‘A new Mexican miracle’ has transpired in recent years, the economy.

‘A new Mexican miracle’ has transpired in recent years, the economy

August 27, 2017
economy

Mexico has in recent years become a transformed nation with a burgeoning middle class, and little poverty according to world standards, says the Dallas Morning News.

It is no less than what could be called “a new Mexican miracle,” which developed slowly and almost imperceptibly in recent years, said Richard Parker, a columnist for the publication.

He underlines that chronic unemployment has fallen back to 3.2 percent, “in a nation that once produced more babies than jobs every year” and while underemployment remains a stubborn thorn, the revenues have increased.

The average Mexican household earns about $13,000 dollars per year, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Although it is less than half of the US $ 29,000, according to OECD figures, the cost of living is generally lower in Mexico, Parker points out in the article: “Forget the Texas economic miracle and look south to Mexican Miracle”.

He emphasizes that high school graduation rates have increased to about half of all children. “Today, many Mexicans complete 14 years of education, which typically includes some university, technical or vocational studies.”

As a result, he says, Mexico has both feet firmly planted within the world’s most advanced economies – the OECD nations – even if it is occupying the lower rungs of the ladder.

“Mexico has made tremendous progress over the last decade,” says the latest OECD report, “in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens, especially in the areas of education, health and employment,” he reiterates.

The writer and author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America,” details that the Mexican Caribbean is a perfect paradise: refreshing breezes, palm trees and drinks with little umbrellas.

“Everything is true, too, especially a few blocks from the idyllic beach. But venturing inside – blocks, kilometers and hundreds of miles – and something else emerges: a Mexico on the cusp of greatness,” says the author.

“I returned to Mexico this summer for an extended period and for the first time in 20 years I put on my journalist’s glasses, not just my tourist shadows. I witnessed a transformed nation, particularly when measured against the depths of which it rose during those two decades,” says Parker.

He emphasizes that Texans, in particular, must always take into account the importance of Mexico and the Mexicans.

“Considering that once Mexico was a smaller economy, it now has an economy of over one trillion annually, very similar to Australia and Spain,” he said.

It is decidedly a middle-income nation with little poverty according to world standards. Mexico has the most important element of a stable and democratic society: a flourishing middle class, he says.

The frequent columnist for The Dallas Morning News points out that by going back 20 years, it provides a scale of how far Mexico has come.

Parker recalls in that sense the nation was emerging from a massive economic disaster: the Lost Decade, in which the peso had devalued up to 500 percent, and the people’s savings had disappeared, added to that in 1985, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 demolished a great part of the center of Mexico City.

At that time, an exodus of people began to flow north, first to the richer border states and then beyond. The next decade was not much easier, as on January 1, 1994 guerrilla conflict erupted in the southern state of Chiapas.

Today, Mexico, he said, is solving the problems affecting his wealthy northern neighbor. The expansion of the infrastructure reaches the whole country, emphasizes the writer.

For example, the deepwater port of Veracruz will soon include a new marine wall and a dock at a cost of two billion, an attempt to compete with the Port of Houston, while a high-speed electric train is connecting Toluca to Mexico City in just 39 minutes.

He emphasized that there are no noisy, long national arguments about abortion or gay rights. Abortion laws differ from state to state, but are constitutionally protected.

In June, Gay Rights Day, he said, was observed lighting the Zócalo, the main square of the colonial city of Mexico City, in the LGBT rainbow. In turn, Mexico has closed vast portions of Yucatan to logging and development.

Meanwhile, universal health care, known as Seguro Popular, and approved by Congress in 2003, and in 2007 secured more than 20 million people; today it assures more than 52 million, half of the population.

Finally, the writer states that today Mexico is generally not more violent than the United States; both countries seem to have a knack for it. Although it occupies the second place in the world in the rate of homicides, according to statistics of United Nations, the United States occupies the ninth place.

“The Trump era can help Mexico break free of what has been, indeed, a cost-effective codependency of the US. Its economy is now large enough, Mexico is being sought by other trading partners in Europe and China,” he said.

After 200 years, Mexico has learned that it can engage with the world’s most powerful foreign power and thrive, he emphasized.

“The challenge of Mexico is to go the last mile and end selective illegality within its own borders,” concluded the author.

NTX/EVG

Puerto Vallarta on track for another record tourism year.

Puerto Vallarta on track for another record tourism year

puerto vallarta tourism

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board announced that the city has reported an increase of over 6% in hotel occupancy for the first 6 months of the year, with an average occupancy rate for January to June of close to 90% compared to 73% in 2016 and 70% in 2015.

Similarly, the Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) handled 1,843,600 international passenger arrivals, in the first half of the year, 12.1% more than the same period in 2016. In addition, 189,324 passengers visited the destination while on cruise calls to the Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port, a 2% increase compared to 2016.

