Mexi-Go! Fall 2014

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FALL 2014




A LITTLE OR A LOT How much paradise do you want?




HE SAID/ SHE SAID Canadians in Mexico RETIRE TO MERIDA Easy expat lifestyle MORE THAN BIG RESORTS


Welcome home. . .

With approximately 360 days of sunshine each year, Los Cabos, Mexico is where Canadians come to vacation, invest and retire. Discover some of the coveted real estate in the world PROPERTIES FROM $275,000 TO $15 MILLION USD | SNELLREALESTATE.COM

SNELLREALESTATE.COM · in Los Cabos (624) 105-8100 · toll-free U.S. 1-866-650-5845

T h e S h o p p e s A t Pa l m i l l a · O n e & O n l y P a l m i l l a · Pu e r t o L o s C a b o s Chileno Bay · Mar Adentro · Plaza del Pescador · San Jose Art District and more

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Calendar of Events Looking for another great reason to visit Mexico? We've compiled months of great reasons for you to pack your bags and come visit.

14 Healthcare Options in Mexico By Audrey Royem If you are planning on becoming a resident of Mexico there are many healthcare options available to you, including private and public insurance.



18 Creating Communities By Maria Zamora and Minerva Zamora


Charity is changing in Mexico with the growth of Community Foundations that build bridges and create alliances within the communities they serve.


22 Why Puerto Vallarta By Marcia Blondin Puerto Vallarta is a perennial favourite for tourists and retirees with its great weather, beautiful natural bay and modern infrastructure.

24 Riviera Maya



Beautiful Caribbean ocean, white sand beaches, spectacular diving, world-class diving, upscale resorts, secluded islands, authentic Mayan culture... What's not to love?





SUBSCRIBE TODAY Love the feel of paper in your hands? The ease of reading a magazine on your deck? Then subscribe to Mexi-Go! Magazine today and enjoy the real thing!

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Where to Stay and Play Looking for unique and charming places to lay your head while you explore Mexico? These hotels have plenty to offer you in San Jose del Cabo, Merida, Mexico City and Tlequepaque.

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Four ladies, four months, for mules By Wendy Rains On the 50th anniversary of the Meling Expedition four women re-create the same 1,000 mile trek on the little used mountain trails of the Baja.

36 Did they find what they were looking for? By Victoria Pratt



New transplants to the Bay of Banderas talk about what brought them and kept them here.

40 The Promised land of the South


The South Coast states of Veracruz, Campeche and Tabasco offer ancient culture, Spanish history and modern excursions to the savvy traveler.


42 He said/She Said: Loving living in Vallarta-Nayarit Canadian couple Chris and Cindy head to La Cruz to build their newly realized dream boutique hotel.

44 The White City of the Yucatan By Gregory Hokensom



For those of us planning on visiting or retiring to Merida, Yucatan, Greg answers some basic questions on life in this modern colonial gem.






I loved it so much, I bought one myself

Join Mexi-Go! and a selection of pre-screened real estate developments and real estate agents at our MEXI-GO! EXPO's this fall 2014 being held in Calgary (September 27th) and Vancouver (October 4th). Register for your free ticket.

Canadian Realtor living in Mexico since 2003, Judi shares her recent experience of buying and building her first home in Playa del Carmen.

By Judi Shaw

52 Mexico vs. Canada A showdown between comparable properties for sale in Canada and Mexico makes for a decidedly onesided bout. And the match goes to Mexico!

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What? You want to build a house in Mexico? Why you are not crazy to do it.

Join us at the Mexi-Go! Expo to learn about these topics and more.

A Primer for Canadians Buying Real Estate in Mexico

CALGARY: Sept. 27 9am-5pm VANCOUVER: Oct. 4 10am-6pm



Editor-in-Chief, Art Director


Three years of living in Mexico full-time, Madeline has traveled extensively around the country and shares her passion for the rich diversity of culture and nature of her adopted country. Continually fielding questions from friends and family about travel and life in Mexico, Madeline is launching a new website, that offers weekly wisdom on life in Mexico. Have questions for Madeline? Send her an email and she'll be happy to share her experiences with you.

Wendy enjoys multiple careers as an International Architectural Designer, Artist, Author, Columnist, Travel Journalist, Magazine Publisher, Editor, and Radio Show Host. For nearly twelve years Wendy has been living in Todos Santos, Baja Sur, Mexico. She currently hosts one of only two English radio programs in Southern Baja on Cabo San Lucas’s only radio station.

CINDY & CHRIS BOUCHARD Contributor Chris and Cindy are fully engaged in their mission to introduce and welcome fellow Canadians and Americans to the wonderful lifestyle they have discovered in Vallarta-Nayarit. They are happy to answer any questions you may have about how you too can enjoy their "peace" of paradise.







Now 3+ years into our Mexico adventure it is one of the best decision my wife and I have ever made. In addition to the sunshine and time spent outdoors we are finding ourselves eating healthier, being more active, and finding a life balance that was never possible in our former ultra-busy Vancouver lives. If you are thinking about life Mexico I hope you find some inspiration in these pages and make the move also.

Judi Shaw, owner of Living Riviera Maya Real Estate in Playa del Carmen is a fellow Canadian. Judi moved in 2003 to Playa del Carmen, and has never looked back. She has helped many happy investors jump from Canada across the US to Riviera Maya. Nearly 40% of properties sold this year in Playa and area are to Canadians.

When not doing what has been called "boot camp" real estate tours around the Costa Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, pegging the right place for her customers, you'll find Victoria parked under a palapa while her dog self-entertains on the beach. She has a deep personal connection with her customers, loving to share her lifestyle and network so they feel at home right away.

Tao Inspired Living: Connect with ourselves, our Community and the place we live.

REGISTER ON for your free ticket. All seminars are free of charge and open to the public. TImes will be posted on and at the entrance to the shows.

Paradise Village: Complete Living in Nuevo Vallarta The Top 10 Considerations for Canadians buying real estate in Mexico Mexican Caribbean for a life time! Affordable investment in a secure and stable market Buying Property In Mexico' - featuring the top emerging market Huatulco, Oaxaca Indulge your senses at The Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos Calculating Closing Costs in Mexico. Cabo San Lucas. Why you should live here. AND much much more including... Medical tourism and International retirement. Check the website for up-to-date schedules.




MEXI-GO! ONLINE For up-to-date information that matters for Canadians traveling, investing or retiring in Mexico has everything you need. Properties for sale Properties for rent Partnerships with vetted companies for all your Mexico needs.

Don’t miss the articles on travel, real estate, investment, government and more on our site

CUBAN FISHING BOAT Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo Mexico Photo: Hector Fong





Madeline Milne

Art Director Madeline Milne Designer Oskar Stark Contributors Marcia Blondin Cindy Bouchard Victoria Pratt Gabe Jones Moralea Milne Wendy Rains Judi Shaw Crystal Blue Photography Barb Nettleton Hector Fong ADVERTISING AND SALES Gabriel Jones | Sales Director

As I write this there is a snowstorm in southern Alberta. It's September 3rd. My facebook is littered with posts about the weather in Canada. Many are already on their way to Mexico and many more are making plans and packing because, while this storm may be a freak occurrence, we all know that winter is just around the corner. For the benefit of our loyal readers Mexi-Go! has done some exploring and traveling around the country, particularly in Riviera Maya, so we can report back to you some of the best places to visit and retire to. It's a tough job but we're happy to do it. Your thanks is reward enough! Riviera Maya is comprised of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum. Along this 120 mile stretch of aqua blue coast there are white sand beaches fronted by luxurious resorts, twelve world-class golf courses, hundreds of cenotes, Mayan ruins, internationally acclaimed dining, shopping, nightlife and culture. Combine that with all that happens in the water, diving, sailing, fishing and you have everything you need for a dream vacation or tropical retirement. The fastest growing area in Mexico, the Riviera Maya still maintains price points for everyone's

budget. You can buy land and build a custom home with easy beach access and private pool for as little as $175,000 usd and a condo in the same development starts at $155,000 usd. For the past year and a half I have been editing the Vallarta Tribune, Puerto Vallarta's only English newspaper. We've repositioned some of my editorials on a new website that offers weekly wisdom on life in Mexico along with a section dedicated to answering questions about Mexico. If you are looking for great places to visit, things to see or do while traveling in Mexico, send me an email and I'll do my best to help you. Check me out at If you're in Calgary (September 27 at the Deerfoot Casino) or Vancouver (October 4th at the Roundhouse Community Centre) and looking for more information on retirement, travel and investment in Mexico, please visit us at the Mexi-Go! Expo's we'd be happy to share our insight along with the many vetted opportunities that we have found for you in Mexico. More information can be found at Safe travels,

Catherine Nash | Riviera Maya Joel Hansen | Business Development

MARKETING AND PR Veronica Rivas Jeff Casta単eda CONTACT US!

Special appreciation to ProMexico for their generous contribution.










SEMINARS, INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, RETIREMENT PROPERTIES Seminars on buying real estate in Mexico & various travel destinations Join Mexi-Go! for a full day of information on real estate investment

Mexi-Go! is published by Canadian Marketing Strategies S de RL de CV Copyright (2014)

Madeline COMING THIS FALL! Join Mexi-Go! and a selection of real estate products aimed at Canadians interested in purchasing retirement or vacation properties in Mexico. Learn from our expert seminars, meet developers, real estate brokers, and ex-pats who have made the leap. Learn more and register for free admission at Weekly wisdom on life in Mexico

ight Win a 7 nStay y Luxur ! EXPO i-Go

ex in Sayulita withViM lla Amor At



from this Canadian girl. Have questions about great places to travel or things to do? Ask Madeline at 9


Dias de los Muertos, Oaxaca

Mexicans love life and rejoice in their history, culture and religion, virtually every day there is a celebration or festival somewhere in Mexico.






Festival Internacional Cervantino, Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Festival de Cameron, San Felipe, Baja

Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

October One of the most important artistic and cultural events in Mexico, El Cervantino,showcases local, national and international talents in a variety of disciplines. Theatre, ballet, classical music, folk dance and activities that cater to youth, draw thousands to this beautiful city. Tickets often sell out well in advance.

Where the desert meets the sea, enjoy a bounty of fresh and delectable shrimp, explore the sandy beaches, and marvel at giant cardon cactus that can live 300 years!

12-16 Festival Internacional de Jazz y Blues, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajato There are many reasons to visit this picturesque town, and quality of music offered during the festival only adds to the impetus to visit.

13-23 Festival de Gourmet Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 17-26 Festival Internacional de la Cultura Maya, Merida, Yucatan A celebration of the ancient and existing Maya culture, which has flourished since 2000 BC. This year the theme of the festival is ‘La Arquitectura’. El Mirador in Guatamala, and the famous Mexican archaeological sites of Tikal, Chichen Itza and Uxmal are examples of their advanced skills and society.




Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia, Morelia, Michoacán


Bask in the history of this colonial mountain city as you enjoy documentaries and first- and second-time fiction works, the event offers an up-close look at Mexican society as seen through the eyes of a new generation of filmmakers.


Professional chefs from around the world come to Puerto Vallarta to share their talents and secrets. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the festival is billed as the best gastronomic event in the country and also one of the most important on the continent.

The nightly parades, the elaborately costumed and displayed floats, and the more somber religious processions honour the ‘Mother of Mexico’. Excellent crafts and food vendors line the streets.

23 Noche de Rábanos, Oaxaca, Oaxaca Ongoing since 1897, the Night of the Radishes is proof that art exists wherever there is the heart to create. For a few hours on the night of Dec 23, Mexican craftsmen carve giant root vegetables into human figures and other forms, particularly nativity scenes. The festivities continue with parades, fireworks and street dances.

January 9-18


BPM Festival, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Festival de la Cerveza, Valle de Bravo, San Simon Tolnahuac, Cuauhtemoc

If electronic music gets your mojo working, the BMP musical extravaganza might be where you want to be. Hundreds of musicians will feed your electronic soul.

Enjoy a stunning range of handmade, Mexican and European beers; served with Mexican snacks and dinners all spiced with cultural and musical events.

14-16 Feria Maestro de Arte, Chapala, Jalisco

31-Nov 2

View the stunning diversity of Mexican arts and crafts from the masters of their disciplines. This year the theme is ‘Celebrating the Alebrije’ intricately painted creations of papier mache or wood. Savvy shoppers line-up early to get the best deals and the best pieces.

Dias de los Muertos, throughout Mexico


The Day of the Dead is a joyous remembering of ancestors that is celebrated with copious quantities of marigolds, sugar skulls and festivities. Patsquaro, Mexico City, Guanajuato and Ciudad de Oaxaca are renown for their festivities.

Fiesta de Santa Cecilia, Mexico City Mariachis and regional musicians from northern Mexico and the state of Veracruz descend on Plaza Garibaldi for a tribute party to St Cecelia, the patron saint of musicians.

14-18 Festival Sayulita, in Sayulita, Nayarit This charming, scenic bohemian beach town provides a perfect backdrop for a unique gathering for all lovers of Mexico, film, spirits, food, music and surf.

Late January and early February Día de la Candelaria and Son Jarocho Music Festival, Tlacotalpan, Veracruz A huge festival which features bull-running in the streets. An image of the Virgin is also floated down the river. The Son Jarocho music festival is three day event showcasing traditional Veracruz-style music that represents a fusion of indigenous (primarily Huastecan), Spanish, and African musical elements.

Visit page 54 for more info on your next Real Estate Vacation

Learn more at the Mexi-Go! Expos this fall in Calgary and Vancouver

Mexi-Go! Expo


- Papaya

Join us at two great events this fall 2014! CALGARY, AB - SEPTEMBER 27TH Deerfoot Inn and Casino from 9:00 - 5:00pm

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 4TH Roundhouse Community Centre from 10:00 - 6:00pm

LEARN MORE ABOUT: purchasing real estate, the hottest vacation and real estate markets, how to make the move to Mexico, new immigration rules, how to safely invest in Mexico and much more. Register online to attend you be entered for prizes including all expense paid vacations.


Explore the possibilities on your next Real Estate Vacation



- Ventanas

HUATULCO - Mansiones Cruz del Mar





e Park

Real Estate Vacations Every place you travel to shines with potential; how do you choose your retirement destination? Try out a week or more at each of our pre-screened developments and experience for yourself how the property fits your retirement or vacation property goals. *No purchase necessary. Some restrictions apply. This is absolutely not timeshare.


By Audrey Royem

GOOD TO KNOW: Healthcare Options If you are planning on living in Mexico full time, or even staying for a couple months, understanding the medical landscape of Mexico will make you feel safer and help you navigate any sorts of health concerns that might arise.

Private Medical Care While there are sev-

eral private companies that offer healthcare insurance coverage in Mexico, private medical services are quite accessible in regards to time and costs and do not require any sort of insurance. Most clinics and doctor offices have same day availability and once you are a client, most doctors give you their cell phone so you can call them at any time, day or night. Many doctors speak good English, while their staff may not. Doctors usually charge a flat consultation fee (in the Puerto Vallarta area $500MX is common), which can include the use of their equipment, like for ultrasounds, or medical samples that treat your ailment. Although you will want to verify that the doctor is a qualified professional, Mexican hospitals and clinics have sophisticated equipment and doctors are highly trained. Pamela Thompson ( is a fantastic resource for expats in the Bahia de Banderas area who makes doctor recommendations.

