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Real Estate | Living | Travel | Retirement ISSUE 1 VOL 2 WINTER 2012

$50 Pesos | $4.95

Learn the truth about life in Mexico from people who live there

Your total guide to Mexico. Smart. Simple. Informative. Live your dream online... Rea l E s tat e







Mexi Go!


Madeline Milne


Moralea Milne

Asst to the Editor Valeska Guerrero

madeline milne Editor-in-Chief, Art Director


PETER LUCIANO, MA, ND Contributor, Living Healthy and Well in Mexico

Madeline continues to work

Moralea lives in Metchosin

Peter retired to Ajijic, Mexico

with many of the world’s largest

BC where she is an elected

real estate brands promoting quality communication. Mexi-


Art Director

Madeline Milne

Brad Hopwood


Moralea Milne

Madeline Milne

following a career as a

Allison MacDonald

councillor, respected volunteer

management consultant,

Michele Kinnon

for local environmental groups

healthcare executive, and

Linda Neil

Go! is a dream and passion of

and frequent contributor to

hospital CEO. He is a Doctor of

hers that has enabled her to

the local paper. When the rain

Naturopathy and Board Certified

Aaron Fisher

live with her family full-time

and wind get to be too much,

in therapeutic massage and

Peter Luciano

in Mexico. When she’s not

Moralea heads to Mexico,

bodywork. His current focus is

exploring new parts of Mexico,

where she finds pleasure in

on promoting healthy lifestyles,

you can find Madeline under

the unique flora and fauna, the

honing his culinary skills and


Barb Nettleton

her palapa, poolside, with a

beaches and the highlands and

learning acting. Having witnessed

Joel Hansen

good book and her posse of

in the warmth and comfort of

and experienced the rejuvenating

Roger St. Pierre

chihuahuas. She divides her

the Mexican culture, food and

effects of living in Mexico, Peter


is passionate about discovering


time between Vancouver, BC

Mexico’s secrets for healthy living

and Mexico.

as well as access to traditional and alternative medicine.

Gabriel Jones

Maxwell Hansen-Milne

Advertising AND SALES Garth Watson, Sales Director Gabriel Jones (Riviera Nayarit) Greg Luff (Puerto Penasco

Aaron Fisher Contributor, Thinking about retiring in Florida or Arizona

Michele KINNON Contributor, Educating your children in Mexico

A family man, Aaron started living

Michele Kinnon moved to

in Mexico in 2000 escaping the

Playa del Carmen in 2004 with

cold, Canadian winters. Aaron’s

her husband Rob and their

strengths are land development,

young children. She writes

marketing and education based

a local interest blog, www.

sales and have earned him the, about

role of Project Manager for the

living in Playa del Carmen, raising

Royal Club Real Estate event.

and educating children in Mexico,

regional community concerns and issues, and Playa del Carmen real estate opportunities.

6 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Linda Neil Contributor, Buying Real Estate in Coastal or Border Areas With more than 33 years of professional real estate experience in Mexico, Linda is the founder of The Settlement Company, which specializes in real estate transfers, escrows and consultations. As Founding Member and past president

Joel Hansen, Business Development MARKETING AND PR Veronica Rivas CONTACT US! In Canada & USA 1-888-798-MEXI In Mexico 01-800-681-9232

of AMPI-Los Cabos, Linda Neil provides experienced and professional services across Mexico. Mexi-Go! is published quarterly by Mexi-Go Properties Inc. Copyright (2012)

Cam MacIntosh Contributor, Buy - Rent - Sell

Gabriel Jones Contributor,Tequila!

Cam McIntosh CA, CPA, CFP

Gabriel was raised in the

is based out of Calgary and

Canadian Prairies, enduring

has focused his expertise on

endless winters and rejoicing in

Canadians working/retiring

the short but sweet summers.

outside Canada for almost 25

Last year he and his wife Wendy

years. For the last 12 years

made a leap of faith and moved

Cam has done seminars across

from Vancouver to Sayulita,

Canada and Mexico helping

Mexico for a one year test drive.

Canadians with all of their tax

Greeted by friendly people,

and financial issues. His web

great food and drink, an active

site is and

outdoor lifestyle and feeling

email address is mcintosh@

that each day is an adventure; for any of your

they love their new lives. So


much so that they have decided to extend for another year.

Discover MEXICO Affordable Luxury Homes | Tropical Gardens Perfect Climate | Romantic Village Charm Come Join 10,000 Canadians Who Make Ajijic Their Home Trudie Nelson - Your Canadian Realtor

On the Cover

Barb Nettleton Photographer

Allison macdonald Contributor, Mazatlan

Retired from physiotherapy

Nova Scotia native Allison

Barba has been an active volunteer over the years at Harbourfront International Festival of Authors, PEN Canada, and Writers Trust in her hometown of Toronto. She is married to Frank, has a horse

MacDonald fell in love with Mazatlan’s history and culture back in 2010. This past year, Mazatlan returned the love by awarding her a Golden Deer Award as Canadian Travel Writer of the Year.

named Flash (who for the last 11 years does very special work teaching at risk youth how to ride), 2 grown-up boys, a dog and a cat. Barbara comes back

Guanajuato, Guanajuato Mexico Photo, Courtesy of Roger St-Pierre, Š 2011.

to Mexico every year, camera in hand! 7

Features Real estate

TRAVEL 14 Educating your kids in Mexico Part Dos. As if moving isn’t stressful enough, how to navigate the Mexican school system. By Michele Kinnon

17 Buy - Rent _ Sell



Sage advice from a Canadian tax expert on whether you owe taxes on your Mexican property and to whom. By Cam MacIntosh


Are Canadians Targets in Mexico?



While crime in Mexico is a reality, the truth is often exagerated or not the reality in the media today. By Madeline Milne

22 Living Healthy and Well Dr. Peter Luciano shares his secret of weight loss success in Mexico. By Dr. Peter Luciano, ND



26 Turtle Love The Olive and Kemp’s Ridley Turtles are making a comeback along Mexico’s coastlines. By Moralea Milne

8 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012 9

Features Real estate

TRAVEL 30 Tasting tequila A long way from the fire water of your early twenties, Tequila is coming of age. By Gabriel Jones

36 Guanajuato



World heritage site and architectural gem, Guanajuato city has something to offer the intrepid traveler. By Sabrina Wang

40 Fabulous Places to Stay Restored haciendas, beachfront palapas and colonial homes. By Madeline Milne



44 Nature’s Refuge One of the most important ecological enviroments in all of Mexico can be found in San Blas, Nayarit. By Linda Ayeres



50 Luffin’ Life in Puerto Penasco After making the move from Canada five years ago, Greg Luff and his family are still loving their decision to move to Puerto Penasco. By Greg Luff

10 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

canada vs. mexico

WHAT CAN I BUY IN MEXICO? When you compare what you can have in Canada to what you can buy in Mexico, it makes the decision to retire in Mexico, even part-time, a whole lot easier. Property values in Mexico have faced significant reductions for the past three years and deals abound! Whether you are looking to make a move up to the oceanfront mansion, make a lateral move, or downsize and extend your retirement dollars a little farther, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Here is a selection of listings from our website and In our opinion, this just makes sense! Viva Mexico!

under $500k

under $700k

puerto vallarta, jalisco $ 439,000 3013sf | 4 bedroom 4 bath

Manzanillo, Sinaloa 4500sf | 2 bedroom 2.5 bath

UNDER $500k

Edmonton Alberta 1238sf | 4 bedroom 2 bath

$ 659,000

$ 409,000

YORKTON SASKatchewan 1601sf | 4 bed 3 bath

$ 625,000

under $400k


Calgary alberta 818sf | 2 bedroom 1 bath

Cabo San Lucas, BCS 1550sf | 3 bedroom 2 bath

$ 166,000

under $300k

UNDER $700k

under $400k

Ajijic, Jalisco 4300sf | 3 bedroom 2 bath

under $200k

vancouver bC 688sf | 1 bedroom 1 bath


under $100k


HUAMANTLA, tlaxcala 972sf | 1 bedroom 1 bath

$85,000 11

contact us! Do you have comments? A story to share? Have you made the move to Mexico and want to let us know how great its been? Share your wisdom with us! By all means - send us an email - we’d love to hear from you!

Hola! It’s been an entire year since we started this endeavour to bring a little bit of Mexico into the homes of Canadians and by all accounts it’s been a great success. With each passing day we receive more and more support from our readers across Canada. Hi Dave! It has been a year of many changes including packing our bags and actually moving to Mexico. We changed careers, schools, hairdressers and much, much more. Things we thought we needed back in Canada we find we can live without down here. I’ve stopped asking my guests to bring me Twizzlers and now we make do with honey roasted pecans! Mexico has its challenges to be sure but the simple pleasures we find in visiting a beautiful beach, seeing the whales breaching in the ocean, the perfect fish taco seem to make the bad days... better days. During the past six months, I have had the pleasure of traveling around many parts of this diverse country and each place offers something unique and wonderful. Mexico City is gorgeous with its wide, tree-lined boulevards and amazing selection of food. Merida is stunning with its colonial architecture and the history of the Mayan people, that can be found everywhere. The beaches of Playa del Carmen never disappoint and the shopping in Guadalajara is credit card depleting! With each adventure we find new and wonderful places, people and information, and it is our pleasure to share all of this with you. Mexico is warm, caring and safe. I wouldn’t have moved my son here if I didn’t belive this and I wouldn’t encourage you to come and visit this country if I didn’t know that it has so much to offer. If you have any questions or concerns about coming to our adopted country, please contact me. I’d be happy to share my enthusism with you.

Safe travels, Madeline

Pyramid of the Magician. Uxmal, Yucatan 600-900AD

atan ida Yuc otel. r e M , e a Misn utiful h Haciend it is now a bea d, Restore


etropolita 67 Catedral M 15 to ck ba g Datin d largest is the oldest an in Mexico City ica. er l of Latin Am cathedral in al 12 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

On the bea ch in Sis al, Yucata nothing and no o ne for mil n there is tranquil es. It is p ity. ure


Charity Coalition There are many, many ways to give back in Mexico City. Originally concieved by long-term Mexico City resident and Canadian, Francesca D’Agata, Charity Coalition works with twelve local charities to arrange fundraising events that directly help children and adults with medical conditions, the elderly, adolescent mothers and their babies, orphans, needy and poor people and abandoned animals. Combining resources and events, Charity Coalition ensures that the donor community doesn’t face fatigue in the face of so much need.

A unique way to give back

This past summer, Luz, an artisan and resident of Bucerias, Nayarit, invited a group of adventurous travelers from Alberta into her home to show them step-by-step how she prepares handmade tamales that she sells to her friends and neighbors in town. True to tradition, she also showed the group how she makes atole de coco, a Mexican hot drink made of coconut and cornflour and the perfect complement to mouthwatering chicken and poblano chile tamales. At the end of the tour, the group left with their hearts as full as their stomachs because their tour fees provided Luz with an interest-free loan that
 will help her to grow her business.
 “This is a unique experience and a great way to meet local people working to improve their family’s lives,” said Neil Braun, one of the travelers from Alberta. “It was well worth taking a couple of hours from my vacation and experience an opportunity to help a family work towards realizing their dreams and goals.”

 Investours, a local non-profit organization, takes travelers off the beaten path to meet locals and support artisans in the charming small towns surrounding the Bay of Banderas. In addition to visiting inspiring women like Luz, Investours visits artisans who make other traditional products like piñatas, dresses and ceviche. Tours run every Thursday and depart from Puerto Vallarta. Hotel pickup can also be arranged. For more information, visit or contact Program Director, Elly Rohrer at 13

enough to have a progressive and forward thinking school administration who can accommodate your child’s travels, there are any number of excellent accredited online learning programs available for you to choose from. This way, when you return to Canada, your children will be able to re-matriculate without worry of being behind or worse, being held back. If you want them to learn a bit of the language, you could find a local tutor to work with you and your family for a few hours a week. Another option is to enroll your children in a local extracurricular sports or arts program. This way they can make some friends and pick up the language in a hands-on situation without the pressures of academic achievement. The language of futbol (soccer) is universal! If you are planning to stay in Mexico from six months to a year, you may also want to consider enrolling your child in a local private school in addition to their at-home studies. Many private schools make special accommodations for transient families and welcome visiting students into their classrooms on a temporary basis. Keep in mind that this may not be a viable option for all children at all ages.

