All posts by johnmitchell

MEXICAN KALEIDOSCOPE: AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR TONY BURTON

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.

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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 geo-mexico.com)

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 sombrerobooks.com.

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 – amazon.com, amazon.ca, 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 sales@sombrerobooks.com

PREVIOUS BOOKS BY TONY BURTON

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

 

CANADIANS CAN NOW GET MONEY BACK FROM THEIR PURCHASES WHILE VISITNG MEXICO

Travellers can claim back 8.9% of the total spend shopping, refund is deposited directly to their credit cards

Vancouver, Canada (September 09, 2015)- For many Canadians all is the perfect time of the year to plan a Winter family getaway. This year there are two more reasons why Canadians should choose Mexico. First of all, Canadian dollar has held its value against Mexican peso at an average rate of $12.60 pesos per dollar. Secondly, Canadians can now get a sales tax-refund of 8.9% of the total they spend while in Mexico. This means that regardless of your destination, vacationing in Mexico is more affordable than ever.

For a short period of time Danielle Van Der Kwartel, General Director of MONEYBACK, is in Canada to talk about how Canadians can get their money back when shopping in Mexico and instructing travel agents on how to assist their clients before leaving Canada.

MONEYBACK, Mexico’s leading tax-refund company, offers shoppers a guilt-free shopping experience by refunding 8.9% of the total amount they spend when traveling to Mexico. Items including jewelry, clothes, electronics, alcohol and handcrafts among others are eligible for a refund. Receiving your money back is fast and convenient. Filling out the forms takes only a few minutes and it can be done at the convenience of the airport or cruise port. To receive their refund, Canadian travelers must follow the next easy steps:

Shop at any of the 6,000 participating stores, including Costco, Sears, Louis Vuitton, Coach, Nine West, Diamonds International, MAC, Kenneth Cole and many more. (For all the affiliated stores visit: http://moneyback.mx/shophere-taxback.html)

When paying with a credit card spend a minimum of $1,200 pesos (approx. $93.00 CAD). If you are paying with cash there is no minimum required but purchases are limited to $3,000 pesos (approx. $232 CAD USD)

Save your invoices

Submit your invoices along with the shopping incentive refund form, credit card vouchers, copy of your passport, cruise ID or immigration form and boarding pass at any of MONEYBACK’s 55 service locations found at airports and cruise ports

Receive your 8.9% refund directly in your credit card less than 45 days after submitting your invoices
MONEYBACK’s tax-refund also applies to any shopping expenses at Xcaret, Xel-Ha and Delphinus. That is 8.9% of the total you spend that can be used for your next family getaway. The more you buy, the more you receive!

To learn more about MONEYBACK, participating stores and locations please visit: http://moneyback.mx/

PRESS CONTACT
Veronica Rivas
vrivas@inter-active.ca
778-996-2845

Clara Torres
ctorres@moneyback.mx

About MONEYBACK

MONEYBACK is Mexico’s leading tax refund service provider for international travelers with over 50 service locations throughout the country, covering 98% of all the points of departure. MONEYBACK opened its doors in August 2008, offering tax refund services in Mexico City and Los Cabos. Since then, the company has expanded to Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, among many other destinations in Mexico. Operated by travel industry professionals who understand the needs of international travelers visiting Mexico, MONEYBACK prides in offering fast and efficient tax refund services to leisure and business travelers. Mexico’s leading tax return company refunds 8.9% of shopping expenses to international travelers. MONEYBACK’s goal is to promote the best leisure and business shopping destinations in Mexico. For more information please visit: www.moneyback.mx.

Hacienda Uxmal: Hotel with a History

By John Mitchell

If you stay at the Hacienda Uxmal, you might end up sleeping in the same room once occupied by the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Indira Gandhi, or even Queen Elizabeth II. These are just a few of the illustrious guests who have used this historic hotel as a convenient base from which to explore the spectacular Mayan ruins of Uxmal, which lie just a stone’s throw away from the resort’s front gate.

Built in 1950, the Hacienda Uxmal has also long been the lodging of choice for archaeologists who come to work at Uxmal. This close connection with the nearby ruins is celebrated by an “Explorers Gallery” on the hotel’s main floor. Lining a long, open-air corridor overlooking a turquoise colored swimming pool are photographs of famous nineteenth century explorers who visited Uxmal. Among them are the American traveler and author John L. Stephens, who published Incidents of Travel in Yucatán in 1843, and Frederick Catherwood, the talented British artist who accompanied Stephens on his journeys in Mexico and Central America. Catherwood illustrated Stephens’ books with remarkably detailed and haunting drawings of the region’s abandoned cities.

