Looking for craft beer in Mexico City? Here are some options

Cervecería Reforma makes a gose, a porter and an Irish red ale.Cervecería Reforma makes a gose, a porter and an Irish red ale.

Looking for craft beer in Mexico City? Here are some options

These breweries have braved the traffic and chaos to bring their beer to capitalinos

Mexican craft beer may still only have 3% of the national market, but it is crushing it in Mexico City.

Folks are clamoring for local beer, and while there has always been an abundance of breweries in cities like Guadalajara and Tijuana, until recently not many breweries were actually located in the heart of CDMX.

These breweries have braved the traffic and chaos to bring capitalinos beer right down the street and around the corner and here is where you can find them.

Cerveza Cru Cru

Callejón de Romita #8, Colonia Roma

Making beer was just the hobby of a few of the Cru Cru partners until they banded together to open their microbrewery in the Colonia Roma. They now have a production area and a small taproom in a 19-century mansion in La Romita (with lots of intrigue sprinkled throughout the house’s pre-brewery history).

Cru Cru always has four of their standard beers on tap as well a few innovations or collaborations behind the bar if you ask nicely (the gose made with worm salt is fantastic). Their most popular beer is the pale ale (it makes up a whopping 70% of their production), but founder Luis de la Reguera says his current favorite is the Cru Cru porter.

While they don’t have a full-service taproom and bar just yet, which is what they are working towards, for the time being if you want to visit you can join my craft beer and taco tour (MexicoCityStreets.com), or join the twice weekly Craft Beer Turibus tour on Fridays and Saturdays, or come by the brewery on Thursday at 7:00pm for salsa class (no, you don’t have to dance in order to try the beer, it’s just when the brewery is guaranteed to be open).

Falling Piano Brewing

Coahuila 99, Colonia Roma

Started as a crowd-funding project, Falling Piano Brewery in the heart of Colonia Roma has 45 investors and two founding partners. In March of this year their set-up will be complete and downstairs will be the production area where you can get a tour and some beer-making 101.

One of Falling Piano's beers is called 'your dog is barking.'

One of Falling Piano’s beers is called ‘your dog is barking.’

For now, upstairs is a warehouse-style taproom with space for about 100 people. The kitchen is a rotating pop-up — each month a new chef or restaurant is invited to create the menu. They have 15 beers on tap, all the Falling Piano brand, with classic Mexico City names like tu perro está ladrando (your dog is barking), an IPA, or the tusci pop, a fruit beer inspired by a traditional Mexican candy.

These are some of the same folks that brought you HOP: The Beer Experience (see below), dedicated to bringing delicious beer to the masses of Mexico City. As founder Diego Lara likes to say, beer makes good moments better and bad moments bearable.

Cervecería Reforma

Calle Laura Mendez de Cuenca 21 A, Colonia Obrera

Officially opened in 2015 and selling beer since 2016 the Cervecería Reforma is a high-tech set-up where you can get a hyper-detailed tour of the processing room and learn how they make their three styles: a gose, a porter and an Irish red ale.

They are currently working on a fourth style so stay tuned. The name Reforma obviously refers to the city’s grand avenue but also, according to the brewery’s founders, the union of Mexico’s two strongest cultural influences – Europe, represented by Chapultepec castle at one end, and its indigenous roots, represented by the Templo Mayor at the other.

These two sides of the Mexican psyche are represented in their beer as well. This cervecería doesn’t have its doors thrown open wide to the public (that is their next step), but is part of the city’s Craft Beer Turibus tour on Fridays and Saturdays and offers its space for group tastings and tours with advance notice.

HOP: The Beer Experience

Avenida Cuauhtémoc 870, Colonia Narvarte Poniente

Ok so HOP is not a brewery, but the three city locations are great places to get craft beer. HOP 2 in Colonia Narvarte has 52 beers on tap, more than anywhere else in the country! They started out as a craft beer store and then slowly evolved into craft beer bars and beer gardens that import hard-to-find-in-Mexico craft beer from around the world.

HOP 1 in Juárez is a cozy little beer cave, HOP 2 in Narvarte is a massive rollicking beer garden and the new HOP in Polanco is somewhere in the middle and a little more fancy, as you would imagine.

One more round

A couple more spots for tasting craft beer: the relatively new Principiabrewing from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, in Colonia Del Valle (Magdalena 311) currently has 12 beers on their menu, with a little over half the bar’s own brand.

The Tasting Room (Chiapas 73) has also become a cult classic, their brand is Morenos and in addition to that they have a lot of United States craft beers on their menu.

The tiny Beer Bros in Narvarte (corner of Luz Saviñon and Juan Sánchez Azcona) also has a wide range of craft beer from Mexico and around the world.

Lydia Carey is a freelance writer based in Mexico City.

International tourist numbers up 5.5% last year and they spent more, To Mexico

The beach umbrellas are ready for more growth in tourism.The beach umbrellas are ready for more growth in tourism.

