Mexi Go! Winter Edition 2015

Page 1



A Painter's Palette: Traveling Baja California Surp.40 TRAVEL


Mexican Spirits to lift the Spirit p.18 DRINK

Nature's Wonderland: Tulum p.30 TRAVEL





Traveling to Mexico with a Foreign Vehicle p.21


Muchas Gracias, Todos Santos p.34

Choice is yours at Ventanas p.51


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features REAL ESTATE



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


7 Mouth Wateringly Delicious Mexican Lunches By Joel Hansen Carnitas, Menudo, Chile Rellenos: from grandma's kitchen to the taco stands of Central Mexico Mexi-Go! takes your taste buds on a ride.



18 5 Mexican Spirits to lift the Spirit

By Diana Osuna


Everyone knows Tequila, but have you met Mescal, Raisilla or their distant cousins, Sotol and Bacanora? Keep it in the family, we always say.


28 It's all in the Details By Cindy Bouchard Canadian expat, interior decorator and boutique hotel operator, Cindy shares some of her design inspirations with us.

TRAVEL 30 Nature's Wonderland: Tulum






By Crystal Blue Tulum is many things including clear turquoise waters, white fine sand beaches, a charming rustic town, ecochic hotels, cenotes and thick jungle hikes to ancient Mayan pyramids.

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

40 Painter's Palette: Traveling Baja

$19.95 / 3 issues

41 Casa Kootenay: Baja B&B

California Sur

Where the desert meets the Pacific Ocean there is an array of colour and diversity that rivals any destination on this planet.

By Gabriel Jones Canadian owners make this little beach front B&B the perfect place to explore the waters of the Sea of Cortes and the city of La Paz.


features REAL ESTATE



34 Muchas Gracias, Todos Santos By Wendy Rains It started with a birthday vacation and twelve years later Wendy and her 90 year old father still call Todos Santos home.

36 Hurricane Heroes By Bryan Jauregui Surviving one of the worst hurricanes to hit the Baja is one thing, recovery is another.



38 Life in La Paz By Susan Fogel The seaside capital city of Baja California Sur showed its true red and white as Canadians flocked to support the recovery efforts from hurricane Odile.



RETIREMENT 20 -23 GOOD TO KNOW Understanding Residency Visas Traveling to Mexico with a Foreign Vehicle Preparing a Mexican Will Pack your Bags







LOOKING FOR YOUR MEXICAN DREAM HOME? Join Mexi-Go! and a selection of pre-screened real estate developments and real estate agents at our MEXI-GO! EXPO this spring in Calgary on March 7th and our seminars on buying real estate being held across Western Canada in the month of March. Register for your free ticket.


Luxury Real Estate

Inspiration or aspiration, Mexi-Go! shares a couple of the top residences in Mexico currently for sale.


Choice is yours at Ventanas

Ventanas Residences in Los Cabos offers owners so much more than just a well-built vacation property. There truly is something for everyone.

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


EXPO& RETIREMENT SEMINARS Join us at these Mexi-Go! events to learn about retirement & real estate in Mexico MEXI-GO! EXPOS CALGARY: March 7th at the Deerfoot Inn EDMONTON: March 14th at Chateau la Coombe




Editor-in-Chief, Art Director



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

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

A founding partner of Tibshirani Avocats/Lawyers in Canada and MEXLAW in Mexico, Charles has more than 30 years' experience as a lawyer and has been involved in numerous real estate transactions, the management and administration of condominiums and in co-ownership law. For the past ten years as a practicing lawyer he has focused his practice on international real-estate transactions.







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

Cindy Bouchard, an interior designer and expat Canadian runs a Boutique Inn, Villa Amor del Mar in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. She and her husband Chris are living and lovin’ in Vallarta–Nayarit. If you want more info on La Cruz or desire… a very special vacation contact

Writer, traveler, adventurer, anthropologist, educator, founder of Enlightened Globetrekker. a native of North Carolina, USA, she spent last year exploring Tulum and now lives in the Marshall Islands, south pacific. Join her global adventure at




RETIREMENT AND REAL ESTATE SEMINARS MEDICINE HAT: March 10th REGINA: March 11th SASKATOON: March 12th RED DEER: March 15th CALGARY: March 17th KAMLOOPS: March 23rd KELOWNA: March 24th VICTORIA: March 26th REGISTER TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE All events are free of charge and open to the public. LOCATIONS TBD

MULEGE OASIS Photo: Zach Harrison Photographer, Cinematographer



Madeline Milne

Art Director Madeline Milne Designer Oskar Stark Contributors Marcia Blondin Cindy Bouchard Joel Hansen Gabe Jones Moralea Milne Wendy Rains Bryan Jáuregui, Marcia Blondin Susan Fogel Audrey Royem Crystal Blue Charles Tibshirani ADVERTISING AND SALES Gabriel Jones | Sales Director




ships, professionally and personally, more sincere. Some of it is learning the ropes; some of it is a real change in how I approach the things that are important (and not so important).

elcome 2015! This year may be the year you change your life. Are you ready to take that leap? To pack your bags and head to Mexico, fulfilling a life-long dream to retire somewhere tropical? What is stopping you? Moving to Mexico is an experience that will test your patience, your fortitude and your ability to drink margaritas every day but the rewards can be substantial. New friendships, opening your heart and mind to new experiences. A renewal of your life. I can only speak from my own experience but I know many people who have come here and slipped seamlessly into their new sun-filled lives. Others hit a few bumps along the way, but they say challenging yourself helps to keep you young. A week in an all-inclusive is vastly different than a month in a self-sufficient condo which is hugely different from living full-time through the summer heat and humidity. Research, talking to others who have made the move already, visiting Mexico more than once and at different times of the year so you can experience the changes and learning a little Spanish are all important steps to making the transition much smoother. I have been here in Mexico full-time for about 3.5 years and it is just now that I feel like I found my rhythm. The flow of my day seems to be calmer; expectations more realistic; relation-

There are plenty of sites online that can help answer your questions, and some excellent Facebook groups whose members are quick to share their expertise and opinions. Take it all with a grain of salt because one of the biggest lessons you will learn here is that everyone’s experiences are different. At we are constantly updating our website with new information that will answer many of your questions and probably some you didn’t know you had. With all of the inquires we get here at Mexi-Go! we decided that it was time to take our ‘Question and Answer’ show on the road. You can now meet with one of our experts at an upcoming Mexi-Go! event who will run you through the basics and answer all your questions as best they can. You can see a list of all the scheduled events at And no, it’s not a timeshare presentation. Do you have questions about realizing your dreams of a life in Mexico? Feel free to send me an email. I am always happy to give my expat advice. Happy New Year! Safe travels, Madeline

Catherine Nash | Riviera Maya

How to buy...

Joel Hansen | Business Development

Join Mexi-Go! and a selection of real estate products aimed at Canadians interested in purchasing retirement or vacation properties in Mexico.

MARKETING AND PR Veronica Rivas Jeff Castañeda CONTACT US! Special appreciation to ProMexico for their generous contributions. Mexi-Go! is published by Canadian Marketing Strategies S de RL de CV Copyright (2014)

Life is short. Buy the beach house.

Learn from our expert-led seminars, meet developers, real estate brokers, and expats who have made the leap. Learn more and register for free admission at Weekly wisdom on life in Mexico


Mulege, Baja California Sur

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

Learn more at the Mexi-Go! Expo in Calgary March 7th, 2015

Mexi-Go! Retirement Seminars for dates, locations and free registration.

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

Join Mexi-Go! in: Medicine Hat Regina Saskatoon Edmonton Calgary Kamloops Kelowna Victoria


Explore the possibilities on your next Real Estate Vacation

Visit page 53 for more info on your next Real Estate Vacation


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Sayulita World Stand Up Paddle & Paddleboard Championship, Spring Equinox

There are a number of occasions that are celebrated in almost every town in Mexico and you can find yourself in the midst of gaiety, dancing and music in any zocalo during these times.




Carnaval is officially celebrated across Mexico for five days, leading up to Ash Wednesday. It is a time to let your inhibitions loose before the restraints of Lent. Mazatlan, Veracruz and La Paz are renowned for their revelry.

Puerto Vallarta Birding Festival - March 5-8, at least 30 endemics and up to

Semana Santa / Holy Week - early April,

400 species can be found in the different habitats and ecosystems of the area.

Carnaval Veracruz - Feb 10-18 Carnaval Mazatlan - Feb 12-17

Feria de Tonala (Guadalajara) - late March / early April, many handicrafts located within

the Tonala area where you will find a wealth of local pottery and ceramics, held both before and after the Semana Santa celebrations

Spring Equinox at ChichĂŠn ItzĂĄ, Yucatan. The spring equinox is celebrated in many traditions as a time of fertility, regeneration and rebirth.

Todo Santos Art Festival - Feb 21-28 A

week-long celebration of Mexican culture that typically features live music, dance and theatre performances, painting & drawing exhibitions, lectures on local environmental & social issues, piano and poetry recitals & lots more.



Dia de la Bandera de Mexico (Day of the National Flag) - Feb 24th, often known as


simply Flag Day, where the colours of the country's flag are honoured and many street vendors sell small flags to wave, celebrated throughout Mexico.

Festival Cultural de la Mariposa Monarca, end of Feb/early March, Angangueo, Michoacan (reserve hotel rooms early), El Rosario Butterfly Reserve.

Ajijic Mexican National Chili Cook-off Feb 27 - March 1, Indulge in the chili and margarita contests as well as browse the arts and crafts vendors from throughout Mexico.

Every year on the autumn and spring equinoxes the light of the sun makes a play of light and shadow which makes it look like a serpent is slithering along the steps of the pyramid. The effect begins in the late afternoon, around 4 pm, and lasts for an hour or so. The serpent appears for a few days - from around March 19th to the 23rd, but on the actual date of the equinox the effect is most obvious.

Spring Equinox at Teotihuacan The archae-

ological site of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is also a favorite spot to celebrate the Spring Equinox. On this date hundreds of thousands of visitors visit the site, many dressed all in white. They climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun where they perform rituals and stretch out their arms to receive the special energy they believe is present on that day.

San Miguel de Allende Tango Festival - March 12-15, 2015 Don't miss

this fabuous chancce to see some of the world's best Tango dancers, and dance the night away in this colonial gem.

Festival Gastronomico Manzanillo Throughout March local chefs will focus on the regional cuisine of Manzanillo and traditional Mexican cuisine.

Easter festivities take place all over Mexico, many of which have a strong religious theme. Others are just fun, such as locals smashing confetti-filled eggs on each other. Easter is Sunday April 5

Guanajuato Dance of the Flowers, Thurs before Holy week, The Baile de las Flores,

a time-honored tradition held each year, features music, young men and women all decked-out in fancy dress, and the exchanging of flowers of all types, sizes and materials. The next day, the mines are opened up to the public for celebrations and sightseeing and altars to La Virgen de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) - the patron of miners - are decorated.

May Labour Day (Dia del Trabajo) - May 1st, a public holiday in Mexico and celebrated with fervour in many communities.

Cinco de Mayo - May 5th, the country's

notable anniversary of its historic and famous victory over the French at Puebla.

Cancun International Gay Festival - midMay, a spectacular event with a range of gay-re-

lated activities, including beach barbecues, parties, live music and colourful costumes.

Sayulita World Stand Up Paddle & Paddleboard Championship, May 10-17. Over 300 of the top men and women athletes from over thirty countries will compete in eleven different disciplines to win team trophies as well as individual medals

Los Cabos Green Fest 2015 - May 14-17, Los Cabos Green Fest is the first sustainable festival combining entertainment, sports, and outreach on environmental awareness issues.


Your Mexican destination for Canadian information on travel, real estate, retirement and lifestyle.

MEXI-GO.CA combines everything you have come to expect from the magazine – great writing, immersive stories, gorgeous photography – with regular updates on Mexican travel, real estate, retirement and lifestyle from the experts you trust. Our website is a resource for anyone who loves Mexico. Whether you’re in the thick of planning your next vacation, dreaming of a tropical retirement or looking for tips and tricks to smooth your process of relocating, here’s some of what you’ll find online: Real Estate Listings, featuring beautiful pho-

tography, video, well-crafted property descriptions and contact information that leads you directly to reputable real estate agents that have partnered with Mexi-Go!

Vacation Rental Listings, featuring the same

level of photography and valuable information, Mexi-Go! rental bookings are managed by our in-house professional staff so you can be assured that what you are booking is the real thing.

Past issues of Mexi-Go! Magazine and

plenty of other great articles that don’t make it into the magazine but are shared online. Our blog updates nearly daily with fresh stories on travel, real estate, updates to immigration policies and more.

Newsletters are a great way to stay informed

about Mexico and what Mexi-Go! is up to. You can sign up to receive the lifestyle newsletter or the real estate newsletter or both. Each are delivered monthly and we promise we won’t spam you.

Highlights from the site



Partners and discounts, are always a great


way to get more out of your time in Mexico. We have negotiated a number of great deals for our readers. Enjoy.

Real Estate Vacations are a unique way to

explore a development before purchasing. Spend a week with one of our vetted development partners to experience the dream. Discounted far below market value, these vacations also offer great purchasing incentives to Mexi-Go! readers. So, what are yo u wa i t i ng f or ?

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We live here. We travel this country and we share our first hand knowledge with you.

Real Estate and Travel deals Our partners recognize the importance of the Canadian traveler in Mexico and as such you are rewarded by being a part of our readership.




Chili Relleno:OAXACA A lunchtime favourite, chilli relleno is found on most menus at traditional comida restaurants. A roasted fresh poblano pepper is stuffed with cheese, such as queso Chihuahua or queso Oaxaca, covered in an egg batter and fried. It is

usually served with a thin red sauce and a side of refried beans and rice. In some areas like Oaxaca they often add shrimp and in Puebla the stuffing often includes picadillo meat made of diced pork, raisins and nuts, seasoned with cinnamon.


Mouth-wateringly delicious Mexican lunches By Joel Hansen

Menudo: GRANDMA'S KITCHEN Feeling brave? Maybe a tad crudo? (many Mexicans believe menudo is a remedy for hangover).



Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach (tripe) simmered in a thin broth that is time intensive to prepare, taking four to seven hours to cook.


There are two common varieties, blanco and rojo. The blanco broth is a thin, clear soup and consists of the stock only. The rojo has been prepared with chilies, which impart the ‘rojo’ colour. The type of broth is often regional with the blanco popular in the northern regions and rojo more common in the south.

Generally, lime, chopped onions, and chopped cilantro are added, as well as crushed oregano and crushed red chili peppers; it is often chilled and reheated, which results in a more concentrated flavour. Menudo is usually eaten with tortillas or other breads, such as bolillo. Menudo is traditionally a family food often prepared by the whole family on a Sunday morning. The soup is somewhat spicy, and the meat tender from the long cooking process and while it might not be for everyone, millions of Mexicans can’t be wrong, be sure to give it a try.

