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.

VOLARIS TO CONNECT PVR-RIVIERA NAYARIT WITH THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

VOLARIS TO CONNECT PVR-RIVIERA NAYARIT WITH THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST

Volaris announced its new Phoenix-Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit (PHX-PVR) route starting on June 16th of this year, expanding the connectivity between that region and the Mexican Pacific.

The new flight, which began ticketing on Friday, February 8th, will allow clients to travel to and enjoy one of Mexico’s premier tourist destinations and relax on its beautiful beaches.

“The route between Phoenix and Puerto Vallarta allows Volaris to consolidate its presence in the international market, expanding its destination portfolio and positioning itself as the Mexican airline with the most flights from one of Mexico’s most important destinations,” said airline executives.

The flight will be permanent with two frequencies per week on Fridays and Sundays. It will leave Puerto Vallarta at 11:08 a.m. arriving in Phoenix, Arizona, at 11:56 p.m. On its return flight it will depart Phoenix at 1:16 p.m., arriving back in Puerto Vallarta at 5:56 p.m.

The airline expectations are high for the flight as this is a very important market not only of travelers of Mexican descent, but also of North Americans who reside in Phoenix and the surrounding areas and like to vacation in Mexico.

The flight to Phoenix is one of several recent new flight announcements to the US and Canada, including the Sun Country flight from Las Vegas and the Swoop flight that began two connections earlier this year from Hamilton and Abbotsford, Canada.

The Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau is very happy with this decision and wishes Volaris much success in the operation of its new route.

The Southwest region of the United States includes the states of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as the western portion of Texas; southern Nevada, Utah and Colorado; western Oklahoma; and southern California and has positioned itself as an important market of origin for tourists to the Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit region, especially among travelers of Mexican descent who live in that area of the Union.

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.

  • 17—Wandering-Tattler-DSC_1710-Los-Islotes-Chris
    Wandering tattler about to land at Los Islotes. (Photo: Chris Lloyd)
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  • 2—Boats-eye-view-of-Islotes
  • 3—Captain-Richard-at-Los-Islotes
  • 4—Cardon-worlds-tallest-cactus
  • 5—Cemetery-at-Nopalo
  • 6—Co-pilot-Rodrigo-Orozco
  • 7—Dawn-breaks-at-San-Francisco-Island
  • 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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  • 5—Daily-Life-Explained
  • 6—GR-dance-1
  • 7—GR-Food
  • 8—Guachi-at-sunset
  • 9—house-construction
  • 11—Phil-Weigand-and-geometry
  • 14—wrapped-pyramid
  • 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.

GRUPO VIDANTA ANNOUNCES NEW LUXURY DEVELOPMENT

GRUPO VIDANTA ANNOUNCES NEW LUXURY DEVELOPMENT

Grupo Vidanta, the leading resort and tourism developer in Mexico and Latin America, announced today the introduction of The Estates, a one-of-its-kind luxury development to debut at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta and Vidanta Riviera Maya, two of the company’s seven resort portfolio destinations. Formerly under the name of ‘Jungle Estates,’ The Estates plays a significant role in Grupo Vidanta’s ongoing goal to offer the most exclusive and high-end tourism projects in all Latin America.

With an initial presence in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta and Vidanta Riviera Maya, The Estates will be Vidanta’s -Grupo Vidanta’s luxury vacationing brand- premier resort offering, boasting ultra-luxury opulence thanks to high-end details, plush amenities and lavish vacation experiences. One of the key distinguishing factors of these sumptuous new units is that they offer a private sanctuary designed to honor and reflect the sweeping beauty of the natural landscapes that surround them.

“The introduction of The Estates represents our continued commitment to transforming the hospitality industry and cementing Mexico’s position as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations,” said Iván Chávez, Executive Vice President of Grupo Vidanta. “The Estates are bold and innovative, revolutionizing the concept of luxury, and will go above and beyond in style, personalization, comfort and service, even for the most discerning traveler.”

The Estates will be located in picturesque, nature-filled settings at Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya resorts, and will be available in sumptuous one-, two- and four-bedroom surpassing space configurations. Boasting an indoor-outdoor al fresco design to take full advantage of the breathtaking surrounding landscape at each location, all three of The Estates accommodations will be thoughtfully designed with modern touches while embracing the unique cultures of both coastal destinations. Guests will enjoy spacious living and dining room spaces, elegant spa-inspired bathrooms, secluded terraces and a private outdoor pool and lounge area. Model units will be available for guests to tour later this year.

