Goodbye Little Green Bugs

By John Mitchell

They are homely, cramped, polluting, and — with their two doors — a kidnapper’s dream come true. But Mexico City’s Volkswagen Bug taxis have been one of the city’s best known icons for almost half a century. Love them or loathe them, these once-ubiquitous, green and white vochos (as the locals call them) will soon be a thing of the past.

In 2002, Mexio City’s environmentally-friendly mayor declared the VW Beetle taxis nuisances and gave their drivers ten years to either turn in their Bugs to the government for a cash payment or keep them for personal use. He also decreed that all Mexico City’s taxis had to be less than ten years old and have four doors. Adding insult to injury, the last Mexican VW Beetle rolled off the assembly line a year later in the city of Puebla, where they had been made since 1967.

VW Bug taxis are a bit more difficult to spot these days because Mexico City’s entire fleet of cabs was repainted gold and maroon in 2009 to mark Mexico’s Bicentennial. There are still plenty of vochos prowling the city’s congested streets. But if you haven’t had the pleasure of riding in a vocho yet, you had better flag one down soon. They will all have beetled off into the sunset by 2012.

VW Bug taxis in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Click on the photo to see a larger version and for information about ordering prints or leasing for personal or editorial use.

See More Images by John Mitchell



The Music Fan’s Airline of Choice Teams up with VH1 to Kick Off Cool New Flights to a Hot New Destination

Mile-High Episode of VH1’s “Top 20 Video Countdown” to Take Place at 35,000 Feet

San Francisco – January 27, 2011 –Virgin America, the California-based airline, today launches nonstop flights to Cancun International Airport (CUN) from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  The airline known for high frills and low fares will also launch direct flights to CUN from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) starting January 20, 2011. The launch marks the third international destination for the three year old award-winning carrier and its 14th destination in North America.  For the airline’s virgin voyage to Cancun, Virgin America is teaming up with VH1 to host the first-ever mile-high episode of VH1’s “Top 20 Video Countdown” onboard its inaugural flight.  Under Virgin America’s signature moodlighting, the first Cancun-bound commercial flight guests will get to party like pop stars and enjoy the airline’s siesta-worthy leather seating, on-demand food and cocktails and personal touch-screen entertainment platforms.

“As an airline known for bringing some fun back to flying, it is only fitting we’re teaming up with VH1 to kick off our Cancun route in high style,” said David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America.  “We think flyers deserve to start their Mexican getaways as soon as they board their flight – and with the best in entertainment, beautiful cabins and outstanding service, we think travelers will agree that Virgin America is the perfect way to jump-start their Mexican vacation a few hours early.”

With touch-screen entertainment at every seat, stylish design and guest-focused teammates, Virgin America has been growing and winning over travelers since its August 2007 launch.  The airline offers the largest in-flight entertainment library in the North American skies – with a special focus on music, in keeping with the Virgin brand’s roots.  The Red™ touch-screen entertainment system offers every guest hundreds of content options, including VH1’s music video library, a 3,000 MP3 music catalog (and the ability for guests to build a custom play list in-flight), 30 films, live TV,* videogames, seat-to-seat chat and even an on-demand menu – so guests can order a cocktail or meal right from their seatback touch-screen any time during a flight.

“The Virgin America brand is most welcome in Cancun, the number one leisure destination in Latin America and the Caribbean.  We in ASUR cannot think of a better match: Virgin America, Cancun and traveling in high style.” said Alejandro Vales, ASUR Customer and Route Development Director.

To further celebrate the new route,  Virgin America, VH1 and luxury all-inclusive resort Live Aqua have teamed up to offer three lucky VIPs the chance to win the ultimate getaway to Cancun.  Winners will be treated to roundtrip flights on Virgin America and a three-day sensory experience for two at Live Aqua.  Entry to the sweepstakes can be found at now through February 9, 2011.**

“VH1 connects music lovers to the artists they love – as well as to up and coming bands new to the scene,” said Tom Calderone, President, VH1. “Since 2007, our partnership with Virgin America has allowed us to connect fans to their favorite music even at 35,000 feet.  From the soundtracks featured throughout the cabin to the breadth of their in-flight music catalog, it is obvious that music is a central component of the Virgin America experience – and we couldn’t be more pleased to team up with the airline on their VH1 Top 20 ‘Countdown to Cancun’ flight.”