Lamb Barbacoa: Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that originates in the Caribbean, where the term “barbecue” come from. In Mexico, it generally refers to meat slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally in Mexico, cooked in a pit dug into the ground and covered with maguey leaves. In Northern Mexico, most barbacoa stands use beef or goat, but the best bar-


bacoa comes from central Mexico where they use lamb.

der and flavoured with adobo seasoning (a mixture of spices).

Barbacoa stands offer either suave (non-fried) or dorado (crispy) tacos. The salsas that accompany most barbacoa are often very hot, so be sure to try a small taste before covering your tacos.

Don’t forget a cup of consume with your tacos, a broth with chunks of meat and chickpeas into which you add cilantro, squeezed lime, and raw onion at your discretion.

As you can imagine from the slow-cooked process, the meat is fork-ten-

Just like Carnitas, a good barbacoa is sold out before the early afternoon.

Cemitas: PUEBLA The cemita is a type of torta (sandwich) served in Puebla. The main difference between the cemita and traditional torta is the bread they use. The bread is made with egg and has a slightly sweet taste, and usually incorporates sesame seeds. The most popular version of the sandwich is

Or “little meats” are the Mexican taco stands’ answer to American pulled pork. The most famous version of the dish comes from Michoacán, in central Mexico, but you can find carnita stands across Mexico, with our all time favourite stall located right outside the doors of our office

in Puerto Vallarta. Flavoured with a hint of orange, onion, and occasionally some warm herbs or spices, like cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, or oregano. All it needs is a squeeze of lime, some chopped onion and cilantro, and a dash of hot salsa to form a delicious and affordable lunch.

These sandwiches are a must eat when in Puebla and you will have no trouble finding a good one, there are sandwich shops on nearly every corner.

Ceviche:BY THE BEACH Pork shoulder and other cuts of meat are braised in lard in large open vats until tender and succulent.

Enter into any of the thousands of “Mariscos” restaurants around Mexico and order some ceviche, you won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to try the chicharron “pork rind” and the costilla “rib” tacos.

Ceviche is seafood marinated in lime, anywhere from a few minutes to three plus hours, depending on the type of seafood, and often mixed with diced onion, carrot, cilantro and chili.

Most good carnita stands are sold out by 1pm, so be sure to get there early.

There are many variations of ceviche around Mexico, and of course many different ingredients from white fish, oysters, octopus, prawns and scallops. For a light and delicious lunch, order a few varieties, served on a tostada with a slice of avocado, and a cold Pacifico.

Carne su Jugo: JALISCO ‘Meat in its juices’ is a traditional lunch special served in the small comida restaurants and is extremely popular in the state of Jalisco. Flank steak is simmered with a tomatillo sauce and mixed with pinto beans and crispy crumbled bacon, and served

in a bowl with the sauce ladled over it. You are provided with a side plate of limes, pickled onions, chopped cilantro, diced raw onions, sliced radish, and whole chile de arbol, any of which you may add to create your own version of this popular dish.

The beef should be tender and the bacon crispy. But it’s the broth that can really make or break this dish, so make sure you save some tortillas to soak all the remaining juices. It is often served with aqua fresca and a dessert for under 50 pesos.



made with beef milanesa, “a thinly pounded and deep-fried piece of beef”, piled high with sliced avocado, paella cheese, onions, the herb pápalo and salsa roja.




Mexican Spirits to Lift the Spirits

by Diana Osuna Additional reporting by Joel Hansen

Similar in origin but produced using different methods, the subtle flavours of these spirits speak to a long Mexican tradition of distilling alcoholic beverages. Their common denominator is the maguey or agave plant, whose juices, transformed into mezcal, tequila, raicilla, sotol and bacanora, are synonymous with Mexico, where those plants grow from the deserts in the north to

the jungles of the south. The five spirits are similar but definitely not the same. Their unique aroma, flavor and color depend on the type of maguey they are made from, which in turn depends on the soil and weather conditions in that particular region and the distilling process used, among other factors. Many roads lead to the fruits of the agave plant.



itors into tequila disciples with concoctions like “La Batanga”.

Racilla has unique taste and though officially a mezcal, was renamed to raicilla so it could avoid being taxed and restricted by the Colonial government back in the day. There are records going as far back as the 16th Century of raicilla being made by indigenous communities, which equated its consumption with mystical experiences.



The method for distilling raicilla is similar to that used for mezcal and tequila, the only difference being the type of plant and its age. The agave it is made from is known as lechuguilla and must be at least six years old before it is cut.


Lechuguilla is native to Jalisco, which explains why raicilla is produced exclusively in that state. Raicilla is a popular beverage in Puerto Vallarta, especially among foreign visitors to this tourism destination of breathtaking scenery that lies within the beverage’s appellation of origin. The best Raicillas are found off the beaten path. You can find some great Raicilla at side of the road distilleries on the way to San Sebastian

Sometimes it’s best to sample them in the towns where they are produced; other times they’re best accompanied with a traditional dish in a fine Mexican restaurant. It all depends on your mood, curiosity and how much time you have on your hands. But there is no doubt that these spirits will delight even the most discerning of palates.

By far the most popular spirit in Mexico, its appellation of origin demands compliance with strict standards: if it wasn’t produced in Jalisco or certain municipalities of Nayarit, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas and Michoacán and doesn’t contain

and El Tuito. But the best Raicilla I have ever had is at the Rinconcito Hotel in Mayto Beach in Cabo Coriententes. Fernando, the owner of the hotel, gets it from a friend who makes it in a small town close to Mayto called Chacala (not the one in Nayarit). It is smoky and smooth with that slightly wild taste that makes Racialla so enjoyable. Head to Mayto for the day to enjoy the secluded beaches and if you talk sweet enough, Fernando might be willing to sell you a jug from his personal stash.

at least 51% blue agave, it isn’t tequila. If you really want to get to the roots of this particular spirit, a visit to Casa Cuervo in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, is a must. Here you’ll also find La Capilla, where Javier Delgado converts his vis-

For one of the best selection of Tequilas, Mezcals and Racillas in the region pull up a stool at El Mezcalito in Sayulita. The owner Arturo Gangoiti provides a friendly atmosphere and is passionate about the traditions of Mexico and his love of all things agave. He will walk you through all the tasty options and as a bonus, they have some of the best tamales. But just make sure you are up for it. Many have slipped into this little hole in the wall a few times with the idea of just having one…

Mezcal They say the best mezcals are produced in Oaxaca, where an ageold tradition of distilling the beverage and the type of maguey it is made from have earned the region appellation of origin. Some brands have a maguey worm suspended in the liquid at the bottom of the bottle, which is supposed to go down with the last swig. Needless to say, Oaxaca is the best place to sample mezcal. One option is to book a room at the Azul Oaxaca

boutique hotel in the city center and order a shot of the king of mezcals: Casco Legendario. If a trip to Oaxaca is out of the question, there are some notable establishments in Puerto Vallarta that can serve you a topnotch mezcal. Head to Solar, the bar side of Barracuda on Playa Cameron. Ask to talk to Puin, the owner. He will act like he doesn't speak much English but once you start talking mezcal he will open right up. Try the house spe-

cial cocktails made with Union Mezcal. The one with pineapple, tajin and smoky mezcal will give you the energy you need for an all-nighter. They also have an excellent selection of racilla and tequila.


In 2002, the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango were granted appellation of origin, resulting in a considerable increase in its consumption and distribution. Sotol is an organic beverage and has an alcohol content of between 38 and 45%. Made using

We Recommend:

traditional methods, it has a strong smoky flavor. There are several brands on the market and its varieties include young, aged and rested sotol. You can also find cured varieties made with damiana, wereke, golden shower tree flowers and green apple. The perfect accompaniment to fresh foods, its aged version is an excellent digestive, especially after eating red meat. One of the more traditional, well known

brands is El Excéntrico, produced by a distillery located between Coahuila and Durango. Tours of the facilities are available and you get to sample the end product.

Bacanora Wrapped in the mists of time, centuries before Tequila - Mexicanos and Opatas Indians produced small batches of ancient bacanora in the canyons of the Sierra Madre mountains in Sonora, Mexico.

rich, red soil; pure springfed water; fire; wild yeasts and copper stills. That’s it. Nada mas.

Bacanora is perhaps the purest artisanal spirit on the Planet: Wild Silvestre agave hearts are packed out by burro; taken from

In recent years, bacanora distilleries have sought tighter regulation in an attempt to reach a larger market.

Like raicilla and sotol, bacanora was once prohibited and was also associated with otherworldly experiences.

TEQUILA: PATRON SILVER Patron, next to Jose Cuervo is probably the most recognizable brands of Tequila. MEZCAL: SCORPION 3 YEAR ANEJO The smoke plays with vanilla and ginger spice over 3 years in oak caskets to create something really unique. RAICILLA: CRISANTA JOVEN You will need to visit Mascota, Jalisco. No website but look for them on twitter @Crisantamx

SOTOL: HACIENDA DE CHIHUAHUA SOTOL PLATINUM Water white colour and distinct agave nose, initially with hints of lemon and summer flowers! pepper. mx/indexsotol.html BACANORA: CIELO ROJO BACANORA BLANCO Owner Roberto Contreras Mayoral, a Cowboy’s cowboy and Master Distiller, whose grandfather made artisanal Bacanora during the time of the Mexican revolution, carries on this tradition.

Word has it the best bacanora is found at its source. We recommend you stay at Hacienda Los Magueyes in Bacanora, Sonora.

Sotol and bacanora aren’t commonly found in restaurants and bars around the bay but they do sell both sotol and bacanora at import store Le Europa so perhaps stick your head in there and see if you can find a bottle to try something new. You can tell your friends you drank the drink that was the tequila of 20 years ago!

Here you can visit the nurseries where the vivipara agave is grown, the bottling factory and warehouses. Containing up to 40% alcohol, bacanora is a spirit for seasoned throats only.


This spirit is obtained from a maguey known as sereque, a desert variety of the plant that is so fragile it was classed as an endangered species just over a decade ago.



GOOD TO KNOW: Mexico offers a number of different types of visas to visitors depending on their needs. Which one is right for you?

hundred different ways. We try to explain the various types of visas and the requirements here but note that everyone’s experience is different. Do not be discouraged; be patient, make many copies of all of your documents and be prepared for the unexpected.

The immigration rules in Mexico change often and have a tendency to be interpreted a

In all reality though, Mexico’s immigration policies are easy to navigate, affordable and

Non-Immigrant Visas Vistante - Visitor Permit for Short Term Visits The 'Visitante' permit is intended for visitors, tourists and business visitors, to Mexico for short term (six months or less). For trips longer than six months, a non-immigrant or immigrant visa should be considered, though you can leave the country (for a minimum of three days) and upon return receive a new visitor permit. Visitor permits are issued when you arrive in Mexico by completing a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) - these forms are issued by airlines and are also available at ports of entry. The visitor permit is valid for up to 180 days and cannot be renewed. Upon its expiry you will need to leave the country. There is a fee of about US$20 for this permit, which is usually included in the price of your flight (under taxes and fees). If you arrive by road or ship, and travel beyond the border zone, you will have to pay for this permit separately.



Visa de Residente Temporal - Temporary Resident Visa


The Temporary Resident Visa is intended for people who wish to live in Mexico for more than 6 months and not longer than 4 years. The Temporary Resident Visa is a renewable long term permit that can be issued for 1, 2, 3 or 4 years (max) and allows unlimited entries to and exits from Mexico. This means that it gives a person the right to live in Mexico for up to 4 years under terms as set out in the visa.

generous. If the tables were turned and you were planning on immigrating to the US or Canada, you would realize just how easy Mexico makes it. In addition, immigrant status in Mexico affords you many of the same rights (and restrictions)of a Mexican national including access to seniors' services, healthcare and education.

There are various categories under which Resident Visa visas are granted. Under the terms of the Temporary Resident Visa, you are authorized to only undertake certain, specific activities which may be lucrative (ie. working visa) or non-lucrative, depending on the visa's classification. One of the criteria that the Mexican authorities require for the issuance of a Temporary Resident Visa is that the applicant proves that they have sufficient funds to sustain themselves while in Mexico and/or a proven steady income. The financial requirements have changed in 2014. With few exceptions, the Temporary Resident Visa cannot be issued in Mexico; you must apply in your home country of residence. There are two exceptions to this. If you currently hold a Visitor's Visa and want to exchange it for a residency visa without having to return to your home country: 1) if you have close family in Mexico, and; 2) if you apply for residency on humanitarian grounds, then you are able to change your status from visitor to resident without leaving Mexico. When applied for from Canada, the Temporary Visa itself is not issued by foreign consulates. Instead, they process and pre-approve the application and when you arrive in Mexico you have to register at your local immigration office within 30 days and acquire the Visa (a plastic card) in Mexico. This process can take at least two visits to the office and how

Residente Temporal - Renewable for up to 4 years. Residente Permanente - does not need to be renewed. FMM - Tourist Visa valid for up to 180 days.

One important distinction is that non-immigrant visa holders are allowed to own and operate foreign plated vehicles in Mexico. Permanent Residents are not. This is relative if you are planning on driving your Canadian vehicle to Mexico.

smooth it goes often depends on the mood of the person at the counter. Once applied for and granted, the Temporary Resident Visa may be issued for up to four years (or yearly, with annual renewals required in Mexico) and after this four year period, it cannot be renewed: at the end of the four year period you must apply for a Permanent Resident Visa or leave the country.

Permanent Resident Immigrant Visas

Permanent Resident Visas are issued to foreign nationals who have the intention of living in Mexico for long periods of time (over six months) AND who intend to seek permanent residency in Mexico. Visa de Residente Permanente Permanent Resident Visa The Permanent Resident Visa is intended for people seeking permanent residency status in Mexico or those who may seek eventual Mexican Citizenship. To apply for and be granted this visa, the applicants must: have certain family connections in Mexico, or apply for retirement status and prove they have sufficient monthly income (or substantial assets) to support themselves, or

have four years of regular status as Temporary Resident (two years if legally married to a Mexican national or permanent resident), or be granted residency on humanitarian grounds. If you are retired and your goal is to seek long-term residency in Mexico, or to become a Mexican Citizen, you should apply for a Permanent Resident Visa. Upon receiving immigrated status, you will receive a plastic card that looks like a driver's license. This card enables you to pass through Mexico's borders as if you were a Mexican national. It is important to note that whatever visa you consider you will not lose your Canadian citizenship and you do not have to hold any specific visa to own property in Mexico. For information on Mexican Consulate offices in Western Canada. www.embamex.sre.gob. mx/canada_eng

By Audrey Royem

Traveling to Mexico with a foreign vehicle How to Enter Mexico with a Foreign Vehicle? When entering Mexico with a foreign vehicle you need to get a temporary importation permit (TIP). You can order this permit online and get it sent to you before you travel, or you can get it at the border from Aduanda (customs) when you cross. If you purchase the permit online, you have between ten to sixty days to enter Mexico. The cost of a temporary importation permit differs according to the type of permit you request and the model of your vehicle. Generally the cost is $44USD for the permit, with a guarantee of $200-$400USD, held upon your departure within the terms of the permit. If you are towing another type of vehicle, like a boat or motorhome, it will be added to the same importation permit, along with a comprehensive list of accessories, goods or equipment which are part of the motor home or boat. If you plan to live in Mexico and keep your car there indefinitely, it is recommended that you import it at the border and get Mexican plates.

