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Celebrating Tequila: Uniquely Mexican

Tara A. Spears

Hooray, hooray, its international tequila day on Monday 24 July. Let’s all have a glass and say “Salud” to Mexico for giving the world this wonderful beverage. To show just how special this brew is, each bottle must be labeled with an appellation of origin that legally defines where it was produced. All tequila is grown and distilled in one of only five regions in Mexico!

To keep it simple, think of tequila in two classes and three types. The two classes are “mixto” and “100 percent agave.” They reflect the two sides to this spirit: the cheap headache side and the refined sipping side. The distillers would love to just concentrate on producing the high quality tequila, but the distillers make far too much easy money from the mixto, especially in export sales to other countries.

Mixto roughly translates to, “No self-respecting Mexican, no matter how broke he is, drinks this stuff.” The alcohol is from 51 percent agave and 49 percent whatever else can be converted into sugars. That Cuervo Gold or Sauza stuff you see your average U.S. bartender serving? That’s a brand-name mixto. If you woke up with a screaming headache from drinking tequila, it’s probably because you had too much of this stuff. White? Gold? Brown? It doesn’t matter: Approach the worm or low price tequila with caution.

If you want to enjoy your tequila, you want something that has “100 percent agave” on the label. It’s the real deal, with nothing added. Imagine the taste of your favorite concoction at Starbucks compared to what comes out of the pot at your local gas station. That’s the difference between 100 percent agave and mixo. Tequila distillers say that high altitude affects the tequila, giving it a more floral and fruity taste.

A quick definition of the five types of tequila will help you select the right one for your taste. Blanco is un-aged tequila in its young and exuberant state–straight out of distillation. I find it too strong. Next, there is joven o oro (young or gold) which is aged a few months.

Next level is Repasado, meaning “rested” in Spanish. This is a good choice for shots or margaritas as it has a smoother taste due to being aged for at least nine months to a year. The fourth type of tequila is the Anejo. This

aged tequila tastes so good it’s difficult to just have one! Lastly, the superior quality ExtaAñejo (long term aged) is the type of liquor you enjoy by inhaling the aromas and savoring the complexity. This is an excellent example of you get what you pay for; bottles can run $100 US or more.

Growing agave intended for tequila is not a quick turn- around crop. The blue agave plant takes a minimum of eight years to reach maturity and to be ready for harvest.

There’s a huge bulbous fruit in the middle of the spikes. After it’s chopped,

roasted, fermented, distilled, and aged in oak barrels, the result is a nice batch of tequila. The only problem is, at least 10 years have passed between when the agave started growing and when you’re squeezing a lime into your margaritas. Lucky for us, the Mexican people are patient.

“We cannot really call our industry organic, because about every eight or ten years, there might be a need to fight an insect infestation” says Cirilo Oropeza, master distiller at Corazon Tequila Company. “Otherwise, the whole process is very natural: no chemical fertilizer, no additives-just fermented blue agave and spring water.”

On a couple of tequila tours, I asked the guide what’s the typical salary that a field worker (jimador) makes. “Normal is about 150 pesos a day,” he said. “In an eight-hour day, one experienced jimador can harvest over 100 piñas. Each worker gets paid on how many they harvest, so someone who is really good can make 300 pesos a day in harvest season.” So the kick-ass workers who really hustle get 300 pesos for a hard, hot, messy day, that’s not nearly enough to buy a bottle of retail Patrón.

What’s interesting is that four family agri-businesses (Cuervo, Sauza, Herradura, Cazadores ) dominate the tequila industry by producing 65% of all tequila in the last decade. Just the top 20 companies consumed 86% of all the harvested agave. Due to specific needs that

dictate where agave plants can grow, the leading producers are all neighbors. Jose Cuervo started producing the town of Tequila at the end of the 1700s and the family Sauza started up soon after. They are still by far the two biggest producers in Mexico, yet they’re only a block away from each other in this little pueblo.

It is well worth a trip to the mountain town of Tequila, Jalisco to tour an actual tequila distillery. The tours run the gamut from structured

to informal; technical to entertaining. No matter what the tour format, all tours include drinking samples of the company product as well as an opportunity to shop. What better souvenir of your Mexican vacation than a couple of bottles of authentic, top quality tequila?

No matter where you are, July is a perfect time for having a margarita or a shot of tequila. Next Week Part 2 Tells the History and Economic Importance of Tequila in the 21st century

 

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A stretch of coral reef off Mexico is the testing ground for a new idea that could protect fragile environments around the world: insurance.

