Charming Guachinango: shimmering beauty, mining legends in Sierra Occidental

Mexico Life
Guachinango’s plaza speaks of peace and prosperity.Guachinango’s plaza speaks of peace and prosperity.

Charming Guachinango: shimmering beauty, mining legends in Sierra Occidental

Forget the Taj Mahal, see this Jalisco town’s sparkling church instead

The little town of Guachinango lies hidden in the hills of the Sierra Occidental, 100 kilometers west of Guadalajara.

Mention Guachinango to most Mexicans and they will say, “Oh, yes, that delicious fish, huachinango.” Actually, the word Guachinango means “place surrounded by trees,” although today “place surrounded by mines,” might suit it better.

The rumors that occasionally reached me about this little town, however, did not refer to its mines, but to its quiet beauty. “Guachinango has the prettiest plaza in all Mexico,” I heard. And even: “Forget the Taj Mahal, you should see Guachinango’s sparkling church.”

So, one not-so-fine day during the rainy season, my wife and I drove off to see the little town, which is less than a two-hour drive from Guadalajara. We were truly impressed by the incredible beauty of that church, which is covered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of broken porcelain plates and saucers, and we were utterly charmed by the quiet beauty of the plaza.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures that day because the sky was filled with roiling black clouds and we couldn’t visit the local museum because it was a Sunday.

Detail of the porcelain-covered church.
Detail of the porcelain-covered church.

So, we decided to come back on a weekday in December in the morning when the sun lights up the dazzling façade of the church and takes your breath away. After enjoying the overall view, we examined the church wall up close. The shards of plates, cups and knickknacks have their own stories to tell — in Spanish, English and even Chinese!

When you step inside the church, you come upon the first clue as to how such a small community could afford such a magnificent church. The altar is covered with gold and it’s the real thing, the product of the many mines in the hills just outside town.

For a fine view of those hills, you can ascend an extremely narrow, one-person-at-a-time circular staircase — built in the 1800s — which takes you up to the bell tower where you can wander about the roof, if you dare.

As for the plaza, the flower gardens, benches and kiosks are laid out in a picture-perfect way. I’m surprised film crews are not at work in this town every day; you couldn’t ask for a better movie set.

Next we visited La Casa de Cultura, which has a large, modern museum on the upper floor. Here we discovered that the original town of Guachinango — located a few kilometers from the present site — was a well-organized indigenous community long before the Spaniards arrived. They grew corn, calabash, beans and chiles, spoke Náhuatl, had their own distinctive style of ceramics and buried their dead in deep shaft tombs.

The Spaniards arrived in 1525, but the “modern” history of Guachinango actually began in 1545 when Juan Fernández de Hijar “found a very good silver mine” in what is now the center of town and a new community gradually formed around it.

Altar plated with gold from the town’s nearby mines.
Altar plated with gold from the town’s nearby mines.

This must have been a very large mine because no sooner was it in operation than “300 indigenas and nine negroes rebelled and ran off into the hills to hide,” apparently none too happy about being enslaved. The Spaniards, of course, squelched the miners’ futile grasp at freedom and dignity.

By 1550 the Province of Guachinango had a grand total of 215 mines, including El Barqueño, which local officials say “is thought to have had the most important gold reserves in all Mexico.”

Naturally, we were now curious about Guachinango’s mines and, when we asked about them in the town hall, a young man named Nacho immediately offered to show us a few. He then recruited a friend, who in turn commandeered a truck and off we went. The first place we visited were the ruins of a big mill only five minutes from town where ore was ground into powder. These ruins are just off the highway and very easy to reach. Just follow the instructions below.

From the mill, we walked along an old track shaded by thick pines and oaks until we came to a deep, dark tunnel which disappeared into the hillside. We poked around the entrance, hoping to find a piece of gold-bearing ore, but refrained from entering the shaft as old mines are infamous for falling beams and unseen deep pits.

After that I thought we’d be heading back to town, but our enthusiastic guides said, “Oh, there’s another mine just up ahead.” That one, of course, was not far from yet another and we soon traversed half of Cerro La Catarina until at last we came to El Aguacero Mine, the site of a famous incident.

Here, in 1952, Don Salomé Hernández was working deep inside the mine, 50 meters from the entrance, when the tunnel collapsed, trapping him. During the following days, rescuers could hear him banging rocks together to indicate he was alive. After seven days, he was rescued, but emerged in very weak condition.

View of the town from Cerro la Catarina.
View of the town from Cerro la Catarina.

Legend has it that he had managed to survive all that time by eating the new leather straps he had recently attached to his huaraches. As for water, they say he had none during his entire ordeal.