How long is a TIP valid? This permission is good for 180 days per year. If you want to stay longer in Mexico you must get Temporary Residency and notify Aduana of the change in your visa; leaving the country and coming back as a tourist with another 180 days does not have the same function. If you have a work permit as a Temporary Resident ,or once you are a Permanent Resident, you cannot

There are a lot of questions from expats who are driving their foreign vehicles into Mexico. It is important to understand how your vehicle can enter and remain in Mexico legally. While each case is different and there are some exceptions to every rule, we have outlined the following questions to help orient you, as you prepare to travel or relocate to Mexico.

have a foreign vehicle. At that point you should consider permanently importing your vehicle. Let's say you drove to Mexico as a tourist and you fell in love with the country and want to stay longer than the 180 days on your visa and car permit. There is a loop hole that their system is not able to currently detect. You decide to initiate the visa process by flying back to the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver. At that point your vehicle is no longer valid in the country because it is linked to your tourist visa and you should not leave the country without the vehicle, however, you are working towards your Temporary Residency. Once you get residency you must notify Aduana of the change in your visa status and they will update it. Again, this is not completely by the book, but it seems that their system is not updated enough to know the difference. I recommend doing it within the 180 days of the initial process though so that the permit does not lapse.

What are the Consequences of a Vehicle with an Expired TIP? If you are driving on an expired TIP your vehicle can be confiscated. Will it be confiscated? That is hard to say. Who stops you and what type of documentation they ask for can make a big difference. For example, Transito officers are looking for driving infractions, so if you’re are speeding they might pull you over, but they usually don't ask for TIP documentation, they want to see your ID

and perhaps a title--actually, more so they are fishing for a small mordida and will let you go with a smile (your decision if you want to feed Mexican corruption). However, if you are stopped by a Federal Police officer, they might not be so forgiving. They may confiscate your vehicle, they may ask discretely for a not so small mordida. Either way, it pays to have your documentation in order to avoid the scare that either of these situations may present. If the vehicle is illegally in the country there are a couple options, one is getting a special permission to drive out of the country.

Can I sell my car in Mexico? If you imported your vehicle temporarily, you signed an agreement that says you will not sell your vehicle in Mexico with the TIP condition. If you were to sell it, you would be compromising both parties: you would never be able to import a vehicle again, and the buyers is going to be driving around a car that is not legally in their name, and thus vulnerable under the eye of the law. If you want to sell your car in Mexico, you must first permanently import it or drive it out of the country, expunge it from your record and then the buyer can import it temporarily under their name. Buyer beware!

Do I need a Mexican driver’s license? As long as you have a valid license from your home country, it is valid in Mexico. However, it is quite easy to get a Mexican license if you have

proper immigration.

What to do if in an accident or if the car is stolen while in Mexico? If you have an accident, you should go to the nearest police station to the crash site and file a notice of accident or damage suffered as imported vehicle, within a period not exceeding 15 days.

What if your car is totaled in an accident or broken down and not able to drive back to the border? It is necessary to remove this car from the Aduana records if you would like to import another vehicle. A number of forms and instructions can be found at the local Aduana office. If it is a robbery, the importer has to first go to the Ministerio Publico to file a notice of robo and then go to an Aduana office to cancel the permit, providing relevant documentation and data that can prove the temporary importation. You must also contact your insurance company. If it is recovered, then that is all you will need to do, assuming that the importation documentation is still intact. If it is not recovered, you will need to contact Aduana to file a claim and evidence that will clear you of the assumption that you have sold the car. You will forfeit the deposit left at the border and pay a tax (up to 40% of what is received from the insurance company).

Who can drive my car while I am away from Mexico? If you have Temporary Residency and you plan

to take a trip it is not recommended that you allow anyone to drive your vehicle. If someone is going to drive your car refer to Article 106 of the Aduana law which states that immediate family members can drive the vehicle. Make sure you have proper documentation to back up the relationship though. For example, if your spouse drives your car you can prove the marriage with your marriage license and leave a copy of your immigration cards.

How can I get Mexican plates for my car? Unless your car is permanently imported to Mexico, you cannot get Mexican plates. Foreign plates are often a target for police officers. This is a motivating factor for those who are interested in “Mexicanizing” their vehicle, especially if the vehicle stays in Mexico. Quite often the time and pay-off associated with having foreign plates justifies paying for the permanent importation of your vehicle. If you have more questions about driving in Mexico please contact me for a consultation or you can refer to the FB group, On the Road in Mexico. Safe travels!

Audrey Royem has a business in Sayulita, Nayarit offering information and services related to real estate, immigration, vehicles and business in Mexico. She is an AMPI registered real estate agent and can successfully guide you through the ins-and-outs of living and operating in Mexico.





"Seniors may want to enjoy a vacation with access to varying levels of care during their stay. They may come for a few weeks or months."

Affordable Senior Care in Paradise


exico is fast becoming the most popular international retirement destination for Canadian seniors, who choose Mexico for it’s amazing weather, white sandy beaches, and colourful culture, as well as it’s low cost of living and world-class health care. Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coast, is one of the most popular Mexican retirement destinations for Canadians. Not only are there 10,000 expats currently calling PV home, but it is also home to many internationally recognized hospitals, dental clinics and plastic surgery centres. This has made PV not only a favourite vacation and retirement destination, but also a hot spot for medical tourism and, increasingly, assisted living. As reported in a recent CNN news report, quality care and easy accessibility to bilingual doctors in Puerto Vallarta make medical and dental tourism very attractive.

Service packages can include all or a combination of:



• Dental/Medical Tourism Recovery with nurses around the clock.


• Assisted Senior Living (all inclusive options available) • Memory, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care • Senior Vacations (all inclusive options available) For more information about PDI’s assisted living and retirement opportunities contact:

MEXICO SENIOR LIVING specialises in assisted and retirement living in and around Puerto Vallarta. “Our Senior Living Programs are a natural extension of our existing real estate services and are specifically designed around the individual’s retirements and assisted living needs,” says Troy Powell, President of PDI Companies. “Our transformation centers are expat communities developed in prime real estate locations and equipped with first-class facilities, including temporary and permanent guest rooms, pools, massage centers, exercise studios, and outdoor eating and garden areas." PDI has assembled a network of experienced forward-thinking doctors and healthcare professionals who offer both care and guidance to residents. "Our practitioners take time to listen to patients´ needs and develop individual, holistic solutions based on proper diet, exercise and stress reduction philosophies -- all of which can be achieved at our senior living communities.”

CUSTOMIZED PACKAGES TO FIT ALL NEEDS “We can help in a variety of situations; a patient may come for a medical surgery and recover in company of their loved ones, in a vacation-like setting. We take care of transportation to doctor appointments, arranging meals, and entertainment; all the details are looked after to make the recovery as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Other seniors may want to

enjoy a vacation with access to varying levels of care during their stay. They may come for a few weeks or months, and eventually some may also become long-term, full time residents.”

TRANSFORMATION CENTERS STAFFED WITH EXPERIENCED, FORWARD-THINKING DOCTORS PDI has partnered with top medical and dental professionals to create a network of wide ranging specialties, from simple dental work with an English speaking dentist, to elective surgeries like hip replacement, using highly skilled, internationally trained surgeons, augmented with support from nurse recovery care, right up to twenty-four hour gerontology services. Their network of medical professionals and first class housing, assures high quality care, low prices, and friendly, personalized service, where doctors and nurses are available at all times. In many cases payment can be made with insurance coverage with a pre-approval from your home country. Additionally, major Mexican medical insurance is offered at affordable rates for individuals and their families. Accommodation inventory includes beachfront condos and villas, ocean view condos, and gorgeous residential homes, with sizes ranging from studio to five bedrooms. Assisted living offers nurses who live on site and are always available to help, special nutrition assistance programs, exercise classes, yoga, tai chi, stretch and tone, aqua-and aerobics classes, regularly scheduled health screening clinics, pharmacy delivery services, and scheduled transportation to medical and dental appointments. Amenities include pools, air-conditioning in guest rooms, satellite TV and internet, round the clock security, housekeeping, and three buffet meals per day. Guests are provided with medical alert necklaces, if desired, to signal an emergency. Each client can select their own custom package for their individual needs to fit any and all budgets. If you are ready to save thousands on dental bills, get off a waiting list and schedule an elective surgery according to your own timeline, or if you are interested in the possibility of an assisted living vacation or retirement for you or your loved ones, PDI could be the solution.

By Charles Tibshirani

Preparing a Will in Mexico


ills prepared outside of Mexico are valid in Mexico. It's having them recognized that is a lengthy, complicated and expensive process. Getting a US or Canadian Will recognized in Mexico requires that it be translated into Spanish by an official court approved translator. It also requires that it be “Apostiled” in the country where it was prepared. This process can take several months and can cost several hundred dollars to complete. If certain issues arise, the Will may be required to be probated before the Mexican courts which adds years to the process of transfer of title. During this time property in Mexico may not be disposed of and management may be difficult.

A recent tragic incident has emphasized the importance of having a Will. One of our clients died suddenly of a heart attack and had no Will made in Mexico. His Mexican family claimed that he died intestate, therefore his children born here and his second wife were entitled to his estate. His Canadian family, relying on a previous, older Will, claimed to be his only

Most foreigners who own property will do so through a Trust. If that is the case, beneficiaries are named in the Trust Deed, thereby eliminating the need of preparing a Will in Mexico for that property. However, it should be noted that only immediate family members (wife, children) can be beneficiaries of trust property. Furthermore, bank accounts and other property such as vehicles and jewelry are not included in the Trust Deed and therefore require a Will or the probate process to be transferred. Having a Will prepared in Mexico is relatively easy and inexpensive and it is recommended to avoid delays and complications in the transfer of property.

legal heirs. This dispute will definitely cost thousands of dollars and last several years before it is resolved. It could have been avoided. Assuming you have a Will prepared in Canada or the U.S., should you have a Will prepared in Mexico if you have property here? The short answer is an unqualified “Yes”. Here’s why.

Here are some key points to remember: 1. Make sure to cross-reference other Wills that you do not want revoked. Explicitly refer to them and declare that they remain valid. The reason is that Mexican Wills implicitly revoke previous Wills unless otherwise indicated; 2. Mexican Wills must be in Spanish so unless your knowledge of that language is above average (considering the complexity of terms) make sure you have a trusted person help you understand and translate it for you before you sign. We recommend to our clients to have a lawyer draw up the terms of your Will in English and then translate it for the Notary;

3. Although there are no estate taxes in Mexico, this may not be the case in Canada or the U.S. Consider using Trusts created for beneficiaries to avoid triggering taxation in your country of residence; 4. Appoint at least one local Executor who is familiar with the laws and customs of Mexico. Preferably

a professional with integrity. This will help expedite the transfer of property. 5. Although Mexican Law allows for different types of Wills, prefer one prepared by a Notary Public as it is more readily recognized and requires fewer steps to have it officiated.





LOS CABOS HUMANE SOCIETY Dress to the K9'S Annual Gala Dinner Reporting by Lissette Valentin, Photos by Clive Jackman

Los Cabo’s 9th annual Dress to the K9's fundraising gala is one of the top events during high season. Held at the Sky Bar at Hotel Wyndham Los Cabos just two months after the devastation of the powerful hurricane Odile, many of Los Cabos residents and visitors found the time to come out in support this year’s Broadway themed gala dinner. Guests were welcomed with an open martini bar and a silent auction to raise funds for the animals in the streets of Los Cabos. Noshing on a sumptuous buffet, partygoers enjoyed live entertainment, including a Tina Turner impersonator, several past performers from Broadway and a Mexican Frank Sinatra look-alike who wooed the hearts of many ladies in the crowd, a burst of fireworks coloured the whole event as guests jumped into the pool, raising money for the Los Cabos Humane Society. All proceeds from the event, auction and every gala make possible the rebuilding and improvement of the local shelter, finance adoption programs and the weekly spay and neuter campaigns. This is by far the best party of the year and for a terrific cause too. Make sure not to miss it next year. Purchase your tickets online at or consider becoming a patron and regularly donating to this admirable cause.

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By Marcia Blondin

Pack your bags! You've thought long and hard about it, are you ready to make the leap? Long-time Vallarta resident, Canadian ex-pat Marcia Blondin shares her wit and advice in making the move to Vallarta. From neighbourhoods to mouldy leather, there is plenty to consider before calling Mexico home.


ou have come on vacation more than once. Getting to know the certain areas that sing to you like a siren’s song the minute your plane touches ground. Locals are beginning to remember you and nod with a smile when you pass by. A tiny idea pops up while the sweetness of the pina colada dispels the doubts that hang like Spanish moss in front of your face. Why couldn’t you live here? Why couldn’t you do this everyday? Well, maybe not the 10 am pina colada.

The other side of that coin is how beautiful Vallarta becomes after a couple of good downpours; the dust is washed off the jungle. You can stand in the rain…it's warm. It can also be as thick as snow to the point of erasing buildings across the street – that rain you don’t want to stand in as it will knock you to your knees. Those monsoons are usually once a month or so and come with fabulous lightening storms that will literally shake you in your boots (if you still own any).

Why can’t you be warm every day? What joy in shoveling snow surpasses burying your toes in silky sand? It’s a fleeting dream for tourists every winter, dreading the thought of flying North into months more of below zero temperatures. But we're not talking about them, we're talking about you.

You have reached a serious and positive plateau; your mind is made up: you are moving to Vallarta.

If you are absolutely positive the Great Move to Puerto Vallarta is your next priority, then do it. If you have a couple of niggling doubts that won’t go away…read on!

START SLOW First, arrange your life around coming to Vallarta for at least a month and, if you’ve been staying in all-inclusive resorts stop it immediately unless you’ll be packing servants to bring along with your luggage.



Start walking! And talking to ex-pats – this is key and almost all of them are delighted to spread their knowledge and deep love of this strangely magical place you want to call h-o-m-e. It could help you find a place to live, for example. Start researching; get involved with the dozens and dozens of charities in town – even for a few days. This will open your eyes to an entirely different aspect of everyday life in Vallarta.


