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Spring 2011

Real Estate | Living | Investment | Retirement

Nature’s Playground

La Paz - A modern city on the sea

canadians at home in Ajijic The Facts About Crime Against Tourists In Mexico | Building On The Baja

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 2

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 1




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Gary Eldridge 604.484.1894 | is not an offering for sale. Such an offering can only be made after filing a disclosure statement. LOS C AB O S . ME XICO


One of a kind seaside living. Cabo Riviera is the dream destination for those who love boating, fishing, golf and all the delights of casual seaside living. A picturesque 45-minute drive north of Los Cabos International Airport, residents of Cabo Riviera enjoy azure seas, warm sands, and soft breezes - with the unparalleled benefit of owning in a gated community with some of the area’s safest beaches for LOS C AB O S . ME XICO year-round swimming. A private community rich in splendor, Cabo Riviera is the perfect haven for all who love to pursue romance and outdoor adventures amid pristine waters, fresh air, and spectacular scenery.

“The Sea of Cortez is the world’s aquarium.” Jacques Cousteau


Jamie MacDougall 604.922.2282 |

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 3

Mexi-Go! Principal Editors Madeline Milne

Rebecca Permack

Associate Editor Cory Permack

madeline milne Principal Editor

Rebecca permack Principal Editor

Madeline works with many of the worlds largest real estate brands promoting quality communication. Mexi-Go! came about while she was looking to invest in Mexico and found a shortfall of quality information online. You can find Madeline in a tropical locale or on her deck with a glass of chilled white. She divides her time between Vancouver and Mexico.

Rebecca is a graduate of the Urban Land Economics Program at the UBC Sauder School of Business - Real Estate Division. Rebecca is an avid world traveler with a solid international network. She is enthusiastic about living the Mexican lifestyle and is passionate about taking the fear out of living abroad.

Cory Permack Associate Editor Cory is a graduate of The University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor’s degree in Western Literature and Civilization. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Radio and Television Arts. Cory is an avid traveler and he is passionate about culture, and brings a worldly perspective to everything he does.


Art Director

Madeline Milne

Staff Writer

Sabrina Wang


Susan Fogel

Terry Curtis

Trudie Nelson

Dean McQuillan


Claude Vogel

Allison Pickering

Malcolm McLaws SALES

Sales Director

Joel Hansen, Canada


Sales Manager

Aldo Vazquez, Mexico

(52) +1.331.397.3775

Assistant to Editor Eduardo Zepeda Mexi-Go! is published quarterly by Prosper Media Group Inc. Copyright (2011)

President and CEO Craig N. Brown Staff Writer Sabrina Wang

Malcolm Mclaws Photographer

Claude Vogel Photographer

Sabrina is a young writer who loves creating magic out of words. She’s an old soul who enjoys reading biographies of dead poets, watching period dramas and listening to Bossa Nova, while her alter ego is spontaneous, sarcastically funny, and quirky. She is content in her rather idyllic life as a university student just as long as she has the chance to let her imagination explode on the page.

Malcolm Mclaws is a North Vancouver based action/travel Photographer who has spent the last 40 yrs traveling the globe in search of images. His travels have taken him from Afghanistan to Zambia along with living in Switzerland and South Africa. His work has been published in Mountain Bike UK and is a regular contributor to NSMB. com, E-magazine.

Claude Vogel Thetion, Professional Photographer, has been living in La Paz for the past ten years. Through his lens, he has captured innumerable images of the landscape and its paradises, including many surprising moments in the life and nature of Baja California Sur. In this edition, Claude has harmoniously put together images that have made La Paz the land of his dreams.

Vice President Noll C. Derriksan Grand Chief WFN, U.B.C.I.C. Vice President Sales & Marketing Chytra M. Brown PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 41835528. Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses To: 101b - 1979 Old Okanagan Hwy., Westbank, BC V4t 3a4. Printed In Canada. The views expressed in Mexi-Go! Magazine are those of the respective contributors and not necessarily those of Mexi-Go! Properties Inc., Prosper Media Group or its staff. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.


Prosper Media Group Inc.101B-1979 Old Okanagan Hwy. Westbank, BC V4T 3A4 P: 778-755-5727

Terry Curtis Writer, Baja Road Trip

dean mcquillan Writer, Building in the Baja

Terry, from Texas and Southern California has been an International Businessman and International Motorcycle Racer. Residing in Cabo, Mexico he now operates the Century 21 Paradise Properties franchise. Terry and his wife Isabel have four healthy children.

Dean McQuillen lives in Vancouver where he mountain bikes on the North Shore, Whistler, and Pemberton in the summer and skis Whistler in the winter. When in Mexico, Dean mountain bikes (well), and surfs (badly) and soaks the whole thing up.

Susan Fogel Contributing Editor, La Paz

trudie nelson Contributing Editor, Ajijic

Susan Fogel is a real estate agent in La Paz. She has written a book: Margarita Mind: How to Avoid It; A guide to Buying Mexico Real Estate Safely and Sanely. Susan has lived in La Paz for 10 years with her husband Ira and writes about life in La Paz.

Trudie Nelson is an interior designer who retired early and moved to Ajijic 17 years ago with her husband. She spent some years in community work in the village, but missed the workplace, so started a second career in real estate sales, at which she excels.

Looking for history?

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 5

features Real estate

investment 11 Hojalata: traditional tin art

An underappreciated art form full of history and humour. By Madeline Milne 17 The Role of the Closing Agent



With a closing agent in your corner, the process of buying real estate in Mexico can be made much easier. By Linda Neil 20 La Paz



A modern seaside city embraced by nature and true Mexican culture. By Susan A Fogel 26 Building in the Baja

From the ground up there are lessons to be learned from others’ mistakes. By Dean McQuillan



30 Driving the Baja

From top to tip, there are plenty of places to stop. Just don’t forget to fill-up. By Terry Curtis 38 The East Cape

Emerging as the next big thing, but windsurfers and ocean enthusiasts are way ahead of the curve. By Sabrina Wang 6

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

me x i - goproperties . com Real E state


I nvestment





features Real estate

investment 42 Ajijic: A colonial gem

Six couples invite us into their home and tell us why Mexico makes sense for them. By Trudie Nelson 50 La Cruz de Huancaxtle



A simple fishing village grows up in the heart of Banderas Bay. By Chloe Ernst 56 Las Marietas Islands

The breeding grounds for Humpback Whales offer a spectacular display. By Chloe Ernst



58 Manzanillo

A deep sea port, a booming city and a natural paradise. Manzanillo offers it all. By Sabrina Wang 60



The Facts Concerning Violent Crimes Committed Against Tourists in Mexico.

It’s not always as they say it is. By Jim Scherrer



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Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 9

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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!

Hola! Welcome to the premier issue of Mexi-Go! We’ve been travelling to Mexico for years now. As a country of snowed in sun worshippers, Canadians traveled over 1.2 million times to Mexico in 2010. We love our Mexico! And rightly so, it’s a country of warmth in sun and people. It has a long, rich cultural heritage that is unique, and for the most part, untainted by mass consumerism. Mexico offers its visitors some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, historical colonial towns, fresh and flavourful food, art, culture, and language. Amongst all this wonderfulness is a strong rapidly expanding country with the friendliest people, always willing to open their doors to us. With our shrinking bank accounts and ever growing cost of living, for many Canadians, Mexico has become a country of new opportunity. For a fraction of what your home in Vancouver costs you can own beachfront in La Paz, or lakefront in Ajijic. You can downsize and spend your savings on life’s little luxuries, like a housekeeper and a gardener! At Mexi-Go! we plan on bringing you the stories that help you truly consider Mexico as your second home. Please join us on these pages and online at to learn how a Mexico lifestyle might be your lifestyle.

Enjoy, Madeline, Rebecca, Cory Joel and everyone at Mexi-Go!

An original Enrique Badillo Aguilar tin mirror. Ajijic.

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Who is Catrina?

// mexican folk art By: Madeline Milne

You’ve seen her - the fancy dead lady usually all dressed up with her hat and her flowers. She is Catrina and a relatively new cultural icon in the long history of Mexican icons. Created as a satirical commentary on the rich, Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), created a famous drawing of a skull wearing a fancy woman’s hat. He named it ,or “her,” La Calavera de la Catrina. The rich were less likely to succumb to the diseases and malnutrition that ravaged the poor, but they were ultimately no more immune from death than anyone else. Posada’s powerful, yet humorous, image of the skeletal rich woman, a dead woman who could not buy immortality, became the inspiration for the iconic figure you see today. The Original La Calavera de la Catrina, by Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Catrina was resurrected by French artist and art historian Jean Charlot shortly after the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s. La Catrina soon gained iconic status as a symbol of uniquely Mexican art and now plays a significant role in Día de los Muertos festivities. She can be found in many forms in the shops around Mexico ,from delicate clay figurines to paintings and masks.

Hojalata: traditional tin art For myself, I love the humour and the creativity that is often found in Mexican tin art but, without a doubt, it is one of the least known and often times, most beautiful, expressions of Mexican folk art. Known by the people that work it as “the noble metal” and others as “the poor man’s silver,” Hojalata (tin art work) has been shaped, stamped, punched and cut into a wide variety of artwork. Mexican artisans have specialized in mixing different elements to create unique works of art. The origins of punched metal seems to be lost in the mists of time. Mexican artisans and craftsmen use the tin art to form both useful and ornamental objects ranging from purely fun to elegant and delicate. Only hindered by the imagination, tin artists produce candelabras, frames, ornaments, jewelry boxes, figures, lanterns, bowls, and even nativities. Often glass, mirror, talavera tiles and other materials are used to accent the tin work. On holidays, such as Day of the Dead and Christmas, special tin objects are created to adorn the home.

Of particular elegance is an artist from Guanajato, Enrique Badillo Aguilar who’s pieces I found at the Annual Chili Cook Off in Ajijic (held in February). Enrique creates a huge variety of pieces but his mirrors are the most impressive. I managed to ship two home to Canada for about a tenth of the cost of buying anything as spectacular back home. In Mexico there is an old tradition of making tin plate frames, or nichos, that dates back to the Spanish colonial period. Traditionally nichos were used as shrines for patron saints or pictures of loved ones. The nicho is a 3-dimensional recessed shadow box that is protected by a hinged glass door. The small shadow box is surrounded by wood or tin and is often painted with bright colors. They often provide a diorama of sorts for an object or a person of great significance. Many local craft stores around Mexico sell these nichos as souvenirs and they provide an interesting and much more authentic reminder of your last trip than that Corona t-shirt you brought back for your brother.

Contemporary nichos have expanded into more nontraditional subject matter, including the secular or the humorous, but continue to represent themes and figures in popular Latin American culture.

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 11

Live in Mexico Without Spanish?

By Jim Scherrer

Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 26 years and resided there for the past twelve years. The mission of his series of more than 70 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit him at ¿Donde esta el baño? ¿Como esta usted? That pretty well sums up two years of high school Spanish taken as a college prep course almost 50 years ago! Of course, why would anyone ever need to know Spanish having never met a Mexican, let alone thought about going to Mexico? My, how times have changed! After living in Houston for 25 years, we discovered that Mexico was only two hours away and that it had some very intriguing qualities to offer. In 1984 we bought a condo in Mismaloya, south of Puerto Vallarta, and made semi-annual visits to Vallarta for 13 years before buying a villa in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, overlooking Banderas Bay and El Centro, the downtown area of PV. When we moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, known as PV or Vallarta by the locals, ten years ago, our Spanish vocabulary consisted of about five words. Fortunately, a few taxi drivers, most restaurant waiters, and some caddies spoke, or at least understood, a little English. In order to survive here, it was imperative to understand and speak some degree of Spanish. During our first month in Vallarta, we purchased textbooks, manuals, dictionaries, and hired a tutor to come to our villa twice a week. We worked diligently for almost six months, learning Spanish words, paraphrases, tenses, etc. so that we would have a chance of communicating with the locals. To assist our learning process, we watched our Mexican TV that had about five channels; CNN, Mexican shows aimed at sixth graders, and American movies with Spanish subtitles. We would then turn off the volume and try to understand the movies by reading the subtitles. Not much fun, but the price you had to pay in order to live in Paradise where the average daily temperature during the “high season” of November through May is 73°F with virtually no chance of rain! We spent that first summer back in the States and upon returning to PV, we got lazy and discontinued our studies. Satellite TV became available in Vallarta and we no longer had the five Mexican channels, but instead had 350 channels from the US. Fortunately for us, the tourism boom in Vallarta was just beginning to occur ten years ago. During the past ten years, 12

immerse yourself Living with a Mexican family substantially enriches your language and cultural experience. It is surely your best choice if you would like to enjoy a total immersion in the Spanish language and Mexican culture. Families serve as excellent hosts in the town of your choice and provide a comfortable and safe environment in which to assimilate to another country. Many students make lifelong friends with their host families. You will find that a homestay option is not much different in cost than other independent options, and they typically include at least two meals per day. Homestay programs are offered to individuals, couples of all ages, and families. Many language schools offer homestay programs as well. Visit these websites for more information:

Various cities and towns


San Miguel de Allende


Playa del Carmen


//hablo espanol

Basic Phrases there have been thousands of new houses and tens of thousands of new condos, new hospitals, a new University of Guadalajara campus, new airport, new maritime terminal, etc. built in Vallarta. As tourism increased, so did the requirement for speaking English by the locals. If they could understand and speak English, they could obtain the higher paying jobs where interaction with tourists is a routine occurrence. Jobs such as waiting tables, caddying, taxi driving, police department, clerking at front desks in hotels, offices, hospitals, airport, etc. and management positions in stores and other businesses could pay three times as much as construction work, daily labor, cleaning, etc. where there is no requirement for English speaking skills. The difference in wages was so obvious and substantial that during the past ten years, most all of the younger generation of people in Vallarta are taking English classes in school and understand and speak basic English. Even those that haven’t had a day of classroom English have a good understanding of “Espanglish” and we therefore have absolutely no problem communicating with anyone in Vallarta. Virtually all educated Mexicans in PV such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, bankers, nurses, teachers, etc. are fluent in English. In fact, the majority of these people seem to prefer speaking English with Americans and Canadians. Typical music in restaurants, bars, hotels, and even dental offices are the popular American songs. American magazines, newspapers, and books are available throughout the city, whereas ten years ago they were virtually non-existent. In summarizing, having knowledge of Spanish is no longer a prerequisite for visiting or retiring in Vallarta. The majority of the retirees that live in PV have little Spanish speaking ability and get along just fine. Most all tourists by plane or cruise ship have no knowledge of Spanish and they too have no communication problems. Obviously, Vallarta is not typical of all of Mexico, however for those considering a trip to or retirement in Vallarta with no Spanish speaking ability, should not be concerned about a language barrier here.

Learn these simple phrases and questions and you’ll get by in most major tourist destinations, no problem! Just like you’re happy to speak English with a foreign tourist, Mexicans are always happy to let you try out your language skills on them! A smile goes a long way.

Hello! Good morning! Good evening! How are you? Fine. Very well. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name? Where do you live? Goodbye. Thank you. Thank you very much. You’re welcome. Please. Yes. No. Excuse me. Pardon me. I’m sorry. I don’t understand. I don’t speak Spanish. Do you speak English? Speak slowly, please. Repeat, please. How much does that cost? Can you help me? Where is the bathroom?