IMSS The IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) was created by the government to provide health insurance to workers, however, IMSS is applicable to most individuals residing in Mexico, including foreigners. Each application process is different if you are an employee, boss, retired, and the general public. IMSS covers all doctor visits, diagnostics and lab work, hospital procedures and costs, and prescription drugs. Family Health Program (El Seguro de Salud



para la Familia) is a way of applying for access to the IMSS services as the general public. A minimum of two people who are related must apply at a time, and any other family member will be listed under the same policy. An annual fee apply and registration filed one a day and month before you need to get any treatment, so this is not an option if you are in need of emergency care.


Although prices are subject to change, the older you are the more you will have to pay per year. Health insurance cost is calculated based on what age category you fall into based on a 20 year increment. So people age 0-19 will pay the least for their health insurance ($1,600MX), while people over sixty pay the highest rates ($4,400MX+) per year. The application includes filling out a health form, where you are to divulge any information regarding pre-existing conditions and current health condition. You should be aware there are a large number of medical conditions not covered by IMSS, which

include pre-existing conditions, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, etc. If you have any existing health problems check to see if the insurance will cover it, or if they will accept your application before applying. Once your IMSS application goes through, you and your beneficiaries will receive care in any of the IMSS medical unit closest to your residence. To renew your coverage you have to go back to an IMSS office with the same information within 30 days of it expiring. If you don’t renew your coverage, it will expire and you will have to apply again with any conditions that may have been discovered since your last application.

Seguro Social

Seguro Popular is an opportunity for residents of Mexico to receive social health care when they are not receiving IMSS or another form of government health care. It was initially created to provide health services to individuals who work for themselves, or in rural areas where IMSS did not provide proper access. Seguro Popular, as it´s name implies, is a government program that serves the masses: it implements major health initiatives, like vaccinations; it easy to apply for and covers most common health concerns; a Centro de Salud is available in most pueblos, where there are in house doctors and nurses. You can register for free, the day that you get treated if need beemergency care is available! By affiliating to Seguro Popular you receive quality treatment from experienced doctors and nurses, free prescriptions; pregnancy, birth and kids are all covered, and full coverage on many medical treatments. Foreigners with legal residency (Temporary or Permanent Residency) can affiliate just like Mexicans. You must bring the following requisite documents (with copies of each) to the nearest registration place:

1. CURP 2.

INM visa

3. Passport 4.

Recent CFE bill

This government program provides wide scope health care, including preventive medical care, general and specialty consultations, hospitalization, surgery, ancillary diagnostic studies and medications, as well as the attention of immediate families that are registered within the membership policy. If you need emergency care and are not affiliated, you can still receive medical attention, however, not at the reduced cost (it depends on the treatment, limited coverage on certain treatments, even for affiliates).

Which is Right for You? The treatment at Seguro Popular, IMSS or a private healthcare provider you will receive is all good. The type of service you seek will depend on a variety

of factors you must weigh before you need these services: Your activity and economic resources- are you an employee, do you have your own business, are you retired on a pension, for example; accessibility- is there an IMSS hospital or a Centro de Salud near you, or will you use a private clinic for certain reasons and the public clinic for another; the equipment and doctors available; and ultimately the comfort level you feel at each facility- do you speak Spanish, are you familiar with Mexican bureaucracy, are a few of the questions you may ask yourself. Many of the same doctors that you see at a private hospital or clinic also work at IMSS or Seguro Popular. It is a way for young doctors to get more experience, doctors who have been with the system for years to get retirement pay, and a service to their country. You should look into the services in your area offered by both organizations to see if it is beneficial for you to apply. However, while both offer reduced costs and qualified service, longer wait times, lack of availability of drugs and/or other limited treatments can vary and dissuade more financially-able customers from accessing their services. Private health institutions offer health care that is affordable and accessible compared to US standards, however, IMSS and Seguro Social might be even more affordable and accessible depending on the treatment or situation.

THAT'S WHAT THEY SAID! First accounts of healthcare in Mexico from "A friend of mine in Guadalajara needed an MRI -- she'd put it off in Canada because in Toronto, they'd estimated 9 months before she could get the appointment. She noticed an MRI clinic on a street near where she was staying. She walked in and asked how long the wait might be before she could get an appointment. The receptionist glanced at his watch and asked, "Can you wait 20 minutes? I'm sorry it will be so long." "I had great dental care in Playa del Carmen. Walked in off the street to a brand new office, a branch of an established office in Cancun. 3 hours later I had a root canal, complicated base preparation, and impression for a crown. Very professional manner, quite gentle technique, English good enough to explain everything and answer questions. 10 days later I had a porcelain crown made by a lab in the States. $420 USD total."




Last year, I uprooted my life and moved to Mexico, following my inner compass. I had reasons far and wide for doing so, namely to show my six-year old daughter life, adventure, difference, and beauty. I wanted to teach her things she would never learn in textbooks. I wanted to teach myself things I would never learn in the suburbs. I wanted to share love, happiness, experiences, and tiny magical moments with my baby before she was too old and slipped out of my reach, before she cared about cell phones and Olive Garden, when it was still ok to rip her away from the world she was accustomed to, at the age she could be forever affected and incredibly impacted by the world outside her door. What I ended up learning along our adventure is indescribable, unforgettable, and amazingly special, for both of us. I am so grateful to dream up such adventures, and to my inner compass for guiding me and keeping me safe. I am thankful to all of my friends near and far, old and new, who have been a part of this adventure, in support, interest, unconditional love, happy tears, motivational words, and belief in my strength, so that no matter where we were, I never felt far from home. By Crystal Blue

8 Powerful lessons I have learned from a year of Mexican adventures





STRENGTH. AND TRUSTING YOURSELF. Like the cliché, ‘Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.” We are so much stronger than we know. Only when this is experienced in such raw form do we clearly understand the strength we possess to make correct decisions, keep ourselves safe, overcome fear, and just do it. Challenge is healthy. It keeps us aware, smart, and resourceful. It keeps life interesting, and shows us who we are and what we are made of. It keeps us from giving up. On a dark, rainy night in the Cozumelenian jungle, petrified of intruders and animals, protecting my baby. Wanting to hop the next flight, wanting to run from fear. Or on a day that strips your two seconds left of coping skills, when the stick shift breaks down at night and you are lost on an island, when you are sick of sweating from the blazing sun, when no one will convert your money, you can't make a phone call, no one understands that you want medicine for your baby’s fever, your bank account is overdrawn because you can't deposit internationally, and there is a scorpion in your washing machine. Feeling so defeated and alone. Wanting to run from the discomfort and helplessness. But you don’t. That is strength. That is self-discovery. That is trusting and believing in yourself that you can proceed. I have learned that I am so incredibly strong. And only in that strength, have I been able to experience and realize these invaluable life lessons.


GRATITUDE, NOT EXPECTATION. Before, I tried really hard to not be an expector. But now I see that I still was. I am sure I expected special treatment, expected air-conditioning, expected people to understand me, and expected road construction for the one tiny pothole on my street. Now, I am not an expector. I have seen what I have and what others don’t. I have gone without because I didn’t have the option, and I have been the outsider clawing my way out, thrown into a pen of discomfort,

Living away from it " all, in a paradise setting, has given me the time to process and believe this healthy manifestation that we are on our own paths."

and learning I cannot expect a thing, not speaking the language, knowing the environment, or having anyone to rely on but myself to figure it all out. This has fueled gratitude in that, when I do get, I accept it humbly. When I am comfortable, when I am clearly understood, I want to fall to my knees in thanks and smile to the universe, so thankful for that moment of clarity to receive, rather than ever expecting it in the first place.


SIMPLICITY. Simplicity is an amazing challenge tool. Living in simplicity is a mental and physical purging agent of self-control. When you don’t have access, you don’t have access. Plain and simple. And yet somehow life is still okay. When you make the conscious choice for simplicity, you are giving yourself a gift, and taking control of your life

rather than letting it continue to run away on the materialistic train. You are saying, ‘that’s enough. I want to be in charge.’ And when we do, it takes about five seconds to realize that it is all trappings anyway. And when we have none of it, and nothing to do, but to sit and think, reflect, and just be, we become comfortable with ourselves in the silence and simplicity, in a way we never knew. Simplicity changes lives.


PATIENCE. And how to take a backseat from control, and follow the flow. One thing about foreign travel in developing nations is this first rule of thumb. My world was rocked by this realization back in 2003 in India and now has been reinforced in 2013 in Mexico. Leave your control mechanisms at the door because it will get you nowhere. Relinquish control and tight grips on life and learn to throw it to the wind and be okay with that. Things are different and do not go as planned. And instead of getting frustrated, it is necessary to sit back helpless and let the world flow. This is a lesson for life too. We are caught up in a world of structure and order and finite decision-making and judgment. It’s crippling. Taking a deep breath and listening to our heart and inner compass, handing the reigns over and not shaking from discomfort in doing so, and learning to let go and let be, is an amazing awareness.


BEAUTY. The world is beyond beautiful. In choosing to take time out to smell the roses, we begin to smell the roses. The piercing blue of the azul Caribbean Sea, the sound of palms swaying together, the variety of fish and natural cenotes. The way the clouds take shape and the moon eclipses the sun. The sparkling sky and sounds of the jungle. The lagoons and flowers and white sand. Walking hand in hand with my daughter at the sea, collecting water nuts for Christmas gifts back home, swimming with turtles, discovering seahorses wrapped around coral

and sea plants, the mussels attached to the reef, and the sun setting across the sky, lighting the night and the calm water. And the magic that keeps it all balanced. Nature is incredibly beautiful.


FRIENDSHIPS ARE THE NEW FAMILY. Life abroad offers the opportunity to meet and engage with people from all over the world. In having no one else in the flesh, these friends become your family. Likewise do friends back home who are always on tap for an email and to remind you that you are believed in and loved. When your new friend from France, or New Zealand, is there to have a beer and share experiences, they become family. When no one else understands what you are going through, they do, because they are in the same place right now, on the same quest, miles from home, and piecing together their own adventures. Understanding things that no one else will ever believe are even true, and grappling with the same issues of life abroad. This creates a true bonding and unforgettable friendships.

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DREAMS CAN COME TRUE. And never say never. Before this adventure, I was under the impression that my life of travel and exploration ended the moment I gave birth to my daughter. But, that was all in my head. That was from a society that tells us we can't do that with children, we have to have a stable job for them, it's unsafe, yada yada, rather than realizing the good it can do and the ability it has to instill such incomparable values in their amazing little hearts and minds. After feeling the burning in my soul to show her the world for five years, after dreaming of getting back out there, living abroad with her, sharing all of the experiences with her firsthand instead of in bedtime stories as memories of a life mommy once had, I decided to grab life by the throat and just do it. I decided that my dreams didn’t need to only be dreams because of her. But that, my dreams could now be her dreams too. And so when no one else said I could, I did. I went and lived my dream. And in doing so, I have showed her the number one rule of life: Never stop believing in your dreams. Because dreams can come true. And living life knowing that dreams can come true is the single most source of hope and purpose we can have. Everyone has a dream. No matter what it is. Do yourself a favor. Do your kids a favor. And go make it come true :)



SELF-ACCEPTANCE. We all make mistakes. And in America those are judged. Which causes us to be hard on ourselves and expect to operate in a place of perfection with no room for error. But mistakes are natural and are all moments of self-teaching. And if it weren’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t be half the people we are. So I have learned, it's ok to make mistakes because I am human. I now accept myself and my mistakes, and I am easy on myself. We are all on our own paths. Writing our own stories, not someone else’s. As long as we recognize and create our own paths with confidence. Owning up to our own lives, taking responsibility for failures and successes, and accepting that what makes us who we are, and being really happy with that person. Living away from it all, in a paradise setting, has given me the time to process and believe this healthy manifestation that we are on our own paths. Full of ridiculously amazing moments, but also full of imperfections. And wanting to change who we are is like dying inside. Be you. Be strong. Be brave. And be easy on yourself.



By Maria del Mar Zamora and Minerva Zamora

Creating Communities: Fundación Punta de Mita

Philanthropy in Mexico is often informal: extended family, a generous business owner, kind strangers will help their community without expecting anything in return. This friendliness and companionship are part of what makes people fall in love with this land.

communities they are bringing new ideas, enthusiasm and renewed hope. Newcomers are finding volunteering opportunities, and a new group of friends with whom they are making a difference in their communities, learning new things and exploring new interests, and in the process, helping to shape a new vision of philanthropy in Mexico.


exico is in many ways a country of contrasts and contradictions. The colorful dress of Oaxaca and the elegant simplicity in Veracruz both fit comfortably between our coasts. The lush greenery surrounding the dark fields of volcanic rock and the golden deserts that blend into turquoise waters are both equally representative of the beauty of this land. You don’t even have to cross state lines to find different worlds— different artisanal crafts, different dishes, a different language, a different character.

ical rehabilitation, improved education, infrastructure rehabilitation, conservation of land. The list is as long as your imagination— perhaps longer because it is difficult to conceive of all the needs of a community and all the different mechanisms people are employing to address them.



Part of the enchantment of this country is that it seems to create beauty from this patchwork of juxtapositions. From its sweet and spicy candy to a modern display of fireworks over Teotihuacan, Mexico treasures differences; it respects the old and welcomes the new.


However, these contrasts also have a grim side. Unfortunately, the inequality in some parts of Mexico has gained almost as much reputation as its beaches, food and culture. Grey shanty towns are separated from affluent neighborhoods by a narrow highway or a fifteen foot wall. Yet even this is breeding something beautiful. The needs of many are creating causes around which we can come together and make something new and thriving. The non-profit sector in Mexico is big and growing. Groups of citizens come together to provide special-needs services, food for disadvantaged children, public libraries, protection of endangered species, phys-

Philanthropy in Mexico is often informal: extended family, a generous business owner, kind strangers will help their community without expecting anything in return. This friendliness and companionship are part of what makes people fall in love with this land. However, in recent decades the non-profit sector in Mexico has been growing and finding strength in formal organizations. It is forging its own mechanisms and identities. And here, as in so many other things, Mexico is welcoming newcomers and adapting novel ideas to a Mexican reality. It is beautiful to witness how snow birders, expats, and tourists are all contributing to this common drive to help others. In many

One philanthropic model which is growing in Mexico, and in the world, is the Community Foundation. A community foundation is special in that its focus is on fostering Grassroots Development and moving away from assistencialism. A community foundation seeks to provide the necessary tools to organizations and the community at large to develop fully; because poverty is not expressed only through a lack of income, assets and services but it is also a problem associated with a lack of capacities (information, knowledge and skills) in the people that lack resources— lack the voice and bonds necessary to seek and take advantage of opportunities, to influence public decisions or to shape their own destiny. Another important characteristic of community foundations is that they are highly inclusive and serve as bridge builders, creating links between different sectors. All stakeholders must be taken into account in a community foundation’s projects, governance and fundraising for it to be successful. Community residents, community-based organizations, minorities, businesses, local and national government bodies must all work together to improve a given community, and it is a Community Foundation’s goal to create the framework and goodwill for this to happen. Fundación Punta de Mita AC, founded in December of 2007, is the only Community Foundation in the state of Nayarit. It serves the entire Banderas Bay region with a special focus on the communities around Punta de Mita. Since its inception Fundación Punta de Mita has recognized the importance of creating links between the traditional communities of the region and the growing number of people from around the world flocking to live on its shores. Especially considering the enthusiasm with which many of

these newcomers show to truly integrating with the community and participating in ways to improve their quality of life.