Adding to the Hacienda Uxmal’s historical ambiance are Spanish colonial touches such as Moorish arches, richly tiled floors, and iconic statues of angels and the like scattered about the grounds. The hotel’s 79 guestrooms are airy and bright, plus some have balconies surveying the rolling Puuc hills. Comfortable sitting areas outside each room feature traditional wooden furniture made from local timber. These cozy arrangements make ideal spots for sitting back and taking in the hotel’s forest-like gardens while pondering the incredible legacy left behind by the ancient Maya.

Please click on this link to watch a slideshow of my photos of the Hacienda Uxmal. It may take a few seconds to load.

Cancun Welcomes its very own Maya Museum

Cancun, Mexico (November 13, 2012) – The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is proud to announce the inauguration of one of the destination’s most anticipated attractions: Cancun’s Maya Museum. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, presided over the inauguration ceremony on November 1.

After six years of construction, the museum’s modern structure has become the largest ever built by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) since the Templo Mayor Museum was built in 1987.

The Cancun CVB promotes the ancient roots that make up the destination’s Mayan culture and celebrates the opening of one of its most promising tourist attractions during an incredibly exciting season that marks the end of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new era.

With an investment of approximately $15 million, 70% of which was contributed by the federal government through the INAH. Cancun’s Maya Museum includes 350 archeological artifacts that took 30 years of research to procure, includes relics that have never been shown as well as others that were discovered in recent excavations. Other displays in the museum were previously exhibited at different venues like the Museo Regional de Yucatan or “Canton Palace” and the former Archeological Museum of Cancun.

Cancun’s Maya Museum boasts three exhibition halls of more than 4,400 square feet, two permanent and one temporary venue for national and international exhibitions. An exhibition of 14,000-year-old skeletal remains is the first things to explore when you enter the museum. Discovered in the last 12 years in Tulum’s underwater caves, these remnants offer important clues of the arrival of mankind to the American continent.

The first exhibition room of the museum is dedicated to the Mayan population that resided on what is now Quintana Roo and pays special focus to the remains of La Mujer de las Palmas or “The Woman of the Palms.” These remains were found in a cenote of the same name in 2002 and it is estimated that this person lived 10,000 years ago during the ice age. Wildlife and stone tools of this time period are also displayed here.

The second exhibition room was designed to represent the diversity of the regions that make up the area. The Sala Maya or “Maya Room” showcases aspects of Mayan architecture, art and other artifacts that ancient Mayans used on a daily basis. Sculptures and architectural fragments of Chichen Itza, the Yucatan and a collection of ancient engraved bricks from the city of Comalcalco in Tabasco are also exhibited.

Cancun’s Maya Museum was designed by Alberto Garcia Lascuráin and was built on an area of over 55,000 square feet. At the museum’s entrance stands a fountain with three sculptures that symbolize the vegetation of the area. These sculptures were built by artist Jan Hendrix and were later donated to the INAH.

The exhibition rooms are elevated over 3,000 feet above sea level to prevent the possibility of flooding due to any natural events or storms. They are also equipped with modern security systems, special lighting system and temperature and humidity control for the proper preservation of the artifacts.

According to the director of the INAH, Alfonso de Maria y Campos, the more than 12 million annual foreign and local visitors that come to Cancun for its sun and beaches will be pleasantly surprised to discover this unique museum in the area’s famous hotel zone. The museum expects about a million annual guests.

Five buildings are open to the public: The Great Pyramid, a 26 foot structure where the main building is located; The South, comprising of residential units, palace-style building and small altars; Dragons – named in the 1970’s after an area where snake heads were found and mistaken for dragon heads – in this area stands a temple adorned with fragments of ancient mural paintings of animals and marine elements.

Next to the Maya Museum, the San Miguelito archeological site recently opened as well. This location was inhabited over 800 years ago until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Cancun’s Maya Museum and the archeological site of San Miguelito are located on Km 16 on Kukulkan Boulevard in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., except on Thursday (7 a.m. – 10 p.m.) Tickets cost around $5 for access to both the museum and San Miguelito site. Children under 13 and adults over 60 years old receive free admission. On Sunday, admission is free to local residents with official identification.

About Cancun

Cancun is located in the northern part of the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is Mexico’s number one tourist destination and is known all over the world for its spectacular beaches, unique beauty and breathtaking turquoise waters.

Cancun’s shoreline recently underwent a $71 Million Dollar makeover, that featured 1.3 billion gallons of sand to renovating the Hotel Zone’s seashore. The most popular tourism destination in Mexico and Latin America has also added to its sun, beach, and nightlife, by creating a unique five-day route that will offer visitors a chance to experience adventure and interaction with nature. Cancun and the Treasures of the Caribbean invite travelers to discover the vast natural, cultural and gastronomical cultures of Puerto Morelos, and the four islands of the Mexican Caribbean: Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Cozumel. Cancun is a multifaceted destination that combines nature, historical Mayan Culture, glamour, luxury and world class tourism with the seduction for adventure, the passion for paradisiacal nature and the enchantment of gastronomical magic.