Educating your kids in Mexico Part II

By Michele Kinnon


efore you decide the best way to educate your children in Mexico, there are some important factors to first take into consideration. Most Canadians making the move to Mexico already have a desired destination in mind. Many have traveled to Mexico before and fallen in love with a particular region, although some families may be coming to Mexico to work for a corporation and have no flexibility in regard to their new home city. Taking this into consideration, the educational choices for your children will be limited by geography. The good news is that because Mexican families place a great value on education, in any reasonably sized metropolitan area you will find quite a few choices. The more diverse the population in the area you have chosen, the more diverse the schools will be.
 How long do you plan to stay in Mexico? Are you intending this move to be permanent or are you thinking of staying a few years or maybe just a few months? The length of your stay should impact your decision on how and where your children will be educated during this time. If you are planning to stay forever, or at least for the duration of their pre-college education, and it important to you that your children become properly immersed in the culture of their new home country, then you will want to enroll them in private school and encourage them to assimilate as quickly as possible. You will most likely have a variety of schools to investigate before you chose the one that is best for your child. Perhaps you are lucky enough to take a sabbatical from work and have decided to spend a few of the colder months south of the border. Should you enroll your child in school during the duration of your stay? Will you child benefit from the experience, if only for a short time? In situations such as this, parents have several options to consider. If you are only planning to be in Mexico for a few months or perhaps a year your child’s school will most likely be able to arrange a study from abroad program so that your child can keep up with the school work and be up to speed when he or she returns home. If you are not fortunate

14 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

How old are your children? In Mexico, children are welcome in school from the age of two . At this tender age they are in a classroom for a few hours a day. I think it goes without saying that the younger your child is, the easier it will be for him or her to adjust and thrive in any new situation. Young children make friends quickly and pick up new languages with enviable speed and ease. Foreign students are welcome to matriculate at any time in their educational career. Older children may find the experience frustrating and cause them to withdraw or act out. You may need to steel your reserve to handle tearful and sometimes angry outbursts during the transition. High school age children, unless they have a strong grasp of the Spanish language, both verbal and written, will be lost in most classes. Without the ability to communicate, they will likely have a hard time fitting into a typical high school social scene. It is not an impossible prospect but the accredited home-school and online programs may be the best options for your freshman and sophomore students moving to Mexico. Assuming your teens are planning to attend university in Canada or the United States, they will be focused on SAT prep and maintaining a good GPA. Every effort should be taken to not disrupt their efforts. For high school juniors and seniors, this kind of extended stay requires serious consideration. Students involved in competitive sports cannot hope to be awarded athletic scholarships if they are absent for part, or all, of their high school career. Students looking forward to advanced placement (A.P.) or other specialized classes may be penalized by college admissions committees if they cannot show that their studies abroad were equally rigorous and challenging. Perhaps most importantly, teens expect these years to be filled with SATs, sports, college applications and proms. You may want to investigate the possibility of leaving your older teens behind with family or a trusted friend to finish out their school days and graduate with their friends. How do you choose the right school for your family? Once you have taken into consideration the length of your stay and the specific needs of your children how do you find the best school for your family’s needs? If you are lucky, you may find a school in Mexico that is similar to the one your children are leaving behind. Schools in Mexico vary greatly just as they do in Canada and the United States. Some have remarkable campuses filled with state of the art equipment utilizing all the latest technologies. Others are small, child centric and arts oriented.

Some boast well funded competitive sports teams and arts programs while others offer no extracurricular activities at all. Depending on your chosen location and the diversity of the local demographic, you may be surprised to find a nice variety of educational methodologies and philosophies to consider. Montessori, Waldorf, Piaget, International Baccalaureate (I.B.) and parochial (generally Roman Catholic) schools can be found in all of the larger cities in Mexico. Even the second and third tier metropolitan areas will have a dozen or more schools for you to consider. How do you go about choosing the right one? Your search begins at home. Chances are, if you have settled on a destination, you have already done a significant amount of online research about your new hometown. You should begin your search for a school in Mexico before you leave Canada! Message boards and forums geared toward English or French speaking visitors and residents will be an excellent resource for you as you plan your move. Here you will be able to find Canadian families, like yourself, who have already made the transition and will be happy to share their experiences with you. Prepare your documents. You or the company sponsoring you will have to make contact with an immigration lawyer to prepare the documentation you will need to acquire your residency and work visas. If you intend to enroll your child in school there are certain items that will be required by the school and by SEP. Minimally, you will need your child’s original birth certificate or an official copy with the raised seal. You will need an up to date vaccination record and a certificate of good health from your pediatrician. Finally, you will need to request an authorized copy of your child’s school records in their entirety. Some schools may require that all of these documents be translated and “apostiled”, a time consuming process that should not be left to the last minute. Even if you intend to homeschool your children, having this process done before you leave will save you a lot of headaches should you change your strategy later on. Make contact with all of the schools on your list. Using the school websites available to you, make contact via email with each of the schools’ administrators. This is no time to try out your Spanish skills. If you are looking for a school with a strong English program to support your English speaking children, you should expect a reply from an English speaking representative of the school. If there is no one able to communicate with you in English, this will be the strongest indicator of the school’s commitment to English language education.

Set up interviews and campus tours. During your next trip to your new hometown in Mexico you will want to visit each of the schools on your list. Arrange for an interview with the Head of School or an English speaking representative. These preliminary visits should be done without your child present. Come prepared with a list of questions that pertain to your child’s scholastic needs and unique interests as well as the educational philosophy that your family follows. Take a tour of the school and spend time in a classroom if you can, preferably with the class your child would be entering. If your child is active in a particular sport or artistic pursuit, make sure to keep that in mind. You may be disappointed or pleasantly surprised by the classroom resources and campus facilities. Look around at the student body. Is it a multicultural group? Do the children seem happy and engaged? How does the school make you feel? Take detailed notes but try to reserve judgment until you have seen all of the schools on your list.
 Narrow down your list and arrange a visit with your child. By now, you will have a pretty good idea of which schools you feel may be most appropriate for your child and your family. Arrange an interview for your child with the school admissions officers and ask if your child can sit in on a few classes. Not all schools will require an examination for admittance but you should be prepared for that. This is not something your child should study for or worry about. In Mexico, children are generally placed in classrooms by age. Even if your eight-year-old child has the Spanish skills of a toddler, he or she can expect to be placed with students of the same age. Experience has proven that children will catch up faster and more easily in a classroom with their peers. Writer’s remarks: One of the most difficult adjustments I had to make as a mother when I enrolled my children in school here in Playa del Carmen came due to my expectation of what my interaction with teachers and administrators would or should be. As a hands-on parent, it was important for me to find a school where I could easily and regularly check in with my children’s teachers even just for a quick chat before dashing off to our next activity. In many of the schools this was not encouraged. In some, it was downright impossible. Be sure you confirm what your level of access to the campus and to the teachers will be. In the beginning especially, I wanted to get to know the teachers and have them get to know me and to understand that I wanted to be involved in the process of educating my kids. I needed to make sure they knew that I was a part of the team and that even though language was somewhat of a barrier, I would make the effort. If you get the feeling that a school is creating obstacles, either literal or figural, between you and the people with whom your children will spend their days, find another school. 15

Retire to Mexico

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16 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

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tax implications

Buy – Rent – Sell Tax Implications in Canada and Mexico By Cam McIntosh CA, CPA, CFP


hese words are some of the most important words involved in Real Estate and there is a ton of expertise available to the prospective purchaser in order to make informed choices. But a topic that is forgotten are the SILENT PARTNERS that every Canadian Resident (snowbird) has when purchasing their dream property in Mexico. Those silent partners are the Mexican and Canadian tax authorities. So let’s examine this relationship with your silent partners and your responsibilities to them. As a Canadian resident, the onus is on you to report world income and foreign holdings annually in your tax filing. So let’s deal with each one of those words in the heading and its interaction with your silent partners and your respective tax obligations. On the BUY side, if you plan to use your recreation property only for personal use and possibly allowing family and friends to use it without any monies changing hands then you have no need to report incomes, or report the foreign property to Canada. The same is true according to the Mexican authorities since you have no rental operations, again there is no need to do annual filing with them either. So the tax authorities have no interest in you.

On the RENT side, this is where both tax authorities have a big interest in you. Again, Canadian residents are obligated to report all incomes worldwide annually. But with that rent revenue you can

deduct any expenses associated with the rental operation. The Mexican authorities also have the same obligations as Canada for income sourced in Mexico, such as rental income and expenses and a Mexican tax return has to be filed annually. If your property creates a profit after expenses, you will be paying an income tax to Mexico, and when you report this rental profit on your Canadian tax return, you can claim a foreign tax credit for the taxes paid to Mexico. So there is no double taxation. Also, in Canada, if your share of the property exceeds $100,000 CDN, then you have to inform CRA in your tax return annually that you have this property. Penalties for not doing so are rather large, and it is not a big item to report. The flip of this is a rental loss. You can use this loss in Canada against other incomes as a deduction. On the Mexican side, if you have a loss, you are still obligated to file annually but no tax will be due. On the SELL side, both tax authorities have a huge interest in the sale of the property whether it was for personal use or rental. As the property is not your principal residence, the sale is treated the same as any Canadian based rental or recreational property. There is a capital gain (hopefully), the capital gain tax will be due firstly to Mexico, and the Notarios will do the calculations and present you with a tax bill. When this sale is reported to Canada, as any other capital property sale, you will be able to report a foreign tax credit for the taxes already paid in Mexico. So no double taxation again, and everyone is happy, except for the taxpayer. Conversely, if a capital loss takes place, no tax needs to be paid to Mexico and you have a capital loss to use against other capital gains for the Canadian tax filing. If one deals honestly with the silent partners, the taxation is not onerous and you can sleep at night knowing that you are on the right side of the tax law. 17

Buying real Estate

Bucerias, Nayarit is very popular with Canadians and Americans with as many as 3000 part-time residents, most of whom will have bought using a Bank Trust or Mexican corporation.

Buying Real Estate in Coastal or Border Areas of Mexico

By Linda Neil, A.B.R. Laws regulating ownership of real estate in Mexico are different from those in other parts of the world largely due to Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which prohibits foreigners from owning residential real estate within 30 miles (50 km.) of any coastline or 60 miles (100 km.) of either border. These areas are known as the “restricted” zones. To allow foreigners to purchase vacation or retirement homes in these zones, and bring in much needed dollars, the Mexican bank trust, or fideicomiso, was established in 1973. The trust places legal title in the name of a Mexican bank under a permit from the Secretary of Foreign Relations, so the bank may administrate the property on behalf of the buyer/beneficiary, who enjoys the same rights of ownership as does a Mexican national. A permit to establish a trust can be obtained for a period of 50 years and then renewed. In other words, a trust established in 2003 will expire in 2053. In the sale of a property with an existing trust, the seller may assign the rights so that the buyer can enjoy the term established in the original trust. The cost for the permit and record in the foreign investment registry is currently about $1,450 dollars and bank trust administration fees generally range from $200 dollars to $750 dollars annually. There are other expenses involved in the acquisition of a property, and it is wise to request a written estimate prior to beginning the transfer process.