On his way to the hospital in Guadalajara, according to our guides, he opened his eyes and said, “I had horrible visions there in the darkness, but I’ve been reborn . . . thank God!”

After visiting the mines, our guides drove us to the very top of Cerro La Catarina from which we could enjoy a magnificent view of Guachinango and the Sierra Occidental.

Upon our return to town, we followed our guides’ advice and went shopping first for the very tasty local bread and then for bolitas, a chewy candy made from guavas, but infinitely tastier than any other we’ve come upon — the makers say their formula is a family secret. Bolitas are available from just about any grocery store in town.

Guachinango is a bit remote, but the roads leading to it are in great shape and you’ll have no problem getting there in any sort of vehicle. Try to go in the morning to get the best view of the sparkling church facade.

To reach the center of Guachinango, ask Google Maps to take you to “Kiosco De La Plaza Civica, Guachinango.”

If you would like to visit the old mill, drive back out of Guachinango the way you came in and turn right (south) onto a dirt road two kilometers from the plaza. Follow this 330 meters and park in front of the home of Sebastián and Jesús, two old gambusinos (prospectors).

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Ask them if you can visit the ruins of the Molino (mill), which lie 250 meters south of their house.

Guachinango is picturesque and historic Mexico at its best.

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.


Blue Flag designation (about cleanliness and services) is very difficult to get and we are proud of the beaches that have attained and maintained that!

The Puerto Vallarta continues to invest in our environment and to maximize the enjoyment of our natural resources, for both owners and visitors.


On Monday, July 15, 2019, Blue Flag certificates were awarded to the beach at Nuevo Vallarta Norte and the Marina Riviera Nayarit during a ceremony headed by Miguel Torruco Marqués, Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, and Antonio Echeverría García, Governor of the State of Nayarit. Both venues are in the municipality of Bahía de Banderas in the Riviera Nayarit. The Lagoon at Santa María del Oro (municipality of Santa María del Oro), and the Marina Fonatur San Blas (municipality of San Blas) are also within the Riviera Nayarit.

The event took place at the Marina Fonatur in the Historic Port of San Blas, where they raised the corresponding flag. This occasion marked the first time the marina received this international certification.

Thanks to these credentials, the state of Nayarit has become an example for the nation. According to Torruco Marqués, this “speaks to the commitment the tourism service providers and the community have with the environment.”

He stated that over the next three decades, people would have more free time and more income. Therefore, “those nations that best preserve their environment and, above all, conserve their historical, cultural, and culinary identity, will be the ones who will participate fully in the extraordinary economic revenue generated by tourism.”

Ana Cecilia Llanos Guzmán, Secretary of Tourism of the State of Nayarit, also made a distinguished appearance at the event, along with the municipal presidents of Bahía de Banderas, Jaime Cuevas Tello, and Candy Yescas, from San Blas.

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) sets the protocols for Blue Flag certifications. Joaquín Díaz Ríos, executive director for the entity’s Mexico chapter, offered the explanatory statements: The main criteria taken into account for this award are water quality, environmental education and management, safety, and services.

Of note is the fact the certification is valid for one year. Because of this, at the end of every summer the beaches are up for recertification after an exhaustive evaluation.


+ According to statistics offered by the Ministry of Tourism, Mexico is first in line in Latin America as to the number of Blue Flags received and in 13th place worldwide.

+ Currently, 54 beaches and three marinas in 13 municipalities and six states in Mexico have the certification: Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Quintana Roo.

+ The Riviera Nayarit received its first Blue Flag for the beach at Nuevo Vallarta Norte in 2013, which has maintained its certification since then.

+ The Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle received its Blue Flag in 2015, the first of its kind to receive this international award.

+ The lagoon at Santa María del Oro raised its first Blue Flag in August of 2016.


8 reefs discovered off coast of Veracruz, Mexico

University of Veracruz researcher Ortiz.University of Veracruz researcher Ortiz.

8 reefs discovered off coast of Veracruz

Six of the reefs are coral, said a University of Veracruz researcher

Researchers from the University of Veracruz and the Boca del Río Institute of Technology, supported by environmentalists and local fishermen, have discovered eight reefs with over 100 previously unknown reef structures off the coast of Veracruz.

University researcher Leonardo Ortiz Lozano said the reefs cover a surface area of 1,100 hectares from the municipality of Tamiahua to the Tecolutla river, and from the municipality of Alvarado to the mouth of the Papaloapan river.

He added that the biggest, dubbed Corazones Reef by its discoverers, is close to five kilometers long and 700 meters wide, making it the longest and northernmost reef in Mexico discovered to date.

The Los Gallos Reef and the Camaronera Reef also stand out for their ecosystems, which contain marine sponges, algae and some invertebrates. The scientist said that of the eight reefs, six are coral while two others are non-coral, which for the most part are not as diverse as other reefs.

