By John Mitchell

I recently had a chat with geographer and author Tony Burton about his latest book Mexican Kaleidoscope: myths, mysteries, and mystique (Sombrero Books, 2016, 165 pages), a wide-ranging collection of  informative and often surprising vignettes gathered from Mexico’s rich history and culture. Tony’s unique book brings to light many little-known facts about this fascinating country and its people. A copy belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Mexicophile.


JM: You have been writing about Mexico for many years, what first got you interested in the country?

Tony: Necessity! I was teaching geography in the Caribbean and the examination syllabus required a study of Mexico. The Mexican chapters in Robert West and John P. Augelli’s wonderful book Middle America: Its Lands and Peoples were familiar friends by the time I spent the summer of 1977 touring the southern half of Mexico. Two years later, I returned to teach geography in Mexico City. The complexity of Mexico’s geography kept me hooked, which is why I jumped at the opportunity a few years ago to collaborate with Dr. Richard Rhoda to write Geo-Mexico, the Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. Amazingly, that book (published to coincide with Mexico’s bicentenary celebrations in 2010) turned out to be the first ever English-language, college-level book devoted to Mexico’s geography. (For more details, see

JM: What prompted you to write Mexican Kaleidoscope?

Tony: I’d been planning to write a book along these lines for a number of years but only got sufficiently organized to carry through on the plan last year! One of my main motivations was that (to the best of my knowledge) no similar book for the general reader had been published in the past forty years. An incredible amount of interesting academic research has been done on Mexico over that time, leading to reevaluations and reinterpretations of many former ideas and beliefs. I wanted to make readers aware of some of these extraordinary developments, which continually refuel my passionate interest in Mexico.

JM: How did you come up with the title?

Tony: The title Mexican Kaleidoscope is a nod to a British writer, Norman Pelham Wright, whose own collection of essays, with the same title, was published in 1948. That book was an eye-opener for me when I first began to get intimately acquainted with Mexico more than forty years ago. The subtitle Myths, Mysteries and Mystique came from a suggestion by one of my regular golfing partners (who had read an early draft of the book) as we played the 11th hole at Cottonwood Golf Course.

JM: A lot of research must have gone into this book. How long did it take you to write it? What were some of the challenges?

Tony: The research was done sporadically over more than twenty years, in conjunction with other writing projects. The main challenge was that because Mexico is such a fascinating country it was hard to decide what to include and what to omit!

JM: Mexican Kaleidoscope has 30 chapters. Which ones are your favorites? Why?

Tony: That’s a great question, but actually I prefer not to answer since I hope readers will find and enjoy their own favorites. What I can say is that each and every chapter has come to mean far more to me than is expressed by mere words on a page. I really hope some of my enthusiasm comes through to readers.

JM: The book is illustrated by Mexican artist Enrique Velázquez. What do you think his drawings add to the text?

Tony: I’ve known Enrique and his family for many, many years. He has a keen interest in the subject matter and an uncanny ability to portray ideas in just a few lines. I originally envisioned using small, inline drawings to break up the text, much in the manner of old-time illustrators, but his final drawings were far too good for that, so we changed track and gave them the prominence and space they merit.

JM: What do you hope readers will take away from Mexican Kaleidoscope?

Tony: That’s a tough question since I think it depends on what readers bring to the process. At the very least I’d like the book to cause readers to stop and think, to be occasionally surprised, and perhaps question things that they may have previously thought or heard about Mexico. As I’ve written elsewhere, Mexico is not always an easy country to understand but any effort to do so always seems to bring rich reward!

JM: Do you have any other books about Mexico in the works?

Tony: Yes. I’m hoping to complete a companion volume to Mexican Kaleidoscope by the second half of this year. Whereas Mexican Kaleidoscope focuses primarily on history and culture, the next book (title still under wraps) focuses on Mexico’s astonishingly varied natural history (flora and fauna) and its cultural connections. I’m also actively researching material for books about the twentieth century history of the Lake Chapala region, and about the development of that area’s literary and artistic community. For that last project, I’ve begun publishing short profiles of some of the key players at

JM: How can Mexico Premiere fans order a copy of Mexican Kaleidoscope?

