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Eclipse fans in Mazatlan have been waiting for this day for years

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The city of Mazatlan in Mexico will be the first place on land where today's total solar eclipse will be visible. As Jorge Valencia reports, astronomy fans and kids there alike have been waiting for this day for years.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAVES BREAKING)

JORGE VALENCIA, BYLINE: This small beach city along the Pacific Ocean is usually a destination for Mexican tourists, but today, it's attracting people from all over, wanting to be the first in the world to catch the eclipse.

ROBERTA SARACO: (Speaking Spanish).

VALENCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

SARACO: (Speaking Spanish).

VALENCIA: 11-year-old Roberta Saraco is a native of Mazatlan, and she says she's pretty sure the other day, she overheard a visitor speaking in Arabic.

VALENCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

SARACO: No.

VALENCIA: She didn't talk to him, so she's not 100% sure, but she's positive it was someone who traveled from far away. Last night, she and her family were taking a walk through the park where they'll be during the eclipse today. And she says she personally is very excited. For her mother, Tania Cerrillo, the anticipation has been 33 years in the making, ever since she saw a partial eclipse as a kid.

TANIA CERRILLO: (Speaking Spanish).

VALENCIA: Cerrillo says she and her siblings saw the day get dark, the sun come back out and heard the birds start chirping. Today's eclipse is such an event here in Mazatlan that kids don't have school, and many parents, like Cerrillo, are taking the day off of work. For David Esquivel, a college professor and member of the Mazatlan Astronomy Society, today is actually a very busy day. He's been welcoming scientists from NASA and even eclipse chasers from Finland, England, Canada.

I understand that they call themselves shadow lovers or umbraphiles.

DAVID ESQUIVEL: Yeah. Of course, there's people here that's on his 11th or even 20th eclipse.

VALENCIA: So Esquivel is in the right place at the right time.

ESQUIVEL: Oh, it's - for some of us, it's maybe one of the most important days of our lives.

VALENCIA: Esquivel says that after today, he wants to take a vacation, go to the desert and look at the stars. For NPR News, I'm Jorge Valencia in Mazatlan, Mexico. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jorge Valencia
Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.