“We are talking about reefs that are 18, 30 and 40 meters deep, which means that they are not as diverse as the reefs we are familiar with, such as the Sacrificios Reef and the Isla Verde Reef, all of those. But at the same time, they have a lot of sediment. They have a low diversity of coral and fishing prevents them from having a larger diversity of commercially important fish.”

The discovery of the reefs could also have major implications for the area’s commercial development. Ortiz Lozano explained that since the newly-discovered reefs have not yet been recognized by Mexican authorities, they are not protected and are at risk of being destroyed by oil and gas drilling and related activities in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The southern Texas-Tuxpan pipeline passes right over the most important reef we discovered, which is the Corazones Reef.”

Ximena Ramos Pedrueza, Gulf area director of the environmental organization Cemda, said the organization is pushing for the reefs to be recognized by the Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) by including them on maps of protected areas, which would grant the reefs some protection from major industry.

Source: Milenio (sp), Al Calor Polí (sp), La Jornada (sp)





WhatsApp, the free text-messaging service owned by social media platform Facebook, is ubiquitous throughout Mexico. Superama shoppers can text an order to a WhatsApp number run by Walmart, known in Mexico as Walmart de Mexico.

A Reuters reporter tried the service on Monday, sending a photo of a handwritten grocery list. A company

representative responded immediately, punctuating responses with smiley-face and winky-face emojis.

The representative said Superama charges 49 pesos ($2.55) for delivery within 90 minutes, or 39 pesos ($2.03) for a later delivery time, and would accept payment in cash or by card upon delivery.

Superama represents about 92 of Walmart’s 2,459 stores in Mexico, which is the U.S. retailer’s largest overseas market by store count. Superama already takes orders via its website and a Superama app, as well as through Cornershop, a third-party delivery app that sells goods for a variety of other stores.

Walmart’s plan to buy Cornershop, which operates in Mexico and Chile, for $225 million, was blocked earlier this month by Mexico’s competition regulator, which said that Walmart could not guarantee an even playing field for rivals also using the app.

($1 = 19.1885 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Leslie Adler

30,000 homes will use electricity generated by new solar plant

The inauguration of new solar plant in Progreso, Yucatán.The inauguration of new solar plant in Progreso, Yucatán.

30,000 homes will use electricity generated by new solar plant

Yucatán predicted to be self-sufficient in renewable energy in 3-4 years

A new solar plant in Yucatán has the capacity to produce up to 18 megawatts of electricity and serve up to 5.3% of the state’s households.

The San Ignacio solar plant, which covers 66 hectares in the municipality of Progreso, was inaugurated Friday by Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal. The Chinese company Jinko Solar invested US $30 million to build the plant.

Energy generated by the plant will be consumed in Progreso and the state capital, Mérida.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Vila said he hopes Yucatán will continue to invest in renewable energy infrastructure.

“With this kind of action, we’re putting Yucatán on the map as a destination for investment,” he said. “We’re going to keep promoting our state in Mexico and around the world, and above all, we’re going to keep making renewable energy projects a priority.”

Vila added that in addition to the San Ignacio plant, 24 other renewable energy projects are under way in Yucatán, representing investment of as much as $4.5 billion.

“Yucatán consumes 900 megawatts, and I calculate that in three or four years, we will be generating 3,400 megawatts of clean energy,” he said. “We would be the only state in the country to be self-sufficient, and generating more renewable energy than we consume.”

Manuel Mendizábal Quemada, head of Jinko Solar in Mexico, told the newspaper Diario de Yucatán that the company has plans for another plant in state.

“We’re about to start construction on another plant, in Valladolid, which will be bigger,” he said. “We’re investing $100 million in it, and it will generate 79 megawatts of renewable energy. Those are all the plans we have at the moment, but we could build even more plants in the future.”

Mendizábal explained that the San Ignacio plant uses “tracker” technology, which allows its 71,000 panels to follow the light of the sun and absorb more energy.

Founded in 2006, Jinko Solar is the biggest solar panel company in the world. Mexico is Jinko’s second-largest export market, representing over 10% of the company’s total revenue.

Source: El Universal (sp), El Diario de Yucatán (sp), Milenio (sp)


As summer travel season begins, friends and relatives have asked me if it’s safe to travel outside the U.S.

I understand their fears. The news is filled with scary stories, like a tourist bus being bombednear Egypt’s pyramids, people being knifed at a bus stop in Japan and continuing coverage of the two Boeing 737 Max air crashes, both of which happened overseas.

As a macroeconomist I travel frequently to understand global trends. I crunched the numbers on U.S. fatalities abroad, and what I found might surprise you.

