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December 15 2013
 Heading to Mexico
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Page 1: Mexico National News & Opinion
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Pacific Coast Road, Nogales to Puerto Vallarta Driving and Travel Guide  by Bill and Dot Bell

Pacific Coast Road, Nogales to Puerto Vallarta Driving and Travel Guide  only $9.99

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Travel Safe in Mexico!  Join the Jaltemba Sol, Bill and Dot Bell and over 1400 other road travelers for some great advice.  On the road in Mexico

The Mexico Zig Zag Road log gives a variety of different settings as you travel from the US to Guatemalan border. Starting out in Western Mexico you enter at Lukeville or Nogales and make your way down the Western side of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean past some wonderful Oceanside resorts. Bahia Kino, San Carlos, Huatabampo, Mazatlan and Teacapán.

From here we travel inland past a volcano, past Tequila and onward to Guadalajara – the cultural capital of Mexico.  And then it’s off to Morelia, the butterflies, and Mexico City. Tula and Teotihuacan and absolutely amazing ancient ruins with extraordinary pyramids, statues and carvings.

We then zag past Oaxaca and Tehuantepec along the steamy coast to Tapachula and Guatemala. If that wasn’t enough we add numerous side trips including another zig zag from the Southern pacific Coast over the Chiapas  mountains to San Christobal and then down to meet the Gulf of Mexico on the other side.

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West Coast

Road LOG


Pacific Coast to Tapachula Road Log and Driving Guide  NEW!

We are confident that our road logs and driving guides will make your highway experiences just that much better and easier. Regardless of whether you are driving an RV or a suburban, a bike or a pick-up, our road logs will assist your journey. Even 20 year veterans of the route have benefited from the information.

The KM markings are the markings that you will see as you drive. It doesn't matter if your vehicle reads in miles or kilometers. You just read the signs on the road to get your bearings. Sometimes one highway combines with another and old kilometer signs are left up. Not to worry, just continue to read the guide.

Some of the best navigation points are the Pemex Station numbers clearly marked on all gas station signs. Topes (Mexican speed bumps) are marked in the guide just to remind you to go slow. We included Military and Agriculture check points even though we know these can change frequently. (Generally they are on one side of the state border or another between the Mexican states.)

Buy your Pacific Coast to Tapachula Road Log and Guide for

Click on the buy now button and you will be directed to a merchants page. Once you pay for the camping guide you will redirected to an easy to use download page where you will be able to receive your product immediately.

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From Nogales to Puerto Vallarta

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Mexico National News





New! And for two days only... free, the Laredo to Puerto Vallarta via the new Durango to Mazatlan Highway Road Log

This is our (The Bell's of and of saying thank you to all of our readers.  Merry Christmas!

Click here to view the road log and download






Mexico President's Poll Rating Down in 1st Year

A poll in Mexico says approval for President Enrique Pena Nieto has dropped four percentage points in his first year in office.

The Consulta Mitofsky firm says Pena Nieto had an approval rating of 54 percent when he took office Dec. 1, 2012. A year later, it's 50 percent.

The survey released Monday says many Mexicans feel Pena Nieto hasn't done a good job on the economy or security. Those are Mexico's two main problems, according to the poll…..Read More in Original Article

Border-crossing NET Mexico pipeline pulls in $665 million in financing

NET Mexico Pipeline Partners LLC has landed $665 million in funding from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and other lenders to fund a natural gas pipeline across the U.S.-Mexico border, officials say.

NET Mexico — an affiliate of Houston’s NET Midstream — plans to build a 120-mile, 42” and 48” diameter natural gas pipeline system to carry South Texas gas to Mexico.

ING Capital, Credit Agricole, Natixis, Royal Bank of Canada, Nord/LB, BBVA and Santander joined Mitsubishi in agreeing to finance the project.……Read More in Original Article

Mexico's Telecom Giants Under Threat Of Being Declared Monopolies

América Móvil and Grupo Televisa – Mexico’s largest phone company and its largest TV broadcaster, respectively – were told by the country’s new Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) that they were placed under preliminary review to determine whether they are dominant players in the telecommunications sector. América Móvil is controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, and Televisa by fellow billionaire Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

According to Mexican experts, there is little doubt that both América Móvil and Televisa will be declared “market dominant.”……Read More in Original Article

What to do in Cancun, Mexico

It's difficult to think of Cancun and not imagine a long expanse of beach laid out at the base of towering resorts. Whether a visitor ever gets their toes wet, it's a cinch that the No. 1 vacation activity will be claiming a spot on Cancun's glittering strand. From that position, a world of leisure pursuits waits to be discovered.