¡Hola! ¡Buenos días! ¡Buenas noches! ¿Cómo está? Bien. Muy bien. Mucho gusto. ¿Cómo se llama? ¿Dónde vive? Adiós. Gracias. Muchas gracias. De nada. Por favor. Sí. No. Con permiso. Perdone. Lo siento. No entiendo. No hablo español. ¿Habla inglés? Hable despacio por favor. Repita, por favor. ¿Cuánto cuesta? ¿Me podría ayudar? ¿Dónde está el baño?

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 13

// mexico vs. canada

When you compare dollar for dollar what you can have in Canada versus what you can buy in Mexico, it makes the decision to retire in Mexico, even parttime, a whole lot easier. Whether you are looking to make a lateral move dollar wise or you want to downsize and extend your retirement dollars a little farther, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. We have gathered typical listings in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to compare with similar listings in the Baja... In our opinion, there is no comparison! Viva Mexico!



Is that rain?

Vancouver CONDO 930sf | 2 bedroom 2 bath

$ 695,000

Calgary Condo 920sf | 2 bedroom 2 bath

$ 397,900

Cabo Condo $ 299,000 1,424sf | 2 bedroom 2 bath

eww cold!

brand new

Vancouver House $ 649,000 1,120sf | 3 bedroom 2.5 bath

Average temperatures in January Vancouver, BC:

0 / 6°C

162 days of rain a year Edmonton, AB:

-19 / -8°C

49’ of snow each winter Cabo San Lucas

12 / 24°C

360 days of sunshine a year!


Edmonton House $ 449,000 1,748sf | 3 bedroom 1.5 bath

Cabo San Lucas House $ 489,900 3,810sf | 3 bedroom 3 bath

But Is it a good Investment? Mexico had growth exceeding 5% in 2010, created nearly 1 million new jobs and it had the second highest rate of direct foreign investment of any country in 2010. It’s currently a buyer’s market and will likely remain so until the USA picks back up but Mexico is on a path of growth and it is now 8th in the world for GDP. As an investor in Mexican Real Estate, you are likely to see significant increase in property values in the next 10 years as prices come back up due to demand from the retiree market and the emerging upper middle class Mexicans. Factor in the decrease in personal taxes, health care insurance, property taxes and overall cost of living, it has been estimated that you can see as much as a 75% increase in your retirement savings. What are you waiting for?

*These listings come directly from and are active as of February 1st, 2011


By Ryland Apsey President of Mexico Capital Mortgage

Moving equity from your Canadian property to purchase your Mexican casa is now a safe, viable option offered by most of Mexico’s big banks. Radically different from mortgage happy (or unhappy, as the case may be) consumers in the US and Canada, in Mexico, cash is king! We have always had an abundance of cash buyers and until 5 years ago there was no option other than cash. When the first major mortgage lenders entered the Mexico marketplace around 2005, it allowed a new kind of buyer to feel safe and secure in the arms of corporate giants like GE Capital and GMAC. Loans have been funded here since, though the bulk of the real estate transactions are still cash; every year we see a growth in the number of people inquiring into using traditional mortgage products. Cash markets are secure markets, and with minimal lending taking place in Mexico, bank foreclosures driving prices down are a non- issue. Research conducted by Mexico Capital Mortgage with Los Cabos developments and real estate companies indicated that between 10% and 20% of clients buying locally are using Mexico financing with liens attached to the property. The remaining buyers are paying with cash obtained through liquidation of assets, second mortgages on primary homes and cash reserves. It is for this reason, with such a small number of liens actually attached to the Mexico property, that bank foreclosures locally are a non-issue. Also, our adjustable rate programs (ARM’s) in Mexico that were sold in the years prior have relatively conservative adjustment schedules, with most adjustments taking place only once a year based on a conservative index, unlike in the US where monthly adjustments are commonplace and radical.

Mexico Capital Mortgage is a Los Cabos, Mexico based mortgage brokerage offering US dollar loans to US and Canadian citizens for the purchase of homes, condos, raw land as well as new home construction. MCM offers every competitive loan program currently available in the marketplace, funds in all resort destinations across Mexico and does so with the service and expertise of a market leader.

In Los Cabos, slow and steady growth, conservative mortgages combined with cash buyers will ensure our properties do not face the type of negative adjustments our northerly neighbors are facing and support our markets future positive growth.

Steps to getting pre-qualified in Mexico


The first thing is to contact a trusted mortgage professional who specializes in US Dollar loans for US and Canadian citizens. The mortgage product that actually collateralizes Mexico real estate is a niche product and thus only select mortgage professionals carry these products. Do a thorough online search of the individual you have chosen to work with and ensure they come recommended.



You will be required to fill out an application form. This will give your broker the information they will need to determine if you qualify for the mortgage product. Usually a pre-qualification is completed in 24hrs - 48hrs for Canadian citizens. It is always best to wait for full financing approval from the Bank before having any terms in the contract become

due, and this pre-qualification will be a great indicator if your loan will be approved. Your mortgage broker will be able to assist with ensuring your interests are always protected in the contract. Once you have been pre-qualified, your broker will send you a list of documents required for your loan submission. This will include full income and asset verification. Banks usually take 1-2 weeks to issue a full approval, but in all cases the full approval of the loan amount is subject to the property appraisal for the purchase price - just like in Canada. Only after the loan has been fully approved will the closing begin.



The closing usually takes place anywhere between 45-60 days after approval has been received from the Bank. During

this 45-60 day closing process, you are required to pay certain up front closing fees. They are for items such as appraisals, notario fees, trust fees and number of other 3rd party fees required for legal transfer of titles in Mexico. These fees are disbursed through escrow. Total transaction time will be between 75 and 90 days. You do not need to be in Mexico for your real estate closing and utilizing a power of attorney can save you from any last minute changes which can, and do, occur in Mexico. In all cases, final loan paperwork is signed at your primary residence with only the actual deed being signed at the closing. Once the deed is signed, the loan is funded and you are the official owner of the property - free to enjoy your time in Mexico in your new home. Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 15

Buying Real Estate in Mexico “But you don’t really own your land!” It’s the one thing that always comes up when talking about buying property in Mexico; the restriction on foreign investors from holding direct ownership of any land within 100 km of borders, and 50 km of coastline. This notion is a simplistic way of summing up a complicated issue. The truth is, you CAN buy property in Mexico’s most desirable locations. You just need to know how to do it! OWNING PROPERTY IN MEXICO Can foreigners own property in Mexico? Inside the “Restricted Zone” In order to encourage foreign investment in this “restricted zone”, the Mexican government provides a special bank trust called Fideicomiso. Its purpose is to help non-residents to buy real estate everywhere in the country and to ensure a safe and secure transaction. Outside the “Restricted zone” Properties outside the “restricted zone” are not subject to any restrictions. Land can be acquired directly without the need for a bank trust. What is a Fideicomiso or Bank trust? A Fideicomiso is a Mexican bank trust. It can be done through any major bank of your choosing, such as Scotia Bank, 16

HSBC, CitiGroup or Santander. The bank, in this case, works on your behalf on all matters related to the property, and records the trust at the Public Registry of Property. You, as the beneficiary, retain all rights, usage and control of the property without restriction to improve, lease, sell or pass on to your heirs. One thing to remember is that the title of the property is not guaranteed by the bank, so any damages or title defect is not their responsibility. Is the trust an asset of the bank? No, the deed to Mexico real estate property is simply held by the bank for you. It is not considered an asset of the bank, and for all intents and purposes, the property is yours. What are the costs involved in the trust? Typically banks charge $1,500 USD as a set up fee, $500 USD to register the trust and then around $500 USD each year thereafter. The annual fee covers all legal obligations and filing of necessary documents on your behalf. These fees may vary from bank to bank, so it is a good idea to do your research. How long is the trust good for? The duration of a trust is currently

50 years, and the term may be automatically renewed for another 50 years upon request. What is a “Notario Publico”? In Mexico, unlike Canada and the US, a Notary Public (Notario Publico) is a public official appointed by the State Governor. They handle all legal aspects of your transaction, and oversee the security and filing of documents with the Public Registry of Property (Registro Publico de la Propiedad). You can also use a lawyer or a closing agent. Every transfer of a Mexican property must, by law, be made before a Mexican notary public. Can I get title insurance for my property? Title Insurance is becoming more and more common in Mexico. There are several US based companies that will insure your title. Obtaining title insurance would be considered a wise value-added option, considering the relatively low cost. For more information on buying real estate in Mexico please visit these great resources:

The role of the Closing Agent It is commonly believed that an attorney, in addition to a Notary Public, is required when buying property in Mexico. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, it may make more sense to seek out a Closing Agent to handle the many details of the transfer, such as: • • • • • • • •

Ordering and reviewing the title investigation Obtaining the certificates and trust permits Explaining the nuances of the transfer process Overseeing the payment of funds for these services and expenses Reviewing the deed to be sure names and addresses are correct Being sure it is registered in the public registry of property Making sure it is delivered to the buyer Providing tax receipts to the seller and more!

A good Closing Agent can be an attorney with expertise in title transfers, or they can be part of a company with experienced closing officers and attorneys on its staff for consultations in the event that there are title issues. Closing Agents are becoming more and more commonplace throughout Mexico, as they are specialists in titles and transfers.

Finding a Trustworthy Closing Agent Clients should never hesitate to ask for details of the professional experience and references of a Closing Agent. This is even more important when the Real Estate Agent in the transaction is representing BOTH buyer and seller. Dual agency is still common in Mexico, and the Buyer should definitely seek out a Closing Agent.

The role of the Closing Agent An experienced Closing Agent is a key person in the real estate purchasing process. Hiring a good Closing Agent who understands the ins and outs of the Mexican legal system and the requirements of the law as it relates to foreign investment will make the real estate transaction go much smoother. The Closing Agent should be involved in drawing up a promise contract and reviewing all documents including Title, Certificate of No Encumbrances, and permits. A Closing Agent can also order a complete title search before the transaction reaches the notary public, which will save the Buyer valuable time and money should there be a problem with the title. The prudent buyer will always insist upon using a neutral third party closing agent to protect his or her interests. Professional Closing Agents will have bilingual and experienced closing officers on staff to review the legalities of the transaction and to ensure that all the documents received are in order. They can also oversee the permit process, review the draft of the deed being used in the transfer of title and order the title investigation - identifying any problems before the title has been transferred and money exchanged.

about the author LINDA NEIL is the founder of The Settlement Company®, specializing in real estate transfers and escrows and in the Virtual Closing®. Licensed as a California real estate broker, Ms. Neil has lived and worked in Mexico for more than 30 years. Her skills in negotiating contracts between parties from three distinct cultures have placed her services in demand as a consultant and for speaking engagements on Mexican law and customs in Mexico, the United States and Canada. She has been widely published on the subject of real property in Mexico. Memberships; FIABCI, AMPI and NAR. Linda is a former member of the National Advisory Council of AMPI and has served as AMPI Coordinator for the state of Baja California Sur. For reprints or information, please contact The Settlement Company®: In Mexico: 01-800-627-5130 International: 1-877-214-4950 or 011-52-612-123-5056

Copyright, 2010 Consultores Phoenix, S.C. Reproduction prohibited without permission.

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 17


The Baja

Photo: Malcolm McLaws

One of the best things about Mexico is the endless sun - the sun in the morning, the midday heat and the sunsets. The sun IS Mexico. It is one of the many reasons people travel to this beautiful country – so finely intertwined with its natural beauty and the lively generosity of its people. For a truly intimate experience, you must rise BEFORE the sun and make your way to the beach. As the sun slowly rises from the water and the sky changes from a soft glow to a blazing entrance into the day, you are overwhelmed with a sense of wonder and awe - watching the dawn of a new day! It is this feeling that connects us to the earth and humbles us – bearing witness to this cosmic, eternal event... so come and enjoy the timeless sun in Mexico.

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 19


The bustling Malecon of La Paz stretches for more than 5.5 kilometers. With its near perfect weather, a stroll along La Paz’s newly refinished Malecon is a popular pastime both for locals and tourists alike.

La Paz

A modern seaside city embraced by nature and true Mexican culture By: Susan A. Fogel Photography: Claude Vogel

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 21

// LA PAZ, Baja california SUR

La Paz, the City of Peace, is a quiet little city with a big lifestyle. With her back against the mountains and her feet set in the soft sands along the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), La Paz is a city of contrasts. From her pastel sunrises that give way to fiery sunsets, centuries-old cardon cacti amid rugged, arid terrain that marches to the water’s edge, fishermen plying the waters in their outboard pangas and visitors in 200-foot luxury motor yachts, La Paz makes room for the old and new. First-time visitors are beguiled by the white sandy beach that runs along the main street of town. The beach, lined with palapas (thatch umbrellas) bordered by the Malecon (the miles-long promenade) is pristine. Sailboats bob on the sparkling waters and the municipal pier and lighthouse add to the charm. Sunday night is the time to be out, to see and be seen. Enjoy a double-dip of limon crema ice cream as you walk along the Malecon. Bounce houses, drummers, craft vendors, families, young lovers, kids on roller blades, or locals walking their dogs are all part of the scene. La Paz’ “celebrity” population is elusive and seasonal, but when they are here, they are a friendly lot. No “A list” Hollywood stars or sports celebrities among them. I am talking about the gargantuan and docile whale sharks. The psychedelic colored, polkadot toothless shark graces our waters from January though May. Kayaking in the calm waters around El Mogote with these gentle giants is an experience of a lifetime. Follow in the bubbles of Jacques Cousteau and discover the beautiful world under the sea. Snorkeling or diving outfitters will take you out for a day to swim with sea lions, snorkel around a sea mount, and take you to Isla Espiritu Santo. You have your choice of riding in a dinghy or kayaking to the island, where your lunch awaits. The color and variety of fish will amaze. Remember what the great Captain Cousteau said 22


TOP LEFT: The real magic is at sundown, when paceños spill out of their homes and take to the malecón to stroll, jog, bike, power walk or just hang out and listen to the live bands that set up on what’s easily one of Mexico’s finest waterfronts. TOP RIGHT: A commercial port, La Paz offers moorage for many yachts and cruisers. Recently upgraded Marina de La Paz now accommodates over 150 boats including slip space for up to 160’ luxury yachts. TOP LEFT: Our Lady of La Paz Cathedral, in the central square, is the most important religious center in the city of La Paz. Construction was begun in 1861 by Bishop Juan Francisco Escalante y Moreno and completed in 1865.

Balandra Bay, Photo: Claude Vogel

Balandra bay

about the Gulf of California: “…It is the world’s largest living aquarium…” Visit the most beautiful beach near La Paz Balandra. At low tide, you can walk across the bay and be on white-sand beaches of deserted coves. Visit the famous Mushroom Rock, and watch for puffer fish, sea anemones, and other sea life. So what do you do in paradise when the allure of palm trees and sand wanes a bit? For some the allure never goes away. But even die-hard beachcombers, surfers, and divers need to eat, buy groceries, or see a doctor. La Paz is also home to many off-road races, the most famous is the Baja 1000 every November. Locals line the highway starting the night before to watch their favorite cars come out of the desert. The final part of the race is run on the only highway to town and local traffic is mixed in with the racers. First-time visitors find this disconcerting. Long-time residents take it in stride. The Baja 1000 is the most famous, but there are off-road races throughout the year.