Americans abroad

In 2018, over 56 million U.S. citizens got on board a plane for a trip to an international destination.

The average person leaving the U.S. by air spends slightly more than 17 nights outside the U.S., based on 2016 data. Multiplying trips by time means almost 3 million citizens are taking a trip abroad on any given day.

Yet these figures underestimate how many Americans actually travel abroad, since some people leave the U.S. on boat trips or even drive to Canada or Mexico. It also doesn’t include the number of U.S. citizens who permanently live abroad.

All this tourism is a vital part of many countries’ economies. U.S. travelers spent US$256 billion in 2018. If Americans or other international travelers stop hopping on a plane because they believe traveling to a specific country or region has become unsafe, this could have devastating effects on economies that depend on foreign tourism, such as Egypt and Sri Lanka.

Safety first

So is there reason to worry?

In October 2002, the State Department started tracking the number of U.S. citizens who die in a foreign country from non-natural causes, which excludes deaths from illness and things like heart attacks. The data include the date of death, where the death occurred and the cause.

I found the numbers shockingly low.

In 2018, just 724 Americans died from unnatural causes while abroad, the fewest since 2006 and down from a peak of 1,065 in 2010. I was expecting much larger numbers, more like the over 15,000 murders that happen in the U.S. every year.

And this doesn’t actually show the full extent of the decline because the number of U.S. overseas travelers has surged in the same period. From 2010 to 2018, the number of citizens flying to international destinations increased by 50%.

More travelers combined with fewer deaths mean it is actually getting safer to travel abroad.

How Americans die overseas

The next question is what are the leading causes of death.

It’s certainly not terrorism. In 2018, just six Americans were killed in a terrorist incident, the lowest number in over a decade. And just 381 died this way from October 2002 through last year.

And while dying in an airplane accident has been a growing fear since the Boeing 737 Max crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, there were only 10 such deaths in 2018, or 383 since 2002.

The top cause of death is actually motor vehicle accidents, which claimed the lives of 167 American travelers last year, or almost 4,000 since 2002. That’s almost one-third of all deaths in the period.

One reason for the relatively high number of deaths from car accidents may be that some countries don’t have the same safety standards that are common in the U.S., and so driving abroad can be a very different experience, with confusing rules or more aggressive drivers.

Once, my wife and I went on a low-budget African safari in Botswana. Though lions prowled restlessly outside our tent at night, the real danger turned out to be the high-speed drives in an open jeep while our guide dodged giant potholes and meandering animals, all while talking on his phone.

After traffic accidents, the second-most-common cause of death was homicides. But to put the 132 Americans who died this way in 2018 into perspective, Chicago alone had 561 homicides that year.

Other leading causes of death are drownings, suicides and non-vehicular accidents.

Like getting hit by lightning

In other words, dying abroad from unnatural causes, especially terrorism, is unlikely. Last year, three times as many people were killed by lightning in the U.S. as died overseas in a terrorist attack.

The media extensively cover relatively rare terrorist attacks and high-profile murders. It often gives little coverage to routinely occurring deaths. While many people are worried about traveling and especially about being killed abroad, it doesn’t happen often.

That doesn’t mean traveling is problem-free. I have been pickpocketed, threatened and had a gun pointed at me in my travels. The State Department’s travel advisories show what to watch out for and any precautions to take for every country in the world.

So although the world is a fascinating place to visit, just remember to read the travel advisory – and buckle your seatbelt.The Conversation

Jay L. Zagorsky, Senior lecturer, Boston University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


The Riviera Nayarit put its tourism offer on display once again at the Sunwing Vacations trade shows; this wholesaler has become one of the main commercial allies for the destination in Canada.

The promotional events were held in three cities of the Canadian Midwest: Winnipeg, in the province of Manitoba; and Regina and Saskatoon, both in the province of Saskatchewan.

With the Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta, Sunwing Vacations has two destinations that sell very well, which is why they invited the Sales and Marketing teams to participate in the events and contact to over 300 travel agents.

The destinations’ presence in the region was highlighted even more thanks to the support of associated hotels—in the case of Riviera Nayarit, the Riu, Reflect Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta, Occidental Nuevo Vallarta, Iberostar Playa Mita, and Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa properties showcased not only the high quality of their infrastructure but also their vast culinary offer and the gamut of activities that delight their guests.

The possibility of bringing a 200-guest Hindu destination wedding to the Riviera Nayarit was among the achievements of this promotional trip; it’s an event that could result in a major economic spillover for the hotel or venue that hosts it. There were also negotiations with a wholesale agency in Winnipeg that every year moves a group of about 100 people together with a local radio station that then transmits live shows from the host hotel. There’s a very big chance the group will stay in a Riviera Nayarit hotel this year.

