Unique Mexico

By: Lisa Coleman for Mexico Today

Just for a moment, forget your image of Mexico. Close your eyes and imagine past the shimmering shores, the deep blue waters and white sand beaches. Look deeper. Start to envision culture and people, and soon you’ll discover a land of contrasts, a land of diversity.  Mexico has countless unique attractions and over the years I have experienced a good number of them,(though it would take many more years to experience them all!) The following are a sample some of my favorite one-of-a-kind cities, towns, attractions, natural wonders and celebrations.   Continue reading…

 

Mesamérica Promotes Mexican Cuisine with the Help of World Renowned Chefs

Mexico Today News:

For the people of Mexico, food is more than a necessity; it is a folkloric symbol of their heritage. Here, cuisine is culture. Layered by time, and influenced by its European conquerors, Mexico is the original birthplace of fusion cooking. There is no singular, monolithic “Mexican food.” The dishes of this fascinating country are diversified by region, each as unique and distinctive as the area and its people. Check out the video about world famous chefs visiting Mexico…

 

The Maya Said What?

Read Jeanine Kitchel’s Book for the Answer

 By David Simmonds

Maya 2012 Revealed, Demystifying the Prophecy, Jeanine Kitchel, 2012, Amazon, itunes, Nook.

If you’re like me, you may have been wondering what all the Maya “it’s-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” controversy is all about. As has been widely reported, on December 21, 2012, there will be a rare alignment in the skies when the sun will be positioned exactly on the crossroads between the galactic equinox (huh?) and the Milky Way – my favorite candy bar. Apparently, this is a big deal, so we better all take note.

One thing we know for sure about the ancient Maya is that they were excellent astronomers, and they saw this day coming many centuries ago, naming it the Sacred Tree. So if the Maya really believed this, one would be well advised to pay attention. You never want to be caught with your pants down when cataclysmic events are on the horizon (I refer to Hannibal and the Romans at the Battle of the Trebia, or when the guy jumps out of the trunk in The Hangover).

There appear to be several interpretations as to exactly what will happen on that fateful day. One camp (and we know who you are) is predicting total annihilation of Mother Earth and you darn well better make peace with your maker, if not the IRS and your ex-spouse. Another more scholarly group points out that for the Maya all events are circular – there are no endings. So December 21 will be a reset day – a new beginning for mankind. That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea given the cost of a college education these days. And, of course, there are the New Age acolytes, fully prepared to experience the Age of Aquarius, sung with such passion on stage in the Hair production four decades ago. Love and Peace forever, brother.

Fortunately, Jeanine Kitchel has written an engaging and scholarly book just in time to clear up the confusion. I first met the author about 13 years ago as I passed through Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico, where she was living and running an English-language bookstore with her husband, Paul. It was there that she became enthralled with the Maya, reading all that she could about that great civilization, and like everyone else, trying to figure out what happened to cause the abandonment of the thousands of cities and villages, many of which have since been dug out of the dense jungles of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and the southern Mexico states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. In the book Jeanine painstakingly cites all of the Maya-phile works, from John Lloyd Stephens to Michael Coe to David Stuart.

“It was something I loved to read about,” she says. “I was fascinated by the Maya culture and the fact that, at the time, no one could break the code. It was this incredible mystery and a very exciting time in the Yucatan and I was at the source. As each new Maya title was published -about the civilization, the code, the pyramids – I ordered it. I read everything I could get my hands on. I was seriously addicted.”

Jeanine had a lot of ground to cover, as the Maya have been around a long time, dating back to the Pre-Classic period of c. 2000 BC to AD 250. And, of course, they are still with us – about seven million at last count. The advanced, lost civilizations may have mysteriously disappeared, but the people have always remained. There are still many different dialects spoken and in many settlements, way back in the bush, daily life and rituals have been maintained in close accordance with their ancestors of long ago. Many settlements have both secular and religious leaders, and offerings are made in the manner of the ancient Maya. They have a distinctive dress, with the women wearing colorful huipiles (blouses) and the men still working the corn fields of their forefathers. They are truly a fascinating and enduring people – a culture that has survived and adapted, and one that we may all be wise to learn from.

Kitchel has written an essential book for anyone who would like to learn about the Maya. She has condensed volumes of information into an easy-to-read and understand page-turner. So what is her conclusion about what will happen on December 21? Well, just pick up an ebook copy for a cheap price to find out, and you’ll also be helping out some Maya kids. On each book sold, a portion of the profits will go to edúcaTE Yucatán, an educational non-profit organization in Yucatán that helps send poor Maya children to school. To get a copy of Maya 2012 Revealed, Demystifying the Prophecy, check Kitchel’s website at www.jeaninekitchel.com or Amazon.com, iTunes and Nook.

This article was originally published on http://www.mexicotoday.org Visit for more news about Mexico.