Filmed at 35,000 feet on Virgin America’s first  commercial flight LAX to CUN, the “Countdown to Cancun” episode of VH1’s “Top 20 Video Countdown” will first air on the network on January 29, 2011, at 9:00am ET.  Grammy-nominated and multi-chart topping band Goo Goo Dolls will sit in First Class with host Jim Shearer and talk about their latest album “Something for the Rest of Us.” The show will include additional special cameo appearances, including one by Virgin Group Founder and company “frontman,” Sir Richard Branson. Additionally, as part of its ongoing partnership with VH1, Virgin America will name one of its new aircraft “Air VH1” later this year.

Virgin America’s spicy low fares to Cancun start from just $139,***with restrictions taxes and fees applying.

“We’re excited to welcome Virgin America to the hottest spot in the Mexican Caribbean.  Virgin America is offering an exceptional new, low-fare airline option for travelers headed to Cancun’s world-class resorts, beaches and attractions. We welcome Virgin American travelers to come and experience all that Cancun and the treasures of the Caribbean have to offer.” said Jesus Almaguer, Director of the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau.

With 335 rooms and 36 luxury suites, Live Aqua Cancun features endless privileges and heightens the guest experience by touching each of the five senses with unique design elements such as sensuous in-room aromatherapy menus, savory international cuisine, a world fusion spa and fitness center and stunning panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.

Since launching, Virgin America has captured a list of industry best-in-class awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in both Condé Nast Traveler’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 World’s Best Awards as well as “Best-in-Class” in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Zagat Global Airline survey.  Virgin America flies to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Toronto, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos and as of today – Cancun.

Hasta Luego, Old Friend: Rancho Buena Vista (Baja) Retires

Friends of Rancho Buena Vista recently received a farewell email… Yes, after more than 50 years, this venerable but way cool rancho is closing its doors.

Here’s a link to their farewell email – there’s a lot of information about their closing celebration (it’s today, so if you’re in Cabo… head on over) and more.

Hasta luego, amigo. You’ll be sorely missed…

P.S. If you have any good Rancho stories or pics to share, we want to hear from you!

Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort Scores a Touchdown with the “Already Miss Football” Package

Hey football fans… with the NFL season coming to an end, your can drown your sorrows by escaping to the Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort and booking the “Already Miss Football” package.

Available from February 1st through February 28, 2011, with rates starting at $155 per night based on double occupancy, the Hilton Cancun’s Already Miss Football Package features:

•    Accommodations in a stunning ocean-view guest room
•    One day of all-you-can drink/eat beverages and chicken wings for two
•    50% discount at the hotel’s championship golf course and relaxation spa

Aficionados can put an end to their football mourning by relaxing in one of the resort’s seven pools, soaking in the sun by turquoise beach waters or admiring Cancun’s tropical surroundings.

Ultimate football fans staying at the hotel during Super Bowl weekend are welcome to enjoy the live broadcast at the resort’s The Atrium.

Guests interested in a tan and Cancun memories that will last longer than any field-game, should call the hotel directly at +52 998 881 8000 and request the Already Miss Football Package on sale as of February 1, 2011.

Terms and Conditions:
Offer and rate subject to availability. Rate is based on single and double occupancy and it does not include taxes and/or incidentals. Minimum length of stay is 3 nights. Beverage is limited to soft drinks and beer. All you can drink and eat is restricted to one day during the stay and from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Other restrictions apply.


The Mexican golfer who retired as the number one player in the world for many years, will participate in a charity tournament sponsored by her foundation and Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort

MAZATLÁN, MÉXICO.- January 17, 2011.- Lorena Ochoa, the best Mexico golfer ever, who retired when she was number one in the world, will participate in the 6th Annual Estrella del Mar Charity Tournament this coming January 28 & 29, 2011.  The event will be held at Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort and is sponsored by the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, Flyers Team and the resort.

This announcement was made today during a press conference offered by Ochoa, world multi- champion.

“I did not retire from golf, I only retired from the LPGA, to enjoy more days like these; to help Mexicans in need, and to do nice things for others”, Lorena stated. “Congratulations on the job that all you Mazatlecans have done for children in need. I’m very happy to be in Mazatlán and I really like what I’ve seen so far”, she concluded.

After asking what she would tell golf lovers and tourists that might hesitate to travel to Mexico, she responded that we should continue promoting tourism in order to introduce people to our country.   Ochoa’s presence in Mazatlán and other places in Mexico are live examples. Even though she was born in Guadalajara, Ochoa   embraced the warm welcome she received and felt at home, as her mother is originally from this state.

The exhibition match will take place at Hotel Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort on Friday, January 28th, at noon, against Spaniard Azahara Muñoz and on Saturday January 29, Ochoa will offer a golf clinic in the morning. Both events are open to the public and will support charity organizations such as DIF Mazatlán, Los Niños del Rio and other educational institutions.

