Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Cabo Update

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Here is a note from my friend Yolanda who lives in Cabo, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Odile.

Hi David!
Just a little update on Cabo:
Very slowly Cabo has started to recover both physically and emotionally although a drive through the main avenues downtown and on the road to San Jose are a constant reminder of what we lived through. Telcel’s offices are totaled and so are many other places. You can see temporary tents posted on the parking lot of Telcel’s offices with employees working on computers out on the sidewalk.
Costco will not reopen until in about 6 weeks followed by Sam’s Club. I have not yet driven to San Jose but people say the One and Only plush resort was leveled and so was Esperanza, another major resort in Cabo.
People here are very grateful to CFE (electric company) for their titanic efforts of reestablishing power in less than 2 weeks. There were more than 300 trucks from CFE working 24-7 and with the electricity the desalination plants were able to operate and we also got water back in two weeks.
There’re big thank you banners all over town to CFE, to all the armed forces, etc. I have to say Pena Nieto has given us the most support.
Anyhow, thought you might be interested in the updates!
Have a great October!!

It is Still the Place to Party for College Kids

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I’ve been going to Mexico for Spring Break since I was in high school. Back then it was to San Felipe and Ensenada, and although it was a long time ago, they were some of the best times of my life. It’s good to see that the tradition survives.

http://mexicotoday.org/article/mexico-remains-top-spring-break-location

On the whole, you are safer in Mexico

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

“Cancun and Puerto Vallarta have far fewer murders than Orlando, home of Walt Disney World. Texans are twice as safe in Mexico, and three times safer than in Houston. According to CNN, violence in Ciudad Juarez dropped by 45 percent in 2011, and the first six weeks of 2012 saw an additional 57% drop, per this BBC story.”

Middle-Class In Mexico

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

When I first started traveling in Mexico there weren’t many cars on the road. Seriously, in a ten-mile stretch of highway you might pass 10 or 20 cars or trucks going the other way. Mostly you saw truckers hauling goods and buses hauling people. Not many Mexicans could afford a car. This was still true in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. In 1975, a buddy and I hitch-hiked down the trans-peninsular highway in Baja, took the ferry over to the mainland at Mazatlan from La Paz, finally ending up in Belize a couple of months later, bedazzled by all we had seen and done. But we got very few lifts by thumb and ended up on trains and buses for most of the way because rides were hard to flag. There just weren’t many passenger cars on the road and most of them you saw were barely running and only going a short distance.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  I was also invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role and for the launch of the program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared in my blogs are completely my own.

 

Mexico then was a land of the rich and the poor – not much in between. Decades of rule by the dinosaurs of the PRI had produced a country, although rich in resources, stuck hopelessly in a class system that provided little chance of upward mobility. By the mid-1970’s nearly 50% of the country population was living in urban areas, up from just 20% in the 1940’s. By 1980 that number was over 70%. Many were fleeing their farms while others sought a better life north of the border. A small middle-class was forming as manufacturing increased, but most of the country was still poor, by any measure.

 

I have really seen a difference in the past 11 years or so, ever since President Vicente Fox of the PAN party was elected in 2000. He paved the way for foreign investment in the country, liberalized trade laws, and instituted marketed-oriented economic policies, as hundreds of thousands of jobs were created. And although many of these jobs were minimum wage, many more were not. Increased tourism has also been a major factor in well-traveled pockets around the country, as foreigners discover all that Mexico has to offer.

 

It is now estimated that 20% of Mexico is now middle-class, and that number is rising fast, despite the global economic downturn. As I sat in the Mexico City airport recently I marveled at the changes I have witnessed. Mexican families flying around the country and abroad, dressed in designer duds (they looked a hell of a lot better than I did), peering into their laptop screens, texting on their phones. This is a country in transition, and it is so uplifting to experience this major shift.

 

The irony is that Mexico is building their middle-class at the same time that the U.S. is rapidly losing theirs. Unless the U.S. can restore some sanity and fairness in their policies, I think that Mexico could possibly become the more powerful economy by the end of this century. They have the resources, the work-force, and the will. That’s a proven formula that seems to have been forgotten by their northern brothers.

Is Mexico Dangerous?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

David Simmonds

The warnings are dark and ominous. Mass graves, crossfire shootout victims, kidnappings. Don’t Go To Mexico, the headlines SHOUT. It is a very dangerous place, amigo. Gringos should stay home or go to Vegas if you know what’s good for you. You don’t want to be shot, do you?

I read the daily drumbeat and wonder what the purpose is. I understand that fear sells, but the ethics of good journalism demand that the whole story be told accurately. I have been traveling Mexico since I was a kid, which was a long time ago (or so says my lying birth certificate). And the Mexico I know so well isn’t the same country I read about. Not even close.

Here’s a short story to illustrate my point. I had been to Mexico near the border a number of times, to Ensenada and San Felipe, first with my parents, then with my friends (Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada is still one of the great bars in the world). Then one summer in college I read about this place being discovered way down in Mexico called Puerto Vallarta, and they had just built a paved road to get there from Tepic– prior to that it was dirt and most trekkers arrived by boat or plane. So I called an old high-school buddy who was going to Stanford and we headed south on a road trip in my old VW van from San Diego, armed with a crude map, a case of beer, very little money and four bald tires with no jack. What could possibly go wrong?