This type of actions encourage more Canadians to visit the region and reinforces the presence of the Riviera Nayarit in one of the most important markets in North America, said Marc Murphy, managing director of the Bahía de Banderas Hotel and Motel Association (AHMBB) and the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

“The resulting influx of tourists from Canada to the region has been outstanding, especially during the winter season,” he added. “In this sense, we’re reinforcing our promotion so we can likewise increase the influx of visitors during the summer season.”

Riviera Nayarit is connected to Canada during the winter season via Sunwing Airlines with more than 11 weekly flights from airports in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton on the West coast; and from Quebec, Ottaway, and Toronto on that country’s East coast. During the summer, Sunwing Airlines maintains weekly flights from Vancouver and Toronto.

Sunwing Airlines is a subsidiary of parent company Sunwing Travel Group, which operates as the largest travel agency in Canada.

Sharpen your bargaining skills at the best little antiques market

The author's rug, purchased at the antiques market in Colonia Doctores.The author’s new rug, purchased at the antiques market in Colonia Doctores.

Sharpen your bargaining skills at the best little antiques market

Visit the Cuauhtémoc antiques flea market and you won’t be able to leave without buying something

Every Saturday and Sunday at Jardín Dr. Ignacio Chavez in Mexico City’s Colonia Doctores, the Tianguis de Antigüedades is a laid-back scene.

Crowds meander through the park, thoughtfully surveying the goods as romantic ballads and salsas play from some of the many vintage radios and turntables up for sale.

The merchandise ranges from cheap trinkets to genuine collectible treasures on this stretch of Avenida Cuauhetémoc, a space that only became a park after the Cine Internacional and  government building were destroyed in the 1985 earthquake.

Vendors hang out together or with similarly-minded collectors, sharing photos of recent finds on their phones, smoking cigs, and sipping the occasional beer semi-hidden under a table or chair.

There is military paraphernalia from around the world (somewhat disturbing that it’s mostly from the Nazis), coins and pins, train sets and toy collectables, beautiful jewelry and china, vintage magazines and depraved comedic cartoon art.

As I sit taking notes, a vendor chats me up. “Are you writing in English or Spanish?” she asks.

She looks like a protective auntie in her cap with a neck flap and a sensible cotton button-down. She sells these flap hats, along with a hodgepodge of books, candle lanterns, tea sets and toy farming equipment.

“Sales are slow these days,” she says. “When there are people it’s good, but when there’s no one, it’s bad. Everyone’s on vacation right now. It’s usually really full.”

Lidia Huerta, it seems, was searching for someone to chat with. “Foreigners, when they like something, they just buy it. The peso is low for them. For Mexicans, it’s more about the price. People don’t have money to pay for things. Kids want to have fun and parents have to pay for all of it.”

“People with two legs and two arms should work,” she continues. “Mexicans like to work. But some people don’t want to.”

“You know what colonia we’re in?” she asks.

Classic to kitsch all laid out together at Jardín Dr. Ignacio Chavez.
Classic to kitsch all laid out together at Jardín Dr. Ignacio Chavez.

“Doctores?” I say.

“Yeah. This is Doctores. Right over there is Roma,” she says, pointing west across the park.

“This way,” she says, pointing the opposite direction. “It’s not very good over there. A lot of criminals. Be careful in Mexico.”

I dutifully tell her that I’ll watch out for myself and move on through the market.

Three generations sit together behind a row of tables offering vintage shoes and jewelry, expertly cracking pumpkin seeds while they make deals. It’s the kind of place where vendors enjoy the haggle. As far as I can tell, it’s usually padded into the price. You won’t always get the price you want, but sellers enjoy dickering so much that they might just do it for you.

I ask a vendor about his stuffed anteater. It looks like it’s been in a scuffle or two since it was first taxidermied but is in pretty good shape.

“One thousand five hundred,” he tells me. “Because some of the claws are missing. They took some off to make necklaces.” He shows me the animal’s left side, the paws completely bare of claws.

“I’ll think about it,” I say.

“They go for like 2,000 to 3,000 pesos in other places. This one’s African. It’s the smallest of the anteater species. One thousand five hundred is a good deal, on account of the claws.”

“I like it, but I don’t think my girlfriend would like it.”

“Mount your mother-in-law on the wall!” a nearby saleswoman yells to the laughter of the crowd.

“I don’t know. I’ll think about it,” I tell the anteater man.

Sometimes hanging out feels just as good as selling at the antiques market
Sometimes hanging out feels just as good as selling at the antiques market.

“You tell me how much,” he says. Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, “Eight hundred. It’s cheap.”