International tourist numbers up 5.5% last year and they spent more

There were 41.4 million international tourists and they spent 6% more

The Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) said in a statement that 41,447,000 foreign tourists visited Mexico in 2018 compared to 39.3 million the year before.

The tourists spent just over US $20.3 billion while here, 6% more than in 2017. Each international tourist spent on average US $490 in the country.

The top 10 source countries for tourists who arrived by air were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany, France and Peru.

Once daytrippers from the three countries with which Mexico shares a border are added, a total of just under 96.8 million foreign visitors entered the country last year.

That figure represents a 2.6% decline on total visitor numbers in 2017, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

The 55.3 million daytrippers spent just under US $2.2 billion or an average of $39 each, taking total tourism expenditure to just over $22.5 billion, 5.5% more than 2017.

For this year, Sectur predicts that international numbers could hit 43.6 million, which would represent a 5.2% increase on last year’s figures. Total tourism expenditure is forecast to reach jut under US $23.7 billion, which would also be 5.2% higher than in 2018.

Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Marqués described the outlook in both areas as positive.

Earlier this month, Torruco said that the government is aiming to increase expenditure by tourists in Mexico by focusing more on attracting big spenders.

Among the nationalities that spend the most while visiting Mexico, the Japanese were in first place, spending an average of $2,008, not including airfare.

However, in terms of visitor numbers, Japan was only in 17th place with 140,363 visitors.

Source: Notimex (sp) 

A week on the Sea of Cortez, ‘the world’s aquarium’.

The tiny island of San Francisquito.The tiny island of San Francisquito. CHRIS LLOYD

A week on the Sea of Cortez, ‘the world’s aquarium’

Myriad species of marine life, from sea lions to needlefish

Day 1, Los Islotes Island, Baja California Sur

We are anchored at the sea lion rookery of Los Islotes, 1,300 kilometers northwest of Mexico City. I am a guest of my friend Richard Gresham aboard his 51-foot sloop, the good ship God’s Way.

We set out from La Paz for this point early this morning, passing Steven Spielberg’s huge yacht, Seven Seas, along the way. The other two crew members are geologist Chris Lloyd and tarantula expert Rodrigo Orozco.

At the moment, I am the only person on board, as the other three are 29 meters away, hobnobbing with a bunch of very curious sea lion pups they found in a tiny inlet, a hopefully safe distance away from the enormous males sprawled over nearby rocks and creating a great stir with their loud, raucous calls.

“The babies kept nibbling at my fins . . . they nibble at everything, just to see what it is,” Rodrigo Orozco told me later. “They seemed to be having a lot of fun.”

Heading for shore in a kayak to explore the beach.

Heading for shore in a kayak to explore the beach.

Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium,” and no wonder. During just a few hours we have spotted parrotfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, billfish, surgeonfish, groupers, mackerel and sardines. As for birds, we have seen pelicans, cormorants, boobies, sandpipers, great blue herons, ravens and, of course, seagulls.

With reluctance we raise anchor and head for our next destination, La Partida.

“It’s a nice, quiet place with a high, sloping wall that blocks the wind,” says the captain. “You’ll enjoy walking along the shore: it’s just teeming with marine life.”

Although our destination is nice and quiet, getting there is something else because the sea is choppy today. As soon as the engine is turned on, the boat begins to crash over the waves: Bang! Bang! Bang!

Everything inside the cockpit begins first to swing, then to rise and fall. Anything that wasn’t properly stored then slides off whatever surface it was on and crashes to the floor, rolling, bouncing, shattering or splashing in every direction.

Bang! Bang! Bang! As the spray washes over the deck, every window in the boat begins to leak, including the one above my bed.

Pelican at Los Islotes.

Pelican at Los Islotes. CHRIS LLOYD

“Captain! The windows are leaking!”

The reply is barely audible over the commotion of a ship under way: “John, in a boat, everything leaks. Better get used to it.”

With the ship in motion, we crew members now have a choice: stay in the cockpit and get seasick or go on deck and get blasted by icy spray that hits you every time the boat crashes into a wave.

Well, on the deck it’s windy, wet and cold, guaranteeing that if you are up there during phase one you won’t be passing those four hours reading or writing, so I opt for the cockpit and, fortunately, my stomach quickly learns how to adjust to the wild thrashing of the boat.

Then the captain shouts, “Land ho!” The engine is shut off and there is a sudden hush as we glide into the sheltered bay. We have arrived.

God’s Way, my floating home for a week, is owned by “semi-retired” mining engineer Richard Gresham, who says he’s always dreamed of sailing and bought God’s Way from a very religious man living in the Bible Belt “who was no good at repairing anything, so I was able to buy the boat for a song because it was in a terrible state when I got it.

Pelicans and sea lion at Los Islotes rookery.

Pelicans and sea lion at Los Islotes rookery.