Currently Fundaci贸n Punta de Mita supports eleven funds for community-based groups and social organizations in the area, as well as numerous projects. It is our belief that each sector of the community can, and should, contribute directly in the sustainability and improvement of the programs which benefit the community as a whole. As such, we have varying opportunities for donors, social investors, and volunteers who wish to get involved. We invite you to visit our webpage or email us at to find out about the projects, programs and organizations working hard to enrich the world around them, and how you can help them in this cause.


Burnishing Beauty: Ancestral pottery


urnishing is a traditional pottery-making technique that Ángel Santos applies to experimental shapes and designs to create award winning contemporary pieces.



Practically every indigenous culture in what is today Mexico experimented with this technique to make not only utilitarian objects, but also works of great beauty that expressed their world vision.


The states of Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, and Puebla are all famous for their burnished pottery, which combines contemporary ceramic making with a tradition dating from pre-Columbian times to create object art whose luster outshines each finished piece. Burnishing is an ancient technique associated with the primitive world, one that turns porous clay into a water resistant material, making it possible for our ancestors to store liquids and maintain their freshness when they made the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers. To remove the pores from the clay, the piece is rubbed with a hard object like a stone

By Rogelio Villarreal Negocios ProMexico

before being fired. This results in a glossy, water resistant finish that is both pleasing to the eye and that has a practical application.

some of the most famous pottery artists in the world - Nicasio Pajarito, Salvador Vásquez Carmona and Florentino Jimon Barba.

Another characteristic of burnished clay is that it is more resistant than ordinary clay. Many burnished clay pieces have been found at archaeological sites in Mexico. Scientists have analyzed them to identify the compounds and techniques that have enabled them to withstand the test of time.

When he isn’t at the potter’s wheel, Santos is busy giving conferences and workshops, helping other artisans gain exposure for their work and advising small scale potters on how to set up cooperatives to further their goals as artists and secure an income.

Ángel Santos is well versed in the art of burnishing. Santos is a prolific artist from Tonalá, Jalisco, who masterfully draws on well researched traditional techniques, while experimenting with different materials and forms to create collections that imbue this age-old craft with new meaning and help preserve it for posterity. Born in Zacatecas Ángel has lived in Tonalá since he was a child. He is one of Tonalá's most outstanding and sought after artists. Tonalá is a well-known "art" suburb of Guadalajara where Ángel keeps company with

Photo Barb Nettleton


Practically every indigenous culture in what is today Mexico experimented with this technique to make not only utilitarian objects, but also works of great beauty that expressed their world vision.

Santos has been working with his hands since the age of seven. At 17, he already had his own workshop, which continues to churn out plates, carafes, bowls, and other commonplace objects that bear the unique seal of his hands and genius. A champion of Mexican culture, the artist’s in-depth knowledge of native pottery and design stems from personal experience and his design studies at the University of Guadalajara. His pieces, large and small, have won prizes at more than 25 competitions in Mexico, participated in exhibitions abroad, and even been shown at galleries in New York.



San Diego


By Marcia Blondin


El Paso

San Antonio


Photo: Barb Nettleton

Pacific Ocean


I LOVE choices – lots of choices and, if you travel somewhere that has hundreds of choices available,like Puerto Vallarta, how could your vacation possibly go wrong? I love to be warm all the time. An Alaskan cruise is so never going to happen in my lifetime. Not if it was free and across the street. Puerto Vallarta is tropically hot and humid. Can you choose to be cool even though you are in a hot and humid place? Of course, there are fans in every restaurant, bar and hotel room. If a building has walls and a roof it is probably air conditioned. And there are swimming pools and the incredible Bay of Banderas and a dozen rivers that will chill you to the bone. So, perfect weather.


Puerto Vallarta

Play Carm

Mexico City Oaxaca

anadians travel the entire world better than a lot of other nationalities. We tend to be calmer, more open to new experiences and places. We don't allow CNN 'scare tactics' to deter us much when making decisions about where to travel to; there are tools available to ascertain where 'something bad' happened and where, normally, bad things don't happen as much. The Internet helps, maps are great find that degree of separation. And using reading materials that can actually help make a decision. So, While Mexi-Go! is in your hands, read on and learn the answer to “Why Puerto Vallarta?” for vacation.


Cancun Merida


Why choose Puerto Vallarta?


Yucatan Peninsula

Tropic of Cancer


Cabo San Lucas

I love to eat and eat well. Vallarta has for 20 years, been home to an internationally famous Gourmet Festival held every November. While that food fest is the annual highlight of the year, all those participating restaurants are open beyond the ten days of Gourmet heaven. So, if fine dining is a must – there are myriad upscale establishments waiting to spoil you like you have never been spoiled before. Expensive? Some are, oh my, yes. But – you don't HAVE to go there. Pick one or two nights and treat yourself royally – for the rest of your vacation there are far more medium-priced places to eat than you will ever get through in a lifetime of trying. And then, there is my favorite picnic ...a pack of

read, sleep, maybe listen to some tunes, be quiet, be rested. That'd be me. However the choices of things to do on vacation in Vallarta are truly endless and include surfing, sailing, swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, whale watching, releasing turtle babies, deep sea trophy fishing and parasailing. And that's just in, on and over the water. Land fun can be extreme – zip lines are everywhere, some hundreds of feet high and every Sunday, sedate dancing in the Main Plaza. Horseback riding, beach volleyball, hiking, walking tours, mountain biking, bird watching, oh, and then there's shopping. To say Vallarta is a “mecca” of shopping is to misspeak – it is far, far greater than that. We have indoor markets, outdoor ones, stalls on city streets, alleyways that open into someone's living room filled with things to buy. It would be impossible to find one square block in the entire city that didn't have something for sale within it. Not possible.

crackers, some hot sauce, a tin of tuna: total amount spent? Maybe two bucks. The food choices are endless. I love to drink. Vallarta has hundreds and maybe thousands of bars and every store it seems sells some kind of alcohol. Maybe just beer but Canadians LOVE beer, right? And while it's not exactly legal it is fine to get on a bus with a nice cold Modelo. As long as you mind your manners, wherever you are in Vallarta, you could take a beer with you. Remember you are on vacation -just don't check your brain with your luggage and you'll be fine. How to get around in Vallarta? Starting at the top – have a limousine on call with a bilingual, certified tour guide. Less pricey?, take a taxi – many of them are air conditioned or simply roll down the window and ask what the fare is before you get in. The bus system in Vallarta is fantastic! There are buses everywhere, all day and almost all night. The Mexicans will help you get to where you want to go and a goodly number of the bus drivers speak English. All of that for fifty cents. And then there is the best way to see Vallarta: walk. Just walk carefully – completely level and flat surfaces on cobblestone streets are rare if not extinct so watch yourself and it's free. There are travelers who like to do absolutely nothing for two straight weeks. Sit in the sun,

And we have Art Galleries – dozens of them – we are a very arty-type town. We have silver and gold smiths, sculptors, actors, painters, playwrights, comedians, singers, dancers: ballet, tango, folkloric and Aztecan. We have jungle perched just outside the city on the south side and desert on the northern boundaries. We have one of the finest Botanical Gardens in all of North America (in the top ten) and it's only ten years old! Butchart Gardens (also on the same list), on the other hand, has had a 115 - year head start. And then there's our zoo – quite unlike anything you will see or experience anywhere else. You can kiss a zebra after she takes a carrot right out of your hand or you can hold a baby white Siberian tiger or play on the ground with a four-month old lion. We don't have much of a dress code; our mayors don't seem to own ties or long sleeved shirts for that matter. We do have a couple of fancy events every year where a t-t-tuxedo is fine but black tie is strictly by choice. Choose Puerto Vallarta – an all-inclusive only if you must; I suggest getting out of that box and stay in town where the action is...or isn't. The choice is yours. Wherever you go in this city you are guaranteed one thing: to be warmly welcomed!


forty-five years the Riviera Maya has gone from swampy lagoon to one of the world's most dynamic vacation and retirement destinations, stretching along the Caribbean coast, there is something for everyone. Depending where you are coming from, Cancun airport is three to six hours flying from Canada. Imagine in the time it takes for many of us to commute home we could be toes in the sand, staring out to the tropical waters of the Caribbean ocean. Cancun is known for its all-inclusive resorts. Big and impersonal though in an undeniably beautiful setting, but as a starting point for exploring the Riviera Maya, Cancun is a great place to get your toes wet. From here you can escape to secluded islands, explore ancient Mayan ruins, dive the world's second largest living reef, swim in freshwater underground caves. Or if a more urban experience is what you are looking for, there is world famous dining, shopping and nightlife to enjoy. Join us as we explore the Riviera Maya.



You might think you know Cancun – 14 miles of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7" crystalline waters and sultry nights sipping on the perfect margarita, right? Well, you're both right and wrong. If this is your idea of what Cancun is all about, read on. There's so much more.

Cancun today. Built for modern tourism, luxury travel and family friendly, worry-free vacations.


he history of Cancun dates back to 1967 when the Mexican government, recognizing the importance of tourism to the country’s economic future, began a detailed search to pinpoint ideal sites for tourism development. Resting on the northeast corner of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo (keen-tah-nah-ROW), Cancun was a part of the ancient Mayan civilization and is still considered the gateway to El Mundo Maya (the Mayan World).



Cancun has the distinction of being the one Caribbean destination with the infrastructure, modern amenities (spruced up in 2006) and service philosophy to rival leisure destinations worldwide. Unlike many other parts of the Caribbean and Mexico, Cancun was built for tourism, and continues to meet the needs of its over 3.3 million annual visitors. Cancun delivers to travelers the best of many worlds: the Caribbean and Mexico; modern and ancient; action packed and laid back. Cancun is unequaled in its ability to offer cultural treasures, natural beauty, infinite activities and North American-style conveniences.


Due to its near perfect weather, natural beauty and easy accessibility from North American gateways, Cancun emerged as the government’s top candidate. What was once a remote and tiny fishing village of just 12 families was cultivated into the ideal Mexican vacation spot. It capitalized on, without compromising, the region’s natural resources. You will find Cancun’s hospitality staff to be among the best-trained in the world at leading hotel brands represented in here—from the major names in affordable accommodations such as Best Western and Holiday Inn to the very best in luxury such as Ritz-Carlton to Hilton. The landscape of Cancun encourages

IBEROSTAR Golf course and Resort, Cancun


the growth of many exotic flowers, such as flamboyances (named for the dazzling orange-red splash they make lining sidewalks and plazas) and fascinating fauna, like the prehistoric-looking iguanas. If you are a sports enthusiast, Cancun will not disappoint. It boasts great five golf courses, incredible coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, sport-fishing and jungle tours. And if lying on a white-sand beach with the clear blue Caribbean lapping at your suntanned toes is what you long for, then Cancun delivers. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in and around Cancun making it Latin American’s most important leisure destination.

CANCUN'S GOLF CHALLENGE Dozens of new courses, laid out by world-renowned designers, have put Mexico on the world golf map over the past ten years. PGA sanctioned events and American TV coverage have also helped boost Mexico’s golf credentials. Not to be left behind, Cancun has embraced golf’s popularity by undertaking a series of new resort and residential developments that rival the Caribbean’s finest golf destinations. All of Cancun courses

are open to the public. Some offer lower rates for hotel guests, while others have special twilight rates for play after 14:00. Cancun Golf Club at Pok-ta-Pok was designed by architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Quintana Roo’s first course, opened in 1976, it is set on the water in the Hotel Zone. The 6,750-yard course has Mayan ruins adjacent to the par-three third hole – allowing for a glimpse of Cancun’s ancient past and some of the world’s more unique “hazards,” in addition to two ocean-view fairways. The Hilton Cancun course, positioned along the lagoon in the southern part of the Hotel Zone, opened in 1994 and was rebuilt in 2007. The design by Isao Aoki and Pedro Guereca includes challenging sand traps (totaling 80), a unique island tee box, several water holes and a practice center. Moon Spa & Golf Club, a 7,165-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, opened in 2002 and was expanded in 2004 to include 27 holes. It is located to the south of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, along the mainland (entrance off highway 307). Golfers enjoy all-inclusive beverages and snacks while on the course. Playa Mujeres Golf Club is a par-72, 7,260-yard Greg Norman-designed course opened in 2006. The Club is distinguished by its majestic and contrasting ocean and lagoon fairways and masterfully planned design.

HOLBOX, PEACE AND BEAUTY The Holbox Island is a small piece of heaven on earth north from Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula. Only 42 kilometers long and two kilometers wide, this island is comprised of 36 kilometers of white and coral sand beach. It is considered one of the most important ecological regions of the world for being the home of a great diversity of ecosystems, apart from forming part of the Yum Balam Natural Reserve. The Holbox island is located exactly where the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea mix and they are distinguished as being the richest waters of the region which is why the marine life that habits them is plentiful and diverse. Here it is easy to find whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins; lobsters, octopus, eagle rays and sea turtles, among many other species. The Yalahau Lagoon separates the island from the mainland and here you can find more than 150 types of birds, reptiles and fish. Who is it recommendable for? Holbox is ideal for those who appreciate the nature and the tranquility of a tourist destination unique in the world. There has been great effort made to preserve the island as a virgin tourist destination, somewhat distant from the mass tourism. The low depth of its waters allows children and the elderly to enjoy swimming in its calm waters. The fishing enthusiasts come to the island from all

around the world thanks to one of the biggest tarpon habitats in the world. The lovers of the birds and the nature will be amazed by the great number of birds that live on or visit the island. Visit Tres Islas and get to know Isla Pájaros where you can appreciate flamingos, white and brown pelicans, scarlet ibis and great white egret, boat-billed herons and many more species. In Holbox you will find a great number of sites for camping, inns and bungalows, so that the backpackers will feel comfortable remaining in contact with the nature. If you like archeology, from the island you can make excursions to the ruins of Ek Balam, Chichen Itza, Tulum, Uxmal and more. Holbox Experiences If you find yourself in Holbox during the months of June and September you cannot

miss the biggest congregation of the whale shark that come to measure up to 15 meters in length. Its docility allows you to swim on the side of these giants and to live an unforgettable experience. Take a stroll in kayak through the mangrove swamps, make an ecological trip on horse or swim in the Yalahau spring, source of youth from the times of the Mayan civilization. You cannot miss on trying the fresh fish and seafood specialties of the island and eating a delicious lobster pizza, one of its most famous dishes. How to get there The easiest way is to arrive to the Cancun International Airport and from there to go in car or by bus to Chiquila, where you board the ferry to Holbox. The journey from Cancun takes approximately two and a half hours.