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board credits the success of its consistent and proactive promotional and communication campaign in its primary markets including as Mexico, the US and Canada as well as emerging markets in South America and Europe for the continued increase in visitor arrivals. In addition, the tourism board’s strategic PR efforts targeting specific niche markets have played a role.

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s top destinations and one of the most celebrated, continuously receiving accolades from the media and visitors alike.

US News & World Reports’ Best Vacations 2017 selected Puerto Vallarta as #9 Best Place to Visit in Mexico, #7 Best Beaches in Mexico and #5 Best Spring Break Destination. In addition, TripAdvisor’s consumer base of more than 2 million monthly users ranked Puerto Vallarta as #3 overall best Mexican destination for the 2017 Traveler’s Choice Award.

In 2016, Puerto Vallarta’s Cruise Port Terminal was named the top Mexican Riviera & South America Destination at the Cruise Critic® first-ever Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. The world’s leading cruise reviews site and online cruise community, based its ranking on consumer ratings submitted with reviews on the Cruise Critic website. The awards go out to destinations across 15 regions worldwide.

Puerto Vallarta is home to the most amount hotels with Diamond Awards in Mexico; including: Hotel Mousai has a Five Dimond Award, Four Diamond Award rating for the Barcelo Puerto Vallarta (since 2008), CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa (Since 1991), Casa Velas Hotel Boutique (Since 2003), Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta (2001), Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa, Hacienda San Angel (2006), Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort (2013), Hotel Grand Miramar Puerto Vallarta (2015), Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta (2015), Now Amber (2013), Secrets Vallarta Bay (2013), Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa (2011), Villa Premiere Hotel & Spa (2006) and the Westin Resort and Spa, which has held the distinction for over 23 years in a row. For 79 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities.

As Mexico’s leading culinary beach destination, Puerto Vallarta has over 350 restaurants. Home to two AAA Four Diamond Awarded restaurants: Emiliano (2014) and Vista Grill (2005); visitors have also enjoyed and placed 3 Vallartan restaurants in the top 10 TripAdvisor’s Favorite Fine Dining Mexican Restaurants – Bistro Teresita, Le Kliff and La Leche.

Puerto Vallarta offers last Summer’s hoorah during Labor Day

Puerto Vallarta offers last Summer’s hoorah during Labor Day

August 22, 2017
vallarta vacation

Labor Day signals the end of the summer travel season, but it also offers the opportunity for one last summer getaway before school starts and the work pace picks up again. With direct nonstop flights from cities across the United States and Canada and an impressive array of activities and a favorable exchange rate, Puerto Vallarta is an ideal location for all travelers seeking a last-minute getaway at great prices.

Puerto Vallarta has partnered with local hotels and airlines to provide the best last-minute deals, for more information and to book a trip, visit www.visitpuertovallarta.com.

The following are a sample of the themed vacations that can be enjoyed this Labor Day in Puerto Vallarta.

FAMILY ADVENTURE
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s top family destinations and ideal for all types of family trips, from multi-generational to single parent visits. The city offers a myriad of outdoor activities that can turn a visit to Puerto Vallarta into a fun-filled packed adventure – from water sports to swimming with dolphins and releasing baby turtles into the Pacific Ocean to zip lining, horseback riding, rappelling and riding quad bikes in the surrounding sierra Madre Mountains. In addition, most resorts have kids’ clubs where children under 12 can participate in various activities while older kids will find activities coordinators to help them create their idea of a fun vacation. Millennials will find that the city of Puerto Vallarta provides a unique way to experience everyday Mexican life or simply enjoy international amenities such as a relaxing day at a luxurious Spa.

FOODIE HEAVEN
Puerto Vallarta is home to over 350 restaurants ranging from internationally renowned establishments to mom-and-pop eateries offering special delicacies and local dishes that have been handed down for generations. For a more active culinary adventure, try a guided walking or bicycle taco tour and taste a variety of tacos while getting to know the city’s historic downtown area; or opt for the evening taco tour to start the night right. Several restaurants and hotels also offer cooking classes that include a visit to the local markets to hand-select fresh ingredients. While in town, make sure to sample Tequila. Puerto Vallarta is in the birthplace of the spirit and visitors can sample artisan Tequila in hotels or surrounding towns like San Sebastian del Oeste. Most locations that serve Tequila also offer Raicilla, a local spirit of pre-Hispanic origin made from the green agave root that can only be found in Puerto Vallarta.

