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.

RIVIERA NAYARIT RENEWS ITS BLUE FLAG CERTIFICATIONS

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.

RIVIERA NAYARIT RENEWS ITS BLUE FLAG CERTIFICATIONS

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.

MORE INFO:

+ 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.

 

From simple hotels to luxurious resorts the Vallarta Tribune has collected many of the available daypass details so you can relax poolside from Punta Mita to Mismaloya

Hi to all of our readers!

As a person that lives here year round, I have over-looked the amazing opportunities that exist here for a stay-cation or something a little more or even just a day trip to a local resort for much earned rest and relaxation.

I have attached a day pass guide, created by the Vallarta Tribune.

The costs run from as little to 5 USD to much, much more, but the options are numerous.

Please share this with your friends and family.

Gracias!

 

Todd Bates

Owner/Broker

Puerto Vallarta RE/MAX

 

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 Político.com (sp), La Jornada (sp)

DISCOVER 5 GLAMPING SPOTS IN VALLARTA · NAYARIT

DISCOVER 5 GLAMPING SPOTS IN VALLARTA · NAYARIT

Estefanía Montes

Jun. 19, 2019
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Vallarta · Nayarit offers diverse places for demanding travelers with a like for exploring new natural environments, without losing style and comfort, through ecological spaces which promote glamping.

Glamping is an experience that combines glamour + camping, so you can reconnect with yourself in a more private and personalized environment, all while in harmony with Mother Earth. For this reason, we bring you a selection of 5 glamping spots in the region.

Verana

This place is located south of Puerto Vallarta, in the picturesque town of Yelapa, where the only access is through the ocean. Due to this, it has the privilege of being immersed in the mountains, and having its own private beach.

There, you will find your personal refuge which will allow you to breath in pure air, witness the most spectacular sunsets, and illuminate your nights with stars, while you listen to the murmur of the sea.

Verana has 10 rustic installations made of different materials, each one with its own unique style, and all the necessary features to make your stay most pleasant. To complement this, you may savor the culinary delicacies that the chef of the place offers, so you can then walk along the edge of the beach, and end your day in the relaxing spa.

5 glamping spots in vallarta · nayarit

Vereda Palapa

 North of Yelapa, you will find Vereda Palapa, a place that offers a revitalizing experience through an ecological stay which combines the sound of the channel where the river flows, and the soft breeze of the wind.

Vereda Palapa is composed of four palapas with very tropical names, as well as a garden which shelters flowers and fruits representative of the region, a gallery (where you may find different art pieces like paintings and sculptures inspired on animals and the human body), a kitchen, and a very peculiar pool, through which a small creek flows.

 5 glamping spots in vallarta · nayarit

Xinalani Retreat

 Between Las Ánimas and Yelapa is Xinalani Retreat, an intimate natural sanctuary which serves to delight the senses, and at the same time helps you enter a state of peace.

This site offers luxurious houses and palapas walled on three sides, with a palm ceiling, and in front of each room, there is a large window which is always open to be able to observe everything around you. It permits the moon to light your nights, and for you to awaken with the first rays of sunshine. Let yourself be spoiled at the spa, stretch, and strengthen your body in the diverse yoga rooms, enjoy the beach club, and try the delicious treats offered at the restaurant and bar.

5 glamping spots in vallarta · nayarit

Playa Escondida

Towards the north of the Banderas Bay, in Sayulita, you can find Playa Escondida, a spot which will seduce you with its incredible view. At the beach you can have long walks while you listen to the relaxing sound of the waves and birds. You can conclude your day tasting the gourmet flavors which are offered at the site’s restaurant.

This place has different palapas distributed along a jungle-like terrain, close to a private beach. Due to its distribution, depending on the cabin that you choose, you can be a few steps away from the ocean, or contemplate it from the heights, among a natural green curtain. Furthermore, you will find amenities such as a bar, restaurant, pool, spa, yoga room, and even, a jacuzzi and hammocks in certain cabins.

5 glamping spots in vallarta · nayarit

Aldea Bamboo

In San Pancho, you may leave your worries behind as you near Aldea Bamboo, a spot immersed in a paradise in the middle of the jungle. Let yourself strengthen your ties with Mother Earth, as you are surrounded by abundant foliage.

The three octagonal wooden cabins that this site offers are integrally equipped so your stay is as comfortable, and peaceful as possible. At night, you may contemplate the starlight, and the moon from a small dome located in the center of the upper cover.

5 glamping spots in vallarta · nayarit

Without a doubt, in any of these spots you will live a unique experience to get a breather, enjoy nature, and reconnect with yourself.

PUERTO VALLARTA IS THE BEST ALTERNATIVE TO THE SARGASSUM INVASION OF THE CARIBBEAN

PUERTO VALLARTA IS THE BEST ALTERNATIVE TO THE SARGASSUM INVASION OF THE CARIBBEAN

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Sargassum is a dark- colored seaweed that is dispersed by ocean currents through the Atlantic, which, when they reach the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, find the perfect opportunity for their waste to coagulate, forming what scholars call garbage patches, and which have invaded the Caribbean coast of Mexico and now threatens Africa and Europe.