Defined as the “heart of the Mayan Coast”, Mahahual reminds a lot of its visitors of what the Playa del Carmen used to be some decades ago; a picturesque fisherman village that opened its doors to the tourism offering an ideal setting for the adventure as well as the relaxation. It is easy, almost inevitable, to fall under the spell of Mahahual; the blue of the Mexican Caribbean, the sea breeze and the aromas of the rainforest will lead you by the hand to an encounter with the nature that will always remain in your memories. Who is it recommendable for? If Mahahual had a second name it would be nature. This place is perfect for those who are willing to forget the crowded avenues with boutiques and restaurants and turn off their electronic devices to let themselves be surrounded by the environment; blue of the Caribbean for the eyes, sea breeze for the skin, sounds of the rainforest that captivate the ear… the charm of this site lies in the fact that there are no hotel chains, only some small hotels that go to a lot of effort to provide an excellent service and warm attention. Those who come to Mahahual travel light: Bermuda shorts, T-shirts, sun screen and

repellent. Oh, and the swimsuit always ready for the quick dip. Mahahual Experiences Scuba diving is one of the most surprising experiences that await you in Mahahual which is neighbor to the second biggest coral reef in the world. The scuba divers that come to this corner of the Mexican Caribbean will find in its waters a true paradise: sea turtles, sponges, sea horses, manatees and, of course, whimsical coral formations. This experience is not reserved only for the experts, with the help of a guide you can access these surprising submarine landscapes. Mahahual is the point of departure

for other unique experiences such as the tour of Bacalar, Magic Village, and its beautiful Laguna de los Siete Colores. You can also visit some little known archaeological areas such as Oxtankah and Chacchoben, immersed in the Quintana Roo rainforest, which represents an “immersion” in the mysteries of the Mayan civilization. How to get there You can get to Mahahual by the 307 highway, which runs through Quinata Roo and also connects the capital of the state with Cancun and Playa del Carmen. If you come from Mérida, take the federal highway 184 and after 398 kilometers you will find the heart of the Mayan Coast.




UNDERWATER SPECTACLE With an expansive coral reef system located just off the coast, the Riviera Maya is Mexico’s top destination for snorkeling. The Great Maya Reef, also called the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, extends for more than 965 km (600 miles) along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula all the way to Belize. It’s the largest coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere and the second largest in the world. The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean allow for easy viewing of the fascinating underwater world of the Riviera Maya, which is home to more than 500 species of marine life including colorful tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, tiger and whale sharks. Looking for some stellar snorkeling? The small fishing town of Puerto Morelos, located toward the northern end of the Riviera Maya just south of Cancun, is home to the Parque Nacional Arrecife Puerto Morelos (Puerto Morelos Reef Park. The close proximity of the reef system to the coast of Puerto Morelos, combined with its protected national park status, allow for some of the finest snorkeling in the entire Riviera Maya region. After you’ve spent some time exploring the coral reef, grab your mask and head for the cenotes, fresh water sinkholes created by a vast underground river system. They’re some of the most unique geological features in Mexico and there are thousands of them located throughout in the Riviera Maya. The ancient Maya believed that these sites were sacred. The surface of the cenotes is formed by fossilized coral and limestone. Natural sunlight filters into the sinkholes through small openings in the roof and reflects off the clear turquoise water and natural mineral formations giving the cenotes a magical, otherworldly feel.



he geography of Cancun and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula provides a nurturing habitat for the thousands of plant and animal species that live in this area. From colorful birds, to reptiles, to monkeys, to leopards and jaguars – nature’s beauty abounds.



Although Cancun has experienced a tremendous boom in tourism over the past 20 years, its residents have made it their mission to maintain the beauty and ecology of the land that makes the destination so unique. That is why ecotourists – travelers who have an inherent appreciation of the natural world and combine it with their love of travel – are discovering Cancun and all it has to offer.


Cancun’s resort zone has preserved areas and sanctuaries that are thriving ecologically. The enormous Laguna Nichupte borders the resort zone. It is rich with waterfowl, fish, crocodiles, shellfish, and mangrove vegetation. A unique “jungle tour” allows visitors to navigate the Lagoon’s canals in their own two-seater wave-runner, as guides point out special flora and fauna. Joggers, bicyclers, and walkers can enjoy picture perfect mornings along our seaside and lagoon side pathways. Many of the marinas in Cancun are now offering an eco-adventure through the Nichupte Lagoon they have dubbed the jungle tour. Manning your own two-person water craft, take a guided tour through the dense mangrove forests to a section of the largest coral reefs in the world where you can snorkel, sunbathe and relax before returning to the marina. Other excursions to the reefs are in glass-bottom boats, where the fish and coral can be eyed without ever getting wet. Jet skis and waverunners can be rented at most marinas for self-guided excursions on the lagoon. Water skiing is also popular on the lagoon. Several marinas will provide boats for private charter that can accommodate anywhere from two to 200 passengers.

EXPLORE THE MAYA WORLD The Yucatan Peninsula, where nature had fun creating whimsical nooks and crannies and lavish jungles, was also the home of one of the most sophisticated cultures in recorded history: the Maya. Great observers of the stars and their relationship with the cycles of the earth, detailed architects, rigorous mathematicians, exquisitely talented artists, the Maya impregnated with their mystical wisdom Mexico’s southeastern region, covering the states of Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Chiapas. In ancient times, the Maya built tall temples, with façades on which they sculpted the faces of their gods. Under their tutelage, they built harmonious cities which had systems for the conservation of rainwater and even helped to prevent flooding. They deciphered the secrets of agriculture, as well as the exact sciences. They developed highly accurate calendars to govern their daily lives, the time to sow, and even their military encounters. Yesterday’s Maya World still lives on in the remains of important cities such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal, in Yucatan; Tulum and Coba, in Quintana Roo; Calakmul and the Chenes Route, in Campeche; Palenque and Bonampak in Chiapas, and Comalcalco in Tabasco. When you visit them, you will notice the different lifestyles that were explored by the Maya, and above all, their great attachment to nature and their gods.

The Maya World has ancient roots and strong branches. Basque in its splendor, in its colors and its harmonious relationship with the natural wealth of southeastern Mexico. Come and see for yourself!

VISIT TULUM Tulum holds the honor of being the most picturesque archaeological site in the Riviera Maya and the only one to have been built overlooking the ocean. A visit here offers spectacular views of the Riviera Maya beaches, Caribbean Sea and surrounding coastal region. Tulum was an ancient Mayan fortress city that rose to power toward the end of the Classic period. The most iconic of its structures, the Castillo, is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the clear turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. The cliff-top Castillo, with its beachfront location and lush green landscape, is the image most often associated

Visitors who brave the steep climb up the highest pyramid in Mexico's Maya world reap the reward of a breathtaking vista. At more than 130 feet in height, Nohuch Mul, which means “large mound” in the Mayan language, is the tallest pyramid at Coba archaeological site and in the Yucatan Peninsula. Coba, an easy half-hour drive inland from the coastal city of Tulum, is well worth a visit.

with the Mayan Riviera. You’ve probably seen the postcards. An expansive walkway extends out around the ruins and a staircase nearby leads down to the beach where you can swim and sunbathe. Tulum is one of the few archaeological sites in Mexico where it really does make sense to bring a swimsuit. The best way to experience Tulum is to combine a tour of the ruins with some beach time—maybe even a refreshing dip. Most travelers choose to visit the ruins at Tulum on day trips and organized tours. If you’re traveling independently, you’ll find that mornings are the best and least crowded time to plan your visit. Keep in mind that Tulum is also an enchanting place to spend a few nights, so consider checking into one of the beachfront cabanas or boutique palapa hotels located near the ruins. The coastline along this southern stretch of the Riviera Maya remains relatively undeveloped. It offers a relaxed change of pace from the resort cities to the north and serves as a great base from which to explore more of the region, including the ancient Mayan ruins at nearby Coba.

In the Maya language Coba means “water stirred by wind.” The Maya flourished here between 400 and 1100 A.D. One of the largest Maya cities of the Classic period, at its peak the site stretched out over 50 miles and was home to some 50,000 inhabitants. Two small lakes nearby made it a desirable location. As you explore the site, wandering the pleasantly shady trails beneath the jungle canopy, keep your eyes and ears open for wildlife. You'll surely spot some interesting tropical birds and howler monkeys. Coba is extensive, so if you tire of walking in the jungle heat you can rent a bike or hire a tricycle pedicab and driver to pedal you around. Coba was an important trade link between the Caribbean coast and inland cities. A network of ancient roads called sacbe in Maya, which means “white road” radiates out from Coba. They are between ten and 30 feet wide and are made of limestone. The longest sacbe, 96 km (60 miles) long, connects Coba to Yaxcuna. The ancient Maya likely used the sacbe for commercial purposes but they may have also had a ritual function, though it is unclear what that might be. By all accounts the ancient Maya did not use the wheel, so it is an enigma as to why they put so much effort into building such impressive roads. After your visit to Coba, plan to stop at the Gran Cenote on the way back toward Tulum for a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water—a welcome reward indeed after the hot climb.


But the Maya World lives on beyond the stones. In these five states, you will also find the vitality of this great civilization. The Cocoa Route in Tabasco will tell you about the importance this seed had among the Maya people, and the communities in Quintana Roo will invite you to join them at their table and taste their traditional food. In Yucatan’s colonial cities, you will hear their residents speaking the Maya language, and in Chiapas, you will discover in their rituals the syncretism between the Maya and the Spanish conquistadors.






San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur


he El Encanto Inn is located down a quiet street in the heart of San Jose Del Cabo. When I pulled into the parking lot I was greeted by four cars all bearing license plates from Canada. Two from BC, one from Ontario and one all the way from Nova Scotia! El Encanto is a hacienda style boutique hotel with 28 rooms and suites. Once checked in by the friendly staff, I was lead to my second floor suite, through the gardens and past the pool. I arrived in San Jose just after a rare storm. The staff apologized profusely for the rain water, which I thought was so funny, it wasn’t an inconvenience and wasn’t anything the staff could possibly be responsible for. I have been searching for the most comfortable bed in Mexico for many years, in the past I have been close, but my search is finally over. The king sized bed at El Encanto was the most comfortable bed I have ever laid in. Once in that bed I imagined spending my holiday right there, but the warm breeze carried the scent of Jasmine from the gardens and enticed me out to the pool. Room service is provided from the fabulous Viola Restaurant located directly across the cobblestone street. I strongly recommend the grilled Calamari and Mango salad for lunch and conveniently the Baja Brewing Pub (the best microbrewery in Mexico in my opinion) is only 1/2 block away when you need that ice cold pint after a long day of exploring San Jose. El Encanto Inn is pet friendly, which was a great option for one of the Canadian couples I met who had been on an extended road trip across Mexico and were traveling with their golden retriever.


Merida, Yucatan

The room was clean and flawless, the grounds were immaculately maintained and the staff friendly and accommodating. The reception desk had a small display of jewelry from local artists and I found a great necklace for a friend, which helped lend to the overall experience of staying at this wonderful gem on the Baja.





he Casa San Angel Hotel Boutique in Merida is a beautiful family owned hotel located on a quiet corner of the historical district of town. It is with in walking distance of parks, shopping, museums, restaurants and other tourist attractions. The hotel is so beautiful the decor is traditional Mexican with beautiful colors and art throughout the building. The open air lobby is filled with trees and plants that feels like a jungle oasis. There is even two resident parrots. The owner's intention is to make her hotel feel like a home and her graciousness and wonderful staff have succeeded in that. The rooms are very comfortable and spotlessly clean, with everything you could need from comfortable beds, a hammock, wifi, foot massage machine even an old fashion shoe shine kit. You can have a swim in the pool or sit with a good book. Through out the hotel there are many couches and comfy chairs to sit and relax. The restaurant serves wonderful meals including baked goods from their in house bakery. There are two 100% Mexican crafted gift stores on site, including silk scarves, jewelry and home decor. This hotel is very charming and you cant help but feel completely relaxed and peaceful here.


Tlaquepaque, Jalisco


Mexico City, District Federal


a Roma is a historic residential neighbourhood in the throes of reinvention in the heart of Mexico City and Brick is its newest luxury boutique hotel. Declared a cultural landmark by the National Institute of Fine Arts, Brick offers carefully restored details of the original 1902 mansion with retro/modern architectural elements, putting a contemporary spin on this hip hotel.


ike a child at Christmas, the excitement of entering a new hotel never fails to thrill. Hotel Spa Casa Armonia, with its tall ceilings, tasteful Mexican flair and smile inducing use of love and life as themes for each room, did not disappoint. With the afternoon sun shining through the centre of this eight room boutique hotel, the pool was basked in a warm light, the rooms all beckoned with cozy comfort and Mexican textiles. Built in 1806 and remodeled in 2008, this charming colonial hotel offers affordable comfort in the heart of Tlaquepaque, the art district of Guadalajara. Rooms on the main floor are cool and offer respite from the Mexican heat with their thick adobe walls. Rooms on the second floor look down to the colourful pool and garden area while the wrap-around patio with its comfortable loungers encourages settling down and diving back into your novel. Located just two blocks from the centre of Tlaquepaque, this is a great spot to set down for a couple days while you explore.

With just seventeen luxuriously appointed rooms, each decorated with Mexican style and bold mid-century furniture, the rooms offer smart fresh design and a unique use of space. The gourmet mini-bar (complete with condoms and a hang-over kit), Kiehls bath products and extremely comfortable mattresses and bedding make your stay that much more enjoyable. Head downstairs to the Brasserie La Moderna for classic French cuisine or enjoy a coffee on the corner terrace of Loncheria Olivia while watching the neighbourhood pass you by. In recent years many excellent boutiques, cafes, galleries and bars have moved into the La Roma area and along with a vibrant street market offer the traveler many days and nights of exploration.

Travel down the Calle Independencia, a converted pedestrian only avenue replete with art galleries, shops and cafes. Step inside to view some of the most fabulous examples of Mexican art and craft the country has to offer including galleries of renowned sculpture Bustamante. From traditional textiles to totally modern and unique furniture, the galleries are not for the flint. Prices in Tlaquepaque reflect the high level of quality you can be assured of when shopping along the Gallery Row. Branch off into the side streets to find some artist direct pieces and prices. There are many excellent, renowned restaurants to choose from. Converted haciendas, formerly palatial homes now serve some of Mexico’s most traditional cuisine. The El Patio restaurant lures in diners with the promise of their all-female mariachi band while the traditional menu offers up savory Mexican treats. Crunchy chiliquilies and café Olla for breakfast or the strikingly proud Chile en Nogada for lunch with a fresh fruit water will send you on your way. Stop by for a drink at the "El Parian", which is famous for being the largest pub in Latin America. The daily mariachi shows and live entertainment at this “cantina” will have you laughing with the locals. At the end of the day, breeze through the alleyways and listen to the sounds of the streets around you; every building in Tlaquepaque tells a story or two.