18 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

The Mexican corporation as a vehicle for acquisition of “restricted” property: Under the 1993 Foreign Investment Law, a corporation established in Mexico is considered Mexican under the law, even if all shareholders are foreign. Thus a Mexican corporation with 100% foreign ownership can acquire property in the restricted zone. This applies only to non-residential property: a hotel, restaurant or other type of business. It is a violation of the foreign investment law to place a retirement or vacation home in the name of a Mexican corporation, and generally it is more costly due to taxes on corporate assets. Title investigations and the Public Registry: Title, whether through direct ownership or a trust, must be registered in order to give notice to third parties as to the interest of the property. A certificate obtained from the local Public Registry will, in addition, provide information as to encumbrances on title. Title insurance is now available through both Mexican and U.S. companies and should be considered an absolute must. There is no licensing law for real estate or escrow agents in Mexico and regulation of attorneys is virtually nonexistent. A foreigner considering the purchase of property in Mexico should consider the following guidelines: • Carefully select your real estate broker. Confirm that the agent you are considering is an active member of the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI). AMPI members operate under a code of ethics, and are affiliated with the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Canadian Association of Realtors (CREA). Check with others who have dealt with the broker. • Be wary of Ejidal property. More than 50% of all land in Mexico is Ejidal (e-HEEdal), or communal land, meaning it is government property at the service of a community, much like Indian lands in the

in the deed at the time of original purchase. Thus a seller may end up paying a hefty capital gains tax on a fictitious book value. Better to declare it correctly at the beginning than be stuck with unwelcome taxes when it is later sold. • Insist that title, whether through direct ownership or a trust, be recorded in the local Public Registry. Some attorneys in Mexico still insist this is not necessary. This is an error! Should a lien attach, correctly or incorrectly, to the trusted property, no beneficiary may transfer his rights to the property unless they have been registered in his name prior to the attachment of a lien. • Select a neutral third party to handle the transfer of your title. Escrow companies operate under Articles 193 to 208 of the Mexican Commercial Code, and perform services as neutral third parties and/ or consultants in the transfer of titles. Since there is no licensing for these companies either, it is prudent to insist on references and an examination of track records in much the same way you would in selecting the realtor representing you. United States and Canada. Certain provisions in the law now allow Ejidos to be converted into private property, but until the conversion process is complete, it may be risky. • Confirm the value to be registered in your deed is the full amount you paid. In many communities it is customary to use an appraised value, rather than full value, as the basis for cost. Since appraisal values can often be 40% to 60% of true commercial value, the buyer will save money at the onset in both acquisition taxes (2% of declared value) and property taxes. Nonetheless, using a value less than full purchase price is illegal and can be costly when selling, since the capital gains tax paid on the sale will be based on the value declared

• Spend the money necessary to research and obtain a valid transfer of title. Closing costs can range from 3% to 20% of property value. A less expensive property will cost more, percentage-wise, to transfer, with the percentage decreasing as the price increases. To protect your investment, it is of utmost importance to budget money for a correct transfer. • Insist upon a binding arbitration clause. Lawsuits can be costly and time consuming. It is far less expensive for the parties to agree ahead of time to resolve any possible dispute through binding arbitration.

Thinking about retiring in Florida or Arizona -Think again!

By Aaron Fisher With close to 15 million Canadian baby boomers retiring over the next fifteen years, there has been a huge trend to retire somewhere where life will be easy and warm. Many Canadians are looking for an agreeable climate in which to spend the sunset years of their lives. With so many places to retire worldwide, one can become dizzy with the availability of options. Of course there is the obvious concept of taking advantage of the cheap US housing market by purchasing a home someplace like Florida or Arizona. With housing prices starting as low as $50,000 USD, it’s easy to be lured into the idea of a good deal. Canadians are picking up these distresses sales in hordes but a word of caution, BUYER BEWARE. Most Canadians go down to Arizona with the intention of picking up a winter home, and will stay there for 6 months a year. The average Canadian doesn’t realize that spending 6 months a year can qualify you as a permanent resident of the US, and without proper documentation, would constitute an illegal act. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a funny way of measuring the time you spend in the US, it’s called the Substantial Presence test and here’s how it works: The IRS uses a formula that spans 3 years to decide if you will be considered a US resident for tax purposes. If you take all of the days you are present during the current year and add 1/3 of the days you were present the previous year, plus 1/6 of the days you were present two years ago and the total is 183 or above, you will be considered a resident for tax purposes. The following is a little example to illustrate this scenario. If you were physically present 120 days/ year for the past 3 years, you would add all of the days of your current year, 120 days; plus, 1/3 of the days from the previous year, 40 days; plus, 1/6 of the days for 2 years previous, 20 days. A total of 180 days, only three days below the qualifying mark to be considered a US resident for tax purposes. Basically, Canadians spending more than 4 months a year in the US are in jeopardy of committing an illegal act on US soil. Millions of foreigners continue to spend 6 months a year thinking that they are within the guideline of the law when in fact they are in direct violation of the IRS’s guidelines and potentially liable for back taxes that would also put their Canadian assets at risk from the IRS.

120 days 40 days +20 days 180 DAYS

For more information visit: international/article/0,,id=96352,00.html

20 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Are Canadians targets in Mexico? By Madeline Milne


ow safe is Mexico? In the face of today’s ever more sensationalized media reporting, it’s tough to know where the truth lies in all the numbers being passed around like a joint at a house party in Nelson, BC. “Mexico?! They target Canadians and murder them - you know?!” said my next door neighbour shortly before I was leaving on a much anticipated trip down south. “I guess it’s lucky for me I often pass as Mexican or Mediterranean”, I replied somewhat sarcastically. I mean, really?! What exactly does a Canadian look like? Can they tell us apart from everyone else, because of all our maple leaf tattoos? According to most major media outlets in Canada, Mexico is rife with murderers and criminals, all intent on doing harm to the tourists that are crazy enough to set foot in this country. The crimes perpetrated are newsworthy, but much like describing a suspected criminal by their race, the fact that they take place in Mexico is often irrelevant to the situation at hand. Why is the media intent on this portrayal? Some of the motivation is to sell more newspapers, but we must also consider the fact that with the start of the Baby Boomers retiring and planning their exodus to warmer shores, Canada and the United States stand to lose trillions of dollars to the more affordable and hospitable destinations of Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia, Ecuador etc. etc. For those of us who have already made the move or regularly travel to Mexico we recognize the sensationalized news as full of misinformation and missing information, context and common sense. The generalizations often suggest that Canadians are specific targets of crime, violence and murder. Is this an effort to deter us from taking our wealth out of the country? Mexico has become more violent in the last six years, and this is directly correlated to the drug trade and the ongoing efforts of the Mexican governments to put a stop to the drug cartels. And yes, some of this violence has affected tourist destinations. However, the violence in the tourist areas is mainly street crime or situations of wrong place – wrong time. According to the latest Mexican government report, close to 95 per cent of all homicides related to organized crime in Mexico take place in 80 municipalities – out of a

total of 2,400 – meaning that most of Mexico actually retains a lower homicide rate that most other countries in the Latin American. Major destinations such as Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Zhijuatanejo, Puerto Escondido, all enjoy safe, peaceful times with a murder rate of about 0 per 100,000 visits. Let alone the complete rarity of a Canadian being targeted and killed in one of these areas. It just doesn’t happen. The extreme violence around its border with the United States colours people’s view of the rest of the country. Overall Mexico has a rate of 18 murders per 100,000. But these numbers are skewed based on a the average of a couple of extremely violent areas in the country. A third of Mexico’s states hover around 5 murders per 100,000, about the same rate as the United States. Another third are around 8 per 100,000, similar to Thailand, for instance. A handful of states have rates in the teens and a couple are in the low twenties, a little lower than Brazil’s average. Then you have the chaos of four very violent states, which sends the average soaring. Of the 80 municipalities that amount for 95% of the drug related violence, most are positioned along the US border and in the state of Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon. What? You’ve never heard of those places? Exactly. You should always exercise caution in unfamiliar surroundings and refrain from having anything to do with the illegal drug culture. But, this applies to any place you might visit including, Abbotsford, Edmonton and Thunder Bay or Washington DC, New Orleans and Orlando. Yes, Orlando. “The episodes of violence are in very specific pockets,” says Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, “and are unrelated to tourism.” Anecdotally, I can assure you that those targeted for (street) crime tend to be flashy tourists with expensive jewelry, cameras and wallets bulging with cash. Some of them might be Canadians but they are also just as likely to be Americans, Mexicans, Spaniards, British, Australians and the occasional Italian. But more to the point is that while there is crime in Mexico, it is no more rampant than other resort destinations around the world and in many cases it is much safer. Even safer than places in our beloved Canada. As an example of how little danger there is for Canadians in Mexico consider this, in 2009, Canadians made more than 1.4 million trips to Mexico, according to figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. That year, 14 Canadians were assaulted and three killed in Mexico. Statistically, that equates to 1.2 incidents of death or violent assault for every 100,000 Canadian travelers to Mexico that year. That number is lower then our own national average for murders only. As is indicated by the increasing number of visits made by Canadians to Mexico each year, the media onslaught is not necessarily working to deter Canadians from visiting and we have to ask ourselves (and our next-door neighbours) just what it is that has us so scared of Mexico? Before you go canceling your next vacation be sure to talk to your friends and family who regularly travel. I’m sure the overwhelming response would be “What are you waiting for? Pack your bags! Mexico is safe.”


But Mexico is not a place. It is a bunch of places, and some of them are safer than places in Canada. Stephen Maher, Postmedia News THE NUMBERS Caribbean and LATIN AMERICA (2010)*

Murder rate per 100,000














Murder rate per 100,000


Murder rate per 100,000







Los Cabos


Thunder Bay


Puerto Escondido


Washington DC


San Miguel de Allende


New Orleans


Puerto Vallarta




Mexico City


A look at 10 popular travel destinations and the five-year average of the number of Canadians assaulted or killed while visiting.** Country India South Africa Jamaica Russia Mexico Dominican Republic Cuba Italy United Kingdom United States Worldwide

Incidents per 100,000 visits 7.5 5 3.6 3.2 2.1 1.6 1.5 0.8 0.3 0.03 0.5

*United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. ** Statistics Canada # US Census Bureau $ 21

Living healthy & well in Mexico by Dr. Peter R. Luciano ND

Eavesdrop and you’ll frequently hear newcomers to the lakeside community of Ajijic, Mexico ask, “Where are all the ‘balloon’ people?” Of course, they’re referring to the unfortunate description used around the world to describe North Americans who are all too often obese, if not morbidly obese and sickly. Look around and you will see they are right. In Ajijic, folks in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s appear spry, trim, fit and vigorous in numbers not typically seen elsewhere. Why? Theories abound: only the healthy relocate here, it’s the perfect climate, all the walking people do, the readily available fresh foods, the freedom from stress, the active lifestyle and on and on. Frankly, from a scientific point of view the answer is not readily known. But, for one segment of the Ajijic population the answer is crystal clear and supported by data – they are the HCG diet group. Moving to Ajijic, I felt the need to change my life and took on the challenge of this diet to excellent results! Not familiar with the HCG diet? It is a natural, safe, medically supervised regimen consisting of daily intake of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and a temporary, 23 day or 40 day, low calorie diet. HCG is taken daily either orally or subcutaneously by injection. Much more detail is available at the web site www.ajijichcg.wordpress. com, but suffice it to say the compound HCG triggers the body to burn approximately 2000 calories a day from stored fat resulting in a weight loss of one-half to one pound per day when combined with the restricted calorie diet. HCG also normalizes and resets the hypothalamus to adjust to the new, lower set point resulting from the weight loss. As a result, the lifetime success rate for the HCG protocol is 60% to 70% - NOT the 5% typical of most other diets. Results worldwide are impressive, but results in Ajijic are spectacular. World-wide, the average weight loss on the three-week program is seven to 14 pounds. However, among Ajijic’s 300+ participants to date, the average weight loss for three-weeks is 14 to 20 pounds and for the 40 day program the average weight loss is 27 pounds. And, the program may be repeated for additional weight loss. For example, I lost a total of 56 pounds and 5 pant sizes in three rounds. This is a typical result. A local PhD nutritionist and diagnostician tested the program herself and lost 36 pounds in two rounds of the diet. A restaurateur and his wife did the program together and lost 32 pounds each in their first round. One lady active in the local theater didn’t need to lose weight, but was guided through a related “reshaping” program with a normal calorie intake and she lost 14 ½ inches in unwanted post-menopausal fat in her arms, thighs, hips and waist. The benefits of the HCG diet go far beyond weight loss and reshaping. Frequently, participants including myself, are able to significantly reduce and even eliminate maintenance medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and adult onset diabetes and have relieved symptoms of decades-old asthma, joint pain, sinus problems and more.

22 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

isn’t boiled chicken and lettuce! Recipes include “mocktails”, appetizers, salads, entrees and even desserts that you would be proud to serve your non-dieting dinner guests. As an example, a recent class menu celebrating regional cuisine featured North African Fish Chowder with Prawn Garni, Cucumber and Onion Salad with Dill Vinaigrette, Savory Moroccan Filet of Beef, Strawberry Sorbet and Minted Green Tea.