All of Cancun's beaches are public, although getting onto the sand is often through the lobby of a resort. Playa Delfines is one of Cancun's easily-accessed public beach and one of Cancun's best. The surf can be rough there, so if you're traveling with small children, head to one of the beaches on the north side where the surf is gentler. When it comes to water sports, all of the usual suspects are available, including kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, sailing and snorkeling. Cancun has 24 dive sites and plenty of dive shops; certified instructors can get a novice up to speed in no time. For more experienced divers, cave diving into cenotes, or freshwater sinkholes that lead into underground rivers, is a tough adventure to beat.……Read More in Original Article

Researchers map underwater crater linked to dinosaur extinction

65 mln yrs ago

Scientists have long known that an asteroid or comet crashed into a shallow sea near what is now the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico about 65 million years ago, but up until recently, they've never been able to see its crater. Now a team of researchers has finally created the first detailed map of the crater- which measures over 160 kilometers across by using multi-beam sonars and have suggested that the resulting firestorm and global dust cloud caused the extinction of many land plants and large animals, including most of the dinosaurs. - See more at: …Read More in Original Article

Uruguay to become first country to legalize marijuana trade

Uruguay's Senate is expected to pass a law on Tuesday making the small South American nation the world's first to allow its citizens to grow, buy and smoke marijuana.

The pioneering government-sponsored bill establishes state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals.

Cannabis consumers would be allowed to buy a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 ounces) each month from state-regulated pharmacies as long as they are over the age of 18 and registered on a government data base that will monitor their monthly purchases……Read More in Original Article





Six detained in Mexico theft of radioactive material

Six people being tested for possible radiation exposure in a hospital in central Mexico are suspects in the theft of highly radioactive cobalt-60, a government official said Friday.

The official said the six were arrested Thursday and taken to the general hospital in Pachuca for observation and testing for radiation exposure. Once they are cleared, they will be turned over to federal authorities in connection with the case of a cargo truck stolen Monday at gunpoint that was carrying the extremely dangerous material….Read More in Original Article

Mexico City Man Receives Rare Double Arm Transplant

Gabriel Granados had both his arms amputated below the elbow after he suffered an electrical accident last year.

Almost two years later, following a double arm transplant, he has made a successful recovery. Following physiotherapy, Mr Granados has regained more than 70 percent of his movements and is "very independent" when completing his daily activities.

Gabriel became the first patient in Latin America to receive a double arm transplant when the 53-year-old father of two received the arms of a 34-year-old shooting victim.

After a 17-hour operation, Granados was able to have both arms again and feel his hands.

"This is wonderful. After being without hands for some time, all of a sudden I now see new ones," said Mr Granados, an agent in the financial unit of Mexico City's prosecutors' office.

His arms were badly burned in January 2011 when he received an electrical shock while giving instructions to a group of construction workers building a fence.….Read More in Original Article

Mexican Lawmakers Hope Private Investment Will Boost Oil Industry

Mexico's congress is set to pass a controversial plan to open up the country's vast and sluggish oil industry to private investment. The move requires a constitutional amendment since Mexico forbids foreign involvement in the oil industry. Opponents of the plan say the president is selling out the country, but many experts say that without foreign investment, Mexico won't be able to tap all its oil and won't modernize. ….Read More in Original Article

Mexican cartel threatened Catholic seminary

The threatening calls reportedly came one after the other to Mexico's main Catholic seminary. Callers, claiming to be from one of the country's feared drug cartels, offered an ominous warning: Pay up if you value the safety of your priests. "They called several times. They identified themselves as the Familia Michoacana, but who knows?" Cardinal Norberto Rivera, archbishop of Mexico City, revealed at a Mass this week. - ….Read More in Original Article


How Mexico's New 2014 Tax Laws Will Affect Expats

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Very extensive reforms have been made to Mexico's tax laws and were finalized in November, 2013. These become effective on January 1, 2014, which does not give people or businesses a lot of time to prepare.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - Yucalandia, a very informative blog about living in Mexico, just published an article regarding the changes in Mexican tax laws affecting foreigners for 2014, which we thought might be useful to our readers:


Here's a summary of the changes in Mexican tax laws affecting foreigners for 2014. This report comes from Lic. Spencer McMullen, a fine attorney in Jalisco, who specializes in legal issues affecting expats. You can contact Lic. McMullen at Chapala Law.

On 11/29/2013 Lic. McMullen reported:
"Very extensive reforms have been made to Mexico's tax laws and have been finalized in November, 2013. These become effective on January 1, 2014, which does not give people or businesses a lot of time to prepare. This short lead time may cause problems for some people. First, all the appointment times at our local SAT offices in Jalisco (SAT = Mexico’s tax department) are filled for quite a while, and second, some of the changes affect banks and businesses quite a bit. I think it’s going to be a messy transition as many will be unable to comply in time with only 2 weeks left until the government goes on vacation and returns January 2nd when the new laws take effect and even then there may be delays of weeks for people to be able to get appointments at the tax office to set themselves up or make changes.


There are new IVA sales taxes

It's now going be 16% nationally (whereas it's been about 11% in the border areas), and it will include taxes on soda, chewing gum, and pet food throughout Mexico. Those weren't included in the past. So, people with pets should stock up at Costco before the new year. Dog shelters will be especially hard hit. For people driving back from up north after Christmas, or coming back from nationalizing their vehicles at the border, they'll want to fill up their tanks near the border, where the gas tax will still be 11% until the end of the year.