Tlaquepaque has grown from a small colonial village on the edge of Guadalajara into a trendy neighbourhood accessorized with chic arts and crafts boutiques, posh galleries and upscale restaurants. Visitors are mesmerized by the colonial streets, plazas and impressive doorways that quietly emanate a distinctly Mexican flair.



Festival Sayulita




he second annual Festival Sayulita will be a celebration of Film, Spirits, Food, Music and Surf, hosted in one of Mexico’s most popular, laid back, beach towns. Last year’s event was a resounding success with locals and travelers alike impressed by the scale, level of organization, quality of films, flavours of the sumptuous tasting menus, and world class tequilas. Not to be outdone, the Puebla of Sayulita came through with a week of perfect weather, superb waves, amazing accommodations, and friendly, welcoming locals. This allowed ticket holders to fill their days with sun & surf, savour mouthwatering food & drink, and experience fantastic films on outdoor screens under starry night skies. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better.


By Gabriel Jones

Sayulita has evolved from a quaint surf town to a world class destination with outstanding surf while offering delectable Mexican and world cuisine. Festival Sayulita will also include pairing menus offered at Sayulita’s best restaurants and based on last year's menus, foodies of the world will rejoice at the creativity and mouthwatering flavours. “This year's tasting menus will not only feature stellar local food paired with some of Mexico’s best tequilas but also feature mescal (tequila's smoky cousin), fine Mexican wine, and delicious locally crafted beer” said Storm Richardson, festival organizer and owner of the Sayulita Public House (home of Sayulita’s best beer menu).

The festival plans to accept and screen forty films, and they had already received close to 100 entries from around the world at print time. Not only will the festival showcase fantastic films but many of the filmmakers will be in attendance to speak after their films are screened, offering insights into film making, and answer audience questions. Films will be paired with unique venues including a beach screen, outdoor amphitheater and, new this year, a drive-in, perfect for cars or golf carts (Sayulita’s favourite form of four-wheeled transportation).

The festival has added a major musical element "We have always planned Festival Sayulita to be a musical event like no other, and this year we are going to achieve that goal. Festival Sayulita 2015 is going to fill our town of Sayulita with music all week! Musical acts in the plaza every day, sweet sounds during all our culinary events, before and after films, all culminating in an all day concert featuring some of Mexico's most talented bands, plus huge international acts” said Gabbi Vilarrubia, organizer and drummer from Sayulita’s favourite Mexi-Punk band, 'Los Gatos Perdidos'.

Festival Sayulita would not be complete without a surf competition. Surf has been part of the fabric of Sayulita since the first surfers discovered the renowned waves of the then tiny fishing village thirty years ago. Whether you are surfer yourself or will be experiencing surf for the first time, checking out the competition will be reason enough to spend a day at the beach with an ice cold beverage. Visitors are encouraged to take a lesson, and catch a wave on Sayulita’s consistent, beginner friendly surf with the help of some of Mexico’s best instructors. More experienced surfers will also appreciate the variety of significant surf breaks within a short drive.

This new musical element will allow the Festival to continue to grow and to raise more money for its goal – the creation of a Centro de Transformacion - a community centre for the arts. Proceeds from this and future Festival Sayulita's will make this dream possible, with plans going forward for purchase of land. Tickets will be available in October and can be purchased through the Festival website. For more information about the Festival, the Centro de Transformacion, and even where to stay, visit the Festival’s comprehensive website at and see you in Sayulita!




Ladies: The ladies of La Mula Mil: Teddi Montes-DNA collector and documenter of Californio families, Eve Ewing-original Meling Expedition rider (1963/64),Olivia Angell, Trudi Angell, Leslie Pringle Wrrldgrrl , La Mula Mil riders. Photo by Christian Torres

Four Ladies, Four Months On Four Mules by Wendy Rains




an you imagine riding up the entire Baja Peninsula on a mule? Well, that’s what four brave ladies decided to do, inspired to re-create the same 1,000 mile trek on the little used mountain trails of the Meling Expedition over 50 years ago. Tagged as La Mula Mil, or Mule 1000, it was the brainstorm of Leslie Pringle, a Canadian journalist who approached Trudi Angell, who leads pack mule rides, among other adventures out of Loreto. As Leslie wrote in her blog, Wrrldgrrl, they had four goals: 1) to successfully re-create the Meling Expedition of 1963/64 as a 50th anniversary tribute, 2) to produce a coffee-table book of photography and stories that overlay the two expeditions, 3) to celebrate the people and the pueblos of Baja California and thereby promote tourism in Baja California Mexico, and 4) to raise awareness of and funds for their three favorite non-profit associations. Coins for Classrooms, Living Roots Baja and Mujeres del Golfo . In Leslie’s own words, her personal goals included, “wanting to be one with the land I was walking, riding, sleeping on. I wanted time to reconnect with myself.”


After much planning with fellow riders, Trudi’s daughter Olivia Angell, 24, was put in charge of the evening meals and monitoring supplies. As a Genealogist, Teddi Montes’s mission was to do some DNA testing on the families they encountered and trace their heritage back to the original Spanish settlers. She also took on the tasks of wrangling, saddling and unsaddling the animals, pitching the tents and loading the pack animals. On November 4th, 2013 in San Jose del Cabo, they began what would be a four month journey to Tecate, full of challenges, colorful stories and adventures all the way. They had a wonderful guide along, too… Don Nacho Chiapa, to help move the mules and gear. They were able to cover from 8-15 miles a day. One might think this would be a “once in a lifetime” experience, but for Eve Ewing, who rode with the original expedition 50 years ago, this was an opportunity to do it again.

lie also had her blog, and was in charge of La Mula Mil’s facebook page and photographs, so people could keep up with their progress and read their stories. One of Olivia’s early blogs tells about how they had to stuff all their food up into the mesquite trees at their campsite to keep the wild pigs from eating it all. Whoever made it to camp first, set it up. At one point Don Nacho’s mules had run off and the ladies boldly proceeded without him for a couple of days on unfamiliar trails, while he tried to round them up. They ate pretty well, with favorite dishes being chicken mole tostadas, chicken tamales and beans, and salads. The kind people from the various villages they passed through brought them fresh ingredients along the way. I believe a La Mula Mil cookbook is in the works to share their camping recipes. Route Planning: Route planning is a large part of Trudi's job. On the trail we have high quality paper topographic maps of each section. In the campo (country) we consult with local guides and ranchers to find water, feed for the animals and places to camp. In town, we co-ordinate these with Google maps in order to travel by routes that can accommodate the mules and the support vehicle. We won't have the truck for much longer but we will enjoy it while we can! Photo by Leslie Pringle. wrrldgrrl. Yellow Flowers: Photo by Leslie Pringle. Wrrldgrrl

So at 78 years old, Eve also joined them on parts of the trip. By the end of November they were in San Javier in time for the town’s annual festival with horse races and cock fights, and joined the hundreds of riders who showed up for the grand Cabalgata on December 2nd, riding from out of town up to the Mission. Even though there was very little communication with the outside world, as well as between each other when separated, Olivia kept up a blog as often as possible, and Les-

When you think about the physical trials, tribulations, and responsibilities four ladies on mules were dealing with, one might wonder how they fared emotionally. Well they were very wise in how they handled that and each other. Every Monday evening, they formed a “touch base” circle when each person expressed how they were feeling, good or bad, and worked through issues that needed solutions. It was cold, foggy, and drizzly at times, but they toughed it out, sometimes without much water for themselves or feed for their mules, which was a concern. Some friends and various researchers joined them for different parts of the journey. By mid January they were half way, and Leslie had gotten pretty sick with the flu and had to stay in San Ignacio Springs for a couple of weeks before re-joining the group. Mules were changed at times and had to be trailered back to where they came from. Trudi also told a great story about her having to hitchhike home with a bunch of mules, waiting for the right trailer to come along. It took two days!

On the road: Photo by Leslie Pringle

Even though there were some paying guests along the way, by the end of February, expenses ran higher than expected and a call went out to raise some money to keep them going, and to help pay their support team. Donors came through and they were able to finish the trip. By March 27th, the riding was over. There was a joyous reunion at Rancho Ojai in Tecate with some members of the expedition of 50 years ago, who hadn’t seen each other since.

Siesta: Girly hats.... Photo by Leslie Pringle

Why do this, you ask? Trudi and Leslie both wish for people to see that the world is not as scary as we are led to believe it is. It is their hope that humans can recognize each other’s humanity and learn to enjoy the world outside their own boundaries, both physical and emotional. Leslie said it best, “The more I go “outside” into the physical realm, the more I discover of myself “inside” in the spiritual realm.

School Kids: Leslie is with some of the kids from Rancho San Cosme a couple of hours south of Loreto. Coins For Classrooms helps keep their school well-supplied. This year they have eight young students. Some of the older kids are staying with other families in a town an hour away (Aguaverde) to attend the higher grades Guides: Alejo of San Cosme has provided mules and guides for many trips, long and short. His handmade bedroll tells its own story. Photo by Leslie Pringle.


Trudi talks about how touched she was by the back country rancheros’ and guides’ support, hospitality and generosity. Sometimes their wives would accompany them on horseback for a while. Her favorite part was when she found herself completely alone on the trail. Would she do it again? “Yes!”, she said. “I think I will wait two years, though, when I turn 62.”



By Victoria Pratt

Did they find what they were looking for? As more foreigners retire in Mexico, Bucerias real estate agent Victoria Pratt shares their stories of a new life in Banderas Bay.


would see Sue on a veritable mission in my now-adopted little town of Bucerias, criss-crossing the beach road and the gently sloping hillside that gives the town its great vantage over Banderas Bay. She admired the homes and gardens in a longing way, clearly banking design and architecture ideas on each outing. I was familiar with her custom and the obvious yearning as it was a thing I’d done myself in all parts of the Costa Vallarta over many years, until I finally “dove in” The romance of creating beautiful spaces from the roots of architecture, design and décor that has twists and turns of Spanish, Moorish and Contemporary influences, along with the reward of a climate that produces a flourishing garden before you can find the shears—these have all been extremely satisfying aspects of owning a home at what I consider the perfect latitude of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. They’re clearly a shared attraction of many who come to these parts with thoughts of sinking their feet firmly into the sand. It's a big part of what inspired my profession as a realtor—living through others’ visions of acquiring their place in the tropics and fueling their creativity in the process of making a house (or a condo) a home. I marvel at the metamorphosis that takes place. I see them regain a sense of freedom in the ease of living that largely takes place outdoors in a kind climate. I’ve seen pent-up desires let loose and abandoned lifestyles re-ignited. Some golf or fish or surf their brains out; others have taken to exhilarating kite surfing or the peacefulness of stand-up paddle boarding. Many have even taken on a new physical profile as they gradually shed pounds from beach walks, yoga, dancing and getting in lost gym time.

"The one word that encompasses everything about living here is 'festive' says author Victoria Pratt. Colour is in everything--fresh food, beautiful regalia, handicrafts, the clothes we wear, the decor. Music is all around you, festivals and cultural events are enjoyed by locals, expats and tourists alike. The happiness it brings is contagious."

The lead-up to buying a property in an international destination is different for everyone and, while much of the inspiration is common—an attraction to the culture, climate, lifestyle—the people I’ve come to know through this wonderful vocation all have a story. Some started the process well ahead of retirement, holidaying in their new abodes on longer and longer stints as their families grew and their pre-retirement allowed for it. Others were out the door and on the road, proverbially chucking it all as soon as they bid farewell to their jobs, and made the move to full-time living here.



Night and Day [Len]



music aficionado, Len, who is a retired CFO of an International accounting firm, says he can enjoy live entertainment every night at a different venue—Mariachi, rock, folk, flamenco, jazz and salsa—and the number, quality and variety of restaurants is amazing and disproportionately to what anyone would expect in these small communities. His North Shore condo is full of artwork he’s collected locally and he has a gourmet kitchen where he entertains his new-found circle of friends. It’s a beautiful complement to his Toronto harbour high-rise. Spending about five months a year for the past seven years, he says, “I’ve experienced so many more positives than I thought. I have a membership at the Flamingos golf course, which is 10 minutes from my condo, and there are another six courses within 30 minutes. I have a tremendous social life with wonderful people in my resort and I see some of them in Canada during the off-season. I go to the towns of Bucerias and La Cruz daily, to markets and shops, and enjoy the authenticity of Mexican culture, the friendliness and the feeling of being safe. Len avails himself of language training and echoes the opinion of many that there’s nothing lacking in services, especially health care.

Information Counts [Michael and Patricia]


his couple is an example of a new trend I’ve observed—as people near retirement, assess their investments, living patterns and future, they realize that downsizing at home is a natural move—perhaps keeping the cottage or a pied-à-terre or both and eliminating the big property in favor of a tropical home. In the case of Michael, the VP of Information Technology of a leading Canadian University, and Patricia, a marketing guru Ex-Calgarians, Patricia and Michael, attained a private pool, outstanding bay views, eight common pools, tennis in the same industry, they were ready to return courts and within an oceanfront resort that would cost multiple times their Mexican investment in Canada. to Vancouver, their original home, after a number of years in Calgary. They figured out three As people who are in the information indus- a visit to town was a bit of an experience, in things: the rain and cold had worn them out; try, once they satisfied a skepticism, which that we have to work to fit in with the local it was very expensive to reinvest in Vancouver; was to understand the purpose of the trust culture and language. The Mexican people and a key family member wouldn’t be there system for foreign ownership, this couple are so warm, so welcoming and very hard most of the time. Patricia’s sister was already made Mexico their main residence within a working. They are close to and love their well-entrenched in Mexico, living a dream of few months. families and want to create a better life for spending up to six months a year, practicing Avid tennis players, they would gain somethem—all traits and aspirations I believe in yoga and swimming daily while her husband thing more than they bargained, for within is one of those I describe as “golfing their the price tag—two tennis courts, eight pools, and support.” brains out”. About six years ago, sister and a spa and gym with yoga and pilates classes, While Michael finishes out an unexpected brother-in law had found the residential resort a veritable country club of services, not to contract in chillier climes…Patricia has set of Punta Esmeralda, a gated community that mention the home they purchased here up base in Mexico and holds Skype meetwas nicely joined at the hip to both Bucerias would have cost about two-and-a-half times ings from her home office that’s framed by and the marina and fishing village of La Cruz. in Canada without those extras. lush jungle foliage and overlooks the ocean. Having witnessed the quality of home, life and surroundings, Michael and Patricia thus deter- Michael says, “Our dream was pretty sim- They avidly fundraise to help those families mined Punta Esmeralda as the location that ple…warm, sunny weather in a secure envi- of which he speaks. They’ve rounded things would bring their families together for many ronment with nice people, on the ocean in a out with a small apartment in Vancouver and months of the year. place where real people lived, a place where travel to Italy in between.