ROMANTIC GETAWAYS
Puerto Vallarta grew into a tourism destination thanks to a famous love story between two Hollywood stars who adored the city, bought a home and returned every year for their annual holiday with family and friends. Today it continues to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world. Blessed by mother nature, Puerto Vallarta is set between the breathtaking bay of Banderas and lush Sierra Madre mountains, combined with quaint cobbled street of its historic downtown, the city is renowned for its natural beauty. From couples’ massages to a walk along the Malecon (boardwalk) at sunset, a candle light dinner or a stay at a secluded retreat and remote beaches, couples will find that Puerto Vallarta offers the perfect romantic setting.

ESCAPADE WITH FRIENDS
Take advantage of the last days of summer for a girls’ trip or a guys’ getaways. Swim with dolphins in the wild, play a round of golf, take a cooking class, catch some fish, relax on a luxury yacht or enjoy one of Mexico’s most entertaining nightlife’s. Puerto Vallarta is also home to dozens of art galleries which provide for an entertaining excursion of art viewing and interacting with local artists or shopping. For more active groups seeking an adrenaline rush, Puerto Vallarta also offers the opportunity to fly from mountain to mountain by ziplining or crossing hanging bridges on an ATV or mountain bike across challenging trails around the Sierra Madre mountains.

FUN IN THE SUN
The Puerto Vallarta area offers 26 miles of beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, eight of which are certified Blue Flag Beaches. The warm and sunny year-round weather makes it an ideal destination for those seeking some fun in the sun; from simply laying on the beach or by the pool, to playing ball or throwing a frisbee, or enjoying the warm pacific waters on top of a standup paddle or snorkeling with the local sea life. Another option is to step into one of Puerto Vallarta’s luxurious beach clubs for a pampered experience with gourmet food and mixed drinks.

Travelers wishing to explore the natural oasis and warm Pacific Ocean waters in a secluded setting, will find a variety of ways to enjoy pristine secluded beaches. Take a short round-trip water taxi ride from Los Muertos Beach to secluded coves or isolated beaches like Colomitos, Las Animas, Boca de Tomatlan, Majahuitas, Quimixto, Playa El Caballo and many others.

Vallarta-Nayarit: Does Paradise really exist?

Vallarta-Nayarit: Does Paradise really exist?

August 23, 2017

paradise

What does your perfect holiday look like? Do you dream up white sandy coastlines, melting pink sunsets, bowing palm trees, diving dolphins and flavoursome cocktails? Does your imagination run wild, or does this place in your mind actually exist?

Many direct flights will lead you to Mexico’s Pacific Coast, home to Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, two neighbouring regions united in the beautiful Banderas Bay that will put your imagination to shame.

These two destinations offer something for everyone: families, friends, couples, newlyweds and honeymooners. No matter who you are, you’ll find your paradise here.

To the Beach: For those who love sun, sand and surfing, Riviera Nayarit offers a 200-mile stretch of golden coastline and magical seaside towns to enjoy.

Head down to the hippie chic town of Sayulita and enjoy surfing, fresh fish, boutiques, paddle boarding, coronas and lots of fun. This sleepy surf town is one of the coolest places around, promising chilled vibes and the real Mexican way of life.

Nearby, the peaceful fishing village of Lo de Marcos in Riviera Nayarit is another must-visit for lovers of the ocean. Luscious green hills and singing birds surround the beaches of Los Venados, Las Minitas and El Atracadero, where the phrase “paradise on earth” frames this corner of the coast.

For nature lovers, Riviera Nayarit’s pretty town of Punta el Custodio has six miles of virgin beach, eco-friendly villas and turtle sanctuaries!

A Touch of Romance: Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town, known as the “Zona Romántica,” showcases the beauty of a traditional Mexican town with cafes, restaurants, street food, art galleries and rhythmic nightlife hotspots.

Kick things off with Vallarta Eats Food Tours and sample fried fish tacos with guac and endless shots of tequila. Then, wander around the cobbled streets and stop off at the church of Lady Guadalupe, a symbol of the city and a place of historical importance to the locals. Finish with a walk along the famous Malecón as you watch a pink sunset crash into the waves.

Family Fun: In Banderas Bay, adventure and wildlife thrive and flocks of tropical birds fill the sky. Embark on a trip with Vallarta Adventures to visit the breathtaking Marietas Islands. Swim with schools of King Angel fish, Giant Pacific Manta Rays and enormous turtles as they reveal their underwater world.

Get active with an afternoon of paddle boarding, snorkelling or diving, and then end on a strong note with a spot of entertainment from the Blue footed booby birds ready to show off their hip-hop dancing!

If wildlife more is your thing, venture to Puerto Vallarta and check in to the Wildlife Connection for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with wild dolphins. Just like humans, teenage dolphins are known to be mischievous, splashing around and playing games with visitors.

Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit have the highest respect for their wildlife. All creatures of the sea live free within their natural habitats and are constantly watched over by loving locals.

Active Adventures: Don’t be fooled that the underwater world has a hold over land activity. If you prefer to stay dry, Banderas Bay is filled with endless activities that beg to be experienced.

