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TRAVEL LIFESTYLE REAL ESTATE RETIREMENT

WINTER 2013

Bi-Lateral Relations

Mexico-Canada

Happily Ever After

Destination Weddings

Wine Tasting

from BC to the Baja

10 Steps to Living in Mexico This Knee was Made in Mexico New Immigration Rules Using an AMPI Realtor Mexico’s Boomtown Prison DOLLS Pueblos Magicos, Hotels, Fundraisers, Art Shows, Cuisine, Dream Homes and more...

NOW delivered to your door FOUR times a year subscribe today! www.mexi-go.ca

COnnecting Mexico to Canada www.mexi-go.ca


Villa Santa Barbara 401 1BD / 1BA Darling studio with views of bay, beach and surrounding hills. $79,500 USD

Flamingos Orquideas Casa Tamarindos 2 BD / 2 BA Great deal for someone looking for a quiet place to retire. $81,500 USD

A beautiful and well constructed complex nestled in Flamingos Club Residencial with the Banderas Valley in the background. Covered entertainment areas with outdoor bar and sink, Otis elevators and two car parking for each unit are just some of the great amenities that lucky owners in this fantastic development will enjoy. 3 BD / 2 BA - 125 m2 starting at $134,500 USD.

Casa Jean Luigi

Alborada 1

Casa Perla

3 BD / 2.5 BA Elegant & sophisticated home at an affordable price. $149,000 USD

2 BD / 2 BA Ample open floor plan in the best location, 2 blocks from "Los Muertos" beach. $179,000 USD

3 BD / 4 BA Hacienda-style home (can be duplex) with beautiful gardens and private pool. $357,500 USD

Contact us for details. 2 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013 Toll-Free in Canada: 1-888-420-0966 Mexico: 011-52-322-222-6505

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Flights are only valid for those who are on title to the property and limited to no more than 2 persons. Valid for coach class or $500 USD maximum per ticket, whichever is less. Buyer must either mention the ad or bring the ad upon FIRST contact with Tropicasa. Only valid for new clients to Tropicasa from November 15, 2012. Purchase contract must be executed and agreed upon by all parties no later than January 31, 2013. Credit for the cost of the flights provided to the buyer in escrow. Offer expires January 31, 2013


I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in Mexico and to travel extensively within this beautiful country with so much diversity. –Tammy Cecco, Vice President

Why not add some colonial charm to your beach vacation? Ixtapa with Morelia Huatulco and the city of Oaxaca • Riviera Maya with the city of Campeche • Cancun with the city of Merida •

My top picks For A Romantic Retreat Las Alamandas, Costalegre: There is no better

spot to detach from life and reconnect as a couple. 1,500 acres of pristine paradise with 4 private beaches. An unforgettable location for a destination wedding!!

These are just a few of the destinations that are easily combinable. Ask your favourite travel consultant for details!

For A Group Getaway Dreams Resorts Mexico. Whether it is a corporate

group or family reunion, Dreams Resorts does it right. They have lots of great perks for groups and 1 in every 6 rooms are free!

For Family Fun Paradisus Esmeralda, Playa Del Carmen. It's the newest

of the Paradisus Resorts chain and fantastic for families. The kids will love all of the attention they get–from a video game menu to turn down service with cookies and milk. The parents will appreciate the level of service and quality and choice of restaurants.

For Cultural Experience Explore the mysteries of the Maya World with the 7 day Tierra Maya program. It visits all of the important archeological sites in the Yucatan and includes time in the beautiful colonial cities of Campeche and Merida. Add a few days of beach at the end and create an unforgettable package! We’re your Mexico specialists. Flights, hotels, packages-we have it all!

ANY WAY you LIKE IT! CALL TOTAL VACATIONS 1.800.769.4147 Ont. Reg #1553089. Tico #5001-8652

www.mexi-go.ca 3


Features Real estate

TRAVEL 12

Mexico’s Baile Folklorico By Erin Staley With a rich heritage of indigenous and colonial influences combined with carabeean and african influences, traditional dance in Mexico is like a day at the UN.

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4o

The Feria Maestros del Arte By Madeline MIlne Over 65 renowned artisans and crafts people gathered in Ajijic at the 11th anuual Feria to showcase a stunning array of traditional Mexican art.

retirement

living

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10 Simple Steps to living in Mexico By Aaron Fisher Take care of the basics before coming to Mexico and your new life will be a margarita closer to perfection.

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A Family Affair By Erin Staley

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This Canadian couple build off of their past experiences to create a new life for themselves and thier family in Bucerias, Nayarit.

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Happily Ever After By Erin Staley Dream of a romantic beach wedding? Destination weddings in Mexico range from the casual to the swanky with locations across this beautiful country. There is something for everyone.

4 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


Fulfill the Dream and live the perfect Lifestyle. Incredible locations, affordable living, ease of Ownership and a unique Lifestyle are yours at PINNACLE PROPERTIES in Puerto Vallarta, Mx.

Starting at $169,000 USD

AFFORDABLE LIVING, GREAT LOCATIONS AND OUTSTANDING VIEWS

Old Mexican charm mixed with modern infrastructure

Canadian Developments with Canadian Standard Construction Stylish 1 & 2 bedroom condos and 2 bedroom Townhomes with modern amenities and breathtaking views of the ocean, town & tropical mountains from every condo.

www.pinnaclepv.com


Features Real estate

36

TRAVEL

Mexico-Canada Bilateral Relations: Strategic Partnerships By Angel Villalobos Rodriguez As Mexico’s second largest trading partner and second largest influx of tourists and expats the relationship between our two countries only grows stronger.

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24 hours in Tepotzlán

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By Joel Hansen This Pueblo Magico, an hour from Mexico City offers respite from the hectic pace of the city with its galleries, cafes and natural setting.

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retirement

Connecting with my inner Gidget

living

By Wendy Rains You’re never too old to learn how to surf as Wendy learns at the Baja Surf Camp.

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Wine Tasting from BC to Baja By Steve Dryden

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With over 2000 vineyards along the Pacific Coast there is enough wine for everyone! Join Steve as he explores some of his favourite vintages.

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My Tree of Sanity By Cherie Pittillo Outside the window of Cheries home in Merida is a tree that has attacted more than 40 sepcies of birds.

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Dream Homes A selection of some of Mexico’s finest homes for sale.

6 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


Tourism strengthens the development of our country.

Magical Town

In Mexico in 2011 we received a record number of domestic and international tourist arrivals - over 191 million visitors! With tourism we build the foundations of a more prosperous Mexico

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

facebook.com/MexiGoProperties twitter.com/MexiGoMag

Bienvenidos! Phewf! We made it. According to a considerable number of posts on my facebook feed it looked like the world was going to end on December 21st but thankfully that wasn’t the case. In fact, for many, this new cycle is one of renewal, growth and positive energy and that’s what we see here in Mexico every day. This country continues to make positive strides in its economic, social and environmental growth. The numbers continue to rise for GDP, for tourism, for education and health care indicators. Mexico is no longer a third world country. In fact it hasn’t been one for a while now. We discuss the booming economy of Mexico and how it compares with many other countries worldwide for investment opportunities. We also invited Angel Villalobos Rodriguez, Consul General of Mexico in Vancouver, B.C. to discuss the bi-lateral relationships between Mexico and Canada, our third largest trading partner and the top international destination for Canadian snowbirds and tourists. If 2013 is the year of growth or renewal, perhaps it is also a year for a dream wedding, whether it be your own or your children’s. Mexico offers some of the most beautiful tropical destinations in the world and often for a fraction of the price. The destination wedding industry in Mexico is well established and can provide everything from simple beach affairs to five-star elaborate events for hundreds of your favourite friends and family! If a new love is on your horizon, we wish you a lifetime of happiness and beautiful memories. For Mexi-Go! we have big plans for 2013 including increasing the distribution of this magazine so that you may purchase it from your local shop - right across Canada, to hosting not one but three major tourism and retirement expos this fall in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. For more information on the Expos please visit www.mexi-goexpo.com. And finally we are about to launch a new real estate program that will give our readers and membership special discounts, exclusive vacations and huge bonuses when purchasing their dream home in Mexico. For more details please visit www.mexi-govacations.com and register today. If you appreciate what we are doing here, consider an annual subscription to the magazine or join us on facebook to keep up to date with everything we are doing at Mexi-Go!

MExi-Go! ONLINE

facebook.com/MexiGoProperties and www.mexi-go.ca.

This fall we will relaunch our real estate listing and rentals site with information on travel, real estate and living in Mexico. Stay tuned!

Llegó 2013 y con él 365 días para compartir con ustedes nuevas aventuras.

www.mexi-go.ca

Este es el año para hacer de México tu proxima aventura, para cumplir los deseos que siempre has tenido, nosotros te acercamos a ellos para que 2013 esté lleno salud, viajes, emociones y de éxitos personales y profesionales.

Safe travels, Madeline editor@mexi-go.ca

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!

$19.95 / 4 issues

WISH YOU WERE HERE! Breakers in Bucerias, Burros in Punta Mita and Los Arcos in Mismaloya. Take your pick!

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Upcoming Events! Across Mexico there are many wonderful cultural, travel, food and investment events that are worth a visit. Here are some of our top picks!

Migratory Birds Festival San Blas, Nayarit, Jan 29 to Feb 5 From an international conference on migratory birds to bird watching trips and avian related artwork, San Blas is a mecca for bird enthusiasts.

Mexican National Chili Cook-Off Ajijic, Jalisco, February 22, 23 & 24 The 35th annual charity chili challenge will take place at Tobolandia in Ajijic. Taste sensational chilis, and delicious margaritas while you peruse the many vendors of traditional Mexican arts and crafts. Dancing horses are a perennial favourite!

Join International jewelry designer Peg Steley in Puerto Vallarta this January 19th, 2013 for a public show of her latest collection at the gorgeous RIVER CAFE on Saturday January 19th from 11 am to 4 pm. Peg combines semi-precious stones and found objects into symphonies of colour and texture. Each piece is a unique work of art. www.pegsteley.com

www.mexicannationalchilicookoff.com

Night of the Witches - Noche de Brujas Catemaco, Veracruz, March 2 Annual convention of fortune-tellers and other practitioners of the spiritual arts, if you desire a peak into your future, this might be the place to go.

Mexican Chocolate, Coffee & Vanilla Festival Puerto Vallarta, March 10 - 15 Vallarta Botanical Gardens will showcase their collection of chocolate and coffee trees plus vanilla orchids planted en mass during 2008. You will find demonstrations, menus and speakers that celebrate all things chocolate and vanilla. The week culminates with a party “Food and Nectar of the Gods”.

Cumbre Tajin, Festival de la Identidad Tajin, Veracruz, March 17 to 21 Cumbre Tajín is an annual festival that revolves around the Spring Equinox. It brings arts, ceremonies, music, meditation, dance, healing and multiple artistic and ritual expressions together. The Totonaca culture is celebrated throughout the festival; it gathers more then 5000 artists from Veracruz, México and the world. www.cumbretajin.com

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www.mexi-go.ca

Madeline milne Editor-in-Chief, Art Director

MORALEA MILNE Editor

Gary R. Beck Contributor

Madeline’s expertise in market-

Moralea lives in Metchosin, BC

First visiting Puerto Vallarta

ing and passion for life in Mexico

where she is an elected council-

in 1979, Gary has maintained

is the foundation on which Mexi-

lor, respected volunteer for

meticulous notes on every

Go! is built. Living full time in

local environmental groups and

dining experience he’s had in

Mexico brings experience and

frequent contributor to the local

the past thirty years in Vallarta.

real life skills to the creative

paper. When the rain and wind

Gary is a regular contributor

process. When she’s not explor-

get to be too much, Moralea

for many local Puerto Vallarta

ing new parts of Mexico, you can

heads to Mexico, where she

newspapers and websites as well

find Madeline under her palapa,

finds pleasure in the unique flora

as Sunset Magazine and Zagat.

poolside, with a good book

and fauna, the beaches and the

Gary publishes the popular PV

and her posse of Chihuahuas.

highlands and in the warmth and

Restaurant Guide, Beck’s Best.

She divides her time between

comfort of the Mexican culture,

“Exploring Puerto Vallarta’s rich

Vancouver, BC and Mexico.

food and people.

array of eateries is exhilarating.” Beck says.

Steve Dryden Contributor

joel Hansen Contributor

Catherine Kranz Contributor

In 2004, Steve purchased a small

Living in Mexico has provided

A naturalized Mexican, origi-

property in Mexico’s premier

Joel with the opportunity to

nally from the United States,

wine country of Baja California

golf badly and surf even worse,

has been President of the

where he planted a vineyard

but he gets to do it all with

Zihuatanejo International Guitar

of Nebbiolo vines and began

his family, while living in the

Festival for ten years and was

his first attempts at creating

country he loves. His eleven

for twelve years publisher of a

a drinkable wine. Today, Mr.

year old son’s smug ability to

tourism promotion magazine

Dryden is considered Mexico’s

learn Spanish has encouraged

in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo called

top wine writer in the English

him to learn the language,

Another Day in Paradise. She

language. Over the last four years

and he continues to struggle

is currently living in Mexico City

he has broadened his wine and

towards that modest goal.

where she is studying for her

culinary articles, covering the

diploma in Mexican Studies at

wine regions from BC to BC (Baja

UNAM university.