The invasion of sargassum to the Caribbean coast of Mexico is motivating travelers to search for other destinations in Mexico.

In the Pacific, such as Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, you will find the perfect alternative. In addition to an extensive range of beaches, the area has activities for all tourist segments: family, LGBT, pet-friendly, weddings, adventures and foodies, among others.

Puerto Vallarta is one of the most important beach destinations in Mexico, located in the State of Jalisco, the birthplace of Tequila, Mariachi and Charra culture, recognized as Heritage by UNESCO.

This destination harbors the tradition and colors of Mexico through its squares, streets and its people, named the friendliest city in the world by the magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

The place offers travelers natural, cultural, historical and gastronomic delights, thanks to its wide range of restaurants, and is considered the second mecca for foodies in Mexico for its cuisine of the sea, mountain, and international flavors.

The traveler will find a sea of ​​activities throughout the day, sophisticated amenities, a wide range of hotels, excellent weather, festivals celebrating music, and gastronomy.

The other jewel of the Mexican Pacific, Riviera Nayarit, is just 10 minutes from the Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta. It is famous for its eclectic charm and luxury hotel, virtues that have given it international recognition.

Located in the Mexican state of Nayarit, the region offers 309 kilometers of beaches with crystal clear waters on the Pacific coast, the wonderful mountains of the Sierra Madre, the spectacular Bay of Banderas and endless protected natural wonders.

The Riviera Nayarit houses the tourist center of Nuevo Vallarta, the historic town of San Blas, the exclusive refuge of celebrities in Punta Mita, the “boho-chic” surfing mecca in Sayulita, and a variety of picturesque fishing villages.

There are plenty of activities that range from golf courses, zip lines, diving, and surfing, to bird watching, whale watching, and turtle release programs.

Accommodations range from luxury resorts and all-inclusive establishments that target families, to boutique hotels and all kinds of options.

Riviera Nayarit has four hotels that have the distinguished AAA rating of five diamonds, 11 AAA four-distinguished AAA rating of five diamonds, 11 AAA four- diamond hotels and 13 AAA three-diamond hotels.

The AAA Diamon Award is awarded by the American Automobile Association (AAA) to hotels and restaurants in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and guarantees that the establishment offers the highest standards of luxury, quality and high-level service.

Photo by @jeniferwhalen

CYBERCRIMINALS TARGET AMERICANS PLANNING SUMMER VACATIONS TO PUERTO VALLARTA

June 12, 2019 • Vallarta Daily News • Puerto Vallarta News

CYBERCRIMINALS TARGET AMERICANS PLANNING SUMMER VACATIONS TO PUERTO VALLARTA

Today, McAfee reveals how cybercriminals are

capitalizing on consumers’ risky travel booking habits.

 

Cybercriminals target Americans planning summer vacations to Puerto Vallarta 2019-06-13, 10*50 AM

and steal personal information or passwords. Unfortunately, McAfee’s survey of 1,000 Americans found that nearly one-third of consumers (31%) are leaving the door open to fraud because they do not check the authenticity of a website before booking a trip online.

Bargain shopping can have a high cost

McAfee’s survey confirms that cybercriminals’ tactic of targeting vacation goers is paying off, with nearly one-fifth of consumers (18%) reporting that they have been scammed, or came very close to being scammed, when booking a vacation online. Bargain-hunting Americans are most at risk, with nearly a third of vacation scam victims (31%) being defrauded after spotting a deal that was too good to be true.

Unfortunately, risky bargain shopping behavior can come at a high cost with approximately 30% of travel-related scam victims reported that they lost between $1,000 and $3,000 as a result of the fraudulent activity. Meanwhile, a small group of victims (13%) shared that their identity was stolen after sharing their passport details with cybercriminals during the booking process.

The majority of survey respondents (80%) shared that they worry about having their identity stolen during the research and booking process or while traveling abroad

for summer vacations. But despite these worries, less than 25% of people feel that they have the right security in place to prevent their identity from being stolen.

“The last thing that consumers should have to deal with during or after a vacation is an identity scam or personal privacy issue,” comments Gary Davis, McAfee’s Chief Consumer Security Evangelist. “While cybersecurity threats, unfortunately, exist during most stages of the booking and travel experience, consumers can take proactive steps to protect themselves and minimize the risk to ensure scams and other nefarious activities don’t spoil summer travel plans.”

Keeping your data safe

Despite 36% of people expressing concerns of having their personal data stolen while on vacation, almost half (42%) said they either do not check the security of their internet connection or willingly connect to an unsecured network while traveling.

With 95% of Americans using their personal devices on vacation, it is concerning to discover network security is not being prioritized. This is further amplified by the finding that people are using devices for data-sensitive activity such as checking and sending e-mails (66%) and managing money through a banking app (35%).