But then it cost me a fortune to get it up to where it is today. I bought this sloop with the intention of sailing it through the Panama Canal, up through the Caribbean and on to Boston . . . but projects got in the way and, in the meantime, I fell in love with the Sea of Cortez, which I have toured eight times so far and which I expect to tour several times more, as there is so much to see in this wonderful sea . . . life is good!”

Day 3, San Francisco Island

This island is notable for its high, barren, rocky walls “with a trail going up to the top.” Yesterday we had arrived here through a very choppy sea, but this morning the surface is as smooth as glass and I get what I hope will be a magnificent picture of sunrise — dawn, actually — through my porthole.

After breakfast we find our boat totally surrounded by sardines. The schools swirl like clouds of underwater starlings. Among them we can occasionally see needlefish which are truly long, thin and pointy, at least a foot long.

“They are only dangerous if you happen to get in their way,” I am told. Richard and Chris go snorkeling and once again see an astounding variety of exotic fish.

We raise anchor and glide across the mirror-smooth surface a couple of kilometers to Bahía Amortajada — ”Chopped-up Bay.” Now and again a manta ray leaps into the air alongside the boat.

Happy sailors relaxing.

Happy sailors relaxing. RODRIGO OROZCO

We anchor off a shore covered with a forest of giant cardon cacti, said to be the tallest in the world. Here there is a river filled with mangroves leading to a small lake. We spot a turkey vulture, kingfisher, white ibis, night heron, snowy egret and gulls.

Day 4

We are on our way to San José. This is part of the mainland connected by a long, rough road to La Paz. We drop anchor at a place called Nopaló, where there’s a very rocky beach and an isolated house — from which the wind wafts music to us over the waves. It’s Shakira singing! Binoculars reveal a little girl doing cartwheels to the music, on the porch.

To go ashore, we put on swimsuits, stuff clothing into a dry bag, carefully slide on to plastic “kayaks” that resemble no kayak I have ever seen, and paddle ashore.

We stroll down the beach to the home of Señora León, a jolly lady who immediately says, “Sí sí” when we ask whether she might be able to fry us some fish for which we would be happy to pay her.

While waiting for our dinner, we wander along a path paralleling a rough wall of volcanic rock dotted with shelter caves. The trail takes us to the local cemetery where we find only the graves of people named León, some with very large and impressive tombstones. It seems amazing that generations of the same family have lived in this isolated place.

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    Wandering tattler about to land at Los Islotes. (Photo: Chris Lloyd)
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  • 5—Cemetery-at-Nopalo
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  • 8—GR-Dorado-dinner-at-Nopolo
  • 13—Our-cook-and-daughter-at-Nopolo
  • 16—Sea-Lion-DSC_1795-Los-Islotes-Chris
  • 17—Wandering-Tattler-DSC_1710-Los-Islotes-Chris

Setting foot on land reveals that we are no longer landlubbers. The salt cedars along the trail all seem to be swaying — but there’s no wind! And later, when we sit down in Señora León’s kitchen we all remark how curiously the walls are dancing and how amazing it is that nothing is rolling across the table.

Our ebullient hostess serves us a delicious meal of rice, broccoli and truly exquisite fried dorado (mahi mahi). We return to the boat stuffed and happy and spend the night anchored in the same bay.

To be continued

The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, for more than 30 years and is the author of A Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones and Surrounding Area and co-author of Outdoors in Western Mexico. More of his writing can be found on his website.

Editor’s Note: Roadtrip Otra Vez!

 

 

Editor’s Note: Roadtrip Otra Vez!

This past weekend I took to the road (again) under the guise of research and headed north to the small town of Chacala, the last beach town before you drive into the mountains, on your way to Compostela. It’s a fishing village that has grown in recent years to become a lively tourist destination. On the weekends the beachfront restaurants are packed with families enjoying freshly caught seafood and playing in the surf.

The beach is flat and the gentle waves shallow, perfect for small kids and those who don’t want to get their hair wet. The water is so calm that there are paddleboarders in the bay, even in the later afternoon. A couple of sailboats are moored offshore, and colourful fishing pangas line the pier just off the main beach. It’s ridiculously idyllic. And affordable.

Looking like a scene out of an advertisement for a tropical dream vacation, the palapa roofs and swaying palm trees inspire you to imagine a simpler life. And by the looks of the crowd, there are a fair number of people who have settled in Chacala, at least for the winter, living exactly this life.

If you know me, you know I gauge how much I like a place by how much I want to pack everything and move immediately. I loved Chacala so much I messaged a friend and asked her to help find me a long term rental… maybe this is the big move my horoscope is warning me about.

If you have a chance to visit this village, I highly recommend it. There are many rooms on Airbnb and a dozen or so hotels with rooms that start at $400 pesos for double occupancy (I suggest splurging on the 800 peso rooms). There were vacancies in most places I enquired at, so as long as it’s not a major holiday or a long weekend, you can probably show up and find a room easily. There are plenty of restaurants and a couple of small grocery stores. Pack a bathing suit, and you’re good to go!