This spectacular, new class of luxury accommodations perfectly complements the markedly unique and high-end experiences and offerings of both locations, including the renowned Norman Signature Golf Course, Almaverde farm, and Santuario entertainment plaza at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta and the acclaimed Cirque du Soleil show, JOYÀ, The Beach Club, and Salum Beachside Eateries and Market at Vidanta Riviera Maya. The Estates will provide an exclusive paradise for those who crave personalized, curated and extravagant travel experiences.

7 IDEAS FOR ECOTOURISM IN PUERTO VALLARTA AND RIVIERA NAYARIT

With sustainability being more important for travellers than ever and 2019 set to be the biggest year for ecotourism, you may be amongst those searching for the perfect eco-holiday! Puerto Vallarta, in the state of Jalisco, and Riviera Nayarit, in the state of Nayarit, have long been two beautiful destinations offering sustainable activities that explore the regions’ incredible eco-systems. Read on for 7 eco-friendly ways to discover the beauty of Mexico!

1. Help Baby Sea Turtles
Baby sea turtle releasing in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit has become a major tourist attraction. Turtle protection programs with turtle farms dedicated to the harvesting, hatching and releasing of baby sea turtles have been created by the Mexican government with marine biologists. As well as getting to see the beautiful creatures and enjoying an interactive and educational experience, you can help increase the survival rate of new turtle hatchlings!

2. Pay the Crocs a Visit
Riviera Nayarit has some great ecotours where you can visit and learn all about it’s rich ecosystem. If you want to explore it alongside rustic towns and historic ruins, head to the river of La Tovara. For those wanting to combine crocodiles and sea turtle release programs, you can visit El Quelele, a marshy lagoon where American Crocodiles exist in a protected environment.

3. Explore Vallarta Botanical Garden
Vallarta Botanical Garden is a nature reserve with botanical collections of more than 3,000 species and has an orchid nursery of 100 different species. After exploring the beautiful gardens you can swim in the Horcones River, do some bird watching or take a trail through the jungle!

4. Have a Whale of a Time in Banderas Bay
Banderas Bay is a sanctuary with an abundance of marine life. From December to March the majestic humpback whales arrive at the bay to mate and birth their young. You can experience this for yourself with various whale watching tours that are controlled, respectful and adhere to strict environmental and safety standards. You can also swim with the dolphins there!

5. Experience Life Underwater
Many water activities that can be enjoyed all year round! Jalisco and Nayarit are home to natural protected areas, bird sanctuaries and marine parks with impressive hill and rock formations that are great for snorkelling, diving, paddle boarding and kayaking. South of Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find Los Arcos. Along the Riviera Nayarit coast are the Islas Marietas, home of the famous Hidden Beach, Isla del Coral and Isla Isabel.

6. Visit San Blas for Birdwatching
With over 300 bird species and over 80% of migratory birds flocking to San Blas during the winter months, the coastal village is home to some of the world’s best bird watching locations for vacationing birdwatchers, especially during the months of October through to March as the weather is very pleasant. True bird watching enthusiasts visit San Blas during Mexico’s Festival of Migratory Birds at the end of January or San Blas Christmas Bird Count in December.

7. Zoom Across Jungles and Coastal Views
Jungle canopy tours, or zip-line tours, are one of the most popular and eco-friendly options to explore Mexico’s emerald green Pacific Coast rainforests in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. You can book zip lining anywhere along the 200-mile stretch of the Riviera Nayarit in most major communities like Punta de Mita, Sayulita and Lo de Marcos. Puerto Vallarta also has many opportunities for zip-lining. Thrill-seekers can whizz along Mexico’s longest and fastest “Superman” zip line or get an aerial view of Los Arcos Natural Preserve.

Visit to Vallarta Botanical Garden turns out to be a day to remember

Mexico Life
Vallarta Botanical Garden is 24 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta.Vallarta Botanical Garden is 24 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta.

Visit to Vallarta Botanical Garden turns out to be a day to remember

Expat finds a way to make a living in the middle of a jungle

Well, “near here” took six hours to get to, plus six hours back, and I ended up reaching home at midnight, but I must admit the eminent botanist was right: the Vallarta Botanical Garden truly is a must-see, no matter where you find yourself in Mexico. The place is located 24 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta, along Palms-to-Pines coastal highway 200.

Step out of your car and you’re in the jungle. We were visiting in July and everywhere we went, hundreds of “skippers” fluttered all around us. These, explained a sign in English and Spanish, are Hesperiidae butterflies, smaller than most and given to skipping, flitting, darting and zig-zagging, from which they get their popular name.