Riviera Nayarit is home to six signature golf courses to welcome golf lovers from across the globe. The region is also a hotspot for horse riding, zip lining, rappelling and bird watching. Neighbour Puerto Vallarta also has a wide adventure offering, including kite surfing, ATV safaris and parachute jumping!

Amazing Nightlife: If parachute jumping doesn’t get your pulse racing, then the region’s nightlife is sure to do the trick!

For a night of fine dining, sophistication and impeccable service, waltz round to Riviera Nayarit’s Punta Mita zone, home to the best of the best hotels including the St. Regis and Four Seasons. A favourite amongst the rich and famous, including the Kardashian clan, Eva Longoria and Rihanna, this picture-perfect resort makes way for a night of glitz and glam.

For those looking for an authentic Mexican evening, head over to Sayulita and the pretty fishing village of San Pancho where crafty cocktails are aplenty; make sure to visit La Fresona Beach Club to enjoy live music in tiki huts! For a day scene, head to W Punta de Mita resort for bubbles and buzzing beats by the poolside.

For those looking to turn it up a notch, Puerto Vallarta awaits with its vibrant nightlife. It’s well-known as a city that comes alive after sunset. Live bars, clubs and open-air shows line the Malecón strip, temping party-loving night owls.

The region has also been ranked among the top 10 LGBTI honeymoon destinations in the world. The Gayborhood district within the Romantic Zone offers an incredible choice of bars and clubs for the LGBTI community. Popular spots span the Vallarta Cora, Azul Agave Sky Bar, Paco’s Ranch and CC Slaughter’s Nightclub, welcoming visitors from all walks of life.

When it comes your perfect holiday, stop-letting your imagination run wild. Along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit welcome you to a true paradise!

By Nayarit Tourism

Bioluminescent beaches of Mexico

Bioluminescent beaches of Mexico

August 21, 2017

It is a fact that there are living creatures that remain hidden in darkness, in the depths of the ocean… Nonetheless, there are others as the noctiluca scintillans –also known as the sea sparkle- whose main ability is ‘shining’, thus creating a night show that’s almost impossible to forget for those lucky ones that get to witness it.

These microorganisms are part of the plankton in the ocean, so when they detect ‘threatening’ movement nearby, they produce a chemical reaction that projects a cold light, creating a bioluminescent effect over the water, a natural phenomenon that can be observed in some Mexican destinations. Coming up, a quick list of Mexico’s bioluminescent beaches:

Holbox, Quintana Roo

In the dark nights of summer, a bright blue light illuminates the white beaches of Holbox; these are noctiluca scintillans glowing because of the gentle movement of the Caribbean Sea. As the waves go and back to the shore these microorganisms emit flashes of light in silver, green and blue tones.

Holbox is a small fishermen island in the state of Quintana Roo, its warm atmosphere and rustic accommodations, makes of it the ideal place to enjoy nature.

Xpicob, Campeche

Another place to observe this unique natural phenomenon in the Yucatan Peninsula is Xpicob, a beach 15 kilometers away from San Francisco de Campeche, where the lights are so bright and intense that sometimes you can see the fish at the bottom of the sea.

To access this area we suggest you purchase a guide to lead you through the correct places to admire the bioluminescence.

Laguna de Manialtepec, Oaxaca

Just 16 kilometers from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, there is the Manialtepec Lagoon, another place where you can admire is this amazing spectacle of nature, that beside other destinations, here you can sail the water using a kayak and watch closely how this microorganisms react to the oars contact.

Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua, Oaxaca

In one of the bays of this national park a long carpet of green and blue colors is formed on the water, an effect that that gives this destination an exotic and mysterious touch. Like Holbox, this place is inhabited by an extensive fauna and flora; we’re talking about more than 130 species.

This paradisiac place is 45 minutes northeast of Huatulco, Oaxaca and its ideal for surfing, admire nature and get lost watching spectacular sunsets. You don’t need to worry about the accommodation; there are ecological hotels to host those adventurers who come to this magical corner of Mexico.

By Fernanda Duque Hernández

Earth, Bright Colors And Shape-Shifters.

Earth, Bright Colors And Shape-Shifters

The Vazquez family is one of Tonalá best-known families of traditional potters, specializing in barro brunido, but that does not mean that they shun innovation.

The best-known family member now is award-winning potter, Arnulfo Vazquez, but the story begins with his paternal grandmother, Encarnación Carmon. She began making traditional barro brunido, focusing on traditional utilitarian pieces, but she did put significant effort in the making and decoration of her pieces, making them and the family name stand out in the market. Vazquez’s father, Salvador Vazquez, continued his mother’s work. But it has been Arnulfo who has made the pottery nationally and internationally known.

