Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Real Story About Mexico

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Finally…some of the mainstream media is starting to report what many of us know to be so true: Mexico is a rapidly emerging country that bears no similarity to the bad press it has received for the past several years. Aside from a very few trouble areas it is a very safe country to live in and visit, and it has become the economic powerhouse of Latin America.


With the US on the brink of real immigration reform, it is more important than ever that more people understand the truth about our neighbor to the south. Read here more more

Michoacán, with More and Better Roads

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Morelia, Michoacán, 10 July 2012.- President Calderón inaugurated the road pass at the exit to Quiroga.

The president declared that 130,000 vehicles will use the road pass every day and that traveling on a more comfortable, safer highway will reduce their traveling time by 20 minutes. Construction of this road work will benefit traffic from Morelia and long-distance traffic, currently forced to cross the city. He also declared that the reduction of time, noise and pollution will substantially improve the quality of life of Morelia’s inhabitants.

During his address, the president declared that this administration has given a record boost to the construction of infrastructure works, which will enable the state to progress and release its full potential. He explained that between 2007 and 2011, 6.6 billion pesos were invested in the modernization and construction of highways and country roads, such as the Road Pass at the exit to Charo, the Morelia-Salamanca highway, the Nueva Italia-Apatzingán highway and recently the start of the expansion of the Michoacán coastal road, among others.

The president announced that over a billion pesos have been invested in the modernization of Lázaro Cárdenas, turning it into the Pacific Port with the greatest commercial growth in the entire continent.

Todos Santos, Baja Sur

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Welcome to the Hotel California…in Todos Santos. Actually, Don Henley of The Eagles says the hotel in Mexico was not the inspiration for the song, but it sure feels like it when you are there. This was especially true when I first stayed there about 20 years ago and the old hotel was pretty beaten up at that time. I think the fare was about $5.00/night and it was priced fairly. Today, the Hotel California is a chic boutique hotel in the very best sense of the word. The town has recently been designated as a UNESCO Pueblos Magicos for a good reason. So go on down to ” a dark desert highway” , check out the art scene, catch some great waves, and see what some of us have known for a long time. See the article from Mexico Today by clicking here

The Race Is Tightening

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Read this NY Times article  about the current state of Mexico’s politics and why the election next week of a new president is so important. An invigorated and engaged youth movement may well determine who prevails in a race that had seemed sure to be won by PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto.


Calderon Cancels Project in Cabo Pulmo

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Mexico City, 15 January 2012.- Earlier today, President Calderón announced the cancellation of the Cabo Cortés Project in Cabo Pulmo.

Cabo Pulmo, in the Sea of Cortés in Baja California, is the only coral reef in the Gulf of California. An incomparable part of Mexico’s natural heritage, it is one of the reefs with the highest coral coverage in the world. In 1995, over 7,000 ha of the surface, including Cabo Pulmo, were decreed a Natural Protected area under the category of Natural Park. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 and an important wetland by Conservation Ramsar in 2008.

During his message, the president explained that the Hansa Baja firm had applied for a building permit for a mega tourist development known as Cabo Cortés. Due to Cabo Pulmo’s environmental importance, the possibility that the Cabo Cortés development might be built elicited the concern of local communities, academics and environmental organizations. The concern involved the fact that a development on this scale could harm the coast and beach and severely damage the reef ecosystem. In response to this situation, declared the President, the Federal Government assumed a responsible attitude and sought to ensure strict adherence to the law. The civil and environmental organizations, scientists and citizens who expressed their concerns were attended and all the environmental, technical and legal aspects and appeals submitted to SEMARNAT were reviewed.

As a result of this review, the government determined that the Cabo Cortés Project, as presented, failed to demonstrate its sustainability, as a result of which it was decided to cancel the conditional authorization of the project’s environmental impact.

On the subject of the project’s cancellation, the president underlined the fact that this shows the Federal Government’s firm commitment to a policy of high environmental standards for all kinds of projects, including tourist projects, to ensure the conservation of Mexico’s natural wealth.

The president added that the investors and owners of the plots of land would not be neglected. The federal government is determined to respect investors’ rights and assets. It is also willing to accompany interested parties to undertake a new project that will yield benefits for the inhabitants of the zone through tourism. This project will fully guarantee the conservation of the country’s natural heritage.
“It is possible to follow a model of sustainable development that will take advantage of the natural advantages of our territory and attract investment and tourism and create jobs without irreversibly affecting ecosystems and biodiversity, which is the point of green growth.

The president concluded by saying that green growth is a key issue on the Mexican G20 Presidency’s agenda that will be dealt with at the summit to be held in Los Cabos.