Tony: Both print and Kindle editions of Mexican Kaleidoscope are available via all Amazon sites –,, etc. There are also ebook versions for Kobo and other ereaders via iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Readers in the Lake Chapala area can find the book in local stores such as La Nueva Posada, Diane Pearl Collections, Mi México and in Enrique Velázquez’s art gallery. I also have a limited number of copies that can be signed and personally dedicated for Mexico Premiere fans if they contact me via


Western Mexico,  A Traveler’s Treasury (4th edition)

Chapala Through the Ages;  an anthology of travellers’ tales (2008)

Co-author of Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico


Favorite Podcast of the Week: Trumpaggedon #MexicoExplained

by Ron Mader

From one of the new favorite podcasts of the year comes the must-listen podcast of the week: Trumpaggedon (you can listen online

This week the Mexico Explained pod crew sit in their virtual studio to discuss the post real world of a Trump election victory that has changed the present and the future of Mexico almost as much as it has changed the United States. This episode looks at possible impacts and searches in vain for signs of optimism as the president elect names his cabinet.

And if you enjoy Mexico Explained as much as I do, follow the host  @jonjo66 and guests @TomBuckley519 @luisantespino on Twitter.

Mexico Explained


Ondalinda To Bring an International Music Lineup to Mexico

Taking place on the stunning beaches of Costa Careyes, Mexico from October 27-30, Ondalinda is a boutique music and lifestyle festival embarking on its first journey this year with the goal of awakening the senses of those that attend. On the grounds of one of the world’s most coveted travel destinations will arise a community bound by alluring music, captivating activities alongside the waters of Mexico’s coastline, and a deep dive into the local Huichol culture during Dia de los Muertos weekend.


Transforming a private beachfront resort, Ondalinda will bring around 400 individuals together to experience an international music lineup that will include ethereal vocals and minimal production from Vienna duo HVOB, deep global instrumentations from Berlin based producer NU, groovy basslines from Barcelona’s own Audiofly, mesmerizing tribal soundscapes from female duo BLOND:ISH, and luscious deep house vibes from LA producer Sabo, along with LUM, Gandalla, MENDRIX, and The Happy Show.


Beyond the announced musical acts, those in attendance can look forward to no shortage of surprises along the way. They can also look forward to witnessing the legendary Mayan Warrior return to Mexico for the main event on Saturday night after its triumphant takeover of Burning Man 2016, which included a performance alongside the ubiquitous Robot Heart bus. Originally painted by visionary artist Alex Grey, the art car recently received millions of dollars worth of mind blowing improvements with awe-inspiring lasers and a visceral sounds system to transport onlookers to the very origins of Mexican culture.

ondalinda-fireIn addition to the music, guests are also provided the opportunity to immerse themselves in complete relaxation and separation from the real word. Explore the transformative beaches of Careyes, travel the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean while paddleboarding or kayaking, or even journey beneath the surface and explore the colorful underbelly that awaits below while scuba diving. After a day of playing in the water, guests looking for rejuvenation call take part in jungle yoga while those seeking tranquility can enjoy spa services such as mud baths, massages, and ritual healing ceremonies.

Other highlights will include exquisite dinners hosted with delectable local cuisine, a cocktail party at Playa Rosa, an ocean sunset ceremony, and exclusive access to “El Cocodrilo” Beach Club every day from noon till sunset. Ondalinda will also join forces with Mexico-based entrepreneur and artist Philippe Moellhausen to transform Teopa Beach with monumental art pieces, vibrant decor, dazzling costumes, and indigenous live performances for guests to partake in.