Vazquez’s began working with his father when he was about seven year old, learning all aspects of the craft, including even the digging of clay and determining its quality. To date, the maestro has accumulated around 40 years of experience.

Vazquez pottery is mostly traditional but does have several unique features. Tradition mostly resides in the clay and how it is worked. Like the generations before him, all clay is mind locally, and Vazquez knows very well which mines produce the clay he looks for.

 

There are two main types “barro blando,” which is a whitish color and “barro tieso” which is black. The two are mixed in certain proportions to take advantage of the properties each has. The shaping and firing of the clay has not changed much since his grandmother’s time, which the process still very individual.

But modern times have made a difference. Unlike his father, maestro Arnulfo no longer has to go to the mines himself and load a donkey with the raw material. He can either use a truck or even pay someone else to mine, clean and deliver the clays he needs. He also has some machinery to make the grinding, and sorting of the clay, along with wetting it, much easier. However, the shaping of pieces is done has it was two generations ago.

The Vazquez family specializes in barro brunido, one of the state of Jalisco’s traditional pottery styles. Its matte shine is not from glaze, but rather from burnishing, much the way indigenous pottery was made. Although other potters take imagery from Jalisco’s myths and legends, none give it such prominence as this workshop.

The hallmark of Vazquez pottery is the appearance of a nagual somewhere on the piece. Naguals are Mesoamerican shape-shifting animals that can do good or harm depending on their personalities and have various incarnations both in pre Hispanic lore as well as a number of Mexican handcrafts.

In more than a few pieces, a nagual appears as a main element, but even when it does not, one is on the piece somewhere, acting as a kind of family signature. The focus on the stories and culture of the Tonala area is important to the Vazquez family, which believe it gives the pieces meaning for buyers and promotes the region’s culture. The importance of the nagual for Arnulfo is such that he has now taken to painting images of naguals on canvas, based on the images he puts on pottery.

While tradition remains important in both technique and design, this does not mean that the pottery is stagnant. In fact, there are nods to both tradition and innovation in the production and often times in a single piece. Purely traditional pieces are made, still using traditional earth pigments… which produce colors such as black, red, white, terracotta and sometimes pink.

But the use of commercial pigments has introduced brighter and new colors, especially blue and green. The main drive in the use of these new colors comes from the markets, particularly from younger buyers who prefer the brighter, stronger look. Vazquez considers it part of the natural evolution of the craft, comparing it with new models of cars. The newer color schemes seem to be taking over the Vazquez production, but Arnulfo states that there is still a strong market for traditional pieces, especially from older and more conservative buyers.

Many of the basic forms are traditional, with plates and bowls dominating along with large covered jars called tibores. None of the pieces in the home/workshop were utilitarian, all were decorative. Almost all were medium to large-sized but the maestro says he creates pieces of all sizes. Arnulfo has done many custom pieces up to tibors 2.2 meters tall. He has also done tile murals, including a 4×3 metre mural which is located in Ajijic, Jalisco.

As a business, the workshop has had its ups and downs as demand fluxuates. On the plus side, the workshop is well enough known that many of the clients come to him either visiting or through the Internet. Many are from the United States and some from Europe. Currently another advantage is the very strong dollar, which make his pieces more affordable to foreign markets.  But price is not the basis of his market; quality of design and execution are. As upper-end handcrafts are a niche market, Vazquez depends much on his and the family’s reputation, one that is mostly spread through word-of-mouth and other forms of recommendation.

To this end, Vazquez family work can be seen in various museums and other important collections in Mexico and the United States such as the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City, various museums in Guadalajara, the Banamex folk art collections and several museums in the United States.

Arnulfo personally has over 60 prizes and other recognitions including the Galardon Nacional of Folk Art in 2015 and the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, Folk Art Category awarded by then President Vicente Fox.

Arnulfo’s son Jaime Eduardo is the fourth generation to take up the craft, following family tradition, but developing his own mark as well. This is significant in an age when it is becoming harder to pass on handcraft tradition to younger generations, especially in this rapidly urbanizing town outside of Guadalajara proper.

Despite this, maestro Arnulfo remains optimistic of barro brunido’s future, being highly active in local efforts to promote traditional Jalisco pottery, especially in schools to give students pride in their heritage. Despite his own training being so family-oriented, stating several times that pottery “is in his blood,” he is also active in training young people from Tonala, whether or not they are from families involved in pottery or any other kind of handcraft.

In Sayulita, surf, rest … and the dead.

In Sayulita, surf, rest … and the dead

August 18, 2017
sayulita

The magic town of Sayulita, Mexico, is one of the most attractive destinations in the Mexican Pacific not only because of its rustic streets, but also because of the possibility of surfing or swimming, and “Playa de los Muertos”, which is reached through a cemetery.

