Two airlines offer new Mexico-Canada flights

Two airlines offer new Mexico-Canada flights

Interjet, WestJet open new routes linking western Canada to Mexico City, Cancún
Interjet began a new Vancouver service yesterday.
Interjet began offering a new Vancouver service yesterday.

Mariachi music and piñatas helped celebrate new airline connections yesterday between Mexico and Canada, and more new flights are on the horizon.

Interjet began offering year-round, non-stop flights between Vancouver and Mexico City and Cancún, operating four flights a week on both routes, with return fares starting at CA $519.

Interjet’s chief commercial officer warned travelers at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Vancouver International Airport that the airline should not be confused with a low-cost carrier.

“We are a value-carrier,” said Julio Gamero, who explained there is no charge for tequila, more legroom and a 50-kilogram limit on baggage.

Vancouver is the third Canadian destination for Interjet. It began flying out of Montreal and Toronto early in the summer to Mexico City and Cancún.

Gamero said the company intends to build traffic volumes on those routes and add more destinations as the numbers increase.

Also planning non-stop, year-round Mexico-Canada flights is the Canadian airline WestJet, which announced earlier this month it will begin flying from Vancouver and Calgary into Mexico City starting in March.

It will offer four flights a week on the Calgary-Mexico City route starting March 14 and three flights a week between Vancouver and Mexico City starting the following day. On April 29, both routes will switch to daily service.

Source: Travel Week (en)

Expatriates in Mexico: what’s the attraction?

Expatriates in Mexico: what’s the attraction?

Study examines why people moved to Mexico and whether expectations were met
Expats in Mexico: study reveals why they moved and how it turned out.
Expats in Mexico: study reveals why they moved and how it turned out.

Why do expatriates move to Mexico? Weather, cost of living and a simpler lifestyle were the top reasons offered by the vast majority of expats contacted for a new survey.

Expats in Medico: A Research Study found too that most of those who relocated to Mexico saw their expectations met and were happy they moved.

Completed by 1,129 expats, the survey offers insight into the motivations, expectations, concerns, experiences and opinions of people who have moved to Mexico to live, either to continue working or to retire.

The study was conducted and published by Best Places in the World to Retire, which describes the report as “a must-read” for anyone considering moving to Mexico.

“This study contains the answers to the most basic, most interesting questions about people moving to Mexico. Why did they do it? What were their expectations? What were their fears? What surprised them? How did it all turn out?” said Chuck Bolotin of Best Places in the World to Retire.

By all accounts it worked out well for most.

There were three clear-cut winners among the reasons why expats decided to move to Mexico: over 80% of respondents cited better weather, a lower cost of living or a desire to have a simpler, less stressful life.

The next three reasons cited — albeit at considerably lower percentages — were a desire to have a less materialistic, more meaningful life, a more romantic, exotic or adventurous life or to have better access to less expensive, quality health care.

Other, more specific factors were revealed in respondents’ comments.

“I wanted some place where I could easily return to the United States,” said one Mazatlán resident, while an expat living in Puerto Vallarta cited “freedom, fewer rules, regulations and red tape,” as the main reason he decided to move to Mexico.   

As for the reality, over 80% said that they had achieved a lower cost of living and enjoyed better weather but the third top reason cited for moving to Mexico — the desire to have a simpler, less stressful life — proved slightly more elusive with just over 75% saying they had actually achieved it.

Still, a significant majority of people responded that they had achieved their motivating goals for moving to Mexico, indicating that most were happy with their decision to move.

Interestingly, women reported that they had achieved their goals at higher rates than men.

While the vast majority of comments about living in Mexico were overwhelmingly positive, there were some negative responses. One Yucatán resident said bureaucratic processes “can really try your patience” while another in Baja California Sur complained that the cost of living was high, specifically citing electricity and water costs.

Overall, the survey data showed that most people’s expectations were largely met and in many cases exceeded, especially with regard to access to high quality, low-cost health care.