Above all, Ondalinda aims to honor authenticity by showcasing the art and teachings of the local Huichol culture. A portion of net profits from the festival will be donated to the Huichol to support their mission to preserve sacred land through the organization UNESCO, and an exclusive collection of Huichol art by the name “Los Navegantes del sueño” will be displayed with never before seen masterpieces that reflect the cosmovision of this mystic community.

Guests can also take part in talks led by a world-renowned Huichol expert Humberto Fernandez and 35.000 community leader Santo, enjoy a screening of the award-winning film “Eco de la Montagna,” purchase artisan crafts from the Huichol people in the Plaza throughout the weekend, witness a Huichol shaman and local musicians open the exhibition to invoke the Gods and bless the event, and learn about the Huichol art and its meaning from the local tribe themselves.


When it comes to finding your home for the weekend, guests can choose from the many luxurious accommodation packages including breathtaking Castles, luxurious Villas, and beautiful Casitas. Whether you’re looking for a private villa framed by lush tropical gardens or an ocean castle featuring panoramic ocean views, Costa Careyes has an option to best suit your needs.

Join us on our journey into the hidden paradise of Costa Careyes for a truly transcendent experience. For more information on securing your tickets, please visit the Ondalinda x Careyes website. Please remember that space is limited and both tickets and accommodations are filling up fast.


Toward foodie tourism routes and appreciation of intangible cultural heritage in México: Gastronomía Mexicana 2016

by Ron Mader

On the road toward the World Forum on Mexican Gastronomy, aka el Foro Mundial de la Gastronomía Mexicana (FMGM), November 24-27 in Mexico City.

Key Links

More on the Planeta Wiki


New restaurant and bar complement new room fittings

LOS CABOS, MEXICO  – Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive, Golf and Spa has upped the ante on guest services by adding a brand new restaurant and bar, along with extensive upgrades to rooms. The renovations put an extra gloss on the resort’s already outstanding amenities that include access to two championship golf courses, unique wine spa, and private beach where guests can snorkel and take in the underwater beauty of the Sea of Cortes.  

The upgrades include a complete makeover of all 249 rooms. All standard guest rooms now reflect the latest in design that complements the natural splendor of Los Cabos. Here, the desert rolls down into the sea, a combination that creates a special atmosphere and beauty found nowhere else in the world with strong blues juxtaposed against the desert’s neutral tones. The new décor takes its cues from the local environment with splashes of color contrasting a cool white background. 

The luxurious new fittings might even make guests not want to leave their rooms and take advantage of the resort’s other activities and amenities. All rooms now feature new bathroom fixtures (including a shower rain-head), a 55” flat screen smart TV, new bed headboards and night stands, rug and colorful throw pillows. All rooms with a king-size bed will now feature sofas and ottomans so guests can make themselves feel right at home. Additional add-ons include a brand new mini bar featuring soft drinks, beer and snacks.

The resort has also recently inaugurated the brand new Restaurant Blu, the ninth dining option at the resort, offering snacks and international cuisine; and a new bar and lounge will also make its home in the resort this fall, offering a nightly DJ, live music, and large screen TV’s for sporting events.  

“Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos is focused on giving guests memories that will stay with them for life,” said Enrique Calderón, Chief Operating Officer for Hotel Division, Grupo Posadas. “In order to provide the best, we are constantly fine tuning our hotels to offer a better experience and show guests the stellar service and modern amenities that the Posadas brand is known for,” he added.

Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive, Golf and Spa understands that guests expect a unique and world class resort experience outside their rooms as well. The resort offers activities that pamper and relax at the world-renowned SOMMA WineSPA, the only one of its kind in Mexico. The spa’s serene atmosphere is based on a-one-of-a-kind set of services that incorporates grapes and wine in a selection of the finest contemporary treatments and features 15 treatment rooms, a fitness center, wet and dry saunas, and special amenities including a glass of wine once a treatment is completed.