I back out of the situation as another piece catches my eye. And this one is the stereotypical women-hate-it item, the classic “I’m Sam Malone from Cheers watch me toss peanuts into my mouth and talk about bras” kind of artwork: a scene of dogs shooting pool! On a rug!

It’s like a kitsch backflip!

“It’s 1,200,” the man with the rug tells me. “And that’s down from 1,500 because it’s getting to the end of the day. Made in Italy. It’s a collectible. It’s not like I have five or six more of these at home. Look at this stitching. Perfectly made. No stains. Never cleaned. You don’t clean good rugs like this, just beat the dust off them. It’s a great price. Real classic scene, this one. Made in Italy!”

All of this info appears to be true, but I waver. “I’ll think about it,” I say, as I walk away, certain to have baited the trap.

But this guy doesn’t chase me, doesn’t even try to tempt me back with a measly 50-peso reduction. Perhaps he’s better at this than I am.

With a well-tended pushbroom mustache over a handsomely wrinkled face, graying ponytail and bent silver glasses, Francisco Ordulla could certainly be picked out of any police lineup as a vintage LP vendor, and that’s exactly what his position has been here, pretty much since the market’s outset, for 20-something years.

It’s mostly American and British rock from the 60s and 70s on display, but Ordulla doesn’t really specialize in anything. He has classical, jazz, blues and native music from around the world, but most of his returning clients are in search of Mexican rock and psychedelia from the 70s.

“There weren’t as many printed as the American and British stuff, so it’s harder to find,” he says. “Me, I’m always looking for the Italian progressive rock from the 70s.”

He reckons it’s been the last five years or so that LPs have become really collectible in Mexico, so they’re only getting harder to find.

On the north side of the park are some of the larger pieces, big beautiful dressers and mirrors, some of the pricier statues and larger artworks. Lines of old Volkswagen buses, their seats removed for more efficient hauling, watch over their masters on the street behind.

A man with a magnifier stuck in his eye invites me to sit and ask some questions. His name is Javier Gómez and he fixes and sells antique clocks and watches. He’s been at the tianguis nearly every weekend for 25 years. During the week he makes house calls or works out of his house.

While we talk, a man casually hands him a can of New Mix tequila and grapefruit soda. “I owe you one,” Gómez tells him. He says that old stopwatches, watches that chime the hour and wall clocks with moving figures and music are among the hardest to fix. The most expensive pieces he sells are made by the Swiss, of course: Rolex and Patek Philippe.

Across the way, Diego Villegas appears to be one of the youngest and most popular vendors. He’s been selling used video games at the tianguis for five years and says his customers range from 10 to 50 years old.

He deals in most games and consoles, but Super Nintendo cartridges like “Megaman,” “Metroid,” “Donkey Kong,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” are the most popular these days, generally ranging from 100 to 1,200 pesos.

He says the Holy Grail for collectors at the moment is the Little Samson game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that can run from 50,000 pesos, without the case, to around 180,000 in mint condition. (There’s a slightly worn one for sale on eBay for 65,500 pesos at the moment.)

It’s often difficult to leave the Tianguis de Antigüedades without making at least one purchase. You can most definitely find something small and old for as little as 20 pesos, and I wet my whistle with a UNAM Pumas pin, a Puma skull and crossbones for 40 pesos.

Yet, I still can’t get the rug off my mind. I devise a plan to start low and get to my price (800) incrementally.

“Seven hundred,” I say to the rug guy, blowing it from the outset.

“No. Look here, man. One thousand two hundred was a good deal. Okay, okay, 1,000.”

I stare ahead sternly, rub my face, look to the sky like a man who knows the price of an authentic Italian rug featuring dogs playing billiards. “Okay. A thousand.”

I fork it over, accepting my place in the world of bargainers. He approaches the vendor next to him to borrow a bag for my rug. She hands him the bag, then eyes me standing there.

“Oh, it’s for this guy?” she says. “If I knew it was for the blondie I would’ve charged you for the bag.”

• Tianguis de Antigüedades Jardín Dr. Ignacio Chavez (alternately called Mercado or Bazar de Cuauhtémoc) runs Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00am to 4:00pm, along Avenida Cuauhetémoc between Dr. Liceaga and Dr. Juan Navarro in Colonia Doctores.

Catholic Church gives half a million dollars for aid to migrants in Mexico

Pope Francis has announced aid for migrants.Pope Francis has announced aid for migrants.

Catholic Church gives half a million dollars for aid to migrants in Mexico

27 projects will provide housing, food and basic needs

Pope Francis has donated half a million dollars to assist migrants in Mexico, the Vatican announced today.

The Catholic Church said in a statement that the funds will be distributed to 27 projects in 16 dioceses and among religious congregations that have asked for help to continue providing housing, food and basic necessities to migrants, who are mainly from Central America.