However, living a simpler, more stressful life was one exception as a lower percentage actually achieved the goal compared to the percentage of people who cited it as a motivation for moving to Mexico, although the difference was minimal.

In respondents’ comments, working expatriates cited having a healthier work-life balance as an advantage of living in Mexico while many also stressed the emphasis placed on spending time with family as a positive aspect of the Mexican culture.

The survey found that respondents’ primary concern about moving to Mexico was not being able to communicate. Thirty-one per cent said they were worried they would not be able to speak or learn Spanish or get by in their daily life with only English.

However, the same percentage said they were not worried about any of the concerns suggested by the survey.

The next biggest concerns were missing family and friends, underdeveloped infrastructure, health care accessibility and insecurity, although it is worth noting that none of those issues worried more than a quarter of those polled.

“I didn’t have any worries . . . I don’t believe in borders so I thought, if Mexicans can live here, we should be able to as well,” said a resident of Puerto Vallarta, while others said that previous visits or research they had done prior to moving allayed any fears they might have otherwise had.

Just over 70% of respondents said that none of the fears or concerns they had about living in Mexico came true. Slightly more than 10% said they missed first world goods and services while just under 10% said that infrastructure including internet, roads and electricity was substandard.

All other concerns registered single-digit percentages of around 5% or less and notably, just 3.3% of respondents said the ability to communicate remained a concern for them after they became established in their new home.

Only 4.5% said security was a concern despite statistics indicating that this year is likely to be Mexico’s most violent in two decades.

One respondent said, “. . . having lived in Mexico for over 10 years I can tell you Sonora is safer than Arizona,” making a similar point to the Baja California tourism secretary who recently said that tourists are safer in Baja California than California.

A Yucatán resident said that living in Mérida “is fast becoming more and more like living in Florida.”

A resounding 76.5% responded “very much yes” when asked whether they would make the same decision to move to Mexico if given the opportunity to do so while a further 16% said “probably.”

“I don’t know” and “probably not” both came in at under 4% of respondents and just 1.6% responded “absolutely not” to the question.

A recurring comment from respondents was a recommendation to potential new expats to rent in Mexico initially before deciding whether or not to buy a house.

Over half of respondents said that living in Mexico was much better than they expected and when combined with those who said that it was a little better, the proportion reached almost three-quarters of those surveyed.

Around 22% said it was about the same as they expected and less than 4% of respondents said that living in Mexico was a lot worse or a little worse than expected.

One Puerto Vallarta resident said that “other than the drug wars, it’s better than I expected” while another respondent complained that “the biggest problem in Mexico is the expat folks that want to fix Mexico.”

Over 80% of people said that they enjoyed life in Mexico “much more” or “a little more” than in their country of origin while the same percentage also said they were “a lot less” or “a little less” stressed living in Mexico. A similar percentage said they were “much happier” or “somewhat happier” living in Mexico.

Is anyone planning to go home?

Forty-one per cent said they had no plans to return to their country of origin and just under 40% said they hadn’t made any plans or were unsure. Just over 7% said they either planned to return soon or in the next five years while 13% said they would only return whey they were very old or if they were sick.

Among the comments: “spread my ashes out there with the whales” from a resident of Puerto Vallarta while a Lake Chapala expat said, “the Mexican culture honors the elderly and treats them with so much compassion.”

Several other respondents cited improved medical services as a factor that would enable them to stay longer in Mexico.

The full survey can be downloaded here.

Editor’s Notes: Costume Parties And Day Of The Dead Festivities

Editor’s Notes: Costume Parties And Day Of The Dead Festivities

My favorite Mexican holiday starts this weekend with Halloween and Day of the Dead events running from October 27 through to November 5 – it’s basically ten straight days of excuses to get dressed up in fabulous costumes. Are you a funny costume person? Are you someone who rents an elaborate Marie Antoinette or do you get out your glue gun and some sparkles and hope for the best? I usually try to go ‘funny.’ Sometimes it works, and sometimes I look like a wet paper bag.  I have an idea for a homemade costume this year that of course, I haven’t started to work on yet. Look for a wet bag with clumps of sparkles. For those of us who love Halloween, getting dressed up or just need an excuse to party this country never disappoints.