Deep water fishing is very popular and there are several tournaments, The Dorado Tournament in June and the International Bisbee Tournament in September. La Paz has adapted and grown to meet the needs and demands of its expanding middle class and the growing foreign retiree population. Hip, modern espresso shops are all over town. So are small tiendas selling freshly-made tortillas. Two blocks up from the Malecon is Madero Street, fast becoming the place to find the newest and best restaurants. And on Tuesdays from 9:00 until 1:00 (or sooner as vendors sell out their wares) is an organic food market. Throughout the city are taco stands and small Mexicanowned restaurants that serve a nice meal for reasonable prices. Several grocery chains, small and large are all over town. Some are known for a good meat department, others for their US goods. The newest addition to La Paz Chedraui is modern, with a bakery, café, and imported foods section. Coming

soon is another big Mexican chain, Mega, also known for being stylish and chock full of the things foodies crave. Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Appleby’s, and Burger King have opened their doors and there is talk of Costco coming soon. La Paz is home to a large Canadian population, some are snow birds, arriving in October and leaving in May. Others stay the year round. The warm, sunny climate, affordable health care with English-speaking doctors, recreational activities, and reasonable housing prices make La Paz an excellent second home or retirement destination for Baby Boomers. This year, two golf courses opened in La Paz. Gary Player lent his name and was directly involved with the construction of the course at the beach front community of Costa Baja Resort. The other is at Paraiso del Mar, with the Championship Arthur Hills course. Both are presently open to the public. When you get tired of playing golf, snorkeling, and kayaking, Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 23

// LA PAZ, Baja california SUR

BEACHES give something back and volunteer at the local dog shelter or help serve breakfast to school children. The fifteen screen Cinepolis shows first-run current movies in English in clean, comfortable, and modern theaters. Housing prices in La Paz are significantly lower than the average beach community home in Canada or California. Prices depend on view and proximity to the beach. There are homes for all price ranges, developments with high-end amenities, marinas, and hillside view homes, as well as beachfront homes and condos. Across the bay from La Paz, a 20-minute drive from town is the beach community of El Comitan, where beachfront homes with pools and guesthouses can be had for under $600,000. Up on the hill, with sweeping bay and city lights views are several small developments with homes starting in the high $200,000s. Back in town, there are hillside and waterside homes in Costa Baja starting at $400,000 and on the sand bar called El Mogote is Paraiso del Mar, where beachfront condos start at $400,000 and homes vary from the low $200,000s to over $1 million. Come to play, and end up staying in La Paz the Pearl of the Sea of Cortez. Susan Fogel is a real estate agent in La Paz. She has written a book: Margarita Mind: How to Avoid It; A guide to Buying Mexico Real Estate Safely and Sanely. She has lived in La Paz for 10 years and writes about life in La Paz. You can reach her toll-free 877 467 1547 or visit her website


A well kept secret, the beaches around La Paz rival the Caribbean in warm blue green water and white sandy paradise. Travelers from all over the world visit Espíritu Santo’s coves and canyons to camp, snorkel, scuba dive or simply relax on its many beautiful beaches.

La Paz has more fabulous beaches than any city in Baja! Up the coast, along the offshore islands, as well as northeast, east, and south of town. It is possible for the Baja traveler to find beautiful beaches with plenty of activity, or completely secluded beaches where there isn’t a soul for dozens of miles! PLAYA LA PAZ: Right in town, along the Malecon. These beaches are clean, convenient, and offer a quick escape from the city pace! PLAYA PALMIRA: On the road heading northwest through town, at Km. 2.5. A nice beach, very busy on weekends, usually filled with hotel guests and locals. PLAYA EL COROMEL: Pichilingue Hwy, near Km. 3.5. Another beautiful beach, food and drinks, palapas, water slide. PLAYA DEL TESORO: On the Pichilingue road at Km. 8.5 A relaxing beach with a restaurant and palapas. PLAYA PICHILINGUE: Out on the Pechilingue Hwy at Km. 17. Further from town, not as crowded, restrooms available 24 hours! PLAYA BALANDRA: Famous for its rock formation Balandra has 8 smaller beaches you can walk through the water to. PLAYA TECOLOTE: Continue on past Playa Balandra a few more miles. Beautiful beach, restaurant, and pangas for rent. Local breezes keep the bugs away! ISLA ESPIRITO SANTO: North east of town, less than an hour boat ride. Best beaches are on the west side. Island paradise! 14 miles of crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and coves.

// hot properties

LEFT: Costa Baja offers its residents access to 250 slips for boats from 30’ - 220’ RIGHT: Spectacular lagoon pool at Paraiso del Mar

It’s all about lifestyle and two of the most successful developments in La Paz have it all. It can be island living or resort living, each one has a different attitude. Both are hot properties with amenities and high-end luxury to spare. And both are ecologically sensitive; great effort was expended to protect the natural environment. Paraiso del Mar (PDM) is as close to island living as you can get. Located on “El Mogote” the sandbar that creates the natural harbor of La Paz, you feel like you dropped out completely. Communing with nature takes on a new meaning when some of the creatures are the giant and docile whale sharks that slumber close to shore. Walk on miles of pristine beaches. Return to your condo or villa and be entranced by the lights of La Paz. Take the electric shuttle boat and you are in the heart of town in seven minutes. PDM has an 18-hole Championship Arthur Hills golf course, a small restaurant at the “19 th Hole”, and soon there will be a beach club, small marina, and another restaurant. Owners and their guests can use the kayaks to get up close and personal to dolphins and whales.. Whether your heart’s desire is a luxury beachfront condo or a small house with a guest cottage, the choices are varied and the prices range from US$399,000 to $1,200,000. Right now a golf club membership is included in the purchase price. Costa Baja is more “hip and happening”, has two marinas, an 18-hole Signature Gary Player golf course and fine restaurants, a private and elegant beach club as well as dive shops and a boutique hotel. You might see the rich and famous strolling by in flip-flops and shorts. The newest sections of the development are Las Colinas, hillside homes grouped in small clusters around holes 8-11. Vista Mar has ocean front homes with spectacular views and luxury details.

Lomas de Costa Baja has hillside building sites with sweeping views of the sea and city. Costa Baja offers a resort concierge and a rental program. Optional services include maid service, shopping, and grocery delivery. Prices start at $450,000.

building your dream home

Vancouver residents, Dean and Doris, bought property in Todos Santos a few years back and began the process of building their dream home. With a long history of construction experience, Dean moved to the Baja for two years to general contract the building of their home. Needless-to-say it was a learning experience and one he willingly and hilariously shares with Mexi-Go! in a three part series;

Building in the Baja Text and Photos by: Dean McQuillen

“Hello, I am liar!” This stranger to me was just outside the gate of the house I had just rented. The very house I was in the process of converting into a carpentry shop for the fabrication of components for the construction of my house in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. “Yes, I am liar.”

his name was Victor. I opened the gate and invited them into the yard. Victor speaks English well, and I had a strong will to learn Spanish as well as he’d learned English. “Hola, Victor, ¿que pasa?” I offered in my then very limited Spanish. “Dean, I thought you might need a liar, so I brought my friend, Ulices, by to meet you”.

Smiling broadly, he had offered his hand through the bars of the gate for me to shake. Remarkably honest of him, I thought, considering his apparent vocation, I threw my wife, Doris, a wry look – she looked like she just swallowed a canary.

“No, no … I can’t think of what I would need one for, Victor … maybe a carpenter…” I began when Ulices proudly stated, “I am carpenter!”, and stood there smiling like I was looking at the solution to my carpenter needs. I wondered if he was exhibiting his lying skills.

“Thanks, amigo, thanks for your frankness – I’ll watch out for you,” I offered playfully and pumped his hand. This stranger was with another Mexican I only vaguely knew at the time,

“Victor, first this guy is a liar, now he’s a carpenter. A liar, Victor, is someone who doesn’t tell the truth. Is he lying about


wrong place – mine were incorrect; my property grew a little.

Left Page: Casa Rojo exterior; Master suite with french doors to garden views; living room with impressive beam work. This page top: Surf at Cerritos; enjoy cultural experiences; for your motherin-law - the Casita Rojo. being a carpenter?” I queried. Ulices’ English was not very good, and he just stood and smiled and knowingly nodded like all was well. Now Victor looked like he’d mistakenly swigged from yesterdays cervesa. “Dean, a liar, you know, for contracts for your employees”, said Victor. I looked at Doris and back at Victor, “Victor, Ulices is a lawyer, not a liar”. We all laughed for a while and replayed and explored further the implications of the exchange we just had with the meaning of the mispronounced word revealed. Mexicans do love to laugh, and I’ve never met one too proud to laugh at themselves. As it turned out, a lawyer was exactly what I needed. If you are intend on being the General Contractor on your project in Mexico, the following are strongly recommended, and or are required, if you are playing by the rules:

vacation rental THE STAR OF THE SHOW Villa close to both beach and town in Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico includes 1200’sq Casa and 700’sq Casita with kitchen, walk-in, and bathroom. Rent together or separate. Email: or call Dean McQuillen 604.209.5559

A Property Survey I highly recommend getting a up-to-date survey. Current surveys of property are done with state-of-the-art GPS monument locations and skilled operators. Old surveys can be very inaccurate; rare is the property with an old survey and correct monument locations in BCS As a result, petty, and very serious disputes of property lines are rife in Mexico. If you bought property with an old survey, your monuments are likely in the

A Building Permit In order to obtain a building permit, you will have to have plans for your project to submit. These plans, in my experience, can be in both English and Spanish (Spanish is required) and the plans have to be in metric. Mexico is a meters and liters kind of country. If you want to gung-ho the construction of your dream-house with no Building Permit, ¡Buena Suerte! (Good Luck!). Contracts For Your Employees And SubContractors This is one area where a lawyer or notary public will be of use. A lawyer or notary public will also be helpful and sometimes necessary should there be an accident on your work site, or in the case of a dispute with an employee. No matter your involvement in the building process, a lawyer or notary public is necessary. Unlike Canada, a notary public can actually be more expensive in Mexico, a lawyer is a good choice for legal obligations when building in Mexico. If you hire a General Contractor (GC), he or she will have to have contracts with all the employees, and the GC will also have to pay their version of workers insurance Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 27

//todos santos, baja california sur

Mexicans celebrate pretty near everything, and that, presumably, is a contributing factor for why you are considering building in Mexico in the first place.

ABOVE: The job site; RIGHT: Todos Santos offers a jungle oasis in a desert landscape. (IMSS – Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or the Mexican Social Security Institute). Another expense is Mexican Seguro through the Mexican institute known as Infonavit (Health Care premiums which extend to and include the employees families). Possibly the GC has a lawyer taking care of all of this, but you must make sure you have proof of it all in order (I would suggest copies of the receipts, and you should be seeing these receipts every month for Seguro, and every two months for IMSS).

and ignoring any or all of them can result in a sea of expensive and serious legal hassles, or worse. There are also a phenomenal quantity of holidays in Mexico, many of them are paid days off for your employees. The Mexicans even have a Dia Del Taco (Day Of The Taco) – this is not a paid holiday, but it just illustrates how Mexicans celebrate pretty near everything, and that, presumably, is a contributing factor for why you are considering building in Mexico in the first place.

If you just go in and ‘cowboy’ these aspects of the building process, you will very likely experience legal problems. If you don’t want any problems, you have to ensure that your GC is following the rules. If you are the GC, you will need to consider and provide these for your employees. The larger the crew you have, the more this is going to cost, but it is not a prohibitive cost with respect to a reasonable budget for construction costs (and it is still considerably cheaper than building in Canada).

But before you build, you’ll have to acquire some land. Stay tuned for PART TWO in the next issue of Mexi-go!

Properties For Sale | Vacation rentals

Your retirement savings will go further in Mexico.

Mexico has definitive laws governing the employee/ employer relationship designed to protect the employee, as a result, there must be just cause for the firing of an employee, or they could take legal action. Once your project is done, you will also have to pay severance pay to your employees. These are all facts of building in Mexico,

me x i -gop rope rti e s. com 28

//places to stay

Stay and play

By: Sabrina Wang & Madeline Milne

Todos Santos, Pescadero and Cerritos offer a Pacific Paradise Just a mere hour away from the glittering hotspot that is Cabo San Lucas, sits a humble little town by the name of Todos Santos. The fertile soil here, combined with an ideal climate, gave the town the shining crown of being the Baja sugarcane capital during the 19th century; although the once prosperous sugarcane mills have since become a ghostly reminder of the town’s glorious past, their presence still provides an interesting attraction for the visitors. Todos Santos now profits from its farmlands with vegetable & chili farming, avocado, mango, and papaya orchards.

TOP: Rent your board at the beach TOp Right: Relax on your beach bed at Rancho Pescadero; Bottom Right: Whimsical lights greet you at Rancho Pescadero; Above: Hacienda Cerritos majestically overlooks Playa Los Cerritos.

One can tell upon arrival that art is something to be cherished here. Among the numerous art galleries in town, the most famous has to be the Charles Stewart Gallery & Studio. The brilliant artist still lives and works out of his home studio in the only French-style building in town, and Todos Santos is undoubtedly his favourite muse. Todos Santos offers a unique and rich blend of cultural events such as the January art festival, annual film festival, Historic House Tour and the Patron Saint Festivities. It’s no wonder then, that Todos Santos was honoured with the title of “Pueblo Mágico”, or “Magical Village”, the only town in all of Baja with this proud distinction.

There are many beautiful beaches within a 10 minute drive of Todos Santos. Located just outside the small town of El Pescadero about 10 minutes south of Todos Santos you will find Los Cerritos Beach, famous for its surf. Developments are popping up along the beach now but it is still a tranquil paradise, safe for everyone to swim and surf in. Be sure to grab a bite and listen to the live music at the Cerritos Beach Club. Back in El Pescadero you will notice the lush green fields of basil, tomatoes and chiles grown in the fertile soils that are naturally spring-fed from the mountains that frame this valley. The town is known for its fresh fish caught daily and served in the best restaurants in the area.