California to British Columbia) via

www.zihuafest.info

his annual road trips.

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Editor-in-Chief Madeline Milne Editor Moralea Milne Annie Holtby Art Director Madeline Milne Brad Hopwood Oskar Stark Contributors Gary R. Beck Wendy Rains Erin Staley Steve Dryden Cherie Pittillo Joel Hansen John Glaab Audrey Royem Catherine Krantz Aaron Fisher Thomas Lloyd Angel Villalobos Rodriguez Cat Morgan Terry Curtis Judy MacKenzie Photography Barb Nettleton Madeline Milne Distribution Maxwell Hansen-Milne Advertising AND SALES Garth Watson | Sales Director garth@mexi-go.ca Gabriel Jones | Riviera Nayarit gabriel@mexi-go.ca Lissette Valentin | Los Cabos lissette@mexi-go.ca Joel Hansen | Business Development joel@mexi-go.ca MARKETING AND PR Veronica Rivas veronica@mexi-go.ca CONTACT US! info@mexi-go.ca www.facebook.com/mexi-goproperties www.twitter.com/mexigoproperty www.twitter.com/mexigomag


What is a Real Estate Vacation? Audrey Royem Contributor

John Glaab Contributor

erin staley Contributor

Audrey lives full-time in Sayulita,

John Glaab is Vice President

Taking her stories from the stage

Nayarit and is the Director of

of International Marketing

to the page, choreographer

Audrey International, a business

at The Settlement Company,

Erin Staley pirouetted her way

offering personal assistance & fa-

Mexico’s oldest Title and escrow

from the U.S. Pacific Northwest

cilitation to foreigners interested

company. A founding member of

to Mexico in 2010. Published in

in moving to, investing in and

AMPI Los Cabs, he is a Certified

fiction and non-fiction, Erin is

integrating into Mexico. She has

International Property Specialist.

currently the editor for a Puerto

over fifteen years of international

John was recently named Inter-

Vallarta city guide:

experience and hold a Master’s

national REALTOR® Member of

www.pvguide.org.

of International Affairs from

the Year by NAR.

Columbia University. A native of Colorado, she has lived and

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? 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.

www.settlement-co.com

Is this a timeshare thing?

worked in New York City, Southeast Asia and Mexico

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

What sort of benefits do I get? 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.

aaron fisher Contributor A family man, Aaron started living

ON THE COVER | Juana Gomez - Chiapis pottery

in Mexico in 2000 escaping the cold Canadian winters. Aaron’s strengths are land development, marketing and education based sales and have earned him the role of Project Manager for the Royal Club Real Estate event. www.RoyalClubRealEstate.com

Barb Nettleton Photographer Barb is an active volunteer at Harbourfront Int’l Festival of Authors, PEN Canada, and Writers Trust in her hometown of Toronto. She is married to Frank, has a horse named Flash (who for the last eleven years does very special work teaching at risk youth

Sounds Great! How do I become a member? Register online at mexi-govacations.com and we will keep you informed about new developments, excellent real estate opportunities and special incentives negotiated only for our membership!

how to ride), two sons, a dog and a cat. Barbara comes back to Mexico every year, camera in hand!

www.mexi-govacations.com www.mexi-go.ca 11


ART & CULTURE

Mexico’s Baile Folklórico By Erin Staley

T

ravel to any corner of Mexico, and you’ll hear the rhythmic call of drums, flutes and accordions as well as the percussive stomping of feet. Upon further inquiry, you’ll see colors flying, skirts twirling and masked performers taking the stage in celebration of the nation’s heritage. Centuries ago, the indigenous populations of Mexico used dance to connect with deities and nature, weaving ancient traditions, mythology and every day events into their gestures, footwork, costuming and showmanship. While these Mesoamerican dances were unique to each region, the introduction of European and African cultures influenced the rituals. They became ‘baile folklórico’ (folk dances), incorporating elements of the waltz, Flamenco, Polka and Schottische. This evolution transformed Mexico’s baile folklórico into a kaleidoscope of movement. La Danza del Venado (Dance of the Deer) is the ritualistic dance of the Yaqui tribe in the northern state of Sonora. The flute, rattle and drum beat out the story of the hunter and the hunted, while dancers known as ‘pascolas’ impersonate the characters behind wooden masks. Machetes fly as blindfolded performers take to the stage in the death defying dance of

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Danza de los Machetes (Dance of the Machetes). Native to the southwestern state of Nayarit, this dance features juggling with the dual-sided machetes. Dancers clang and toss their props, creating sparks as woman dance through the arch of flying machetes. In the eastern state of Veracruz as well as in the Costa Chica region of western Guerrero and Oaxaca, you can find the unmistakable influence of African slaves who were brought over by the Spaniards. Vibrant costuming, tropical rhythms, ornate masks and elaborate props such as snakes and bull heads are used in many Afromestizo dances. These include Los Negritos, Chilena, Artesa and Los Diablos. Bohemian Europeans made their mark on the cultural dances of Nuevo León. Men and women dance to lively accordions, tubas and base guitars. With a strong beat, energetic stomping and excited vocals, this northeastern state is known for its Polka-like dances. Spinning 30 meters above the earth is the ritualistic Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers). Thought to have originated in central Mexico, this high flying performance represents man’s petition to the gods. One by one, five performers scale the pole in hopes of drawing favorable out-


comes. While one dancer plays a drum and flute on the tip of the pole, the others propel from the platform. Around and around they go, hanging upside down and connected by a mere rope. Gradually, the four are lowered to the ground to continue their percussive celebration. Believed to be a monumental element in ancient agricultural tradition, Tlacolorerosis is as authentic of a folk dance as any other in Mexico. For those living in the southwestern state of Guerrero, this Aztec dance spotlights performers donning oversized wooden masks. They snap their whips to the harmonious melody of a violin while igniting a fire to burn away the previous season’s crop patches. Throughout the enactment, the land is once again prepared for planting and seeding. El Baile de Los Viejitos (The Dance of the Old Men) humorously mocks the 16th century Spaniards for their aged appearances. Native to the western state of Michoacán, this popular dance features mischievous dancers adorned with pale-skinned masks which capture the frozen appearance of laughter. Long strands of fake hair drip from wide-brimmed hats as colorful ribbons cascade from the top. Dancers

entertain crowds with their cartoon-like antics, trembling, coughing and falling while holding their backs in feigned agony. Short, tap-like footwork accelerates as the dancers prove that youth and vitality always conquers the spirit of death. The Jarabe Tapatio, commonly known as the Mexican Hat Dance, is Mexico’s national folk dance. Hailed as a courting exchange from the western state of Jalisco, Jarabe Tapatio portrays the flirtatious romance between a charro (Mexican cowboy) and a maiden dressed in ruffled ‘china poblana’ ensemble. He attempts to woo her by demonstrating his machismo and intricate footwork. With a toss of his hat, the charro performs a high kick over the head of the maiden just as she bends down to pick it up from the ground. Just before the dramatic exit, the two delight their audiences with a hidden kiss behind the iconic hat. No matter where you travel within Mexico’s 31 states, you will find hundreds of baile folklórico styles, each providing a glimpse into the nation’s rich heritage. From elaborate costuming to ancient instruments and from melodramatic characters to historical events, performers express their beloved culture and traditions through the mesmerizing steps of baile folklórico.

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ART & CULTURE

The Feria Maestros del Arte By Madeline MIlne, Photos by Barb Nettleton

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Designed

to raise

awareness of the significance of Mexican folk and indigenous art, thereby increasing the awareness of Mexico’s cultural heritage and history, the Annual Feria Maestros del Arte promotes the identiy and traditional values of this country. For three day in Novermber, 2012 The 11th Annual Feria was held in Ajijic, Jalisco. A veritable buffet of delectable crafts and artwork were displayed for the many visitors that came through the gates each day looking for a taste of Mexican culture. Each artist is invited to attend the event where they can sell their products and build relationships for further business, friendships and more. Artists are typically housed by Lakeside host families forming cross-cultural bonds that may never otherwise be possible. www.mexicoartshow.com

www.mexi-go.ca 15


W

ith over 65 artists in attendance and a move to a new location, the 2012 show was a huge success. The Feria is a nonprofit in both the US and Mexico and all the staffing is done through unpaid volunteers. Artists take home 100% of their sales and are not charged for their booth or a percentage of their sales. For more information on these artists and their works of art please visit www.mexicoartshow.com To view more photos from all mexicoartshow.smugmug.com

Julio Laja Chichicaxtla and Leobardo Espiratu Rocha: Puebla Handmade Paper

Main Image Pg 45-46:

Mariano and Cilau Valadez: Jalisco, Huichol Beading and Embroidery

Jose Luis Cortez Hernandez: Jalisco Ceramics

Maria and Jacobo Angeles Ojeda: Oaxaca Alebrijes

From Page 45 L-R

Daniel Paredes Cruz: Puebla Nicho Painting and tin art

Young Girl: Michoacan Miguel Quezada: Chihuahua Pottery Happy customers!!

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this page top L-R

Juana Comez Ramirez: Chiapis Ceramics Instituto Desarrollo Artesanal de Zacatecas: Textiles


Prison Dolls If

you had plenty of free time on your hands, what would you do? For a large percentage of todays population, retirement is a reality and free time is plentiful. For many, travel, philanthropy and family will take priority, but imagine if your life was turned upside down and you didn`t have the freedom to make these choices. That`s what happened to Rebecca Roth.

A successful business owner in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Rebecca was entangled in an unjust legal battle that ultimately saw her imprisoned (and later exonerated) for four years in the Reclusorio Feminil of Puente Grande in Guadalajara. This woman`s prison would be her home and the reason for her new found `free time’. Not diminishing the emotional and physical toll this experience took on Rebecca, what emerged from the experience was a newfound passion, and an opportunity to take on challenges otherwise lost to time constraints and pressures of life in general. Imprisoned with Rebecca was the infant daughter of a woman who gave birth while in jail. Children born in jail can remain with their mothers up to three years of age. Little Lupita was adored by all in the communal cell but none had the capacity to give this child a toy that was more than an empty pop bottle. Realizing that she wasn’t going anywhere fast

An outlet for depression and idle time, these Original Friends Dolls are more than beautiful works of art. They provide a livelihood for some of the most displaced woman in Mexican society. By Madeline Milne with Photos by Barb Nettleton

and needing an outlet for her anger and depression, Rebecca took it upon herself to use time wisely. She went back to school to learn Spanish, taught English to the other women, and took sewing classes. One day, armed with some scraps of material and a needle and thread, Rebecca crafted a doll for Lupita. This doll and a blossoming relationship with Esme, one of her English students, started what would soon become the “Original Friends Dolls” (trademarked in Mexico in February 2011). While in prison Rebecca, Esme and the other woman crafted and sold over 100 dolls. Today, many hundreds of these beautiful works of art have been sold. Available for purchase online and at the many artisan markets in Lake Chapala and around the Bay of Banderas, as well as at the Feria de Maestros del Arte each year in Ajijic, each doll is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, numbered, signed and named. About 85 percent of the materials are donated, found and upcycled. Each woman is paid for her work every Friday and the remaining profit is split equally between Esme and Rebecca. It takes approximately a week for each woman to craft these handmade dolls. Rebecca continues to create dolls, but finds herself with increasingly less time as her travels and commitment to managing the production and sale of the dolls leads her back to the regular routine of running a business.