Clouds of them danced all around us as we began our tour of the Botanical Gardens, which cover an area of eight hectares, crisscrossed by pathways with exotic names like The Vanilla Trail, Jaguar Trail and Guacamaya Trail, leading to even more exotic-sounding places like The Jungle Overlook, The Swinging Bridge, Tree Fern Grotto, The Garden of Memories and The Giant Strangler Fig Tree.

And everywhere you go, every step of the way, there is lush vegetation: sensuous tropical flowers, bizarre, creeping vines and gargantuan trees which soar to amazing heights in this tropical climate. Here you will find orchids — an amazing multitude of orchids.

There are even orchids that resemble anything but orchids, plus a few that (to our great surprise) exude alluring perfumes. And, of course, there was the tastiest of all orchids, Vanilla planifolia, whose vines grow abundantly there (and you can buy the beans or extract in their store).

One of the 1,901 varieties of Anthurium flowers.
One of the 1,901 varieties of Anthurium flowers.

Here, too, are cocoa pods growing before your very eyes and attached directly to the tree trunk. Each pod holds 20 to 60 seeds, the main ingredient in chocolate. There are also rare cacti of every sort, exotic “Purple Island” waterlilies, red ginger, once exclusively reserved for Hawaiian royalty and such a huge collection of anthuriums that we wondered whether they had found all 1,901 types. Along that line, the gardens have so many thousands of species that no one has even tried to count them.

When you need to take a break in your exploration of the gardens, you can cool off with an exotic drink at the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant, which also houses a most impressive Natural History and Cultural Museum.

This amazing project came into being thanks to Robert Price, founder of the botanical gardens, who kindly took time to chat with me at the restaurant over frosty glasses of incredibly refreshing and delicious drinks. One of these contained chaya and chía, while the other was a combination of iced lemon-grass tea, tapioca and ginger, sweetened with agave nectar.

“Some of our visitors suspect we have spiked these two drinks with frog’s eggs,” quipped the curator of these gardens.

Robert Price, who was born in Savannah, Georgia, told me he came to Puerto Vallarta in 2004, planning to stay for only six months. Fortunately for us and for Mexico, someone knocked on Price’s door one day, selling orchids. “Those orchids were absolutely incredible: gorgeous,” says Price, “and I asked the man where he had found them. ‘In the mountains,’ he told me . . . and eventually he brought me to this very place. I took one look and said to myself, ‘This is where I want to stay!’”

Now all Price needed to do was figure out how to make a living in the middle of a jungle. “Well,” he says, “I noticed there were no botanical gardens along the coast and that seemed surprising to me. But I love nature and the idea of starting my own botanical garden came into my head. So, I researched the internet to find out how to do it. And this is the result. I think this is what I was sent here to do.”

Exotic “Purple Island” water lilies.
Exotic “Purple Island” water lilies.

By chance a friend of mine just returned from a visit to the garden. I asked Susan Street for her impressions.

“It took some doing,” she told me, “to convince my sons, their father and their girlfriends to abandon the beaches of Puerto Vallarta long enough to try something new: a visit to the Vallarta Botanical Garden, which turned out to be a 40-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s downtown area. We only spent a few hours there, but boy did we wish we could have gone back the following day!

“There are so many trails to follow, plants and trees to admire and delicious food to devour! Each of us wanted to spend quality time in specific parts of the garden, but instead we stuck together and took it all in as a group. The bougainvillea were gorgeous, the vanilla plants all budding, the variety of cacti mind-boggling!

“We topped everything off, of course, with lunch at the Hacienda de Oro restaurant. We devoured scrumptious fish and shrimp tacos while sipping on vanilla and raspberry mojitos.

Then, wonderful organic coffee topped everything off as we awarded ourselves with more wandering through the gift shop, purchasing bamboo straws, cacao products and vanilla extract, in addition to a free dark-chocolate bar given to us upon presenting a coupon clipped from the visitors’ guide. A day to remember, and a visit I can’t stop recommending to friends.”

Another visitor went on a tour of the place with Leonardo, their botanist, and claimed it was the highlight of her stay in Puerto Vallarta, “the best botanical gardens guided tour we experienced — ever!”

Vallarta Botanical Garden

So I hope by now you will agree with me that this amazing place is well worth a visit, even if it requires a 12-hour detour!

• Vallarta Botanical Garden is a non-profit, charitable organization “dedicated to those who work to preserve the beauty of the Earth, and who labor to teach others the value and wonder of their environment.” According to its website it’s open daily, 10:00 to 6:00, but closed on Mondays from April to October. The entrance fee is 200 pesos per person, kids four and under free. The telephone number is (322) 223-6182.

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    A visitor cools off: “This is where I want to stay!” Photo: Susan Street
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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.

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.