Category Archives: Arts and Culture

Culture and Courtesy – Being a Better Traveler in Mexico

This post was previously published on Mexico Premiere. With Mexico travel season about to kick into gear, we have had several request to re-post it. Enjoy!

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.

Always A TouristMexico 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.

Eat, Drink & Savor the Flavors of Cabo: 9th Annual “Sabor a Cabo” Food & Wine Festival -November 30 – December 6

Culinary World’s Finest Chefs Gather in Los Cabos for a First-Class Tour of Baja’s Best Food & Wine

Los Cabos, Mexico – A top-tier selection of the culinary world’s finest chefs will gather in Los Cabos from November 30 – December 6 in celebration of the destination’s 9th Annual  “Sabor a Cabo” (The Flavors of Cabo) food & wine festival. This highly anticipated gastronomic event is expected to be the largest since the festival’s debut in 2005 and for the first time in its history, will include a week-long series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region.
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The delicious weeklong festivities include a Country Side Taste Event on November 30 incorporating the local flavors of Baja; a Sunset Gourmet Gala served aboard a luxurious yacht on December 2 featuring a gourmet dinner prepared by Michelin Star Chefs; an Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music on December 3; a Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo on December 4 with 16 wineries, art galleries and restaurants participating for a family outing; and a Star Chef Dine-Around on December 5 featuring course meals prepared by celebrated chefs.

The main event will take place on December 6 from 5pm – 11pm and held at one of the destination’s most spectacular areas, the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos. The event will consist of 50 participating restaurants and is expected to attract over 2,000 attendees, as guests from around the world are invited to dine beneath the stars and enjoy the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine.
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“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best chefs to Los Cabos for the 9th Annual Sabor a Cabo event,” said Eduardo Segura, Managing Director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. “Our destination has a rich and booming culinary scene that many people are still discovering. Events such as Sabor a Cabo highlight these offerings and provide us with a platform to position the unique products, sustainable brands and delicious flavors available in this particular region of Mexico.”

Confirmed to attend Sabor a Cabo are several world-renowned chefs including Federico Zanellato, Chef and Partner of NOMA Restaurant in Denmark (Ranked No. 1 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants) Richard Sandoval, Chef and Restaurateur of over 35 restaurants world-wide, including Pampano and Zengo in New York City (James Beard nominated restaurateur and participant in Bravo’s reality competition “Top Chef Masters”), and Dieter Koshina, Owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (Ranked No. 22 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). Also on the roster is Roberto Alcocer, Chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, Chef/owner of Souk Restaurant in Dallas, US and former chef of Spain’s El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, Chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.
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Additional participants and chefs are to be confirmed in upcoming weeks. Furthermore, the destination’s tantalizing culinary scene will be highlighted through participation of Los Cabos’ top Executive Chefs from two of the most luxurious hotels in the region, Las Ventanas al Paraiso and One&Only Palmilla.

Travelers interested in attending Sabor a Cabo can purchase festival tickets by visiting www.saboracabo.mx. General admission tickets are $100 if purchased prior to September 30 and $125 if purchased after. For special lounge area access tickets are $150 and for a seat at one of the events VIP tables tickets are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Sabor a Cabo event on Saturday December 6 will be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children Foundation of Los Cabos.
For more information on Los Cabos, please visit: http://visitloscabos.travel.

Los Cabos, located at the tip of the 1,000-mile long Baja Peninsula, is home to award-winning hotels, resorts, championship golf courses, rejuvenating spas, world-class sport fishing, and was the host city for the G20 Summit of global leaders in 2012. With a unique landscape of dramatic desert and white sand beaches, Los Cabos is an exotic escape within easy reach of most U.S. and Canadian cities. For more information, images and videos from Los Cabos, please visit www.visitloscabos.travel, follow us on Twitter @LOSCABOSTOURISM and visit us on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mexico Travel Tips

We have all seen them – or maybe we are them. The travelers who don’t quite get that every country has a different set of social rules – an accepted way of acting and doing things. In Mexico, at some of the more tourist areas, long-held customs are somewhat more relaxed, but should still be practiced for the most part. No bikini bottoms and tank tops in church, and no bikini bottoms anywhere for you guys! And please, don’t try to turn Mexico into the place you came from.

Fodor’s Travel has provided some of what you should know, from business meetings to tourist excursions. So “con permiso”, we think you might want to read this and become a more aware and less reviled traveler.

http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4054.html

Could The Pyramid Of The Sun Pancake?

The great city, now archaeological site, of Teotihuacan was built 1,000 years before the Aztecs occupied it. It was one of the great cities of the world before 1400 and was inhabited by 100,000 people. It covered 8 square miles, but scientists claim that only about 5% has been excavated. No one is certain who built it, but it continues to be one of Mexico’s most popular attractions.