Hacienda Cerritos: Exclusive luxury boutique hotel located on a private bluff, just steps away from the world famous Cerritos Beach. With 12 exquisite suites and bungalows offering private pools, terraces, gorgeous historic furniture and artwork in over 30,000 sf of old Mexican grandeur Live like a rock star and arrive via the rooftop helicopter pad. RANCHO PESCADERO: Oceanfront dude ranch with a whimsical flavour. Where the only wrangling you’ll do is getting your surf board into the ocean. Exquisite zen style rooms, some with roof top beds to truly sleep beneath the stars. Daily yoga, out door pool, organic gardens, turtle hatchery, cruiser bikes sumptuous restaurant and bar and more make this a laid back Baja retreat. HOTEL CALIFORNIA: Yes - that Hotel California! Recently renovated, the new Hotel California offers an eclectic but luxurious stay in a little bit of rock and roll history. Individually decorated rooms, fantastic gourmet restaurant and bar with killer margaritas and a private pool fit for a star. Right in town, close to everything, Hotel California is where everyone meets! Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 29

Driving the Baja PART 1 Baja California, the last frontier and true Fun Zone in North America By Terry Curtis I admit I never thought I would hold enough knowledge, first hand experiences or desire to write about this extraordinary place on Earth I have called home for more than 22 years. I thought those logs were written by stuffy old fishermen who finally sat still long enough to bang out some history that made them the true Baja legends that they are. I look up to these people. Now it is my turn, my first try at sharing some of my thoughts and history of my inseparable love for Baja and the people who have made it what it has become, my home. There is a fever that plagues most all of us Ex-Pats who call this Peninsula home. It is a fever that will make you go home, sell everything you own, and move your home and your company south of the border. There have been millions of visitors to Baja over the last several decades. Most of the people who fly in or visit on a cruise ship only see the tip of the iceberg – spending time at only the well-known restaurants or tourist-trap markets. To me, the best way to understand what this little slice of heaven is about is to see it from the ground. The real Baja experience is to drive the nearly 1,700 kilometers from Tijuana 30

Owner and Managing broker of Century 21 Paradise Properties in Cabo San Lucas, Terry Curtis shares his wisdom and tales of driving the Baja.

Driving the Baja is about taking your time and smelling the cacti! Bring the kids, the dog, motorbikes, surfboards, snorkel equipment, a trailer boat and tents if you want to get to know this prehistoric geography. You will see everything from volcanoes, towering cacti, whales, ram, salt flats and a lifetime supply of outstanding sunsets unlike anywhere else on the planet! Be sure to bring a camera because you are going to make some memories that will last a lifetime.

to Cabo San Lucas and witness the sunsets, the views, the ocean, the desert and the endless beauty of the Baja peninsula first hand. The journey starts in the North - at the San Diego-Tijuana border. Driving through this unforgiving terrain can be endlessly rewarding, but it can also present you with some challenges. If you follow some simple rules your chances of any problems will disappear. Be sure to get your Mexican Auto Insurance, fuel up and eat in San Diego before you cross into Tijuana, and plan to drive straight to Ensenada – about an hour - before making any stops. Keep your gas tank full as much as you can, since gas stations along this route can, and do, run out of fuel. You don’t want to have an empty tank and pull up to a station that has run out of gas. Make sure that fill your fuel tank every time you see a station. I have been using this method since the late 80’s out of habit, and have never once had a problem. I have personally driven from San Diego to Cabo, or vice versa, over 100 times in everything from a Rolls Royce to a big fat F-350, and the trick is to be prepared for the unexpected. Bring spare belts, hoses, water, a towrope and a shovel. If you have satellite radio it is a bonus because you don’t own enough cd’s for this trip! If you drive straight to Cabo you are looking at about 20 hours. Don’t do this, please. If you are in that big of a hurry, I suggest taking a commercial jet.

Along the way you’ll encounter little Military Checkpoints where teenagers are armed with rifles. These are inspection checkpoints run by the Mexican Military. There are several of these along the way, with the first one just past Ensenada on your way into the Valley. The last time I had the pleasure of driving the Baja was about a year ago with my 4 kids - ages 5-16 - and towing a boat. In a rather large Ford truck we came across the checkpoints that are small and primitive Military Camps. A few adults supervise the teenagers during their inspection of your vehicle they are generally looking for guns and drugs. The general rule of thumb is that if you are perceived to be in a hurry, they will take longer. They can also be very curious; you may be shocked at some of the questions they will ask about your stuff. So bring down that TV, computer, and extra tires because they could care less, but whatever you do, do not bring any guns or drugs into Mexico. The Military has zero sense of humor and you cannot buy your way out of this type of problem. The road from Ensenada south to the Valley is spectacular. A winding curvy mountainous two-lane highway weaves its way through vineyards and olive groves. This is the part of Baja where the Baja 500 takes place each year at the beginning of June. It is a brutal off-road race that zigzags from West coast Ensenada to East coast San Felipe, winding over the mountain range and along the Pacific Ocean. It is a treacherous sprint where man and machine/car/buggy/truck/motorcycle race against time and each other – with the fastest finishers usually coming in Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 31

These lunatics risk life, limb, a lot of money and personal relationships for nothing more than bragging rights.

around 10 hours. Most racers split driving duty in a vehicle, or relay between 3-4 riders on a motorcycle. Some talented motorcycle racers (who have a whole lot to prove) have even been known to race it solo. These lunatics risk life, limb, a lot of money and personal relationships for nothing more than bragging rights. The cost of being competitive in this race, even if you win prize money, makes it a money-losing venture. They do it for the adventure and the love of the sport. Moving further south down the Baja, San Quintin has one of the most interesting mini-climates you will ever find this close to the Equator. It is situated in a pocket that traps cool air, making the temperature nearly 20 degrees cooler than surrounding areas on some days - quite peculiar when you are driving south! In the surrounding areas, a huge agricultural economy exists, with the biggest export being tomatoes – and I mean a LOT of tomatoes! This area is also famous for inshore fishing and Blue Claw Crabs by the pot full. There is also a big beach where you can find as many Sand Dollars as you care to put in a bucket. If you’re planning on taking your time driving south to Cabo, San Quintin might make for a good pit stop with a couple of very clean small hotels that are about $35 dollars a night. The next stretch of road to Catavina is the longest and most deserted stretch of highway on the trip. The good news is that you will come across some of the most breathtaking views and photo ops of the entire drive, so keep that camera battery charged and take your time. One of the things I’ve discovered in my many drives through the Baja 32

This Page Top: Stop in San Quintin for Blue Claw Crabs by the bucket. LEFT: Coastal views of the Baja. Right: Baja 500 Left Page from Top to bottom: Pemex remember to fill up as often as you can! Vineyards outside Ensenada. Keeping you safe on your journey. Cacti blooms. Humpback whales calf between November and March. is that you will never see it the same twice. The time of day, the time of year and whether you are going north or are hardly ever duplicated. It is always a new perspective, never to be repeated. The sunsets, the giant 100+ year-old cacti, the indigenous Blue Palms and the mountains all make for a spectacular landscape. Catavina is not a place you want to spend the night, unless you absolutely have to. There is a hotel there but due to hardly any demand, they have high

prices. A common business practice in Baja, when business is low, is to raise prices – after 22 years I still haven’t figured this one out. On occasion they have fuel, but don’t count on it. You did fill-er’-up in San Quintin right? The next stretch of highway would be classified as the second most deserted part of the road – en route to Guerrero Negro and the halfway point of the drive. This stretch is flat and straight and is going to beg you to put the pedal to the metal, but remember that there

One of the most interesting things about traveling the Baja is you will never see it the same twice. The time of day, whether you are going north or south and the time of year of traveling are hardly ever duplicated.

1%'#08+'9*1/'5%10&15 $100’s

is Federal Highway Patrol and they do have radar, so be aware. You will also want to temper your need for speed because of the remoteness of this stretch - speed kills on this road, quickly. If you run off the road you will be very far away from help. This brings me to another quick tip - try to avoid driving at night. The cows do not have reflective jackets and most of them are black! Before you get into Guerrero Negro you will go through a checkpoint that is technically dividing line between the Baja North Baja| nSouth. Cabo San Lucasthe | Downtown $59,950 Corridor | El TuleState of$115,000 Caboand San Lucas $94,500At this checkpoint you will always beLot asked forthe 10fabulous pesosviews andManaùa your car will be sprayed Coromuel # 402 GREAT STARTER! 1BD, El Tule #9 Enjoy Condos Recently gutted floor top of pool and landscaped from this huge lot sprayer. located within the to ceilingyou 1 BD,will 1.5 BA withby new on floor, the view undercarriage by an automatic bug Sometimes becondo asked grounds. Parking. Roof available for well maintained community of El Tule. Travertine floors, new cabinets, new apMexican Officials see your tourist (visa) and the Military private deck Immigration space. Gated community. Citytoutilities in place. Size:card 797m2. pliances, granite counters,and tiled the bathClose to everything! GREAT INVESTMENT! MLS#10-889 to move MLS #10-1737 Aduana may beMLS#10-867 hanging around. If this checkpoint makesrooms. youReady uneasy (it in! shouldn’t), follow the road to the right towards the small airport - it exits on the south side of the town and bypasses the checkpoint.


Guerrero Negro is usually my nightly stop as it is about half way between Tijuana and Cabo. There is also a very good seafood restaurant - called Mallarimo - and a small hotel that is reasonable and clean. Mallarimo is famous for farming their own fresh water Oysters and serving them right to your table with lime, crackers and Tabasco. ItCorridor makes myColorado mouth water as ICorridor write |this! particular spot onSan the peninsula is very Cabo Lucas | El Tezal $237,000 | Cerro $219,000 Puerta This de Hierro $249,000 famousPenthouse for much more PRICE! than Oysters Thisin islovely where of Japan CaboMitsubishi Vista #16 Bright & welcoming Marquez REDUCED Casa Cecihowever. Elegant home Stunning newoperates contemporary pent- gated community. owns and the world’s largest salt Hurricane mine. shutters, home with views of Lands End. Lush landhouse with sweeping views to Sea of granite countertops & more. Amazing scaping with privacy, security walls. Room Cortez. The best priced ocean view ocean views from nearly all rooms. for pool or Jacuzzi.Option to add 2nd story rooftop terrace. MLS penthouse Losthis Cabos! MLS#10-496salty Steps water from pool. Becauseinof abundantly inMLS#10-498 and around the master mine,orour friends the#10-1061 Gray


Whales come south to Scammon’s Lagoon every year to give birth. This amazing act of nature can be viewed from shore, and there are dozens of tour operators that will be happy to take you out in a Panga to get a closer view. Now that we’re halfway to Cabo, I’m going to take a break and have a very cold Pacifico with a lime. I’ll be thinking about you and how nice the weather is here! Until next time, where I will cover Baja South, I can be reached at tuned‌‌.. Cabo Lucas | Misiones $389,000 Area |San Cabo Sub-area Lucas | Privanzas $339,500 Stay Area |San Cabo Sub-area Lucas | $399,000 Area |San Sub-area Casa Adriana Stunning arch views. Casa Scott NO HOA DUES...3 BD, 3.5 BA + Misiones Penthouse Stunning ocean Many upgrades. Large corner lot office, maids room, garage, roof deck with views onto virtually private beach. Best fenced for privacy. Gated community. Arch & city views, marble floors, granite priced penthouse in Misiones. Unique Imperssive Clubhouse, Pool, Gym, Ten- countertops, gated, tropical landscaping, finishing details. Split level floor plan offers nis Court. 24/7 security. MLS #10-1172 palapa covered patio & pool.MLS#10-1728 privacy for 2 couples. SELLER WANTS TO SEE ALL OFFERS!! MLS #10-495




Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed

A Name You Know And Tr u s t Each office is independently owned and operated

Buy Your piece of Paradise! Prices and inventory are the best right now! Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 33

// Los Cabos, Baja california SUR

Los Cabos

By: Terry Curtis

Sun, Sand, Surf and ridiculously low property taxes Located at the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos offers luxury hotels, golf courses, fine dining, shopping, diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, surfing, sunny beaches and a rocking night life! Los Cabos’ famous landmark, “The Arch,” is also known as the “Window to the Pacific”. Visitors can also enjoy Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) allowing a spectacular view of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. There was actually a time when some North Americans thought they could not own property in Mexico. Well, by now we all know different. The Fideicomiso - a Mexican bank trust - changed that so both you and I can enjoy the benefits of a lower cost of living and the many other benefits of this incredible resort we call Los Cabos. I don’t think I need to remind you about the weather, but today, January 20, 2011, our high was 82 degrees. I wore Bermuda shorts to work today, as did our agents here at Century 21 Los Cabos Headquarters. A light sweater was needed after dark as the fog rolled in from the south, but I can live with that. Life’s a beach, I guess. Cabo also has some incredibly low property taxes. I could tell you how low, but you would think I was kidding. You’re also aware of how far that hard earned Canadian dollar goes here. 34

Below you will find four different developments; each uniquely designed to stimulate the individual senses within us. They represent the crème de la crème in the Cabo corridor, and just to the North along our Pacific Coast.

Las Ventanas Ventanas Residences is located in the most exclusive area of Cabo, the Tourist Corridor, Cabo´s prime real estate location. It is located only a couple of kilometers from major shopping centers and a few minutes from the marina, swimmable beaches, world class golf courses and other great outdoor activities. Ventanas Residences offers breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, the Arch, the Pacific Ocean, city lights, and the desert. You will enjoy an array of 5 star amenities giving you a “Resort Living” feel. The Ventanas Residences are luxurious ocean-view private residences operated alternately as a boutique hotel. Tasteful in every detail and appointed with modern amenities, the Residences are sensuously elegant and comfortably spacious. Featuring handcrafted Mexican accents, each Villa faces towards the sea, offering expansive views of the Sea of Cortez from a private patio, balcony or terrace. These unique Residences have a subtle and traditional design, like Old-Colonial Mexico, providing a memorable experience with an unparalleled combination of

// hot properties


The gates that greet you at the luxurious Club Polo Cabo. style and comfort. For families or couples traveling together, our Residences are perfect for holiday accommodations. After you’ve tried a Ventanas Residence, going back to hotels isn’t an option. Each Ventanas Residence is part of the Ventanas Development, an exclusive Development that has raised the standard of Residential living in Los Cabos. Club Polo Club Polo Cabo is in its first stage of construction in Baja California’s stylish Los Cabos peninsula, a direct 4 hour flight from Vancouver and Calgary. This luxurious Polo country club will offer polo players and enthusiasts a complete experience from the sport to the lifestyle.

Quivira began as a vision unlike any other, against a backdrop just as unique. The developer, known for his role in turning Los Cabos into a world-class resort destination, founded Quivira on the premise of privacy, comfort and first-class amenities. He envisioned Quivira as a place where family and friends could reconnect and enjoy the beautiful surroundings in luxurious style. On its way to becoming Mexico´s premier luxury residential community, Quivira will feature the best of luxury living at every level - services, amenities, private estate homes, state-ofthe-art facilities, architecture and landscape design. Owners will enjoy the white sand beaches that stretch out three miles along the shoreline, while towering cliffs, private coves, a magnificent display of sand dunes and rolling desert bluffs offer captivating views. This secluded, gated retreat is just one mile away from the heart of Cabo San Lucas with its worldclass marina, fishing, dining and shopping. In combination with such distinguished names as Jack Nicklaus and Pueblo Bonito, Quivira will feature the best of the best in hospitality, golf and wellness, with such appealing amenities as a private beach club, village center, sports parks, natural preserves and over 20 miles of walking and biking trails, to name a few. The two Golf courses were designed to offer the most exciting play in the area, and will feature more oceanfront holes than any other development in Cabo.

Club Polo Cabo will feature world class horse care facilities. From grooming, nutrition, to excellent veterinarian care professionals available 24 hours a day, Club Polo Cabo will ensure all your horses’ needs are met to the highest standards. The human guests of Club Polo Cabo will enjoy an equally luxurious stay with amenities including a full service spa, five star accommodations, romantic restaurants, exciting night life and fashionable boutiques. Your experience in Club Polo Cabo will be unforgettable. Club Polo is offering over 100 home site lots as well as 60 villas for luxury living.