Ask Rebecca today about her experience and you`ll find a warmhearted woman, with an honest face, who speaks with little bitterness and only a tinge of sadness. ‘I believe I was given opportunities for things I always wanted to do in my life, such as having my art exhibited in a world-renowned gallery… or publishing three books of poetry. These are all lifelong dreams of mine, accomplished through the hardship of incarceration in a foreign prison.’ After being released in March of 2010, Rebecca continues to live in Mexico, where her supportive sister and her children remained, and she continues with the “Original Friend Doll” project, both as a source of income and as a means to help the women within the prison to survive and fight their own legal battles. With the help of the women still incarcerated, and a few who continue to create dolls after their release, these little ‘ambassadors for liberty and justice’ are sold to collectors worldwide. Esme remains incarcerated but has not lost hope as she still has a final appeal remaining. If you wish to purchase a doll, donate materials or volunteer your time, please email originalfriendsdolls@gmail.com www.prisondolls.com

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MOVE TO MEXICO

Ten simple steps to living in Mexico By Aaron Fisher

C

ongratulations on your decision to move to Mexico! You are in for quite an adventure, and it all begins with preparation thought, planning, elbow grease and patience. Below are ten simple steps for living in Mexico that will get you well on your way to enjoying your own slice of paradise. Meet with an Immigration Official Even if you're receiving work permits or country visas through your employer, it's a good idea to set up a meeting with an immigration official. Contact the local embassy or consulate for information, if you're moving on your own, you may need to hire an immigration lawyer to help you through the visa process. Just make sure you know the immigration laws and make notes about deadlines (for submission of forms), timeframes (how long you're legally allowed to stay in the country) and policies regarding importing household goods and currency. Proper Documentation Make sure all family members have up to date passports. Other documentation that you should obtain are birth certificates (it's a good idea to have long form documents as well as wallet-sized), current driver's licenses, professional license and membership cards as well as marriage certificates, certificates of adoption, school records, medical records and whatever else might be pertinent. The “T” Word (Taxes) No matter if you’re retired or working abroad, check with your local government office or accountant regarding paying taxes in and from Mexico. Be sure to do this well in advance so that you’re prepared once tax day rolls around again. What's Up, Doc? Most Canadians moving to Mexico are concerned (or even mildly curious) about the availability of quality healthcare. Did you know that Mexico is one of the leading countries in stateof-the-art healthcare facilities? In fact, there are a number of internationally renowned medical institutions, training doctors and surgeons from all over the world. You will be in good hands once you find your favorite doctor and facility. It may take some time to collect recommendations, but rest assured, you will be in a haven for some of the best healthcare in the world. That's why so many North Americans travel to

18 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013

Mexico to receive medical tourism treatments and surgeries and you don't have to wait forever to get the help you need. Give It a Shot Most travelers to Mexico do not experience health issues that require immunizations, but if you want to be on the safe side, consult your health care provider or travel health clinic for recommended immunizations. Always keep a record of your health history handy in the event you need a physician's care. Pets on the Move Will you be bringing your furry sidekick to Mexico? Mexico requires all pets entering the country -- whether by car, boat or plane -- to come with proper documentation. This means a veterinary health certificate completed within five to seven days of your travel date as well as immunizations and an annual rabies shot. Your best pal won't need to be quarantined to join you in Mexico. Contact your consulate and your vet for more information. Buy a Travel Guide and Maps While there really is no substitute for visiting Mexico before you decide to give it the "ol' college try," you can get by with research. The internet will supply you with endless material to learn about your destination, its laws, customs, organizations, embassies, schools and medical facilities. It's always a good idea to purchase a current city and country guide to help with the transition. Hitting the Highway or Flying the Friendly Skies With the high cost of airfare and gas these days, you may want to project your moving and travel expenses. Depending on the outcome, you may decide to arrive in Puerto Vallarta within eight hours or take eight days to drive yourself. Then, you will


need to factor in your belongings. Every Canadian living in Mexico has done it differently. Some choose to sell everything and come down with a toothbrush and a clean pair of (fill in the blank.) Others opt to hire a mover to drive their belongings here. If this option suits you, the mover should provide you with the proper custom forms. But just in case, check with your local consulate or Mexico's official website to be sure the exit and entry documents you receive are up-to-date. Any items that your professional mover will not be bringing (car or pets) need their own form. Again, check with your local consulate for more information. Money Matters Schedule a meeting with your banking institution to determine how to best access your funds. Some have branches or even affiliate banks in Mexico that can facilitate the banking process once you arrive. Find out if there are any additional fees for international transactions such as money and wire transfers, ATM withdrawals and changing account information. If you are considering transferring all of your funds to a foreign bank, be sure to research which bank best suits your needs and schedule the transfer with your current bank.

Spanish, Anyone? Really, this goes without saying but heck, why not state the obvious? You will fare much better if you can speak Spanish. Take advantage of language DVDs, CDs, books and online resources. The more you do prior to Moving Day, the more it will help you in the long run.

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!

$19.95 / 4 issues www.mexi-go.ca

www.mexi-go.ca 19


BAJA ESCAPE

New Immigration Laws have Mexican Expats Confused

Within these three categories, there are two main subcategories - lucrative and non-lucrative. Within the subcategories there are a variety of ways to be granted a card- investor, student, retiree, researcher, employee or family member - just to name a few.

By Audrey Royem

Temporary Residency is granted for four years. After that, you will either have to get Permanent Residency or, once your residency expires, reapply for Temporary Residency abroad. There are no time limits on the Permanent Residency like the FM2 although the implications on your foreign plated vehicles are still unclear (this is legislated with Aduana).

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ew immigration laws have created quite a stir amongst Mexican Expats as they struggle to understand the new process. This new process has not completely reinvented the wheel but there are key changes to first time applications and renewals in the new legislation that are important to understand. While some of the new applications are still being implemented at the local level, most of the process has become transparent and some foreigners have already received their new documents. Some major changes from previous years: First of all, it is important to understand that the terms FM3 and FM2 no longer exist. Forget about these as they no longer mean anything. Now there are three new terms to learn: Visitor, Temporary Resident and Permanent Resident. The new system does not call them Visas, they’re called Cards (Tarjetas).

Individuals looking to work, retire or invest in Mexico must submit documents to their local Embassy or Consulate abroad to initiate the immigration approval process. If you enter Mexico as a tourist and want to get a different type of status or extend your trip beyond the 180 days allowed, you will not be able to.

FM3s or FM2s are valid until their expiration and will be integrated into the new system when you do renew. You will be grandfathered into the new system based on the number of times you’ve filed and renewed. For example, if you have had an FM3 for four years, you will apply for Permanent Residency: if it’s for two years, you will apply for Temporary Residency. You can apply for the Temporary Residency for up to four years at one time. That’s right! You don’t have to go through the process each year. The costs follow (MX pesos): $3,130 for a single year; $4,690 for two years; $5,940 for three years; $7,040 for four years. The cost for a single year has nearly doubled from last year. You only have to apply for Permanent Residency once. From that point forward you only have to notify immigration authorities if you change the following categories: activities in the country, your residence, marital status and/or citizenship. To get a Permanent Residency your first year, you must have a family relationship with a Mexican citizen, be a retiree with economic solvency, attain a minimum score required by the Point System or be granted political asylum. The Point System is still not clearly defined by authorities Financial considerations for visas based on economic solvency have increased and will be considered more strictly. The amount of foreign monthly income determined for a Temporary Resident is approximately $2000US. The amount determined for a Permanent Resident is approximately $2500US per month. The application can also take into consideration properties owned in Mexico if your finances do not reflect the above amounts. Deciding which visa is right for you: To decide how your Mexican lifestyle best fits into this new system you should think about the following: 1. Length of time in Mexico: Do you plan on staying for less than 180 days? More than 180 continuous days? Forever? Forget those long, cold winters! 2. What you plan to do in Mexico: Do you plan on working in Mexico? Starting your own business or working for a company? Soaking up sun and margaritas? Putting your professional knowledge to work? Living at your private residence or traveling around? 3. Other considerations: Do you have a special situation that will bring you to Mexico, such as adoption? Do you have a foreign vehicle in Mexico? Each situation is different and, if you feel uncertain about your own situation, you should seek professional assistance or guidance. Audrey International (www.audreyinternational.com) can help you navigate these new immigration laws and other aspects of your Mexican Experience.

20 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


The importance of using an AMPI agent when purchasing property in Mexico

This spectacular home in Playacar, on the south end of Playa del Carmen, has 4 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms and has endless amenities including pools, golf, beach club and more. www.buyplaya.com

By John K. Glaab, CIPS

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exico has become the number one choice for Canadians as a vacation and retirement destination. A secure and safe investment is of high importance to any Canadian who is acquiring a property anywhere. It is never more important than when purchasing in another country with different legal systems and laws. Just a few states in Mexico have licensing and registration laws so regulation of the industry is limited. The purchase can be made safely and securely but it is important to deal with a legitimate real estate agent and company with experience, knowledge and an associate membership in the local AMPI.

David Pullen, General Director of PV Realty in Puerto Vallarta and President of AMPI Vallarta says “AMPI Vallarta is dedicated to continuously raising the professional level of our association with consistent educational requirements for our members and a stringent Code of Ethics for the protection of clients and the general public.“

www.ampi.org

AMPI is the acronym for the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals. It has affiliations with other national real estate associations around the world, including The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and The National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Its associate members are pledged to follow a Code of Ethics patterned after those of CREA and NAR, and to follow the guidelines of good real estate practices established by the NAFTA countries. AMPI Associate members are licensed by the National Association of Realtors® to use its trademark in advertising. AMPI has an MLS system and also accesses Realtor.com/international with its properties, as well as publishing properties in World Properties.com. It has a training institute which currently delivers more than fourty classes on a wide variety of topics that have been approved and authorized by the Mexican Secretary of Education. AMPI is truly a national real estate association with chapters in seventy-six cities across Mexico including the popular destinations of Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. Silvia Elias, Broker of PV Realty believes that as a result of AMPI consistently raising the level of professionalism in the real estate industry, AMPI Vallarta is one of the most organized and professional AMPI Chapters in Mexico. The Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals strongly recommends that buyers in Mexico deal only with AMPI members and seek professional help with the acquisition of title. Buyers should seek references, the same as in any other country and as well seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced closing agent to handle both the funds and supervise the details of the transfer. It is not always necessary to engage an attorney for the transaction since most reputable closing agents have attorneys on staff.

www.mexi-go.ca 21


MOVE TO MEXICO

ABCs of purchasing insurance in Mexico

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ariners Insurance Mexico (MIM) has created specialized insurance solutions specifically for Canadian and U.S. ex-pats residing in Mexico. Our mission is to make the move for Canadians to warm, sunny Mexico as seamless as possible, at least from an insurance standpoint. Our personalized programs include auto, home, condo, health, HOA’s, and boat/yacht insurance as well as Travel Medical and Medical Tourism coverage for short term visitors. MIM is an insurance brokerage corporation organized under the laws of Mexico. Our staff has decades of experience in the Mexican and U.S. insurance markets and our affiliation with Mariners General Insurance Group (MGIG) in the U.S. provide our clients with the best knowledge and service from both sides of the border. A key objective for MIM has been to identify and explain the differences between the insurance products sold in Mexico and our clients’ home countries. Laws are different underwriting and claims issues are different, and need to be understood. Mexican laws and regulations are not better or worse, just different. In addition, at MIM we include a courtesy English translation of our policies so clients can understand what they are buying.

But fear not. In the event of you being arrested, the adjuster will post your bail bond and, if legal action is needed, a lawyer is included in the policy and hired by the insurance company.

mariners

Under state laws you are required to have insurance me xico liability insurance on your auto if you live in Jalisco, Nuevo Leon or Mexico City but you are legally responsible for any damage to person or property anywhere in the nation regardless of whether or not you have insurance coverage. There are two types of private passenger auto policies in Mexico. Resident auto policies are written for vehicles registered in Mexico with Mexican license plates and Tourist auto policies are written for vehicles registered outside the Republic of Mexico. Premiums in Mexico are based on insurance company loss experience for a particular vehicle manufacturer and model not the age or driving record of the driver. The practice seems odd to a north of the border driver, but it works well here in Mexico. Another difference is the way auto accidents are handled. Incidents must be reported to the insurance company as soon as possible who will then dispatch an adjuster to the accident scene immediately. This is a main reason why it is very important to keep your insurance company claim reporting hotline in your vehicle at all times. It is also very important to insure your vehicle with a reputable insurer employing a large staff of adjusters. Otherwise you may find yourself standing at the side the road for a very long time, waiting for your adjuster to arrive.

AUTO INSURANCE Let’s start with auto insurance and work our way down the list of the most common insurance needs for ex-pats. In the United States and Canada, the common law is based on the British code: innocent until proven guilty and your auto policy insures the driver and the vehicle. Canadian provinces and US states handle the insurance regulations while in Mexico insurance is regulated by CNSF under the jurisdiction of the Hacienda at the federal level. In Mexico, the Napoleonic Code is in play: guilty until proven innocent. Adjusters and traffic cops both go the scene of the accident. If no resolution is forthcoming between the parties, both may be detained in the case of injury or damage to public property. It is the vehicle, not the driver which is insured here – so make sure if you drive someone else’s car it’s insured.

22 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013

HOMEOWNER AND CONDO INSURANCE Homeowner and condominium policies are somewhat similar to Canadian policies. However, much of Mexico is located in both hurricane and earthquake zones so it is important to be aware of the coverages and exclusions in your policy. Many insurance companies exclude damage due to hurricane, flood, and earthquake. Others will void storm related damage if storm shutters are not fitted on all windows. Like any contract, reading and understanding the fine print is critically important. Liability coverage is included but restricted to defense in Mexico. At MIM we have developed a unique program to add Canadian and USA Lawsuit Liability coverage should a plaintiff petition a court for a change of venue and try to sue outside of Mexico. This is particularly important coverage if your home is rented frequently. Annual premiums for this coverage are typically under $150 annually. We have also developed a unique “Market Value” policy for condominiums. If a condominium


Mexican laws and regulations are not better or worse, just different. building is badly damaged or destroyed, a standard condo policy will only pay for contents and possibly some interior improvements. If the Homeowners Association (HOA) is not adequately insured or does not have the funds to rebuild the building, condo owners will not be fully compensated and will have to pay off any existing expenses. MIM Market Value policy will pay our policy holder the current market value of the condominium allowing the owner to purchase a condo in another building or simply put the money in his/her pocket.