Will anything change at customs (Aduana)?

Yes, temporary importation of certain goods will also start being taxed. That could open the door in the future for a tax on the temporary importation of vehicles. Not yet, though.

The mandatory use of customs agents for any value of goods to be imported has been eliminated. The use of an agent will be optional, which is a good thing because they'll have to be more competitive in terms of rates and the quality of their service.

Also, customs is going to be checking the value of imported goods more closely and communicating with the countries where merchandise is leaving, to check declared values. People may be more likely to get caught if their car nationalization pedimento say the car is worth just $10,000 pesos, while it clearly is worth much more.

What about new banking regulations?


Starting in 2007, there had been a tax on large cash deposits: 2% on the amounts of deposits exceeding $15,000 pesos, which was increased in 2010 to 3% on amounts exceeding $15,000 pesos.

Those taxes have now been eliminated.
But... banks are now required to report to SAT any deposits over $15,000 pesos, and any payment of credit card debt of $20,000 pesos made at a time. SAT may also audit you and compare your credit card expenditures to your declared income. They can then contact you to explain these transactions within a certain time frame. If you don't respond within that time frame (say, 20 days), they could establish liens and levies. And, of course, you wouldn't respond if the address they have for you is old.

All of this means that it is very important for people to make sure their bank has up-to-date home addresses and email addresses. This is especially true for snowbirds. It also means that snowbirds will need to check their email frequently while they're out of Mexico.

Also, banks will require people to have an RFC (tax ID number) in order to open a bank account. They have enabled the ability to get an RFC number online, but people first need a CURP number which has to be processed through immigration (INM). (Editor's note: If you already have Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente, you have been issued a CURP number.) With offices closing for several weeks for the holidays, people may have problems in getting CURPs in January and may have to wait until February to open the account.

Anything new for businesses?


Yes, the current process for small business reporting (REPECO) will be eliminated. Currently, small businesses report their gross earnings every two months. For January, that will still be the case in order to report earnings for the November – December months. After that, there will be more paperwork. The process will come through the regular tax system. This means that earnings will need to be reported, and so will deductions, and facturas (invoices) – just like big businesses do today.

As before, the tax rates continue to fall between 2% and 35%. Note that there will be more paperwork, requiring a greater mastery of Spanish. My office will help people by getting them set up and familiar with the new system.

Another change is the elimination of the business IETU tax (single-rate flat tax started in 2007). Non-profits will start being required to be authorized by the SAT to receive donations, which would allow them to continue preferential tax treatment. That's obviously going to be critical for them. They should probably start that process immediately, and try to get their major contributors to donate before January 1st.

New Electronic Factura Requirements:

The most controversial of the new business regulations is probably the requirement for electronic facturas and the elimination of paper facturas. The new rules also require giving all employees online facturas (CFDI) rather than paper facturas when they get paid, in order to be able to deduct their wages. That system may not be ready by January 1st, by either the SAT or the businesses, so that's going to create a lot of problems.

What about tax changes for investors and real estate owners?

Mexico has caught up to many other countries and will tax capital gains on the sale of stock at a rate of 10% as well as tax dividends at the same rate of 10%.

For real estate sales there will be a maximum capital gains tax exemption pegged using the UDI index (investment units) with a new limit of 700,000, which equates to about $3,500,000 pesos, so any gains over that amount from a sale will be taxed. The prior limit was 1,500,000 UDIs with that exemption waived if one could prove they lived in the home for the preceding 5 year period.

That's a lot of changes. There are more... (The changes listed above) are just the ones that I think will affect expats the most. SAT is also firming up the tax code in other ways. They did some research to determine where and why they lost tax court cases in the past, and have now plugged some of the advantages taxpayers had in court. I'll know more the 1st week of December, so I can give you an update after I go to another 5 hour tax update class."

Editors Note: Keep watching for the latest from Lic. Spencer McMullen. We'll keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Editor's Note: This is written by my cousin Maisie MacKinnon who met us in Merida to have some dental work. I was very impressed by the dentist - a specialist in cosmetic dental. He is an American who fell in love and now lives in Merida.
He promised me ...
that he would give Maisie a movie star smile and wow did he live up to it. He molded her gums, used state of the art new materials for her teeth so they look like teeth and not just crowns. I am so very impressed. (He teaches students to do this at the university where he is a prof for esthetic dental)
So the following article is about How to Get Organized so You Can Get our Teeth Fixed in Merida......and have a blast visiting ruins, flamingoes and colonial cities.
Mexico has many many good dentists that I would trust with crowns or fillings and my dentist at home, DR. Adrianna, is a great competent dentist.

This dentist, DR Domingez, is a cosmetic dentist and he created a masterpiece of 6 front teeth.

My first-hand account of superior
dental care—in Merida, Mexico!

How to get great dental work for much less than U.S. prices

by Maisie MacKinnon

 For several years I’ve heard great stories about people’s experiences with dental work in Mexico. But taking the leap myself? That was a jump too far. Until now.