This town of about 2,300 inhabitants is on the coast that connects the states of Nayarit and Jalisco, about 40 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta.

The beauty of its beaches and bohemian life have attracted tourists from Canada, the United States and Europe and, more recently, Australians, says Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Office of Visitors and Conventions Riviera Nayarit.

According to travel agencies, it was one of the most visited Mexican destinations in 2016 and is constantly recommended on the internet as one of the places to be known.

Sayulita was declared a magic town in 2015 for its cobbled streets, cafes, pizzerias, galleries and small hotels.

Surfing is rooted among its inhabitants, who are also dedicated to teaching the art of “running a wave” to both children and tourists who visit.

From here came champions of national and international tournaments. Adrián Rodríguez is one of them, represents the third generation of surfers in his family. The 29-year-old, who owns the surf school “El Costeño”, says his passion for the waves was born at age 6 and continues after representing Mexico in several competitions.

In the last decade, he says, many Mexican and foreign tourists decided to stay in Sayulita. A good part of them to learn to surf and take advantage of the “privileged” waves of the area.

“It is a place known internationally because it allows little children to run the waves,” he explains. With or without formal classes, the new generations follow the example of their parents and uncles, and they venture to know this sport.

At age 14, Jacob Tovar has eight years of experience at sea. His dad’s friends taught him how to read the wave, stand on the board and manage it to successfully reach the shore.

“I like because you get big waves and you can practice different tricks, there are different goals and when you do the wave you feel adrenaline,” explains the boy, who uses the summer to practice between six and seven hours a day. Jacob meets with a group of friends to surf. One of them is Nicolás, of seven years and the son of a surfer originally from the United States that stayed to live in Sayulita and that taught him some tricks.

Sayulita also offers a seafront for tourists. The path along the main beach also leads to a place known as “Playa de los Muertos”, which hides behind the municipal cemetery.

The site has colorful tombstones, some surfboards, flowers, candles and penned paper flags that contrast with the deep green of the hill on which it is embedded.

The breeze that moves the palms, the singing of the gulls and the sound of the waves of the “Playa de los Muertos” make this cemetery different, says Julia Fernandez, an American based in Sayulita that goes to the cemetery every sunset.

“It’s a very special cemetery, everything is different, it’s very personal, the decoration in the tombs with candles and flowers, it’s nice,” the woman points out as she holds candles to the tombstone in memory of her son and the other 40 dead.

The calm of the cemetery is maintained when arriving at the beach, a semivirgen place of soft waves, clear sand, surrounded by rocks and where you can see multicolored fish a few meters from the shore.

“It’s not really common to find a cemetery when you get to the beach,” says Jorge Ramírez, a native of Mexico City, who visited the place a couple of times.

The hours near sunset are the best time to enjoy the beauty of this beach and, with a bit of luck, it is possible to see some turtle that chooses its stillness to deposit and protect its eggs.

Mariana González / EFE

Editor’s Notes: Back To School After This Weekend.

Editor’s Notes: Back To School After This Weekend

Back to school! That’s right, next week all the children in Mexico head back to the classroom and then the beaches and resorts around the Bay of Banderas will become nearly empty, but only for a couple weeks and the cycle starts again.

This weekend many of the most popular spots for families will be extremely crowded, which if you’re looking to enjoy a truly ‘Mexican’ experience at the beach, this is a great time to get out.

My first summer here I distinctly remember saying to my son, let’s go for a drive and we went up to Guayabitos. We had never been there before and when we pulled up to the town, there were a hundred tour buses spilling out on to the highway, thousands upon thousands of people getting one last beach day in. The beach had nowhere to lay a towel and the water was thirty feet deep with families standing shoulder to shoulder. It was something to see, especially from this Canadian who values her personal space.

Playas Boca de Tomates just past the airport, as well as Playa Destiladeras and Playa La Manzanilla, both just past La Cruz de Huancaxtle, are particular family favourites. There you will find roving mariachi and banda, restaurants selling everything from micheladas to shrimp diablo and the local specialty, grilled red snapper. The vendors will be laden down with beach toys, hammocks, clothing, jewelry, and other souvenirs, while families will be taking in one last weekend at the beach.

To the south, the beaches from Conchas China to Mismaloya will be just as busy but with less food services and vendors.

After this weekend things get pretty quiet. It can be a difficult time for local shops and employees that rely on tips for much of their wages. If you’re in the Vallarta area, support local. Shop at your corner store and be generous to those who have so much less. Two of the local farmers markets will continue through August and September. On Fridays, you can visit the Marsol Market by the pier and on Saturdays check out the Three Hen’s and a Rooster market – both you can read more about in this week’s Tribune.