VW to Mercedes [David and Barbara]


own on the south shore of Puerto Vallarta overlooking popular Los Muertos beach in the Zona Romantica, David, a lawyer, and Barbara, an HR executive from Calgary, opted for a modern, stylish condo. It’s a decided contrast to the authentic architecture of brick arches, tile roofs and stucco walls, known as

Vallartense style. And it seems, for a guy who beetled around Mexico camping in the classic VW Van about 30 years ago, he definitely took a left turn and went upscale. But there’s no doubt the 35-foot terrace gives him one of the best views of the entire bay. He blips down for weeks at a time to his refuge overlooking the sights and blue waters and telecommutes without anyone knowing the better. The client he was solving problems for earlier that day will never know that supper will be at La Palapa with sand under the feet and the always-magical sky helping the rigours of city life and a harsh climate drift away. Barbara is gearing up for more time here.

“My love and affection for Mexican culture goes back a long ways. I met my husband of 36 years in Oaxaca in 1972, I was 16 and in school in Mexico City, he was 19 and on a great adventure. Neither of us knew that six years later we'd be married to one another. When we were visiting Sayulita in 1998 we came up with the idea of buying land and building a home in Mexico in celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary—what could be more fitting than having a home in the country that brought us together! Villa Sirena in Sayulita is the home we built and enjoy sharing with family and friends who come to play in the sun and experience all the delights of coastal Mexico with us.”


Romance [Flor]


High River, Alberta couple Paddy and Bob hurried their retirement when they were seriously affected by the disastrous Alberta flood of 2013 and made the Bucerias vacation bungalow they bought their full time home. Two key renovations have made it perfect for full-time living: a new kitchen and a dipping pool. A stairway was added during pool and patio construction contemplating expansion of a rooftop terrace.

Neutralizing the colour of this Bucerias home gave it a more stately look. Vancouverites, Sue and Jack, love the arches, palapa and cupola features. Interior decor uses Mexican colour and handicrafts.

He Said, She Said. [Jack and Sue]





e in semi-retirement from a telecommunications career, she a retail manager for the largest garden center in British Columbia, I first crossed paths with Jack and Sue at a friends’ hotel where they were wintering. They first started to view properties three years before making the big decision. Jack was clearly not interested nor impressed, even to the point of a certain kind of fear—perhaps the inevitable. Jack now happily relates that: ‘My wife and I’ve been coming to this area for around twelve years. We’ve also vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Playa Del Carmen and Akumal but we like this area the best. I really didn't want to own property in Mexico, but now that we do, I’m glad we took the steps to do it. Having a house in Mexico was my wife's dream. The tipping point was that my wife was going to buy it with or without me. Once I accepted it was going to be a reality, it started to become my dream too. I feared everything about buying a house in Mexico.

As it turned out, with the help of a professional, the process went smoothly. My wife found a nice home in a great neighbourhood, close to the ocean. I enjoy interacting with the local people.’ Sue shares: ‘Forty-five years ago I first came to Puerto Vallarta and fell in love with Mexico. It was 1969 and I was nineteen years old. When the plane landed in middle of the night, a stewardess lit a lantern as we disembarked from the plane and said; "You're in Mexico now!" Over the years, when I've needed to recharge, it’s been Mexico that’s called to me. About twelve years ago my husband and I chanced to stay at a beachfront hotel in Bucerias. I woke up the first morning feeling like I’d come home. What followed were a few years of tromping the neighbourhood, checking things out. My husband didn't get it—I didn't get it—what was the attraction? We decided it was a heart thing, not a head thing. On one of our last trips down before buying I felt like I just needed a place where

I could sit down. And I did. I said, "I'm not getting up, I'm not leaving.’’ But we did leave. When I came back the next winter I saw a house on exactly the street I wanted to live on. It had some charming features and a beautiful view. We were close to retirement now and I decided it was now or never. My husband was in a state of shock and dismay; never dreaming it would actually come to this. Our offer was accepted. Here we are, retired, living in our Mexican house, enjoying new experiences, meeting new people, decorating and puttering around and, most of all, we have a place to sit down and enjoy our beautiful view.’ Six months after taking possession, Sue forced an early retirement and they decided to move to their Mexican home full time. Jack likes to point out that he’s pleased to significantly stretch his retirement dollars thanks to the cost of living here. The truth is, you’d have to drag Jack up the Pacific Crest Trail by burro to get him back to Canada.

Your total guide to Mexico. Smart. Simple. Informative. Live your dream online... REAL ESTATE







Tabasco Wet and wild


raversed by the Usumacinta, the country’s largest river, and the Grijalva, the second-largest in terms of flow, the “Eden of Southeast Mexico” supplies a third of the country’s freshwater and is home to very rich biodiversity.


Cascadas de Kolem jaa, Tabasco

Villahermosa has numerous hotel chains with programs to suit every visitor, from adrenalin junkies to those in search of peace and quiet, so quiet the only sound to be heard is the breeze rustling in the trees.


Adventure lovers can choose between rafting in the white waters of San José, abseiling down the cliff walls of the Usumacinta Canyon or a river trip through the jungle and mountains of the Meso-american Biological Corridor in a Maya-style boat. This section of the corridor borders with Guatemala and enjoys the status of a Federal Natural Protected Area.

The Promised Campeche Land of the South

Maya culture and colonial architecture

Campeche, Tabasco and Veracruz are three Mexican states that offer visitors a unique mix of past and present, luxury and adventure By Patricia Peña


he southern Mexican states of Tabasco, Veracruz and Campeche smell of rainforest, tobacco and chocolate. Mahogany floors warmed by an afternoon sun and the song of exotic birds carried on the wind create an aura of mystery and mysticism in a land that has preserved the cultural wealth of the Pre-Colombian and Colonial eras. Veracruz is the closest to Mexico City.



Its ancient port is as good a starting point as any on a tour of its archaeological sites, jungles, rivers and oceans burgeoning with coral reefs. This state combines a past rich in tradition with a cosmopolitan present. Host to international cultural, political and sporting events, its versatility bodes well for a future in which history and modernity are reconciled.


Known as the “Eden of Southeast Mexico,” a third of Mexico’s freshwater is found in Tabasco. The aorta of the state’s liquid heart is the Usumacinta River, one of the largest in America and the source of the region’s biodiversity. Campeche is famous for its archaeological sites. Edzná, Chicanná and Calakmul were once inhabited by the ancient Maya, while the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve was named a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 2002. And for those who like to sleep at one with nature and wake in a paradise on earth, many of the state’s old haciendas have been turned into boutique hotels.


ampeche has it all, from colonial forts and haciendas to Pre- Colombian archaeological sites and exclusive boutique hotels.

The jungle adventure begins at the archaeological sites of Edzná, Chicanná and Calakmul, an ancient Maya city deep in the heart of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. To date, 6,252 structures have been excavated here, making this one of the largest sites of its kind in Mexico and earning it the title of UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 2002. The influence of New Spain can be seen in the Fort of San Miguel, built between the 17th and 18th centuries to protect the city from pirate attacks. Today it houses the Archeology Museum, where you can see collections of Maya artifacts, including the beautiful jade masks discovered in the tombs of the Calakmul archaeological site. Every afternoon, a light show is projected on San Miguel’s 200-meter walls along with a narration explaining the origin of the Maya civilization and the Conquest, accounts of epic battles against pirates and the emergence of the haciendas of New Spain. Today these same haciendas have been turned into exclusive hotels like Hacienda Uayamón, a colonial-style building with high ceilings and lush gardens hemmed in by jungle, or Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a group of 17th century houses in Campeche’s Historic Center that have been renovated to include luxury, modern day amenities like a spa. Hacienda Puerta Campeche gives you a real feel for life in colonial times as you look out over the city and watch the sun set from its rooftops or take a nap in a traditional cotton hammock in your finely appointed guest room decorated with Maya-style ochre tiles.

Veracruz Where the waves come to nest


n old Mexican song goes on about how the waves, in their eternal toing and froing, come back to nest on the shores of Veracruz. A visit to the port confirms that saying. Most of the world’s major seafaring routes pass through the Gulf of Mexico but this busy port doesn’t let its economic activities disturb the calm waters. Veracruz is a natural paradise of protected coral reefs and idyllic landscapes that begin with Isla del Sacrificio and extend right up to Boca del Río and the Estero residential zone, known as Veracruz’s “Little Venice” because all of its rustic homes sit on the river or mangrove swamp. Here you can find all the world’s large hotel chains lining the tranquil beaches that stretch to Antón Lizardo and Costa Esmeralda, so called because of its turquoise-green waters and world class facilities for water sports like fishing, sailing and kayaking. Costa Esmeralda, in particular, boasts several new boutique hotels. One of them, Hotel Azúcar, is a minimalist building whose white walls provide an unexpected canvas for the intense colors of Veracruz. The kitchen serves up traditional dishes like filet of fish stuffed with seafood and torito, a fruit-based alcoholic beverage served to the rhythm of live jarocho folk music. El Azúcar and the other exclusive hotels along this stretch of coast offer palm shelters, yoga, meditation, reading, ballroom dancing and sun rooms, all with incredible ocean front views. Close by is the Ciénega state park and Tecolutla, a town dating from Pre-Colombian times whose name means “Place that worships the owl.” Water skiing, scuba diving, boat trips and mud sucker fishing are just some of the activities available, in addition to excursions to local archaeological sites like El Tajín.

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BuyPlayaNow.Com +52 1.984.801.9170 (Mexico) 1.604.288.7220 (Canada)

El Cielo is represented by: Judi Shaw, Canadian broker Living Riviera Maya Real Estate


She said/He said: Loving Living in Vallarta-Nayarit Cindy and Chris Bouchard, originally from Vancouver BC, have carved out a pretty nice lifestyle in Vallarta-Nayarit; she manages their boutique inn, Villa Amor del Mar, and he serves real estate clients.


Chris: While I didn’t exactly have to drag Cindy along, it was my crazy idea to take a sabbatical in Mexico. I was feeling a bit burntout. I needed to get off the “loco”- motive long enough to consider the next phase of my career.


Having enjoyed vacations in Vallarta-Nayarit, mostly in Bucerias, we went in July 2009 to scout out a long-term rental. A friend suggested we also consider La Cruz (de Huanacaxtle), five minutes away. We found the ideal place and returned to Canada, to plan our “getaway year”. Each pueblo (town) along the Bay (of Banderas) has a slightly different vibe and most expats will tell you their pueblo is best. We’re no different; La Cruz seems to suit Cindy and me best. It had long been a sailors’ hotspot, with its safe anchorage, and now has the fantastic new marina. And, being a traditional fishing village, La Cruz feels like a Mexican version of my hometown, Steveston, BC.

Photos courtesy of Chris and Cindy Bouchard. Top: Villa Amor del Mar. Middle: A snow Inukshuk in Steveston, BC (2010) Bottom: View of the bay of Banderas from the infinity pool. It's not much of a contest is it?

La Cruz is a live music mecca; sailors come ashore looking for a place to play. A few became land-lubbing rock & rollers, establishing a number of live music venues. We love to dance and I get to sing and play a bit. Sailing and sightseeing charters, the now famous Sunday Artisan market, the daily fresh fish market and the beautiful malecon provide many great diversions. Other pueblos along the bay, each with its own unique flavor, with gringo comforts like Starbucks, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. are mere minutes away.

Last, but certainly not least, the people of La Cruz, nationals and expats alike, are among the warmest and most welcoming we’ve ever met. Cindy here: It’s amazing to recall that I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about taking a year off and living in a foreign land. I loved my job as a self-employed interior designer. We had just built our ‘dream house’, our kids were positively awesome and we enjoyed spending time with them. And, now that they had moved out, our relationships with other empty-nesters had blossomed. All that said, Chris truly needed a break, so I ‘gave in’. A year in the land of sunshine and kindness, laying poolside or strolling the beach with the love of my life… ok, if I have to, I guess I’ll oblige… The opportunity to write, rest and beachcomb was an absolute tonic. The kindness of the Mexican people, the local community and the virtual absence of rain from November thru July was divine! To live like newlyweds was the best! Chris: While it wasn’t on the original agenda, I took an interest in local real estate. After the so-called “crisis” of 2008, savvy developers recognized that if they didn’t liquidate soon, they’d be sitting on inventory for a while. We found a beautiful new, 3BR penthouse with a panoramic view of the Bay for under $300K, (less than a 1BR condo in Metro Vancouver would cost!) We bought it to use for vacations and as a source of rental income. Decorating the condo was so much fun, shopping in the amazing, historic, Guadalajara, a scenic four hour (soon to be 2 ½ hrs) drive away. Cindy: As Chris and I worked together setting up vacation homes in the Vallarta area for investors I realized I was in heaven. Working together was a delightful new experience, especially knowing we were helping others who didn’t have the savvy or time to outfit


Cindy: As we enter our second full season, our decisions have proven right; our guests love it! As I write, Villa Amor del Mar is #1 on TripAdvisor. I get to serve others; I’m a foodie and love to cook for and with others. My favorite is our weekly dinner on the rooftop where guests get to visit each other while enjoying the meal and watching the twinkly lights and fireworks around the bay. I never imagined having a business where I only deal with happy people. Vacationing people are happy people!! Chris: With construction now complete, I’ve moved on to my next “gig”. Cindy and her team handle the day-to day operations of the inn and I get involved in business decisions and fine-tuning our processes, but that’s about it.

Chris: The Mexican people are excellent to work with, especially when I made the effort to speak some Spanish. While I’m now functionally fluent, my first words had much to do with project management and negotiation, as I learned the cultural nuances of working with locals and how to manage expectations. We joke that mañana does not necessarily mean tomorrow. It just means not today. Thus, it’s important to follow up regularly with suppliers and tradesmen, and to always have a plan B.... Cindy: The moment of truth came when we found a beachfront property that we felt would make a great boutique inn. We’d already sold a property in Vancouver to finance the condo. Question: Were we ready to sell our home, buy and renovate a huge house on the beach and start a new business that we knew little about? Answer: Nope, but life is short. I confess tears flowed as we drove away from our “dream home” in Steveston, but the tears have long since dried and we’re livin’ the dream! Chris: The old adage ‘buy the ugliest house in the best neighborhood’ certainly fit. It was a ten year old 5 bedroom villa, right on the beach. The place had fallen into disrepair and maintenance had been minimal, to say the

least. However, the location was world-class oceanfront; the view consists of sailboats at anchor, the Sierra Madres across the Bay, and the lazy traffic of yachts, paddle-boarders and fishing boats. We were hooked. After considerable research, we found the owner and made a deal. Then the project of a lifetime began! Cindy’s design expertise and my project management skills would be put to the test big-time. It’s a long story for another time, but after about a year and a half of intense effort, with great workers, lots of sweat, a few tears, many pesos, some good fortune and great support from our friends, we had converted the ugly ducking into a glorious swan. Villa Amor del Mar was open for business Cindy: The night before our first full house at what we affectionately call ‘The Inn’ I looked at Chris with fear in my eyes and asked, “What the hell are we doing? We know nothing about this business!” Chris: Okay, we knew little of the hotel business but I had no doubt we would succeed. Our secret weapon: my lovely Cindy, who lives to serve. She simply loves taking care of folks, having been the “big-sister extraordinaire” to her large family. While she certainly has helpful and capable staff, she is intimately involved in all the details of serving our guests. And, it makes her happy, which makes me happy. Early response has been a resounding and gratifying nod to Cindy’s commitment.