Now Halloween isn’t really recognized in Mexico, but more and more children have wised up to the potential for free candy. You probably won’t have any children knocking on your doors, but if you head to the Malecon or the various shopping plazas, you’ll see oodles of adorable children decked out in their favorite Disney costumes.

Many bars and restaurants will also host events on the weekend with prizes for the best costumes. I was going to publish a big list of all the events but new contributor Jim Lee has dedicated his first column to all the best Halloween events happening this weekend. Not included in Jim’s list, but also not to be missed, is the El Solar Halloween Party on Saturday evening. Pretty much anywhere from 5 de Diciembre to Old Town you’ll find a costume party this weekend.

More traditional Dia de Los Muertos events are planned from October 29 through November 2 around the city. Be sure to check out the elaborate altars set up alongside the municipal buildings in Centro and on November 2 you can take a free guided tour of the local cemetery at 9 or 10 am, join in the parade through the streets and enjoy the all-day festivities at the municipal market along Rio Cuale.

On November 5, our friends at Los Muertos Brewing host their 5th annual Fiesta en la Calle from 2 pm to 10 pm. Live music, traditional dancers, costumes and more. Not to be missed!

In addition to Jim Lee, we welcome Bruce Howells who hails from Bucerias via Calgary, AB. Now a full-time resident, Bruce refuses to drive and has wholeheartedly embraced public transit. He is going to share his experiences riding the buses and collectivos around the bay. If you have tips or itineraries you’d like him to explore – send him an email.

Cat Morgan is back within the pages after a long summer in Colorado. She will keep us updated on local events around the Riviera Nayarit. It looks like La Cruz Marina is hosting a day of the Dead event in the town plaza on November 2 and there are many Halloween parties in La Cruz and Bucerias happening this weekend as well.

We still have a couple of other new contributors joining us in the coming weeks. As well as the launch of our first annual reader’s choice awards. I hope you’ve been taking notes of all your favorite places and people around the bay. More details soon.

Have a great weekend. I can’t wait to see all your costumes!

Madeline

‘Timmy’s’ now open in suburb of Monterrey

‘Timmy’s’ now open in suburb of Monterrey

Canadian coffee shop Tim Hortons opened yesterday in San Pedro Garza García
A Timmy's fan stocks up on donuts yesterday in Monterrey.
A Timmy’s fan stocks up on donuts yesterday in Nuevo León.

A popular Canadian fast-food outlet that opened yesterday in Mexico is expected to be the first of many.

Tim Hortons, an iconic Canadian café renowned for its coffee and donuts, is now open in San Pedro Garza García in the greater metropolitan area of Monterrey.

The company announced in January that it would expand into Mexico to take advantage of what is saw as a thriving coffee market.

Tim Hortons México manager Mauricio Barrera said the Monterrey suburb was chosen for the company’s first Mexican outlet as a result of studies that showed its products already enjoyed widespread acceptance there.

It was also seen as one of the most highly developed cities in Mexico with a large industrial and commercial presence.

But Mexico City is also in the company’s sights, Barrera said. “. . . we know we have a lot of loyal followers there, people who have been exposed to the brand in Canada . . . .”

The brand specializes in hot and cold coffee, latte and expresso, and freshly baked goods.

Tim Hortons was founded by and named after a famous Canadian ice hockey player who played for 24 seasons in the National Hockey League. The first outlet opened in 1964.

There are now 3,800 Tim Hortons restaurants in Canada — commonly known as “Timmy’s” — and another 800 in the United States and the Middle East.