Now, if you’re not up for a road trip this weekend, there are plenty of great events happening around the bay including all the live music venues which you can check out here.

This week is also the 8th Annual International Charro Championship in Arena Vallarta. This high-energy 5-day event is the highlight of rodeo aficionados and features some of the best horsemen (and women) from Mexico and the United States. Charro is recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and is an intrinsic part of Jalisco and Mexican culture. You can learn more about the events at www.arenavallarta.com. Look for details on how to travel by bus from Vallarta and Nayarit to the arena in these pages.

This past week was the final week of voting for the 2nd Annual Best of Vallarta Reader’s Choice Awards. 1000’s of votes were cast and will now be compiled, and the winners for 2019 will be announced in a couple weeks. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to vote and to read the ‘Best of’ guide we published this month. Copies have been distributed to over 100 points around the bay – be sure to pick up yours before they’re all gone! Stay tuned for more info. Thank you to everyone who has participated this year – it is much appreciated!

Safe travels and giddyup,

Madeline

The Guachimontones of Teuchitlán, Western Mexico’s circular pyramids

View of the restored pyramids from “bleachers” atop a nearby hillside.View of the restored pyramids from “bleachers” atop a nearby hillside.

The Guachimontones of Teuchitlán, Western Mexico’s circular pyramids

An amazing civilization — unique in many ways — had once flourished in the weed-covered hills

The capital of this ancient nation was Teuchitlán, “The Place of the First God,” located within the shadow of the Tequila Volcano, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.

Inhabitants of the modern-day Teuchitlán knew there was something special about a group of large mounds just over a kilometer north of town, but had no idea how important they once were. They called these mounds Los Guachimontones.

I paid my first visit to this site in 1985 before any sort of development had taken place. Upon reaching the edge of the little town of Teuchitlán, I stared in disbelief at the “road” leading to the Guachimontones. I was driving a Jeep, but that so-called road was such a mass of ruts and churned up rocks that I simply parked and went on foot.

All I could see were tall weeds and cornfields but, by good luck, I found a farmer out there who pointed to a hill covered with heavy brush. “That is a Guachimontón,” he said.

A mural by Jorge Monroy shows the bird man in flight.

A mural by Jorge Monroy shows the Bird Man in flight.

Just getting through the corn to the base of the Guachimontón was difficult enough, but now I had to push my way through thorn bushes, cacti and irritating nettles to finally reach the very top of the hill — which did appear to be man-made. “This is an unusually tall heap of rocks,” I thought, “but that’s all it is, just a heap of rocks.”

Without realizing it, I had drawn a conclusion similar to what many archaeologists of the time thought about the nature of ancient west Mexico and — like them — I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Unknown to me, two local researchers, archaeologist Phil Weigand and his wife Acelia, an art historian, had looked beneath the surface at Teuchitlán and had discovered that the textbooks were wrong. An amazing civilization — unique in many ways — had once flourished in those weed-covered hills.

Twenty some years before my visit to the Guachimontones, Acelia Weigand happened to be visiting a natural spring located just east of Teuchitlán. “It was in 1962,” she says. “The kids were diving near a huge fig tree in a small, natural pool when I saw these shiny pieces of glass under the water. I told them to be careful because there were broken bottles down there and they could get cut.

“So the kids started pulling these shiny things out and they said, ‘No auntie, they’re not bottles, they’re knives!’ Well, all of them were long, sharp, prismatic blades of obsidian and I brought 13 of them back to our house in Etzatlán. But I couldn’t get Felipe to pay any attention to them for seven years. Seven years it took for me to lead him up to the obsidian workshop from which those blades had washed down to the swimming hole!”

This ancient obsidian workshop led the Weigands to the ruins of the pyramids now known as the Guachimontones. Phil Weigand later recalled: “I stood on the largest pyramid, looked around and thought, this is unexpected.”

Phil Weigand directs excavation of the ball court.

Phil Weigand directs excavation of the ball court.

It turned out to be an understatement. The Weigands set aside a summer to explore the pyramids they had found and ended up spending the next 29 years documenting a complex, highly organized society which had begun in western Mexico in 1000 BC and had reached its apogee around 200 AD.

I had no clue what the Guachimontones represented until one day in 1997, when I heard rumors about an American archaeologist living in the town of Etzatlán, 26 kilometers northwest of Teuchitlán. Tracking down a foreigner in a small Mexican town is easy and this is how I first met the Weigands.

One of the many endearing characteristics of Phil Weigand was his total lack of pretentiousness and his willingness to share his discoveries — at length, I might add — with anyone who would listen, and I do mean anyone, even the humblest rancher or laborer.

“Look at these clay models of people gathered around the Guachimontones,” he said. “I’ve just had them made. Each one is a faithful copy of a 2,000-year-old original found right here in this part of Jalisco. Aren’t they amazing?”