Upon announcing this event, Lorena Ochoa couldn´t hide her enthusiasm.   She is an advocate of supporting these type of events for the benefit of the children and the camaraderie of golfenthusiasts.  The public will be able to walk with the players during the match and a gathering and autograph signing will follow.

The amateur players will play their tournament at the same time the above activities take place, competing for attractive prizes offered by the sponsors, concluding with an air show that includes the best pilots and aero acrobat teams from the U.S. and Mexico.

A Blessing and a Milestone

by Ron Mader

Oaxaca City – Please visit one of our favorite folk art stores in all of Mexico! Jarcieria El Arte Oaxaqueño celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011. This is a remarkable milestone for a small business. Stop on by and congratulate owner Nicodemus Bartolo Vásquez.

The store is a few blocks south of the zócalo at Mina #317 at the corner of J.P. Garcia. It is open 10am-8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-5pm Sundays.

Today (Sunday, January 16) there will be a special ceremony, nothing short of an official blessing that will take place at 4pm. If you can, stop on by. It will be a magical experience for all.

50th Anniversary

Now is The Time for Unity among All Mexicans

Declaring that Mexico faces a new stage in the phenomenon of insecurity, President Felipe Calderón urged all Mexicans to make a common cause against crime, in order to deal with the problem with unity and a forward-looking vision, as a genuine state policy.

“Today, more than ever, the fight for security involves us all. It obliges us to look beyond differences, political calculations and any temptation to avoid responsibilities and any consideration of cost.

It demands that we face the problem with unity and a vision of the future. That’s what state policy involves,” he said.

At the Dialogue for Security. Evaluation and Reinforcement event, accompanied by representatives of non-governmental organizations and the business sector, the President listened to their concerns and proposals regarding the issue since, he said, the point is to be aware of the grave dangers facing our nation and to combine wills and efforts to cope with them.

“I am also aware that this strategy has been questioned and that my government has been and always will be willing to review, strengthen and improve it.

My government has always supported all the authorities, without distinctions, so that by combining efforts, they will be able to fulfill this responsibility,” he said.

Accompanied by his wife, Margarita Zavala, Secretaries of the Interior, Francisco Blake Mora, Public Security, Genero García Luna, Attorney General, Genaro García Luna, Attorney General, Arturo Chávez Chávez and Guillermo Valdés Castellanos, Director General of the Center of Investigation and National Security (CISEN), the President said that it is essential to combine skills and efforts to strengthen and improve the National Security Strategy, because if we are divided in the face of this enemy, both society and its institutions will lose.

He added that Mexico requires a security policy that will transcend this administration and at the same time, guarantee that Mexicans will be able to live in an environment of peace, laws and justice.

“Increasingly frequently, the facts linked to crime show that criminals challenge everyone equally, and that they have no limits or moral scruples. They are prepared to intimidate and instill fear in society and the authorities in order to force them back in the fulfillment of their duty. They also show that without unity, Mexicans are more vulnerable.

This is a time for unity among all Mexicans in an issue that affects and involves us all,” he said.

He said that it is essential to begin a new stage of commitment and to demand that the authorities fulfill their duty and to follow this up to achieve this.

President Calderón therefore asked the representatives of organized civil society to be demanding with the authorities of the three levels of Government, to have a more active presence in the discussion and follow-up of security issues, to review the implementation of and advances in the commitments established in the Agreement for Security, Justice and Legality, and to formulate proposals on how to strengthen institutions, improve strategy and achieve greater commitment from all the authorities in fighting crime.

“The aim is, on the basis of society’s impetus, to reinforce state institutions regarding security and the procurement of justice.  Society must be a joint participant in the construction of a modern, effective prevention policy that will help restore the social fabric.

The aim is also to achieve greater transparency, and accountability from the authorities in the three orders of government and at the same time, to restore civilians’ trust in their authorities,” he explained.

The President said that within the framework of democratic security, civil society and the three orders of government, “We must build bridges of understanding and convergence to restore public security in the places where it has been lost.”

“I ask citizens for their support and understanding. I ask the authorities to be jointly responsible I would ask social and political leaders to exercise their Leadership so that, from a state policy, they will be able to successfully cope with this challenge.

It is essential for us to go beyond simply dividing up functions or worse still, apportioning blame,” he said.

President Calderón will continue with this exercise of dialogue with citizens, with experts on the issue, religious organizations, the media and various authorities.