Cindy: To say we’re happy with our move to Mexico is an understatement; the only minor bummer is being away from loved ones. The flip side is that our loved ones now have a home away from home, here in paradise. So, we get quality-time visits when they’re here, and then regular “video visits” (thank you Skype) when they aren’t and luckily for us we get to travel to our ‘other home’ in the Pacific Northwest during the summer months. This has become one of the best chapters of our life. The choice of name for our boutique inn, Villa Amor del Mar (love by the sea) has turned out to be prophetic. Life’s good. Chris: Yup, what she said. About Chris and Cindy Cindy and Chris are fully engaged in their mission to introduce and welcome fellow Canadians and Americans to the wonderful lifestyle they have discovered in Vallarta-Nayarit. They are happy to answer any questions you may have about how you too can enjoy their "peace" of paradise.


their condos for their own and their renters’ vacation needs. The best part for me: Mexican tradesmen were eager to build my designs. In Canada anything that deviated from the (boring) norm was resisted. Here, tradesmen were eager to create and impress!

My “next gig”… having made numerous real estate purchases in our 5 years on the Bay, and having been involved in renovating numerous other properties, I’ve gained considerable experience in the world of Mexican real estate and construction. I joined a local real estate brokerage, bringing to the table my empathy and understanding of the unique needs and expectations of Canadian and American clients. I know this is weird, but I really enjoy the technical/legal/contractual process of it all. Cindy jokes that I’m at my happiest when I’m sitting with a good cup of coffee while poring over the details of an escritura (deed) or Fideicomiso (Bank Trust).




n the southwest of Mexico lies the beautiful colonial city of Merida, which is the capital of the state of Yucatan. Merida is home to extraordinary history, a vibrant culture and an ever-growing expat community.

Built on the ancient Maya site of Ichcaanziho (City of Five Hills - meaning pyramids), Merida, with a population of almost 1,000,000 is a diverse mixture of Maya, Spanish, French, British and Dutch cultures, transposed onto elaborate Spanish colonial architecture. In the early 1900’s, it was said that Merida had more millionaires than any other city on earth and from this vast wealth emerged the beauty and charm of the historic areas of the city. Somewhat isolated from the rest of Mexico, the Yucatan was able to build a unique culture that stands apart from the rest of the country. The famous Maya archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Uxmal are a rewarding day trip into the countryside. Dzibilchaltun, a less illustrious site that was inhabited for 1,000 years, is closer at hand, and the deep cenote there provides a welcome swimming escapade on a hot, sunny day. Indigenous Maya comprise 60% of the population and their presence imbues the region with authenticity, even while tourists and ex-pats from Europe and North America flock to its welcoming ambiance.

Merida is famous for the almost daily celebrations that are so much a part of the Mexican experience. From festivals, to processions, to special arts and crafts displays, there is a diversity of venues and entertainment for every interest. Many areas of Mexico have developed their own regional cuisines and the Yucatan is no exception. Allow your tastebuds a delicious adventure as you experience the beauty, diversity and excitement that is Merida. Mexi-Go! asks Gregory Hokensom, Managing Partner and Founder of Balam Group Real Estate, Merida, some questions about visiting, moving, buying or renting property in Merida or the surrounding areas.

1. WHERE IS MERIDA? Merida is located just 35km from the Gulf of Mexico, on the northwest section of the state of Yucatan, and approximate 300km from Cancun. The Yucatan is located in the southeast part of Mexico and along with the states of Quintana Roo and Campeche make up the Yucatan Peninsula. 2. HOW DO I GET TO MERIDA?



Merida has an international airport. If you are traveling from the west part of Canada the best way to get to Merida is through Houston, or Mexico City. There is one daily flight from Houston to Merida and there are several daily flights from Mexico City into Merida. The airport is located to conveniently get to the coast - about a forty-five minute drive, or to the historic centre of Merida - about twenty minute drive. If you are coming from the east coast of Canada it is best to arrive in Cancun and from there take a ADO bus into Merida. There are daily buses from Cancun to Merida, you find times on their website,


3. WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN MERIDA? Merida is a city with very rich culture. There are a lot of activities to do. There is a great symphony, art galleries, concerts, local music and dance. Merida is filled with great restaurants with a variety of cuisines. There are free cultural events, concerts and plays in the historic centre almost every week. Merida is close to the beach so you can spend the day playing in the waves or explore a number of ancient Maya archaeological sites. There is great bird watching, the Yucatan is home to some of the best bird watching in the world.

The White City of the Yucatan Gregory Hokensom answers some questions about life in this historic colonial city. 4. HOW FAR ARE THE BEACHES FROM THE CITY? WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE BEACH? Merida is located just 35km (22 miles) from the Gulf of Mexico and some of the nicest beaches in Mexico. There is a well-maintained highway to get to the beaches from the city and it is basically just a straight shot, about a forty minute drive from the heart of Merida. My favourite beach is Telchac. It is a quiet little fishing village with small seafood restaurants, (that are pet friendly), and a small fishing pier. The beach is beautiful and in really good shape. I like it because it is quiet and relaxing and it's nice to fish off the pier there. Another popular beach is Progresso. It is the largest beach town and has a large port. It has many nice beachfront restaurants; a favourite of mine is Flamingos. 5. WHAT SORT OF HEALTHCARE SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE IN MERIDA? Merida has state of the art medical care available at very reasonable cost. Star Medica, which is located in the north of the city, is easy to get to if you live on the beach. There is also Clinica de Merida, which is located closer to the centre of the city. Both are excellent hospitals that have first-rate facilities. Merida is a mecca for "medical tourism", people from all over Latin America, the USA and Canada, come here to get treated. Most doctors are fluent or very well spoken in English and some have studied and worked in the USA.

6. IS MEDICAL INSURANCE AVAILABLE? Yes there is private insurance available, as long you are under 65 and do not have serious medical conditions, the cost is very reasonable. Also, if you become a resident in Mexico, you can sign up for the social security (IMSS), which is very inexpensive and provides good care. 7. WHAT IS THE BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD FOR A CAR-LESS LIFESTYLE IN MERIDA? The best area of Merida to live in if you do not have a car is in the historic centre of the city. The historic centro of Merida is one of the largest of any city in Mexico. It is divided into various different neighbourhoods. There are buses that run on most streets and take you to almost every part of the city or to the beach. If you are thinking of living in other neighbourhoods of Merida, for example in the north, or on the beach, then I would recommend purchase or rental of a car. 8. WHAT ARE TYPICAL MONTHLY EXPENSES WE CAN EXPECT TO PAY? This is a tough question to answer, because it depends a lot on somebody's lifestyle. Tacos are inexpensive, but Merida has some of the nicest restaurants in Mexico, for example Nectar, that cost close to big city prices. But thinking of living a modest to well lifestyle and enjoying going out every now and again, and if you own your home, than with $2000


9. I WANT TO DO SOME VOLUNTEER WORK? WHERE CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT SORTS OF OPPORTUNITIES? There are a couple of foundations that have been founded by expats here already. For example, Evolution, which helps to get street dogs and cats adopted. A good source to find others, would be the English Library (http://, or also through groups on Facebook for example Mexico Amigos, there is a discussion board called, on which you can ask for information on volunteer opportunities. You will find that a great number of expats here like to volunteer their time to better the community. 10. WHAT AMENITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN MERIDA AND ON THE COAST? IS HIGH SPEED INTERNET AVAILABLE? CABLE TV? IS ELECTRICITY RELIABLE? WHAT ABOUT WATER? Cable TV is available is most parts of the city. Otherwise if you live outside the city or in some areas where it is not available than you can get satellite TV, there is SKY and Dish available. SKY has the best channel selections and you can get them in English, but Dish is less expensive. There is high speed Internet available in the city and in most nearby towns. Otherwise, you can use an antenna to get a signal for internet. There is free Wi-Fi available in most parks in Merida. There is 110 and 220 volt electricity available and it is very reliable. There is city water avail-

able in most areas, even on the coast. If you not have city water you can drill a well to 18 meters or 24 meters and the water is clean enough to bath in. Wells are fairly inexpensive to drill and do not run dry. Merida is one city in Mexico that does not have a shortage of water and the cost is very inexpensive. 11. WHAT ARE THE BEST RESOURCES FOR LEARNING MORE ABOUT LIFE IN MERIDA? The Internet is a great resource to learn about Merida. There is a website called, that has a number of great articles and lots of information about moving and living here. Also is another good resource. But, the best way is to come visit Merida. Merida is a magical city with magical people and culture; you will not regret the visit.

Thanks Greg, for sharing your wealth of knowledge of Merida and the Yucatan. GREGORY HOKENSON Managing Partner and Founder of Balam Group Real Estate. Founding Partner of Balam Group, was born in New Jersey, United States. His early work in the in his career was with major construction companies in New Jersey. He graduated from Eckerd College in 2008 with a degree in Environmental Studies. Greg has been involved in several construction projects in the city and redevelopment in the historic centre and the Yucatan Coast. He speaks fluent Spanish and has extensive knowledge in real estate in Yucatan.


to $3000 USD a month you can easily afford your expenses for social, utilities, and basic upkeep costs for a couple.



A-Z of the Buying Process Courtesy of the

1) Securing the Permiso de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE permit), which is your authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Investment to undertake the transfer. This request is made by the bank chosen to be your trustee, using information you are asked to provide including information on buyers and on the prospective alternate beneficiaries (who would become owners in your place in the event of your death).

You’ve made it this far and now you are actually going to buy this property, in Mexico. Dream come true but reality must take the front seat for a moment while we navigate the buying process as it differs considerably from what you have likely experienced in Canada or the United States.

2) Obtaining a Certificado de Libertad de Gravamen, which is a certificate that states that the property is free of liens.

TIME AND MONEY Prospective buyers, whether financing a property or paying cash, should always remember to take into account the closing costs and the amount of time a closing will take, as well as the purchase price and down payment. Typically, you will need 20% or 30% in down payment plus the estimated closing costs. Once your offer is accepted, if you’re paying cash, there are several steps (and fees) you and the closing department of your real estate agents office will need to contend with.

4) A search of the title will also be made, and a certificate obtained.

FIDEICOMISO If you are a foreigner, in order to own in the restricted zone, a Fideicomiso en Garantia must be set up. A fideicomiso is a legal trust held by a Mexican bank, that confers upon its beneficiary every single right that any Mexican owner has when they own a property (including improving, selling, renting, passing on in a will, etc.) except actually holding the legal title in their name. There is a one-time fee for trust setup, and each trust also carries an annual fee with both setup and the first installment due at the time the trust is created. Note: The "Restricted Zone" is a strip of territory 100 kilometers-wide along the borders and 50 kilometers-wide along the coast. If you don't live in the Restricted Zone, or are a Mexican citizen, a fedeicomiso is not necessary. You can title the property directly in your own name.

3) Avaluo y Deslinde. This is an appraisal of the property for tax purposes. This has nothing to do with the appraisals for loan purposes, nor with actual market value. 5) Assemble identification papers of both sides, copies of seller's ownership documents, and other materials the Notario will require in order to complete the closing. 6) A Mexican Notario, a federally appointed public records keeper, will be selected to ensure that the property transaction is properly conducted and recorded, and that all government taxes are paid and regulations are adhered to by both parties. They are not working for you, the seller, the lender or the broker. The job is complex and notarios are paid substantial fees for doing it. Though notario fees vary they cannot charge more than the maximum fees as outlined by law. The depth and responsibility of their role in your transaction is exactly why many closings take 90 days. 7) Notarios also collect and pay (without adding a surcharge) the 2% acquisition tax paid by buyer and the ISR (comparable to capital gains tax) charged to seller, and any other state or local taxes in connection with the transaction. 8) The actual signing by both parties, the trustee and, if there is lending involved, by the lending bank, takes place before the notary, who retains the original of the document permanently. The notary will then process a certified copy of the document through the county tax registry (catastro) and Public Registry (a public record of all such transactions). 9) Finally, execution of the fideicomiso must be registered before the Ministry of Foreign Investment, which issued the permit. Your trustee (a Mexican bank) is responsible for completing this step within 30 days after the title transfer has been approved. 10) Escrow and Escrow Fees – an escrow account is typically set up with instructions on how funds are to be disbursed. Mexican law does not recognize escrow accounts, so one of a select few escrow companies in the US is typically selected to handle all purchase money, receiving and transferring money as directed by the parties, by interbank transfer. Closing costs may also be handled through escrow, or in some cases deposited in "escrow." Escrow fees are paid by the buyer.



11) Title insurance is available but not required in most cases because lenders know if the sale passes muster with the Notario Publico, it is a legal sale, and the property title is not in question. Your real estate agent will be watchful on your behalf and can assist you in deciding whether or not to order a policy.


12) A US-style market appraisal will be required. 13) Loan origination fees are paid to the lender, usually direct from escrow at closing. CLOSING COSTS Closing costs generally run 4.5-5.5% of the purchase price. To aid you in calculating your potential closing costs, keep in mind that the lower the price of the home, the higher the closing percentage because most fees are fixed and added to the 2% acquisition tax. This would mean, for example, that a lot costing $60,000 will probably garner closing costs of up to 10%, while an $8million villa will run approximately 2.5%. Also remember, in Mexico it is customary that the buyer pay for everything except agent fees, which are paid by the seller.



By Gabriel Jones

How much of paradise do you want to own? Explore the easy lifestyle of fractional ownership at Grand Residences in beautiful Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya





ore and more Canadians are enjoying time spent in Mexico either during annual winter vacations or, increasingly, in the properties they have purchased. Each option has its own benefits; with vacationing providing flexibility, service, and minimal upfront costs and property ownership offering the comforts of a home away from home, an opportunity to get to know the area and your neighbours, and a return on your investment. A third (often misunderstood) option is fractional ownership which, when done right, combines the best of both of these worlds.

Puerto Morelos was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffets classic song “Margaritaville” and is still worthy of both song and good cheer.

A shining example of fractional luxury property is offered by Grand Residences by Royal Resorts®. With their fractional program you can enjoy as little as two weeks or up to 51 weeks per year, with a 100 year guaranteed trust. Enjoy the comforts of home with the ease and luxury of a vacation. When you join this fractional program you insure lasting value for generations with a plan that offers the flexibility to resell, rent, lend, or enjoy your piece of paradise as you wish. It is even possible to visit your vacation property some years and in others exchange your fraction for credit to stay at other world class properties around the world…although once you visit Grand Residences you might never want to leave.