“Amazing” doesn’t do justice to those clay models. They are full of life. We see dozens of people socializing, chatting and jostling one another or perhaps linked arm in arm, performing the cadena (chain dance), while listening to groups of musicians. Around this walkway, on evenly spaced, terraced platforms, the local VIPs gazed out the doorways of buildings that to western eyes might look typically Chinese.

These structures had tall, pointy, gabled roofs which, along with their wattle-and-daub walls, were carefully plastered and beautifully painted in bright colors. The VIPs chatted with the people in the milling crowd, perhaps discussing the latest score of the ball game taking place in the court located alongside the largest pyramid. Directly to the north, a huge crowd of onlookers may have watched the events from a steep, terraced hillside.

Get Directions

Teuchitlán

Everyone, of course, was anxiously waiting for the main event of the day to begin. A sturdy pole had been set in the exact center of each steep pyramid. No one today knows exactly what its function was. The clay models show a “flier” balanced on top of the pole, probably representing Ehécatl, the Bird Man and, as the clay models show us, a crowd of people pushing on the pole caused him to “fly.”

It is also possible that ropes were wound around the pole, as is still done today in Veracruz, and that fliers tied to the ropes and bedecked with feathers swooped through the air in ever-widening circles, soaring up and down like graceful birds, finally to land on the circular walkway around the pyramid.

This, however, is pure speculation on my part, as no archaeological proof has yet been found to back up the idea that the ritual of voladores originated here.

The size and proportions of the rings around the mound followed a deliberately chosen geometrical formula, and the diameter of the pyramid was always 2.5 times the width of the walkway. These proportions form the basis for Teuchitlán’s formal circular architecture which is unique not only in Mesoamerica, but in the entire world. Nearly 200 complexes employing this architectural style have been found in western Mexico, making it easy for archaeologists to trace the limits of Teuchitlán’s influence.

No one knows what these people called themselves. What we do know is that they revered Ehecatl, “the First God, who was known as the Night Wind and portrayed as the Bird Man, covered with feathers.” Ehecatl apparently didn’t need human sacrifice to satisfy his ego. Perhaps because of this, the people of the Teuchitlán tradition seem to have been peaceful souls in comparison with the Aztecs, who came much later.

The bright blaze of the Teuchitlán civilization began to dim around the year 450 AD for reasons so far unknown. Archaeologists tell us that a day came when every building around the circular pyramids was burned to the ground. At the same time, new organizational and political systems had sprung into existence and the ritual of the Bird Man simply disappeared. These changes were expressed architecturally in the form of rectangular buildings. Gone were the circular pyramids — forever.

  • Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones, in English and Spanish.
    Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones, in English and Spanish.
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  • 9—house-construction
  • 11—Phil-Weigand-and-geometry
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  • 15—yy-Ehecatle
  • 16—zz-Guide-in-English-and-Spanish

For a while it was thought that the Teuchitlán people had simply vanished around 450 AD, but when the foundations were dug for a museum, now called the Phil Weigand Interpretive Center, numerous proofs were uncovered showing that Teuchitlán had been inhabited continuously for 2,000 years, from the pre-classical period right through to the post-classical. The enigma of this curious and industrious civilization is today inspiring a new generation of archaeologists to carry on the studies begun by the Weigands and to dig even deeper into the fascinating mystery of the ancient people of Teuchitlán.

More than 150,000 people from all over the world visit the Guachimontones ruins and museum every year. The site is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 to 5 and there is no admission charge on Tuesdays. An English-Spanish guide to the Guachimontones is available at the museum and can be ordered online.

The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, for more than 30 years and is the author of A Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones and Surrounding Area and co-author of Outdoors in Western Mexico. More of his writing can be found on his website.

Monarch butterfly numbers best in 12 years but they’re not out of the woods

Monarch butterflies in their Mexican winter habitat.Monarch butterflies in their Mexican winter habitat.

Monarch butterfly numbers best in 12 years but they’re not out of the woods

Scientists warn that favorable weather conditions played a role

A huge increase in the number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexican forests this year is a welcome event but not likely to happen again next year, some scientists warn.

The Natural Protected Areas Commission announced today that the area occupied by the butterflies is up 144% to 6.05 hectares. Last year the area was just 2.48 hectares.

Commission head Andrew Rhodes told a press conference that it was the largest area since 2006-2007, when it measured 6.87 hectares. The smallest area recorded was 0.67 hectares in 2013-2014.

But scientists say that six hectares should be seen as the minimum necessary for the viability of the insect, which migrates annually to Mexico in the fall from the United States and Canada. A Canadian ecology professor said the butterflies are not out of the woods yet, according to a report by The Associated Press.

“It buys us time, but that’s the best it does,” said Ryan Norris of the University of Guelph in Ontario, who sees little connection between the increase and conservation efforts along the butterflies’ route.

It is more about weather, he said. “It was a Goldilocks year this year,” he said. “Not too hot, not too cold, it was perfect.”