HEALTH INSURANCE We receive more questions regarding health insurance than any other line of insurance. Our clients often have health insurance benefits in their home countries that do not extend to Mexico. The good news is Mexico does offer very reasonably priced health insurance options, in most cases, Canadians do not need to forego health insurance while living in Mexico. Our primary health insurance program does not have a maximum age limit; however insurance companies do underwrite each person individually and can deny a person coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. In Mexico, the health insurance deductible is applied per event not per policy year. Hospitals in Mexico are ranked A, B, and C. In order to ensure the best care, and best facilities, your health insurer should be contracted with A and B hospitals. MIM also writes a Travel Medical Program that DOES include a small benefit for pre-existing med-

ical conditions. The Travel Medical policy is an excellent program for the part time Mexico visitor or a person that does not qualify for standard health insurance coverage. The pre-existing conditions benefit is often adequate to pay for the client to be stabilized in Mexico and flown back to their home country for further treatment. It can also be used as stop gap coverage while a person improves their health situation, leading to acceptability in one of our standard health insurance programs. We also offer emergency transportation coverage including medical evacuation. Our new MIM Medical Tourism program covers expenses related to complications resulting from an elective surgery or dental procedure in Mexico as well as travel delays, lost luggage, trip cancellation and other travel related expenses. Mexico is becoming recognized around the world as having excellent doctors and medical facilities and still maintains pricing benefits over its northern neighbors so Medical Tourism is growing rapidly. This policy provides peace of mind that costs associated with a complication are covered.

INSURANCE FACTS & FIGURES In the United States, 3,900 insurance companies compete for your business; in Mexico 77 and in Canada just 50. Major worldwide insurance groups represented in Mexico include: ACE, AXA, CHARTIS, CHUBB, GENERALI, MAPFRE, METLIFE, RSA, QBE, TOKIO MARINE AND ZURICH among others. The National Commission of Insurance and Surety (CNSF), under the Secretariat of Hacienda, is the regulatory body which makes sure that insurance companies are solvent. Each insurance agency must have a valid CNSF number. - There are 31,970 insurance agents in Mexico. - Each agent must renew their license every three years. - Each agent must carry a professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance policy.

www.marinersmexico.com

VESSEL INSURANCE Mexico requires all vessel owners to obtain Liability Coverage from a Mexico domiciled insurance company while their vessel is in Mexican territorial waters. Our MIM vessel liability program is a very inexpensive solution and extends coverage to the yacht tender at no charge. At the time of purchase a copy of the policy can be e-mailed directly to your marina so the policy is waiting for

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

Trudieannenelson@yahoo.ca (011) 52 376 766-1918

www.eagerrealty.com www.mexi-go.ca 23


TRAVEL TO MEXICO

A Taste of Italy – in Playa del Carmen By Thomas Lloyd

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ittle Italy is one of my favorite places to walk around in Playa del Carmen. Imagine a neighborhood that has much of the charm and elegance of Italy, but the convenience and low cost of Mexico – that’s Little Italy, Playa del Carmen in a nutshell. The neighborhood is basically the north half of downtown, where many Italians have migrated and brought a taste of their home country with them. Along Fifth Avenue, the town’s lively pedestrian walkway, and the heart of Little Italy, there are restaurants with great pasta and wine, gelaterias, nice cafes and classy boutiques. These items blend seamlessly with excellent Mexican restaurants and bakeries, and good bars with live music. It’s a small community with plenty to do, like yoga, salsa classes or the weekly “Art Walk.” Of course, there’s always the relaxing stroll on the soft sand of Mamitas Beach, about a five to ten minute walk away. Every year, Mamitas hosts a live jazz festival. If you fall in love with this magical village, there are plenty of very nice condos for sale throughout the community.

Paradise: Peace of Mind in Puerto Penasco By Judy MacKenzie

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eople say that paradise is a state of mind, but when everything is right, it can also be a place. Puerto Penasco aka ‘’Rocky Point’’ is such a place. When folks from Vancouver complain about sixty straight days of rain, folks from Phoenix get burned on the heat, and some others from the east coast get stuck in the snow, many visitors fulfill their dreams of a respite in paradise in Rocky Point. Puerto Peñasco is a city located in the northwest of the state of Sonora about 100km from the Arizona border. It is located on the small strip of land that joins the peninsula of Baja California with the rest of Mexico and just a short 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix or Tucson, AZ.

There are many residential areas and resorts in Rocky Point where you can find very affordable and great investments in condominiums, homes and villas. Check out www.rockypoint4ever.com where you can find information about the buying process, listings for sale, rentals, maps and much more about Puerto Penasco. Other fun activities include visiting the Pinacate Volcanic area and enjoying the beautiful views of the desert of Altar and the immense volcano craters of ‘’El Elegante’’ and ‘’El Colorado’’. Plan a day on the water and take a scenic trip to San Jorge Island aka ”Bird Island” where you can kayak or snorkel with hundreds of sea lions. Rocky Point has plenty to offer and some of the benefits are the peace and safety that this little town embodies; in Rocky Point you can feel and breathe tranquility like no other place. This is why it hosts one of the largest communities of Americans and Canadians in northern Mexico. Here you feel safe to walk anywhere and the local people are friendly and always ready to help tourists.

If a move to paradise is in your future...

Rocky Point offers great, white, sandy beaches and many amenities for those who love to have fun outdoors. There are many attractions from sailing, paddle boarding or snorkeling to sport fishing, golf or a fun ride on an ultralite or parachute. Visit restaurants and enjoy dining on wonderful Mexican cuisine or experience tasteful international fare - you can find it all! There is a marina and the Malecon where you will find fresh seafood for dinner or enjoy a stroll and visit different restaurants and the Mexican art and craft stands.

2 bed 2 bath

$395,000

5 bed 6 bath

$996,000


It is a lot easier than most people think to live and own property in Mexico. deal when you consider your property taxes are about 1% per year. Hard to believe! The next question after you have just bought that villa with an ocean view, in a gated community, with unbelievable amenities, is how do we get our stuff from there to here? Mexico has a statute that allows foreigners who are moving into the country a onetime shot at bringing in all of their personal goodies, new or used, without any duty or importation taxes.

Life in Cabo San Lucas as a Gringo By Terry (Curtis) Cortez

If

you ever have the luxury and luck (luck = the meeting of preparation and timing) in your life to relocate to another part off the world like I did some twenty-four years ago, Cabo San Lucas is a damn good place to do it. Some come to Cabo to fulfill their lifelong dream of becoming a business owner typically as a restaurateur or developer. If this is your dream, I highly recommend having that special skill or niche where you are coming from before venturing to Mexico to try to learn it here. Learning how to function in Mexico (or any other foreign country or situation) as a business is a challenge for most people and will be made much easier if you speak the language. Maybe you want to have a second home in Cabo for a while and come down to enjoy our seventy degree winters and lack of snow. A lot of Canadians do just this and eventually sell off in Canada to retire in this beautiful oasis we call Paradise. It is a lot easier than most people think to live and own property in Mexico. You did know you can own property in Mexico, right? Thank goodness for the Mexican Fidecomiso that allows foreigners to own property under a bank trust. With this trust you have every right as an owner just as you do now in Canada where you own property. The normal trust fee is about $500 CDN per year, which is not a big

What the heck are you going to do with all that time on your hands in Paradise? We have all asked ourselves more difficult questions than this and managed to answer them. Depending on your youthfulness and energy levels, it would be very hard to become bored in Cabo. Golf and fishing are probably the most popular activities of the foreign residents. We have all sorts of water activities from surfing and sailing to scuba diving and snorkeling. Then there is our ‘off road’ fun zone. If you have ever seen the Baja 1000 or 500 then you have a clue about our vast desert, which is just steps from your back door. Whether you are a four wheel or a two wheel person you will not become tired of our thousands of square miles of off road, desert and beach that the area has to offer. Hopefully, all this running around has made you hungry. We have access to just about the freshest sea food above water. You will find some of the largest shrimp on the planet. If you choose to dine out, the possibilities are endless from seafood, Thai, Italian, world class Sushi and just good old tacos. Your only limits are your palate and your budget. Did I hear that party thought pass by? Well this is a professional party town and you don’t need a license! There is no other place I have been that can party like Cabo, although Rio, Brazil does rock. Normally, if you plan to party here you need to throw away the next couple of days because we don’t close until five in the morning, which makes for a bit of a rough start the next day. The good news is that it’s not mandatory behavior and if you are like me, I prefer to get out of bed around 6am, not into bed. Mornings are especially beautiful here, when you like walking down the beach in shorts during January and February. The next time you come to Cabo, ask yourself when you are leaving “Am I ready to leave?” If your answer is “No” like mine was in 1988, you will be back, like I was in 1989. When I came back, it was for good. Since then I started, owned and operated a very successful water sports business with two beach locations for fifteen years. It was a wonderful thing: I employed over 150 different locals, learned to speak Spanish and received a good education on doing business in Mexico. This place has come a long way and as with any town/city we have had improvements and changes. Did I mention this is a fine place to raise kids? My wife and I have four, aged seven to eighteen and they are all bi-lingual and college bound. Come to Cabo, there is something for everyone!

www.mexi-go.ca 25


Amidst the facades along Bucerias’ trendy thoroughfare, Lazaro Cardenas, rests Bucerias’ favorite Mediterranean dining destination. Up the steps and past Rosey the Pug and Jimmy the Chocolate Lab, one enters the artisan boutique. It is filled from floor to ceiling with a feast of color and textures. Hand-blown glassware, Mexican pottery, hand-stitched linens and old-world fountains await, along with a collection of slice-of-life paintings, many of which feature beautifully adorned, voluptuous women. 26 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


Canadians in Mexico

A family affair. Home-cooked Greek food, Canadian roots planted on the shores of Mexico, Sandrina’s restaurant and boutique offer the comforts of home and the style of Mexico. By Erin Staley

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ould they be sharing a joke, a tear or a secret? One ponders the possibilities, ready to continue meandering through the boutique. However, a single word scripted in the corner of the canvas catches the eye and delays the step: Sandrina. From the zebra print tablecloths topped with candles and mismatched Mexican dishes to the bowl of bright lipsticks hidden between the bottles of fine liquors, her presence is felt throughout the open-air restaurant. Who is Sandrina, and why does it feel as if you’re coming home when you enter her restaurant, you ask yourself. As is often the case, it all began with a love affair. When Sandra “Sandrina” Neumann met Andrew Vlassie, a native of Winnipeg with Greek heritage, he had already been a long-time traveler to Bucerias, Riviera Nayarit. Andrew had fallen in love with the quaint fishing village nestled beside Banderas Bay, just north of Puerto Vallarta. And when he introduced Sandra to this beachside getaway, she was smitten. Together, they made annual trips to Bucerias, escaping the dreary winters of Victoria, B.C. It had become a tradition, and soon, the two were daydreaming of summers in Victoria and winters in Bucerias. As veterans of the restaurant industry, they decided a seasonal internet café would give them the best of both worlds.

on Lazaro Cardenas had been secured and there was no turning back. Once the two made their way back home, they spent the spring and summer months in preparation. Then, the events of September 11, 2001 shocked the world, giving Sandra and Andrew a moment’s pause. “I told Andrew, ‘If we’re going to do this, then let’s do it’,” explains Sandra. With the help of their daughter, Alexia, they loaded their twentyfoot travel trailer and made the southeast drive toward Bucerias. With a collection of computers—and a much lighter bank account—Sandra and Andrew opened their internet café. They named it Sandrina’s, but neither knew how to open an email. With a hearty serving of Sandrina’s comfort foods—Shepherd’s Pie and Mac and Cheese—many Canadian friends jumped in to help.

“People tell me that they feel Sandrina’s is magical, incredibly relaxed, packed but looking chill, and upbeat,” she says proudly. “I just think of it as home.”

Enjoying yet another winter holiday in their beloved Bucerias, Sandra and Andrew prepared to head back to Canada in March 2001. This time, it was to finalize their “snowbird” plans. However, on the eve of their departure, an earthquake struck Victoria and the Seattle area, causing the airports to close and leaving the pair stranded in paradise. The gift of time allowed Sandra and Andrew to find a cozy location for their future internet café. With a handshake and a smile, a home

“More and more patrons would come in requesting to eat on the back patio,” says Sandra. “Sadly, it was lacking any sense of ambiance. It seemed they just wanted a place to sit, relax and enjoy delicious food and good wine. We listened to our customers.”