But first, let me tell you that taking a leap is exactly how I knocked out my front teeth; by jumping over a dirt ramp on my shiny new—and highly unstable—sting-ray bicycle. I’ve lived with the 1970s dental technology of sliver lined gums and bulky porcelain for my front teeth, not to mention a hidden smile, ever since.

That’s because I am one of the millions of Americans without dental insurance. The cost to upgrade—at around $1100 per tooth—was prohibitive on my middle-income wage. The lure of new teeth at considerably less cost in Mexico was forever a dream.

Now, because of the guidance of Mexican road-travel-experts (and cousins) Bill and Dorothy Bell, and Dr. Rafael Dominguez—one of the best dentists in Merida—I can say that I took the plunge!  Thankfully, my smile is back for the first time in decades, and with it, a new self-image. 


Here’s how you can get great dental work done                        
in Merida, Mexico, too!

1. Schedule your time in Mexico.

I recommend adding several more days (or weeks) than is needed for your dental appointments to see the amazing sites of the Yucatan! It is also because you may not know how much time you’ll need until you have the exam. Still, unlike in the States where ceramic laboratories can take several weeks to a month, you may only need a week to go from your initial exam, dental services, impressions and fittings in Mexico. (I needed two+ weeks, given all the necessary work.) Also, you don’t need to call too far ahead. In my case, I had my first appointment within three days of arriving in Merida.

Click here to read the entire story



Land Crab Fall Migration

                         Tara A. Spears

A full moon is romantic for people and critters alike. For the cute, low slung terrestrial crabs the full moon is an important stimulus in its life cycle. The Land crab’s spawning season (female migration to ocean) lasts from June to December, peaking in October and November. It is during a full moon that the baby crabs leave the ocean to migrate inland: This phenomenon sometimes seems as if an invasion of young land crabs has occurred in an area. Every night this week, dozens of miniature crabs have been seen scooting through the vegetation searching for food and a place to borrow before the sun comes up. The young crab’s journey is trial and error: sometimes they fall into swimming pools or dog water dishes; sometimes they erroneously get trapped by a house that blocks the path that their instinct sets them on. Many of these one inch (2.5 cm) critters become the prey of other shore predators, such as herons and egrets, which will stab blue crabs with their sharp bills before picking out the meat. Anhingas, diving ducks and other birds that fish underwater are also predators. Raccoons will snag a blue crab if one is unlucky enough to wander by on land.  Adult Land Crabs remain on land throughout their lives, which can be a decade long.

The blue land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi, is a species of terrestrial crab found in tropical and sub-topical estuaries and other maritime areas of land along the Pacific Ocean coast. The species varies in color from dark blue to brown or pale grey, and may grow to 11 cm (4.3 in) in width and weigh up to 500 grams (18 oz.)  As adults, Blue crabs are terrestrial (land-dwelling) and are found as far as 5 miles (8 k) from the shoreline, returning to the sea only to drink or breed. They live in burrows several feet deep or at least to a level that will allow water to seep in for moisture. The blue land crab is primarily vegetarian, preferring tender leaves, fruits, berries, flowers and some vegetables. Occasionally they will eat beetles or other large insects.

Blue land crabs reach sexual maturity in approximately four years. Their reproductive cycle is closely linked to seasonal weather patterns and lunar phase. Heavy rains in early summer initiate migrations. The biggest emergence from burrows and migration happens right at the beginning of the rainy season. After mating, an adult female lays her eggs but carries the egg mass beneath her body for approximately two weeks prior to migrating to the ocean and releasing the eggs into shallow inshore waters. A female may produce 300,000 - 700,000 eggs per spawn, but very few larvae survive to become small crabs. The crab larvae are eaten by fish and other aquatic animals.

Click here to read the entire story

 By Mike Nunn for Travel Buddies

The drive from Nogales to Sayulita was almost effortless and without a single hitch.  My buddy in Tucson joined me and he is a former engineer for the Oregon Department of Transportation.  He was very impressed by the quality of the roads all the way down.  

We crossed the border and hit Aduana early(7ish…) on Saturday October 26 and there were no lines or hassles.  On the road before 8 AM and drove steadily all day to Los Mochis.  Spent the night at the lovely El Dorado Hotel in Los Mochis.   Next day up early and on the road south before sunrise.  

Took the tolls almost all the way to Tepic but turned off on the scenic San Blas road and avoided the heavy truck traffic into and out of Tepic.  Wound our way through the jungle and coast out to HWY 200 south and were in Sayulita before suppertime.  A great, enjoyable drive, it helped having a buddy to spell me off for half of the trip.  Not a single hassle, inspection, drama or incident.  I would do it alone in a heartbeat.   

Toll costs 1300 pesos, roughly $100US

Thanks again for your help..


PS…Crossing into Mexico I would recommend using the Mariposa exit through Nogales, AZ to avoid having to drive through Nogales, MX, although the cambios in Nogales, MX were converting greenbacks to pesos at a rate of 12.4, only half a peso off the virtual rate that day…..