An ecology professor at the University of Kansas agreed. Chip Taylor said it won’t happen again next year, “not even close,” because above-average temperatures in Texas next year will cause problems for monarch production.

He said cold temperatures in the north of Texas kept the insects there to lay their eggs last spring. When it is warmer they go farther north too soon and the population does not grow as well.

The butterflies in this season’s migration have been found in 14 colonies in the forests of Michoacán and México state. One is a new colony, located in the Nevado de Toluca.

The largest, at 2.46 hectares, is in the Sierra Campanario sanctuary in the ejido El Rosario in Michoacán.

Source: The Associated Press (en), Milenio (sp)

STUDY: NEARLY ONE-MILLION UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS LIVE IN MEXICO

Almost a million Americans live without the proper papers on the other side of the wall that President Donald Trump plans to complete with federal funds. The big difference is that some emigrants arrive with dollars and their credit card. That is why some are expelled from thousands and others are deported – at most – at the rate of almost three hundred per year.

As of 2016, immigration declined to the United States from Mexico. It is pointed out by the CMS, a study center specialized in migration. On the contrary, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) of Mexico, from 2015 to the present, the number of northern residents who live and work in cities such as Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta, the Federal District or Baja California has increased.

Three years ago, only 65,302 Americans kept their documents in order according to the National Institute of Migration. By then, the Inegi accounted for 739,168 US citizens. Although statistics from the State Department carried that figure to more than 934,000. They represent more than 90 percent and that number could have increased since 2015.

The complacent attitude of the Mexican government in this situation has no symmetry with the treatment to which it submits immigrants arriving in the country from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The local Ministry of the Interior reported that 76,329 Central Americans were deported between January and August of 2018. At certain times, Mexico exceeded the US in the number of expelled.

A work by international migration specialist Omar Lizárraga Morales (distinguished in 2018 with the research prize of the Mexican Academy of Sciences) entitled “The immigration of US retirees in Mexico and their transnational practices” provides a lot of data on the characteristics of this type of migration. In the conclusions, he states: “In the case of the Americans, the surplus value that pensions acquire in the countries of Latin America is the main factor of attraction to migrate. In contrast to the current high cost of housing on the north side of the border, the moderate cost of living that prevails in Mexico led them to settle in these destinations.”

Lizárraga Morales, relying on the research of her colleague María Luisa Cabral Bowling, who studied US immigration in the municipality of Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur, points out: “The need to regulate this migratory flow, because it can represent a danger for the Caribbean society for its social and economic impact”. Also that “more than 90% of the real estate companies that are located in Baja California are Americans, they buy at low prices and sell at exorbitant prices. Faced with this situation, the local inhabitants are restricted to access to beaches that were previously the commune”.

According to the Mexican journalist Jaime Avilés, author of the book AMLO, Private life of a public man, in 2006 the Americans make up 10% of the population in places like Puerto Vallarta but control 85% of the real estate.

“Americans are 10% of the population, but they monopolize 85% of the real estate of the urban center. They have all the houses of the Historical Center; they only rent to foreigners and they charge the rent in dollars. In addition, they have almost all the hotels, restaurants, galleries, bars, and in some nightclubs, they have the luxury of preventing entry to Mexicans. ”

Americans, even those undocumented, live in privileged tourist destinations such as the beaches of the Riviera Maya or Puerto Vallarta or in historic centers of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.

by Gustavo Veiga – pagina12.com.ar

MEXICANS FEEL SAFEST SINCE JUNE 2017, PUERTO VALLARTA STILL RANKS HIGH IN SAFETY

MEXICANS FEEL SAFEST SINCE JUNE 2017, PUERTO VALLARTA STILL RANKS HIGH IN SAFETY

During December 2018, 73.7% of Mexicans over 18 years of age felt unsafe in the place where they live, according to the National Survey of Urban Public Safety (ENSU), conducted by INEGI.

This represents a 1.2% reduction compared to September 2018, when the percentage was 74.9%.

This percentage is the lowest since June 2017, when 74.9% of citizens felt that their city is unsafe.

The cities with the highest perception of insecurity are Reynosa, Chilpancingo de los Bravo, Puebla de Zaragoza, Coatzacoalcos, Ecatepec de Morelos and Villahermosa.

While in the localities where their citizens felt safer were San Pedro Garza García, Mérida, Saltillo, Puerto Vallarta, Durango and Los Cabos.

The survey also reveals that it is women who feel a greater perception of insecurity with 78%, unlike 68.6% of men.

The INEGI study details that 83.4% of the population feels more insecurity in ATMs located on public roads; 75.3% on public transport; 70.7% in the bank, and 67.8% in the streets.

In contrast, the places where citizens feel most safe are: the school, the house, work, shopping centers and the car.

The INEGI adds that this feeling of insecurity is generated in the citizenship by various factors, such as the witnessing of crimes that occur in their own environment.