A weekly support group meeting. This isn’t a weight watching group – no public weigh-in please! Instead it is an informational session where program participants support each other with tips and encouragement. It has a lay facilitator available to offer basic education on the diet. These meetings are entirely optional. Several area restaurants such as Go, Tango and Gossips and others will prepare meals compliant with the HCG protocol upon request. Also, a local burger joint, 60’s in Paradise, takes a detour and offers an HCG menu with a to-go option in addition to their regular fare. Okay, so it’s a little hard to look at the onion rings and milk shakes at the next table. But, it builds character in addition to weight loss!

The final, and perhaps most important, difference in Ajijic is a physician dedicated to the success of the program participants. Dr. Juan Aceves - http:// (physician and microbiologist) is readily available to any participant to help them adjust to the program, review medical progress regarding weight related maladies, and conduct frequent progress check-ups. Having witnessed and experienced the rejuvenating effects of living in Mexico, Peter is passionate about discovering Mexico’s secrets for healthy living. If you’d like more information on life in Ajijic, the HCG Diet or just to say hello, email

Given the limited “pallet” of food items on the restricted calorie portion of the program a potential complaint is boredom with the food choices. To remedy this, the program’s website offers numerous savory recipes submitted by myself and others. I enojyed it so much that I now offer one-on-one and small group cooking classes with the goal of making the limited selection savory and delicious. This

So the next time you see one of those spry, fit folks bopping about the lakeside, you may say to yourself, “I know your secret!” If they are in the HCG diet group, you will certainly be right. And, if you want to say as they do, “I feel great and better than I’ve felt in years!” join them in an adventure in health and rediscover what an active lifestyle can feel like again.

And yes; the climate, the walking, the fresh food, the freedom from stress and the active lifestyle no doubt help. 23


These results beg the question, “Why are the results in Ajijic so optimal?” The answer appears to be the combination of the following resources available to HCG dieters in Ajijic in addition to the HCG and diet itself:


Your journey to the Fountain of Youth

weekend facelifts, cosmetic dentistry, sclerotherapy for varicose veins, Lasik eye surgery procedures, and a weight management program are also offered. All the doctors and their staff are highly trained, English speaking, experts in their respective fields. The process is very easy and nearly painless! First, a consultation with the specialist and a physical is scheduled. Then, a personalized plan will be developed for you outlining your preop, your surgery in a private clinic and complete after care.

Medical vacations offer Canadians affordable and safe opportunities in Mexico

The Plaza Montana pre-op program includes massages, hypnosis and meditation sessions that will relax and ease you through the anticipation of surgery. Guests are surrounded with people who understand and are there to help you through the process.

By Judy Lynne Does that image in the mirror look older than you feel? As we all know, there isn’t any magic pill or fountain that can make you twenty again, but you can reap the benefits of state-of-the- artprocedures to turn back the clock.

Surgeries are performed in Guadalajara in a well appointed, premier clinic. You will be accompanied to Guadalajara by Anne or one of her staff. They will make sure you are comfortable and will interact with the clinic’s highly trained staff to make sure you have everything you need. The morning after the procedure, you will be driven back to Plaza la Montana Health and Beauty Center for a well-planned recovery.

Why choose Mexico for your surgery? Mexico is one of the foremost countries for medical tourism. The quality of the medical care is first rate with many professionals certified by the American Medical Association and the prices are 50 to 70% less than they are in Canada. The caring, personalized service is just part of the reason to consider Mexico for your transformation.

The first day after surgery, the registered nurse and the staff at Casita Montana B&B will visit you frequently; pamper you with ice packs, compresses, as well as endless supplies of herbal tea. Your doctor will visit to check on your recovery and to remove your stitches.

Your transformation starts at Plaza la Montana Health and Beauty Center in Ajijic, Jalisco just 45 minutes from Guadalajara and its world class facilities. At the comfortable facilities, the caring staff are with you every step of the way. Anne Dyer, medical director of Plaza La Montana Health & Beauty Center, is personally involved to ensure that all of the guests are well taken care of as you proceed from the preparation phase, through the actual procedure and during the after care. Located within Plaza la Montana are the offices of several health providers including two of the top Board Certified plastic surgeons in Mexico. Facelifts for men and women, breast augmentation and tummy tucks are just a few of the many procedures offered. Botox, peels,

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From top to bottom: Ajijic is on the shores of Lake Chapala and enjoys the world’s best climate. The Casita Montana Gardens offer quiet privacy while you recover. Your recovery will be comfortable and relaxing in the tastefully decorated Casita La Montana.

Healing normally takes place very quickly with little pain or bruising. As your healing progresses, you will be able to eat your meals in the dining room or the Happiness Garden, enjoy mild exercise and relaxation. Go ahead, do something for yourself. You will emerge from the experience transformed, like the butterfly, radiant and beautiful! For more information contact Anne Dyer at or email

Transform your look, Transform your life.

From start to finish Plaza La Montana and their team does it all!

Dr. Ben Villaran

Dr. Manuel Jimenez

Dr. Alberto Don

Anne Dyer

Fully involved in every aspect of his patients’ surgery, including pre and post surgical care, Dr. Villaran is board certified by the Mexican Council of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Villaran has a 27 year career in institutional reconstructive surgery. He has been in private practice for over 33 years, moving from general “head to toe” plastic surgery into specializing in esthetic and cosmetic surgery for the aging. A few of his specialties are: • Facial Rejuvenation • Facelift, Eyelift, Neck • Liposuction, Liposculpture • Breast Lift • Breast Augmentation • Tummy Tuck

Dr. Jimenez has spent the last thirty years helping his patients realize their dreams of looking younger. Today, Dr. Jimenez is using his training and experience providing consultations and surgeries to his clients in Ajijic and those from around the world. He still provides his talents to facial trauma and hand surgery patients as well as specializing in:

With over 33 years experience in General Dentistry, Dr. Don loves working with the expatriates because he feels they understand the need for regular dental care and appreciate his work in correction of their functional and cosmetic dental problems. Doctor Don believes in making the science of dentistry as painless as possible. He specializes in:

Owner and Medical Director of Plaza La Montana

• • •

• • •

• • • • • •

Facial Rejuvenation Facelift, Eyelift Breast augmentation breast lift and reduction Body Contouring Tummy Tuck Liposculpture Arm lift Peals and Injectables Botox

• • •

General Dentistry. Root Canal Therapy. Cosmetics Restorations with Biologic Compatible Materials. Bridges, Partials and Dentures. Implants Effective, cutting edge whitening system.

I can’t make enough good comments about my cosmetic surgeon, the clinic, or the care and kindness I received at Casita Montana. I am very happy with the outcome! Jill, Canada

After caring for my patients during their cosmetic surgery experiences over the years, I decided it was my turn to sip from the Fountain Of Youth. I definitely wanted to look and feel better about myself, but I also wanted to understand the overall procedure and experience from the patient’s point of view. • Superior medical facilities and world-class board certified surgeons • In-house consultations with top cosmetic surgeons, dentists and other medical specialists • Safe, comfortable environment with internet, phone, TV • Post-Surgery care in your quiet, private room with an English speaking staff • All meals and personal assistance from caring individuals.

View more testimonals and details at

Call us from the US or Canada: 1-918-895-4089 Within Mexico: 01-376-766-5513

Turtle Love By Moralea Milne Photos by Barb Nettleton and Madeline Milne


Some species will complete this cycle several times over the breeding season. Despite laying large quantities of eggs, it’s estimated that only one percent of baby turtles will reach maturity.

Marine turtles spend most of their lives in the ocean, some traveling thousands of miles crisscrossing the globe while others cruise within miles of the shore and into lagoons. However, all the females, and only the females, return to land to reproduce. Like salmon species, they have developed an ability to return to their natal habitats where they first clawed their way out of their sand incubators and headed into their lives on the high seas. One theory for this remarkable ability is that they might have a metallic mineral in their brain which orients them to the Earth’s magnetic field.

The leatherback is the only species in its’ family and it is unlike all other turtles. Instead of a hard shell (carapace), it has a leathery skin overlaying a mosaic of bony plates. It is the largest of all sea turtles, one specimen was found that weighed 907 kilos (2,000 lbs), was three metres in length and was estimated to be 100 years old. Unfortunately it had become entangled in fishing gear and drowned. Leatherbacks have a remarkable ability to dive to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) depth and they can wander far, one was tracked from Indonesia to Oregon. All this on their diet of jellyfish and other soft-bodied sea creatures.

Except for the Kemp’s Ridley turtle, they all approach their preferred beach at night, slowly making their way above the high tide mark. There they will scoop out a depression and deposit fifty to two hundred round, ping pong-like eggs, which they then bury with sand. Their parental contribution finished, they head back to the ocean.

The Green, sometimes known as the black in the East Pacific, is the second largest sea turtle. It is a vegetarian, grazing on sea grasses and marine plant life. By grazing on sea grass beds, it helps to maintain the health of these habitats, which are nurseries for many marine species. The Centro Ecologico Akumel, not far from Playa del Carmen is a

exico’s warm ocean waters teem with life, and, six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles, all of which have been declared endangered.

26 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

conservation centre that helps protect both green and loggerhead turtles. The Kemp’s Ridley, the smallest and the only one of Mexico’s sea turtles found only in the Caribbean, is the most critically endangered of all sea turtles. Down to a low of about 200 nests in the 1980’s, 12,000 were counted in 2006. The main nesting area in Mexico is the protected Rancho Nuevo in Tamaulipas. Like the closely related Olive Ridley, the females appear on the beaches in huge numbers called arribadas.


Since the early 1990’s Mexico has shown leadership in protecting sea turtles, outlawing the harvest of sea turtles and creating protected areas and conservation centres. There are a number of places you can visit in Mexico in order to view all the species of sea turtles as well as participate in a small or large way in their preservation. There are volunteer opportunities, baby turtle release programs and of course, financial assistance is always welcome.

Olive Ridley’s (also known as Golfina) are the most abundant sea turtle in Mexican waters, coming ashore en masse to nest; there can be hundreds of females on one beach. Despite their relative abundance, this species has declined by 50% since the 1960’s and tens of thousands of them drown every year in shrimp trawling nets. They are omnivores, eating shellfish, jellies, algae and fish, although red crabs are preferred. You can find them near Todos Santos, Baja, at the Tortugueros Las Playitas, at Playa Escobilla near Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, at Centro Ecologico de Cuyutlán, Colima and at the privately run Estrella del Mar, Mazatlan.

Mexican authorities recorded a total of 42.2 million olive ridley, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle births during the 2010-2011 nesting season, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat said. “The nesting figure for the latest season is up (compared to the previous season), and therefore the conclusion can be drawn that the population is on the road to recovery.”

The loggerhead, weighing 90-180 kg and growing to 1.2 m in length, feeds on shellfish and other hard shelled prey. As it travels throughout the world’s oceans its shell can be festooned with barnacles and sea plants, hitchhiking a ride to new destinations. In 1996, “Adelita”, a female loggerhead was tracked from Baja to Japan, providing new information on turtle migrations and movements. Hawksbills are considered critically endangered after experiencing an 80% decline in their numbers from over harvesting. They have a beautifully coloured and patterned shell which has been used for ornamental products (tortoiseshell) for centuries. Their meat is poisonous though, from a toxic compound they ingest when they feed on their primary food source of sponges. One hawksbill can eat 1,000 lbs of sponge a year, which helps to maintain the health of coral reefs, which would otherwise be overgrownwith sponges.

For many years no thought was given to protecting these marine reptiles and millions were slaughtered for their meat, shells, oil and eggs. It wasn’t until there was a dramatic decline in the numbers coming ashore to breed that governments realized these creatures were not an inexhaustible resource. Like the passenger pigeons and buffalos before them, their vast numbers seemed impossible to deplete until it was almost too late.

Mexico has banned the harvest of sea turtles for commercial or subsistence reasons since April 2006. Combined with conservation efforts and increased awareness, the turtles of Mexico are making a real comeback.