READ NEXT  Editor’s Notes

We welcome a new contributor this week, James (Jimmy) Nash. A long time, full time resident, Jimmy is going to cover lifestyle, food and real estate in his weekly column. This week he talks about the lowly jalepeño chili pepper with some great tips on how to cook with it. And he attended the swanky Pier 57 opening. Oh, the perks of being a writer with the Tribune! Welcome to the pages, Jimmy.

Jimmy Nash: Vallarta Tribune’s newest columnist.

That’s it for me this week. I’m still up north, where the days are sunny but smoky and the nights are chilly – I might have to buy socks, can you imagine?! Home soon.

 

Safe travels,

 

Madeline

Tips And Observations About Living For Six Weeks In A Little Mexican Town.

Tips And Observations About Living For Six Weeks In A Little Mexican Town

Here is some flavor of what it’s like to live in a small village in Baja California Sur for six weeks and some tips that could save you lots of aggravation.

 

It’s Just Like…

Renting our home in La Ventana for six weeks was just like camping, except without the bugs, uneven and hard sleeping services, the work setting up and breaking down, everything being dirty, and very dicey bathroom and shower accommodations.

Watching the NBA Finals Series at Las Palmas, a local restaurant in La Ventana, was just like watching it in my own house, if my own house was right on the beach so it had an incredible view of the sea and an island in the distance, and people were bringing me great food at 70% off what I would expect to pay in the US.

A Potpourri of Tips and Advice

  • Your pants.  If possible, wear cargo shorts or cargo pants because they have more pockets, especially on the sides and in the front, and get the ones with pockets that close.  If you’re like me, you would like separate, secure, easy to access and easy to remember places to store: 1) wallet; 2) keys; 3) passport; 4) phone; and 5) camera (if you’re not using the camera in your phone), etc.  If you always put each of these items in the same pocket, you can free up mind share to worry about other things or just enjoy yourself more.  (Your shorts don’t have to be green, but you will fit in better.)
  • Plan B.  Always have a Plan B. Ask yourself, “If this doesn’t work, what will I do then?”  Here are some examples of Plan B’s that served us well:

Have a backup hotel (or two) that accepts dogs if you couldn’t make it to the one you planned.  Know the address and how to get there, phone number, who you talked to, if they have a vacancy, etc.

Have cash. What if the vendor doesn’t accept credit cards (many don’t); your card doesn’t go through (happens all the time in Mexico); someone steals your credit card number so your credit card company cancels your card (happened to us).  Also, Mexico is more on a cash basis than the US or Canada.

Have ATM cards that were issued by different banks.  If anything goes wrong with one bank or card, you can use the other one.

When you get to a place, as soon as possible, know where the doctors and vets are.  If they will give you a phone number, have it with you.

Have extra water.  What if you’re in a place (like much of Baja California) that has its water trucked in, and your storage container (“pila”) runs dry? If you lose power, you probably won’t have any water, because the water probably works on an electric pump. If you have municipal water, this is less likely, but it does happen.

Have all important papers scanned, stored on your computer and stored remotely (for example, on DropBox).  In addition, make a hard copy and take all copies with you.

Get an ATM card that has privileges at a popular Mexican bank, with no fees to make withdrawals.

Have double… no, triple the amount of medicine you think you’ll need until you can refill it.  This also includes items like contacts for your eyes, if, like me the ones you have are disposable.

Not all of these things are likely to happen, but will one or more of them happen when you’re traveling?  My bet is that it will.  And it’s best to be prepared, so it will barely faze you.  Nothing I wrote above is difficult to do, takes a lot of time, or costs a lot of money.

Safety

At this point, we don’t have much to say about safety because it hasn’t been an issue.  In preparation for the trip, we purchased security cables with combination locks (we used the same combination for all of them) that easily attach our computers to heavier, larger objects.  The brand we purchased is made by Sendt, which we highly recommend.  It’s easy, fast, and cheap to do, and would be silly not to.

Other than that, we don’t flash our cash, our van has been very dirty (not 100% by choice) so it blends in as well as a huge, extended top van could, and we’ve primarily been in small towns.  We have never (not even once) feel threatened or had anything stolen.  On the contrary, the Mexican people have proven to be extremely honest.

Pay With Pesos

The first reason to pay with pesos is that it is more likely you’re getting the Mexican price; i.e., the lower price; i.e., not the Gringo price.

The second reason to pay with pesos has to do with the exchange rate, which you should know. Currently, the exchange rate is close to 19 pesos to 1 dollar. This can play to your favour.  For example, most Mexican vendors now will use the exchange rate of 17 to one or even worse because most Gringos pay in dollars. As an example, if an item is 170 pesos, the Mexican vendor may tell you that the exchange rate is 17 to one and ask for US $10, which most Gringos pay. However, at the real exchange rate of 19 to one, that 170-peso item should only cost about US $9.