Char Marks

Our trip was very tiring and interesting at the same time!  All went very well, we stayed in Laredo and crossed early in the morning as was suggested to us, ran into some problem with dogs not being allowed in motels in Mexico, would recommend if you travel with a dog to pick out some dog friendly hotels along the way to lessen any stress. 

Of course always account for road construction, can't get away from that but all in all I think we would do it again!  I also suggest you carry pesos for toll roads, we had conflicting advice about that but they only accept pesos, and always try to stick to the speed limit.  Thanks for asking about our trip, if I think of anything else I will be sure to add to the website.  Thanks again,

Lise Perron
We met with Carole and Guy in McAllen, and everything was ok...we connected well with them and they are nice people.

We went together to have the papers done.  We agreed on a departure time for the next day. When we got to the border, as they had a motorhome they did not go through the same gate as us.  We went through and waited for almost half an hour and they did not come out; the police told us to go on, so we did, driving slowly.  We never saw them after that.  We waited in a OXO parking and did not see them.  So we went our way, and had a safe trip.

What happened with them was that they had their bedroom full of bags of clothing for poor people and were asked a lot of questions and were kept a long time at the border, but they went on after and also had a safe trip.

 We communicated after by e mail.

 COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS:  Match yourself with people who drive a car if you drive a car, or a motorhome if you drive a motorhome.

 Be careful as to the amount of things you bring to avoid problems at the border.


We thank you very much for travel buddies and we will use it next year.  It permitted us to know a couple of nice people



Click here to visit our web

Mexico Internet Users Soar to 49 Million in 2013

A survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography found that some 11.1 million households, or 35.8 percent of the total in Mexico, have computers. Just 25.8 percent have digital television.
Mexico City, Mexico - The number of internet users in Mexico soared 12.5 percent, compared to the previous year, to 49 million in 2013, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said last week.

Some 30.7 percent of Mexico's households are connected to the internet, up 20.6 percent from the 2012 survey, the statistics agency said. However, there are notable differences in internet access by region.

While the northern border states, the Federal District, and Quintana Roo have 44 percent of households, on average, connected to the internet, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, and Michoacan barely have 15.7 percent of households with the ability to go online.

Those in the 12-34 age group are the biggest users of the internet in Mexico, a country of 118 million. About 62.6 percent of people in this demographic segment are connected to the internet, with many of them using mobile devices to go online, the INEGI said.

The main uses of the internet are searching for information - 64.3 percent; sending e-mails and text messages - 42.1 percent; entertainment - 36.2 percent; doing schoolwork - 35.1 percent; and accessing social networks - 35.1 percent.

Only 1.7 percent of respondents in the April INEGI survey said they used the internet for online banking and 1.3 percent said they went on the web to do government business.

A total of 49.4 million people in Mexico use the internet, according to the survey.

The survey found that some 11.1 million households, or 35.8 percent of the total in Mexico, have computers - up 13.3 percent from last year's level - and just 25.8 percent of households have digital televisions. Sixty-nine percent still use analog TV sets.