Clubhouse, Club Polo Cabo. Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 35

// Los Cabos, Baja california SUR

Diamante Dunes Course Hole #16, a beautiful par 3 set along the Pacific Ocean.

Diamante For the golf lover, Diamante Cabo San Lucas is nestled on approximately 1,500 acres of pristine land with 1.5 miles of stunning Pacific coastline, located just south of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side. A visually stunning course with a significant degree of difficulty, the private Diamante course is masterfully planned by 20 time PGA Tour winner, Davis Love III. Phase I of Diamante’s master planned resort community involves plans to create an exclusive environment with diverse amenities including a world class resort golf course, residential villas, a private residence club and home sites. Diamante is a unique offering that focus on building the ideal golf escape and ocean sanctuary. Diamante’s enclave of golf villas enjoys privacy while maximizing ocean views and golf course vistas. Built in the style of the traditional Mexican hacienda, each villa is designed around an open courtyard, offering endless potential for entertaining guests and for enjoying personal space. Sunset Hill Estates are carefully designed homes sites that take full advantage of the dramatic setting of the desert terrain, the dunes and the brilliance of the Pacific Ocean. It really does sparkle like diamonds! The Diamond Club offers fractional ownership of the Diamante Corporate Villas. This is an excellent way to offer friends, family and business associates the opportunity to experience the Diamante lifestyle without the maintenance or costs associated with full ownership. Here, you’ll be free to enjoy the camaraderie of golf and clubhouse, unwind over an evening barbecue with friends, and take in the Pacific breeze on the private beach. Joining the community at Diamante means enjoying a lifetime of experiences as undisturbed as the pristine surroundings. 36


Mexico: a diverse country with something for everyone real estate | Lifestyle

Lori Harrison

Craig Harrison

HOUSES & VILLAS: From $200,000 to $1,000,000 MLS # 10-2464





OCEANFRONT PACIFIC DREAM HOUSE: Over 1-mile of secluded-undeveloped pristine beach - whales galore & sunsets to die for. 2/3rds of an acre, Palapa on beach !! 3BR. One of few villas left at this price, views from roof-deck to Lands’ End, Cabo night-lights

MLS # 10-2116




F16 - THE largest lot in R.P., the most breathtaking views of sunset, Lands’ End & City Lights. Add a more than 1/2 completed Tapia-Designed Villa, the “best value” in Los Cabos. This lot & 1/2 finished villa with plans, is priced less than lots 1/3rd & 1/2 the size, with no construction !! A “steal” !!

Villas del Tezal

Mar Y Cielo - El Tezal Stunningly-built for “outsideliving”. Views to Lands’ End from main floor & roof-deck

Unpretentious 2BR-2BA one-level home in cul de sac of “quiet community”, 2 minutes to Cabo

MLS # 10-2628



Casa Nopal - Magisterial - San Jose Ocean view from this free-standing 2BR home. “Boveda-Brick” roof. Open spacious yard

Top quality finishings in this 3BR home, 2 minutes to Cabo & Beach

MLS # 10-949

MLS # 10-949



BEACH CONDOS: From under $200,000 to $600,000  


R E V E N U E G E N E RATI N G P R O P E RTI E S E M E Misiones #4202 $194,000 Misiones #4105 $299,000 N Terrasol #259 $425,000 Terrasol #202 $565,000 Remodeled open-plan 1BR, in Large 2BR has bright airy feel. Renovated 2BR, full kitchen-bar. Modern, elegant & remodeled, this IKEA European-style, light wood Private deck welcomes morning & bedroom open to wrap- upper level 2BR condo, 2 kings, has T Lounge floors !! Kitchen opens to dining sun & overlooks garden & pool. around deck, views over beach to Medano Bay & Marina views by day, nook, living room & lounge-deck with Jacuzzi MLS #: 10-2130

PHONE U.S.#: Craig: Lori: Office:

310-593-4546 624-14-77596 [cell.] 624-35-54030 [cell.] 14-31101

Condo has proven short-term rental potential MLS #: 10-958

Pacific, whales. “Lock-off” to studio/1BR, for rental MLS #: 10-2148

“Wanna create something you’ve never had ??

sunset colors & Cabo City lights, by night MLS #: 10-2170


Do something you’ve never done !!” theCABOharrisons - Century 21 Paradise Properties Marina Blvd - Cabo San Lucas - BCS - Mexico - 23410

Craig: Lori: Web: Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 37



Los Barriles, Buena Vista, and Cabo Pulmo are just some of the fascinating locations on the stretch of coast known as East Cape on the Baja Peninsula. This area, popular among seasoned tourists who adore the unbeatable sceneries and the endless array of both land and water activities, also garners attention from new explorers who can’t deny the allure of East Cape’s cozy sunshine and zealous beach culture. It’s no secret that here—where the vast Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez intertwines seamlessly—boasts the world’s most bio-diverse waters; the most prized sea creature of them all has to be the fierce marlin. The lure of the marlin is so great that sportfishing enthusiasts gather here from all over the world to get a glimpse of the humongous blue marlin and the vigorous black marlin. Water activities such as kayaking, jet skiing, scuba diving, and snorkeling are loads of fun, but excitement doesn’t have to stop as soon as you get out of the water; the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range is another stunning wonderland where indigenous rock paintings, exotic wildlife 38

and cascading waterfalls take center stage. When the sun tiptoes below the horizon, fill your downtime with a stroll along the moonlit beaches after a meal of succulent seafood paired with wine and a sweet desert with a touch of

TOP: Overlooking the town of Los Barilles and North to Las Ventanas Above: The town of Los Barrilles. romance. So where does the East Cape experience begin? It starts in a peaceful town where locals still keep their roots in the “Old Baja Living”: Los Barriles. Los Barriles is one of those places on earth where the simple meets the sublime. One can rise at dawn, brew

By Sabrina Wang

a cup a coffee, find a comfortable spot on one’s patio, and watch on as gigantic whales break the surface of the orange and blue tinted waters at sunrise. Just imagine, incredible sights like this occur almost every single day here. Los Barriles—because of its ideal water and wind conditions—is also the ultimate destination for avid windsurfers and kiters. Keen on staying dry? Beyond the usual smorgasbord of water activities, this town offers campgrounds, little ranches, hidden beaches, and mountain paths for visitors to unearth. The key to enjoying the full bounty of Los Barriles’s treasures is to slow down and taste the snacks at a road-side taco stand to the fresh lobsters at a fine gourmet restaurant, and everything else in between. Then there’s Buena Vista, Los Barriles’s next-door neighbour who proudly dons the traits of East Cape: white-sand beaches, refreshing air and fabulous weather. The Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort and Hotel Rancho Buena Vista are the most well-known beachside hotels in the area that provide top-notch services in the most picture-perfect settings. Continued on page 64

// EAST CAPE, Baja california SUR

Where the world is your aquarium! Cabo Riviera offers exceptional access to world class fishing, pristine beaches and exquisite luxuries Cabo Riviera will be a 900 acre development along two miles of white sand swimmable beach front on the Sparkling Sea of Cortez. The full service marina with approximately 300 slips (15 foot draft and capacity for boats up to 200+ feet), 330 Marina Harbor Island lots and 42 unique in the world Ocean Front Estate Lots, where you can dock your boat behind your house and with a pristine beach for your front yard. Enjoy an 18-hole signature championship golf course with 35 residential lots, two 5-star hotels (on the beach), a Pueblo Artistico (artist village), and condominiums, restaurants, shops and places to quench your thirst located at the marina. Cabo Riviera is a near-utopian vision of what life on southern Baja can be like when all the stars are properly aligned. The marina construction is well advanced, lots are being sold on a regular basis, and the East Cape feels the energy and excitement. The famous Bisbee Fishing Tournament has special plans for Cabo Riviera and the East Cape. It’s hard to overestimate the careful planning and tasteful execution of Cabo Riviera creating a community that will rival any in the world in terms of compatibility with Baja’s natural beauty, luxury and wonderful people. Squint your eyes a little and you’ll see a marina full of luxury sport fishing, motor and sailing yachts. Owners with homes on the Marina Harbor Islands conveniently dock at their own back yards. Look again and you’ll see the charming Pueblo Artistico on the marina, an Old world Mediterranean/Mexican-styled hub of activity with thriving cafes, markets, specialty boutiques and galleries displaying original works of art.

isla santa rosa, Marine Harbour Island lot Situated in a private island with only 40 home sites, this 8600 sq. ft. lot allows for a luxury home of 6,000 sq. ft. with a pool and your 60 ft. yacht docked in your backyard. Hop on your boat and enjoy world class fishing in 5 minutes. $491,000 Out to the south side of the marina is a pristine stretch of beach, the kind of seaside beauty of unspoiled waters perfect for long leisurely walks, jogs or hooking up with cruising Rooster Fish in the surf. This is the truly unique site of 42 Ocean Estate Lots that are among the most sought after in Baja California Sur and offer the privilege of owning a stunning piece of the East Cape. Golf enthusiasts will love the plush serenity of what promises to be one of the top signature courses in the world with holes playing both to the Sea of Cortez (our ocean) and uniquely to the marina basin.

For more information on Cabo Riviera, contact:

CASA DE PLAYA, Beach front lot Cabo Riviera Totally unique in all the America’s, this waterfront estate lot boasts 109’ of beach front on the safest most swimmable beach in all of Los Cabos. Park your boat at your private back door $2,455,000

Gary Eldridge, Developer Representative 604.484.1894 (BC Local) | JAmie MacDougall, Sotheby’s Int’l Realty Canada 604.992.2282 (Vancouver Local) |

Windsurfing By Sabrina Wang

LOS BARILLES and La Ventana are some of the world’s most popular destinations for avid windsurfers and kite boarders.

Windsurfing is an exhilarating blend of surfing and sailing; it extracts the laid-back feel of surfing and injects this ultra cool vibe into the challenging environment of sailing. Windsurfers harness the agility and power of what’s considered a “strippeddown” version of a sailboat, tackle the waves, and perform exciting maneuvers such as spins, jumps, and inverted loops. Beginners to this sport must first train their body to have a good balance and core stability. With some background knowledge of sailing theory and some basic skills such as sailing, steering, and turning, a beginner can progress from board sailing to windsurfing in no time. Don’t expect to master advanced techniques such as planing (when the board skims over the surface of the water at a much higher speed) or jumping in just a lesson or two; these moves require more than just practice—they demand a good grasp of the ever-changing conditions of one’s surroundings, and plenty of patience. Whether you choose the stability of a Beginner board or the maneuverability of a Wave board, you can fully experience the gripping ups and downs of this extreme sport.

Avid windsurfers will tell you that Los Barriles is the best spot to sharpen your skills. The strong, constant breeze, combined with the warm waters of the surrounding coast, make Los Barriles the perfect playground for seasoned windsurfers who love a good challenge. For beginners, the town of Saladita on the Mexican Riviera is the top choice. The waters here produce some of Mexico’s best waves for beginners, and the cost is a great bargain compared to other places in Mexico.


We met Bill in July 2010 at an outside patio in the town of Los Barilles. A former private jet pilot, he is a dashingly charming man who looks 20 years younger than his 70+ years. With sparkling blue eyes Bill is clearly loving the life he has created for himself. Early each morning he hikes into the mountains around the town with his good friends and his afternoons are spent windsurfing, playing beach volleyball and managing his business affairs. This is the wisdom he shared with us that day.

// EAST CAPE, Baja california SUR

MEET BAJA BILL Editors Madeline Milne & Rebecca Permack

Why did you consider Mexico? The first time I came to the Baja was over 20 years ago when my sons and I wanted to go somewhere we’d never been for Christmas. The big attraction was windsurfing. We spent 3 weeks here, flew back home and I got the bug. The next year I came back for 6 weeks. Each year I kept extending my trips south for longer and longer. I went back and forth for 20 years, though I started living in Mexico full time 15 years ago. Mother Nature has it figured out – follow the birds. Reverse the immigration!! In early 2000s I applied for naturalization. Becoming a Mexican citizen allows you to own land fee simple with no annual renewal fees. Where did you do your research? Why did you decide on Los Barilles? I looked at a few aviation charts, found an airport and landed.

What issues most concerned you about Mexico? I have no issues with Mexico. I hear people manufacture them, but I haven’t any [issues]. I drive north to Vancouver every year – no issues. When the H1N1 outbreak happened, the country shut down the schools and sent everyone home. Baja didn’t have a single case of H1N1, but I heard that San Diego had 14 cases. The situation in Juarez has made people believe that we’re getting shot at in Baja, which is absolutely not true. Baja is one of the safest places to be in all of Mexico. What challenges have you faced since moving? I got into what I call the “Baja Exercise Program” - every time I think I should have a house, I just lie down until the thought goes away. I motorhome going North and South. There’s a big community of about a few hundred expats that have places here - all windsurfers. I windsurf, play beach volleyball and live a good simple life. No challenges. People have closer and better and nicer friends here than they did back home in Canada/USA. If you’re into kiting and windsurfing, Los Barilles is the double black diamond run as opposed to the green runs of La Ventana, so I guess strong winds could be considered a challenge! What would you have changed in your process? I watch people come down here and they try to run things like they do north of the border and I see their level of frustration build up. And they’re the only ones who are frustrated. You learn to go along with things - they don’t always work out perfectly, but

they do work out – it’s amazing, but it does. You should be involved in everything you do. Know what you want and be your own administrator or have someone that can do it for you. Language differences and cultural differences can make things strange; like putting a door where you would never expect one. Do you live in Mexico YearRound? I have the best of both worlds now because I go north [to Canada] for the summer to visit my kids and my grandkids. It gets hot here in the summer! In September you can get hurricanes, so you have to learn how to build for those and do drainage properly so you don’t flood your house. The summer brings in the warm waters – right now it’s 86 and in the winter it goes to 75. Do you experience crime? Corruption? Fraud? I had a truck stolen once. Insurance paid it off, so that was ok. A friend of mine had a boat out in the water that lost his motor; we’ve lost fishing line. Nothing that wouldn’t happen in Canada. I don’t know if thievery is worse here or not, but it’s always worse when the economy is down.

Continued on Page 64

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 41


A colonial gem.