The statement noted that 75,000 migrants entered Mexico in 2018 in six caravans, adding that “all these people were stranded, unable to enter the United States, without a home or livelihood.”

It also said that media coverage of the “emergency” has been decreasing and that aid from governments and private individuals has declined as a result.

“In this context, Pope Francis donated US $500,000 to assist migrants in Mexico.”

The Vatican said that a total of 13 projects have already been approved and that another 14 are being evaluated.

“A regulated and transparent use of the resources, which must be accounted for, is required before the aid is assigned,” the statement said.

The projects that have already been authorized will be undertaken in the dioceses of Cuautitlán, México state; Nogales, Sonora; Mazatlán, Sinaloa; Querétaro, Querétaro; San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz; Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; and Tijuana, Baja California.

The Scalabrinians, the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Josefinas Sisters have also received funding.

“Thanks to these projects, and thanks to Christian charity and solidarity, the Mexican bishops hope to be able to continue helping our migrant brothers and sisters,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, around 600 mainly Cuban migrants who escaped from a detention center in Tapachula, Chiapas, on Thursday remained at large as of last night, immigration authorities said.

Detained migrants in Tapachula demand food and freedom.
Detained migrants in Tapachula demand food and freedom.

The National Immigration Institute (INM) said in a statement that 645 migrants fled the Siglo XXI migration center, not 1,300 as it initially reportedand that 35 have since returned. It didn’t explain why the figures had been reduced.

The center was holding 1,745 people – almost double its capacity – at the time, the INM said.

The agency said the breakout occurred after a group of Cuban men violently broke into a section of the immigration center reserved for women.

The incident caused a commotion and the migrants were able to gain access to other parts of the detention center before reaching its main entrance. INM personnel were unarmed and unable to stop the men from leaving, the statement said.

The escape was the largest from a Mexican immigration center in recent history. According to people with family members in the Siglo XXI center, the breakout occurred after a dispute about food and sleeping space, both of which are at a premium.

Laisel Gómez Cabrera, a Cuban who now lives in Texas, told the Associated Press that he was worried about his wife, Anisleidys Sosa Almeida, who has been detained at the center for weeks.

In Tapachula yesterday, he said that overcrowding in the facility provoked a fight before Thursday’s escape.

“. . . They had to fight among themselves for a place to lie down, to get a little bit of food. They couldn’t put up with it anymore, they rioted and they left,” Gómez Cabrera said.

“All the ones who left are going to get put on a red list. If they catch them again, they are going to be subject to automatic deportation,” he added.

The INM said that most of the 980 Cubans who were held in Tapachula had applied for amparos or injunctions through Tapachula lawyers who provide “false expectations” of obtaining a transit visa that will allow them to travel to the United States border.

However, “it has only delayed their assisted return to Cuba,” the agency said. A group of 148 Cubans was deported from Tapachula last week.

The INM also said that criminal charges will be filed against those who fled the detention center for the damage they caused prior to leaving, and that security measures at the facility have been bolstered.

Unprecedented numbers of migrants have entered Mexico at the southern border since late last year.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez said earlier this week that around 300,000 migrants traveled through Mexico en route to the United States in the first three months of this year.

Source: EFE (sp), Associated Press (sp) 

Escape the heat in western Mexico with a visit to magical town of Tapalpa

View from on high of El Salto del Nogal, near Tapalpa, JaliscoView from on high of El Salto del Nogal, near Tapalpa, Jalisco. COMBIAJANDO

Escape the heat in western Mexico with a visit to magical town of Tapalpa

Cobblestone streets, giant rocks and a stupendous waterfall

In the highlands of western Mexico, April and May are, without a doubt, the hottest months of the entire year.

Because those who live here normally enjoy one of the best climates planet Earth has to offer, few people bother to install air conditioning in their homes, opting instead to aguantar or suffer patiently until the last day of May, knowing that in June the ancient god of water, Tlaloc, will surely bring the first showers of the rainy season, immediately cooling the air and restoring those perfect temperatures to which they are accustomed.

Meanwhile, whenever the opportunity arises, the people of western Mexico, especially those who live in Guadalajara, escape the heat by heading either to the beach or to the mountains. Here, let’s take a look at their favorite choice of mountain towns, Tapalpa.

Tapalpa is located 90 kilometers southwest of Guadalajara and its elevation is about 2,000 meters above sea level. Because it is well over a mile high, it has a cool climate and because it’s a Pueblo Mágico it also has a cool look: steep and narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings with red-tile roofs, and picturesque wooden balconies.