The Triple Crown

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

This is a great story about Mexico jockey Mario Gutierrez.

One Town at a Time

Friday, December 30th, 2011

One Town At a Time


By David Simmonds


“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out; we’d want to get involved.” Bill Gates, rich guy.


About fifteen years ago I started a non-profit called The Sea of Cortez International Preservation Foundation. We raised some money and were able to do some good things for several years, including donating $10,000 to help in the creation of an artificial reef off the coast of La Paz in Baja California Sur. It has become a very popular dive site, helping tourism as well as the fish population. But then the horror of 9/11 happened and, understandably, it became very difficult to raise money, so I regrettably had to shut it down.


As a few years passed I missed doing something larger than my self-centered endeavors, so two years ago I formed another non-profit, One Town At a Time ( Then, immediately, I destroyed my ankle after decades of extreme activity, and had to back-burner everything until I could become reasonably mobile again. Today, thanks to a great orthopedic doctor, the ankle is mostly fixed.  With the help of Susie Albin-Najera  (founder of the excellent blog “The Mexico Report”), we have fired up One Town again. I don’t think this Susie ever sleeps. My friend and partner in Mexico Premiere, Lisa Coleman, has also joined the Board of Directors.


Here is the Mission Statement, to give you an overview of our purpose:


The mission of One Town At A Time is to address the living conditions of poor villages in Mexico by providing families in these areas with tools for achieving sustainability. This is the ideal way to ameliorate the immigration pattern in the United States which currently encourages villagers to cross the border to earn money to send back to their families. By providing villagers with tools for addressing their poverty, they can remain in their villages, sustain a sense of family and community structure, and cultivate pride in their way of life. One Town At A Time shares and provides the technology that enhances the ability of villagers in Mexico to improve and expand their current farming, trade, and communication practices in a way that honors their rich cultural heritage and brings them closer to the global socioeconomic realm.


Our present project is Apples For Classrooms. With monetary donations we will purchase Apple computers, iPads, etc. to give to rural schools in Cabo Corrientes, an area just a little south of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco. Some of the villages include Chacala, Mascotita, Refugio and Guasimas. They will need ongoing support to pay for satellite internet connection, but the benefit the kids will derive will be life-changing. A new world of possibility will open up to them that will positively impact each child as well as their community. I can think of no single thing that could be more beneficial than the knowledge gained by these curious and open minds. For the first time in their lives they will have access to all of the world’s information.


Our goal is to be able to present the Apple devices to the schools in the latter part of March, 2012 in coordination with Tianguis, the huge travel trade show that will be held in Puerto Vallarta March 25 – 28. Please consider helping us out. There is a Donation button on the web site, and/or forward this article to other people that you know. We are a registered 501(c)3 and all donations are tax-deductible.


Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.



The Enduring Huichols

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

One of my favorite states in Mexico is Nayarit. The have the perfect mix of the Sierra Madres and a beautiful coastline, featuring San Blas, Chacala, and the ever-popular Sayulita. But it may be the Huichols that make the state so intriguing.
While many of the native peoples of the Western hemisphere have been assimilated into the mainstream of the modern world, the native Huichols have been able to maintain their traditional language, mores and spiritual ways for centuries…although they, and we, are now in danger of losing a pristine culture that has much to teach the world about the reciprocal relationship people can have with the planet.
The number of Huichols, who are some of the last remaining descendants of the Aztecs, is estimated at around 7,000. The rugged and remote terrain of the mountainous Huichol homeland, as well as the fact that the Huichols had little to plunder, helped these people escape the pillage of the Spanish conquistadors (and in fact, this is the only group in Mexico spared by the Iberian conquest). The Huichol Indians today live in small communities high in the Western Sierra Madre in the state of Nayarit.
The Huichols call themselves Wixalika, meaning “prophets” or “healers,” and they are proud of their freedom and purity of race. The Huichols are a refreshing reminder of a world past in which entire communities worked together as caretakers of the planet. Many of their ways could exemplify the techniques that could be used by more modern cultures to come to terms with ecological balance.
The primary focus of their belief system is the ritual ingestion of the hallucinogenic peyote cactus. (It is used, of course, as an integral part of their religious ceremonies, and is never used recreationally…a more modern cultural phenomenon.) The Shaman priest or sorcerer of the tribe, called the Marakame, accompanies members of the tribe on several spiritual journeys each year to the Wirikuta Desert, a six-hundred mile round-trip journey on foot, in search of this cactus. When the plant is finally found, it is ceremonially shot with an arrow, a means of sacrificing the Deer God (or Venado) inside the cactus. When the drug is eaten the voyager goes into a ritual dream in search of a pantheon of 90 deities, mostly female, and this becomes the basis for a translation to other member of the tribe of the symbolic meaning of the induced visions.
The Christian missionaries arrived in the 17th century and introduced to the Huichols the glass beads made in Europe. The Huichol Indians immediately incorporated these objects into their intricate beaded devotional art in the form of beaded masks, prayer bowls, and beaded yarn paintings, art forms that continue to the present day. While all Huichol art is seen as a spiritual manifestation of the induced peyote experience, they see no conflict in offering it for sale.
While most Huichols support themselves through hunting and agriculture, there are several families, numbering perhaps 15 or 20, who devote themselves to the creation of beaded and yarn art. The artist applies a thin layer of soft beeswax to a wood sculpture or a gourd. With a fine pointed wood stick, he picks up one glass bead at a time and sets it into the wax, pressing in the bead with his finger. He starts from the outside of the piece and painstakingly works toward the center in a representation of one of his intense spiritual visions.
In some areas of the Huichol homeland the traditions remain strong, but in others the influence of the modern “conquistadores” is being felt. With the building of roads and airstrips and greater exposure to the ways of the modern world, social ills such as alcoholism, disease, cultural alienation, and suicide have had a negative impact on the Huichols.
The Huichols do not necessarily have to make the journey to complete assimilation, and, in effect, extinction. The knowledge of the Wixalika is much too valuable for the world to lose. In a sense it is perhaps our duty to find ways to allow the Huichols to enter the 21st century without compromising the spirit of these people.
Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Why You Should Drive in Mexico