Original Story
Christmas In Mexico
Christmas In Mexico
Making Merry in Mexico – by Dale Hoyt Palfrey
( Dale Hoyt Palfrey is a freelance writer, translator, interpreter and public relations
consultant based in Ajijic, Jalisco. Her moth-eaten parka, mittens and longjohns
have remained packed away for the 20-plus sunny Christmases she has celebrated
in Mexico.)
Dreaming of a white Christmas? If you’re spending December in Mexico, forget it!
You can expect the holiday season south of the border to be as warm and colorful as
a tropical garden. And you’ll discover a delightful array of seasonal traditions that
make celebrating “Navidad” (Christmas) in Mexico a unique and unforgettable
Christmas festivities begin with “Las Posadas,” nine consecutive days of candelight
processions and lively parties starting December 16. In villages and urban
neighborhoods throughout Mexico youngsters gather each afternoon to reenact the
holy family’s quest for lodging in Bethlehem. The procession is headed by a
diminutive “Virgen María,” often perched on a live burro, led by a equally tiny “San
José.” They are followed by other children protraying angels, the “Santos Reyes”
(Three Kings), and a host of “pastores y pastoras” (shepherds and shepherdesses),
all usually decked out in colorful handmade costumes and carrying brightly
decorated “báculos” (walking staffs) or “faroles” (paper lanterns). The parade of
“Santos Peregrinos” (Holy Pilgrims) stops at a designated house to sing a traditional
litany by which the Holy Family requests shelter for the night and those waiting
behind the closed door turn them away. They proceed to a second home where the
scene is repeated. At the third stop the pilgrims are told that while there is no room
in the “posada” (inn), they are welcome to take refuge in the stable. The doors are
flung open and all are invited to enter.
This is an active way of teaching children the story of the Nativity, but the chief
attraction is the merrymaking that follows, above all the chance to engage in the
ruthless smashing of “piñatas” and a mad scramble for the shower of fruits, sugar
cane, peanuts and candies released from within.
“Pastorelas” (Shepherds Plays) are staged throughout the holiday season by both
amateur and professional groups. These traditional, often improvised, theatrical
presentations date back to Mexico’s Colonial period when Roman Catholic
missionaries wooed converts and taught doctrine through dramatizations of Biblical
The light, humor-filled “Pastorelas” tell of the shepherds’ adoration of the Christ
Child. First they are visited in the fields by an angel who announces the holy birth.
As the shepherds attempt to follow the great star leading them to Bethlehem they are
plagued by a series of evils and misadventures provoked by the Devil. But in the
proverbial “all’s-well-that-ends-well” finale, good triumphs over evil and the
shepherd’s reach their intended destination.
In most Mexican homes the principal holiday adornment is “el Nacimiento”
(Nativity scene). The focal point, naturally, is a stable where clay or plaster figurines
of the Holy Family are sheltered. The scene may be further populated by an angel,
“Los Reyes Magos” (the Magi), the ox and the ass, shepherds and their flocks, and
assorted other people and livestock. It is not unusual to also find the forces of evil
represented by a serpent and a grotesque Lucifer lurking in the shadows. The figures
may be simply positioned in a bed of “heno” (Spanish moss), or scattered throughout
an elaborate landscape.
A major masterpiece may occupy an entire room, often near the front of the house for
convenient viewing by neighbors and passersby. The creation of the basic landscape
begins with “papel roca” (paper painted in earth tones) draped over tables, taped
onto boxes, crushed and shaped to form a multi-leveled, natural looking terrain that
frequently includes a series of hills and dales, a cellophane waterfall, a mirror pond,
artificial trees, cacti, palm trees, and little houses set to form an entire village scene.
Colored sawdust and a variety of natural mosses may be spread out as ground cover
before the addition of strings of Christmas lights and the assorted human and
animal figures. The scene will not be completed until Christmas Eve when the
newborn Baby Jesus is finally laid in the manger bed.
Nowadays a decorated Christmas tree may be incorporated in the “Nacimiento” or
set up elsewhere in the home. As purchase of a natural pine represents a luxury
commodity to most Mexican families, the typical “arbolito” (little tree) is often an
artificial one, a bare branch cut from a a copal tree (Bursera microphylla) or some
type of shrub collected from the countryside.
Holiday festivities culminate on “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve) with the celebration
of a late-night “Misa de Gallo” (Rooster’s Mass). Afterwards families head home for a
traditional Christmas supper which may feature a simple fare of homemade tamales
and “atole” (corn gruel) or other regional dishes. A more exotic feast might include
“bacalao a la vizcaína” (Biscayan cod) and “revoltijo de romeritos” (wild greens in
mole sauce). Roast turkey, ham or suckling pig are other popular menu items for
those who can afford it. “Ponche” (a hot fruit punch), “sidra” (sparkling cider) or
other spirits are served for the holiday “brindis” (toast). The evening is rounded out
with the opening of gifts and, for the children, piñatas and “luces de Belen”
(sparklers). As these happy family gatherings generally last into the wee hours,
December 25th is set aside as a day to rest and enjoy that universal holiday bonus –
“el recalentado” (leftovers).
ncidentally, Santa Claus and the clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof do not
generally figure in the scheme of Navidad. A Mexican youngster’s holiday wishlist
is directed instead to “el Niño Dios” (the Holy Child) for Christmas Eve and the
“Reyes Magos” (Magi) for Three Kings Day.
Its Latin name is Euphorbia Pulcherrima. Its Mexican monikers include the ancient
Nahuatl term “Cuitlaxochitl” (star flower), along with “Catarina” (Catherine), “Flor
de Pastor” (Shepherd’s Flower) and, most commonly, “Flor de Noche Buena”
(Christmas Eve Flower).
In the English-speaking world this illustrious holiday bloom is called the Poinsettia,
named after Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, a U.S. diplomat who served as Minister to Mexico in
the 1820′s. Like many newcomers to Mexico, he was no doubt enthralled by the sight
of the gargantuan shrubs covered in mid-winter with brilliant vermillion blossoms.
After experimenting with various methods of propagation, he returned home to
Charleston, South Carolina with enough cuttings to begin the cultivation of these
stunning plants in northern climes.
The bright petals of the poinsettia are not really flowers, but bracts or leaves that
surround the true blossom, a rather inconspicuous cluster of yellow florets. The
bracts may be solid creamy white, salmon pink or scarlet, variegated or double
Among pre-Hispanic tribes of ancient Mexico, the Cuitlaxochitl was more than just a
pretty face. The blood-red bracts were often placed on the chests of those suffering
afflictions of the heart to help stimulate circulation. They were sometimes crushed to
a pulp to be used as a poultice for the treatment of skin infections.
A note of good cheer to those more inclined to be couch potatoes than gardeners:
Modern-day Mexicans enjoy still another form of “Noche Buena”– a rich, dark,
bock-like beer distributed only during the holiday season.
December 28, Day of the Holy Innocents, is a religious commemoration of King
Herod’s ordering the slaughter of all male infants in his kingdom, intended to
include the Christ Child. In Mexico it is celebrated as day akin to April Fool’s, an
occasion for jokes and pranks. The usual tactic is to approach a friend and ask to
borrow cash or some object of value. If fooled by the ploy, the victim may be given a
candy or silly gift in return, along with much joking and name calling. So beware or
you may find yourself titled “Fool Saint” for a day!
The Christmas season continues unabated in Mexico through Epiphany, which is
called “Día de los Reyes” (Three Kings Day). Echoing the arrival in Bethlehem of
Wisemen bearing gifts for the baby Jesus, children throughout Mexico anxiously
await waking up January 6 to find toys and gifts left by the “Reyes Magos” (Magi). In
some regions it is customary to leave out shoes where treasures may be deposited by
the visiting Wisemen.
A special treat served one this day is the “Rosca de Reyes”–a crown-shaped sweet
bread decorated with jewel-like candied fruits. Tiny figures of babies are hidden in
the dough before baking. There is much excitement as each partaker cuts his or her
own slice, for whoever gets a piece containing a baby is obliged to host another party
on or before Candlemas, February 2, when Mexico’s holiday season finally comes to
an end.