EXPERIENCE THE WHOLE ENCHILADA If your plan is to dump “snowbird” status and become a full-time resident with perhaps an annual trip “back home” to see friends and family, then take another month of ‘living the dream’ but do it during summertime. The rains usually begin at the end of June and continue into October; try late August…see if you can stand it. Remember you will be moving south of the Tropic of Cancer and many are not prepared for the blistering heat and extremely high humidity, where simply standing still will make you sweat and walking fast is the only way to catch a breeze.

Details to come…and there are thousands of the little buggers. A big one, perhaps the most major detail is – where will you live in Vallarta?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Lao Tzu WHERE TO LAY YOUR HAT Hopefully you have picked a colonia (neighbourhood) that offers you what you want and what you can afford. Next question is to buy or rent? Please, please rent. For a year at least. Get your feet firmly planted on this foreign soil before you find yourself immersed in enough red tape to make you question your sanity. Let us not forget the red tape will be in Spanish. If you are fluent – good for you; if you are not, just relax. Can you buy property in Mexico? Yes. Is it like buying a house or condo in Regina? Absolutely not. Which is another good reason to wait a bit. Look and learn. Again, talk to people – ex-pats – who have bought property too soon, too late, too big, way too small. Do you want to live smack in the middle of town? On the mountainside with a view almost to Japan? Do you want a car? Do you want an entire house with lots of room for guests to come and visit? (Think about that one for a long, long time.) A tiny condo on the beach?

WHAT TO PACK Now comes the hard and harsh reality: What do you need to bring with you? Easy part: sell, give away, donate all winter things except for a couple of light sweaters that you may or may not need in Vallarta. Years ago it was very difficult to find beautiful furniture and home accessories but those days are long gone. So what to do with Grandma’s dining room suite, Great Uncle’s china dishes and crystal glassware, the gorgeous linens, the paintings, a few silly things you have had for years and all the rest of your stuff? Deep breath…and here’s the deal: what ‘works’ in Calgary or Vancouver doesn’t necessarily fly in the tropics. Upholstered things can become ruined in a single summer. It is possible and legal to bring all your personal possessions into Mexico without duty once only. It is extremely expensive but it can be done. One trip only. In other words, if you want everything to be the same here as it was there, why bother moving at all? You want change? Then change. Everything. Sell the house, sell the car(s), sell the contents, bank the cash, bring an ATM debit card to Mexico and start over. That is, after all, the point. Your regular clothes won’t work right either in the tropics. The good thing is – we have a couple of outstanding consignment stores in Vallarta that will take your zealously overpacked garments, and sell them, or donate them to a charity. Which brings up leather goods; your fabulous black leather jacket will become covered – in one rainy season – with a greenish/grey/ blue mould, and while you can clean it you will never quite get rid of that odd autumnal dead, wet, leafy smell. So, dispose of it there and save yourself the extra weight and hassle. When you are finally packing to come to Vallarta remember this scenario that happens every single time you move anywhere: you should have the following: toothbrush, roll of toilet paper & toiletries, a change of clothes maybe including a bathing suit, towel, a plate, a bowl, knife, fork, spoon, wine/bottle opener, coffee cup. That’s it. Everything else is clutter.


Cindy Bouchard shows us where some of her inspiration comes from as she renovates and decorates her boutique hotel and other spaces in Mexico.

It’s all in the details By Cindy Bouchard


ook up, look down, look all around, no matter where you look there is usually something delightful to the senses in this colourful, boisterous country. My love affair with Mexican design began with colour, but quickly the details won my attention. Colour still is the top performer designwise as it is relatively cheap to apply and powerful as a space enhancer. In design school three words describe good design… balance, harmony and rhythm. The room, space, wall, whatever the design element, it has to have those three things. Good design is more than shapes, colour and details. Shape and juxtaposition of pieces creates efficiency (or not) in layout and space planning. Colour defines space and makes the details ‘pop’. Details are like jewelry that completes an outfit. How one brings it all together, often known as layering, is when we know if we have achieved the goal. Why are design details more prominent, unique and easier to achieve in Mexico than ‘back home’? There are a variety of reasons but most prominent is that labour is cheaper and the labourers, in my experience, are creative and want to impress. In Canada, when I divert from the geometric, there is an extra charge and often it's hefty. Here, I’ll sketch something and if there is an extra cost it’s minimal so let the grand design begin!





Floors and walkways often include pebbles, which always tickle my fancy, I simply love them. This stairwell embraces so much that I adore; water feature, pebbles, circular design and major creativity, don’t you just want to amble down and find out what is at the bottom? Even driveways greet guests with charm. Photos: Staircase in private residence in Real Del Mar, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Door in Sayulita, Iron gate in La Cruz, Tile wall at Adriatico Restaurant in Bucerias

COLOUR IS EVERYWHERE. Colour as detail. In this restaurant, paint has been applied to create texture adding a dynamism that defines the space. Everything else can be simple when there’s

a design statement like that. The owners of a store in hipster Sayulita painted this rickety door, which has become not only a landmark but the perfect spot for a photo op!

TILE IS EVERYWHERE. The use of tiles in interesting ways is an excellent option in Mexico. The spectacular wall in Adriatico Restaurant in Bucerias, Nayarit was created using geometrics with pool tiles set in a linear fashion. When designing a bathroom we ordered a marble tile slab and had the tile setter cut it then lay in herringbone pattern. This would have broken the bank up North… as an interior designer this is when I consider myself overly blessed to live and design in Mexico.

STRONG AS STEEL. Ironwork is another exciting affordable option that serves the dual purpose of statement and func-

tion. A hardworking, talented maestro herrero or master ironworker can go from crafting smaller items like furniture, towel hangers, and accessories, to grand items such as gates, doors, shade structures and even an art piece in your garden.

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION. Heart designs are prominent in Mexico, likely because the Mexican people are so loving. As you travel take photos of textures, colours, materials and styles that appeal to you. Very likely you’ll be able to use them to create your own masterpiece. The most important design input is to not take it all too seriously, have fun and let the imagination soar! Even if you don’t live in Mexico, your visits will inspire you to take some of the elements home with you!

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By Crystal Blue:

Nature's Wonderland: Tulum THE MAYAN PLAYGROUND


here the white sand joins the jungle and sea, where the turquoise water melts into the turquoise sky, where the people smile and the energy is easy, this is Tulum. This once-secret hideaway for soul seekers is now a prime Mexico-Caribbean beach destination as people discover its special energy and majestic beauty, and share the secret with others. Sun seekers flock to make it their new home, investment location, vacation mecca, dive spot, adventure land, and Mexico’s hippest new hot spot. There is no doubt about it, Tulum, Mexico is now the place to be. It is the place to see and be seen. To feel and learn and live in a way, never experienced before. It offers an escape from the ordinary, and a quest into the extraordinary. Tulum is about energy and beauty. Put these together and the combined experience of Tulum is as unique as the eclectic mix of locals and travelers: Argentines, Italians, Germans, Australians, Brazilians, who visit each year, or have decided to make Tulum home. From adventure to relaxation to spirituality, amazing food, eco-chic beach cabanas, yoga retreats, ancient ruins, flavourful Mayan culture, and award winning beaches, Tulum, Mexico offers something spectacular for everyone.

San Antonio

Monterrey Yucatan Peninsula

Tropic of Cancer

Cancun Merida

Mexico o City Oaxaca Acapulco


Tulum is mostly known for its ancient Mayan ruins, breathtaking beaches, and surrounding cenotes, and, while these are very important elements of the area, the town offers much more as well. Tulum is located about two hours south of Cancun, both the Cancun airport and hotel district, and is a straight shot and very easy road to travel, via Mexican ADO bus, private car, or taxi. Tulum is a small town divided into two areas: beach and pueblo. Pueblo is the village and this is where you will find several European and Mexican restaurants, chic hotels, hostels, street food, vendors, fresh fruit, farmacias, the

main square, and stores selling hammocks and dream catchers. All the infrastructure is adorned with palm frond roofs, which adds to the sleepy appeal of the small town, as you escape the concrete of Cancun and slip into this freestyle paradise town. Find a corner spot and sip margaritas on the main avenue as you watch tourists walk by and time stands still. It is hard to be hurried, stressed, or angry in a town like Tulum. After cruising town you may be ready to take a beach adventure, and get ready to be wowed. The beaches of Tulum are the best in the world. Powder white sand stretches as far as the eye can see, most often empty, void of herds of tourists and theme parks. Simply sand, palm trees, turquoise sea, maybe a few thatched hut cabanas, some driftwood, and you. Relaxing beaches for strolls, exercising, meditating, and swimming, right in your own beautiful town. The beach district also includes its own little shopping district, but most likely in a different way than you have seen before. Stroll along the tiny two-lane drive through hotel row with barefeet and duck into the eclectic shops of artisan candles and designer dresses, shops with sand floors and tiki lights at night, lighting the path, clotheslines drooping between palms displaying the new chic dresses and laid-back Caribbean beach styles. Hand painted shop entry signs and smoothie carts dot the path of this paradise road, as well as boutique seaside restaurants and lazy beach bars with hammocks and sand. Pop into one of these silent palm tree bars and order a michelada, a staple of Tulum, or a shot of mescal, or fresh guacamole, ceviche, or a baja fish taco. Any and all options are equally crisp, fresh, and delicious. And the view can never be beat, as you sip and relax worlds away from stress, steps away from Continued on page 33...

Ancient Maya believed that the rain god Chaak resided in caves and natural wells called cenotes. Maya farmers today in Mexico’s parched Yucatán still appeal to Chaak for the gift of rain. Meanwhile cenotes are giving archaeologists new insights into the sacred landscapes of the ancestral Maya. In ancient times, the natural well, or cenote, acted as a sacred sundial and timekeeper for the ancient Maya on the two days of the year, May 23 and July 19, when the sun reaches its zenith. At that moment it is vertically overhead, and no shadow is cast. The fact that the cenote is directly northwest of the main staircase of El Castillo, the famous central pyramid of Chichén Itzá, is not coincidental. The ancient Maya came here during times of drought to deliver offerings and to give thanks for a plentiful harvest. The Maya people have a strong relation to their gods, their sacred city and their extraordinarily accurate calendar.

The Cenotes of Tulum There are actually hundreds but here are three of our favourites. Cenote Cristal: Situated in an overgrown jungle setting, Cenote Cristal is a big circle, filled with trees, lily pads, birds, and green water. There is a high platform jump and a few hammocks strung lazily into the sagging trees. There is a cave diving access to the right of entering the cenote at the stairs. This cenote is good for adventuring: jumping, diving, snorkeling, as well as meditating: thinking, journaling, photographing, and being immersed into the heart of beautiful, wild nature. Tortuga Cenote: shhh.. I am about to give you an inside scoop. This is an enormous green cenote in the shape of a turtle. There is little smoothie hut in the middle of the center rock. The cenote has a yellow kayak you are free to use, a very high cliff jump, and a rope swing. You can float around the perimeter, jump off the dock platform, or walk around taking photos and spotting Motmot birds, beautiful protectors of the cenote, with turquoise tail feathers, exclusive to cenotes. Zacil-Ha Cenote is a different type of cenote. It is a circle pit of piercing blue aquamarine water. This is a smaller cenote with a less natural feeling because there are chips for sale and lifejackets and towels for rent, but it is better for families, is closer to town, has fewer mosquitos, and has cold drinks. There are a few platforms for jumping, and there is a zip line that goes over the cenote which is always fun. You are able to snorkel this one and see some fish but they are contained in the circle shape cenote. This cenote also has cave diving access. For more info including directions, visit:


he cenotes of the greater Tulum area are a natural spectacle like no other. As this is one of the only regions in the world they exist, they are well worth a visit or two or three when traveling through this region. Cenotes (pronounced cen-o-tays) are exclusive to this part of the world, and date back in history as ancient Mayan watering holes and very important to Mayan culture. They are tranquil, mysterious, and unique, and serve many varied interests for visitors. They are comprised of different environments, sizes, and depths, and offer different recreational activities, and fun for all ages. Whether one is seeking solitude in nature and inspiration from silent jungle cenote settings, to sit, think, write, and gaze into their placid waters, or adventure: jumping into them from zip lines, rope swings, snorkeling, cave diving, platform jumping, picnicking, photographing, swimming, exploring, or simply bird watching, there is a cenote for everyone, and everyone loves them. Although, I do find that many people don’t know what they are (and definitely pronounce them wrong). For the record, cenotes are gifts from nature. Please, if you are in the area, go see what all the fuss is about. Cenotes are incredible. Go conquer some!

WHAT IS A CENOTE? A cenote is a sinkhole in the earth, sometimes a small circle, sometimes an islet of caverns, full of freshwater: natural pools in the rock. Cenotes are located in jungle environments around the Tulum area. The water is so fresh and cool, and the water colours range from turquoise to green to deep aquamarine blue. Some are very deep, some are shallow. But all are magnificent, especially when enjoyed in their ancient magical context. All house incredible wildlife, and if you close your eyes and listen to the sounds of nature at a cenote, and be in the moment, the experience will transport you to a different time. When traveling in and around Tulum, you will notice cenote signs with arrows everywhere, all with Mayan names such as Zacil-Ha, and Tamcach-Ha, providing directions. People say Tulum is like ‘swiss cheese’ because of all the cenote holes in the earth. Interestingly cenotes mostly remain unexploited, not yet bought out by corporations and capitalized on, turned into Disneyworlds and massive adventure parks. Instead, they are quietly protected and respected, for having historical significance to the traditional indigenous roots of this area, and also for being secrets of nature, lying still in simplicity and beauty, and giving the present-day users the freedom to experience them in their own manner, in historical awe, silence, fun, adventure, exploration, and bliss. Although still preserved in their natural state, the private landowners whose land the cenotes fall on, may charge small fees for use and upkeep. Some have no fee and are open at all times, but some charge a fee, open and close at certain times, and even rent adventure gear such as snorkels, masks, life vests, underwater cameras, and snacks. I shy away from these types, as I prefer the quiet, empty wild ones. However, I was not a tourist, I lived there, and I understand that tourists often need these things. I will break it down for you both objectively and subjectively so you can find the cenote best suited to your needs. If you do enjoy them as a tourist, please remember to appreciate them in their natural state, and be sure to take a moment of silence to give thanks to nature and for this gift of a beautiful blue natural water pool in a wonderful country, while you are exploring them, and before you leave.




endless secluded yoga huts, and candle lit paths. The Tulum energy is meant to calm and sooth not only the body but also the soul. And it does a standup job at that. Tulum is also a prime investment location, as it is growing and molding to accommodate an increase of people and opportunities, which provides endless future possibilities. There are several high-end condo complexes available for investment, all set amidst lush jungle surroundings with pristine pools, security, and nature sounds,

with log balconies opening to palm leaves and glorious sunrise and sunset views. Not to omit the natural adventure options in Tulum, there are endless cenotes dotting the landscape that provide cave diving, swimming, snorkeling, and cliff jumping, as well as the ancient Mayan ruins on the beach to hike, explore, and imagine a Mayan world of power and majestic waterways. There is jungle hiking, bike riding, beachcombing, shell hunting, dancing, eating, fishing, scuba diving, shopping,

yoga, birding and loving life.. All right in your backyard of Tulum. Tulum consistently ranks at the top of worldwide lists for best vacation mecca, beaches, nightlife, expression, uniqueness, energy, eco-friendly nature, raw beauty, and adventure, because it deserves it. One visit to Tulum and you will be intrigued, inspired, relaxed, and invigorated. A vacation destination like no other, the natural lure of Tulum is getting discovered. Plan a trip today, for your body and soul. This is Tulum.


the tealest, warmest, and most welcoming water on the planet. In the evening, shower and throw on some nighttime attire of white linen and sundresses and head out to one of the unique fine dining options of organic vegan grub, fresh seafood, and eccentric scrumptious fare that will leave you satiated, all set amidst the quiet outdoor nature with waves crashing and stars twinkling while you dine.