Top Left: Saying hello at the Turtle Sanctuary in Cuyutlan, Colima. Meet Tortoogie, our baby turtle, released in Los Cabos November 2010. Turtle Sanctuary in Cuyutlan, Colima

The next time you are in Mexico during hatching season consider participating in a hatchling release event. Your hotel concierge should be able to point you in the right direction. Holding a baby turtle in your hands and watching it make its way to the ocean is an experience that will bring a smile to your face and a good feeling to your heart. 27

Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Colonial town by the Sea

Text and Photos by Allison MacDonald


ou could consider Mazatlan the lesser sibling of Mexico’s glitzier and more popular beach towns of Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. But with grit and character to spare, this coastal city is more than worth your treasured holiday time. Called the Pearl of the Pacific, Mazatlan, with a current population of about 400,000, has thrived for centuries, thanks to its port and fishing industry. Tourism is just gravy here. Hotels

Feeling the all-inclusive slice of life? The bustling Riu Emerald Bay (riu. com) is the city’s only 24-hour all-inclusive, with an extensive golden sand beach. From there you can explore some of the most spectacular natural sights that exist in the world. If you seek peace and solitude, there’s no more fitting oasis than Estrella del Mar (, a condo/hotel combo about 30 minutes south of Mazatlan with more than five kms of quiet, idyllic beach and a Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course. Showing great conservation leadership, this forward thinking resort established a

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turtle sanctuary in 1998 where they have protected and released over 150,000 baby Olive Ridley turtles. For an infusion of history with your stay, try the Posada Freeman (bestwestern. com). When it was built in the 1940s, it was Mazatlan’s first high-rise hotel,now an upscale Best Western. Grab a cock tail from the rooftop patio bar at sunset and soak in the panoramic view of the city. Getting Around To explore Mazatlan’s core, there’s no better chariot than a pulmonia—open-air souped-up golf carts introduced in the ‘60s. Pulmonias got their name when taxi drivers would repeatedly tell visitors not to use them because they’d supposedly catch pneumonia. Happily, the smear campaign never took off and the peppy white vehicles zip all over the city today. There’s no meter, so negotiate a fare before you get in, and hang on tight. The Malecón Start your tour of Mazatlan’s downtown with a stroll along the Malecón, a wide cement boardwalk stretching for more than 22 kms (the longest in all of Mexico). Keep an eye out for the many striking sculptures along the way that commemorate the city’s history, including the still vibrant fishing industry and the 110-year-old Pacifico brewery. Head farther down the Malecón to Paseo Claussen if you want to check out the city’s cliff divers, also known as clavadistas. These “loco” locals jump from a 15-metre-high perch several times daily if the tide is right and the audience is appreciative.

22 kms of warm white sandy beaches along the Malecon sprinkled with resorts, restaurants and shopping gives vistors and residents of Mazatlan lots to do!

Old Town After languishing in the ’70s and ’80s, Mazatlan’s Historic District, Centro Historico, is back with a vengeance. Proud business owners have opened shops, and the old cobblestone streets have been upgraded with durable, walkable stone. Full of stores, restaurants and heritage buildings, Mazatlan’s downtown is cosmopolitan and cool. Savvy shoppers can head to Pino Suárez market, which dates back to 1899. Covering a full city block, the market is crammed with vendors selling fresh seafood, meat and baked goods, along with handmade crafts and souvenirs.

Dining You needn’t part with too many pesos to eat well in Mazatlan. For dinner in the Historic District you can dine at Pedro Y Lola (, an upscale casual restaurant with a fantastic patio in the town’s main square, called Plaza Machado. For another seafood fix, stray from the typical tourist track, and head to the legendary Cuchupetas (669-967-0460), in Villa Unión, on Mazatlan’s outskirts. Locals and visitors alike flock to this pueblo-style building daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for super-fresh bounty from the sea, including delicious shrimp, crayfish, lobster and marlin.

Just one block southwest in the Plaza Republica, you’ll find the bright yellow Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a Gothic/Moorish structure completed in 1895 after 40 years of construction. This is an architectural beauty to behold— even better if you sit in on a mass, occurring daily, with 10 services alone each Sunday. Arts and Culture The city’s signature spot for the arts is Angela Peralta Theater (, built in 1895. After suffering extensive hurricane damage in 1975, the theatre was lovingly refurbished to its past glory in the 1990s. Today, it is home to a variety of performances, including theatre, opera, ballet and music.

PLAN ACCORDINGLY UPCOMING EVENTS IN MAZATLAN International Carnival 2012 From February 16 to 21, 2012 Mexican PGA Championship From May 1 to 10, 2012 Quiksilver Classic 2012, Surf Music & Fashion Fest From June 1 to 5, 2012 29

By Gabriel Jones Photos by Madeline Milne

30 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

a l i u q e T

g n i t s a T much

e than Mor


irit s sp amou st f mo lds wor

Tequila Barrels Photo by Gabriel Jones 31

Top to Bottom: Learn more at the Museo del Tequila. The colourful town of Tequila was founded in 1530. Jose Cuervo entrance. Cuervo means crow.

Of all of the bottles in mankind’s great bar perhaps the most interesting is tequila. However, to truly appreciate this complex and intriguing spirit we have to dispense with the salt, shot, lime version of tequila imbibing most of us grew up with and start from scratch. To do this, my editor and I headed to where it all started–the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. What we learned will change the way we feel about tequila forever. Like any good pilgrimage, the town of Tequila (pop 25, 000) is a long (3.5 hrs from Puerto Vallatra) but extremely beautiful journey. Located approximately 300 km inland from Puerto Vallarta, Tequila reveals a side of Mexico that many Canadians miss during their typical beach-centric Mexican holidays. Day trips by bus as well as overnight trips that also include a sleepover in the nearby city of Guadalajara are possible from Puerto Vallarta and surrounding areas. In 2003, because of its rich history and its contribution to the national identity, Tequila was named a Pueblo Magico or Magic Town by the Mexican government. We opted to drive from Puerto Vallarta using a series of wellmaintained and nearly empty toll roads (Cuotas). As we grew closer to our destination, leaving behind the beaches, green jungle and humidity of the coast for the higher elevation and cliff hugging mountain roads of the interior, we started to see sure signs that we

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were in tequila country…rows of slate blue agave plants in fields along the side of the highway and growing gymnastically on the hillsides in ever increasing numbers. Of the 136 species of agave in Mexico, only the Weber Blue Agave (named for its bluish color and the botanist Fredrick Weber who first named it) is used to make tequila. It has become Mexico’s most famous plant and is woven into the identity of the entire nation. It grows in the arid, volcanic soil of the Sierra Madres and in the more fertile valley of the Rio Grande and mainly, but not exclusively, in the state of Jalisco. Like “Champagne”, the name “Tequila” is protected and all agave spirits using the name “Tequila” must be produced in this area of blue agaves. Because of the significance of the “agave landscape and the ancient industrial facilities“ the area has been recognized by Unesco as a world heritage site. The charming colonial style town of Tequila is set in a valley guarded by the red cliffs of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the West and Tequila Mountain to the East. It is home to many distilleries including the first and second largest producers of tequila in the world today; Jose Cuervo (the world’s first and best known tequila company) and Tequila Sauza (perhaps the greatest innovator in tequila production) and also several great boutique operations. On this trip we had arranged to meet with Sauza, who in keeping with their tradition of

innovation, have created a refined tequila tour for your educating pleasure. Our tour started at Sauza’s demonstration agave plantation on the outskirts of town. We met our friendly and helpful guide, Karina, and Sauza’s most experienced jimador, Pepe. Jimadors are essential to the production of tequila and they continue to use techniques and tools similar to the ones used by jimadors of centuries past. They tend to the agave plants, nurturing them to maturity from small “pups”. This process takes six to fourteen years, which makes tequila the world’s most time consuming spirit to produce. As we walked through a field containing younger plants, progressing up to rows of mature plants, we noticed pieces of glinting black volcanic glass called obsidian mixed in with the soil, a reminder that Tequila Mountain and the others in its chain were once active volcanos. Tequila’s life blood comes from the heart of the agave…the central bulb called pina, which is the Spanish word for pineapple. Once the agave’s spiny leaves are cut away, the core looks like a giant green and white pineapple; mature pinas can weigh up to 65 kilograms. We each had a turn removing a few leaves with a large, flat bladed hoe called a “coa”. As I hacked clumsily, the exertion instantly made me aware of the noonday heat. As I stepped aside to catch my breath and let Pepe continue the work with lighting fast precision, I noticed turkey vultures circling in the blue sky above. As Pepe finished with the pina, the air was full of a fresh, crisp agave aroma hinting at what was to come.

its smoky country cousin mescal. Sauza also employs one significantly different technique from most other tequila producers. The standard method has the pinas cooked and pressed to extract the sugar and carbohydrate juice, which is then mixed with yeast and fermented. Sauza instead shreds and presses the agave while it is still raw, soaks the fibers in hot water to collect more of the juice, before removing the material, and only then cooking the agave juice. The theory is that by leaving out the more bitter plant material from the cooking process they create fresher, more flavourful tasting tequila. We had our chance to taste the cooked pina juice, and the earthy honey-like flavour, combined with the smell of the fresh cut agave from earlier, started to give me a better idea of the flavours that are the foundation of good tequila. After fermentation, tequila is then double (or for premium brands, triple) distilled going through stages of heating, cooling and filtering, eventually creating a 55 - 60% alcohol. That is then equalized by adding demineralized water to make tequila either 40% alcohol for sale in Canada or 38% for Mexican consumption. The final process is what creates the various types of tequila. Blanco goes straight from stainless steel vats into glass bottles, with no additional aging, while other styles of tequila are aged in wood barrels. The aging room at Sauza is full of neatly stacked barrels and larger wooden vats. Most tequila is aged in American oak. At one time the oak casks were used bourbon barrels, imported from the US, and to this day some tequila is aged in used whiskey barrels as well as in virgin oak. To add additional flavour and color, some barrels are charred, from lightly toasted to almost black on the inside, before filling with tequila.

With the hard work completed, we were The Jimador plays a valuable role in the production of rewarded with a baby agave pup which now tequila. The Sierra Madre mountains jut against Tequila. lives happily in my editor’s backyard. We Tasting with Victor at Sauza. boarded the tour bus to head to Sauza’s distillery “La Perseverancia” built in 1873. Having written guidebooks about beer, I have toured countless While marvelling at the sheer number of barrels, an overhead sprinkler breweries, in part to get to the tasting at the other side. The system on a timer showered the entire warehouse with a light mist. fermentation process for beer and tequila is very similar and the shiny, This is done to maintain moisture and reduce the amount of tequila silver vats and smell of yeast brought back fond memories. lost to evaporation during the aging process. Regardless of what measures are taken, there is always a percentage of tequila lost Modern day tequila production owes much to Sauza’s innovations. It (known as the angel’s share) and this, along with the additional cost of was Sauza who first started cooking agave with indirect heat rather the barrels and the time required to age the tequila is why wood aged than in clay ovens and this differentiated the taste of tequila from tequila is typically more expensive. 33

TastingTips From the aging warehouse we headed across the street to La Quinta Sauza, built in 1836 and ironically, located next door to the current Cuervo distillery. Karina quipped how it is good to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. She introduced us to Sauza’s chief mixologist, Victor Martinez, who led us to a former library, converted to a tasting classroom. Victor started by explaining that the worst possible way to taste and appreciate tequila (or any spirit) is by downing it in one shot. While your taste buds go through the shock of the alcohol content, most of the flavour misses your tongue, going straight to your stomach. He added that using salt prior to tasting increases salvia, which lessens the shock from the alcohol, but blocks the flavor to the taste buds, and lime right after simply washes away and further masks the taste. Fine tequilas have a variety of subtle flavour profiles and are best enjoyed as a sipping drink served straight up, in its most authentic form or, in some circles, over ice or with water. We discussed how to taste tequila and then sampled three styles of tequila learning about the variety of aromas and flavours that they offer.