Additionally, two in five (40%) Americans said they use work devices while on vacation. Despite work devices being connected to a wealth of personal and private data via corporate clouds, email, and productivity services, the vast majority admitted they connect to public Wi-Fi in the airport (46%) and hotel (69%), potentially putting sensitive business information at risk.

McAfee’s tips for identifying authentic booking sites and safe surfing on holiday:

1. Only access verified websites. Only click on websites that your security software has identified as being safe. For example, McAfee WebAdvisor will identify safe websites with a green checkmark and will block malware and phishing sites if you accidentally click on a malicious link from your search results.

2. Use trusted platforms and verified payment methods when finalizing your bookings. Fraudsters may try to lure you away from a trusted platform with the promise of discounted rates. Remember to keep all your communications and bookings to trusted platforms, such as VRBO.COM, and verify the site before entering payment information. This will help protect you from phishing and other cyber fraud.

3. Utilize an identity theft solution. With all this personal data floating around online, it’s important that you protect your identity. Use an identity theft solution, to help protect personally identifiable information from identity theft and fraud.

4. Always connect with caution. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, use a virtual private network (VPN).

PUERTO VALLARTA NOMINATED AS ‘BEST CITY’ BY CONDÉ NAST READERS

PUERTO VALLARTA NOMINATED AS ‘BEST CITY’ BY CONDÉ NAST READERS

Each year, readers of the prestigious magazine Condé Nast Traveler vote for their favorite destinations, as well as hotels, resorts, islands, cruises, airlines, and airports, highlighting the best of each category that guides many travelers in the world.

It is with great pride that the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Trust informs that this destination, once again, is nominated in the Best City category. Also included are 17 hotels located in Vallarta, which stand out for the excellence of their lodging services.

The voting is simple, an email is registered and a basic profile is completed. Then select the category in which you want to vote, and in the online voting platform, you put the name of the destination or hotel, by selecting it, in the brief survey.

More than 400 thousand readers around the world participate year after year in the survey leaving tens of thousands of comments; This is the 32nd edition of the survey (the first was conducted in 1987).

The magazine is designed for the discerning and frequent experienced travelers with a wide variety of travel experiences and information covering frequent flyer programs, art, fashion, architecture, culture, gastronomy, and shopping in a variety of destinations around the world.

It is a publication for the sophisticated person who travels regularly with a strong interest in leisure activities. It has specialized content for the sophisticated traveler from the latest in hotels, the best tourist destinations in the world, the most innovative restaurants, and exclusive spas, to the most fascinating adventure trips.

The printed circulation of the magazine is 807,873 in the United States; Eight editions a year are published.

The complete results will be in the print and online edition in the month of November.

Voting is open until June 30.

June 2019 Events for Riviera Nayarit

June Events for Riviera Nayarit

8th National Congress for Mexican Regional Dance (June 6-9)
The Riviera Nayarit will host the 8th National Congress for Mexican Regional Dance from June 6ththrough the 9th; this event is organized by Veltour travel agency together with the Diplomados de Danza Regional Mexicana (Regional Mexican Dance Graduates) to promote tourism, particularly Mexican folklore and culture. Host hotel Reflect Krystal Grand in Flamingos-Nuevo Vallarta is expecting over 600 participants from dance schools in Guanajuato, Michoacan, Mexico City, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Sinaloa. The event is open to the public.

59th San Blas International Sport Fishing Tournament (June 27-29)
The Historic Port of San Blas is set to welcome the 59th San Blas International Sport Fishing Tournament from June 13th through the 17th at the Marina Fonatur. The event’s main organizer is the Tepic Sport Fishing Club. Participants will compete in three categories: Sailfish, Marlin, and Mahi-Mahi. This tournament is considered the best of its kind in the Mexican Pacific, and one of the top ten best events of the year in the Riviera Nayarit.
For more information click here: https://bit.ly/2VYAsV3

Battle of the Saints in Mexcaltitán (June 29)
Among the most iconic traditional ceremonies are the patron saint festivities for saints Peter and Paul on the Island of Mexcaltitán, the birthplace of Mexicanness. The celebration includes a pilgrimage emulating the Mexicas or the Aztecas, who left Aztlán to establish the great city of Tenochtitlán.

Sayulita Pee Wee Surfing League (TBD)
Sayulita will be hosting the surfing league for minors, which seeks to encourage new talent in a sport that has produced so many great examples on a national level. The league is presented by Ramos Shapes, Sunset Bungalows, and Los Rudos SurfShop under the competition formats established by the World Championship Tour Top 33 via the World Surf League (WSL), the ISA (International Surfing Association), and the Nayarit State Surfing Association (ASENAY), with the support of the local surfing clubs from the different host destinations.
Visit the Facebook page here: https://bit.ly/2HMhSvx

NO, AMERICANS SHOULDN’T FEAR TRAVELING ABROAD

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

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