Tulum is all about relaxation and natural ecochic style, environmental responsibility and cultural intermingling, Latin dance beats and Caribbean breeze, history, archaeology, trendy couture, and adventure. You won’t find high-rise hotels here or McDonalds, everything is very nondescript and swept into nature. Built of palm products, beautiful glasses and tiles, designed with respect for the surrounding environment and enveloping all the beautiful area has to offer: sparkling pools and treehouse cabins, stone terraces and Robinson Crusoe steps,



After spending just a week on vacation in the little Baja town of Todos Santos, Wendy Rains and her then 81 year old father started the journey to living fulltime in this artist retreat village. Twelve years as an expat has given her much fodder as journalist and designer and many a tale to tell. Here is Wendy's story.

Muchas gracias, Todos Santos By Wendy Rains




hen I was a teenager in the 60’s in the beach town of Pacific Palisades, California, I heard some pretty raunchy stories recanted by some of my adventurous fellow high school mates (guys) of their wild weekends in Tijuana. I got the impression it was a dark, mysterious place where anything goes, anything could happen, and did.


Before graduation a group of us decided to venture to Rosarita Beach, where we heard it was safe, we could ride horses on the beach, and eat grilled lobsters for next to nothing. And so we did…all we needed were birth certificates to cross the border and we had a blast. For pot smoking teenagers of the 60’s, you couldn’t beat that contagious sense of total abandon that was in the air. I have fond memories of those days. My father, a visionary developer of Maui, Guam, and Puerto Rico in the 60’s, used to fly down to Cabo San Lucas on a seaplane to go fishing with his buddies. The tales of bringing in all the marlin and tuna they caught were pretty entertaining. But he never chose to invest there, because it was “Mexico”.

In the nearly fifty years that have passed since my early Rosarita days, much has changed and yet much hasn’t as well. I didn’t take Baja seriously until 2002, when looking for some place to take my dad on a vacation for his 81st birthday. A friend suggested we stay at her apartment in Todos Santos, a little fishing village north of Cabo that I knew little about.

I found my sexiest nightgown, grabbed a mop, and started singing while mopping, all night long. I knew I would be fine from that point on.

She owned a chili farm outside of town, and traveled there often to manage the business. There was only a poorly maintained two-lane road between Cabo and Todos Santos at that time, all fifty miles along the Pacific Ocean. We enjoyed the beautiful ride through the mountains and the vast desert “nothingness” right up to the water’s edge. It was pristine gorgeousness, and, I’m happy to say, pretty much remains so on that stretch of Baja.

surface of this place than one might imagine. I grabbed my dad’s arm, and surprised myself when the words came out, “Dad….I could live here!”

The first night spent in town in my friend’s second floor apartment was magical, mostly because the farm workers gathered below to collect their pay and ended up singing around a bonfire in the driveway all night.

That night we went looking for the Santa Fe Restaurant, having heard it was what put this town on the map, and we were not disappointed. Owners Ezio and Paula Columbo were so gracious, and when they found out we had the bug to start looking around for property, Ezio set us up with a rancher in a pickup truck to take us around. He spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish, but we somehow managed to communicate.

I had never heard such soulfully sung ballads before in my life, along with beautiful guitar playing wafting through our open windows. It enchanted me all night long. My father felt the same way. In the morning we wandered around looking for a place to eat breakfast and stumbled upon the Caffe Todos Santos. I was not prepared for the surprise I had walking into what I saw was one of the hippest little cafes in the world, with beautiful murals on the walls, delicious looking baked goods on display, and great music playing while sipping cappuccinos and espressos. "Where were we?" Walking around the historic village, passing a couple of beautiful art galleries, I became aware that there was a lot more beneath the

Dad responded by saying, “So could I!” The gypsy in both of us came through loud and clear. We decided to explore the idea of buying something together.


He took us all over the place, north, south and east...and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We also saw that there were no homes at that time that were suitable as the family compound we had in mind to share, so we decided to look for land to build what we wanted. We were hooked. I returned two weeks later and found 2 ½ acres at the beach outside of town, in what was referred to as the Otra Lado, the other side. We bought our land directly from the farmer who was selling it. There was only one

The purchasing process was not as complicated as we feared, and within a few months Dad and I had each designed our own homes and contracted a local young builder from America, because as absentee clients we needed someone who spoke English. It took eight months to build my home…and I found myself flying down every month for a few days to check on things and make the necessary onsite decisions. As an architectural designer for many years, it was hard for me not to be on the job every day, but I was still working in LA, planning my graceful exit from my life as I knew it. For the last three months of construction, I moved myself down completely, bravely driving my new pickup truck down the Baja, and setting up temporary quarters in a friend’s beautifully restored historic home in town. The bartender at Hotel California was a school teacher during the day and before

his bar tending shift he would come over and teach me all the Spanish phrases I needed in order to give instructions to the workers. That’s how I started to learn Spanish. In the meantime, I was making new friends, and exploring my new world.

A HEROINE IN A FAIRYTALE I experienced my first full on hurricane in that home, which had an open living room, and no screens on any of the bedroom windows. Hurricane Ignacio lasted five days. There was no running water or electricity. There were bats hanging from the lampshades, and mosquitoes galore. I found cans of food in the cupboard to heat up on the gas stove. To wash the pots, all I had to do was stick my arm out in the rain, pot in hand, and the force of the rain cleaned it right up. That is also how I showered and washed my hair. I’d go completely naked outside, overlooking the beautiful green huerta below with wild horses running freely in the rain, and just soap up and rinse off, while frogs danced all around me. There were frogs everywhere, even hanging off my wine glass! I felt like a heroine in a fairytale. I was captivated by how much charm surrounded me, how polite and welcoming the locals were, the pristine beaches, and the freshest locally grown vegetables served in ways and with flavors I was not familiar with. I loved

There were frogs everywhere, even hanging off my wine glass! I felt like a heroine in a fairytale. going to Punto Lobos where the many fishermen revved the motors of their pangas to ride the waves back onto the shore, returning with their day’s catch. I was so excited to be able to buy fish right off the boats while watching them clean and filet, saving me the trouble. It was glorious. I was also so happy to be in a place where the sun was always shining. I relished every minute. When my home was finally completed in late September, the moving van carrying all my worldly possessions from California was due to arrive at the same time as Hurricane Marty was expected to hit. Suffice it to say, the story has become a local legend and it was quite a test of my mettle. Every box was labeled in English and in the pouring rain it was nearly impossible to instruct the guys who were unloading, where to put what. It was obvious the 60’ trailer truck would have to leave while it was still possible. After four hours the dirt roads turned to mud and to this day I have no idea how they made it out. I had a big generator in a storage area that was used for construction, but nobody taught me how to get it running, so I relied on lanterns for light. There were 140mph winds banging against my doors and windows, and horizontal rain coming at the house, flooding my living room. I was soaked and completely alone in the dark, with only a twin bed set up in my guest room. Nothing was where it belonged. My beautiful and very heavy commercial Wolf range had been dismantled, with parts left outside to rust. My washer and dryer were still in their cartons,


home on our little dirt road then, and one summer when nobody was around, I named our street Avenida de Las Estrellas. The nightly star show is spectacular.

Continued on page 37 35


Hurricane Heroes Todos Santos and Pescadero, on the Pacific Coast find local heroes in the face of the historic Hurricane Odile. By Bryan Jáuregui, Todos Santos Eco Adventures


urricane Odile moved through Baja with intense speed and power, leaving a swath of destruction across the peninsula. Like many areas, our small towns of Todos Santos and Pescadero - on the Pacific side, north of Cabo - were very hard hit. But the speed and power with which our communities responded was equally striking, and showed that neighbors working together can be just as impressive and effective a force of nature as the winds that blew through our homes, families and lives.



During the night of September 14, 2014 hundreds of people in both towns lost all or part of their homes. Incredibly, no one was killed, and the newly homeless were able to safely make their way to some of the more solid structures in town - the local student boarding houses, the libraries and schools. But water, electricity, phone - all were gone for the foreseeable future. A surfer named Justin Lindholm who spends his winters in Pescadaro was among the first to grasp that signif-


icant funds were going to be needed to recover from this type of wreckage. “Pescadero and its people are beautiful and have made a huge impact on my life. People say hi to you on the streets, really listen to you when you’re talking, and remember stories you might have told. They live dayto-day and worry little about the future. I admire that. Starting a fund for Pescadero was something I knew had to be done. I spent the fall and winter months of 2005 with the clean up effort after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I saw what a hurricane is capable of and how helpless people are even in a powerful country like the US. I knew the people of Pescadero were going to need help to get back to normal.” Odile hit on September 14 and on September 15 Justin opened a GoFundMe account to raise money for hurricane relief in Pescadero. $6,000 was raised in the first few days alone, and people in desperate need of work were soon being paid fair wages to help clean the town and restore order. In Todos Santos, The Palapa Society – a nonprofit whose mission is to help educate the children of the town - had an emergency meeting on September 20 to discuss what they could do to help the community. The meeting was over at 10:30am, and by noon they had set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for hurricane relief for Todos Santos. By 2:00pm board members had advanced $1,000 to the cause and were in La Paz shopping with the administrator of the local student boarding house, who was housing 150 people and feeding 200 daily. By 9:00am on September 23 when the next meeting started, over $30,000 had already been raised. Before long people were getting new roofs, remote ranch families were receiving food, and people in need of work were getting it. When the communities of Todos Santos and Pescadero asked for help, the world answered. Americans, Canadians, Europeans. People for whom these communities are seemingly just vacation destinations reached deep, found what they loved about the area, and gave. They made their friends give. They held fundraisers in their communities and they showered social media with notes of support.

GET INVOLVED! If you would like to contribute to the continued reconstruction of homes and lives in Todos Santos and Pescadero the following funds are still accepting donations: Pescadero Hurricane Relief, started by Justin Lindholm: Todos Santos Hurricane Relief, started by The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, AC:

As of this writing the fund for Justin’s hurricane relief effort for Pescadero stands at just over $15,000, and the fund for the Palapa Society’s hurricane relief effort for Todos Santos is just shy of $85,000. And they’re getting things done. In Pescadero, the Baja Beans Roasting Company held a community meeting and 150 people showed up to see how they could help their neighbors. Leaders formed cleanup teams with the local teenagers, who have been competing to see who can clear the most debris. In Todos Santos, the Palapa Society hired two contractors from Ensenada who are coordinating the work of three teams to put new roofs on homes. Nearly 200 houses have received new roofs so far, and the work is not slowing down. They created two designs for simple wooden homes for the families who lost everything, and three of those thirteen planned houses have already been built. These stories are just the tip of the iceberg, and scarcely begin to convey the enormity of the effort underway to restore the shelter, food, work and normal life ripped away by Odile. It is impossible to relate the countless acts of kindness, generosity, selflessness, humor and grace that saw our communities through the immediate aftermath of the storm, and continue to rebuild it all these weeks later. Robert Hall, the town dharma dude and defacto non-religious spiritual leader, says that The Beatles had it right all along. “All you need is love. Odile was so powerful that it was able to tear the fabric of our lives, but the healing is love. Love is what makes it possible when we barely have the saliva to swallow these big bites of reality. Love is all you need.” It’s a force of nature.

Where else can one see the moon setting over the ocean as the sun is coming up over the mountains?

This was a test. A test of how committed I felt to my new life. All I could think of was how I created this. This home was my baby, and I was going to take care of it. I rummaged through my clothing cartons, found my sexiest nightgown, grabbed a mop, and started singing while mopping, all night long. I knew I would be fine from that point on. And no matter what challenges have been thrown at me since, of which there have been many, I have always been fine. This Pueblo Magico is a magical place. It is my observation, after twelve years, that it either embraces you or spits you out. I was part of what has become known as the “second wave” of gringos to arrive. The first wavers were the true pioneers having settled ten years before my arrival. Since my wave, the next ones came fast and furious for a while. It was boom time. I remember going up on my roof, counting thirteen homes that had been built in my neighborhood in the few years since mine. After spending two years “retired”, my organic garden providing nearly everything I ate, writing and painting, I realized it wasn’t

enough for me, and I started a business of overseeing construction for people who couldn’t be there. My ad had me in a hardhat with flowers all over it and sequins spelling out Wendita. I got every major project in the area, mostly Canadian clients. The American economy started going down, but the Canadian dollar was strong and Canadians were discovering our magical town. After many years of using his home here as a vacation escape, my dad moved down full time four years ago. He is 93 now and thriving, owing his health and well being to living the good life in Todos Santos. He spends his time smoking a cigar by the pool, reading the many books he loves getting from the local library. He enjoys taking lady friends out to dinner and goes to Cabo or La Paz to go shopping. My blog for on alternative aging in place, is my way of sharing what it’s like to be a senior citizen living next door to my 93 year old dad in a foreign country. He’s provided me with endlessly hysterical material. Where else can one see the moon setting over the ocean as the sun is coming up over the mountains? Where else can one have a burst appendix and spend a week in a private hospital for a total of $5,000? (The excel-

lent medical care deserves its own article). I love the roosters and goats that cross the road in front of my car as I drive to town. I love seeing an honest to goodness Mexican cowboy on horseback. I love my life here. I love my friends who have become family. My children visit when they can, but it’s so easy to hop on a plane or even drive and go visit them, so we get to see each other often. I’ve been through four hurricanes now, but this last one, Odile, was a doozy. She left her mark in the way of a lot of destruction of many of our homes and businesses, but not our spirits. A lot of good has emerged from the ordeal of Odile. It was a life changing experience for some of us, me included. It set priorities straight where they belong…. family, health, love and caring. I feel blessed to be part of this beautiful community. I am one of the “embraced” ones, and will forever be grateful for having found this (albeit, sometimes god-forsaken) paradise on earth. I’ve lived in many places, but this place has brought out the real “me” in me, and has made me a better person. Muchas gracias, Todos Santos.


which were swept off by the rain, on the side of the house.





his season, as you read this, the mercury has dipped, and if you are in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, or Calgary, the wind is howling, the snow is swirling, and the roads are icy. And right about now, you would love to be ambling along a white sand beach, kissed by tropical breezes, collecting shells, and maybe even throwing off your clothes and swimming in the warm, azure waters of the Gulf of California (aka: Sea of Cortez). Entering the second week of January, the temperature here in La Paz is 27 °C. It is a gorgeous sunny day in a string of gorgeous sunny days. The margaritas are frosty, the shrimp are succulent, and time has slowed. Sounds like Paradise. Well it is. For expat residents. In the past few years, La Paz has made great strides in paving more roads, making electricity available to the poorest neighborhoods, and mounted campaigns against obesity, bullying, and domestic violence. In El Centenario and Chametla, two villages along Highway 1, the main artery from Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas to the US border was under construction. It needed to be ready for the Baja 1000 off road race in a few weeks’ time.