The next time you have a good tequila in your hand remember these steps. First choose the right glassware. Either the classic Caballito - a two to three ounce glass, three to four inches tall (most commonly used in Mexico), or a flute or bowl shaped glass (champagne, port or brandy) with a stem, approved by wine tasters around the world and best for capturing aromas. When pouring your glass, don’t fill it all the way, leave room to swirl and smell. Before tasting, observe the color of the tequila. Clear implies that it went straight from vat to bottle, while a range of golden hues are imparted by the amount of time aged in oak. Swirl the tequila in the glass and observe what is known in the wine world as legs, or in tequila tasting, as tears. Blanco tequila will typically be less viscous (thick), with the tears dissipating faster. Oak aged tequila will be thicker, will long lasting, more pronounced tears. Next smell the tequila, placing your nose close to, or even in the glass. Scent and taste are closely linked, with 60% of taste actually coming from scent, so this process will add to your appreciation of the taste. Depending on what type of tequila you smell, look for aromas like fresh cut grass, fresh fruit and herbs, or dried fruit, spices and even leather, tobacco and wood notes. The most important step in tasting is to first take a very small sip and let it bathe your tongue. This is not meant to be a taste but rather to prepare your tongue for the taste that will follow. Allow the tongue to experience the sparkling burning caused by the alcohol. As this subsides you are now ready for the taste experience.

With our tasting lesson complete we left the classroom and made our way to the bar and dining area overlooking the lush courtyard. We were greeted with a beautiful, light pink cocktail made with Jamaica (hameyeca), rose petals and blanco tequila. It was both beautiful to behold and wonderfully refreshing. As an optional add on to their tour and tasting, Sauza also offers a three course tequila and food pairing. We met executive chef Isaac Soria, who is equally passionate about tequila and Mexican cuisine. The first dish was a beautiful grilled prawn served with tangerine and paired with the Tres Generations Blanco. The crispness of the tequila complemented the flavours of the fresh seafood beautifully. Next we savoured a spicy Tres Generation Resposado paired with a perfectly grilled flank steak, served with rich xico mole sauce and tender asparagus, an inspired combination of big, bold flavours. The final pairing was an unique tomato and vanilla bean gelato, which was unlike anything we had ever tasted and heavenly alongside a glass of smooth Tres Generations Anejo. The meal was an amazing end to an excellent day at Sauza. The combination of the tour, tasting, and food pairing was the perfect mix of adventure, education, and pleasure for the senses. I would wholeheartedly suggest it to anyone wishing to explore the Tequila pilgrimage.

Want more? About MEXICO’s Pueblo Magicos Video of Tequila

Mexico: a diverse country with something for everyone TRAVEL | Lifestyle | RETIREMENT

Breathe out and then take a larger sip, holding it in your mouth and allowing it to roll over each part of your tongue. The tip of the tongue experiences sweet or salty flavours, the sides will discern sour, and the back of the tongue, bitterness. Before swallowing, breathe in through your nose to gain more aroma. Repeat and enjoy. Jose Cuervo Sauza

Tequila Hacienda

Where to stay while in Tequila Los Abolengos | A family tradition By Gabriel Jones Historically, most of Tequila’s visitors came only for a day visit, rushing from a tasting to a souvenir shop and then back onto their bus. As a result the town was limited in terms of great accommodation options. That changed in 2010 when Jorge Diaz and his brothers opened their luxurious twenty room boutique hotel. This “new” hotel is created from the original Diaz family home and buildings, built 137 years ago. Famous for their great hospitality, their house was renowned for fantastic fiestas, which were often so well attended that overflow guests would spend the night in the stables. The Diaz brothers are the great grandchildren of Carolina Cuervo and Vincente Orendain (another well know tequila producing family). The couple’s happy union produced a dynasty that would go on to start sixteen different tequila distilleries. The name Los Abolengos means lineage or family tree and bottles from each of these distilleries are displayed in impressive fashion along the back wall of the dining room. It is fair to say that Jorge has hospitality and tequila in his blood and Los Abolengos is wonderful homage to both. The hotel is comprised of a main hacienda and two converted building that were formerly stables and are once again hosting overnight guests. The buildings surround a beautiful courtyard with lush landscaping, an outdoor dining area and a gorgeous swimming pool. The renovation and restoration are remarkable and both the rooms and common areas combine the feel of a heritage home with modern amenities such as signature beds with memory foam mattresses, iPod docking stations, LCD TVs, wonderful stylish bathrooms, and Wi-Fi.

Fans of great food and drink will delight at the beautiful restaurant located on the main floor of the hacendia. The menu offers contemporary takes on classic Mexican dishes supported by a great wine list, and as you would expect, a superb tequila list. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner it is regarded as the best restaurant in Tequila and will be sure to be a highlight of your visit. The hotel’s bilingual staff can arrange tours to local distilleries and you can also visit the Guachimontones archaeological site, several great museums, or you can enjoy a few rounds of golf at the Santa Sofia and El Rio Country Club. Best of all you can take a guided horseback tour of Tequila and the surrounding agave fields and volcanoes, riding the Diaz family horses. Our trip was guided by Jorge himself who loves horses and offered a wonderful insight into Tequila and how it has changed in his lifetime. Of all the great stories that Jorge told us the one that resonated the most was his own. He had spent most of his life working the successful but pressure packed family business of real estate development. Then his life as he knew it came to an abrupt stop when he suffered a serious stroke. This was a life changing experience and after his recovery was complete he chose to step back and reexamine his lifestyle and follow his dreams. Now mainly retired from developing Jorge is doing something he loves and his passion for life is infectious. If you get a chance to raise a glass with him you will feel it too. At Los Abolengos you can quench your thirst for excellent tequila and delicious food, indulge your need for a little pampering and immerse yourself in the history of this remarkable family. 35


World Heritage Site | Architectural Gem

By Sabrina Wang

Photos Courtesy of Roger St-Pierre, Š 2011. 36 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012


teeped in rich colonial history and glorified by its halo of mining treasures, Guanajuato is a rare

gem that refuses to compromise its old-world

charms. The city, paved by cobblestone streets that lead to nostalgic alleys, plazas and museums, offers something for everyone—whether you’re looking for the artsy, the legendary, the lively, or the serene. 37

The most famous sights include the tragically romantic Callejón del Beso (Alley of The Kiss), the slightly macabre Museo de las Momias (The Mummy Museum), and the majestic Juarez Theatre. A local secret is El Cubilete, a delightful confectionery shop that features specialties such as “Charamuscas”decadent mummy-shaped caramel figures packed with intrigue. Corazon De Plata (Silver Heart) is the place to discover top-quality and uniquely designed silver pieces. Gabriel Anaya Barba, the artist and shop keeper, makes original silver jewelry that appeal to connoisseurs of all ages. The climate is mild and dry, with the exception of some gentle summer rain. Such ideal weather is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of vibrant mariachi music and a journey through the art of Diego Rivera.

DONT MISS THIS! Rally Mexico | Guanajato March 8-11, 2012 The annual Rally Mexico sees racing drivers speeding on special tracks, dirt paths and roads through Guanajuato. Although this is a well recognized international competition, the festivities that accompany the event make it a truly Mexican party. Festival Internacional Cervantino October 3-21, 2011 Festival Internacional Cervantino is one of the largest and most important festivals in Mexico, and one known around the world. Taking place in October, the festival originated with students presenting skits and plays of writer Miguel de la Cervantes (of Don Quixote fame). Today, the 2-3 week festival attracts actors, artists, musicians and audiences from around the world. Remember, reservations should be made months in advance. For more information:

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Connecting Canadians to


Your best source for Canadian information in Mexico Subscription and online magazine available now. w w w. m e x i - g o . c a 39

40 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Fabulous Places to Stay By Madeline Milne

Hacienda Misne, Merida Yucatan Located on the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula, near the Gulf of Mexico, and within the colonial city of Merida, is the prestigious Hacienda Misne. Originally built in the 18th century and restored to retain many of the original features, the Hacienda offers understated elegance and a calm oasis. The location provides an ideal starting point for exploring more than just the historic Centro district; Mayan temples, picturesque fishing villages and incomparable natural reserves are at your doorstep. Impeccable service, luxurious, spacious rooms, sophisticated bathrooms and the best Panuchos around combine to ensure your visit will enrich your memories for years to come. With overnight packages starting at $250usd, a few days here make a unique and memorable escape from the bustle of the city and the crashing waves of the beach! 41

Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit

Villa Amor, SAYULITA RIVIERA NAYARIT The popular surfing village of Sayulita, located forty-five minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, is an authentic Mexican town with a wonderful laid back atmosphere that offers everything from backpackers’ hostels to the five-star experience of Villa Amor. Keeping things casual but luxurious (600 thread count linens), with open-air suites that provide dramatic ocean and village views, this is one of the most prestigious hotels in town. Originally built as a family compound in the 1960’s, owner Rod Ingram was convinced by friends and associates to expand his vision and today there are forty-two individual villas that may be rented by the day, week or month. Every villa is unique in design while offering well appointed and high quality amenities. Villa Amor presents the discerning traveler with options that range from a cozy, romantic casita on the beach to the expansive five bedroom Paraiso Villa with its Robinson Cursoe tree-house vibe. The on-site restaurant “O” serves excellent Mexican and international cuisine and provides room service if you just can’t (or won’t) leave your beachfront paradise. If you are looking for a truly tropical destination wedding that retains the genuine flavour of Mexico, this is the place. Popular with the wedding crowd, Villa Amor can create a distinctive event for every occasion. Make use of their on-site planner, services, and stellar facilities to create the wedding of your dreams. From the magic of the location to the charm of Sayulita itself, your envy-inducing holiday will have your friends and family joining you next time!

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Villa San Francisco, Chapala JALISCO It was (as usual) a perfect day with bluebird skies and a gentle breeze coming off Lake Chapala. I joined the proprietor of Villa San Francisco on the front veranda and settled down with some coffee for a chat about the realities of life in Mexico and to take in a little people watching on the nearby Malecon. Perhaps the newest boutique hotel in Chapala, opening in the summer of 2011, this classic 19th century mansion has been lovingly restored by Toronto native Tony Whilshire and his wife. Featuring a beautiful private garden setting overlooking the lake, guests enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning on the wrap around porch. With a strong personal musical connection in the Chapala area, Tony themed each of the ten rooms around a specific musical genre, from Tango to Hollywood Musicals to Classical. A collection of this music is offered in each room for their guest’s listening pleasure. All the suites have working wood burning fireplaces, luxurious linens and wireless Internet. Just steps from Lake Chapala and the newly refurbished Malecon, in the heart of the town, the location of Villa San Francisco offers its guest excellent nearby dining and plenty of activities. Enjoy a boat cruise on the lake, play a round of golf at one of the many nearby courses or book a tour into Guadalajara or Tlequepaque to enjoy a full day of shopping and sightseeing. La Casona, Mexico City Built in the early 1920’s, Hotel La Casona was originally six townhomes that were merged to create this thirty room boutique hotel. Taking over a year to renovate, the original charming pink façade was retained, and the period reminiscent balconies, wide hallways and generous sized rooms enhance the old world charm. Each room offers unique furnishings and today’s modern comforts, but retain a warm feeling with their wooden floors and carefully selected traditional furniture. One of the first small boutique hotels in Mexico City, La Casona opened its doors in 1996. Imagined by a Swiss mathematician who has lived in Mexico for more than sixty years, the hotel is now run by his two sons, who attended the prestigious Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland and the European influence is apparent throughout. The casual on-site restaurant offers delicious international cuisine with excellent and accommodating service. The ambiance and attention to detail offers a more intimate experience than most larger hotels. Located near Chapultepec Park on Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, La Casona is a short walk to Mexico City’s many attractions, fine restaurants, shopping and entertainment. 43

Nature’s refuge By Linda Ayeres Photos by Joel Hansen

Home to more than 500 bird species; the waters, estuaries and shores of San Blas are one of Mexico’s most important ecosystems.

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Top (L) White Ibis. Photo courtesy of Festival of Migratory Birds. Chef Betty Vasquez. The town of San Blas. The marina. (R) The church. Casa Garza Canela at night.

At certain times of year you can expect a crowd in San Blas – eighty percent of the Pacific migratory bird population to be exact – but you’ll have to search hard for familiar resort brand names. This small fishing village nestled along the magnificent coastline of Riviera Nayarit is all about “local” – authentic, welcoming Mexico at its best – in a setting of extraordinary natural abundance. There is no place better to discover history, cultural traditions and the variety of nature while pursuing any manner of outdoor activity, including whale watching, boating, surfing, mountain biking, canoeing through mangrove estuaries and bird watching.

journey, you can visit the Crocodile Reserve to see hundreds of crocodiles from lively newborns to huge, deceptively sleepy adults.