Growing Roses in the Tropics

                      Tara A. Spears

Roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world due to their gorgeous flowers and deep symbolism. It is said that there is a rose of every color for every person, for every emotion. However, besides being popular for their beauty and fragrance, roses are also well-known to be one of the more difficult flowers to grow. Roses need very specific conditions to look and stay at their best. Just one missing requirement and a healthy bush of roses can wither and die if not remedied immediately.

Given the climate conditions present in tropical regions, it is no wonder that growing roses can be a challenge. Roses are sensitive plants—too much or too little root moisture can kill them quite easily. How do rose growers in tropical climates manage? It takes thoughtful placement, constant monitoring of soil moisture, and vigilance for fungus to keep roses healthy in the tropics.

Make sure that the soil is well drained. Roses hate wet feet so one must plan for the rainy season by including amendments that allow water to move. Dig lots of good organic matter into the soil like manure and compost.  Because of the intense sun and long dry season, it helps to minimize evaporation from the soil, and to keep the roots cooler by applying a nice layer of rock mulch. Another tip is to plant the rose bush a little higher than the garden bed so that it is on a little mound. This will stop the roots from getting soggy from sitting in water for a long period of time. In the dry season after the rose bush is established, only a good watering once a week is necessary.

Click here to read the entire story


Wasps: Full Throttle all Year Long    

Tara A. Spears


Wasps occupy a precarious place in the ecosystem. They are both pest and pollinator, playing a valuable role in the survival of the ecosystem even as they are one of the most dreaded insects that can be found nesting near the home. Knowing when to watch for wasps that are starting to build nests can mean averting trouble before it develops.

Wasps are the most active (and therefore present the most danger to humans) during mid to late summer, which at our latitude in Mexico is October/November. This is the time when the colony has grown strong, and young females are leaving to find new mates. Male wasps do not have the ability to sting as the stinger and its venom is part of the reproductive organ of a female wasp.

It has been a long running feud between me and the winged bombers: I spray the wasps while they are on the nest, remove the nest from the yard, only to have an ambitious team rebuilding in the exact spot within a few days.  Clearly, wasps are predators that are very territorial, returning to the same nesting location year after year. The best way to keep wasps away is to prevent them from returning to build a new nest. If they return successfully, exterminating them before they multiply is your next best defense.  There are many commercial products that are effective in exterminating wasps; the best product is one that has a long reaching spray. Angry wasps come off the nest when it is disturbed will sting anything in the vicinity, so the farther away you can be when spraying the better.

Wasps occupy a precarious place in the ecosystem. They are both pest and pollinator, playing a valuable role in the survival of the ecosystem even as they are one of the most dreaded insects that can be found nesting near the home. Knowing when to watch for wasps that are starting to build nests can mean averting trouble before it develops.

Click here to read the entire story 
Senate Broadly Approves Tax Plan, Hits Snag on Details

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Although the Senate approved the general outline of the tax reform bill on Wednesday, discussions broke down when efforts to amend the bill were met with a walk out by the main opposition party.
Mexico City, Mexico - Mexico's Senate gave general approval to the government's plan to boost tax revenues before the main opposition party walked out early on Wednesday, halting voting on divisive details of the reform.

The tax bill is a cornerstone of President Enrique Pena Nieto's reform agenda, and early voting on Wednesday suggested his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) would succeed in thwarting any major changes to the legislation.

The Senate approved the broad outline of the fiscal bill that is designed to improve Mexico's weak tax revenues late on Tuesday, then began a debate through the night over sections that lawmakers had sought to repeal or change.

