

003 Mocorito sign with Christmas theme

005 Hotel Mision de Mocorito

006 Hotel Mision de Mocorito 2

Some of the oldest buildings include the “Lic. Benito Juárez” public elementary school:

007 Elementary School

The Parish of the Immaculate Conception:

008 Parish of the Immaculate Conception Mocorito

009 Purisima concepcion main altar

And the “Dr. Enrique González Martínez” Cultural Centre, which sponsors the Arts and hosts performances and cultural events almost on a daily basis:

010 Mural Mocorito.jpg

On three of its interior walls, the “Mural 400” – started in 1994 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Mission of Saint Michael of Mocorito – offers a portrait of the town’s progress within the context of Mexico’s history.  Unfortunately for me and my sister, the building was undergoing major restoration work, so we were not able to see the mural.  A helpful staff member handed out a couple of brochures with highlights of that mural, though, as well as other art work throughout Mocorito, which was named “The Athens of Mexico” in the 20th century for its cultural and artistic contributions.

Two motifs especially caught my attention.  The first is “The  Arrival of the Spaniards” with armored soldiers on four legged beasts, described much like the horsemen of the “Apocalypse of this land, travelling with them in the form of slavery, illness and stench”; this was such a dark moment that some historians defend the etymology of the name Mocorito as “place of the dead” from the local cahita language:

011 Mural detail 1

The second is a scene from the Mexican Revolutionary war at the turn of the 20th century, depicting local and national heroes fighting dictator Porfirio Díaz’s regime, with the words “Sufragio efectivo, no reelección” – “Effective suffrage, no re-election”:

012 Mural detail 2

Three citizens of Mocorito who defended the town during this time have their own remembrance square not far from the main block: Rafael Buelna, Agustina Ramírez and Don Eustaquio Buelna:

013 sculpture Mocorito

After visiting this monument, my sister and I had covered most of the historical points in this Magic Town, and were ready for a break from the sun and heat.  We went to a public digital library across the main square, which was pristinely clean, had free WIFI and a place to sit in the shade:

014 Public Library

One of its galleries was housing a collection of still life paintings from the regional “Anjor Organic Farms”; below, an example:

015 Example of Anjor Organic Farms Art.jpg

I was greatly impressed by all the interesting history and infrastructure of the little town.  We met with my sister’s husband at lunch hour after his meeting was done, and another surprise awaited for me; we could have chosen one of the many restaurants featuring Mexican food and local specialties, but one of the most popular places in town is the “Restaurant Pekin”:

016 Pekin restaurant

I have to say it was one of the largest Chinese restaurants I have ever seen! This business is obviously very successful, and probably could house a good chunk of the total population of Mocorito  (5,426 in 2015).  We ordered a “lunch combo for two” with a pitcher of iced tea:

017 Chinese food in Mocorito

Although we had no room left to eat the local delicacies (with enough Chinese food leftovers to feed a family of four!), we spotted several stores featuring regional sweets and pastries (mini patties, corn cookies, pumpkin seed brittle, etc.):

018 Local sweets and pastries.jpg

And as I also learned that day, Mocorito is the home of the original chilorio, Sinaloa’s trademark spiced pork meat dish.  Napo™ is the brand of chilorio made in Mocorito:

019 Napo Brand Chilorio in Mocorito from Facebook
Napo™ brand cans of chilorio in Mocorito (from Facebook)

Since introducing most meats in the US and Canada is now strictly forbidden, I am including a link to my recipe for homemade chilorio, which I shared in a previous post:

Sinaloa Style Spiced Pork – Chilorio

Click here for full story and detailed directions

Click here for printable recipe


14 thoughts on “A Magic Town – Mocorito

    1. Yes, for Mocorito in particular I had a feeling of the place having some actual power to take you to a different time, or to unique improbable places (like that giant Chinese restaurant). In January I will be posting about Tlaquepaque, the other “pueblo mágico” I had a chance to visit. The experience was different, but strangely enough, it also felt like a place with magic. Those people at the tourism secretariat sure had a good concept when they chose the denomination of “pueblo mágico”. In the US, I have not been there yet, but New Orleans comes to mind as possibly fitting the bill what do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New Orleans does have some magic power – good selection!

        I love old Williamsburg, Virginia. Places that being our history alive. So many of the little towns in the middle of the country also have a bit of magic and could really use a bit of conjuring to bring them back to life.


      2. The Mexican Magic Towns got their “conjuring” in the form of monetary stimuli to improve infrastructure and make them friendlier to visitors, at the federal level for some years, and now it is up to each state to keep their program going.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m amazed of how well you described this beautiful Magic Town, my parents are both from ranches that belong to Mocorito, and my mother’s parents lived several years there, as a child, we went each two weeks to visit my grandparents, I have the best childhood memories. Actually, my oldest daughter has a Magic Town Project and we got some pictures from your blog, thank you so much for visiting Mocorito, you’re welcome to come back with a free stay!.


    1. I am so happy to get the seal of approval from someone so familiar with the place, and even happier to hear that your daughter could use some of my material for her project. Thank you for your kind comment, and also for the open invitation, Lily!


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