“We’re looking to win the palates and the hearts of Mexicans with our great product, our definition of service and our fair prices,” Barrera said.

Source: Milenio (sp)

3 Story For Sale in Olimpica Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta

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•  300 sqm , 4 bath , 6 bdrm 3 story FOR SALE  USD359,000 .
MLS® 12077

Corner property with excellent visibility. This building is completely rented year-round. It is made up of 4 apartments and 4 retail spaces. The breakdown is as follows: 1- 2 bedroom/2 bath, 2-1 bedroom/1 bath, 1-studio, and 4 retail spaces on street level. At this price, an investor can make a minimum of a 6.5% ROI. Great place for owner occupier.
Private Remarks: Escritura shows 105M2 of construction, current owner has added the extra M2.
Directions: Corner of Francisco Villa & Sierra Aconcagua (one block north of Seapal).

Propiedad en esquina con excelente visibilidad. Este edificio está completamente alquilado durante todo el año. Está formado por 4 apartamentos y 4 espacios comerciales. El desglose es el siguiente: 1- 2 habitaciones / 2 baños, 2-1 habitaciones / 1 baño, 1 estudio y 4 espacios comerciales en el nivel de la calle. A este precio, un inversor puede hacer un ROI mínimo de 6.5%. Gran lugar para el propietario ocupante.
Comentarios privados: Escritura muestra 105M2 de construcción, el propietario actual ha agregado el M2 adicional.
Direcciones: Esquina de Francisco Villa y Sierra Aconcagua (una cuadra al norte de Seapal).

Property information

Tips For Busing The Banderas Bay

Tips For Busing The Banderas Bay

These tips are from my recollections and experiences as well as input from online forums. I have not contacted any bus lines to verify information.

I would like this to be a “living” document and welcome all tips. Send emails to “busbanderasbay@gmail.com”

 

Collectivos:

White vans usually with red lettering on the front, as well as their destinations on the front window and the side of the van

Operate to some North Shore communities of the Bay including:

  • PV to Punta De Mita and all communities in between
  • San Juan to Punta De Mita and all communities in between
  • La Mision, Porvenal, and Neuvo but I have not ridden them, yet. I wonder where they go and what’s there? Stay tuned!

Can transport 12 – 15 passengers.

Price is usually the same as the bus but they are more frequent.

FLAG THEM DOWN. There are no set stops, you can flag them down and get off just about anywhere.

HOLLER TO GET OFF.

Get used to saying “buenas dias, tardes, noches” as people board, everyone is friendly and happy

Be prepared to help others off and on, open / close the door

Some are air-conditioned, some are not

You pay for the collectivo as you leave, not when you get on, like the bus.

Buses:

There are several routes for touring the bay.

Route to Mismaloya and points south of the city.

  • Usually orange busses with destinations on front window
  • PV Departures from Basilio Badillo and Constitution
  • Flag them down wherever you are, they usually stop

Route to Punta de Mita (includes stops at all locations in between)

  • Usually white busses with Blue / Red ATM lettering on the side and destinations on the front window
  • PV Departures from the Walmart across from the cruise ship terminal
  • Flag them down wherever you are, they usually stop

Route to Sayulita (includes stops at all locations in between)

  • Usually white busses with green or red trim / fronts and “Compestela” lettering on the side and destinations on the front window
  • PV Departures from the Walmart across from the ferry terminal
  • Flag them down wherever you are, they usually stop

Routes north of Sayulita to Los Ayala includes stops at all locations in between

  • Usually white busses with red trim and “Compestela” lettering on the side and destinations on the front window. Could be green trim as well! Window must mention San Pancho, Lo De Marco, Los Ayala