In early 2002, the business was ready for the next step—a real menu. Andrew, who had petitioned to keep their new business as simple as possible, finally gave Sandra the “go ahead” to transform the backyard garden into an oasis. Colorful linens, wrought iron chairs, table décor, endless candles and strings of lights eventually replaced the computers, and the main focus became the food: Mediterranean, with Greek family favorites, it was a garlic lover’s dream. With time, Sandrina’s found its rhythm. And today, it runs smoothly as Andrew shops for the meats and produce, while Sandra and her loyal staff peel, chop and prepare the much-loved Sandrina’s recipes. Everything is made from scratch—from the Chile Poblano Stylo Griego with

www.mexi-go.ca 27


its Greek twist on a Mexican staple to Andrew’s Favourite Pasta piled high with shrimp, artichokes, chili and feta. Guests return from all over the world to feast on the entrées in Sandrina’s courtyard under the stars. “They’re dreaming about what they ate last year,” she says. “Our favourite thing is when people love the food because it’s not only what they were served, but where they were seated and how our staff remembered them from last year.” Over the last decade, many momentous occasions have been celebrated within the ornate garden walls of Sandrina’s including birthdays, engagements, weddings, births, anniversaries and holidays. “My favorite time of year is New Year’s Eve. We close at 10:00 p.m. and go to beach. My dad makes a bonfire, and the customers come. He plays the guitar; we watch the fireworks; and we drink hot cocoa. Then at midnight, we pull the champagne from the coolers. It’s so relaxing and community oriented.”

Sandrina´s en Bucerias Lázaro Cárdenas 33, Brisas, 63732 Bahía de Banderas, Nayarit Phone: 329 298 0273 www.sandrinas.com

28 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


This knee was made in Mexico

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or Canadian patients needing orthopedic surgery, Mexico presents a cost-effective and timely option. While the major three orthopedic surgeries are knee, hip, and shoulder replacements, there are many additional lesserknown orthopedic surgeries available. Highly specialized major spinal surgeries are being successfully performed in Mexico. Patients who are seeking an alternative medical solution outside their home country are encouraged to ask about their specific surgical needs and the options that exist. There is no disparity in treatment between Mexico and her North American neighbors as far as technology and materials are concerned. Orthopedic surgeons in Mexico have access to the latest and most advanced surgical tools, materials, and techniques being used in Canada and the States. In fact, in some instances, more medically advanced procedures are available in Mexico. Surgery in an unfamiliar environment can be daunting, however, patients have stated that the attentiveness of their surgeon in Mexico was

paramount in the success of the operation. Surgeons take the time to get to know their patients, answer all their questions, and clearly explain how the surgery will go, and what the patient might expect before, during, and after their procedure. This transparency provides the patient with a sense of security and ease which is positively correlated with better success rates in rehabilitation and recovery. Mexico’s serene landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing recovery following an orthopedic surgery. Also for those patients who might need a little more time to recover from their operation, the low cost of living is a great reason to remain in Mexico during the recovery process. For those patients who choose to go home relatively quickly after their surgery, the local doctors and coordinating care professionals remain accessible and involved in the patients’ post-operative care in their home country. Patients have been so pleased with their experience in Mexico that some have returned for parallel orthopedic surgeries when warranted (i.e. returning to have the left knee replaced by the surgeon that replaced the right knee). The success of these operations has resulted in the increased rate of medical tourism in Mexico.

Each month, ISA Surgical will be writing a column dedicated to Canadian citizens seeking an alternative to traditional medical tourism. The column will bring statistics and insights into the Mexican HealthCare System, providing education and awareness to Timely, Affordable, World Class Surgical Solutions... Stay Tuned.

Mexi-Go! Magazine is available online, all day, everyday. Now published online every month, you can enjoy Mexi-Go! Magazine more often! Join us at www.mexi-go.ca for even more information about Canadians in Mexico, travel destinations, great hotels, activities, festivals and more.

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MEXI-GO! ONLINE MAGAZINE @ www.mexi-go.ca www.mexi-go.ca 29


Celebrate your love in Mexico with a dream destination wedding By Erin Staley

A beautiful sunset makes for excellent photos. Villa Amor offers an ideal location in Sayulita, Nayarit.

30 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


You’ve said “yes” to a life together and now it’s time to answer the big question, “Where?” With its sunset beaches, Spanish colonial towns, desert peaks and hillside hideaways, Mexico offers a spectacular backdrop for your nuptials. Begin your life together in a land that is known for its rich culture, never-ending romance and alluring mystique. Picturesque Cancun and Playa del Carmen If you are dreaming of wedding photos with turquoise waters and endless stretches of white sand, then the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula is the destination for you. Cancun, the jewel of this eastern destination, is considered one of the prime beaches in the world. Enjoy its kaleidoscope of tropical color and warm Caribbean climate as you dig your toes in the sand and sip an umbrella drink. Get lost in the rhythm of the city’s nightlife as you continue your celebration. Further along the coastal stretch is Playa del Carmen, a Yucatan beach town with its easygoing ambiance and natural beauty. Fill your scrapbooks with day-trip adventures. Play above or below the ocean waves which roll onto the shores of rustic Isla Mujeres. Explore Cozumel’s brightly colored coral reefs below shimmering blue waters. Discover the land of the Mayan Empire where the ruins of Tulum and Chichén Itzá present a mystical intrigue, attracting visitors from all over the world. No matter how you fill your days, this picturesque destination will make your wedding one to remember.

The Best of Both Worlds in Zihuatanejo – Ixtapa Although Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are neighboring beach towns along the Pacific coast of Guerrero, they are worlds apart in style and appeal. Zihuatanejo, commonly referred to as “Zihua”, maintains its small-town flavour amidst the rocky cliffs and rolling sea. Once a quaint fishing village, a sense of informality remains, giving you a laidback oasis. Steal a moment under the shade of a palapa, cuddle in a handmade hammock; or inscribe your sentiments in the sand. When you’re ready to explore, travel the winding streets which are lined with folk art galleries, boutique hotels and elegant dining options. They are all just a stone’s toss from the ocean. While you’re sampling the local flavor, take in the beauty of Zihua’s colorful flora, lively fauna, white granite rocks as well as its spider web of caves, tunnels and arches.

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Just a handful of kilometers away sits Ixtapa. Once a coconut plantation, this western jewel has evolved into a first-class destination with all the luxuries a wedding party could desire. Your loved ones will be amazed by the splendor of the resorts, the array of gourmet restaurants and the glamorous shopping. For those who want to jump into the action, outdoor adventures await. Golf, tennis, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, sport fishing, surfing, hiking, bird watching and horseback riding—the options are endless. Before you leave, be sure to visit the dolphins at the Delfiniti Ixtapa water park. They are always ready to send you on your way with a kiss.

“If you are looking for romance, fun, and activities to enjoy with family and friends, look to Sayulita,” says Karen Ruezga, the wedding planner for Hotel Villa Amor. With its tranquil approach to coastal living, this northern Banderas Bay town is as attractive and charming as a storybook tale from a surfing magazine. Continue on your way, visiting the hillside neighborhoods of Jalisco and Riviera Nayarit which are polka-dotted with art galleries, boutiques and flea markets. And when you’re ready to dine, fall in love with the area’s gastronomy scene. They bring the culinary world to you as Puerto Vallarta is the home of the International Festival Gourmet which is held every November.

The Romance of The Banderas Bay (Jalisco and Riviera Nayarit)

Time Stands Still in San Miguel de Allende

It was Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who first put the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Vallarta on the map. Their love affair ignited a worldwide frenzy, giving this city along the Banderas Bay an international reputation as being the getaway destination for romantics at heart. Set along the crescent-shaped Banderas Bay and shaded by the majestic Sierra Madre mountains, Puerto Vallarta and its surrounding communities offer a charming adventure like none other. Walk hand-in-hand along the panoramic Malecon or dance cheek-to-cheek to the melodies of the Mariachis in the plaza. Toast your celebration with a myriad of tequila flavors, the official liquor of the state of Jalisco. Rent a car and travel the coastline to visit unique coastal communities such as Mismaloya to the south or Sayulita to the north.

A cherished colonial town nestled in the lush Sierra Madres, San Miguel de Allende takes you back in time. Founded in 1542 by a Franciscan monk, San Miguel possesses a historical charm with its 17th and 18th century mansions, graceful cathedral, antiquated colonial chapels, boutique hotels, plazas, narrow cobblestone streets and courtyard fountains. You will be mesmerized by the breathtaking scenery, known by international travelers as a “must-experience” Mexican destination. And while you enjoy the richness of this historical destination, take time to discover the gourmet restaurants, bistros and cantinas that will happi-

a place to visit.. a place to call home. 32 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013

Sayulita

Hotel Villa Amor Sayulita

MX (011-52) 329-291-3010 CAN&US +1 (602) 748-4144 reservations@HotelVillaAmorSayulita.com www.HotelVillaAmorSayulita.com


“A destination wedding can be more economical as the guest count is usually reduced the moment you take the event out of your home country.” ly refresh you with their specialties. Head for the local markets to gather freshly grown produce, handicrafts and Mexican pottery (Talavera). Fast forward your adventure with something a little out of the ordinary. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon; visit the hot springs; or discover the secrets of an old silver mining town. San Miguel de Allende is ready to delight you with its old-world charm and new world adventures.

Jet-Setting in Cabo San Lucas (Baja California) Considered the playground of the Hollywood elite, Cabo San Lucas offers natural elegance with unmistakable style. It is the place where the desert meets the sea and where those who want to indulge in a jet-setting wedding experience say “I do”. “With its natural beauty, pristine water, magical sunsets, and unsurpassed service, Los Cabos sells itself as the ideal wedding destination,” says Amy Abbott of Amy Abbott Events. From lounging beside immaculate infinity pools to conquering the sand dunes at warp speed, there is something for every guest. Play your way through the rolling fairways, create your next big-game fishing tale or admire the whales as they perform astonishing acrobatics to delight audiences. Indulge in Los

Cabo’s world-class spas, shopping and club scene. For those seeking an unforgettable experience, this Baja California destination is a wedding paradise.

Your Ticket to Paradise: A Wedding Planner Make the most of your special day with the helping hands of a professional wedding planner. Whether you desire a traditional Mexican fiesta or a private ceremony in a lush tropical garden, these event specialists can create a seamless experience for you and your guests. Couples who travel to wedding destinations do not have the luxury of time to deal with day to day operations. They would much rather create memories with loved ones in a land overflowing with culture and traditions. “I know everything about my city. I can help them to save, getting the best for a lower price,” says Maye Cortinas, a Cabo San Lucas wedding planner. It is the planner who calls upon the assistance of trusted caterers, photographers, musicians and florists. They juggle every detail, including pre- and post-wedding arrangements, salon services, payment schedules, accommodations, dining and recreational activities. Wedding planners can help you add a special touch to your ceremony with Mexican fire dancers, crooning Mariachis, electric violins, dancing horses, poolside stages and even bedazzled miniature donkeys.

SAYULITA’S LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTEL & VILLAS FOR SALE

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Leave the planning to your planner an enjoy the vacation of your lifetime!

HOW DO I SAY I DO? Residency requirements: Two to four days to complete paperwork, depending on the location. Necessary documents: Drivers licenses or passports; certified copies of birth certificates which have been translated and notarized by the Mexican consulate with jurisdiction over the place of birth; copy of tourist visa. Note: Marriage requirements vary in Mexico depending on the city. Health Certificate: Mexican laws require a Health Certificate for all legal Wedding Ceremonies. Blood tests must be taken 3 days prior to the ceremony. Same Sex Marriage: Mexico currently does not allow or recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples, but Mexico City recognized gay marriage in late 2009, and gay adoption in 2010, and the state of Coahuila legalized civil unions in 2007.

“Our on-staff wedding planner will work with you on all the arrangements for your group, from hotel reservations to activities to the most important part: your wedding,” says Karen Ruezga of Hotel Villa Amor. “Our goal is your happiness; and to provide you and your family the most fun and amazing wedding.” Whether you want a Mexican civil wedding performed by a Registro Civil judge or a spiritual ceremony performed by clergy or a wedding officer, your planner can guide you through the process. A civil wedding requires detailed documentation as well as the completion of a wedding course and medical visits. However, most Canadians prefer to be married by a judge before coming to Mexico for their ceremony and honeymoon.

“Many couples find that a destination wedding can actually be more economical as the guest count is usually reduced the moment you take the event out of your home country,” says Rachel Hansen, owner of Infinity Weddings Los Cabos. “I believe this has become very attractive to many couples wanting to have a beautiful and memorable wedding without breaking the bank.” Whether your special day will be elaborate or casual, intimate or grand, sophisticated or shabby chic, a destination wedding in Mexico will help you express your sentiments in a truly unique way. Amaze your partner and your guests with the unforgettable gift of travel to a land that is known for its romance, hospitality and natural wonder. All of Mexico awaits your arrival.

34 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


bilateral relations

Mexico-Canada Bilateral Relations: A strategic partnership. Pacific Tropic of Cancer

By Angel Villalobos Rodriguez, Consul General of Mexico in Vancouver, B.C. Ocean

Political dialogue and cooperation The 202nd anniversary of Mexican Independence and the celebration of sixty-eight years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, serve as an opportunity to underline the excellent level of bilateral relations between Mexico and Canada. In fact, the relationship between these two North American countries has strengthened and broadened in all areas, evolving into a strategic bilateral relationship, boosted by the implementation of NAFTA in 1994. Furthermore, the Canada-Mexico Partnership signed in October 2004 has enhanced this strategic association by furthering cooperation between public and private sectors of both countries. Collaboration Initiatives such as the Mechanisms on Labour and Youth Mobility and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), which has benefited the Canadian agricultural sector and over 200,000 Mexican workers since 1974 are two examples of this spirit of collaboration. In British Columbia only, 3,570 Mexican workers and over 366 local farms have participated in the SAWP program during the 2012 season. It is important to point out that with the involvement of both governments, we have been able to expand and guarantee the labour rights of the seasonal workers. Another bilateral program worth mentioning is the TEC-UBC Joint Academic Program, Each year 100 qualified students from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM) study at the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Land and Food Systems and the Sauder School of Business of the University of British Columbia, participating in a program combining academic and life-learning experiences.