The reef, off the coast of Cancún, is the first to be protected under an insurance scheme by which the premiums will be paid by local hotels and government, and money to pay for the repair of the reef will be released if a storm strikes.

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Coral reefs offer a valuable buffer against storm damage from waves but their condition has deteriorated in recent years, the result of human exploitation and destruction of the reefs, as well as climate change, plastic waste and the acidification of the oceans.

Under the Cancún insurance policy, pioneered by the insurance company Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, a U.S. environmental charity, local organisations dependent on tourism will pay in to a collective pot likely to amount to between $1 million (£770,000) and $7.5 million for the insurance premiums on the policy, and a 40 mile (60km) stretch of reef and connected beach will be monitored. If any destructive storms damage the reef system, the insurer will pay out sums likely to be $25m to $70m in any given year.

Any payouts will be used for restoration of the reef, for instance by building artificial structures that can increase the height of the reef in case of storm damage.

Corals from the reef can be removed and rested for a period of weeks or months, to help them regrow, at which point they can be safely reattached to their native habitat to regenerate the growth of the reef system.

The advantages of such restoration go far beyond the hotels that border the seafront. As well as providing a natural brake against destructive storms, coral reefs provide nurseries for fish when they are growing, and form a vital part of the marine ecosystem. Their health or decline is seen as one of the key indicators of the state of the natural environment globally.

The Cancún scheme, which is to be run by Swiss Re and the Nature Conservancy, with backing from the Mexican government, is thought to be one of the first in the world to tie environmental benefits and the “eco-system services” provided by natural environmental features to firm monetary costs and rewards. It could provide a model for similar projects in the future, linking the protection and preservation of the environment to payouts in case of disaster.

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And then there’s the story of Antonio Garcia.

A mechanic from southern Sonora, he had been limping around on crutches for three years. His right leg was amputated below the knee after a motorcycle accident and buying a prosthetic leg was beyond his financial reach.

But he got the prosthesis just this January from a nonprofit that’s a collaboration between Mexico and the U.S. It’s called ARSOBO and it’s working to transform the lives of low-income Mexicans with disabilities. The organization, whose name is an acronym that stands for Arizona/Sonora border, provides affordable prosthetics, specialized wheelchairs and hearing aids.

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“It’s really an emotional experience to see someone who’s been sitting in a chair for 10 years get up and … begin to take a few steps and they go out to the waiting room where … the crowd breaks into tears and claps,” Duncan said.

ARSOBO provides disabled people who were once isolated, depressed or begging on the streets the possibility of getting a job or going to school. Their signature product is an all-terrain wheelchair, originally developed by a nonprofit in California, that can navigate uneven sidewalks and rough roads.

Making these wheelchairs has become something of a fine art for 47-year-old Gabriel Zepeda. He’s been in a wheelchair himself since age 18 when a drunk driver smashed into his truck and left him paralyzed from the chest down. Zepeda custom makes each chair to suit the size and needs of its user.

“The concept behind the design is to use locally available materials like steel tubing and mountain bike wheels,” Zepeda said. “That way the chair can easily be repaired in Mexico, including at a neighborhood bike shop.”

Zepeda was trained by the chair’s inventor, an American engineer named Ralf Hotchkiss, who won a MacArthur Genius award for his design which has since spread to dozens of developing countries worldwide. It’s one example of the binational spirit that propels the organization.

“From the very beginning this has been a cross-border project,” said ARSOBO co-founder Duncan. “It’s been cross-border with universities, with government and with private enterprise.”

Some examples: ARSOBO makes its own prosthetics thanks to training and material donations from Hanger Incorporated, a major American prosthetics company. In Mexico, engineering students at a Nogales university are helping design rechargeable solar batteries for hearing aids. An association of factories set up by international companies in Nogales recently pledged $75,000 toward the construction of a larger workshop that ARSOBO will build on land donated by the city.

Since 2012 ARSOBO has provided 295 wheelchairs (about a third of them to children with cerebral palsy), 203 prosthetic limbs and 530 hearing aids.

“What we want to do is build confidence between our nations,” said Paul McKean, who coordinates humanitarian aid for the U.S. Northern Command, which oversees military operations in North America.

McKean’s team has donated roughly $75,000 dollars worth of equipment, including a steel bending machine, that’s helped ARSOBO become more self-sufficient.

“There’s a tremendous amount of goodwill on the border,” he said “I think we have positive and healthy engagements that aren’t really newsmakers.”

McKean said the U.S. benefits from empowering its southern neighbor. ARSOBO, for example, is addressing a need that goes mostly unmet by Mexico’s public health system. The organization not only makes its own gear, it employs people with disabilities to make it.