But now scientists are reporting that the main structure, the magnificent Pyramid of the Sun, maybe be in danger of collapse. Ironically, an attempt in the 1070s to preserve is might have backfired. Read more about it here

http://www.sandiegored.com/noticias/49935/Mexico-s-Pyramid-of-the-Sun-in-danger-of-collapse/

‘MARIA FULL OF GRACE’ STAR TO PLAY AS ‘CASTRO’S DAUGHTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 / 25 / 2013

Oscar nominee, Catalina Sandino Moreno signs onto Sarah Siegel-Magness’s Historical Drama

Hollywood, CA—‘Castro’s Daughter ‘has taken face. Mankind Entertainment and Smokewood Entertainment Group are proud to announce that acclaimed Colombian actress, Catalina Sandino Moreno is confirmed to star in director, Sarah Siegel-Magness‘s upcoming award-driven historical drama.

Sandino Moreno, a highly acclaimed film and television star, is currently playing alongside Demian Bichir in the series ‘The Bridge,’ and is best known for starring in director JJ Marston’s critically acclaimed box office hit, ‘Maria Full of Grace;’ where she played a pregnant Colombian drug mule who risked her life and unborn child in order to flee to America for a better life. The film, which was Sandino Moreno’s acting debut, landed her an Academy award nomination for best leading actress, and swept an additional 25 awards and 34 nominations worldwide; most notably winning Sundance, Toronto, and the London Critics Circle and Toronto Film Critics Associations awards.
Sandino Moreno will play Fidel Castro’s exiled daughter, Alina Fernandez, who was the result of a 1950’s extra-marital love affair Castro had with wealthy Cuban socialite, Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, prior to taking power. Fernandez grew hidden in Castro’s shadow until the age of ten, when she learned that the man who would visit her during the odd hours of the night, and who she had seen on television giving speeches for hours on end, was her father.
Throughout her adolescence, Fernandez became disenchanted with communism. After years of disagreements with Castro, Fernandez later fled Cuba on an airplane disguised as a Spanish tourist; after becoming a dissident being caught in between wanting a better life for her daughter, and the heated political climate and declining conditions in Cuba at the time. Fernandez’s mother is said to had been a driving force of the revolution that helped put Castro in power for nearly half a century; having sold her jewelry and emptied her bank account to help fund his army during his first failed attempt at taking power. Fernandez now lives in Miami and participates in a national tour sharing her story with student groups at colleges around the nation.

The project was acquired and developed by Mankind Entertainment’s John Martinez O’Felan and Joe Lamy; who will be producing with Siegel-Magness and her husband Gary Magness through their Smokewood Entertainment Group label, best known for producing Lee Daniel’s directorial hit, ‘Precious.
Siegel-Magness went on to comment: “I am extremely honored to have Catalina Sandino Moreno join our team to bring our film Castro’s Daughter to life. She is a beautiful and talented actress with the experience and depth of character to play such an important role.”

‘Castro’s Daughter’ was written by Oscar and BAFTA winner, Bobby Moresco (‘Crash’) and acclaimed Cuban playwright crossover: Nilo Cruz (‘Anna in the Tropics’): the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer prize for drama. Producers are tagging the film as ‘Evita’ meets ‘Argo;’ told from a daughter’s perspective who overcomes the everlasting effects of the grips of her father through her own self-liberation. The film would detail parts of Fernandez’s childhood, and her escape, which wasn’t detailed in her book; and which has yet to be told on film. O’Felan commented, “It is very exciting to see Sarah’s passionate vision come together. Catalina’s performance was remarkable in Maria Full of Grace and we think she will empower the character of Alina and deliver the justice the story deserves.”

Smokewood and Mankind are currently casting and plan for a March 2014 start in Puerto Rico.

About Mankind Entertainment:
Mankind Entertainment is an entity formed for the development, packaging and production of feature films. The company was formed by Austin-based producers John Torres Martinez, and Joe Lamy, and focuses primarily on the financing, development and production of award-driven, specialty films.
Mankind is working on the upcoming adaptation of Anna in the Tropics; which is written by Nilo Cruz, with Academy award nominee, Lee Daniels (‘Precious’) having developed.

About Smokewood:
Founded in 2007 by Oscar and BAFTA nominated producers Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness; Smokewood Entertainment produces films with positive messages for diverse global audiences. The Denver-based company produced Lee Daniel’s award-winning motion picture

The First Mexican Whisky is Born!

The Best Spirit Company S.A. de C.V. announces that it is producing whisky in Mexico.

 AGUASCALIENTES, Mexico, Oct. 07, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The Best Spirit Company S.A. de C.V. announces that it is producing whisky in Mexico and have obtained all permits and certification from the local government and the Ministry of Economy of Mexico.