Much to our naïve surprise we blew all 4 tires by the time we hit Guaymas, where we camped on the beach right where the movie Catch-22 had just been filmed, before continuing to PV. And each time a tire blew along the way a local Mexican would suddenly appear and help us. They never asked for anything, they just wanted to help the stupid gringos. I specifically remember the flat we had on the beach in Guaymas, where two cars full of Mexican businessmen (or politicians…I think one was actually the mayor) pulled up, along with their female companions, and changed our tire for us as we passed cold beers around (it was about 100 degrees). We then sat and shared stories into the night as they brought out the tequila – the local Mexicans and the blond-haired college kids.  I knew at that moment that Mexico would become an integral part of my life – that it would always be a place I could go to be reminded what it is to be real.

The thing is, that same Mexico is still there every time I go. I’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles by car, bus, train and plane and have never been robbed, threatened or harmed in any way. Never. Yes, there are places I avoid these days, but they are few and well-known to anyone who takes the time to investigate. There are also places I avoid in the U.S. and any other country I visit. That’s the reality of living in the 21st century. Opie and Andy were a long time ago, but if you let your guard down you can still find a little Mayberry when you open your heart and mind. Mexico is a good place to start.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  I was also invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role and for the launch of the program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared in my blogs are completely my own.

Mexico Today Begins

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Like Charlie Sheen, Mexico has developed an image problem. The difference is that Charlie’s is well-earned and Mexico’s is a media creation. Don’t get me wrong, Mexico has a drug cartel war where rival organizations are fighting for supremacy. But the vast majority of the country is safe for residents and travelers, and this fact needs to be told to the public by people who know better.

 

Fortunately, the Mexican government has undertaken a pro-active position under the direction of Jaime Diaz and the incomparable U.S. based Ogilvy Public Relations firm. I have been involved in writing about Mexico travel for nearly twenty years during which time several marketing firms have had the Mexico contract. None of them “get it” like Ogilvy. These are very bright, educated people who understand the power of social media, which brings me to this news: I have been chosen as one of 24 people in North America to serve as “ambassadors” to the new program put in place by Ogilvy and the Mexican government called Mexico Today. My job, for which I receive compensation, is to write about the real Mexico – the one the mainstream media is failing to cover. I will do that on this site as well as others that I am involved in.

 

I’ve been promoting Mexico, a country I truly love, for many years. So I jumped at the chance to be a Mexico Today associate in the face of all the bad press going down these days. It’s very gratifying to know that everyone isn’t just hand-wringing and doing nothing constructive in the face of a negative situation. The Mexico Today (www.mexicotoday.org) team is fired up and ready to help change the perception of Mexico being a “dangerous” place. We spent this last weekend together in Oaxaca getting to know each other and coordinating strategy. With the caliber of leadership that we have and the passion and expertise of the ambassadors, I feel certain we will help to turn things around.

 

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  I was also invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role and for the launch of the program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared in my blogs are completely my own.

Help Mexico’s Image

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Every day for a couple of years now the media drumbeat has been the same. Don’t Go To Mexico, they say, You Will Be Hurt. This really needs to stop. Now.

Yes, agreed, Mexico has a significant problem that they are dealing with every day. To suggest otherwise would be foolish and dishonest. But it is even more dishonest for certain media outlets to sensationalize the situation far beyond reality. Any journalist with any basic research skills would find out that the drug cartel violence is targeted in just a few areas of the country, and it is primarily cartel vs. cartel. They would also discover that Mexico is a very large country – about two-thirds the size of the U.S. in land mass. The vast majority of the country has a crime rate far below most countries, and this is true of the tourist areas, as well. I don’t know if they are just lazy or if they have an agenda to trash Mexico’s economy. Either way, it reeks.

So what can we do that know better. You can tell your friends or anyone else who will listen. You can take your next vacation in Mexico. And you can get involved by signing this petition that states:

“The reputation and image of Mexico is under attack by a negative corporate media campaign focusing almost exclusively on drug violence and US immigration issues. Relentless coverage of these problems is only increasing xenophobia, stoking racism, polarizing politicians, ruining international commerce, and imperiling the relationship between the US and Mexico. The world needs to hear the positive news of Mexico–which vastly eclipses the negative in relevance but not in coverage–to inspire these countries to work together to solve their mutual problems”.

Click here for the petition

http://signon.org/thanks.html?petition_id=2204&id=-341852-Yul5%3DL

A Nation In Economic Decline

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

David Simmonds

It has been well-documented that the 20th century was America’s century. Or at least it has been since the end of WWII, about the time the first wave of boomers were born. We began the year 2000 as the lone super power with an economy that was the envy of the world. But there were cracks in the foundation and the past eight years have seen these cracks morph into rapidly expanding sinkholes. And there aren’t enough life-jackets to save everyone.