A successful trading partnership As of today, Mexico and Canada are each other’s third largest trading partners. During the first semester of 2012, total bilateral trade flows reached 17.5 billion USD, an increase of 847% in trade volume in comparison to pre NAFTA years. By the end of 2011, the value of total trade between Mexico and Canada reached record levels amounting to 34.5 billion USD, 1.6 billion coming from the total trade between Mexico and British Columbia (BC) alone. It is important to highlight that BC is Mexico’s 4th business partner among Canadian provinces, representing 5.1% of Mexico-Canada trade for the January-July 2012 period. In fact 5.8% of total exports to Canada went to BC for that period, amounting to 844.4 million USD1. The province is one of the most dynamic and competitive places to do business in North America and its strategic location at the crossroads with the Asia-Pacific region explains the presence of ProMexico (Mexican Trade Comission) and Tech BA (Technonlogy Business Accelerator), 1 http://www.economia-snci.gob.mx/sic_php/vp3/pages/files_varios/pdfs/Can_Jul12.pdf

36 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


Mexico and Canada are more than just strategic bilateral partners and allies: they share a common vision on global issues... agencies which complement the work of the Consulate General as liaisons between Canadian investors and business opportunities in Mexico.

framework. As of July 2012, 3,059 firms with Canadian capital were registered in Mexico4.

Exports of Mexican products to Canada from January to July 2012 totalled 14.6 billion USD, an amount almost ten times more than the trade value of 1993 (1.5 billion USD). Mexico was, from January to July 2012, Canada’s third commercial partner and supplier covering 3.8% of the Canadian market and 5.5% of its imports. On the other hand, 2.1% of Canadian production was acquired by Mexico, Canada’s 5th export market.2 The majority of traded goods between both economies are manufactured products: 93% of Mexican exports to Canada in 2010 were mainly electrical devices, televisions, cars and auto parts, whereas their imports from Canada constituted 82% of cars, auto parts, among others.

Taking the example of the mining sector, total bilateral trade amounted to 1.4 billion USD in 20114. Figures are bound to grow considering that Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer, the 4th destination for mining exploitation (1st in Latin America). It possesses the 5th best mining business environment, and is considered the third most attractive country for the Toronto Stock market, where 58% of world mining public companies are listed5.

Foreign Direct Investment During the last 12 years, Canadian Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been a key factor for the integration of our productive sectors: from January 2010 to June 2012, Canada’s cumulative FDI in Mexico reached 11.6 billion USD, becoming the fourth largest source of FDI in Mexico.

A dreamed tourist destination Mexico is world renowned for its beaches, hospitable people and delicious cuisine. It is also one of the world’s top tourist destinations (10th since 2016), and last year alone, 22.67 million foreign tourists visited Mexico, setting a historical record. Canada has established itself as the second country of origin with a total of 1.6 million Canadians visiting Mexico in 2011. Over 250,000 British Columbians travelled south that year, representing 13% of Canadian visitors to Mexico. The presence of the Mexico Tourism Board in Vancouver underlines the importance of this market. In addition, thousands of Canadian expatriates and retirees have chosen Mexico as a second home. A shared vision Mexico and Canada are more than just strategic bilateral partners and allies: they share a common vision on global issues in multilateral forums. Both countries participate actively in international and regional organizations such as the UN, OAS, OECD, WTO, G-20, APEC, among others. The interest of Canada and Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a step in this direction. The successful G20 Leaders Summit held last June in Los Cabos, illustrated their shared goals towards restoring global economic growth, financial stability, promoting quality jobs and improving food security. In conclusion, Canada and Mexico are strategic North American associates with complementary economies and strong political, social and cultural ties. Moreover, as the relationship grows stronger, compelling them to continue exploring this enormous potential and to work together in order to strengthen the relationship at all levels.

Last year alone Canada invested as much as 729.2 million USD and for the 2000-2012 period Canadian investments represented 4.1% of Mexico’s FDI3. This favorable environment is the result of NAFTA’s legal

4 http://www.economia-dgm.gob.mx/dgpm/produccion/produccion.htm 5 http://www.economia.gob.mx/comunidad-negocios/industria-y-comercio/informacion-sectorial/mineria

2 http://www.economia-snci.gob.mx/sic_php/vp3/pages/files_varios/pdfs/Can_Jul12.pdf

6 http://www.siimt.com/work/sites/siimt/resources/LocalContent/1119/61/PDF_

3 http://www.economia.gob.mx/files/comunidad_negocios/comision_nacional/2012_ii.pdf

RankingOMT_2011_Sep12.pdf

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Mexico: the surprising boomtown, south of the border By Catherine Krantz

M

ost North Americans think of Mexico as a poor country and know very little about its business climate. They are surprised to learn Mexico has a vibrant economy and is an emerging market that it is becoming incredibly attractive to foreign investment. The growth of the Mexican economy over the past ten years has been significant, and Mexico´s position in the global marketplace has been quietly impressing financial analysts and market watchers for some time now. The predictions are that these positive attributes will continue amid a pattern of consistent growth and stability over the next decade, making Mexico a very viable market for international investment.

build plants in Mexico are: Pirelli, Audi, Volkswagen, Honda, Whirlpool, Chrysler, Hershey, Mazda, Rolls-Royce, Ferrero, Nissan. Add that to a robust and growing economy and sound fiscal stewardship, and you can see why Mexico is so attractive for foreign investment. Compared to what is going on other parts of the world, Mexico is looking pretty good. Unemployment in Mexico in October 2012 was at less than 6% and dropping. Compared to the United States which has unemployment rates of 7.9%, Canada at 7.4%, and the Eurozone at roughly 11%, and in the especially hard hit areas like Spain and Greece, unemployment is as high as 20+%.

Mexico is second only to Brazil as Latin America´s In economics, the debt-to-GDP ratio is one of the indilargest economy, and has been climbing for several Some of the interna- cators of the health of an economy. It is the amount of years now. Nomura Securities predicts that over national debt of a country as a percentage of its Gross tional companies that Domestic Product (GDP). A ratio below 50 percent is the next decade, Mexico will surpass Brazil and become one of the emerging markets’ most dynamic are building or have cur- seen as being healthy, while a ratio over 90 percent economies. 2012 has Mexico showing faster growth rent plans to build plants is seen as dangerous. (A country can support higher than Brazil for the second year in a row, and Mexico debt if its economic growth is also robust. Several has many advantages over Brazil that will help ensure in Mexico are: Pirelli, countries have bounced back from extreme debt they maintain that position. The World Bank ranks Audi, Volkswagen, Hon- during times of great expansion, industrialization or Brazil 126th in the world for ease of doing business, war.) In 2012, Mexico´s government debt ratio to GDP Mexico, 53rd. Brazil´s economic prowess is largely da, Whirlpool, Chrysler, is a lean 27 percent. Compare that to the Eurozone´s tied to China, which fueled their boom over the past Hershey, Mazda, Rolls- debt to GDP ratio, which is now up to 88.2 percent ten years, but it seems their steam is running out, (with Germany, Italy and France contributing most of growth in Brazil has stalled from eight percent in 2010 Royce, Ferrero, Nissan. the debt), Spain is over 90 percent and climbing (The down to 2.7 percent in 2011. With higher wages than Economist says ‘A bail-out for Spain it seems, is not a other manufacturing countries Brazil is less competicase of if, but when.’ and in the United States, worse still, tive than Mexico and even China is investing more in Mexico. the debt to GDP percentage nearly doubled from 36.2 percent in 2007 to 67.7 percent in 2011, and just crossed over 100 percent in early 2012. With low wages, and close geographic access to both the North America and the Asia-Pacific markets, Mexico is emerging as a major manuSouth of the border, things are on the rise. In 2012, Mexico’s Stock facturing and industrial power, leading some to say Mexico is the new Exchange, the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, has been the second-best China. According to the International Monetary Fund´s 2011 report, performing stock market in the world, lagging only behind Germany’s, Mexico´s recovery was led by manufacturing exports, with an increase and over the past 12 months, its stock exchange has been up roughly in domestic demand sustaining the momentum. Mexico also has more 20 percent. According to Forbes, “When it comes to portfolio investfree trade agreements with other countries than any other nation in the ment, Mexico is the clear winner this year.” The Mexican peso has world and the international business community is taking notice. Comstrengthened 7.5 percent against the dollar in 2012, the largest increase panies from 41 different countries are looking to set up multi-million among the dollar´s top 15 most traded counterpoints tracked by Bloomand multi-billion dollar manufacturing plants in Mexico right now. Some berg. The Central Bank of Mexico, Banxico, predicts a GDP growth rate of the international companies that are building or have current plans to for Mexico of 3.8 percent in 2012, (3.6 percent for 2013), compared to

38 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013


Monterrey serves as a commercial center in the north of the country and is the base of many significant international corporations including Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Sony, Samsung, LG, Boeing.

According to Forbes, “When it comes to portfolio investment, Mexico is the clear winner this year.” Canada´s 2.1 percent growth in 2012. According to Santander`s economic analysis for 2012: Mexico´s budget deficit for 2012 is (-) 2.00 percent (compared to the United States´ (-) 8.0 percent). Further positive projections for 2013 are Mexi-Go! that inflation in Mexico should staMagazine bilize at 3.5 percent; and projections for International Reserves are that they will continue their three year climb; along with increases in foreign investment. This because, the recent election in Mexico--and with it political stability for the next six years--has put international investors at ease, as have the high marks for financial stewardship that Mexico has been receiving for the past few years. In their 2011 report, the International Monetary Fund applauds Mexico´s sound financial system and says Mexico had rebounded strongly from the global crisis because of the country’s strong fundamentals and skillful policy management: Mexico’s prudential framework is ahead of new international financial standards, with banks well positioned to implement them. The country has also been a leader in the setting up of a Financial Stability Council to monitor systemic risks and help coordinate efforts to address potential financial vulnerabilities. No longer the secret spot for international investment, Mexico is finally getting it´s due, “It’s encouraging that the positive story of Mexico’s

growth and expanding opportunity (through record numbers of new jobs, rising levels of foreign investment and a growing middle class) is beginning to be recognized,” says Antonio Garza , former U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Manuel Medina Mora, President of the Executive Board of Banamex financial group and CEO of Citigroup consumer banking for Latin America sums it up, “At the international level and within developing countries, Mexico stands out...”

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24 40 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013

hrs in Tepotzlรกn Written and photography by Joel Hansen


Pueblo Mรกgico

This Page: TuboHotel is a unique boutique hotel in Tepotzlรกn, made from cement pipes.

www.mexi-go.ca 41


If

you have spent any time in Mexico City, you know how hectic, busy and really noisy it can be. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the big mango! I love Mexico City and it is one of my favourite cities in the world but sometimes you need to slow down and relax a little bit. That can be a challenge in the third largest city in the world! With that in mind, we took the hour long drive to Tepotzlán in the state of Morelos to spend twenty-four hours relaxing in this laidback Pueblo Mágico.

9:30am Breakfast at De La Parrilla on Calle Revolution This festive, bustling restaurant is family run and the place for breakfast in town. The chilaquiles were prepared to my total satisfaction and served with fresh bread and excellent coffee - all from the open kitchen and under the watchful eye of Maria, who smiles and greets patrons. All of her sauces and recipes are a closely guarded family secret.

11:00am Hike to El Tepozteco After breakfast we take on the hour-long trek to the ruins high in the mountains above Tepotzlán. The directions are simple: take Calle Revolution to the end and start climbing. The trail is well laid out but it does require some physical prowess. I would equate it to hiking the Chief in Squamish, BC or Heart Mountain in Canmore, Alberta. (Sorry Saskatchewan. I can’t really compare the climb to anything in your province although running up and down to the green seats at Taylor Field a few dozen times might take the same effort – but, of course, it’s totally different scenery.)

42 Mexi-Go! Winter 2013

The site hosts a small temple to the Aztec god, Tepoztecatl, the god of the alcoholic beverage, pulque. Pulque is a fermented drink made from the Agave plant that I have had a chance to sample a few times. It would be loved by those up in the green seats at Taylor Field. The archeological site overlooks the town of Tepotzlán and the surrounding valley. When I finally arrive on burning legs, there are only a few visitors, including a handful of hippies sitting cross-legged on top of the pyramid, softly chanting. It is truly one of the most rewarding hikes I have ever taken. It is said that a visit to the temple can recharge your spirit and I can honestly say that it did. The hike does require a certain level of fitness and I recommend a bottle of water and good shoes. Near the top of a particularly rocky section of steep travel I passed a woman wearing high heeled sandals and being helped by her less than amused husband. I do NOT recommend this footwear at all.