For more information, visit the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau website at: www.cancun.travel. Follow us on Twitter @CancunCVB, “LIKE” us on Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cancuncvb browse through our videos on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/cancuntravel and share your pictures of Cancun on our Flickr site at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22572360@N07/.

Mexi-GO! Travel and Trade Expo 2012 in Vancouver

Canadians are flocking to Mexico

April 24th, 2012 │ VANCOUVER BC, CANADA.- Partnering with ProMexico, Mexico Tourism Board and the Mexican Consulate, Mexi-GO! (Mexi-Go Properties Inc. and Canadian Marketing Strategies S. de R.L de CV) will hold a two-day tradeshow in downtown Vancouver, BC that will showcase travel and business opportunities in Mexico to a 10,000 strong Canadian audience. Held during the Fourth Annual MexicoFest event (www.mexicofest.ca) the Mexi-Go! Travel & Trade Expo is a unique event that brings travel, art and craft, food, music, business and real estate opportunities to Canadians at home before they make their travel plans.

Held on September 7th and 8th, 2012 on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver in the new state-of-the-art Vancouver Convention Centre. Exhibitors and attendees will enjoy a spectacular setting and an informative, fun-filled two days.

Canada is Mexico’s second largest trading partner; sees over 1.7 million Canadian travelers each year and is Canada’s number one international retirement destination. With the coming of age of the Baby Boomer generation it is expected that over one million Canadians will retire to Mexico on a part-time or full-time basis in the next fifteen years. The Canadian traveler spends more time and more money in Mexico than any other nationality.

Mexi-Go! is a Canadian and Mexican partnership that offers comprehensive online marketing solutions to businesses looking to increase their Canadian market share through publications, direct marketing and events. For more information on the Mexi-GO! Travel & Trade Expo email joel@mexi-go.ca

Exhibitor, sponsorship and speaking opportunities are available. www.mexi-go.ca

Contact:
Veronica Rivas
Marketing and Public Relations
Veronica@mexi-go.ca, 778-996-2845

Mazatlan’s 114th Carnaval Kicks Off This Week

Election of this year's Carnaval Queen in Mazatlan

Mazatlan, Mexico – February 15th, 2012. Mazatlan will once again bask in music, dance and color for the most important fiesta of the year. The 114th edition of the Mazatlan International Carnaval takes place from February 16th to the 21st. This year’s theme is Fiesta of the Empires. Mexico’s Colonial City on the Beach will charm hundreds of thousands of people with parades, queens, cultural events, and live music on its streets. Mazatlan’s Carnaval is recognized as the third largest in the world and is included in Forbes Travel Guide as one of the Three Hot Carnival Celebrations to Hit in February.

Though Carnaval is only about to begin, festivities have long been underway. The Queens of Carnaval were elected on February 4th with great fanfare. Karla Álvarez was elected Queen of Carnaval while Astrid Tirado was named Queen of the Floral Games. The election took place at Mazatlan’s famed Angela Peralta theater in Old Mazatlan. The evening’s tone was set by music and dance. The Municipal Center for the Arts Folkloric Ballet pushed away all pretense to the beat of German, French, American, Cuban and Mexican Cabaret.

Highlights of the Mazatlan International Carnaval schedule include:

February 16th
· Coronation of the King of Joy – Olas Altas.

February 17th
· Coronation of the Queen of Floral Games – Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.
· Live music and dancing on the streets – Olas Altas.

February 18th
· Coronation of the Queen of Carnaval – Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.
· Burning of Bad Mood and the Naval Battle Festival of Lights – Olas Altas.

February 19th
· First Carnaval parade – Fishermen’s monument.

February 20th
· Coronation of the Child Queen – Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.

February 21st
· Second Carnaval Parade – Fishermen’s monument.

For further information please visit www.gomazatlan.com or contact Carolina Ibarra: 1-866-836-8797 Ext. 4
carolina@sinclairandruiz.com

Artful Walking in Mazatlán

By John Mitchell

Most U.S. and Canadian tourists head down to Mazatlán in search of sun, sand, and margaritas. However, this winter they can also explore this Mexican resort city’s vibrant art scene. On the first Friday of every month up until May 2012, self-guided art walks will be offered in Mazatlan’s Historical Center or Centro Histórico, which is filled with lovingly restored 19th-century buildings. There are 24 stops along the way including galleries, artists’ studios, workshops, and gift boutiques. Balloons and banners mark the participating venues, and free maps are available around town. For more information, visit the Friday Art Walk’s official website.

Images by John Mitchell