The resort is also home to more than 13,000 sq. ft. of meeting space that hold up to 1,100 people, and great outdoor venues for private events that showcase spectacular views of the golf course and the Sea of Cortes. Additionally, the resort’s Grand Club offers guests luxury and privacy with subtle details like private pool, VIP concierge services, and premium amenities at The Grand Club lounge.

The upgrades at Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive, Golf and Spa will ensure the facilities continue to satisfy even the most discerning of guests for years to come as they enjoy the resort’s fine dining, championship golf courses, pristine beach and relaxing spa. Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive, Golf and Spa, like all of Grupo Posada’s 12 Fiesta Americana Resort Collection properties, offers guests a world-class resort experience leavened with Mexico’s rich culture and hospitality and all the needed amenities.


About Fiesta Americana Resort Collection

Fiesta Americana Resort Collection is comprised of 12 distinctive resorts that epitomize the Spirit of Mexico and are located in the best beach destinations in the country. The Resort Collection is owned by Grupo Posadas, the largest hotel operator in Mexico and offers guests a superior, world-class resort experience that exudes Mexican attributes such as rich culture, traditional warm hospitality, and unrivalled accommodations and amenities.

The Fiesta American Resort Collection is made up of: Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive Golf & Spa, Fiesta Americana Cozumel All Inclusive, Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive, Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa, Fiesta Americana Villas Cancun, Fiesta Americana Villas Acapulco, The Explorean Cozumel, The Explorean Kohunlich, Live Aqua Cancun All Inclusive Adults Only, Lat20 by Live Aqua Playa del Carmen All Inclusive Adults Only. For further information, please visit:

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

MexicoPremiere contributor Greg Custer, a Mexico expert in his own right, sent us his thoughts on his latest visit to this magical country: a trip through Chiapas, one of the country’s many hidden gems. ¡Gracias for sharing, Greg!

A recent visit to Mexico’s southernmost State reinforces why Chiapas is one of this hemisphere’s grandest nature + culture experiences. Bordered by Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Guatemala and spanning Mexico’s narrow southern waist, Chiapas combines pine forest highlands, steamy jungle lowlands, wild rivers, alpine lakes, deep canyons, and a slice of little-explored Pacific Coast. It’s also the heartland of Mexico’s Mayan patrimony.

Historically, Chiapas has attracted only veteran Mexico travelers, Europeans, and backpackers on their way to Central America. Today it’s an easier-than-ever open-jaw itinerary using Houston non-stops into Villahermosa and returning from Tuxtla-Gutierrez.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

A typical SIX DAY jaunt begins by landing in Villahermosa (VSA; United has non-stop service from HOU; otherwise connect via MEX). It’s an easy, flat 90 minutes to the town of Palenque, and another 5 short kms to the Palenque archaeological site. There’s non-stop bus service from the airport to Palenque city (fare is around $17US). Stay in the ‘La Cañada’ area, home to a jungle-shaded, gentrified collection of good eats, coffee shops and small inns. (Palenque city has limited attractions beyond its leafy parks.) We stayed comfortably at Maya Tulipanes.

DAY ONE: Take a full day to immerse your soul in Palenque, the apogee of western Mayan architectural refinement. The jungle hillside setting is breathtaking. An English-speaking guide can divide your visit between the unexcavated jungle ruins, the regal central courtyard of palaces and temples, followed by a downhill, suspension bridge, waterfall path to the site’s excellent museum. Palenque’s importance to Mayan scholars cannot be overstated. It is here they found not only towering structures and Egyptian-like tombs, but a nearly uninterrupted record of the site’s powerful dynastic rulers. Studies will continue for decades-to-come and a day visit leaves you wanting more.