Flag them down wherever you are, they usually stop

Routes north to La Penita, Tepic, Guadalajara

  • These are touring type buses (Pacifico) but still have their destinations on the front window
  • Usually white / brown / green buses with green Pacifico lettering on the side and destinations on the front window BUT I have seen all green buses
  • These buses do not stop as frequently as the other buses, look for Pacifico terminals in towns, except for Bucerias where there is a stop on the lateral, just past El Centro, heading north at the blue bus sign
    • On return trip from La Penita there is a Pacifico terminal at the top of the hill by the highway
    • On the return trip to Bucerias I have seen them stop on the lateral at the first two or three lights in town but get on the highway before the dry riverbed.
  • Flag them down on the highway, they seem to stop

General Tips:

  • Destinations are always posted on the front windows. Read them!
  • Destinations are sometimes posted on the passenger side.
  • Have small change. When fares are as low as 7 pesos, don’t pay with 500 pesos, unless you really like coins.
  • Have small change / exact change. I have been charged both 15 pesos & 17 pesos for the same trip. So, when I go, I give the driver 30 pesos for two people. If I give 40 pesos I may only get 6 pesos back or I may get 10! This is part of the fun of bus travel.
  • Most small towns have an “El Centro” where there are taxis, restaurants and usually someone who knows someone who speaks English. If you are not sure where to go, FIND IT!

Language Tips:

Many drivers understand some English and passengers are usually willing to help out.

I have never been stranded due to my lack of Spanish.

Try and memorize some key phrases, it shows you are trying

  • Can you stop at……….”puedes parar en..”
  • How much ……………. “cuanto”
  • Where is ……………. “donde esta”
  • Does this bus go to ….. “Va este camion a”
  • Can you tell me where to get off for … “Puedes decirme dónde bajar”

If WiFi is handy, use Translate and show the driver, or write it out in advance

Try and learn to recognize numbers and amounts. Don’t keep handing over bills until the driver signals enough.

When all else fails, do not speak louder in your language.

Single Story For Sale in 5 de Diciembre, Puerto Vallarta

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•  402 sqm single story FOR SALE  USD400,000 .

Calle bien recorrido con muchas tiendas minoristas. La propiedad tal como está, sería perfecta para una tienda de llantas, un garaje automotor o un estacionamiento de pago. También es una excelente ubicación para que un desarrollador construya usos múltiples con tiendas en el nivel de la calle y apartamentos / condominios arriba. A solo 3 cuadras de la playa y excelentes restaurantes.
Terreno 402 M2 con construcción de 54 M2. $ 400,000 USD.

Well traveled street with many retail stores. The property as is, would be perfect for a tire store, automotive garage or pay parking lot. It is also a great location for a developer to build multi-use with stores on the street level and apartments/condos above. Just 3 blocks to the beach and excellent restaurants.
Terreno 402 M2 con construcción de 54 M2. $400,000 USD.

Property information

Sweet Death

Sweet Death

The term artesanía roughly translates to “handcrafts” or “folk art” although cultural differences mean that the terms are not completely equal. For example, the adjective artesanal can and often is applied to certain processed foods such as bottle salsas, chocolate, coffee and alcohol if said products are made at a home or by a small enterprises that do not use industrial methods.

Despite the temptation cover some of these artisanal goods (as they ARE wonderful), I have stuck to products that fit the definition of handcrafted in English. However, there is one tradition that truly blurs the line between edible and non-edible “handcrafts.”

Alfeñique is the creation of a sugar paste, which is then molded into various decorative shapes. The term is not known to foreigners, but anyone who has been to Mexico during Day of the Dead (esp. in central Mexico) has seen its most representative product… a highly decorative sugar skull, with a place to add the name of a person. If the skull is placed on an altar dedicated to loved ones passed on, it can take the name of the deceased. If it is a gift to be eaten, then the name of the recipient.

The craft has a long history in Mexico, from the early colonial period. A number of sources link it as a replacement for the pre-Hispanic making of figures of amaranth seed and agave syrup, which was banned by Catholic religious authorities. This old link is probably why the tradition is most firmly rooted in the old colonial cities of central and southern Mexico.