If you know this, you can often play the game in reverse to your advantage.  Is it a big difference? No, but it does add up, and frees up more money for good tips.

So this marks the end of our six and a half weeks Baja experience.  I say “experience” because it really was. Did things go wrong?  Of course they did. Was everything perfect?  Of course not, and I hope I didn’t convey that.  Here’s what I assume is an incomplete list of what went wrong:

  • They wouldn’t let us through at the first border crossing.
  • It was hot.
  • The water went out in our rental.
  • The power went out in our rental.
  • The Internet didn’t work in our rental.
  • The road wasn’t paved in certain areas.
  • Someone stole the number off my credit card
  • I stepped on a scorpion.

Did these things bother us?  Of course they did.  Did their occurrence keep us from enjoying our overall experience?  No, they did not.  Almost each one was an opportunity to learn something, and none of them left a lasting scar.

Perhaps the main reason these things didn’t ruin our experience is because, overall, there was so much to like.  As you consider whether you would enjoy something like what we did, ask yourself today, as you read this, “In five years, what will I remember about my last six and a half weeks?”  If your answer isn’t as good as what you would remember if you experienced something like what we had and wrote about and created YouTube’s on up until now, perhaps you may want to consider something along the lines of our trip.

Next, my wife and I, our two dogs and our big white van take the ferry from La Paz, Baja, to Mazatlan and drive to a town just north of Puerto Vallarta.  It should be interesting… and fun.

Gringo anxiety part of adapting to life in MX.

Gringo anxiety part of adapting to life in MX

margaritas

Time separation therapy: it’s always time for a drink.

Excessive exasperation used to require a lot of tequila

 

 

The process of adapting to life in Mexico is a cultural adventure, one of bewilderment yet discovery on a regular basis.

Early on I discovered I lived in a country where all the utility companies distrusted the national postal service to the extent that they hand-delivered their own monthly billings. This type of revelation generates trepidation in the average gringo.

“Should I trust that anything sent through the postal system will reach its destination in a timely manner?”

“How will I ever know when I win the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes?”

Dilemmas such as these plagued my every waking moment before I received the help I needed. I got my life back by enrolling in the Acme Expat Immersion Therapy and Attitude Modification Program. I was diagnosed with a classic case of Gringo Anxiety Disorder.

Coping with the vagaries of the Mexican culture was taking its toll. But thanks to Acme I am able to deal with situations which in an earlier time produced excessive exasperation and required a significant quantity of tequila to assuage.

The Acme program taught me how to no longer be shocked by, but to appreciate the requirement of having to test light bulbs prior to purchase. I used to think to myself, “Do I look like the type who would attempt to return a burnt-out bulb?” Thanks to Acme, I am grateful for the opportunity to test the light bulbs I buy because it makes me confident that some pendejohas not exchanged a bad bulb for a good bulb.

Now when I shop for electronic devices and I’m told there is no guarantee past the front door, I fully understand that the same pendejo that would swap bulbs would want to return a cleverly disguised, non-working device which exudes a slight scent of burnt plastic.

Also, the cumbersome process of dealing with any government agency or large commercial institution in Mexico runs from terminal frustration to psychotic aggravation, both precursors to severe Gringo Anxiety Disorder. I used to be bothered by anxious thoughts: “Why doesn’t this line move? Why does it seem like time has stopped? It can’t be that hard.”

If the same convoluted process of registering a motor vehicle in Mexico existed anywhere in the States, there would be bloodshed. Gringos naturally expect all things in life to be properly expedited and professionally handled. If not checked, these types of cultural expectations can lead to acute Gringo Anxiety Disorder.

However, after completing Acme’s 12-step program, I am able to stand in a queue as well as any Mexican. It does, however, require a book, a snack, a water bottle and sometimes a lawn chair, but I can wait it out with the best of them and do it with a smile on my face.

Acme has helped me overcome the social stigmas deeply implanted by my previous culture and now I live a stress-free life in Mexico. A life without any complex social quandaries as to why things are they way they are.

A good life in Mexico requires an almost Zen-like level of cultural acceptance at any given moment. This is because in Mexico, anything or everything can change at any given moment without warning and it often does.

One of the most important steps in the Acme program is time separation therapy, which begins with disabling your wristwatch and permanently setting it at five o’clock. This helps to reprogram the mind to accept the notion that it is always time for an adult beverage. After a few weeks of this therapy, your anxiety is a thing of the past and then it’s time to lose the watch entirely.

So if your life in Mexico is plagued by insecurity, vexation or continuous mortification, you need to enroll today in the Acme Ex-pat Immersion Therapy and Attitude Modification Program. You will be glad you did.

Bodie Kellogg describes himself as a very middle-aged man who lives full-time in Mazatlán with a captured tourist woman and the ghost of a half wild dog. He can be reached at buscardero@yahoo.com.