“Our leading Brand ‘Williamson 18’ will be retailing at $8.00 per bottle in liquor stores in Mexico, and will be priced 20% cheaper than whiskies that are imported from the USA or Europe,” says Jose Luis Perez, General Manager of The Best Spirit company S.A. de C.V.

Williamson 18 is the answer to a very high demand that whiskies in general are having around the world, but at a very affordable price for the same quality as imported whiskies.

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“Our Mexican Whisky ‘Williamson 18’ will also be exported to many countries around the world through a distribution network of class A liquor distributors who will take advantage of this novelty product.”

Williamson 18 is produced in the city of Aguascalientes Mexico in a brand new 5,000 square meters bottling plant equipped with brand new state of the art maceration tanks, distillation equipment and fully automatic bottling machines.

“Our plant is able to produce up to 200,000 cases per year of 700, 750 & 1,000 ml glass bottles; we anticipate the production to increase to 500,000 cases by the end of 2015 and 1 million cases of whisky in a can 355 ml.”

Whisky in a can is very affordable and will be exported all over the world, it is 100% recyclable and very light comparing to the glass bottle.

There was Scotch Whisky, American Whisky, Japanese whisky, now there is Mexican Whisky which is the new kid on the block. “This is a genuine MEXICAN WHISKY and it is a perfect product for mass market consumption,” says Jose Luis Perez.

Viva Mexico!

You can contact us at: The Best Spirits Company S.A. de C.V. Municipio de Tepezala # 113 Parque Industrial del Valle de Aguascalientes.
San Francisco de los Romo, Aguascalientes. C.P. 20355 MEXICO

Telephone No.+52 (449) 973 4486 E-mail: mailto:info@thebestspiritcompany.com
info@thebestspiritcompany.com
www.thebestspiritcompany.com

Puerto Vallarta Announces Dates for “Pride Vallarta 2013”

Puerto Vallarta Logo

Puerto Vallarta’s annual LGBT event “Vallarta Pride” will take place this year on the weekend of May 24th, 2013. Events will start with a cocktail kick-off at Puerto Vallarta’s Casa Cupula Hotel Boutique and continue for three days, celebrating LGBT culture and Puerto Vallarta’s welcoming community with music festivals, beach parties, fashion shows, mass commitment ceremony and activities in participating bars and clubs.

A member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, Puerto Vallarta has been a preferred LGBT friendly destination in the Americas for over 60 years and has an infrastructure that is frequently included on leading media as gay friendly destination lists, including TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Out Traveler, Passport Magazine, gay.com and is the only Mexican destination on the Huffington Post Gay Voice’s Top 10 LGBT Honeymoon Destinations.Puerto Vallarta offers an LGBT inclusive atmosphere in is Romantic Zone area which is home to many businesses that are LGBT-owned and/or target the consumer, including beaches, tours, activities and restaurants bars and clubs to choose from. LGBT travelers have the option of choosing from gay friendly resorts, hotels, lodges, bed and breakfasts and guest houses.

The City’s Tourism Department at City Hall, led by Director Carlos Gerard and Sub-Director Enrique Tovar, aims to increase tourism to the city. The 3-day event was created to celebrate the unique and all-inclusive culture that has flourished in Puerto Vallarta, successfully integrating the rich traditions of the Mexican culture with the varied ideas that have been introduced to the local community from its large expatriate community from all corners of the world including the US and Canada, and as far afield as Asia, Russia and Europe. The LGBT community is just one of the many communities that thrives in Vallarta organizers explained.

Confirmed events for Vallarta Pride 2013

• Opening Reception Vallarta Pride 2013
Friday May 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Taste Restaurant at Casa Cupula

• Commitment Ceremony
Saturday May 25, 2013 at 11:00 am
Lido – Beach Club

• Vallarta Pride Fashion Show
Saturday May 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm
Blue Chairs Beach Club

• “HEAT” – Tea Dance
Saturday May 25, 2013 from 4:00 pm
Lido / Blue Chairs

• Vallarta Pride 2013 @Night
Themed Nights at participating bars/lounges/clubs
Saturday May 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm

• Vallarta Pride Parade 2013
Sunday May 26, 2013 from 4:00 pm
Romantic Zone

• Vallarta Pride Festival 2013
Sunday May 26, 2013 from 5:00 pm
Lazaro Cardenas Park / Romantic Zone

For more information visit media partner www.gaypv.mx or the official Puerto Vallarta website www.visitpuertovallarta.com

To win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, please visit: www.winatriptopuertovallarta.com/lgbt
For Pueto Vallarta’s LGBT destination brochure, please click here.
For packages and hotel information, please click here.
For Images of Puerto Vallarta, please click here.
Additional information on Puerto Vallarta is available at www.visitpuertovallarta.com.