Visiting Tapalpa means strolling through these little streets without a care in the world, deeply breathing the cool, crisp, clean air and thus awakening an appetite for the pueblo’s most famous dish, borrego al pastor: lamb marinated in spices and grilled on a spike, “shepherd style.”

Shops in Tapalpa.
Shops in Tapalpa.

When night falls, you can relax in front of a crackling fireplace with a flavorful ponche de granada, grenadine punch made with tequila or mezcal, eventually collapsing into bed and sleeping like a lion.

In the early 1500s, the Spaniards arrived in this area and found an indigenous settlement “about three leagues” from the present-day location of Tapalpa. These people, called Atlaccos, put up no resistance to the conquerors, who started a colony between 1531 and 1532.

It was, however, only in 1825 that the population was big enough to be called a pueblo. Even today there are only about 5,500 people living in the town which, by the way, was declared a Pueblo Mágico in 2011.

Only a 15-minute drive north of Tapalpa lie Las Piedrotas, the “Great Big Rocks,” huddled in clusters like enormous dinosaur eggs in a wide meadow with no other such rocks in sight. A barbed-wire fence forces visitors to park on the roadside and pass through a caracol — the rural equivalent of a turnstyle — to wander about among those massive monoliths.

Well, to tell you the truth, those Piedrotas are actually mere pebbles in comparison with another rock called La Piedra Gorda, The Fat Rock, a monolith located only four kilometers from town, but a bit difficult to reach, although the view from its peak is well worth the effort.

The last time I visited the Piedra Gorda was with friends who planned to install a bolt in the rock to which visitors could attach a safety line while peering over the edge of a sheer drop of some 50 meters.

Las Piedrotas.
Las Piedrotas. Note small figure between the rocks.

We drove northwest out of Tapalpa to the DIF (Family Development Center) and parked. Here the altitude is about 2,090 meters above sea level. We crossed a stream by leaping from rock to rock and then walked along a rough brecha (dirt road) which is closed to vehicles (except those of people living in the area).

Eventually we crossed a charming meadow filled with wildflowers. Since Tapalpa has a strange tradition in which people throw Santa María flowers at one another on Mexican Independence Day, we waged a few battles of our own before continuing uphill to La Piedra Gorda, which is nestled among a few smaller rocks.

There’s a sort of ladder here to help you get up to the top of the rock where you suddenly come upon a magnificent, eye-popping view. It’s Mother Nature making IMAX look like a postage stamp, from an altitude of about 2,400 meters above sea level (7,874 feet).

This hike is 4.5 kilometers one way and took us about 90 minutes, strolling along at a leisurely pace.

Anyone who visits Tapalpa will soon hear about “a wonderful waterfall over 100 meters high.”

This is El Salto del Nogal, the Walnut Cascade, and it is most certainly worth visiting if you are in good physical condition.

    • 12—Tapalpa-Plaza
      People are forever on the move in the plaza at Tapalpa.
  • 3—Cabin-Cabanyas-Monterra
  • 4—DSCN1959
  • 5—el-Salto-Warning-sign
  • 7—GR-Made-it
  • 8—GR-Piedra-Gorda-Panorama
  • 9—hiking-in-pine-forest
  • 10—Jorge-Monroy-Tapalpa-Jalisco
  • 11—Our-Lady-of-Guadalupe-church
  • 12—Tapalpa-Plaza
  • 14—Testing-bolt-on-Fat-Rock
  • 1—aa-Tapalpa-sweep

The drive from Tapalpa takes just a little over half an hour and the hike down to the waterfall about the same amount of time. Just how long you will need to get back up, of course, depends on what kind of shape you are in.

The trail takes you across a bubbling brook, through several stone walls and then you are on your way down, down, down into a deep canyon.

At a certain point you’ll see some shallow shelter caves in the cliff to your left. This spot, I am told, is called The Convent and they say several Cristeros hid there during the Cristero War (1926–29) when the Mexican government tried to eliminate the power of the Catholic Church.

During most of your descent you’ll hear the roar of the mighty waterfall but you won’t be able to see it until you reach the very bottom, where there is a large pool of water dotted with huge boulders and dwarfed by the majestic foaming white ribbon linking the pool to a patch of blue sky far above.

Unfortunately, the icy water temperature plus a powerful wind generated by the falls make it difficult to swim in this pool but there is a smaller, windless waterfall with its own “perfect pool” for swimming just a little further downstream.

To reach the trail to the waterfall, ask Google Maps to take you to “Cascada el Salto del Nogal, Tapalpa.”

Map data ©2019 Google, INEGI


What else is there to do in the vicinity of this magical town?

Actually, there is so much that I plan to continue this description next week, so if you are thinking of visiting the Sierra de Tapalpa, you’d better allow several days, so you can have a good look around.

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.