Unfortunately, the cookie-cutter sugar skulls seen in supermarkets and even traditional markets are unlikely to be “artesanía” but rather more mass-produced. That does not mean there are no longer true artisans who work in sugar paste. They can be found in most of Mexico’s central states, Puebla, Estado de Mexico, Veracruz, Michoacán, parts of Zacatecas… but the center of truly creative sugar work is the city of Toluca, just west of Mexico City.

Here the paste is used to make all kinds of figures, not just skulls and while figures such as animals and such can and are made for other occasions, by far most of the production is for and related to Day of the Dead. The city has had a fair dedicated to its production of alfenique and other Day of the Dead crafts for years now and recently opened a museum dedicated to the craft as well.

The finished pieces are perfectly edible, but in reality most are not eaten. It is not sugar candy in the modern sense. It is a mixture of powdered sugar and egg white, with colors added depending on what the paste will be used for. In the case of skulls, the base is thicker and formed with a mold. The decorative elements are made with a softer paste that is piped on, much the way that decorative icing is applied onto fine cakes. Both harden to something that is not only very hard to break with the teeth, but really does not melt in the mouth (a la Jolly Ranchers) because of the protein in the egg whites.  In the past, they were certainly eaten, as sugar used to be an expensive commodity. But today, if one wants skulls or other decorations that can truly be enjoyed as candy, items made from other materials can be had. At the Feria de Alfeñique, artisans demonstrate skills in making items from chocolate, amaranth (a nod to the past), tamarind, peanut marzipan, wafers and pepita (a sweet paste made from pumpkin seeds). While skulls are still central, the Toluca event also features other items such as coffins, miniatures of food items often found on Day of the Dead altars, (mole, breads, fruits…), full skeletal figures and animals, in particular, the deer.

 

The Feria de Alfenique begins in mid October and runs through Day of the Dead on November 2. The stands are open every day during the entire time, with cultural activities such as music and craft workshops available on weekends.

 

All photos by Alejandro Linares Garcia. Featured photo of lighted sugar skull by Dulceria Tradicional Zarco of Toluca

Daylight Savings Time Ends in Mexico This Weekend

Daylight Savings Time Ends in Mexico This Weekend


October 23, 2017
Daylight saving time officially ends for most of Mexico at 2 am this Sunday, October 29, 2017. If you are here in Puerto Vallarta, be sure to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – There are just a couple of days left before we get that opportunity for an extra hour’s sleep in the morning. That’s right, Daylight Saving Time 2017 officially ends for most of Mexico at 2 am on Sunday, October 29th – this weekend! That means you need to set your clock back one hour before retiring on Saturday night.

Since Mexico did not go along with the changes that the United States made to established daylight savings time in 2007, it’s important to note that the shift to standard time in most of Mexico will take place a week earlier than U.S. citizens, who will not set their clocks back until 2 am on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

Ten northern border municipalities observe the same DST schedule as the United States. They are: Acuna, Anahuac, Juarez, Matamoros, Mexicali, Nuevo Laredo, Ojinaga, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, and Tijuana. But the rest of Mexico will be an hour behind the U.S. for the next week, something visitors may find useful to know – especially those arriving by cruise ship or airplane.

At Puerto Vallarta’s Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport, flight itineraries will be rescheduled to avoid delays and confusion for passengers, and all of the information screens in the national and international corridors, terminals, waiting rooms and shopping areas will be adjusted, detailing arrivals, departures and flight status.

Airport directors will coordinate with service companies that operate at the airfield to change flight schedules and inform passengers about flight rescheduling.

According to current airline safety guidelines, and in order to comply with the review of documents and baggage check, travelers should arrive at the airport three hours in advance for international flights, and two hours in advance for national flights.

If you are already here in Puerto Vallarta, be sure to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed on Saturday night. For residents, this is also a good time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors, an equally important task.

See The World Clock for a list of current times around the world, and which places are observing DST at the moment. (Marked by * on The World Clock.)