In that sense, a good part of the consulted population mentioned having seen or heard criminal behavior in the surroundings of their home. 64.8% witnessed alcohol consumption in the streets; 65.2%, robberies or assaults; 49.6%, vandalism in homes or businesses; 45.6%, sale or consumption of drugs; 42.8% frequent shots with weapons, and 33.3% saw violent gangs or gangs.

Although the perception of insecurity improved, 29.4% of the population consulted considered that in the next 12 months the situation of crime in their city will continue to be as bad. While 19% say that the situation will worsen this year.

The fear provoked in the population, says the INEGI, can change routines or habits, as well as the perception that one has about the performance of the police.

61.4% of those interviewed preferred not to carry valuable things such as jewelry, money or credit cards, for fear of suffering some crime; 56.2% changed habits regarding “allowing their minor children to leave their home”; 53.2% avoided “walking around their house, after 8 pm”, and 34.6% changed routines about “visiting relatives or friends”.

In performance of the security forces, 85.1% of the population described as “very or somewhat effective” the work of the Navy to prevent and combat crime was; 82.6% recognized the work of the Army; 68.9% of the National Gendarmerie; 63.3% of the Federal Police; 47.9% of the State Police, and 39.4% of the Municipal Preventive Police.

Finally, it is also reported that during the second half of 2018, 35.8% of households in urban areas had members who were victims of at least one crime, vehicle theft; burglary at home; theft or assault on the street or public transportation (includes bank robbery or ATM); or extortion.

Hotels bet big on tourism: majors plan 352 new properties in next 3 years

Paradisus Playa Mujeres is one of the luxury hotels scheduled to open this year.Paradisus Playa Mujeres is one of the new luxury hotels.

Hotels bet big on tourism: majors plan 352 new properties in next 3 years

Several new luxury hotels are slated to open this year

The principal hotel chains that operate in Mexico are planning to open 352 new properties between this year and 2022, according to an analysis by the real estate firm CBRE.

City Express Hotels, which mainly targets business travelers, will lead the way by opening 80 new properties over the next three years.

“We see a challenging economic outlook but we’re maintaining the positive idea of continuing to position ourselves in the center of cities . . .” the company’s director of innovation, José Luis Carrete, told the newspaper El Financiero.

AMResorts plans to open 66 new hotels in the same period while Grupo Posadas will open 48 with a 30-billion-peso (US $1.5-billion) investment.

Marriot, the NH Group, Hoteles Misión and the Intercontinental Hotels Groups have, in that order, the next most ambitious plans. The four chains will collectively open around 150 new hotels over the next three years.

The CBRE study was based on information publicly disclosed by the hotel chains but some analysts believe that plans could change due to the cancellation of the new Mexico City International Airport and the elimination of the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM).

Nevertheless, the Mexican Hotel and Motel Association (AMHM) is forecasting that the number of luxury hotels in Mexico will increase by 5% in 2019, three points above the figure recorded in the past three years.

At least half of the new luxury hotels that open in Mexico this year will be time-share properties or vacation clubs, according to Juan Ignacio Rodríguez, the executive director in Latin America of timeshare vacation exchange network RCI.

Among the hotels that will open in 2019 are Paradisus Playa Mujeres and Now Natura Riviera Cancún in Quintana Roo, Nobu Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel, both in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, and Conrad Playa Mita in Nayarit.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

It’s a hard hike to Jalisco’s most beautiful cave, but worth the price

Inside La Cueva de los Monos after a tough hike.Inside La Cueva de los Monos after a tough hike.

It’s a hard hike to Jalisco’s most beautiful cave, but worth the price

A ‘killer climb’ through prickly burrs, nasty thorns and treacherous footing in the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve

The Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve, established by UNESCO in 1988, lies along the border of the Mexican states of Jalisco and Colima and includes cloud forests and deciduous, mesophytic and tropical forests within its boundaries.

It also includes hundreds of caves, almost all of them vertical pits.

Ninety-four of these caves are described in the book Las Cavernas de Cerro Grande by Carlos Lazcano, but only one of them was found to contain a notable number of formations such as stalactites and stalagmites. That cave, La Cueva de los Monos, is considered by some to be Jalisco’s most beautiful cave, but hard to reach.

This is the cave we had come to visit and below are a few notes on our expedition:

It’s 7:00am at Rancho El Zapote. The air is full of early-morning sounds. Loudest of all are the roosters that live only meters from my tent and have been trying to wake me up since 4:00am. Then come the chickens, a very large pig and dozens of loudly mooing cows, one of which wears a clanking bell, indicating that she is the leader of the herd. I guess it’s time to get out of my sleeping bag and into my caving pants.

On the trail to the cave.

On the trail to the cave.

Today we are going to visit La Cueva de los Monos (Cave of the Figurines), which can only be reached after a long, hard climb up a steep mountainside above the little town of Toxin, which is located 37 kilometers northwest of Colima city. The cave is so named, I understand, because local people claim they found artifacts inside.