Then came the Black Swan, Hurricane Odile.


Odile was the largest, most horrific hurricane to make landfall in Baja California Sur (BCS) in many decades. Along Highway 1, El Centenario looked like a spiteful King Kong had stomped through, crushing homes and shops and, just for fun, flung around several big semi-trailer trucks. Power poles were snapped, twisted, and tossed on the highway like Pick-Up-Sticks. In a miraculous feat of grit and determination that stretch of highway was repaired and ready for the commercially important and wildly popular Baja 1000. The cars leave the desert at the south end of El Centenario and race to the finish line near the center of town. Having the highway open in time for the race was a boost to morale that this damaged city needed. But as bad as the hurricane damage to La Paz was, Cabo San Lucas was destroyed beyond recognition. The Canadian and US consular agents advised all tourists to make their way to the La Paz airport and wait. US and Mexican airlines, as well as the military, airlifted the stranded tourists to the next closest airport, at no cost and helped them make connections to go home.

Calm serenity in La Paz at Costa Baja Resort - You would never know that this area suffered a class 4 hurricane in September 2014; one of the worst in the Baja's history.

The city leaders of La Paz did all of this while also caring for their own. Crews from all over Mexico were sent to restore telecommunications and power. They were hailed as heroes and locals brought them food and cold drinks. Café Exquisito, in the Chametla–El Centenario corridor, running on borrowed power, had fresh coffee and orange juice ready early every day for the work crews. La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur. It has grown quickly in the past decade and suffered some of the pains of coming of age. The infrastructure of roads, electricity, telephone, and internet service is available to most of the area, but there are still poor areas with no water, electricity, or even real homes. The hurricane destroyed whole neighborhoods of shacks. If you visit La Paz, you will most likely not see this poverty. The neighborhoods where expats settle are safe, clean, and, now in January, appear undamaged. You would never know that a destructive hurricane had wailed through our small city. Once expats have settled in, learned a few words of Spanish, made some friends, Mexican and foreign, most expats look around for something useful to do. They have time, good health, and comparative wealth, or at least some disposable income. As dreamy as it sounds, sitting on the beach knocking back a few cold beers every day, gets old. Canadian expats have opened restaurants, real estate companies, and an English-language newspaper that captures the heartbeat of the expat community: These endeavors, and others, take a large time and money commitment. But there are many other things that you can do that will engage your mind, heart, and soul for a smaller time and cash commitment. Always needing information, and feeling like she was missing out on things, Sheryl Hamilton, hailing from Calgary, has set up a Yahoo

Photos above from Care for Kids Newsletter Dec. 2014. Photo below from K-9 Rancho del Perro website.

Group called La Paz Gringos, a forum for all expats to seek and share information ranging from where to nab the best tacos, finding a good doctor, announcing entertainment and charitable events, and things for sale. ( Hamilton also founded a group that delivers used mattresses to families living in the poorest of poor neighborhoods. After the hurricane, she is regrouping to discover a better solution to the standard mattress. She fears that all of the mattresses that were delivered were destroyed by rain. You can contact Sheryl at Dogs are our best friends and enrich our lives. Stray and abused dogs are a blight everywhere, and it is so sad to see our canine friends suffering. Dog lovers Claude Himbeault and Shawn Templeton from Quebec opened a dog refuge that rescues street dogs. Once the dogs have a clean bill of health, they are put up for adoption. Most of the pooches find their forever homes in Canada. Volunteers are always needed to walk the dogs, give them a loving brushing, and help around the refuge. K-9 Rancho del Perro is always in desperate need of dog food, medicine, and shelter. To learn more, visit their website

Children are our future, as the song goes. But the desperately poor children of uneducated parents have the deck stacked against them when it comes to having a chance at rising above the hopelessness and squalor of the worst poverty. Down-eastener, Barbara Spencer has formed Care For Kids, an organization that has legal status in the US and Canada to make your donations tax deductible. Barbara and her band of hardworking volunteers provide food and clothing to families in the Vista Hermosa area, a barren hilltop outside of La Paz. Only recently has electricity reached this area, there is no clean water, and many families cannot afford the cost of electricity. There is no welfare program in Mexico. The Care For Kids Christmas food drive had the goal of filling and delivering 25 bags of groceries. The expat community responded and 50 bags of food were filled and delivered. Many of the residents of Vista Hermosa emigrated from other parts of Mexico, seeking employment. But without skills, they can only find the most menial and lowest paid jobs. These words come directly from the Care For Kids website: “…if you ask the financially poor what they would wish for their future, their first response is always the same, “A better future for my child; education for my children…” Visit their website La Paz is truly a paradise with a wonderful climate, friendly people, and most of the goods and services that you have at home. Medical care is top notch, with English-speaking doctors in every specialty. Come and unwind, enjoy your new life in La Paz, and make a difference. The real estate market is healthy, with offerings from tiny casitas to sprawling beach front homes and everything in between. It is safe and legal for foreigners to own property in Mexico. Start with a winter vacation to explore the desert beauty of our area, watch whales, catch fish, and walk the streets of this small and friendly city. Susan Fogel is the broker/owner of Prestige Property Group La Paz. Visit her website and download her free e-book: Margarita Mind: A Guide to Buying Mexico Real Estate Safely and Sanely


La Paz stepped up and welcomed over 30,000 refugees from Cabo San Lucas, the well-heeled and poor alike. Every hotel room was taken. Restaurants were bursting, and emergency ground transportation was set up at the airport to ferry people to other towns.


At the tip of Baja California Sur is a place of dualities. Tranquility and rambunctiousness. San Jose del Cabo which retains the look and vibe of an authentic Mexican town. Cobblestone streets, intimate restaurants and boutiques radiate from the central main square and mission church. Rambunctious Cabo San Lucas, on the other end of the highway (called the Corridor), is party central with funky bars and the slick Luxury Avenue Mall centered around the marina.

Sleepy San Jose del Cabo to the east, with its shady main plaza and narrow winding streets is the place to slow your pace while strolling among the colorful colonial buildings and browsing small art galleries and boutiques. Grab a refreshing Hibiscus flavored popsicle or sip a frosty margarita at one of the alfresco restaurants while embracing an atmosphere that manages to be both laid-back and sophisticated Mexican.

Along the Corridor between Cabo and San Jose you will most of the luxurious resorts, impressive spas and championship golf courses for which Los Cabos has become famous. The Corridor is also home to some of the area’s best beaches for water sports. Medano beach, on the end of the Corridor where Cabo San Lucas begins, is the epicenter for party and play.

Retiree Mecca: Los Cabos While Los Cabos technically consists of the stretch of land between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, the southern tip of Baja California Sur also includes popular retirement destinations such as Los Barriles, famous for windsurfing and fishing, and Todos Santos, equally famous for its artist community and laid back (to nature) attitude. All encompass the charm and friendliness one has come to appreciate in Mexico.



A key influence in this part of Mexico is the divine weather, averaging about 26ºc and 350 days of sunshine, Los Cabos offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets each and every day.


Los Cabos is spread across 17,400 square miles; it should be noted that Baja California Sur is the state with the lowest population density, with an average of only eight people per square mile. If you wish to come to enjoy your retirement, you will find a wide range of options to live and even work, if you wish, in Los Cabos. HOW EASY IS IT TO SETTLE DOWN? Waterfront properties, or properties with an ocean view, went from being expensive to being almost unaffordable in other parts of the world. People who saved all their lives to buy a house with these features can make their dream come true in Los Cabos, where the housing market is one of the most sought after for its price and quality.

The services and lifestyle offered in Los Cabos are first-rate, if you want to live more modestly, somewhat removed from the tourist bustle, there are alternative sites in and around San Felipe, where there are many perfect sites for building green homes. The whole peninsula has communication routes by land, sea and air, so that mobility can be immediate. Some people even have their own boats and find easily accessible ports. Many of the services being offered in Los Cabos are geared towards the ex-pat population. Medical services, shopping, and banking are all well versed in the needs and expectations of the foriegn population. In fact, if you come to Los Cabos from Canada, you can bring your car into our country without having to pay any extra tax; you simply need to have current insurance and registration. Chosing Los Cabos for your retirement destination is one of the simplest moves you can make. Much of the population is bilingual, the services are set up to take care of your particu-

lar needs and there is a strong expat community waiting to welcome you. WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE OFFERED? This destination offers an excellent quality of life. Its climate is perfect for practicing all kinds of outdoor activities; in fact, here you will be able to find at least six World Championship golf courses, as well as world-class fishing. You can practice all kinds of water sports including windsurfing and scuba diving, or enjoy ecotourism, such as bird watching or whale watching. Some well established expatriate communities offer support and advice to a network of groups involved in sports, hobbies, and even investments and starting a business. How about owning a small boutique, a cafe or restaurant where you can be self-employed for the remainder of your life? It is for all of the above and more that Los Cabos will remain as one of the most attractive places in Mexico for foreigners to enjoy their retirement.

Los Cabos Tourism



Casa Kootenay: A Canadian B&B in the heart of the Baja Canadian owned and operated, this La Paz B&B specializes in exploring the waters in the Sea of Cotez. By Gabriel Jones


ne of the most popular dreams of Canadians planning a move to Mexico, but not ready to retire, is to open a bed and breakfast. This offers the opportunity to purchase a live/work property that serves both as your home and an income providing business.

be close to her new found love - the sea. Leanne is a fully accredited dive instructor who spent ten years traveling and working on live-aboard boats as a scuba guide. This meant living in close quarters with her crew and guests, wearing many hats while always acting as a warm and engaging host.

Life as a B&B operator is hard work and certainly not for everyone. It requires you to wear many hats, do several jobs at once, all while maintaining a friendly, welcoming demeanour. If you can make it work however, it can provide a life full of rewards financial and otherwise.

When the time came for Leeanne to leave her life on the sea and return to solid ground she knew that she wanted to remain close to the ocean, and continue in her family tradition of hospitality.

Ingredients for a successful bed and breakfast include a strategic location, a functional property, a friendly and multi-talented team, and in some cases, a special or unique draw. In my recent travels to the Baja I found a place that combined all of these attributes and is an exceptional example of a B&B done right. Casa Kootenay is a Canadian owned and operated B&B located in the beautiful city of La Paz in Baja California Sur. It combines both a fantastic location and a lovely and functional home. Centrally located in La Paz and walking distance to several attractions, the casa’s beachfront setting on the Bay of La Paz off the Sea of Cortez is superb. The casa is warm and welcoming with a large main house and a separate building for the guest rooms. The main house features high ceilings, large windows with gorgeous water views and an open concept that allows flow and conversation between kitchen, dining room and living room. The guest rooms are cozy and comfortable, connected to the main house by a sunny outdoor space, and all feature easy beach access. Casa Kootenay owner/operator Leeanne Vanderkooi, is an Alberta born, BC raised, world traveler who comes by her natural, hospitable nature honestly. Growing up, her parents owned and operated a small hotel in Creston, BC. When she was nineteen, Leeanne fell in love and left home to follow her heart and

In La Paz she is but steps from the water, anda short trip from some of the best diving and water sports in the world. In Casa Kootenay she has found a place to call home with room for a small but busy (and soon to be expanding) bed and breakfast. She couldn’t have done it alone, and her parents Eric and Paulette, have been a big help offering support, advice, and some great recipes (cross your fingers that you are offered a sumptuous meal of her mom’s meatballs). They even helped her choose the name Casa Kootenay and the names of the guest rooms, Purcell and Columbia, all of which are BC mountain ranges, that serve as tribute to their home in Canada. Casa Kootenay’s team is enhanced by local help who keep the grounds and rooms immaculate, and share in the family’s friendly and welcoming ways. The last ingredient in great bed and breakfast can be a specialty of the house and in Casa Kootenay, Leeannne has created a setting where guests can experience the amazing beauty of the Sea of Cortez. Whether you want to scuba, snorkel, deep sea fish, kayak, paddleboard, go whale watching or swim with the whale sharks, Leanne has you covered. The house has a notable selection of toys including kayaks, windsurfers and paddleboards, which are free for guests and can be launched from her front door. Guided adventures are available with her or through her numerous connections with other guides and tour operators in the area.

After returning home from a day of adventure, guests can make use of the BBQ to grill the catch of the day, soak newly discovered paddling muscles in the six-seater hot tub, or simply unwind in the spacious common areas. On days when relaxation is the goal, the house offers a great variety of comfortable spots to work on your tan while indulging in a good book. Whether you find yourself on the beach or on the rooftop patio, the views are stunning. If during your travels you need to keep up with work or connect with your clan back home, the casa also offers a complete office with fax machine, scanner, wireless internet, photocopier, printer and telephone access. The two guest rooms are quiet, comfortable, cool, and appointed with wireless internet, TV with cable, VCR and DVD player to support a movie library collection at the house, personal fridge, coffee maker, air conditioner, two fans, and personal entrance. The beds are comfortable and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy your day starting with a sumptuous breakfast served daily at 8:30am. Due to their phenomenal success, Casa Kootenay is expanding and two more rooms and a pool will soon be added to the mix. I was fortunate to be able to visit Casa Kootenay at the beginning and end of my Baja adventure,and during my stay I had the pleasure of meeting several other guests and Leeanne’s parents. We swapped stories over breakfast and raised a glass at the end of the day. The place attracts a great assortment of interesting people and their company really added another dimension to the experience. If you want to explore La Paz and the Sea of Cortez and/or if you are considering opening a B&B in Mexico and want to see a stunning example of one done right, I suggest spending some time at Casa Kootenay. For more info check out their website at

Club Campestre San Jose


Fore! in the Baja Hollywood stars such as Bing Crosby and John Wayne, lured by the legendary sport fishing, initially put Los Cabos on the tourist map back in the 1950s. And while fishing still draws avid anglers to what’s called “marlin alley”, Los Cabos has also become one of the world’s top golf destinations. Several top-notch facilities presently dot the strip with more on the way, created by acclaimed designers who happily compete for the opportunity to ply their art on such a stirring canvas, where the desert coastline meets the Sea of Cortez. Designer Jack Nicklaus has certainly left his mark on this Baja Peninsula. His 27-hole Palmilla, was the first Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course in Mexico. The Ocean, Desert and Mountain nines are brilliantly routed layouts over ponds and around desert scrub. The Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol opened in 1994. Jack Nicklaus, intent on creating “the Pebble Beach of the Baja”, on what he described as “the best piece of golf property I’ve even seen”, clearly succeeded—in spades! The 7,047-yard, par-72 layout boasts seven fairways that nudge the jagged coastline of the azure Sea of Cortez. It’s one of the few layouts on the planet to embrace ocean, mountain and desert environments.