One of the most enjoyable experiences is to visit La Tovara National Park. Take a small motorboat, with guide, into the waterways of the park, through the mangroves, then as the fresh water from the mountains meets the salt water from the sea, tall swaying reeds line your route.

A little more than two hours from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport or just one hour away from Tepic Airport, San Blas’s unique local character is reflected in accommodations ranging from B&B’s and modest rental homes to gracious yet unpretentious hotels with swimming pools. San Blas is where Junipero Serra, the Spanish priest, sailed from to begin his quest to build missions throughout California, a period of history marked by the still standing colonial fort in San Blas. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Bells of San Blas” is reputedly inspired by the village, even though the author never visited himself. Today, the beach is better known for having the longest surfable wave in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Be prepared to encounter the roseate spoonbill, the black-bellied tree duck and the bumblebee hummingbird among many other winged creatures. At the end of the

Some visitors come to San Blas specially to experience one of Mexico’s most famous dining scenes – El Delfin Restaurant at the Hotel Garza Canela, whose chef, Betty

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Vasquez, studied at The Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris and with Chef Arzak in Spain. Chef Vasquez blends fresh Mexican fish and vegetables with international recipes to create her own matchless culinary style. Be sure to try the casual seafood restaurants tucked under cooling palm awnings along the beaches known for the local specialty, marinated red snapper grilled over the coals, and chopped ceviche. Other local restaurants include the San Blas Social Club, with its steaks and blue shrimp scampi, Billy Bob’s Café and there’s even a Chinese restaurant in town. Several top festivals are celebrated in San Blas. Each January, the International Festival of Migratory Birds and over 500 species of the region’s feathered friends, attract visitors and professional ornithologists from around the world. The International Fishing Tournament is celebrated each June, when the big game fish proliferate in the waters off the coast of the town. The colorful festival of the “Virgen de la Marinera takes place each year on October 7th. Nearby attractions include the tiny historic island of Mexcaltitan, known as the birthplace of the Aztec civilization and the ‘Venice of Nayarit,” for the many canals throughout the island. Los Toriles, in Ixtlan del Rio has interesting ruins of a temple and tombs, as well as a small museum for archeology buffs to explore. Whether your interest is studying Mexico’s rich biodiversity in the water or on land, or simply escaping to a place far removed from the cares of the world, San Blas is the perfect choice. For more information about Riviera Nayarit, visit www.RivieraNayarit. com or follow Riviera Nayarit’s Fan Page on Facebook.

Sea Breezes and the Rhythm of the Surf By Gabriel Jones

My wife and I recently enjoyed a romantic getaway to Playa Escondida (hidden beach). Despite living in the tropical paradise of Sayulita for the past 10 months, we had been working hard and rushing to meet deadlines. Desperate for a break and some time for the two of us, we joked that we were going on our second honeymoon. To begin our journey we headed down a winding jungle road, which had us thinking we were lost, until it rose over a mountain ridge and the view opened up to a secluded beach embraced by tropical forest. The lushness of the jungle and the tranquility of the place were almost surreal - like a painting or a movie set. How can this be real? Our own private oasis. This was really feeling like a honeymoon and can you imagine a better location? A beautiful thirty minute nature walk or a short five minute drive and you are in colorful Sayulita’s bustling downtown, where you can enjoy shopping, dining, and nightlife, but just as easily you can return to the quiet serenity of your tropical beach hideaway. It was hard to choose from the twenty-five cabanas, each with their own unique design, embraced by jungle gardens and connected by a series of winding sandy paths lit by glowing candles after dark. Whether you choose to fall asleep to the sound of the surf in a beachfront room or waking to the cheerful chatter of parrots and sun filtering through the green of a jungle view room, your stay at Playa Escondida will combine a return to nature with comfort and rustic charm and will provide a unique and memorable experience. As impressive as the beautiful location and thoughtful design, was the wonderfully warm service. The genuine friendliness and desire to please was evident right from our first greeting and continued with each staff member, from grounds keeper to general manager. It was a pleasure to be immersed in such a good feeling and, I suppose, a big reason why we found so many return guests there.

The focal point of the property is a private and vendor-free playa. After dropping our bags in our well appointed room and taking a moment to marvel at the oceanfront view, we headed straight for the beach. The wide, clean beach has well spaced lounge chairs which gave us a feeling of privacy, accompanied only by sea breezes and rhythmic surf sounds. The water was clean and safe for swimming and just around a rocky outcropping from Playa Escondida’s beach was an even longer stretch of sand called Playa Pasquarito, perfect for leisurely strolls. During our walk down the beach we were treated to the sight of a southbound humpback whale, breaching and slapping its tail as if to say “it’s good to be back to Mexico!” During our stay we enjoyed various activities. While the hotel design allows for privacy, there are also great opportunities to meet your fellow travelers. There are daily morning yoga classes, afternoon beach volleyball and a outstanding barefoot beach bar and terrace that will have you stretching muscles, sharing smiles and clinking glasses with your new friends. Sipping mango margaritas and sharing a delicious pizza on the beach, Wendy and I spent our afternoon relaxing. As evening approached we found our way to the hot tub and watched a spectacular sunset with a bottle of bubbly. While the sun slipped beneath the horizon we exchanged delighted smiles and were reminded of our good fortune. Hearing great things about Playa Escondida’s restaurant - it did not disappoint. The room is lovely; open air and candlelit with soft sand underfoot. The expansive dinner menu offers both traditional Mexican and International fare, all prepared with “high quality, mostly organic, fresh ingredients”. Wendy choose fresh Ahi Tuna and I had a wonderful Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja. Both were excellent. Great food deserves great wine and we found Playa Escondida’s wine list to be excellent (and reasonably priced) and in keeping with the high standards set by the rest of the hotel staff, the service was, once again, fantastic. After a restful night’s sleep our day started with breakfast on our patio, we then visited the spa for a little pampering before checking out. The combination of sea breezes, crashing waves and relaxing Thai massages left us revitalized and refreshed. As we bid adios to the staff, knew our time in Playa Escondida was an experience that would be cherished for years to come, until we could enjoy their hospitality once again.

You are here. Playa Escondida, Sayulita 49


Luffin’Life in Puerto Pe�asco By Greg Luff Photos courtesy of Sonoran Resorts

50 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012


e had no plan of living in Mexico when we first left Canada as a family for a winter vacation. However it didn’t take long before we were seduced by the charms of Mexico and five years ago

we moved from Penticton, BC to Puerto Penasco, Sonora. Our family of four settled into the house we bought in town and every day we enjoy a lifestyle that is nearly unattainable back in Canada. Nobody seems to be swallowed up with anxiety from everyday living, time slows down and it’s like stepping back twenty years.



ne of the few places in the world where the desert meets the sea, Puerto Penasco is located in the state of Sonora at the northern end of the Sea of Cortez, on the mainland side, approximately ninety kilometers south of the United States border. Arguably one of the best values for your vacation or retirement dollars, Puerto Penasco experienced a massive tourism and development boom, that since the market crash of 2008, has seen real estate prices drop as much as 60% while maintaining the quality amenities built during the early 2000’s.

news about the border violence in Mexico, we have never felt threatened or that our safety was compromised at any time. Although I did get a speeding ticket going through town once, so watch your speed, especially in the school zones….We have been using this crossing for about five years and we have never had an incident or even seen one in that time. The climate in Puerto Penasco is blue skies and sun for about 340 days of the year. It gets a little hot in August and September, especially in the afternoons, and a little cold December and January, during the night. A couple of warm blankets and a sweater take care of the cold and for us, we head back to Canada to enjoy the wonderful summer season.

With a population of about 60,000, the town and surrounding areas offer all the usual conveniences including; banks, grocery stores, hospitals, hotels, and even a Mexican Walmart (Aurorra Bodego). The friendly and well designed Malecon offers a cluster of shops, restaurants, cantinas and fish markets; some of the best food in Puerto Penasco can be found here. In the early evenings you can enjoy people-watching with a beautiful ocean view as your backdrop. Mariachi music fills the air and gives a real Mexican flavour while the shops are full of wares from local artisans and craftsmen.

The port offers many different activities. Fishing charters are always available from any size of boat ranging from a small open craft called a Ponga, to a 65’ deep-sea fishing vessel. If you are a diver there are also many dive boats available. Enjoy a scenic cruise out to Bird Island or a sunset dinner cruise aboard a restored sailboat. If you have your own boat, the port is a safe harbour. You can moor your boat in a slip with electric outlets, water, sewer and wifi and you can rent covered storage.

When traveling by car or shuttle to Puerto Penasco (most people fly into Phoenix and drive the remaining three hours), the small and friendly Lukeville border crossing is the easiest in the area. With all the

There are many beautiful resorts in the area, most of them are located outside of town along Sandy Beach; a seven km stretch of white sand that begins at town and reaches to the rocky point on the back side of

52 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Cholla Bay, a popular American fishing village. Enjoy the most amazing sunsets while watching the playful dolphins travel back and forth.

The Sea of Cortez is often called the world’s fishbowl and it is this bounty that brings delicious seafood to our plates. If you like oysters don’t forget to stop for lunch at the estuary on your way back into If golf is your thing, there are three 18-hole courses nearby. The town. Their oysters are the best, served to you fresh from the sea. Mayan Palace, located just ten miles away from Puerto Peñasco, offers miles of white sand beaches with crystal clear For our family, Puerto Penasco is everything we turquoise water that is the perfect temperature year hoped for and more. We are only one hour from We have never round, along with a golf course, pools and tennis the US border and a very drivable three to four felt threatened or courts. Península Golf Course, co-designed by Jack days from Canada. You can get by with little or no Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II, is situated on a two Spanish. The local people are very friendly and that our safety was mile peninsula sandwiched between a tidal estuary treat Canadians with respect. The cost of living is compromised at any and the Sea of Cortez. Take in the natural beauty very reasonable, your money goes so much further. time. Although I did as you experience this world-class golf course. Gas is about $0.70 cents a litre, real estate prices Laguana Shores Golf and Country Club, located get a speeding ticket are low, and medical and dental are fantastic and near Cholla Bay, has a championship golf course incredibly affordable (cleanings are about $40). going through town designed by Jeff Lawrence. Los Palomas, situated in We communicate daily with family and friends in once, so watch your the exclusive Sandy Beach area, is a par 72 links-style Canada using Magic Jack and Skype and we cross championship golf course that presents a challenge speed, especially in the the border safely all the time. If we get homesick at every turn. Very popular with Canadians, green we can be at a hockey game in Phoenix in about school zones…. fees are low and include cart rental. four hours. For us, it is the best of all worlds. We have not had a single problem or for one minute The sandy shores stretch seemingly without end and felt threatened since coming here. We feel just as offer many hours of blissful beachcombing. The tidal range at Puerto safe here as we do anywhere else. Visit Puerto Penasco and you won’t Peñasco can reach eight meters, one of the largest tidal changes in want to leave either! the world. When the tides withdraw, they uncover a living laboratory of intertidal pools teeming with life, featuring dozens of species of Any questions contact me Greg Luff at cetaceans and other marine life. 53


54 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Introducing... Casa Denton Puerto Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo Baja California Sur

Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style of the early 1900s with the emphasis on the architectural details of the period including the use of wrought iron rails and gates, carved wooden doors, private interior courtyards, spiral columns and pilasters, talavera tiles and carved stonework. Perched overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Casa Denton was designed with Mediterranean influences allowing for the coastal breezes to move freely through the courtyards and living areas, keeping the house cool in the warmer months and adding to the Colonial charm of family living. 55

dream homes

PRIVATE AND SERENE OCEANFRONT IN THE YUCATAN Along the beach, four and a half kilometers from downtown Sisal, and fifty kilometers from Merida, you will find nothing but rolling sand dunes overlooking the clear turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gilles knew this was the place for them. Originally from Sherbrooke, Montreal, they worked with arquitect Mario Heredia to build their dream home on the beach. This home uses materials that resist the salt air and withstand the elements. Raised above the dunes, the Gilles enjoy a seamless ocean view and calm peaceful days from the comfort of their palapa.