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I have driven tens-of-thousands of miles in Mexico and the worse thing I can remember happening was having a mango jump off the flatbed of an oncoming produce truck near Mazatlán, smashing out the left headlight in my old VW van and spraying mango pieces and juice from head to huarache, where I sat in the driver’s seat. I thought I’d been shot by a deranged sniper until I figured it all out. And another time I blew an engine (another VW van, naturally) in the Sonoran desert on my return trip on a 100 degree summer day when few cars were on the road (this was years ago, before toll roads), only to be rescued by a pickup truck full of missionaries who rope-towed me to the Arizona border, almost making a believer of me.
But that’s about it for the mishaps. Driving in Mexico is a great way to really see the country and to meet the people who live in the small towns along the way. This is where the character and soul of the country resides, and should not be missed. The one caveat that has always held true is to avoid night-driving. Not because you’re going to get held up by bandits, but because animals often find their way onto the roads and there are still trucks and cars that drive without taillights…and headlights. Daylight is just a safer way to travel, and you see more. Mexico has built many thousands of miles of four-lane toll-roads over the past thirty years, making it much easier to get around (although they aren’t cheap), but the old roads still exist. Whereas the toll roads avoid having to drive directly through many towns and are much faster, you miss a lot by taking them. However, when you drive the old roads, you really need to pay attention. Crater-like potholes, narrow un-banked roads, erratic drivers, wandering livestock, slow moving trucks, and plastic-Jesus grasping bus drivers require that you keep your mind uncluttered and concentrate on your surroundings. But still, I highly recommend that you do it.
If you are flying into Mexico and plan to rent a car to give you more flexibility, make the arrangements before you travel. You will find the best deals by calling, or going to the web site, of the various rental companies and see who has the best deal for you. The rates can vary widely, so it is worth the effort. I can usually find a small car for about $120 – 160 per week, or $25.00 per day. Try to get unlimited miles and insurance included in the price. The independence of having your own wheels will make for a more interesting and complete trip. Just avoid the VSM’s (van-seeking mangos).

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

New Facebook Social Magazine For Mexico Enthusiasts

Friday, October 7th, 2011

The Mexico Today program that I have written about (and a member of) is really doing some good things for Mexico’s image. With all of the negative news we all hear from the mainstream press, we push back by reminding people of what is so good about Mexico – and there is plenty to tell. There are 24 ambassadors in the program, all of whom are active bloggers with well-traveled web sites, as well as using Facebook and Twitter to reach tens of thousands of people. It’s a great program and we are making a difference.

And now another great source is available in the form of Mexico Today Social Magazine. This is a Facebook page loaded with a variety of articles about Mexico, including Travel, Culture, Economy, Health, Infrastructure, Security and Sustainability. And the great news is that YOU can post your own articles. This innovative model creates a true grassroots approach to worldwide dissemination of news and information. We all have a Mexico story to tell – and now we have a place to tell it. And as an incentive to post your story they are offering a chance to win a $500 gift card.

So take a look.I guarantee you will learn things about Mexico you didn’t know. And you teach all of the readers something new, or even just post a link to an interesting article. Check out this work in progress. An ipad App version will soon be available, as well. Go here to join the fun

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.