// Ajijic, jalisco

SIX DYNAMIC COUPLES CHOOSE AJIJIC IN CENTRAL MEXICO Much of the promotion of Mexico focuses on its many coastal tourist resorts, such as Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and Cancun. But Mexico has many other interesting areas not often promoted. Towns such as San Miguel d’Allende, Cuernavaca and Ajijic attract thousands of people who want to visit or live full-time or part-time in a warm climate in a historically and culturally-rich environment. They want to share in the life of the community, amidst likeminded and interesting people, and with a full social and cultural life. Incidentally they are able to enjoy a lower cost of living than available in Canada! We focus here on Ajijic, a town of more than 10,000 citizens, at 5000 feet above sea level in the central Mexican state of Jalisco. Ajijic is a 500-year-old village on the shores of Lake Chapala and rich in its own history and culture. It is a mere 30 minutes south of Guadalajara’s international airport, has a year-round temperate climate, and since the 1950s has attracted foreigners, mostly retirees, looking for a new lifestyle in the ‘real’ Mexico. Ajijic has something to offer everyone who wants to come. Homes are readily available to buy or rent: they may be modest to grand, in the village, in gated communities, in the countryside. Ajijic offers cultural activities of all shapes and sizes, Mexican and foreign - art exhibits, arts and crafts fairs, dance, music from mariachi to classical. Restaurants of enormous diversity and affordability abound (Argentinean, Japanese, Italian, French, Chinese and more). They have bilingual service and offer excellent catering. We even have Greg Coulliard, a famous Toronto chef running a restaurant here! Community events such as arts and crafts fairs, chili cook-off events, rodeos all attract everyone in the community. Contributing Editor: Trudie Nelson Trudie Nelson is an interior designer who retired early and moved with her husband to Ajijic 17 years ago. She spent some years in community work in the village, but missed the workplace, so started a second career in real estate sales, at which she excels. Trudie can be contacted via her web site www.ajijic, or at her company email at Photography by: Alison Pickering Alison is an accomplished photographer, and has published two books of her work showcasing the beautiful architecture and home décor of homes in Mexico, particularly the homes ‘behind the walls’. You can contact Alison at ali_pick@hotmail. com if you would like more information on where to purchase these works of art. Copy Editor: Tom Gladney Tom Gladney is a retired business executive who has lived in Ajijic for six years. He is a really a frustrated writer, who takes on editing assignments as a stress reliever.

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 43

Here are a few specific examples that elaborate on what we just Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco have stores in Guadalajara. said. The Canadian Club in Ajijic spearheaded fundraising for the Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara is an interior designer’s first university in our area; the school is now successfully graduating dream resource for pottery, glass, furniture and metalwork. students in engineering and computer science. The Northern Guadalajara has outstanding hospitals with bilingual doctors and Lights Music Festival, held annually for the dentists readily available with the latest past nine years in Ajijic, showcases young of technological support, and the waiting Ajijic is a colorful sanctuary, a Canadian professional musicians, and supports floral wonder, a place of tropical times for service are minimal. classical music education in Mexico. The longsplendor. Who could not love it?” Who are the expatriates who have by now established Lakeside Little Theatre produces live stage productions all year long. The local become a large and integral part of the Auditorium hosts concerts all year long, from folkloric dance, to community of Ajijic? And why did they decide to live in Ajijic? tango, to classical music and on and on. Rock groups come (and can Let’s meet some of them and find out! be heard everywhere)! The Lake Chapala Society provides amazing support infrastructure for expatriates living in Ajijic. Take Julie and Chisholm, she a former municipal politician and business person, he a founding partner of a large Canadian law If all this does not suffice, you can be as active and learn as much firm. They had been coming to Puerto Vallarta for 18 years, but as you wish in the area. You can study Spanish, do photography, found it too hot in the summer. They visited friends in Ajijic and play bridge, do gardening, practice yoga, hike, play golf and found out that it was comfortable year round. To quote Julie, they tennis. If you are unable to be active, you can just sit back and let wanted a place “with an international city near, from which children others look after you! Health care is readily available. and grand children could travel with ease, a warm climate (snow was no longer appealing), a rich culture where music, theatre and Another reason that Ajijic is so wonderful is that in 40 minutes you the arts are part of daily life (a southern Niagara-On-The-Lake if can be in the centre of Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. you like!)”… “Ajijic has a climate considered among the best in It’s beautiful fully restored historical centre attracts many visitors. the world. It is a fishing village which has been enriched by a large Guadaljarans are very ‘fashion-savvy’, so the city features ultraexpatriate community.” “At the heart to of this village are the modern shopping malls with all the finest world retail represented, special people who are spontaneously warm, hard working, fun from Zara to Prada and Cartier. For everyday merchandise loving and kind. They have discovered the art of Fiestas and they 44

Left page: Julie and Chisholm in their indoor-outdoor living room. This Page Left: Julie and Chisholm enjoy their pool year round! Right: Colourful fishing boats on the shores of Lake Chapala. know and appreciate the value of caring for one another and Our Lady of Guadalupe! Ajijic is a colorful sanctuary, a floral wonder, a place of tropical splendor. Who could not love it?” Consider Derek, retired investment executive, and his partner Merelyn. They came to Ajijic five years ago. Florida was not for

Enchanting Ajijic, Mexico

them; they wanted something more venturesome to challenge their minds and Ajijic offered a relaxed laid-back lifestyle compared to other places. They realized they had to learn to slow down from their frenetic Canadian pace, and how to live in a more rural atmosphere. Merelyn and Derek bought a home from famous Canadian architect John King and his wife, interior designer Norma King. The latter sold the home to design and build another more contemporary one. Norma helped transform Derek and Merelyn’s new home’s interior from her contemporary tastes to more of a Mexican theme in style and the vibrant colours common in Mexico. Everybody won! Perhaps it’s best to quote Merelyn: “When we retired we looked for a place in the sun, and although we loved our life in Toronto, the winters had become a trial. We explored Florida and then were drawn to inland Mexico and its colonial towns such as San Miguel de Allende. However we found our fantasy house in Ajijic (I had actually seen the house we bought in Architectural Digest in Toronto) and realized quickly that there was a depth of community here that we could explore. That plus the proximity to the city of Guadalajara with all it’s cultural richness, its superior medical facilities and an airport, barely 35 minutes drive from our front door was very persuasive.



Contact Trudie Nelson Your Canadian Realtor

The almost perfect climate suited our interests in golf and tennis and gardening is a joy.  We have been amazed at the variety of people that have retired here, and enjoy the various speaker series that take advantage of the experts that have also chosen this area. Spending time in Mexico has given us an opportunity to learn and appreciate a different culture, very different from our own. Learning Spanish has been rewarding in many aspects. Being able to communicate, albeit not perfectly, has helped immensely in our enjoyment and understanding. When we are here our focus Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 45

is on trying to understand this country, the history, economics and politics. A special pleasure is to travel within Mexico and on each visit we plan a trip to somewhere new and interesting. Mexico is a beautiful country. Yes it has its troubles at present, but despite that it is a gift to be here.”

Ajijic | Lake Chapala | Mexico

Fall in love with your life! Over a decade of experience helping Canadians move to Mexico! Ricardo Navarrete

Fluent in English and Spanish Cell: 011 521 331 436 1104 Office: 011 52 376 766 1917 46

Mike and Vivien came to Ajijic in 2008, just to visit a lifelong schoolmate friend, and like so many others, fell in love with the area. They find it Mexico an interesting country, always stimulating. There is never enough time to do everything they want to while here. Here is what Vivien said: “Upon retiring we did a great deal of travelling, throughout the world. But then we discovered Ajijic. We fell in love immediately with the weather, the Mexican village, the surrounding mountains and the friendliness of the expatriates and Mexicans living here. We purchased a home here and are very happy to be a part of this dynamic, friendly and beautiful place.  We feel completely safe.  Foreign press reports give a very wrong impression of Mexico.  We are delighted with the many activities and cultural events that take place here.  We have both became involved in the Northern Lights Music Festival which takes place here every February.  We also belong to the Lake Chapala Society, a communal gathering place for expatriates where classes are held to learn Spanish, yoga, line dancing and much more.  We belong to a bird watching group. We are just three hours from the Coast and its fine resorts, an added bonus. We meet with our friends and neighbors in the many international restaurants in the village and we do major shopping in Guadalajara, an hour away where there are high-end shopping malls, Costco, Walmart and Home Depot. Not much different from being back home, except the sun shines all the time!” THis PAGE Left: Merelyn and Derek and cat beside their pool. Right: Outdoor living space.RIGHT Page top: Mike and Vivien beside their new pool with views of Lake Chapala. BENEATH: Allison and Roger’s bountiful blossoms.

“Upon retiring we did a great deal of travelling, throughout the world. But then we discovered Ajijic. We fell in love immediately with the weather, the Mexican village, the surrounding mountains and the friendliness of the expatriates and Mexicans living here.” ~ Vivien

of many Canadians who find themselves living happily in Ajijic for part or all of the year. Ron’s career took us to Belgium and Germany with his firm. It was an outstanding adventure which truly enriched our lives. We experienced so much during our stay in Europe; we found returning to Canada full time something of an adjustment. Through friends, we discovered Ajijic and were delighted with the opportunity to learn and savor all kinds of new experiences. Ultimately, we built a fresh, bright home in Ajijic as a place to spend the winters.” Ron and Maureen fell in love in their first visit with the warmth of the Mexican people. They find Ajijic exotic and intriguing, and particularly enjoy the warm clear air and the sound of the birds singing in the morning. Ron and Maureen enjoy learning Spanish while at the same time being able to function in English. Maureen comments that Ajijic appeals to expatriates of all income levels; you can buy a home for $100,000 or go wild. Everything is possible. Ron comments on the affordable available health care, and that ‘here we grow more.’ Mike and Vivien also comment on the fact that single people need never be lonely in Ajijic, that everyone is always included, and that Mexicans are so welcoming with a happy atmosphere. It sounds over the top, but it is, they say! Mike and Vivien are very proud of their new Ajijic home, with a beautiful view of Lake Chapala. We photographed them in front of their new swimming pool under construction, because they are proud of that too!

Roger and Alison retired young! Roger’s career was in anesthesia, and Alison was an RN. Alison’s parents had retired to Ajijic in 1983, and through them Alison became passionate about the Mexican people, their rich history, language, culture and architecture. Dividing their time between Canada and Mexico, Alison has developed a second career as a photographer, and has published two books featuring the vibrant colours and clever architecture of Mexico.

Ron and Maureen came to Ajijic for other reasons! Ron latterly was President of a major manufacturer, and Maureen an executive in production of commercials. To quote them, “We are symbolic

Roger and Allison are interested in being immersed in the culture and language of Mexico. Annually they take a 3-week immersion Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 47


THIS PAGE: Ron and Maureen welcome you to their home. Right page left: Lorna and Tom enjoy their pool. Right: The cantilevered roof of Lorna and Tom’s home offers natural light and airflow in the hotter summer months.

course in Spanish, living with a Mexican family. They recognize that as you become more fluent, more doors open to you. They also travel extensively throughout Mexico. What do these folks appreciate the most about Mexico? In no particular order, the Mexican people are gracious, polite, friendly and gentle (they put family first), the lower cost of living, affordability, the cuisine, the creativity, ease of opportunity for learning, all the amenities one could want are available, no generation gap. Lorna and Tom are our last example. Their reasons for coming to Mexico reflect all of the above: first they came to Ajijic to visit and travel with old friends, which led to their decision to buy a home in Ajijic in 2004. They chose Ajijic for a winter home for all the reasons above, the climate, the vibrant Mexican culture and history, the chance to meet so many interesting and lively people from other parts of the world. They work on a music festival in the village, garden, walk, exercise and play bridge. Lorna thinks the following may be ‘too romantic’ but here is what she says. “Mexico is a country of contrasts, high mountains, beautiful plateaus and salt flats, 15th century cathedrals and ultra-modern bridges, an old man plowing his field with a horse and powerful combines harvesting. Mexico is not homogenized. Where else can you buy handicrafts made in Mexico by its indigenous people and not in China? Where else can you hear horses clipclopping down your street and at the same time someone driving an ATV? Where else do you see the local church filled every Sunday and on every Saint’s day? Where else can you retire to a lovely old village with cobblestone streets filled with school children in their uniforms on their way to school? Where else can you go in mid-January and see 500 freshwater pelicans from Canada eating fish innards provided by the local fishermen? Where else can you wake up every morning to church bells ringing and roosters crowing, watch the sun rising in an orange ball over the lake outlining the palm trees and mountains, and hear the raucous cry of the kiskadee? Only in Mexico. I rest my case.” One aspect perhaps not sufficiently touched on in the above recitations is the sensitivity of the expatriate community in Ajijic. All of them understand and appreciate being taken in as part of the Mexican community we chose to live in. They respect that we are guests in the country, and each in their own way tries to ‘get involved’ and return something to the community, where it be through social good works, adding to the cultural life, helping restore public spaces, and on and on. It is a privilege to be able to do so.

LEARN MORE ABOUT AJIJIC If you would like to explore and learn more about the Ajijic area, we suggest you visit Trudie Nelson’s website. It includes a lot of interesting information on the area and even a calendar of all the events that take place here. We suggest you might try visiting for a week to explore. You could book into the Nueva Posada Hotel, right in the center of the village, owned by Michael Eager and his family, Canadian expatriates who have been a vital part of the community for over 30 years. Centrally located, you can explore by foot very easily, or go by rented car or cab! If you decide to come to Ajijic, Trudie Nelson would be pleased to show you around. Contact her at

VISITING AJIJIC PLACES TO STAY: Nueva Posada Hotel Casa Blanca INFORMATION: Trudie Nelson’s website

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 49

// la cruz de huanacaxtle, nayarit Text and photography by Chloe Ernst

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Sun, sand, and culture in a Mexican fishing village

Baseball-capped fishermen spread out their sierra fishing nets on the college soccer pitch. In the hot siesta sun, they run their fingers along the lines checking for snags and breaks. The thin cords appear as a semi-translucent tangle over the dry grass. With rich stocks of sardines, red snapper, shrimp, and sierra—a mackerel-like fish, the fishing industry has quietly fed the village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle since the 1930s. Called simply “La Cruz” by locals and pronunciation-hesitant visitors (it’s roughly pronounced wha-nah-CAX-slee), the small Pacific town is tucked in a corner of Banderas Bay. The bay’s name—Bahía Banderas in Spanish—fully translates to Bay of Flags and it is the world’s second largest, trumped only by the Bay of Bengal. “It is a favorite area with all Mexicans,” says Eric, a taxi driver. “People come here from all over.” To the south, the castle-like resorts of Nuevo Vallarta and the dark Sierra Madre Occidental mountains emerge above the saltwater haze. La Cruz is only 20 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR). At Bucerias, the closest town to La Cruz, the four-lane Mexico 200 meets the two-lane Punta de Mita Highway. Besides the 2 kilometres of paved road, the two communities are also connected by a stretch of soft-sand beaches. Nayarit (its state border with Jalisco is just north of the airport) has re-branded itself in recent years as “Riviera Nayarit” to attract increasing numbers of tourists to the 309 kilometres of coast and beaches. “It is on the license plate,” says Eric, pointing out the state’s new moniker. Over the Christmas holidays, families in beach gear arrive by the busload to enjoy a day of sun and sand. But at present, La Cruz remains fairly untouched by the wave of large vacation resorts that have swept along the bay, north from Puerto Vallarta and east from Punta de Mita. 50

AROUND LA CRUZ Bucerias Sundays in Bucerias offer a traditional tianguis, an outdoor market for fresh vegetables. Watch the local fisherman in the late afternoons cast giant nets into the rolling surf while families both local and visiting play in the sand. With its true community feeling, Bucerias offers an authentic feeling of Mexican culture. SAyulita Sayulita has a vibrant surfing culture, fantastic restaurants, nightly music, and calm ocean waters perfect for swimming with the family. The cobblestone streets are lined with boutique shops specializing in one-ofa-kind Mexican crafts, designer linen clothing and hip surf stores. SAN BLAS San Blas is a quintessential Pacific beach town that hasn’t yet succumbed to tourism. It is still a laid-back beach town of some 12,000 souls. There are no chain or five-star hotels. This is a great place for travelers who don’t mind trading major frills for some authentic Mexican hospitality.