Every business is only as good as its employees and Grand Residences which is part of the highly respected Royal Resorts family has assembled an international team of industry leading professionals dedicated to providing the best service and creating the most pleasurable vacation experience. One example is Canadian born Catherine Duda who is the Grand Residences Owner Liaison Manager and has been working with Royal Resorts for sixteen years. She explained “Our group of members includes a growing number of Canadians who appreciate Grand Residences because of the convenient flight schedules and proximity to the Cancun International Airport (only 15 min away) and the

shopping, dining, and golf (12 championship golf courses nearby) that Cancun and Playa del Carmen offer…Even more so they love the stunning natural beauty of the area, luxury of the suites, and the personalized service of Grand Residences.” Grand Residences boasts an amazing location in the heart of the Riviera Maya, nestled between the world’s second largest barrier reef and a tropical nature reserve. Located on the waterfront, only steps away from one of the area’s most beautiful beaches, it is just a short stroll down that same playa to the rustic fishing village of Puerto Morelos. Years ago Puerto Morelos was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffets classic song “Margaritaville” and it is still worthy of both song and good cheer. There you can practice your Spanish with the friendly shopkeepers while browsing for local produce and freshly caught seafood or enjoy a cocktail and a casual meal at one of several excellent beach bars and restaurants. Opened in December 2013, the 123 suites of the Grand Residences private residence club still feels brand new. The lobby is stunning and flows into impeccably kept grounds with tropical gardens planted with native trees and shrubs and lots of lush green space. The architecture is inspired by the haciendas or


classic Mexican estate houses of the colonial era. The residences overlook the white sand beach and beautiful clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the courtyard and four swimming pools. Other amenities include a fantastic restaurant, café, several bars, a spa, fitness centre, and tennis courts. Providing exceptional service, the well trained staff includes full service concierge and optional butler, catering, and private chef services.

“This is our retreat which we look forward to every year, and enjoying all the comforts of home. We love that it is located directly in front of a beautiful beach with a private pool and hot tub. The staff are reallyfriendly and helpful and the service standard far exceeded any other places we have been, including Asia where service standard is high”, says, Canadian Grand Residence (and longtime Royal Resorts) owners, Angela and Nicholas Lau. “Royal Resorts have done an excellent job in entertaining its owners, with opportunities to meet each other at events such as group cocktail hour and Catamaran trips. And through those, we have made friends with our neighbours and look forward to seeing these same owners every year. It is very much the feel of a residential community, which we feel fortunate to be part of.” This feeling of community, getting to know

your neighbors, and seeing them year after year is just another reason why owners look forward to returning to Grand Residences. However fractional programs also offer the benefits of renting your suite in the event that you or your friends and family won’t be using it. This rental option was considered in the flexible design of the suites. Most units offer the option via separate entrances to lock off a portion of the home, allowing for increased privacy when traveling in a group, the option to stay in part of the home while renting the other or to rent your suite as two or more

units separately. A tribute to the beauty of the property and the high standards of service throughout, Grand Residences is currently ranked # 1 in the Trip Advisor list of 450 hotels in the Riviera Maya. Grand Residences truly does offer the best of both worlds combining the luxury and great service of a five-star hotel with the comforts of home. For more information or to book a vacation at the property to experience it for yourself contact


Suites at Grand Residences are designed to feel like homes…they offer a variety of floor plans ranging from two, three and four-bedroom residences that are up to fifty percent larger than similar vacation apartments. Quality is evident throughout with gourmet kitchens featuring upscale appliances and granite counter tops, large living/dining areas with state of the art entertainment systems, spacious bedrooms with signature bedding, luxurious bathrooms with soaker Jacuzzi tubs and beautiful outdoor spaces.



By Judi Shaw

I Loved It So Much I Bought One Myself As a Canadian real estate agent living in Playa del Carmen full time since 2003, I have some really great stories to tell. This article is one of those great stories; my transition from Downtown Diva to Gated Community Camper. You can imagine after seventeen years of living in the mountains of Whistler, when I arrived in Playa del Carmen, I was amazed by the flat terrain, and undeveloped spaces, white sand beaches and the warm and inviting blue, blue ocean. Coming from a booming Whistler and Vancouver real estate market I was shocked by the low prices. Between then and now, I have seen the real estate market go through some tremendous growth and changes. The really good (and bad) real estate opportunities usually cross my desk and although I cannot act on all of them, sometimes there is one that stands out. One day in March of this year there was such a compelling opportunity presented to me, I realized this is one I have to act on. On that day in March, as usual, I stepped out to walk my dogs. I live only five blocks to the beach and in this moment it dawned on me that my quiet part of town had become a busy, cosmopolitan neighbourhood. Lovely but gone were the empty spaces and quiet stretches of white sand beach replaced with cafes, condos and tourists.



When I got to the office and opened my computer one of my agents had sent me an email that said, “Look what Cesar can do for our Canadian clients!” After examining her email, I concluded I would be crazy not to jump on the opportunity. I decided I would build my own home.


Cesar Perez, developer of Hacienda del Rio in El Cielo, Playa del Carmen was offering to build a home of 1350 sq ft on a private 3000 sq ft lot with a private pool, lawn, irrigation, all interior lights and beautiful custom wood finishes for only $175,000USD. Hacienda del Rio is an intimate grouping of home sites and condos that share a winding river and club house, in a gated community. Designed with traditional Mexican architecture in warm rich colours, the idea is to choose your own home site, and your own floor plan. Then they customize your home to your taste.

On April 3rd, I selected my lot, signed the purchase contract and the construction contract with the builder - Cesar Perez. In May, only one month later, we broke ground. The construction seems like it is going really fast, certainly not on Mexican time. No “manana” in the life of this builder. Every home in Hacienda del Rio has a hand carved marble sink, double size, uses traditional stylings but modern technology. I chose from one of several designs offered by Cesar, with a few modifications to fit my lifestyle. Looking to add something unique to my home we also added a striking hand built rock wall using natural stone from the ground. This rock wall has caused the most lively discussions between Cesar and I. Who knew a rock wall would ever be so important? It tells a whole story. Hours of discussion about the type of stone and size and quality and positioning has revealed more about me and my preferences to Cesar and his crew than most of my friends would have ever known. While we had our challenges over the essence of this rock wall, I have been amazed at how Cesar and his workers strive to get it right. Aside from the wall, there have been the decisions about appliances, fans, hot water tanks, kitchen layout, electrical contact distribution, type of sinks, size and height of counters in kitchen and bath, color of the marble sink and much more.

This week in August saw the installation of the floor, marble, and already the kitchen is coming together with custom built cupboards and drawers. The assistance I have received from the builder has been immeasurable because this is the first home I have built and his advice has helped to guide my decisions. Next big decision is what color to have for my polished cement counter tops in the kitchen? Another big decision looming in the horizon is the colour of the exterior of house and what style to paint? Do I use of hand ragging like the old hacienda technique or full flat color? Fortunately Cesar will do samples for me. Like all things in life there have been some downs with the ups. Some of the mistakes I made in the design phase became apparent only once the walls and roof were in. The workers have had to move cement block walls to fit in a bathtub; I have had to ask them to tear down a cement wall to increase the size of master bedroom, rip out an exterior terrace wall to put in iron fencing; walls have had holes punched in them for windows where none were conceived of previously. I know perfect when I see it! Through all of this relatively painless process, I remain enthralled with the creation of this house I will soon call home. Move in ready in November, just in time for family and friends to visit!

Live in Paradise







Starting at $ 245,000 US DLLS








Starting at $ 145,000 US DLLS



Starting at $ 233,000 US DLLS

Phone: 011 52 (984) 803•5010 • Phone: 011 52 (984) 803•5021 Cell: 011 52 (984) 116•4861 • Cell: 011 52 (984) 151•9595 •



When you compare dollar for dollar what you can purchase in Canada versus what you can buy in Mexico, it makes the decision to retire in Mexico, even part-time, a whole lot easier. Whether you are looking to make a lateral move or you want to downsize and extend your retirement dollars a little farther, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We have found typical listings in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia to compare with similar listings in the Mexico... In our opinion, there is no comparison! Viva Mexico! *These listings come directly from and are active as of August 31st, 2014




What are you looking for? Something close to the heart of Cabo San Lucas? Or something that is a half hour drive to a store that sells snow-shovels?


300-400k You could consider a trailer park in Fort MacMurray as your ideal getaway, or maybe take a look at a two bedroom condo in downtown Puerto Vallarta that will generate rental income when you are away from paradise.

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California

Moosehorn, Manitoba

MLS ID: 1413017

This is a must see Pedregal condo with great views; private, super cozy & sold fully furnished. A close 1/2 mile walk to the sizzle of downtown Cabo yet its location within the development is prime & very calming in a world of its own. The owner is also willing to finance the purchase! One of the BEST vacation properties in the (Beverly Hills of Cabo) ''The Pedregal'' Cabo's #1 address! Enjoy the organic market year round twice weekly just steps outside the Pedregal security entrance! Agent: Brandon James Byrne

Well, we have to be honest. This actually looks like a pretty nice house and a heck of a deal at only $205,000. Nicely treed and landscaped two acre lot with outbuildings large garden and flower beds. Country kitchen with oak cabinets and large eating area. Living room features bow window, and spacious entrance. Sounds too good to be true. So what’s the catch? Well, for starters it’s located about seven miles north-west of the town of Moosehorn, MB and Moosehorn is located about 100 miles from nowhere and only has two seasons, mosquitoes and snow.


Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Fabulous Fort McMurray, Alberta

MLS ID: FM0043073

If you would prefer swimming in your roof top pool in Puerto Vallarta instead of shoveling snow in Fort MacMurray maybe consider the best beachfront location in the heart of the Romantic Zone.

We found this perfect starter home or investment opportunity. It is a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom mobile home built in 1976 and located in Gregoire Park; considered one of the nicer trailer parks in the Mac. It has tons of updates such as newer windows - newer windows! Comes with some spiffy recycling bins and think of all the cardio you will get from exercising in the outdoor gym, and by outdoor gym we mean the driveway, which you will be shoveling eight months of the year.

This attractive and spacious Mexican style property has two bedrooms two baths and a large sunny terrace overlooking the famous Los Muertos Beach. Enjoy spectacular sunsets every glorious day. Short walking distance to: restaurants, galleries, farmers market and all activities. Steps away from all points of Old Town! Agent: Roberto Flores


All this and a large yard to go with it.

If you are spending over $400,000 you should get exactly what you want. So consider this? Do you want a 900 sq ft condo steps to a bus stop? Or do you want to live in a beautiful home set in the amazing countryside in San Miguel de Allende?

San Miguel De Allende, Guanajato

Vancouver, British Columbia

MLS V1069429

Built with every detail in mind from the indoor outdoor living room area to the spacious kitchen where you will be able to enjoy a quiet cup of tea or entertain your many friends. There are plenty of original features including vaulted ceilings, old train track beams and original wrought iron designs that sit organically against the natural landscape of Rancho Los Labradores. “Bill and Debbie´s Home” sits on a great cul-desac with immediate access to the ranch’s facilities, which include communal gardens, pools filled with local thermal waters, Tennis courts, and a club house with a gym. The home is split in a way that the master bedroom is in a separate wing of the home allowing you and your guest’s complete privacy. Meet them later for a cocktail in the bright courtyard while you sit around the fire pit with the view of the stars that only country living can afford you.

if you want to spend over $400,000 and get vs. So, just over 900 square feet then we have got a beauty for you. Comes with newer roof and paint, (yes, newer paint!) and only an extra $200 dollars a month in maintenance fees. Newer paint and $200 a month in maintenance fees? Sounds good. They will even let you have a small pet - how nice of them.

DREAM HOME SEARCH For more property listings for sale and rent in Mexico visit:

Agent: Eric Chazaro




Learn more!

Join Mexi-Go! this fall in Calgary and Vancouver to learn more about buying real estate in Mexico

SEMINARS! What is a Real Estate Vacation?

What sort of benefits do I get?

Experience Mexico with Mexi-Go!

What better way to decide if a property is the right one for you than actually living within it for an extended period of time?

Each developer will provide you with different benefits if you choose to purchase their property. From furniture packages, to free flights and more we ensure you get the best deal for your property.


With a real estate vacation we provide you with all the comforts of home in a seven or ten day stay. You commit to a property tour with a sales team member. Nothing pushy. We know you will come to a decision based on the quality of the property and your circumstances. It is our goal to make sure you have the most enjoyable real estate process possible.

Is this a timeshare thing? No. Not at all. In fact most of the developments we represent are fractional or full-ownership only. If you are interested in timeshare options we can make those available to you but, all our properties are vetted and are approved by Mexi-Go!

Sounds great! How do

How much does this cost? I become a member?



Membership is free. You pay for your flights and the discounted vacation - often times significantly discounted. If you purchase while on your Real Estate Vacation, your travel costs will be reimbursed*.


Register online at and we will keep you informed about new developments, excellent real estate opportunities and special incentives negotiated only for our membership!

$499 a week

LOS CABOS HUATULCO PLAYA DEL CARMEN PUERTO VALLARTA *Some conditions apply. See the individual Real Estate Vacation for specific details, terms and conditions. Subject to change without notice.

Learn more about your liĆ’e in Mexico

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7 nights all-inclusive plus flights to Nuevo Vallarta See contest details online at

Discover your Mexican dream property. Learn from the experts. Engage with local realtors and developers. One day only Mexi-Go! brings you dozens of properties, experts and information on how to realize your dream of a tropical retirement. Mexi-Go! Real Estate Vacations proudly promotes: One part real estate, one part vacation - a total escape. No pressure, no obligation; Real Estate Vacations gives you membership benefits, discounted Mexican vacations and expert advice.












Meeting People Below are lists of important words and useful phrases. IMPORTANT WORDS






¿Cómo se llama usted? What's your name?



Sí yes




por favor




muchas gracias

thanks a lot


excuse me



hasta luego

see you later


come in


sit down


say it again









el amigo

friend (male)

la amiga

friend (f)

Me llamo (María). My name is (Maria). Mucho gusto. Pleased to meet you. ¿De dónde es usted? Where are you from? Soy de (Nueva York) I'm from (New York). ¿Habla inglés? Do you speak English? Hablo un poco de español. I speak a little Spanish. ¿Cómo se dice ... en español? How do you say ... in Spanish? ¿Qué significa ... ? What does ... mean? ¿Cómo se pronuncia esta palabra? How do you pronounce this word?



A new Concept of Luxury Beach Living Discover the Grand Residences experience. Spacious, elegant residences on one of the Mexican Caribbean’s finest beaches where you can unwind with family and friends while enjoying endless indulgences, world-class resort amenities and services. Your home away from home in paradise is waiting for you with incredible vacation memories.

• Award-winning private residence club • Two, three or four bedroom residences with ocean views and outdoor terraces • Top-shelf appliances and furnishings • Some residences have private plunge pools and rooftop terraces • World-class resort amenities and activities • Gracious living and timeless hospitality Learn more about our Experiential Package.

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