DAY TWO: Within reach from Palenque city are a host of nature and cultural attractions. Most opt for the waterfalls at Misol-há and the turquoise waters of stunning Agua Azul. When visiting from November to May, witness the 15 km-long river’s transformation from rainy season cappuccino hues to dry season’s brilliant blues, greens and frothy white cascades, which are the result of bicarbonate minerals that alter refracted sunlight. You can wander upstream to the river’s source, past vendors, restaurants and quiet alcoves. There are other daytrip options (and overnight journeys) exploring lowland ruins, villages and nature reserves.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

DAY THREE: After travelling the sinuous two-lane highway south from Palenque to Ocosingo, you’ll swear there was a Mayan God of the Speed Bump (‘topes’ in Spanish). The road (regardless of whether you use private driver or deluxe bus) is tortuous. ‘Topes’ (the tall ones, not the smaller ‘vibrador’ variety) appear with a maddening frequency like no other route in the Americas. Take Dramamine (and your sense of humor) to compensate. You’re rewarded handsomely some upon reaching Ocosingo and a short jaunt east to Toniná.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

This little-visited site belongs in anyone’s TOP FIVE Mesoamerican experiences. Spanning a towering series of Machu Picchu-like terraces are temples, stela, carved stone walls, residences and pyramids, all climber accessible. A mere 30-40 people tour the site each day! The structure towers 75 meters (246 feet) and is now crowned as the tallest in all of Mexico. It had been thought the Toniná acropolis was built atop an existing hill. In 2015 scientists announced the massive structure was in fact entirely build by ancient inhabitants. “It’s a big surprise to see that the pyramid was done almost entirely by the architects and therefore is more artificial than natural” said Emiliano Gallaga, director of the site.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

After another two jarring hours of ‘topes’ your journey from jungle to highlands ends at magical 7,000-foot San Cristobal de las Casas. Rest at your hotel, then rally for an evening stroll along the city’s 16th century flagstone pedestrian arcades and marimba serenaded squares. (We enjoyed our stay at Las Escaleras, ten suites climbing a hillside a short walk to the main square. The lovely Parador San Juan de Dios is also highly recommended).


A walker’s delight, San Cristobal sits in a valley surrounded by pine forested mountains. Highland communities have occupied the region for millennia. Spanish San Cristobal dates to 1528, evident in the city’s handsome squares, Catholic temples, mansions, and red tiled roofs. It was a bastion of Indian conversion to European ways, a work-in-progress that yields both splendor and tragedy.

Across the Highlands, an ancient yet ‘contem­porary’ Mayan culture has survived, amidst a patchwork of independent, culturally distinct villages. Of the state’s 5.2 million inhabitants, nearly one million are Native Americans, descendants of the Maya and other ethnic groups. Much of the state’s history is centered on the subjugation of these people. Satellite communities west of San Cristobal are home to resettled and refuge-seeking Maya families, the sad reality of political, land rights, religious and international migration conflict across highland Chiapas.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

With a population now approaching 200,000, San Cristobal still feels like a village. A ‘Pueblo Mágico’ designation has brought gentrification and hip international dining. Take time to visit Casa Na Bolom, a step back in time homage to the Lancandon Forest and its ancestral inhabitants. Blocks away is the 12-rooom Parador San Juan de Díos, a series of lovely bungalows, an excellent gourmet restaurant and former home to the Harvard University’s Chiapas Project, a ground-breaking ethnographic field study. It ran from 1957 to 1980 and investigated social change across Mayan culture.

The region’s signature textiles are seen as daily garb and purchased at shops or mercados. The weaver cooperative Sna Jolobil is adjacent to the city’s fine Textile Museum, part of the Templo de Santo Domingo. Built between 1547-60, Santo Domingo’s baroque façade is of soft pink stone is resplendent, while the interior is exuberantly deco­rated with gilt retablos. Sna Jolobil supports some 800 weavers from twenty Tzotzil and Tzeltal-speaking communities.

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Destination Dispatch: Chiapas

Day trips from San Cristobal highlight archaeological sites, traditional villages and nature’s splendor. Take in at least one of these opportunities when not shopping for ambar or sipping Mexico’s best coffee, relaxing in the city’s several plazas.