“We have the sun, and the sand, and the culture,” says Michael Murphy, a realtor who splits his time between Vancouver Island and Bucerias. “You have to get below the Tropic of Cancer to get the weather.”

The town’s busiest district is the commercial strip along the Punta de Mita highway. Filled with gas-station conveniences like refrigerated clamato juice and tequila mixers, the by-pass keeps traffic away from the beaches and the town’s shady streets.

The Tropic runs just north of Mazatlan, about 7 hours up the coast, and in Banderas Bay there is no shortage of tropical beaches.

Quiet Langosta Street leads from the highway down to a small waterfront plaza. A plain huanacaxtle-wood cross in the traffic circle is a literal representation of the fishing town’s name. Huanacaxtle trees, also known as parota and guanacaste, can grow 40 metres high and 3.5 metres in diameter at the base. The huanacaxtle is so prized Costa Rica has made it their national tree. More common in La Cruz, however, are the almond and fig trees that provide a soft shade over the cobbled streets. Local families sit in garden chairs, the women minding children while perhaps running a convenience store or a small two-table restaurant. Roosters roam an odd vacant lot and dogs sunbathe in streets named for the sea—Marlin, Tiburon, Sierra, and Coral. In this slow-speed town, the most delightful attraction—the La Cruz beachfront—is practically sanctioned off for families and quiet enjoyment.

La Cruz’s finest stretch of sand is at La Manzanilla, a sheltered beach that caps the western edge of town. Clustered together in a snug block, a few palm-thatched palapa restaurants provide shade, as the waiters—often Spanish-English bilingual— serve whole pineapple and young coconut cocktails. The menus are limited almost exclusively to fresh local mariscos, be it skewers of grilled shrimp, smoked red snapper, or marlin tacos. The jukeboxes are plugged with various Latin rhythms: ranchera, norteño, vallenato, trova, bolero, banda, cumbia, and bachata. LEFT PAGE L-R: La Manzanilla Beach plays host to Mexican families and tourists alike; the streets are named for the ocean bounty of the bay; THIS PAGE TOP RIGHT: La Cruz in a flux of new and old; The new Marina will bring big changes to the traditional town.

On the beach, vendors walk the hot sand in flip-flops to sell cotton candy, blankets, jewelry, and fake tattoos. Commercialfishing-turned-tour boats bob outside the swimming area, the decks stacked with

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 51

// la cruz de huanacaxtle, nayarit

La Cruz enjoys clean and safe beaches with La Manzanillo the most popular with local families and tourists.

fluorescent orange life jackets and fishing poles. The water temperature in Banderas Bay remains swim-able year-round (by Canadian standards), ranging from about 18°C to 30°C. Fishing, too, offers a catch in most months, while the stiff Pacific breezes please sailors and windsurfers. Behind the beach the town’s deluxe homes seemingly cling to the hillside overlooking the sands and marina. The hills around La Cruz allow for more residents to enjoy ocean views from the breakfast table and at nighttime, the lighted properties look like jungle tree houses. From packed La Manzanilla in the west, a rockier stretch of beach divided with breakwaters serves as a pedestrian throughway to the marina near the town plaza. At the second breakwater, Canadian flags top the palapa parasols and beachside tables of Don Bidou Restaurant. “The owners are from Quebec,” the smartly dressed, white-collared waiter says, flashing a wide smile. But despite the Canadian influence the menu lists all 52

varieties of fresh La Cruz seafood, and it is served on thick clay pottery that originates from Guadalajara. The drinks are unsurprising and pleasing beach classics: cold cervezas and icy margaritas. Within a 10-minute walk from La Manzanilla, a barcode of yacht masts breaks up the buildings and coconut

“These little towns, they are adapting and changing.” palms along the waterfront. Marina Riviera Nayarit, which opened in 2008, is the one of the largest and deepest on the Pacific coast. And with its own restaurant, bar, and concierge, the marina has become a comfortable gateway to Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta. The influx of world-traveling sailors has also brought an international vibe to the town. Town restaurants range in fare from Italian to Asian fusion, often with local La Cruz seafood as the key ingredient. “Before the marina was here, all the fishermen used to clean the fish on the

beach, and sell the fish on the beach,” says Rafael Alcántara Luarte, the harbor master at Marina Riviera Nayarit. Part of marina plans included building a fish market and dock. “We built some storage rooms with walk-in fridges and areas where they can clean the fish,” he says. Add in the weekly farmers’ market and “you can cook an entire meal with products we sell here.” While the connection to the local fishing heritage is not lost with the influx of tourism, it also doesn’t stay the same. “The fishermen don’t necessarily totally rely on going out and catching fish now, they take tours out to catch fish,” says Murphy, noting the shift in the local economy. The fishermen’s wharf and market mean the local launches dock near multi-million dollar yachts. It is a resounding contrast.

Enjoy a romantic evening on the marina at the impressive IKUAI

From bay to table La Cruz restaurants serve local seafood

Tucked under the shade of a palm-thatched palapa, the tables at IKUAI offer a near 360-degree view of boats, beach, and bay. The ocean breeze and siesta heat complement the cilantro, serrano chile, and lemon in the order of San-Blas-style shrimp ceviche. The soft shell tacos are loaded with locally caught mahi mahi and salsa fresca. Together with a cold Modelo Especial, they make a relaxing mid-afternoon repast. IKUAI restaurant is located at Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Within view from the patio, the local fishing boats and fish market supply the catch-of-the-day to La Cruz restaurants. Red snapper, shrimp, mahi mahi, and marlin are just some of the rich Banderas Bay bounty. Up and down the beach in La Cruz, similar (although less polished) palapa-style restaurants offer menus of fresh mariscos. But venture from the waterfront into the shady town—on streets that are named for ocean delights like langosta (lobster) and camaron (shrimp)— and the tastes get decidedly more global. Frascati Ristorante, 10 Langosta Ave., exudes Mediterranean warmth amidst its large selection of pizzas and pastas. Just down the street at 26 Langosta Ave., La Cruz Bistro Grill marvels with sleek metropolitan charm and a menu crafted by French chef Jean Michel. Black Forest Restaurant, at 16 Marlin St., offers typical German fare, such as schnitzel and goulash. But it also surprises with fresh seafood and homemade desserts. With dozens of restaurants and more opening in La Cruz, diners need not forego any Mexican-style specialties either. Small, family-run Tacos on the Street, on Huachinango, and Xocolatl, which overlooks the town on Monte Calvario, both please with authentic and tasty offerings.

BE SURE TO VISIT: Black Forest Restaurant 16 Marlin Street 329-295-5203 Frascati Ristorante 10 Langosta Avenue 329-295-6185 IKUAI Marina Riviera Nayarit 329-295-5526 La Cruz Bistro Grill 26 Langosta Avenue 329-295-5874

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 53


By Chloe Ernst

into the marina in La Cruz The 60-foot yacht easily sidles back to the dock, passing a stand-up paddle boarder and the local fishing wharf on the way. While Banderas Bay excursions have long been offered on the small panga fishing boats, traveling by yacht presents a more leisurely option. Marina Riviera Nayarit opened in 2007, staking a claim as one of the largest and deepest on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The marina can accommodate vessels of up to 400 feet. Luxury yachts, cigarette-style speedboats, and fishing vessels fill the slips.

marina. In part, it’s the marina’s services—a fuel dock, 150-ton boat lift, and pump station, among others—that have attracted new tour operators to the marina. In nearby Sayulita, for example, two companies offer charters and tours out of La Cruz. Riviera Nayarit Magical Tours and Sayulita Adventures both transport passengers from the popular vacation town to La Cruz by taxi. Taking about 30 minutes, the trip to the marina is far more appealing than battling traffic into Puerto Vallarta.

But for those visitors without their own boat, the marina means greater options in Nayarit for sailing trips, surfing charters, and fishing excursions.

The marina is also a short distance from luxury resorts in Punta de Mita and the markets in Bucerias. Both communities are packed with hotels and beaches, as well as visitors who are eager to experience Banderas Bay.

“There are lots of tours,” says Rafael Alcántara Luarte, the harbor master at the

While the open-topped tour boats are often less expensive, most yacht tours


provide an on-board bathroom. The boat railings ramp up the safety for those traveling with children. Embarking from a dock provides smoother access than a beach launch, and makes it easier to find your sea legs. Alcántara talks of fostering community spirit on Banderas Bay, where he has lived for more than 20 years. This year, some of those docked at the marina added their dinghies to the annual parade of local pangas from La Cruz to Bucerias. “That’s what the people like: they like to be in real Mexico and talk to real Mexicans,” he says. As the trimaran cuts along the resortdotted Punta de Mita coast, the distinct dorsal fins of two humpback whales break the surface.

Banderas Bay has wonderful sailing conditions, a variety of great destinations within less than 15 miles, and a great city - Puerto Vallarta - that has just about everything you could need.

Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 55

Text and photos by Chloe Ernst

Marietas Islands Home to breaching Humpbacks and diving Blue-footed Boobies “Get your cameras ready,” a deckhand says, grinning. But, in Banderas Bay, the whale-watching passengers needn’t have so hastily zoom in on the ocean ripples the whales left behind. Over the next 20 minutes, the two humpbacks would breach, slap their flippers, and wave their flukes (or tails) in a playful and impressive display. Along the Pacific coast of Mexico, humpback whales mate from mid-October through March. Humpbacks are considered especially playful whales and the mating season draws out the liveliest behavior. And, it is only during mating season that male humpbacks sing. The north shore of Banderas Bay ends at Punta de Mita and, about 6 kilometres off the point, the Marietas Islands lie in the mouth of the bay. The volcanic islands are full of life under the water, on the land, and in the sky. Protected as the Marietas Islands Marine Reserve, they are best known as home to the blue-footed booby—which nests only here 56

and in the Galapagos. The boobies fish by nose diving into the water from dozens of feet up. Trying to catch a glimpse of their blue feet as they dive, however, is the day’s challenge. Once used for artillery testing, the Marietas Islands came to international attention through the work of oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau. Now, small tour boats and yachts visit the islands for snorkeling and wildlife watching. As the trimaran leaves the islands, a passenger sees a dark mantra ray glide under the bow. Distracted from the whales and bluefooted boobies, the other boat passengers crowd to watch as the forms glide like shadows under the surface. Although fishing in Banderas Bay is a mainstay in the economy and there are sport-fishing options for visitors, no one casts a line near the islands, says another deckhand. “We don’t fish here. This is a respected place.”

// Las Marietas, nayarit

Blue-footed Booby The Blue Footed Booby is a tropical seabird that lives on the west coast of Mexico and along the coast of Ecuador and northern Peru. Just like its name suggests, the Blue-footed Booby bird has bright blue feet and is about the size of a goose. Its name comes from the Spanish word bobo which means “stupid fellow,� because Blue Footed Boobies are very tame birds, lacking the fear instinct of other birds. They also appear to be a very clumsy bird on land.

HUMPBACK WHALES Humpback whales are the noisiest and most imaginative whales when it comes to songs. They have long, complex, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. Only males have been recorded singing. They sing the complex songs only in warm waters, perhaps for mating purposes.

TIME TO HEAD SOUTH? Mexi-Go! Spring 2011 57

// manzanillo, colima

Manzanillo By: Sabrina Wang Manzanillo is a multi-faceted city that stars in many roles: renowned resort town, sailfish capital of the world, and Mexico’s busiest port. Although it is a busy port town with a booming downtown area, Manzanillo is relaxed and serene with many local hidden spots waiting to be discovered. Its location on the coast of the Mexican Riviera and the warmth of the surrounding waters make it an ideal place for deep-sea fishing, diving, and bird-watching. Removed from the port and the downtown area is what is truly beautiful about Manzanillo and is truly what you will fall in love with. Manzanillo Bay is a playground for snorkelers and scuba divers; its ship wreck sites, along with reefs and exotic marine life all create a fun-filled, world-class diving adventure for its explorers. For those who prefer to stay dry, the city has the Las Hadas golf course and is only an hours drive from two world-famous golf courses; the Isla Navidad and El Tamarindo both in Barra de Navidad. A typical day here starts with a walk through the Obregon Garden, where one can stop and pose for a photo right next to the giant sailfish monument. For lunch, lose yourself in the sounds of waves caressing the black and gold sands in one of many fine open-air restaurants right next to the ocean. During the rainy season in the summer, stay close to Manzanillo’s arts and crafts shops in the late afternoon hours; before you know it, the rain will stop and the whole city is filled with cool, crisp summer air. Be sure to save an afternoon for the Museo Universitario de Arqueologia (Archeology Museum) across from the entrance to the Port of Manzanillo, where you can find artifacts from the pre-Hispanic cultures from Western Mexico. Or go back in time with a day trip to Comala, a Pueblo Artistic designated village just outside of Colima, that offers 15th century architecture, traditional crafts and regional food.



Colima: 103 kms from Manzanillo The majestic twin peaks of the Colima volcanoes stretch into the blue sky and the colonial architecture blends with time-honored traditions in the state capital of Colima. Known for its tall palm trees which stretch their leafy arms towards the sky, Colima is a traditional town. COMALA: 15 kms north of Colima Comala is one of only a few Pueblo Artistica designated towns in Mexico. As one of the oldest towns in Western Mexico it offers an example of a traditional town with its architecture, art and pre-hispanic ruins. Cuyutlán: 62 kms from Manzanillo A beachfront town, long a local tourist destination, Cuyutlan offers quiet, natural experience. The sanctuary is part of Cuyutlan’s 31-mile-long lagoon. A boat tour offers visitors a chance to get up-close-and-personal with a variety of water birds, eagles, hawks, caciques, crakes, rails, and many other species.

the Juluapan Peninsula, to build their vacation-soon-to-be-retirement home overlooking the Santiago Bay.

ocean, Bay and lagoon views Buena Vista offers privacy, security and high quality construction on multi-view lots. David and Rosslyn came to Manzanillo from Edmonton and fell in love with it. “We used to vacation in Hawaii every winter. One year we decided to come to Manzanillo instead. Manzanillo has the same climate as Hawaii, wonderful views from just about everywhere, a smalltown feel but with all the amenities of a larger place, and it isn’t swarming with ex-pats.” They chose Buena Vista, a small gated community on

“We built what would be considered a multi-million dollar home in Calgary for a fraction of the price.,” said Victor, speaking of the custom home he and his wife Wilma built in Buena Vista. They had vacationed in Manzanillo for almost 20 years. “Manzanillo offers great real estate values,” said Victor, an investment advisor. “When we decided to build we found that Buena Vista had everything we were looking for….” Buena Vista Manzanillo was conceived during a Sunday afternoon “what if?” conversation between two long-time Manzanillo B&B owners and two of their Canadian guests. Lou Kief and Bill Walls had renovated and ran the Los Sueños del Mar bed-and-breakfast and were in love with the tranquility and views the area had to offer. Their guests, Sheri and Jeremy, had come down from Vancouver to “get away from it all” and fell in love with the area, too.