With a disasterous, unlawful war that is eating up $3 billion per week, our unfunded goverment obligations now total some $57.3 trillion, or about $500,000 per household. Now consider, the average household net worth is about $70,000. I’m no math genius, but how do you get the money to pay the bills? The typical American household is broke and in debt. Eventually, these numbers come home to roost and when it does America will not be the same place as it was when we grew up. Indeed, it is not now. Our country is in decline at the time that many of us are about to retire. Much of the world is catching up and there’s only so much to go around.

The oil producing countries, with the tacit approval of some in our government, have been orchestrating the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, from oil-users to oil-owners. At the start of the war a barrel of oil was $24.00, now it is heading towards $200.00. A gallon of gas will soon be $5.00. George Bush has just returned from Saudi Arabia, where he reportedly asked his old business friends for a price break. They told him to pound sand. Do you feel a shift in power here? Yeah, me too.

Let’s face it, most Americans are going to have to change their lifestyles and priorities in the next few years, if not right away. You better start making long term plans now. You can hunker down and hope for the best, or you can lift your head and look farther down the road, the road heading south, and find an area of Mexico that you think you might enjoy. Whatever money you have will go 30-100% farther in Mexico, depending on where you live and what your requirements are. Start your search now, or prepare for a life you had not imagined.

Yes, I believe that America will someday rebound from the pendulum swing. But it will take time, maybe a few decades, and some of us don’t have that much time left.

Boomers Are Tanking

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

David Simmonds

There was a recent Wall Street Journal story describing the number of boomers who are now borrowing money to live day-to-day. The content of the story isn’t as suprising as that it was in the WSJ, a once-reliable publication now owned by far right-wing idiot, Rupert Murdoch. They usually don’t report bad news under GOP leadership.

The AARP study reveals that one in 10 middle-aged and older Americans are borrowing money to pay their bills and to help out family members who need financial help. With spiraling gas and food prices this is a trend that is sure to worsen. Virtually everyone around my age that I personally know is worse off than they have been for years, and I’m talking about mostly professionals with higher educations. And do you know what they are asking me? “Tell me more about moving to Mexico. We need to find a way to live well on the money we have left.” I live in San Diego, a pretty conservative town, and many of my friends vote Republican. But most of them are voting for Obama in November because they are seeing the results of three decades of policies that have benefitted corporate America instead of its citizens. But just as is took many years to get to where we are, it will take many more to fix the problems that got us here. And that’s why they ask about Mexico: they want to live well for less money…now.

So, I tell them what I know to be true. I tell them that they have bought all the toys, eaten at all the restaurants, taken the cruises and the Vegas runs, and look where they are. Those things were fun, but think back about your life. When were you truly the happiest? Usually they will admit to a time in life when they didn’t have the money to buy all the toys, take all the cruises. A time when contentment was a walk on the beach or the woods, a good conversation, changing diapers and quiet evenings with the family. And I tell them that that life can be recaptured, and I tell them about Mexico.

Why Mexico? Why Now?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

David Simmonds

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the United States has changed a lot in the past 30 years, and I’m not talking about the ubiquitous presence of everyman computers and super-sized cheeseburgers. I make no apologies for my feelings…I’m a boomer who grew up in a better time, and I don’t like what has happened. Quite simply, there has been a  covert war waged by the mega-corporate-class against We The People, and big business has won.

Maybe we can reverse course and return to being the country we were for 200 years, but it will take some time, decades, and people my age may not be around to see it happen. So we boomers need to figure out how to live our next 20 – 30 years in a way that we had envisioned, in an environment where a sense of community prevails, where a catastophic illness won’t bankrupt us, where our neighbors don’t live their lives in irrational fear of…whatever the government tells us is fearful. Yeah, we got hit by a criminal group of box-cutter weilding fanatics, but the way we have reacted as individuals, so unlike Pearl Harbor, has produced a society where we are now one or two more attacks away from martial law. Indeed, most Americans will demand it if that happens. They will agree to anything, including relinquishing their previously non-negotiable civil liberties, for the right to mindlessly stare at their TV’s every night, behind bolted doors, secure  and accepting of the new America. But it can’t happen here? Ha…don’t bet on it.

Back to what to do…where do you find a place to live the life you thought you would have before the disappearing pensions and unaffordable health care? I will be spending the next few months writing in this blog, explaining to anyone who will listen  what has happened in the United States and why moving to Mexico is your best option. There are probably other countries that would be as good, but Mexico is the place I know best. I have been traveling and sometimes living in Mexico for 40 years (I’m 58). I have seen pretty much the entire country, north to south, east to west. I know the challenges and the benefits of trying life south of the border. Keep checking in at this web site and pass it on to others who might benefit. And for those who will email me with accusations of being unpatriotic and a quitter, save the energy. I still vote, write to my representatives, and donate money to causes I support. And you should, too. I want my country, the U.S., to be  a better country than it has become. Choosing to live in Mexico does not mean relinquishing your duties as a citizen. It is an option to live a better life…it will take my kids’ generation (they are 13 and 9) to turn things around.