2:30pm Hotel Posada del Tepozteco With my spirit recharged after the visit to the ruins of Tepozteco, it was time recharge the body. There is no better place to do this than to lunch on the patio of El Sibarita, the restaurant at Hotel Posada del Tepozteco, and then follow lunch with a Temazcal spa treatment. For lunch I ordered the Mole Enchilada filled with roast duck, with a green salad for starters. As I wait for my lunch, I notice one of the chefs come out from the kitchen and trim lettuce from the garden. Moments later that same lettuce arrives at my table, tossed into my salad. Now that’s fresh! The enchiladas arriving in handmade tortillas and swimming in the house specialty mole and do not disappoint. Using duck and not the traditional chicken adds a pleasant update on a classic dish.


This Page: View from top of El Tepozteco, The ruins at Tepozteco, TuboHotel. Left Page: The view from above the ruins, Hotel Posada del Tepozteco, the colourful De la Parilla restaurant, the gardens at Hotel Posada del Tepozteco.

After lunch I am lead to a secluded section of the gardened property where the Temazcal lodge sits. Temazcal is a ‘vapour’ therapy using heated volcanic stones and water mixed with traditional Mexican medicinal plants to create a vapour. It dates back to the Aztecs and is a powerful therapy to stimulate blood circulation, increase metabolism and eliminate toxins through sweating. Forty minutes in the volcanic domed sweat lodge relieves my aching muscles and a sense of well-being floods through me.

is just around the corner from the zócalo and it serves genuine German food. Hearty, freshly baked bread is served with a goulash that they would have been proud of in Bavaria! Washing it all down with a number of imported European beers and domestic, artisanal cerveza, we also enjoy a Latin Jazz trio from Mexico City. (Located on De Los Campesinos at the corner of Allende. Open Friday thru Sunday)

10pm Sleep tight at Tubohotel

www.posadadeltepozteco.com.mx

5:45pm LaTurbina Art Gallery Set back from the street on a tree lined lane-way, we find La Turbina Movimiento Artístico en Tepoztlán. It is a haven for local artists and their art. Serving as a co-op, its mission is to nurture the creative spirit and to inspire a greater appreciation of art and creating art in and around Tepoztlán. Turbina was founded in April 2009 and has thirty-three active members from fourteen countries living mostly in Tepoztlán and Cuernavaca. They have solo and collective exhibitions and offer courses, films and talks. (La Turbina is open Friday to Sunday from 1:30 to 8 pm or by appointment. www.laturbina.mx

7:30pm Dinner at El Mango Restaurante

This unique hotel is what brought me to Tepotzlán, stumbling across this property online I was immediately intrigued. The beauty of the Tubohotel is in its simplicity. By taking standard concrete drainage tubes and building a small modest suite inside, the architects created a very special and original concept hotel. I enjoyed a chat with the owner who informed me that Tubohotel had been inspired by an artist in Austria who had used drainage tubes to create an art gallery. The site features twenty tubes, a sunny pool, clean communal showers and baños. A truly individual property, it offers a ‘not to be experienced elsewhere’ experience! My stay here brought my FULL 24 hours in Tepotzlán to an end. What a day! For reservations www.tubohotel.com

When I mentioned to some friends that I was going to Tepotzlán they all quickly suggested El Mango. This German-run beer garden/cantina

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Los Cerritos beach is famous for its long beach break and easy to surf waves. Only about an hour north from Cabo San Lucas and 15 minutes from Todos Santos, Cerritos is a great place to practice your hang-ten, get a massage and enjoy a cold beverage.

Connecting with my inner Gidget by Wendy Rains

S

tanding with my feet firmly planted on the beach, eyes trained on the sea in front of me, my heart is beating fast…somewhere between excitement and outright fear. There they are….the waves. The time has come, and having made the decision, I no longer have a choice but to pick up my board, get in the water and start paddling. “Go for it, Wendy! Connect with your inner Gidget!” keeps ringing in my ears.

our feet as we remember to turn to the side, getting into position and… surfing! (Ok..so it took a few tries to “spring”) It’s only been on the sand so far but it gives us confidence to get the moves down. Now I have known Surf Maestro Mario Bercerril for several years and have often heard him claim that he can get any one to ride a wave in the first hour of instruction. Frankly, I’d dismissed it as a bit of bunk but the moment of truth was upon us. My sixty-four old, fearful body is pitted against Mario’s vaunted surf instruction skills. We both win! Mario guides me out into the waves, picks just the right moment to push my board in the right direction and I do it! I stand up and ride that wave all the way into shore! And I’m not alone. Mario’s crew has helped all the gals in our group get up on their first try and we are all giddy with the excitement of success. By the end of the week, we have mastered how to gauge the waves on our own, I will never question Mario’s skills again!

I’ve come to a week-long “Surfari”, a surf camp for women and now I stare at big Baja waves. What?! I’m sixty-four years old, grew up along the California coastline, and spent my life around surfers. You would think I’d be game for just about anything, considering I celebrated my fiftieth birthday by getting a tattoo and jumping out of an airplane. But surfing? Now that’s a whole other thing. Even though I am a certified scuba diver, I am totally intimidated by the power of the ocean….and waves. I have never really understood what makes surfers surf. I am about to find out. My Surfari mates consist of Amee, forty, and Paige and Cathy Ann, both forty-nine years old. I try not to dwell on how much older I am. They have probably never even heard of Gidget! After a yoga session the next morning to stretch our bodies (and calm our nerves) we head out to Los Cerritos beach for our first surfing session. We don wet suits and rash guards and are each provided a surfboard on the sand to learn the basics in three steps, or four, depending on each gal’s strength and flexibility. I have some confusion deciding if I am a “goofy–foot”, (left-foot lead), but finally determine it feels more comfortable to let my right foot dominate - it is the foot placed behind in the “steering” position. We practice and practice, hands gripping the boards just right, springing to

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For more information about Surfari! Baja Surf Camp for Women, and all the other wonderful adventure packages offered by Todos Santos Eco Adventures, go to www.tosea.net or call Bryan and Sergio Jauregui: USA: 1-619-446-6827; Mexico (011-52) 612-14-50189. Trip Details: $1720 per person includes: Six nights accommodations at the lovely Los Colibris Casitas, with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and La Poza Lagoon: www.loscolibris.com All meals, daily yoga, surfing lessons, horseback riding, Excursion to La Paz, panga charter to snorkel with the sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island, Cooking class, tour of the town and two massages.

After standing up on my first try, I am anxious to do it again…and again…and again. I am starting to understand the phenomenon of ‘surfing addiction.’ I read somewhere that “you can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”. I started this week without any expectations, and it has taken but one day to realize that I have found my edge and stepped (or paddled) beyond it. Nothing can compare to that feeling of “breaking free” when you aim for, and achieve, something you previously thought was out of reach. It’s quite empowering. At the end of the week we are awarded “graduation” certificates at our fabulous farewell dinner. Of course I am the only one on social security to have received one…and I’m proud of it! If you’re a woman of any age and are looking to expand your range of experience and bond with other like-minded people, this is the ticket! I, for one, will never look at a wave the same way…. and I can’t wait to hang ten, feel totally groovy, and know that all is, like, totally bitchin’ in the world once again!


TRAVEL TO MEXICO

Whale Watching in Riviera Nayarit By Cat Morgan

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also scars, lines, spots and notches that give each humpback a unique identity and are used by the scientific community to track the individual whales. Discover whale watching on your next Pacific Coast Mexican vacation. It’s great fun for the entire family, and a whale watching tour will create memories that last a lifetime. For more information on whale watching in the Rivera Nayarit visit: www.RivieraNayaritFun.com

he bays along the Pacific Coast are ideal breeding grounds for Humpback Whales, Bryde’s Whales, dolphins and Orcas – the largest of the dolphin species – due to the region’s tropical location, weather, and warm ocean water. Adults range in length from 12–16 metres (39–52 ft) and can weigh up to 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). On the Riviera Nayarit, hundreds of these social, vocal creatures can be seen playing and courting as they pass through Bahia Banderas Bay, and the Jaltemba Bay area every year making their journey between Alaska and Hawaii. Whale watching has become a celebrated, tourist attraction where these impressive mammals usually show themselves offshore, spouting water from their blowholes and slapping their huge tails against the sea surface. Travelers to the region can take advantage of their good fortune to witness this spectacular natural display. From December to April whale watching tours are available from professional and reliable charters throughout the Bay of Banderas area. Larger boats and trimarans are best suited for those who want more comfort and also supply bathroom facilities. If you are looking to get closer, or perhaps join a local a whale specialist, you may want to choose a panga boat tour. Tourist companies cannot guarantee that you will see whales, however, your best chances will between January and March. If you are lucky enough to see the underside of a humpback whale, you will see a coloration pattern ranging from white to black. There are

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TRAVEL TO MEXICO

Along the Ruta del Vino Grande explore 2000kms of wine country and plan for your vino and culinary adventures. Many of the same grape varieties grow well all along this region, and it is fun to select a few favorite grapes and see how they differ.

Wine Tasting from British Columbia to Baja California

be heavy, try lunchtime visits when culinary delights often abound near wineries. Take cell phone pictures of wine labels that you encounter or ones that particularly suit your fancy, then you can remember them when you get home! Please make an effort to store purchased wine away from direct sunlight, excessive heat, and store all wine in a cool location or refrigerator. You can always warm up red wine to room temperature before serving. Carry a sturdy cork screw and a VacuVin – a wine bottle pump that removes oxygen from unfinished bottles of vino.

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA By Steve Dryden

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ew serious wine lovers are aware that “Ruta del Vino Grande” extends over 2000 miles along the Western Wine Regions of North America, from Canada to Mexico. Free-spirited souls who drive from Canada to Mexico can explore premier wine regions in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona and Baja California. Most wine regions have a wide variety of accommodations, campgrounds, state parks and RV parks located within or near the wine country. Many of the same grape varieties grow well all along this region, and it is interesting to select a few favorite grapes and note how they differ between the various terroir, weather conditions and wine making styles. For example, Viognier grows well from Baja California to Canada and expresses itself differently in each region. A fun travel or homework project would be to experiment and enjoy the diversity of flavours and variation of this grape. I’ve been working on a new book project called BC2BC ~ exploring 4000+ wineries from Baja California to British Columbia that provides me with abundant research material to share with fellow wine lovers and travelers. Wine tasting and discovering scenic wine regions from an RV or travel van is an excellent lifestyle: RV’s are always more than welcome at most wineries and vineyards in these diverse regions. I suggest tasting at no more than three wineries per day, unless you have a designated driver or mother-in-law on board. Avoid weekend visits as the crowds can

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More than 200 wineries ranging in size from small artisan operations to larger commercial producers can be found from Vancouver Island across BC to the east side to the Okanagan Valley. Today, the British Columbia wine country grows over sixty different grape varieties from Chardonnay to Zinfandel, with Viognier, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, all producing premium wines. Depending on your travel route, you’ll be faced with many options for tasting great wine in British Columbia. Suggested wineries on Vancouver Island are: Averill Creek Vineyard, Alderlea Vineyards, Church and State Wines. Okanagan wineries: Nk’Mip Cellars, Sumac Ridge, Gehringer Brothers and Mission Hill Wineries.

WASHINGTON STATE. USA Washington State is producing a diverse variety of word-class wines


Mexico is where the wine industry began for the entire Western wine region of North America, from Baja California to British Columbia. with over 800 wineries from 43,000 acres of vineyards. Washington ranks second in the US in the production of wine (behind California) producing superior grapes from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewuztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Muscat Canelle, Muscat Ottonel, and seventy other varietals. Suggested wineries in western Washington are: Chateau Ste Michelle, Baer Winery, Columbia Winery and DiStefano Cellars. Eastern Washington: Lake Chelan Winery, Columbia Crest, Covey Run, Barrister and Robert Karl.

OREGON, USA Oregon has become worldrenown for their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but their Chardonnay and sparkling wines are making headlines as well. Over 500 wineries dot Oregon with superior grapes grown on 20,000+ acres in Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley, and Rogue Valley, Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla Valley, and Snake River Valley. For wine lovers on the road, much of the tourism focuses on the wineries and tasting rooms in and around the Yamhill Valley, southwest of Portland. Popular wineries: Argyle, Cooper Mountain Vineyards, King Estate, Sokol Blosser winery.

CALIFORNIA, USA California is the top wine region in the United State with over 3,350 wineries and over 430,000 acres of diverse grape varietals. Point your car or RV in any direction in California, and you’ll be sure to find a winery. The wine industry is so large that I’m going to suggest wine regions for your exploration, rather than single wineries. Northern California: Lake country, Nava Valley, Anderson Valley, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, Livermore, Paso Robles, San Ynez, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Santa Rita Hills, Rancho Cucamonga, Ventura, Malibu, Temecula, Ramona, Julian and San Diego. Wine connoisseurs as well as casual wine drinkers can tell you that it is hard to beat the quality of

California Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel, and sparkling white wines. Don’t miss the Paso Robles region if you love (GSM) Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blends. I recall the most beautiful wine country I’ve driven in an RV was in Anderson Valley. Start in Fort Bragg and drive through the redwood forests towards the Alexander Valley following a rural country road with amazing scenery. There are two campgrounds in Napa Valley and a few in Sonoma as well.

BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO Mexico is where the wine industry began for the entire Western wine region of North America, from Baja California to British Columbia. It was the Spaniards via Hernan Cortes in 1520 that brought grape cuttings to Mexico from Spain and started the American wine industry. Today, the wine industry is located in and around four grape growing valleys. Valle de Guadalupe is the most accessible wine tasting area with over thirty wineries and tasting rooms. RVer’s will find two decent RV parks and several hotels and B&B’s ranging in price from $40 to $200+ a night. The annual production of Mexico wines is still fewer than two million cases. Further problematic is that distribution is very limited in the local, national and international markets. There are 100+ wineries in Baja California due to the fact that many varietals of grape perform quite well in the intense summer heat. Your best option is to visit each winery and select your favorites. Suggested wineries: L.A. Cetto (Private Reserves) Liceaga winery, Tres Valles, Vinisterra, Three Women or Tres Mujeres winery. Don’t miss Bibayoff (Russian) winery where they sometimes allow camping and RV parking. There is a simple RV park near L.A. Cetto winery, with proceeds going to a school for special needs children. Mexico’s top winery is Roganto – located in the seaport town of Ensenada, where you’ll find several oceanfront RV parks with reasonable rates. Be aware the US and Canadian customs only allows one bottle of wine per person back into across the border.

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living in mexico

Fashion with passion: for a good cause. Ajijic, Jalisco The ladies love a fashion show and The School for the Deaf and Children with Special Needs yearly fashion show delivers. Children at the school are much like any other kids: they need to play, learn and have to be taught important social skills. They need education of a kind which is unavailable to them in the general school system. Once a year, the women of Ajijic go through their wardrobes and donate fabulous outfits of nearly new, gently used or brand new items of clothing and accessories. Once collected, the items are coordinated, styled and modelled by friends of the volunteers at a luncheon. Lively bidding is cause for great fun and good natured rivalry with the profits of this delightful fund raising event going to The School for the Deaf and Children with Special Needs.

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TRAVEL TO MEXICO

Where to stay: Olé Hotel Morales, Guadalajara By Joel Hansen

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he first time we traveled to Guadalajara, my wife and I arrived late at night, disheveled by the long bus ride from Puerto Vallarta and in desperate need of some sleep. Asking the taxi driver to bring us to a hotel near the historical zone in downtown Guadalajara he brought us a to a hotel that was run down and dirty, had an air conditioner that leaked water and sounded like a small helicopter. The staff were not interested in our concerns or in bringing us the extra pillow that I requested, three times. It was a shabby, seedy affair with one of the worst breakfasts we have ever experienced. That hotel was NOT the Hotel Morales. The next day we set out to explore the downtown and after turning the corner onto Calle Ramón Corona we came face to face with the Neocolonial façade of the Hotel Morales looking through to the centre courtyard and the spectacular lobby, my wife and I turned to each other and in unison said, “Let’s stay here.”

Without any further conversation, and without even inquiring about the price of the rooms (affordable) or if there was any availability (thankfully there was) we returned back to the hotel from hell, packed, and were quickly ensconced in the comforts of our new favourite hotel, The Morales. The Morales dates back to 1888, when it began operating as the La Casa Verea. At the turn of the century it was purchased by the Morales sisters, and later transformed by their nephew, Luis, to the magnificent Morales Hotel. Luis’s passion for the “Toros” led to it being the gathering place for the bullfighters and all the people associated with the bullfighting world. After the fights were over, the bullfighters would be carried on litters by the appreciative audience from the long gone “El Progresso” bullfighting ring, to the Morales, where the parties would last all night. The demolition of the bullfighting rings, and the decline of the downtown of Guadalajara through the 1950’s and 60’s, brought dark times to the Hotel. It was closed in 1974, and remained shuttered until 2004 when a Spanish group bought the property and transformed and revitalized this historic gem. With the renaissance that the historical zone of Guadalajara has experienced, the Morales has become the perfect hotel destination, right in the heart of the second largest city in Mexico. The Morales is one of our favourite properties in all of Mexico, remodeled to exacting old world standards, it has all the modern comforts required for travel today: fast internet connections, comfortable beds, rooftop pools, free secure parking and charming, friendly staff - from the valets, to the front desk staff who remember our names - it is one of the highlights each time we visit Guadalajara. www.hotelmorales.com.mx

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living in mexico

needs beauty…places “toEverybody play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike

.”

John Muir

My Tree of Sanity By Cherie Pittillo

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’ve never lived in a city of a million people until now. Other than a small town during college or an African village for a year, I’ve chosen to live with lots of space around me. Growing up on a farm instilled an appreciation for the natural world and I loved the freedom and the land to explore outdoors. Yet here I am in Merida, this beautiful city of peace, with its plaster-covered buildings, stone walls, tarmac, scattered trees and plazas. My husband and I searched for a home in the country or the beach but realized the ability to walk to many cultural events, a neighborhood tienda, and local market outweighed country living. When we found our home in central Merida, I hoped to adjust in sharing two windowless walls of our home with strangers on either side because our yard had a massive tamarind tree. Behind our yard was a vacant lot with small trees and one 60 footer that spread its skinny arms toward the heavens. Barren with no leaves, I named her the “Barreness.” The sun began its golden glory rise there and said its golden goodnight. This was where I looked when I heard a new bird sound. This was where I watched the progressive parade of parrots and other perchers as I identified over 25 species who visited her. She provided resting spots for hummingbirds to relax for a few moments before their metabolic need for nectar or insects urged them onward. She gave nesting cavities and food for Golden-fronted

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Woodpeckers. She became the highest perch for a Tropical Mockingbird to claim its territory loudly. Every morning doves and Great-tailed Grackles greeted the new day. Occasionally White-fronted Parrots or Red-lored Parrots screamed out their locations to other parrots, hung onto her limbs to preen each other and rubbed their beaks to clean off their last juicy meal. Sometimes she sounded like the neighborhood bar as male Grayish Saltators and Clay-colored Thrushes sang out their pick-up lines to attract potential mates. White-winged Doves repeatedly signaled to other doves to mate. Electric orange and black-colored Hooded Orioles stopped to locate their next landing. Whenever a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl flew in, the tree exploded with feathers as the locals flew away frantically from this songbird predator while others arrived to harass it. She even turned into a family gallery of eight bright, light bulb-chested Tropical Kingbirds who adorned her top moments before this goliath was felled. As a former wildlife photographer, I began to concentrate on photographing birds. Although I preferred large African mammals, the anticipation of capturing my backyard birds with a camera satisfied my need to be outside. When the “Barreness” was cut down behind us, I cried. Those 25 species quickly dwindled down to six. I became forlorn because I had lost my slice of natural heaven; I now had a wide, treeless gap in my view and an even wider gap in my heart. How could I find my soul-satisfying outdoors again in Merida without driving several miles out of the city? I could continue feeling sorry for myself or do something about it. I began exploring many parks in or near Merida especially those with wetlands. Not only did my soul renewal return, but so did many birds to my backyard view! Cherie Pittillo – zoologist, photographer, author – explores nature everywhere she goes. In September, 2012, she had recorded the 44th bird species to visit her Merida backyard in five years. Perhaps this is a surprise, for Merida is a concrete city of a million people – but not to Cherie. Join her as she shares information about her backyard birds and places to explore nature in the Yucatan Peninsula. Her monthly column in The Yucatan Times features anecdotes about birding in


mexican cuisine

Molé: Complex Traditions and Modern Tastes By Gary R. Beck

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olé is the most complex flavour in Mexican cuisine in both origin and ingredients of the sauce. Nahuatl molli, ‘sauce’, is the name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside of Mexico, it often refers to a specific sauce, which is known in Spanish by the more specific name molé poblano. In contemporary Mexico, molé is used for various sauces such as black, red, yellow, colorado, green, almendrado, and pipián. It is most popular in the central and southern regions of the country, with those from Puebla and Oaxaca the best known, but sixty percent of the molé eaten in the country comes from San Pedro Atocpan near Mexico City. Its popularity, especially at major celebrations, is such that ninety-nine percent of all Mexicans have tried at least one version of it. Three states in Mexico claim to be the origin of molé: Puebla, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala. The states with the best known molés are Puebla and Oaxaca, but other regions in Mexico also make various recipes. Most often served as a sauce over turkey or chicken, it may also be used in the preparation of enchiladas or as a filling for tamales. One historical version of the classic molé origin is its invention at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, by Sor Andrea de la Asunción, who prepared it for a visiting bishop in the 1680’s. The combination of New and Old World ingredients makes this a truly “mestizo” dish. Alerted that the archbishop was approaching, the convent nuns went into a panic because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, chile peppers, spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate, and more. They cooked an old turkey and put the sauce on top; the archbishop loved it and the sauce became legend. A similar version has a monk named Fray Pascual inventing the dish, again to serve the archbishop of Puebla. In this version, he knocks over or the wind blows a bunch of spices into pots in which turkeys are cooking. Modern molé is a mixture of ingredients from three continents: North America, Europe and Africa, making it the first international dish created in the Americas and used in a number of dishes including those for fish, game and vegetables. While chile pepper sauces existed in pre-

Hispanic Mexico, the complicated molés of today did not. They did not contain chocolate, which was used as a beverage, not to flavor food. Most likely what occurred was a gradual modification of the original molli sauce, adding more and different ingredients depending on the location. This diversified the resulting sauces into various types. Ingredients that have been added into molés include nuts, peanuts, pine nuts, sesame seed, pumpkin and/or squash seeds, cilantro, seedless grapes, plantains, garlic, onion, cinnamon, chocolate and spices such as pepper, clove and anise. All recipes contained chiles, especially ancho, pasilla, mulato and chipotle. The true story of how molé developed may never be truly known, as the first recipes did not appear until after the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. But the Nahuatl origin of the name probably defines its Mesoamerican origin. There are many different types of molé, but molé poblano, the version from Puebla, is one of the standards, marked by a dark reddish-brown sauce served over meat. The dish has become a culinary symbol of Mexico’s “mestizaje” or mixed indigenous and European heritage, both for the types of ingredients it contains as well as the legends surrounding its origin. Making the sauce is time-consuming and labor intensive, requiring many ingredients which must be peeled, toasted and ground with a stone, by hand. Molé paste can be purchased at markets and reconstituted with chicken stock, although purists maintain that the flavour does not compare to the freshly prepared version. Pipián is another type of molé that is made in Puebla. It includes ground toasted squash seeds. There are both green and red variations: pipián verde and pipián rojo. Molé Verde Zacatecano [Zacatecas-style] green mole with chicken is made with fresh tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeños and garlic lighter and simpler than the nut-enriched molés of Puebla and Oaxaca. The Feria Nacional del Molé (National Festival of Molé) was begun in 1977 in San Pedro Atocpan, and is held each year in October. The city of Puebla also holds an annual mole festival, whose proceeds are shared among the Santa Rosa, Santa Inés and Santa Catarina convents. At this festival in 2005, the world’s record for largest pot of mole was broken and 11,000 people ate like kings! A strong flavour, Molé can be an acquired taste for many, but despite this, it is world renowned and respected for its complexities and use of traditional techniques. It is a great representative of all that Mexico offers.

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Dream Homes of Mexico Satisfy your dream of a tropical vacation or retirement home in Mexico. Browse these pages and the listings you`ll find at www.mexi-go.ca for the perfect home today.

www.mexi-go.ca for information on real estate, retirement, investment and travel

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Mexico offers so much value, culture, lifestyle and friendship to Canadians of all ages. Mexi-Go! Magazine and websites share the stories of the thousands of Canadians who have found success in Mexico. We bring you information on traveling, living and investing in Mexico. From real estate how-to’s to great shopping tips we present the real Mexico with a uniquely Canadian perspective.

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AJIJIC Lake CHapala DOS CASAS | RANCHO DEL ORO

A special home offering privacy & seclusion, just minutes to everything in Ajijic. Offered for the first time, the main home has 2 master bedrooms each with their own ensuite and walk-in closets. Living spaces include a welcoming reception hall with bar, lounge with boveda ceiling, niches & indirect lighting, spacious covered terrace with spectacular fountain, large separate dining room, impressive chefs' kitchen, huge pantry, den, office and library, indoor bodega & workshop. Impressive street frontage with secure video entry. "Dos Casas" combines a focus on quality with an immaculate presentation. Lot: 1,994m² Construction: 918m² Asking: $890,000 usd

Alix Wilson

Office: (376) 766-2612 (13) Toll free: 1 (866) 377-4632 Mobile: (+52) 1 331 265 5078 wilsonali@century21accessmex.com www.century21accessmex.com Guadalajara

4 Y4 HW

GDL Ajijic

Chapala

Lake Chapala

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An inspiring sanctuary


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Mexi-Go! Winter 2013