Also at Cabo del Sol, you’ll want to tackle the Tom Weiskopf-designed Desert Course.


Bring lots of balls as there are plenty of forced carries. The newest of the Nicklaus courses is Club Campestre San Jose, a par-71 measuring 7,055 yards, with ocean vistas on every fairway. Puerto Los Cabos offers the unique chance to play a composite eighteen holes by both Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Eventually each designer will have his own signature course but for now it’s fun to sample their contrasting styles. At Cabo Real, a Robert Trent Jones. Jr. championship design, the first six holes wind their way up the mountainside, before gradually meandering back to sea level. Finally, at Cabo San Lucas Country Club, Roy Dye’s layout is the most forgiving of the lot and a joy to play, especially the vista of the Sea of Cortez and Land’s End on the 18th.

Gone fishin’ Ranked among the top five fishing destinations on the planet, Los Cabos holds the title as the “Marlin Capital of the World.” The destination’s azure waters entice black,

blue and striped marlin that can weigh in as heavy as 1,000 pounds. Marlin is the number one fish in Los Cabos because it is present throughout the year, with peak months being May, June, December and January. However, recent records show that in summer months the catch per boat varies from one to ten fish in a single day. Apart from marlin, you will also encounter sailfish, dorado, roosterfish, shark, snapper, swordfish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna in the waters of the Sea of Cortez. Los Cabos supports an optional catch-andrelease policy for marlin and sailfish. One species is permitted per boat, but anglers are encouraged to adhere to the policy to preserve the wealth and sustain the growth of the fishing environment for years to come. Cabo San Lucas, at the southwestern tip of the Baja where sea and ocean meet at a dramatic rock arch, is a true fisherman’s town. Experienced anglers appreciate the availability of state-of-the-art marinas harbouring world-class fishing vessels. Novice fishermen can rent pangas (fishing boats) that provide inexpensive and quick access to Baja’s underwater treasures.

By Madeline Milne

Married in Mexico With a plethora of options, a destination wedding has never been easier than in Mexico.


ake your wedding an occasion that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Whether your preferences are on the formal side, or you prefer to let your hair down; whether you're in search of something natural, rustic and exotic, or classic: Mexico has it all.

If it's a beach wedding you have in mind, the hotels of the Mayan Riviera make the perfect setting for an exotic Caribbean wedding, but offer all the comforts of luxury hotels and full catering. If you're planning something more simple and traditional, why not make your vows in a colonial church or temple in the beautiful cities of Guanajuato or Puebla? Los Cabos offers both; a simple beach ceremony or a five-star affair. Say your vows in the charming colonial church of Todos Santos or choose the setting that most speaks to your heart.

Theme weddings are also a great way to create treasured memories. Consider a music themed wedding, or a ceremony officiated by a Mayan priest. Feeling adventurous, how about an underwater wedding? If you can imagine it, Mexico can help you achieve it. One more reason to choose a destination wedding is to make the most of your savings. Destination weddings often allow couples to save money versus a traditional wedding.


Kerry invited Anna to come to the Baja so they could meet after the race in 2011. Again, in 2012 she joins Kerry at the finish line and from there they embark on a two-week adventure and cruise of the Sea of Cortez where Kerry proposed.

MEGAN AND IAN, 2009 PLAYA DEL SOL LOS BARRILES, BCS MEXICO This couple met, fell in love, got married, started a kiteboarding business and are raising two children in Los Barriles, BCS.

“The ceremony was beautiful. We had people from all over the world attend; Ian’s whole family came from Scotland! The aisle

was scattered with bright pink bougainvillea, and the arbor was made from drift wood off the beach. We walked down the aisle to music from Jack Johnson. We wanted to incorporate the colors and flavours of Mexico and so opted for bright pinks and oranges for the table cloths and decorations. We had a Mexican food buffet complete with a whole cooked pig, tamales, guacamole, chicken enchiladas and, of course, tequila! We danced into the night with music from a local band. It was the best time of our lives.”

Ceremony / Reception: Hotel Play del Sol /Van Wormer Resorts Flowers: La Flor de Liz Cakes: Family and Friends Music:The Needle Fish Band Official: Bruce Borggreve

Rentals: Hotel Palmas de Cortez Catering: Hotel Playa del Sol Planning: Kathy Skaggs, Wedding coordinator Palmas de Cortez Photographer: Lori Makabe Photography

Megan, originally from California, met Ian, originally from Scotland, when she approached him about kiteboarding lessons on the beach. They traveled, kiteboarding, until returning to Mexico to get married, open a business and start a family…

Ceremony / Reception: Hotel Palmas de Cortez Flowers: Mazarate Floral Cupcakes: Donna Ryan Music: DJ Noe Official: Isabel Flores

Since the Baja’s Mexican 1000 played a significant role in their relationship, Kerry and Anna decide to get married after the race in 2013. They choose their date Cinco de Mayo and of course incorporate the Blue Crush as part of the wedding theme. Anna’s wedding colours were a gorgeous royal blue matching the truck. But the most spectacular of all was the groom’s entrance on the wedding day. Kerry drove Blue Crush across the sandy beaches of the Palmes of Cortez and got himself to the wedding arch on time.

Rentals: Casually Elegant Rentals Catering: Hotel Palmas de Cortez Event Planning: Kathy Skaggs, Palmas de Cortez


LOS BARRILES, BCS MEXICO Anna and Kerry, both from Toronto, met in 2011 and just months after they met Kerry was preparing for his adventure in the Mexico1000 Rally Race which takes place in April and May every year in the Baja. Kerry has participated in the race for three years and had the privilege of driving his friend, Jayson Walmsly’s, trophy truck the Blue Crush.


Los Cabos Tourism


The Aquarium of the World: Cabo Pulmo


Snorkelers and divers of all levels can enjoy this fantastic underwater world teeming with morays, turtles, puffers, angelfish and more. Mermaids Beach, a small protected bay, is ideal for beginners. At Frailes Rock Sea Lion Colony you can cavort with friendly sea lions. Other snorkeling sites, such as Jureles and Las Navajas never cease to amaze. You never know what will peak its head out of the rocks. Or maybe you’ll come across a sunken shipwreck.


Jacques Cousteau once called the sea of Cortez with its eight reef fingers, “The Aquarium of the World”. The sea contains thirty-nine percent of the world’s total number of species of marine mammals and is recognized by UNESCO for its extraordinary importance. Over the past ten years, Cabo Pulmo has taken great initiatives to restore life in the reef as it had been severely depleted due to over-fishing. These efforts have earned Cabo Pulmo the distinction of being an official Mexican Marine Park.

You can do your part to promote the serious conservation efforts in this underwater sanctuary by using biodegradable sunscreen and other eco-friendly products.


Unspoiled beaches, luxury resorts, world-renowned golf courses and sport fishing... just when you’re thinking Los Cabos has it all, don’t overlook Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park in the East Cape. Its shallow bay cradles three living reefs, including the only hard coral reef in North America. A kaleidoscope of vibrant tropical fish and turquoise blue waters await your discovery at Cabo Pulmo, a family-oriented and ecofriendly park.

The best places to look at the stars: Mulege During the months from March to September, the skies in this Baja California town offer postcard-like skies filled with stars, eclipsed only at times by the intense brightness of the moon. You should also not miss the view of the horizon, when the first light before the lunar dawn illuminates the Sea of Cortes. Any beach activity is perfect for Mulege. You can go snorkeling, diving and even surfing. Due to the region’s fishing tradition, one of the most popular activities among tourists is going sports fishing on the Santa Rosalia river. Here you will be able to fish mackerel and golden fish, as well as dogfish, shark, marlin and roosterfish. You may also visit the “El Gallito” dunes, only one mile south of Mulege, where you will be able to rent an ATV to explore these costal sand dunes.

WHERE TO STAY There are many accommodation options in Mulege, hotels and hostels for every budget, as well as trailer parks which include camping areas, hot showers, laundry and other services to make your stay a complete experience, without having to sacrifice comfort. You can also find these services in the other small towns in the north end of the state including Guerrero Negro, Malarrimo, Kadekaman, Santa Rosalia, and San Ignacio. HOW TO GET THERE Mulege is located approximately 306 miles to the north of La Paz and 175 miles from Loreto, Baja California Sur, on the Transpeninsular highway. Making the trip by land will allow you to appreciate the terrific views of the peninsula, where you will be able to see the contrast between the sea and the desert, the main feature of the territory of Baja California.

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






LUXURY REAL ESTATE From a couple thousand to many millions of dollars, there is a home for everyone in Mexico.



Whether it is inspirational or aspirational, these homes represent some of the most luxurious properties available for sale. Divine views, quality craftmanship, thoughtful design, every comfort considered, each home a masterpiece in its own right. To view more of these and other properties for sale visit


Villa Kismet


Villa Kismet is the pinnacle of luxury, overlooking the landmark Los Arcos islands on Vallarta's exclusive south shore. It stands out for its contemporary design with soft edges using the natural materials of the area and is set off by lush jungle foliage. Exotic touches such as its infinity pool, a

palapa dining area and Zen-style oceanfront garden complement living spaces that go to the limit for maximum enjoyment. Built on multiple levels at the ocean's edge, its 7,962 sq.ft feature a dramatic interior garden, spacious entertainment areas, oceanfront terraces and floor to ceiling glass that

drink in 240 degrees of blue-water horizon. With six bedrooms,comfort and livability are felt in details such as an elevator to all floors and a complete separate one-bedroom ocean view guest apartment. A beach club with fitness centre, water sports and seaside restaurant round out the experience.





A peaceful oasis in the jungle on the point at Sayulita bay gives residents a secluded piece of paradise just minutes away from the town center. The encompassing views and short distance from the bustle creates a retreat, and now Casa Buena Vista is complete and ready to be called home. With a prime location overlooking lush green jungle and the waves rolling in below the property, there is no finer place to spend your time. The property was designed to effortlessly meld with its surroundings. Elegantly crafted palapa roofs keep the home cool and lofty as an open concept fills in below. There are three bedrooms each with a private bath, two half baths, two outdoor showers, a state of the art kitchen and abundant living space at 8,675 square feet. With a Beach Club and Surf Club there are water kayaks, stand up paddle boards and assorted water sports and fun equipment for use, outdoor grills, and a culinary kitchen! Every aspect was meticulously created to accentuate a life lived in splendour.

Casa Oliver


s nel l re a l e st a t e . c o m

Luxury living through design. Located in Fundadores in the 2000-acre resort of Puerto Los Cabos, Casa Oliver is a 2,645 sq. ft. six bedroom estate with over 15,000 sq.ft of outdoor living space, just minutes from San Jose del Cabo on the Sea of Cortez. On 1/3rd of an acre with direct access to the beach, Casa Oliver's style is a contemporary hacienda with a balance of outdoor and indoor spaces. The main terrace featuring a 100-foot long pool, mosaic tiled in glass, gourmet outdoor kitchen and large inset fireplace creates a warm ambiance. An oceanfront master suite along with four courtyard guest suites and casita with full kitchen along with a 16-seat theater, full spa, art room and fitness room provides something for everyone.

Elements Penthouse




This spectacular furnished penthouse at the luxurious Elements development offers everything you need for your vacation home. Experience the beauty of the Caribbean Sea from your rooftop terrace. Three bedrooms make this home roomy enough for the whole family to come visit. Enjoy the private beach just steps from your door,


return home with the day’s fresh catch, grill it up on your outdoor grill and relax the day away in the ten person Jacuzzi. There are no worries in this penthouse. Everything has been thought of and all your needs are taken care of, including around the clock security. Turn the key and you are home.


The choice is yours at Ventanas By Mexi-Go! Staff

Respected Mexican developer Portus continues to offer more options with their vacation and retirement properties in Los Cabos.

Vacation and retirement in Mexico is made simple with Ventanas.

there are now an inventory of homes ready to move into.

pool that generates an excellent return on your investment when you are not there.

This isn’t the first time we have written about the ultra-successful Ventanas Residences in Cabo San Lucas; an excellent product deserves a return visit. The Ventanas Cabo master-planned community combines single-family homes and condominiums, set on the hill above Cabo San Lucas, with the best views on the peninsula. The centerpiece of each is an amenities-packed clubhouse.

The Portus Group also recognizes the importance of building a sustainable community and has partnered with Mundo Durable, the leader in eco-construction products in Mexico.

Because of all the amenities, living in a Portus property, says marketing director José Acosta, "feels like living in your own hotel", and we could not agree more.

There are a few resale units available in all phases but rather than do a fourth phase of Ventanas, Portus introduced the Cabo del Mar Ocean and Eco Park Village. Having noted that Los Cabos lacked a nature park, the new phase offers single-family homes and condos within a series of natural parks. The parks will each have a theme and be accessible from residences (no street crossing required). Pedestrian and family-friendly Cabo del Mar Village offers a clubhouse with all the amenities of Portus’s projects, but it will include more outdoor amenities like cycle paths, gardens, and an amphitheater. Condominiums in Cabo del Mar Village start at $99,000 U.S., and single-family homes begin at $150,000 U.S. There were over ninety presales and the Portus Group, as always, is on schedule, and began delivering these units in the middle of 2014. With construction well underway

Like what you are hearing about Portus but want something on the water? Then maybe Soleado Beach & Spa Resort is right for you. This exclusive condo-hotel is located on the popular swim and surf beach, Costa Azul, in San José del Cabo. Only twenty units will be available (half are already pre sold), with prices starting at approximately $400,000 U.S., unheard of for beachfront residences. All of the residences will be delivered furnished, and owners are encouraged to participate in a hotel rental program. Looking for financing options? After recognizing that Canadians were having difficulty procuring financing from Mexican banks, Portus decided to take matters into their own hands, and now offer direct financing with a small down payment, and the best annual fixed rates on the market. Ventanas is an excellent option for not only year round living, but also as an investment property, they offer property management services, and also have a very active rental

If you are already in Cabo, consider dining at the Santitos Restaurant, which is open to the public and offers excellent food at modest prices, coupled with a stunning view. If you would like to visit Ventanas and experience the lifestyle for yourself you can take advantage of the Real Estate Vacation and stay with them for as low as $499 for a week (dependant on availability). We just returned from our Real Estate Vacation at Ventana’s in Cabo. I cannot wait to go back. It was truly our best Mexico experience. We loved the grounds. Everything was so neat and tidy and beautiful. The pools were great. We have a 12, 6 and 2 year old so we need a development that will work for our whole family, and Ventanas works for everybody. Our condo was great. Very spacious and clean with a big new kitchen. The patio offered an amazing view of the arches. And Max from the sales team took amazing care of us. There was no pressure, mostly because the place speaks for itself! Ventanas is about 10 minutes to town, and ten minutes to the most amazing beaches. It is also right by Costco- which was handy for stocking up! Ventanas was our first (and last) stop looking for our second home in Mexico and we know we have found that perfect spot. The Hetheringtons from Victoria, BC


The Club at Ventanas del Mar includes two pools, hot tubs, fire pits, a fitness center,a full-service spa, a multimedia lounge, an on-site furniture shop, a market offering freshly baked breads, three restaurants, access to a private yacht, a kids’ club, and a nondenominational chapel. If you don’t feel like making dinner or heading out, don’t worry, the restaurants and market will deliver right to your home.