 

Mexico Wins “Tourism Board of the Year” Award by World Luxury Travel Network Virtuoso

Mexico Today News:

The Mexico Tourism Board has worked extremely hard to navigate the challenging press and to continue to stay on message about travel to Mexico. They were recently named “Tourism Board of the Year” by Virtuoso, the world’s most important luxury tourism network. The Mexico Tourism Board was recognized for the work performed and results achieved in promotion strategies, market diversification, advertising campaigns and partnerships with major travel agents worldwide. The recognition was given at Virtuoso Travel Week, one of the most recognized trade shows in the international luxury travel market which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara Manzo accepted the award. Read more….

 

Culture and Courtesy… Being a Better Traveler in Mexico

By:  Lisa Coleman

I’m sure you’ve heard “when in Rome…. do as the Romans do,” but when stepping into a foreign country it’s really worth considering these words a bit more carefully. The saying originated in 387 A.D. when St. Augustine arrived in Milan and observed the Catholic Church did not fast on Saturday like it was done in Rome. He consulted the Bishop of Milan (St. Ambrose) about the matter who simply replied:  “When I am in Rome I fast on Saturday; when I am in Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of where you are.” That sentiment has stood the test of time and can really make a difference when visiting Mexico, or any other country for that matter.

I have traveled the world and feel there is nothing more frustrating than watching “ugly Americans” (Canadians are guilty, too!) being rude or disrespectful to the local people. Regardless of whether it’s an all-inclusive in Cancun where everyone speaks English, or an eco-hotel in the remote jungle of Chiapas, you are still a guest in Mexico… you are still visiting someone’s home.  As a citizen of the world, you owe it to yourself and your hosts to take the time to understand the basics of the Mexican culture and to embrace their hospitality with the respect it deserves.  I have seen bad manners exhibited many times in Mexico, so I am hoping to shed a little light on some common courtesies that may change your travel experience. At the very least, it will bring a smile to your Mexican hosts!

First, let’s talk about changing your mindset when you plan a trip to Mexico and switch from being a tourist to being a traveler.  What’s the difference? Plenty…

• A tourist expects (and insists) everyone speaks English. A traveler tries to use even the most basic high school Spanish to make an effort.

• A tourist is content to hang out at the swim-up bar getting lobster-red sunburn while becoming louder, drunker, and more obnoxious by the minute. The traveler heads into town, checks out the local markets, tries to make heads or tails of the menus at local restaurants and takes the time to stroll the streets, smile at the people and take in the flavor and color of the place they are visiting.

• A tourist goes to the local McDonalds, American chain restaurant, or orders a hamburger at the hotel. A traveler will find out where the best local dishes are served and at the very least give them a try.

• A tourist is content to be part of a group and to take large tours to all the most famous spots. A traveler tends to rent a car with a few other people (or solo) and explore the area on their own.

That list could go on forever, but you get the idea.

Mexico is also far more formal than many would think. If you know anything about Mexican history, you know the Spanish had a tremendous influence on the people and culture of the country. The early Spanish overlords who came to Mexico in the 1500s brought the etiquette of the Royal Court of Spain, and many of those formalities still exist. As a rule, the Mexicans have maintained this cortesía, and it’s important that foreigners be aware and sensitive to not insulting the dignidad of the people they encounter.

The Basics

• For starters, it helps to use Señor (Mr.) or Señora (Mrs.) with the men or women you encounter. Mexicans always address by social status and this immediately shows respect and will be a quick step in the right direction. (Señorita would be used to address a young, unmarried woman and is similar to Miss.)

• In a restaurant, if you wish to call the waiter, you generally use the term Joven (Ho-ven). Though it means “young person,” it is an accepted term for all waiters. If you have a waitress, Señorita is appropriate. Snapping your fingers? Never.

• “Please” (por favor) and “Thank You” (gracias) are a given if you’d like to ask an employee (or anyone for that matter) to do something. Look them in the eye and be sincere, it will take you a long way.

• Americans tend to enter a room of strangers and only say hello in passing, if at all. They are usually casual, self absorbed and miss the almost constant greetings by their Mexican counterparts. Whether it’s in a public place with strangers, or with people you already know, say buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon) or buenas noches (good evening) to those you see. You’ll notice smiles right away.

• Being humble is a cultural virtue often forgotten by visitors.  Mexicans will always welcome you when you arrive to your destination and refer to their home or even your hotel as su casa (your house). They are modest and truly want you to feel at home in their country. Keep an eye out for that and be sure to thank them for their hospitality.

• If you can’t speak Spanish, don’t insult the local people by shouting louder and slower in English. It’s rude and it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t understand. They will appreciate any effort you make, regardless of your skill level.

• YES it is customary to tip in Mexico.  Here is a great article for reference: http://gomexico.about.com/od/historyculture/qt/tipping_in_mexico.htm

• Come to a church just as you would at home.  Be aware when entering and always take off sunglasses, baseball caps or hats. Wearing shorts is rarely an issue in the beach areas, but women should take care to wear a wrap or sweater to the waist to avoid showing too much skin, which could viewed disrespectful in such places.