“Wouldn’t a small gated community be terrific out here? Something with the look and feel of a hillside village... red-tiled roofs...sunny colors...views of the Pacific, Santiago Bay, the lake and would be a little piece of heaven on earth!” While looking for a parcel of land for a friend, Bill and Lou had stumbled across the perfect location for just such a development. As they painted the picture for their guests, everyone got more and more excited until they, and two more Canadian guests, decided to become partners in the venture. “We are amazed at how our vision has materialized into this little jewel.” says Lou. There are currently three completely unique custom homes built in the development, and thirteen lots with custom home designs available. For more information on the Buena Vista development visit:

Buena Vista Pick Your View!

Ocean...Bay...Lagoon... Thirteen lots available in this exclusive gated community, each with a custom home designed specifically for it. Buena Vista Manzanillo Península Juluapan Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Toll free from Canada 800.316.9032 Within Mexico, call 044.314.118.3919

Follow the flower! Tourists tour San Jose del Cabo

The Facts Concerning Violent Crimes Committed Against Tourists in Mexico

By Jim Scherrer

reader digs deeper into the article they will find that the data Author’s disclosure: I am biased and yes, I have an axe to grind was obtained over a three year period from 2006 through (I represent real estate buyers in Puerto Vallarta); but more 2008, resulting in about 220 importantly, I feel it imperative non-natural US deaths per year in for someone to set the record Mexico: the Most Dangerous Mexico. Of the 220 non-natural straight and not allow misleading Country for Americans deaths per year, approximately 50 propaganda to be published in the U.S. Department of State Warns Largest are homicides - the balance being media without being challenged. Number of Non-natural Deaths Occur in Mexico. auto accidents, drownings and This article is prepared in response to the recent rash of negative media concerning Mexico, and in particular an extremely misleading and obviously biased piece recently published on a site known as and shown under the topic of Official Spin; and spin it is!

Crime Report USA: Mexico is overwhelmingly the most dangerous place for non-service Americans, topping the list of destinations with the highest “Non-Natural Deaths”, according to the US Department of State: Top 5 Countries for Non-Natural Deaths

Mexico 651 Since shocking and misleading Iraq 82 headlines such as “Mexico: the Costa Rica 69 Most Dangerous Country for Thailand 67 Americans” are designed to be Germany 63 attention grabbing, tourists that read such nonsense might want to do their homework before considering vacation destinations in Mexico; they must understand the facts and not be frightened by ridiculous fear tactics put forth by those with ulterior motives. At first glance, the above article seems to indicate 651 nonnatural deaths occurred in Mexico in 2009, however, when the 60

suicides1. Next, the reader needs to understand that approximately 20 million Americans visit Mexico each year, far more than any other country in the world2. Therefore, we know that about 50 individuals out of every 20 million US visitors to Mexico are murdered during a violent crime every year while in Mexico.

Okay, let’s take it a step further; let’s determine where in Mexico these violent crimes take place. The majority of these violent crimes occur in the border towns such as Ciudad, Juarez and Tijuana. Therefore, the next time you plan your winter vacation you might want to avoid these areas; they’re probably about as dangerous as Chicago, Detroit, or Los Angeles! Instead of vacationing in beautiful downtown Juarez, you might want to consider a resort destination such as Cancun, Cozumel,

//crime in mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, Huatulco, or Puerto Vallarta. As a 13-year resident of Puerto Vallarta, I can attest to the safety of this magnificent resort destination where the possession of handguns is prohibited and violent crime is virtually nonexistent. For proof of this claim, we’ll first determine the number of US citizens that visit PV annually and then get the facts related to violent crime in the area.

There are in excess of 200 cruise ships that visit PV from the US every year with an average of more than 2,000 passengers each; i.e. approximately 400,000 passengers arriving annually. During the six month “high season”, PV receives more than 50 international flights daily. Let’s assume that 40 are from the US carrying an average of 100 passengers on each plane; that is more than 700,000 passengers arriving by air during the six winter months. Next, let’s assume that 20 planes from the US arrive daily in PV during the six summer months; that’s another 350,000 passengers arriving by air during the “low season”. Finally, we’ll assume that another 50,000 people drive to PV every year. Totalling these conservative numbers, we find that at least 1.5 million tourists from the US visit Vallarta annually. Various sources put the total number of visitors somewhere between 2 and 2.2 million34. Assuming at least 75% are from the US, our estimate of 1.5 million US visitors to PV per year is quite accurate.

So, with our new equivalent, and more realistic number of Americans living in Puerto Vallarta, 1 homicide per 68,200 Americans living in PV, per year, is still less than half experienced in Toronto and 1/4 of the homicides in the US.

Now, let’s return to the non-natural death data from the US Department of State. You will notice that during 2008, there were merely five non-natural deaths of US visitors in Puerto Vallarta and only one was a homicide. That’s one violent death out of 1.5 million visitors for the year - or less than 0.7 per million. According to US Government provided data5, the US has 6.2 violent deaths per 100,000 residents annually. If we extrapolate these numbers to give us a direct comparison to Puerto Vallarta –

The 1,050,000 passengers arriving by air spend an average of 10 days in town Half of the remaining 50,000 that consider themselves to be expats live in Puerto Vallarta only during the “high season”.

This is equates to approximately 68,200 Americans living full-time in Puerto Vallarta7.

which has 1.5 million US visitors per year – you are 93 times as likely to be a victim of a violent crime or homicide in the US than in Puerto Vallarta. Let’s do another comparison. The author of the Mexico: the Most Dangerous Country for Americans article is from Toronto, Canada; a beautiful city with a reputation for being quite safe, having a homicide rate of only 3.1 homicides per 100,000 residents6 - approximately half of that in the US. Still, that equates to 46 murders per 1.5 million people, or nearly 50 times as many as the number of Americans murdered in Puerto Vallarta. Let’s break it down even further. The above data tends to indicate that living in Mexican resort areas such as Puerto Vallarta is nearly 100 times safer than living in the US and 50 times safer than living in Toronto. However, since the data is skewed by the element of time, this is really not the case. The millions of people living in the US or Toronto are permanent residents spending 52 weeks per year at home, whereas the Americans visiting Puerto Vallarta are only temporary. In order to adjust for this time differential, the following assumptions must be made: • The 400,000 cruise boat passengers spend only one day in town

The next time someone insinuates that travelling to or vacationing in Mexico is dangerous for Americans, you can present the facts to them. Hopefully, with this analytical approach, you’ll feel much more comfortable and inclined to visit our beautiful Paradise south of the border where you have four times better odds of surviving than in the good ol´ US of A! Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 26 years and resided there for the past twelve years. The mission of his series of more than 70 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit him at (Endnotes) 1 According to the US Department Of State 2 According to the US Department of Commerce 3 4 vallarta.php 5 US Bureau of Justice or homicide.htm 6 According to the Toronto Police Department 7 400k cruise days/year + 10,050,000 air days/year + 14,000,000 expat days/year = 24,900,000 days/year 24,900,000 days/year ÷ 365 days = 68,200 full-time residents

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Pozole is a Mexican broth-based soup made with meat and hominy, a type of corn. Traditionally it would require many hours to prepare, but this version takes much less time and still tastes wonderfully authentic. Pozole is served with a garnish tray so everyone can add his or her own final touches. Typical garnishes served are: lots of lime/lemon wedges sliced radishes chopped cilantro shredded green cabbage fresh corn tortillas

Authentic Mexican Pozole 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder 2 garlic cloves, peeled 1 tablespoon cumin powder 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, chopped 2 tablespoons oil 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 tablespoon salt 1/4 teaspoon oregano 4 cups canned white hominy, (large corn kernels) drained and rinsed 3 -5 cups pork broth, from cooking pork shoulder 1 cup canned diced green chillies (optional) 2 whole fresh jalapenos, chopped (optional) salt Prepare the onion, peel the garlic, chop the onion, peel and chop the garlic, chop the green chilies and jalapenos if you are using them and get the hominy drained and rinsed. Place the meat in a large saucepan and just cover with lightly salted water. Add 1/2 chopped onion, the 2 cloves peeled garlic, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim off any foam that rises, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove meat and broth, reserving both. Saute the remaining chopped onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the remaining spices, stir for a minute. 62

Cut the reserved pork into 1 inch cubes and add to the pan. Stir in the canned hominy, pork broth, green chilies and jalapenos. Cook at a simmer, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes until the meat and hominy are tender. If necessary, cook for up to an additional 60 minutes until the chilies and onions are well blended into the broth. Degrease the stew, taste for salt, and serve in soup bowls.


Killer Chile Rellenos Chilies Rellenos are made of Chile Poblano (Ancho) or Anaheim chile, with skins removed, dipped in batter, stuffed with cheese or meat and covered with lightly spiced red sauce. Tips for filling Chile Rellenos Fillings can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, then brought to room temperature before stuffing chile. Fillings should be at room temperature or slightly chilled. If fillings are hot, the juices will flow out and cause the coating to slide off. Use enough filling to stuff each Chile Relleno as completely as possible, but not so much that the seam won’t hold together. 6 Ancho, Pasilla or Anaheim Chile - or - 27 oz. can Poblano Peppers or Mild Whole Green Chile 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced 1/4 cup flour 6 raw eggs (separated) 2 cups salsa verde 2 cups homestyle Mexican salsa 1 cup corn oil Salt

Rinse the chiles. Preheat your oven to broil. Place the chiles in a baking dish and place on the top shelf of your oven. Watch and listen closely. When the skins start to make popping sounds and to char and turn black in places, take the chiles out and flip them over. When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven. Wrap each chile in a moist paper towel or place in a sealed plastic bag to steam. After a few minutes, check them. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile. Cut a slit almost the full length of each chile. Make a small T across the top, by the stem. Pull out fibers and seeds (this is where the heat is) and replace with a slice of cheese. You can set these aside, for a few minutes or a few hours if you put them in the refrigerator. Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed. Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan. Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into egg whites and stir until you have a thick paste. Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter. Coat evenly. Fry, seam side down on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, heat the salsa in a medium saucepan (either one or some of each). Place one or two Rellenos on each plate and pour salsa over them. Serve immediately.

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THE EAST CAPE Continued: Sip on a glass of tangy beverage at the beachfront bar, relax by the pool, take in the sights on the patio or step out for a horseback ride on the beach—there’s always something to keep you yearning for more. Just a short drive north west of Buena Vista on the main highway is the once prosperous mining town of El Triunfo. This deserted town, decorated with rich historic details, is the perfect place to put your photographic lenses to work. Villa lola | ajIJIC $345,900 USD In walking distance to everything, this spacious and bright with lakeview home has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and den. A generous 2518 sq.ft. in a friendly gated community, the home flows out to a covered terrace and the master suite is private from guest suite. Open concept living, dining and kitchen space. Huge heated community pool. Lot 552m2 Trudie Nelson

While Cabo Pulmo may seem like it isn’t much at first glance with banana mango trees, simple-living folks, and humble homes dotting the tiny town, there’s a lot more to this place underneath the surface—the surface of the water that is. Below the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez, beneath the guise of the dazzling turquoise, is the unparalleled splendor of a teeming coral reef—a diver’s paradise. That’s not all; scuba divers and snorkelers also swarm to see the wreck of El Vencedor, a tuna boat that sank 30 years ago and transformed into a legendary artificial reef. Of course, East Cape is more than just Los Barriles, Buena Vista and Cabo Pulmo, more than just what few words or paragraphs could ever sum up. East Cape is worthy of more than just a swift glance, a quiet “wow” murmured under your breath, or an acknowledging nod as you secretly applause its wonders. Once you allow the sights and sounds of this place to wash over you, you’ll see why East Cape is worthy of a lifetime of infatuation.

Villa el toro | ajijic $525,000 usd Luxury 4,455 sf 3 bedroom, 3 bath new home in a great location. Easy walk to restaurants and shopping. Designer details with 12’ ceilings, media room, domed foyer, living room and dining room with fireplace. All rooms flow thru french doors to covered terrace. Live outdoors in the World’s best climate! Lot 700m2 Trudie Nelson

M e x i co

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Meet Baja Bill Continued: Can you offer any advice to those thinking of moving here? It can take time to get health insurance in Mexico. I applied [for Mexican health insurance] and I’m still waiting to be approved, though I think they have as good a medical service here if not better than Canada. Make a point of getting to know a lawyer and a doctor, and you’ll be taken care of. There are a lot of recreational opportunities here – take advantage of them. There are lots of adventurous things to do; diving, motorbike or AT V riding, hiking, boating, fishing. Lastly you have to file a will in Mexico! And you have to make sure it doesn’t supersede any other wills in Canada/USA. This doesn’t override anything else and only applies to what assets you have in Mexico. If it’s not stamped by an official translator, it’s not valid. What are some great reasons for living in Mexico? It’s a great lifestyle if you allow yourself to relax and learn the ways of the country.

Retire to Mexico

Cut your monthly expenses by half or buy your oceanfront dream home for what a condo in Vancouver costs. Mexico gives you back your financial freedom.

Casa Bonita Mexicana | La Paz $675,000 USD Gorgeous, beachfront home. 2 bedroom and 2 bath with guesthouse, pool, outdoor shower, outdoor kitchen, green construction. Open floor plan bathed in the luscious hot colors of the Baja. All rooms have a view of the sea, the city lights and the mountains beyond. Call Toll Free: 877.467.1547 Email:

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There is a better life waiting for you in Baja Sur! Casa Jardine de Los Suenos | La Paz $325,000 USD Brand-new 2 bedroom 2 bath home, heated pool, gorgeous gardens, outdoor kitchen, with pizza oven, palapa bar and covered patio. Fully and stylishly furnished. Room for cars RV’s & boats. Walled in and private. Near beaches. Call Toll Free: 877.467.1547 Email:

Enjoy tranquility, spectacular sunrises, romantic moonrises, and an amazing evening view of the city lights. Your new home is surrounded by centuries-old towering cactus and over sixty species of birds. Build now or in the future. Beautiful 1500sq meter view lots overlooking the Bay of La Paz and beyond, located in a quiet area but still only 15 minutes from downtown La Paz . There are 15 lots to choose from starting at $30,000US. Underground electricity. Excellent investment. Vendor financing available. Contact: Dhorea Ryon, Canadian Owner

Bienes Raices | Real Estate

Your Buyer’s Broker in La Paz, BCS Mexico OMNI SERVICES, S.A. de C.V Gordon G. Herpst Administrador Unico

Tel: 612.123.4888 Cell: 044.612.127.0544 La Paz: 1.702.425.6048

COLD ENOUGH FOR YOU? Your total guide to Mexico. Smart. Simple. Informative. Live your dream online...

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Mexi-Go! Magazine  

Mexi-GO! Magazine is a Lifestyle and Real Estatemagazine published for Canadians interested in buyinginvestment or retirement properties in...

Mexi-Go! Magazine  

Mexi-GO! Magazine is a Lifestyle and Real Estatemagazine published for Canadians interested in buyinginvestment or retirement properties in...