Each unit now features solar panels that can produce up to 90% of the needed electricity of your home, high efficiency, on-demand hot water heaters, which can lower gas demand by up to 60%, and most importantly, each unit features its own water purification system, which eliminates the need for bottled water. These improvements not only help the environment, but they also reduce your costs through the constant savings that these eco-features generate. 51


PDI Real Estate & Partnership Program


or many Canadians wanting to purchase Mexican real estate the biggest challenge is the lack of financing currently available for foreigners. While their desire to own property in Mexico is strong, purchasing a retirement or vacation property outright may be beyond their savings. Now instead of waiting on the sidelines, motivated buyers can enter the exciting world of Mexican real estate and start enjoying the benefits of ownership immediately. PDI Real Estate has partnered with a private investment firm to provide an innovative, flexible means of purchasing Mexican properties. Partnership Purchasing through PDI means that a home can be purchased for less than the total asking price with PDI and its investors providing the additional capital.

In Partnership Purchasing for example a home worth $400,000 could be purchased with initial payment of $250,000 with PDI paying the balance and closing cost. “PDI approaches each buyer individually and works with them to assure that each transaction is clean, smooth and with no risk to either partner.” -- Agent, Teresa Beckett, PDI Real Estate. “This provides added peace of mind as only homes listed at fair or below market value prices, and that are predicted to result in a good return on the investment will be considered for investment by PDI.” Partnership Purchased homes would then be managed as a corporation with shares divided based on the amount initially invested. Home owners can increase their percentage of ownership

"The good news for homeowners working with PDI is that our team of skilled accountants and lawyers takes care that while providing home owners with full transparency through regular updates"

by buying shares in the home back from PDI at any time and can transition from part to full ownership with no restrictions. Conversely they can also reduce ownership by selling shares back to PDI if they prefer. Profits from the home (via vacation rentals and/or the eventual resale of the home) are shared with the share- holders based on their percentage of ownership in the corporation. The option of owning a home as a corporation in Mexico is not new. As of 1995 foreigners can fully own, operate and administer Mexican corporations. A foreign corporation in Mexico requires two or more individual investors, who, combined, control 100% of the corporation. There are several advantages to owning a home as a corporation including allowing for-


Benefits of acquiring property through PDI’s Partnership Purchase program: *Investments can start as low as $10,000 USD *Fast authorization times *No minimum income requirements *No credit scores required *Commercial projects encouraged

eigners to purchase real estate in restricted zones, lower taxes, the ability to deduct expenses, no need for expensive bank trusts and the fact that transferring shares is easy. “One of the biggest draw backs of a corporation is the amount of monthly paperwork required. The good news for homeowners working with PDI is that our team of skilled accountants and lawyers takes care of that while providing home owners with full transparency through regular updates” Daniel Diaz, PDI Accountant The other major component of a Partnership Purchase with PDI is potential income generated by vacation rentals and the opportunity for in-house property management. This income stream can be paid to the owner or used to increase their ownership of the home through purchase of

“PDI approaches each buyer individually and works with them to assure that each transaction is clean smooth and with no risk to either partner.”

additional shares. Relying on PDI’s team of property management professionals eliminates the hassles of paying monthly bills and day to day upkeep of your home, while ensuring that weekly vacation rentals run smoothly. For more information about how a PDI Partnership Purchase could work for you visit:

Learn more!

Join Mexi-Go! this spring at on of our buying real estate in Mexico seminars.

SEMINARS! What sort of benefits do I get?

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

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

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

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

Sounds great! How do

How much does this cost? I become a member? Membership is free. You pay for your flights and the discounted vacation - often times significantly discounted. If you purchase while on your Real Estate Vacation, your travel costs will be reimbursed*.

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

$499 a week

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


What is a Real Estate Vacation?

Experience Mexico with Mexi-Go!



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




The battle between the two properties for under $300k takes place between two of the most expensive areas in Canada and Mexico. Featuring Vancouver and Punta de Mita the results are staggeringly different. You can choose between an apartment building in an industrial area close to a rendering plant in East Vancouver or a brand new condo on one of the most exclusive beaches in Mexico.

$300-400k Pick between a “slightly” used showhouse that is still not located on its final site, (hopefully sometime in 2015) or a new 2300 sq. foot custom built home in the same quaint village the Eagles wrote the hit song ‘Hotel California’.

Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit

Vancouver, British Columbia

MLS ID: V1078535

The one bedroom units at La Mision de Mita are best described by two words- OCEAN VIEWS! They have views of the beautiful Banderas Bay that are truly second to none. Also, the one bedroom is perfect for those who plan on keeping things elegantly simple.

What!? Vancouver in the 200-300K section? Sounds too good to be true. And it is. It’s a rundown nearly 40 year old one bedroom groundfloor apartment in one of the least desirable neighbourhoods in all of Canada, or as the realtor graciously describes as a “still growing” community. You can tuck yourself in in your large bedroom which can accommodate a Queen-sized bed and shower yourself in luxury in your heated floor bathroom. (Whatever that means!) Don’t forget that along with all that 700 square feet you still get to pay nearly $300 a month in condo fees, pretty sweet.

It has over 1000 square feet of space so there is plenty of room for a couple to make themselves at home. Agent- Erika Cruz

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

North Grove, Saskatchewan

MLS ID: 512220

Enjoy beautiful ocean and mountain views from this custom “warm contemporary” home. This home offers two master suites. Main open floor plan leads to central walled courtyard. Living room has rammed earth fireplace, custom cabinetry.

We found this show suite for a development in North Grove, Saskatchewan. Keep in mind they still need to dig a basement, pour the foundation, move the house onto it and complete the landscaping.

The upper ocean view terrace is a few steps up from the upper master terrace. From here enjoy beautiful sunrises over the Sierra de Laguna mountains, Pacific Ocean sunsets, whale and bird watching. With underground utilities in place power lines will not obstruct views. Oversized garage with separate walk-in lockable storage and underground large water cistern. Agents - Jeff and Judy Welch




The listing does not say how many bedrooms you get in this project but they hope the move-in date is sometime in 2015. If you are looking for a house that should keep you checking your homeowners warranty on a regular basis for years to come this is the one for you.



Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Rural Leduc County, Alberta

MLS ID: E3396413

Start living your dream life on the beach in this beautiful upper floor beachfront condo at Vivo Resorts. This newly completed 3 bedroom 2 bath condo includes commanding views of the Pacific and Palmarito beach. Enjoy watching the waves roll in from the oversized balcony.

Wanna spend almost 500k plus GST on a mobile home on the outskirts of Leduc, Alberta? No? Well, maybe a development on the Pacific ocean built by a Canadian Olympian that has the potential to generate rental income when you not there would appeal to you instead. The choice is all yours.

you love frostbite and snowblowers? Plugvs. Do ging your car in? If you loved the movie Fargo and are looking to recreate some of that bleak

This luxury residence has customized finishing details creating a truly unique look. The sale price includes furniture & housewares package and many customized upgrades including: •

King size bed in master bedroom

Queen size beds in 2nd and 3rd bedrooms

Flat screen TV installed in master bedroom

Illuminated Onyx sinks in both bathrooms

Drop ceiling feature with built-in speakers

Agent - Chuck Ashton

and desolate landscape then we found the mobile home for you. Located a slippery 20 minute drive from anywhere, this modular home sitting on woodblocks can be all yours for 99 dollars under half a million and features a septic system with open discharge! Yum.

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


unforgettable vacations





Singles, families and couples will be sure to appreciate the simplicity of Borneo 103 – a lovely vacation 2 bedroom 2 baths homeaway-from-home with an inviting view of Marina La Cruz. The spacious living area, nearby attractions and access to the property’s lush terraced gardens are the perfect combo for a fun and memorable Mexican vacation. house/775 TIP ONE: BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS NOW! Westjet offers direct flights from Western Canada stright to Puerto Vallart Int'l Airport (PVR). What are you waiting for?



A traditional Puerto Vallarta style villa renovated to provide all modern amenities. There is a fully equipped kitchen, large dining room, and a living room open on three sides to a terrace with heated pool and water and city views. Ladera has four bedrooms, all with private en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and ceiling fans. Daily maid service is included. Steps away from Los Meurtos beach and Blue Chairs resort. The restaurants, shops and nightlife of the Zona Romatica are all within easy walking distance.


Villa Mariposa features a grand sala with two corner sofa beds, game table and entertainment center, round palapa dining room seating eight, fully-equipped gourmet kitchen, elegant kingsize air-conditioned bedroom opening to covered view and pool terrace with wet bar.

TIP TWO: SIGHTSEEING Renting a car is a great way to explore the little towns that radiate out from the Bay of Banderas. Ask us for your National Car Rental discount.




Call 949-478-0021 to speak with our rental assistants. 55

Ryland Apsey President Mexico Capital Mortgage

Mexico Mortgage Update Options for US & Canadian citizens who do not reside in Mexico remain much the same since late 2013.The large banks, the likes of which offered us pretty decent interest rates from 2005 through 2012 which ranged from around 6% - 9% have not yet decided to again create programs for our market.

ments offer complications.



We have had several potential lenders approach us in 2014, however when it came time to move forward with a transaction, they were unable to perform. That said, as of now there are no new lenders in the market who we can confidently represent as being a reliable At this time all we have is high source for non-residents of Mexico risk hard money lenders who fund that offer lower rates. quickly and easily, approve most borrowers... however at a high Regarding residents of Mexico with all their documentation in order, price. rates are at a long time low starting Interest rates are 14% - 16% with at 8.49% with a maximum loan term 35% required as a down payment of 20yrs. Life insurance and homewith up to a 30yr amortization. Typi- owners insurance are standard cal loan approval timeline is around requirements of these programs. one week and funding timeline is as We will keep you posted as new little as 45 days with longer closing programs become available. periods applying when seller docu-









Casa de Sue単os - Pedregal Marina View home in Exclusive, Gated, Pedregal. Built in 2010, 3600 sq ft, 4 BR, 4.5 Ba, Granite, Marble and Custom Millwork throughout. $150K in Custom Interior Design and Furnishings. 1000 sq ft Patio with Pool & Spa, Pergola, BBQ & Firepit. Three car Garage. Great Vacation Rental. Seller Financing. MLS# 14-1043


Situated just steps from Cabo's famed Medano Beach. New Construction. 1780 sq ft, 2BR, 2Ba, Condo with Upscale Finishes - Granite, Marble, Canterra. Community Swimming Pool, Assigned U.G. Parking and Storage. Walk to Beach, Downtown Restaurants, Marina, Water Activities. Excellent Vacation Rental. MLS# 14-2011

Punta Arena w/Pool - Cabo Corridor

Misiones del Cabo # 4208 - BARGAIN

1808 sq ft, 3BR/2.5 Ba, with a Private Pool !! Views of Lands End, Cabo Bay and City Lights. New S/S appliances, Marble floors, Granite kitchen counters. Alderwood cabinets. Gated, 24 hr security. 2 community swimming pools, with BBQs and Palapas. Lush, Mature Tropical Landscaping. Priced to sell. MLS# 14-1531

This 1065 sq ft, 1 BR, 1 Ba, 2nd floor Condo overlooks the Morning Pool and Patios and Lush Tropical Landscaping. Views to the Ocean and Sunrises. The Large Oceanview Deck faces to the east and the Morning Sun. This Comfy, Cozy, Condo is offered Completely Furnished. A Great Vacation Rental. MLS# 14-959

La Vista Penthouse plus Roof Deck

Misiones del Cabo # 5106 - REDUCED

Penthouse Condo features a 1396 sq ft Private Roof top Terrace with Palapa, S/S BBQ, Kitchen with Granite, Hot Tub, Shower and Panoramic Ocean Views. Fully Furnished, 1483 sq ft Main Living Area, with 3 BR/3Ba, Upgraded Kitchen, Granite counters, Marble floors, Upgraded Master BR, S/S Appliances. MLS# 14-1905


Puerta Cabos Village 101

WOW! Completely Remodeled, 1450 sq ft, 2 BR, 2 Ba, Ground Floor Condo, steps to Pool and Swim Up Bar. Remodel includes: S/S Appliances, Flooring, Countertops and Splash, Bathrooms w/ New Cabinets and Plumbing Fixtures, Smoothed Walls. Custom Furnished. Garden & part Ocean Views from Expansive Decks. MLS# 14-960

Cerritos Beachfront Bed & Breakfast

Villa Luxor - Cabo Del Sol Golf

Unique Offering: 50% Ownership in Land, Buildings, Equipment, Furnishings and Business. 6,800 sq ft 2 story House, 10 BRs with Private Ensuite Bathrooms. Commercially Equipped Kitchen, Pool, 2 Bar Lounges, Ocean Veranda, Lush Tropical Landscaping. Now under construction on a 1,000 M2 Beach Lot. MLS# 14-1257

Excuisite ONE Story Luxury Custom Home with truly outstanding sea, golf course and mountain vistas. 3500 sq ft Open Plan, 4 BR, 4 Ba, Fully Furnished. Private Pool and 1800 sq ft of decks. Very private. Located on the 4th Fairway of the renowned Jack Nicklaus Ocean Golf Course in Cabo del Sol. MLS# 10-1147

We have over 2,500 Los Cabos MLS Listings to offer our Buyer Clients. Email: Tel: From Cabo (624) 144-4169 From U.S/Canada (619) 906-7505



Looking for your next vacation? Indulge your senses 7 nights in a suite for 2 for only US$700 Ask for larger room options

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

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

Tel. 1-888-387-4799 This promotion is valid until June 3O, 2015


MRR-DC-GR-I 7482 / NOV 14

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