• The beach is the beach, but away from the resort areas shorts are very rarely worn by Mexicans on the street. Be cognizant of how you look and avoid drawing too much attention to yourself as a foreigner. Never wear shorts to a business event or to a restaurant outside the immediate resort area.

The Mexican culture isn’t overly complex. It’s built on simplicity, humility and courtesy. The people are tremendously warm and inviting, and genuinely care about their guests. Whether you’re a tourist, a traveler, or a little of both, take an extra few minutes to embrace Mexico at its core and I think you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation of a country waiting to invite you home.

This article was originally posted on www.mexicotoday.org. Click to read all the latest Mexico news.

Pueblos Magicos: The Mountainside City of Taxco is the Jewel of Guerrero

Mexico Today News:

Vibrant colors, Old World style, ornate architecture, cobblestone streets and distinctly locked in time… this is the mystique of Taxco. An hour from Cuernavaca, this is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque towns in all of Mexico. In the early 1500’s, Jose de la Borda (a Frenchman living in Spain) heard of rich mineral deposits in the New World and rushed to Mexico to try his luck. He struck it rich in Taxco. Since then the city has been deemed the “Silver City” and is known worldwide for its pure silver jewelry and handicrafts. Read more….

 

Should You Move to Mexico?

David Simmonds

It seems like a simple enough question, doesn’t it? You are at point in your life when a major change is possible. You’ve traveled to a few places in Mexico, kicked back on the beach at sunset with a cold cerveza and thought “I really like this place – the weather is perfect, prices are good, the people are amazing – yes, maybe I could make this happen.” And then, of course, most of us go back home and dutifully fall into the familiar daily grind, only occasionally allowing ourselves to remember that day on the beach and the possible plan that always seems…just out of reach.

But now, more and more of us are acting on those elusive dreams. For many that time in life has arrived when the impossible becomes the possible, the impractical becomes “just maybe.” The Baby Boomers, those ‘60’s counterculture rebels-in-waiting, have worked for 40 years and are finally ready to be the people they remember they were. At the core, they are still the backpackers and wanderers, the idealists and the dreamers. And Mexico, after all, is so close, and it has all those warm beaches, and history, and food carts serving those mesquite tacos…just maybe.

And it’s not just the Boomers. The internet has changed everything over the past 20 years. Today you find younger gringos, many with families, living in Mexico. They have web-based businesses they can run from anywhere, or they have started a physical business in Mexico – a restaurant, a tour business, a real estate office. They live in a Mexican neighborhood and are learning Spanish. They have discovered the concept of community, a soul-satisfying lifestyle that has all but disappeared in many towns and cities north of the border.

Moving to another country, without doubt, is a big deal, and requires extensive research and planning. That beautiful little colonial town in the highlands seemed like a place you could call home forever when you visited for that one idyllic week last year. As did the fishing village where you spent two weeks last Christmas – well before the rainy season with all the bugs and humidity that no one thought to mention to you. Finding your spot, the place that you could live, requires that you spend some time there, summer and winter. You need to see if you can adjust to the pace, the daily life challenges, the Mexican way.

Pick several places that you think you could live. Do extensive research on the net, read the blogs and join the discussion groups. Ask questions from people who are in Mexico. Learn all that you can, and then plan a road trip, either by car, bus, plane or most likely a combination of all three. Initially, spend at least a few days in the places you are considering. Look at the neighborhoods where you might live, not just the tourist area. How is the local transportation, the town infrastructure, the cultural options? Can you get back to the US or Canada directly if you need to without sitting all day in the Mexico City airport waiting for your flight. If you’re on the ocean is the water actually accessible for safe swimming? How are the medical services? That is a big issue. How will you spend your days? If you are retiring, what are you going to do with yourself? Will you soon be bored, waiting for happy-hour every day? These are just some of the many questions you will need to answer before you haul all your things down there to set up house and a new life.

I am always asked “where is the best place in Mexico?” And, of course, it is impossible to answer. It is a different place for everyone, and is answered from the heart more than the head. For me it is the West Coast of mainland Mexico, in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima. I like the jungle, warm water, and crashing surf. I like to watch the sun set over the sea and the discovery of a beach with no footprints that I haven’t seen before. Yes, for me, that is the best place in Mexico, I answer them.

So, is Mexico for you? It is estimated that about a million Americans and Canadians live at least a few months in Mexico every year. I know many of them, and most have told me it is the best decision they have ever made. They feel safe, leading full, interesting lives, and wouldn’t go back full time to their old hometowns if you paid them to. They have discovered that it’s never too late to be that person they remember. How about you?

This article was oringally published on www.mexicotoday.org . Click to visit the site for all current Mexico news.