Have a few extra days? Chiapas is home to several of Mexico’s premier outdoor experiences. The Pacific coast (some 3.5 hours from San Cristobal to Puerto Arista) has largely unvisited stretches of beach, inter­rupted by an occasional fishing village. Highland attractions include North America’s only trop­ical rainforest, some of its deepest canyons and several wild, scenic rivers and lakes. Six of Mexico’s finest national parks and nature pre­serves are here, including Sumidero Canyon, El Triunfo, Agua Azul, and Lagunas de Mon­tebello.


It’s a one-hour taxi to state capital Tuxtla-Gutierrez and its international airport (TGZ; United to Houston or connection via MEX). Descending over 5,000 feet from the Highlands via a modern autopista, contemplate one of this hemisphere’s most complex cultural corridors, and start planning your next visit.

Learn more at

(Text and photos: Greg Custer)

Good News For Acapulco’s Hotels and Beaches

The destination of Acapulco recently announced the recognition of two local hotels for their quality, safety and service. Representing the destination’s continued evolution as a leading touristic destination, the latest honors were awarded to Mundo Imperial Resort, a AAA Four Diamond property. Two of Acapulco’s beaches were also recognized for their appeal and cleanliness with the prestigious Blue Flag eco-award.

“We are thrilled that premiere hotels and distinct beaches have been recognized by prestigious international groups,” said Pedro Haces, president of the Acapulco Destination Marketing Office. “These accolades are a testament to Acapulco’s position as an ideal destination for travelers from all walks of life, including families and couples, seeking an unmatched beach holiday in an attractive, friendly and safe world-class destination.”

Acapulco’s Mundo Imperial Resort is less than two years old, but it has already made its mark as a top destination for travelers seeking the finest facilities and service. The latest award came in Spring 2016 from the American Automobile Association (AAA). The group gave the resort the esteemed Four Diamond ranking after onsite inspections demonstrated that the property had met the organization’s superior standards.

Mundo Imperial Resort in Acapulco joins an exclusive club of 152 hotels in Mexico that share the Four Diamond rating and is the third property in Acapulco to achieve the coveted certification. The destination is also home to two additional Four Diamond hotels, Las Brisas Acapulco and The Grand Mayan Acapulco, and one Five Diamond resort, the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques. Likewise, The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences bestowed the Five Star Diamond Award to Hotel Encanto thanks to its iconic architecture and the warmth and quality of its service.

The AAA organization ranks approximately 28,000 hotels annually in Canada, the United States and Mexico. A Four Diamond rating is given to refined, stylish hotels with extensive amenities, excellent hospitality and superb attention to detail, which places Mundo Imperial Resort in distinguished company.

Beyond Acapulco’s hotels, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has added two of Acapulco’s beaches, Revolcadero II and Icacos II, to its well-known eco-rating system, the Blue Flag program. Revolcadero II is popular among surfers searching for big Pacific swells. Icacos II is a family-friendly beach among locals and international travelers alike.

26 beaches in Mexico meet the FEE’s strict standards. Beaches in the Blue Flag program must meet more than 30 separate requirements. The standards include water quality, environmental care, teaching and security. Blue Flag has operated since 1985 and is now active in 48 countries.

Attractions in Acapulco

Acapulco is a quintessential destination that provides fun and unmatchable weather for the entire family. The beaches are ideal for lazing in the sun or getting out on the water. The city is also filled with history and legendary glamour. The colonial-era Fort of San Diego, now the most renowned museum filled with thousands of years of history in Acapulco, is an essential part of the destination’s architecture and a must-visit landmark.

La Quebrada, home to Acapulco’s world-famous cliff divers has become a symbol of the city that is as popular today as it was half a century ago. And you’ll never go hungry. Acapulco has a busy restaurant scene that blends five hundred years of Mexican culinary traditions and a global array of flavors. All of this and more make Acapulco the must-visit beach destination in Mexico.

 For more information about events, news and reservations visit

Mexico News and Current Events