STUNNING LAKE VIEWS and Perfect year round weather Lake Chapala is often touted as having the best weather in the world. With a comfortable average temperature of 20 ’c, and 360 days of sun, life at the lake doesn’t get any better than this. Embracing the views from the mountains above the lake, this masterpiece of a home brings the outside in with its generous outdoor space, huge patios, lush gardens and bright open rooms that flow towards the open air. The charming Mexican town of Ajijic offers its many expat residents the comforts of home including plenty of delicious restaurants, excellent shopping, theaters, outdoor activies, healthcare services and the convenience of being only 45 minutes from the metropolitan city of Guadalajara.

Artfully uniting extraordinary homes with extraordinary lives

Hacienda Santa Cruz Ticum Yucatan, Mexico


This lovely fully-furnished hacienda from 1891, has been updated as a comfortable modern home. 4508sf w/4 bedrooms each with full bath, plus a guest half-bath. The Machine House and the Main House have large shady terraces with traditional arches and columns. The old hand dug well and several other wells on the property provide fresh clear water for the pool and gardens.

Unique 3 bed/3 bath ocean view Villa has been completely renovated to the highest standards. Lines are crisp & clean with splashes of baroque, modern, classical, Spanish colonial and Asian twists that work together as a symphony of design. Furnishings available. An absolute delight.

With a total of over 13,5 acres (5,5 hectares) there is room to add guest rooms, stables, nature trails. The property is entirely fenced and ready to move. Price USD$ 680,000 US +52 (33) 3627-6437

Casa Blanca

Ajijic, Lake Chapala

This property offers the perfect location just steps from the Malecon. With its commerical units of shops and art galleries, Hotel Casa Blanca presents an investment opportunity in the growing interest of the area.




Contact: US+ 205-277-6454 +52 (624) 172-6555

Chapala, Jalisco

45 minutes from Guadalajara, Casa Tua offers peace and solitude with easy access to all major amenities including hospitals, shopping, international airport, theater, and more. An original Mexican style house, built entirely of adobe and wood, with high ceilings and large windows, the details and decor create a special atmosphere that invites you to spend unforgettable evenings by the fireplace.

El Zalate Beachfront Condos

San Jose del Cabo

Several 2-3 bedroom units available, completely furnished with spectacular water views, and steps to the water. Beautifully landscaped. Low density complex, and many units have garages. Within walking distance to grocery stores and restaurants. Several golf courses are nearby and the Los Cabos International Airport is about 15 minutes. Prices start at $480,000 usd. Contact: US+ 205-277-6454 +52 (624) 172-6555


sirmexico.c om


Located in the prestigious private community of Villas del Mar, this beachfront home offers 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths on two levels with two garages (4 cars). Spacious terraces surround the beachside infinity pool and firepit. Includes membership to Club 96. US$3,495,000

A spectacular country house on the shore of Lake Chapala, a large outdoor terrace and garden with stunning landscapes and beautiful sunsets.

Price $USD 650,000 US +52 (33) 3627-6437

US$975,000 Contact: US+ 205-277-6454 +52 (624) 172-6555


Charming home now adapted as a boutique hotel located in the heart of Ajijic. The fusion of Moroccan and Spanish style crafts a picturesque setting of shaded patios, balconies and terraces. 3,815 sf w/ 4 bedrooms and 4 suites. Each guest has access to spacious bathrooms, private terraces and all the services they require.

Price USD$ 550,000 US +52 (33) 3627-6437



Each Offi c e i s In d e p e n d e n t l y O w n e d a n d O p e r a t e d 58

REENA EGGER Artfully uniting extraordinary homes 322.173.8712 (Mexico) (USA & Canada)lives with866.242.1709 extraordinary

Casa TulA

Puerto Vallarta, jalisco

Best Deal in Conchas Chinas area!

US $995,000

Casa Tula is a 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home, fully furnished, with fantastic ocean and mountain views, pool and 2-car garage. Construction - 7,104 sq. ft.; Land - 6,329 sq. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712

HuAnacaxtle 302

La Cruz De Huanacaxtle, Nayarit

Plenty of space indoors and out!

US $389,000

This 2-bedroom/2-bath condo, fully furnished, has a large terrace with a covered roof, granite counters, marble floors throughout and many upgrades. Covered, deeded parking spot, separate storage room and all the amenities of the complex. Construction – 1,690 s. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712


Bucerias, Nayarit


US $349,000

Located a short distance inland from Bucerias, Casa Linda is close enough to offer easy access to all necessities but far enough away from the hustle and bustle to provide peace and quiet. With a comfortable one-level, two-bedroom, two-bath house on a large lot, there is plenty of room for expansion if desired. Beautiful landscaping abounds. Construction – 1195 sq. ft. Land – 53,825 sq. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712

59 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

Condo Marisol

La Cruz De Huanacaxtle, Nayarit

Prestigious Punta Esmeralda

US $499,000

Condo Marisol located in prestigious Punta Esmeralda is a furnished, 3-bedroom, plus studio/4-bath condo with a large covered outdoor terrace and private plunge pool; includes many upgrades. Complex has 8 common area pools, spa, gym, beach club, gated 24-hour security. Construction – 3,068 sq. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712

Vallarta Gardens 37

La Cruz De Huanacaxtle, Nayarit

Beautiful Beachfront community

US $349,000

This house is a 3-bedroom/3.5-bath in a secure, gated beach-front community; furnished, with marble floors and beautiful stone work throughout; multiple terraces, newly tiled rooftop terrace providing panoramic ocean views. 1-year maintenance paid by very motivated seller. Construction – 2,153 sq. ft.; Land -2,390 sq. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712

Casa Martin

La Cruz De Huanacaxtle, Nayarit

Excellent investment property!

US $375,000

Two units in one! Each side of this duplex is a roomy 2-bedroom/2.5-bath home. Living area with half bath on the first floor; second floor of each unit has two bedrooms with en-suite baths. Each has its own private garage and plunge pool. Great investment property. Construction – 2,432 sq. ft.; Land – 1,873 sq. ft. Contact: US+ (866) 242.1709 +52 (322) 173.8712

R e e n a E g g e r | R e a l E s tat e S p e c i a l i s t

| R o n M o r g a n Pr o p e r t i e s





2 Bedroom, 2 bath, oceanview, pool, internet

2 Bed, 3 bath, near beach, salt pool, internet, fountains, in town

RENT from $1,200 usd/wk

RENT from $1,000 usd/wk



52 (329) 291-3122, US(310) 341-3377

52 (329) 291-3122, US (310) 341-3377



CASA alas

3 Bedroom, 3 bath, near beach, 2 shared pools, internet

2 Bedroom, 3 bath, ocean view, internet, close to town center

RENT from $1,500 usd/wk

RENT from $700 usd/wk



52 (329) 291-3122, US (310) 341-3377

52 (329) 291-3122, US (310) 341-3377



3 self-contained suites. Total 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3rd floor ocean view, w/private roof deck, pool with cascade, central location (Gringo Hill) RENT from $700 usd/week per suite ALSO FOR SALE $589,000usd entire casa or 2nd fl Condo $195,000usd Contact: 52 (329) 291-3122, US (310) 341-3377

60 Mexi-Go! Spring 2012

CASA vida



3 Bedroom, 3 bath, near beach, ocean view, pool, internet, north end RENT from $1,750 usd/wk Contact: 52 (329) 291-3122, US (310) 341-3377


Easy Accessibility on one level Casa LEACH

3 bed | 3 bath | 4,498 sf $395,000 usd

Built in 2007 for handicap accessibility on both levels and tastefully furnished this custom built home that has it all. Walled for privacy and security with parking for 3 cars and convenient elevator to the main floor. Large terrazza offers 180+ degree unobstructed view of both Scorpion and Mezcala Islands. Bonus! A one bedroom casita on the lower level with its own courtyard and lake view. For more information and To see video tours CLICK HERE:

Ten minutes east of town, Vista del Lago is home to the Chapala Country Club with a challenging nine-hole golf course overlooking the lake. Beautiful private homes surround the course. Conveniently located with easy access to Chapala and all the amenities of a large Mexican town, this community is made up of mainly expat Americans and Canadians many of whom live year round in this paradise. With near perfect weather, excellent golf and stunning lake and mountain views Vista del Lago offers many types of homes and lots to fit any budget. As a long time resident of Vista del Lago and an avid golfer, John can help you with any of your Lake Chapala questions. Call or email him today! Check out

John Cearnal Hernandez Realty Group Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico Toll Free: (817)350-4325 Local: (376) 763-5304

Single level home with 2 Casitas



Casa cesar

4 bed | 5 bath | 6,338 sf $399,000 usd

Located on the second fairway with spectacular views this renovated house includes 2 casitas set on a beautifully maintained property. Enjoy your large terrazzo that spans entire living room and master bedroom. Downstairs are 2 one bedroom casitas. Time for a round of golf? Your new homes includes a golf cart and golf course access! For more information and To see a video tour click here:

5 bed | 3 bath | 6,370 sf $325,000 usd

Largest property in Vista Del Lago. 3 bedrooms downstairs and 2 bedrooms up with access to the wrap round terrace and lake view. This corner lot has it all, swimming pool, tennis court and very well maintained yard. This is an older home that can be made into a showpiece with very little effort. For more information and To see a video tour CLICK HERE:

All the amenities for a fraction of the cost!

Affordable year round lifestyle


Casa Diez Primero

3 bed | 3.5 bath | 4,971 sf $299,900 usd

2 bed | 2.5 bath | 2,830 sf $195,000usd

5000 sq. ft. home with panoramic views of Lake Chapala and the mountains from the vast covered terrace. This home offers generous living and entertaining areas with open concept living and dining room along with separate office/den. Lots of features in this home including: Walk-in closets, fireplace, salt water pool with swim-up bar, new windows and doors, 2 car garage and access to the second fairway.

This charming home in Vista el Lago has a wonderful garden setting with mountain views. A smaller one level home perfect for year round living and easy maintenance. With authentic Mexican features including Boveda ceilings, tiled floors, lots of natural light. A great home to enjoy a low cost lifestyle in the heart of Lake Chapala. Includes a detached 1 bedroom full casita for your guest to enjoy!

For more information and To see more photos CLICK HERE:

For more information and To see more photos CLICK HERE:


Mexican real estate for Canadian buyers

Chic Gated community


Casa DionNe

$299,000 usd

Los Sabinos, Ajijic

3 bed | 2 bath | 2234sf

Lock and go! Knowing it will all be perfect upon your return. Modern open floor plan dramatic domed ceiling large living and dining area flow to covered terrace, perfect for entertaining. Kitchen with granite stainless appliances. Master with en-suite bath, private guest bedroom and separate study. Amazing club house facilities include huge pool & Jacuzzi. Stress free living. For more information and To see more photos:

Villa el toro Ajijic, La Floresta

$525,000 3 bed | 3 bath | 4455sf

Enter courtyard flow thru grand entry with domed ceiling flow out to huge covered terrace view to pool & garden fountains add to design look. All rooms flow off terrace glamorous master suite separate private from guest suites. Gourmet kitchen custom cabinets. All move in condition. 2 car garage. For more information and To see more photos:




Luxury New Home

SPACIOUS VILLAGE HOME Villa Niños Heroes Ajijic

$189,000 2 bed | 2 bath | 1743sf

Perfect for year round living or snow birds. Enter off quiet street to large living room with fireplace & view thru to garden. High boveda ceilings and french doors. Sleep alcove/study for short term guests with private bath. Newly renovated kitchen. Bright master suite with large closet & new bath, all view to garden. Walled garden with view to mountains. For more information and To see more photos:

Romantic village home

Villa mirador

$750,000 usd

Ajijic, La Floresta

3 bed | 3.5 bath | 5682sf

Luxury new home private and secure. Designed to embrace the moderate climate with outdoor living. Walled gardens with a pool, bbq and outdoor kitchen. Great floor plan with all rooms flowing out to huge covered terrace Guest floor with kitchen. Tropical landscaping is easy to maintain. For more information and To see more photos:


CASA Marilynn Ajijic Village

2 bed | 2 bath | 2348sf

Enter through the beautiful garden with a cozy entertainment pavillion. Palladian french doors enter the living area with fireplace. Split level dining/ den area open to kitchenthat features hand painted Mexican tiles and a stunning view to the mountains. Master bedroom suite and the guest suite are seperate. Walkable to all amenities. Great location! For more information and To see more photos: 62

When one door closes, another opens... Alexander Graham Bell

The many doorways of San Miguel de Allende. Photo: Madeline Milne 63

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