Our group obviously considered a good breakfast the key to good caving, so it wasn’t until 10:20 that we finally headed up a north-trending trail which at first struck me as very friendly, after all the horror stories I had been told about the previous visit to this cave: “That climb was a killer,” said Mario Guerrero, leader of both our present trip and the preceding one, “because it was the hottest week of May, which is the hottest month of the year, and we hadn’t brought along nearly enough water.”

Now we were enjoying the relatively cool weather of November and we gained several hundred meters of altitude in a matter of minutes. The higher we rose, the more big, white, rocky outcrops we found along the way. “This is karst,” said a member of our expedition, Spanish geologist Isidoro Ortiz, pointing out the prickly surface, weathered by the rain, indicating that we were inside a calcite zone where beautiful caves were likely to be found.

“At this rate we’ll reach the cave in nothing flat,” I thought, but at that very moment our friendly trail came to an end at the edge of a cornfield. “¡Chin!” said Mario. “No sign of the trail anymore, but all we have to do is keep going north and we’re bound to find the cave.”

Well, the cornfield into which we plunged also happened to be home to billions of well-developed, ripe-for-traveling huizapoles (very prickly burrs) with which we were soon covered head to foot.

At last we got through the cursed cornfield and stopped under a huge ficus tree to pick the burrs off one another. After removing a million or so huizapoles from our clothing, we pushed our way into thick maleza(bush) higher than our heads. “¡Ay ay ay, uña de gato!” I heard someone yell up ahead. This is cat’s claw, just about the nastiest form of thorn you can find anywhere, as it is designed to grab you as you pass by and then tear your skin to shreds. We now had to proceed with great caution.

Lluvia Ramírez admires cave draperies.

Lluvia Ramírez admires cave draperies.

It was about this point that our guide, Noé, son of our host at Rancho el Zapote, was forced to start swinging a machete in order to advance, further reducing our forward speed to that of a procession of turtles.

At last, dripping with sweat, well scratched by cat’s claw and covered with a new set of burrs, we arrived at the cave entrance. A crawl of four meters took us into a room so thickly decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and draperies that several hours of photography went by in what seemed like minutes. By the time the last of us crawled out into the sunlight, everyone else in the party was either sleeping or eating.

Well, the route that we had followed to get to the cave had been so unpleasant that we all breathed a sigh of relief when our guide Noé suggested we take a more direct and hopefully easier route back down the mountain.

And easier it was, at the beginning, with very little vegetation between well-separated outcrops of limestone. However, as the hillside grew steeper and the bush grew thicker, our old friends the burrs and cat’s claw reappeared and once again the machete was absolutely necessary for making the slightest progress.

Following this route, however, we had a whole new problem to deal with: the limestone had turned into heaps of sharply pointed rocky rubble which, like chunks of lava, were delicately piled one atop the other, offering the most treacherous footing imaginable.

We soon reached the point where we had only two hours left to get back to our truck before nightfall and at least a kilometer of nearly impenetrable bush to hack our way through. To make things worse, one member of our group, Ivan the biologist, was under attack from some sort of bug and suffering from all those unspeakable intestinal terrors usually reserved only for foreigners in Mexico.

The Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve.

The Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve. ELIZABETH A. OLSON

At last we tore ourselves away from that enticing hole and once again resumed our grim assault on the unforgiving mountainside. Dripping with sweat, disentangling ourselves from thorn bushes and dreaded cat’s claw, scratching some new, mysterious red welts which had suddenly appeared on our skin, and teetering on unstable chunks of prickly rock, we inched our way downward.

Several times we were on the brink of mutiny: “It will take us a year to get down this way; we have to go back up to the cave and return the way we came,” cried some voices.

  • Can we see too?
    Can we see too?
  • 1–a-pano1
  • 2–b-DSC_0010
  • 4–cats-claw
  • 5–ck-karst
  • 6–DSCN9540
  • 8–DSCN9589
  • 9–fireworks-setting-test
  • 10—Ivan-Ahumada-and-spider
  • 11–karst-rubble
  • 13—Noe-Gutierrez-en-Cueva-Monos
  • 14—Take-a-look
  • 15–GR-The-Mono-in-Monos-by-M-Guerrero-Jr
  • 16–huizapoles
  • 17–Manantlan-view

Noé, however, kept chopping away calmly and, lo and behold, one hour before sunset, we spotted the infamous huizapol cornfield! But now, oh how friendly and inviting it looked!

To make a long story short, we were soon back on our beloved trail and reached our truck with several minutes of daylight to spare. Was it worth it? Yes, indeed! In all my 33 years of exploring Jalisco’s caves, I haven’t seen another with so many beautiful decorations. So, wearing proper burr-and-thorn-proof clothes, I’d be ready to go back anytime!

The writer has lived near Guadalajara, Jalisco, for more than 30 years and is the author of A Guide to West Mexico’s Guachimontones and Surrounding Area and co-author of Outdoors in Western Mexico. More of his writing can be found on his website.