“We don’t have Americans coming and doing everything for us. We’re working together and that makes a huge difference,” said Kiko Trujillo, ARSOBO’s co-founder in Mexico.

U.S. ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson visited ARSOBO in December and called the organization “an important cross-border project.”

Despite tremendous progress, ARSOBO’s wish list is long and there’s a waiting list for most of its products, including 300 people in need of a hearing aid.

For beneficiaries like Antonio Garcia, the mechanic who lost his right leg, patience eventually pays off. Thanks to ARSOBO, he’s learning how to walk again. Wearing his new prosthesis, he slid his hands along two parallel bars as he watched himself take baby steps in a full length mirror. A technician gently guided his movements. It will take several months for him to adjust to his new leg. Once he finally ditches his crutches, Garcia knows exactly what he wants to do.

“I want to walk beside my 5-year-old son and hold his hand,” he said.

Mónica Ortiz Uribe is a freelance reporter based in her hometown of El Paso, Texas. She frequently writes about the U.S./Mexico border. You can reach her @MOrtizUribe

This story was produced with support from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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.What you need to know

The following is taken from Mexperience.com

You need Mexico car insurance because it’s required and US /Canadian insurance coverage stops at the Mexican border. Every year Mexico implements stricter laws for uninsured motorists, meaning not having it can cost you money due to damage/loss to your vehicle, fines and more
When you drive your car to Mexico, travel with complete peace of mind, by being properly insured. Your U.S. or Canadian insurance policy, however comprehensive, won’t cover you in Mexico, but affordable insurance is available…

http://quote.mexpro.com/quote/?aff_id=9804&agtdst=&office_code=

Mexican Auto insurance You Can Trust if you ever get into an accident in Mexico

Insuring Your Car in Mexico
Although your U.S./Canadian car insurance policy may be comprehensive, and might also extend some limited damage coverage in Mexico, you will still need to purchase policy that is legally valid in Mexico.
U.S. and Canadian auto insurance policies, however comprehensive, hold no legal jurisdiction in Mexico. This means that you must buy separate insurance cover for your car while you’re driving in Mexico if you want to travel with complete peace of mind.

If you are driving your car improperly insured in Mexico and you become involved in an accident it will, at best, cost you a lot of money and, at worst, leave you imprisoned in a Mexican jail house. Presenting a U.S. or Canadian auto insurance policy will be of no use because these documents have no legal or actual force in Mexico, and the companies backing them will not settle any claim arising when you or your car are situated south of the border.
Drivers who are involved in serious accidents in Mexico are usually arrested pending investigation. If you are not properly insured in Mexico and become involved in a serious accident—even if it’s not your fault—these procedures will likely place a great deal of stress and financial burden upon you.
This guide explains how insurance works in Mexico and how to go about buying the additional insurance protection you need to ensure that you, your passengers, and your vehicle are properly insured when driving on Mexican soil and that, in the event of a serious accident, you are properly covered by a legally-valid and adequate insurance policy.
Mexican Auto Insurance
Mexican Law stipulates that only insurance companies which are licensed in Mexico can provide the type of auto insurance coverage that is recognized and accepted by Mexico’s legal system.
A few U.S.-based insurance companies will extend physical damage coverage on cars and RVs while they are situated in Mexico, but they cannot and do not provide Mexican liability insurance. So, although these policies may cover your damage, they will not cover your liability to others in Mexico. This is why a special insurance policy is absolutely necessary to be properly insured in Mexico.
Mexican Insurance Companies
Mexican Law also stipulates that liability insurance must be purchased from a licensed Mexican company, so your auto insurance policy necessarily needs to be issued by one of Mexico’s insurance companies, or through a broker in the U.S./Canada working in conjuction with a Mexican insurance company.
Who’s Insuring You?
Buyers purchasing insurance for their car in Mexico are often times misled by believing that they can rely on the broker, rather than the Mexican Insurance Company, to properly handle any claim that may arise during their stay in Mexico.
The insurance company underwriting your policy is much more important than the Broker that sells you the policy.
As all insurance policies are sold through brokers, it’s important to know which insurance company (or companies) are underwriting the policies being sold to you by the broker. Click here to read more  Click here to get your free quotes

 

Information to go
Dog Friendly Hotels in MexicoThis is a partial list of Dog Friendly Hotels that we have found on the web. They are unverified so if you find one that does not accept pets or who has changed its policy, please send us a note. Click here to read the entire list of hotels


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