But discussions in the Senate broke down shortly after the PRI defeated amendments that would have overturned a plan to increase the rate of value-added tax in border states to the standard level of 16 percent from a reduced rate of 11 percent.

The opposition conservative National Action Party (PAN) abandoned the session, with PAN Senate leader Jorge Luis Preciado arguing that his party's efforts to amend the bill were pointless because voting had been pre-arranged.

A recess was ordered and the Senate agreed to reconvene the session later in the day.

Before the PAN is willing to rejoin debate on the remaining reservations, the PRI will have to rethink its hard-line stance against considering changes to the legislation, a senior PAN lawmaker said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The PRI could push through the tax bill without heeding the complaints, but Pena Nieto's party is counting on PAN support for a major energy bill and is reluctant to foment discord.

PRI Senate leader Emilio Gamboa said he would meet the heads of the other parties to restore "normality" in the upper chamber of Congress, and that he was open to negotiation

The PRI is keen to avoid major changes to the tax bill because amendments made in the Senate would mean sending it back to the lower house of Congress.

Higher Taxes on the Rich

The bill, which increases income tax rates for the wealthy and slaps levies on sugary drinks and junk food as well as a charge on stock market gains, seeks to raise total tax revenues by nearly 3 percent of economic output by 2018.

In general terms, the Senate approved the fiscal package with 73 votes in favor and 50 against before the chamber began going through it in more detail.

The tax overhaul is a part of a series of reforms also taking in the telecoms and energy sectors that Pena Nieto hopes will strengthen the economy and help boost a growth rate that has lagged that of other major emerging markets.

Earlier this month, the lower house watered down the tax bill, throwing out some measures including plans to apply sales tax to rents, mortgages, property transactions, and even school fees.

But at the same time, the PRI, supported by the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), modified the fiscal reform to lift top income tax rates, pushing more of the burden onto the richest section of society.

Roughly half of Mexico lives in poverty, while much of its wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families like that of billionaire telecoms mogul Carlos Slim.

The top rate of income tax in Latin America's no. 2 economy is currently 30 percent, but the reform sets out a sliding scale of higher rates capped at 35 percent for those earning more than $233,000 a year.

The higher tax rates have strong PRI and PRD support.


Senate lawmakers are still considering a proposal to raise a planned levy on junk food from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Under the reform, junk food is defined as products that contain more than 275 calories per 100 grams which, in the land that gave it its name, would apply to chocolate.

Changes to the tax bill in the lower house in mid-October created a shortfall in the budget plan for next year.

That prompted lawmakers to raise the government's oil revenue estimate and make other changes to close the gap. These had been due to be voted by the Senate later on Wednesday.

The tax bill is tied to the 2014 budget, which must be approved by mid-November.

The last major reform pending in Congress is the president's planned overhaul of the state-controlled energy sector, which the government hopes will attract investment, help stem a slide in oil output, and power economic growth.

Pena Nieto proposed an energy revamp in August that would loosen the grip on the sector of state oil monopoly Pemex and offer private companies profit-sharing contracts.

If approved as presented, this would mark the largest opening of the energy sector to the private sector in decades.

However, the reform has stopped short of offering production-sharing contracts or concessions that oil majors had been hoping for, and many viewed it as cautious.

Some lawmakers believe the energy plan could still be amended to attract more investment.

Original Story
Safety Advice and Free Matchmaking for Mexico Road Trips
Many thousands of snowbirds make their way annually from Canada and the US to Mexico. Many RV and many more drive to warmer destinations and sunnier climates. Some of those travelers are nervous with reports about drug cartels and have opted to stay home while others just “couldn’t” winter in any other destination.
Mexico road travel experts Bill and Dot Bell have been driving extensively in Mexico for 25 years and offer plenty of advice to make your road trip safer and easier. They also offer a match-making service, Travel Buddies, for people who want to drive together for security and companionship.
“For safety’s sake we suggest drivers read up on the basics for Mexican driving. Don’t drive at night. Get out of border areas as soon as possible. Start your drive days early,” says Dot Bell. “Informed travelers are safer drivers.”
The Bells started the Travel Buddy service for Mexico road travelers five years ago and is free. It lists newbies, caravans as well as experienced drivers that enjoy showing new travelers the roads. “We are pleased that there are drivers that just want to share Mexico with others. It is an amazingly beautiful and diverse country,” says Bell. “Travel Buddies helps build skills and gives confidence to others.”
To sign up for the Free Travel Buddy service, simply send an email to and answer the “Five Magic Questions.”
1. Name
2. Which border will you cross
3. When will you likely cross that border
4. What is your destination
5. How do people contact you (Facebook or email)
“We have helped hundreds of travels over the years” say Bill. “Become informed and have a wonderful vacation.”
See Travel Buddies here
Go to the Bell’s website at
Bill and Dorothy Bell were given the “Real Heroes of Mexico” honor. They have been writing and traveling the country for over 25 years and have visited all 31 Mexican States over a dozen times each. They are currently on a 3 month road trip in Mexico (Oaxaca right now) and can be reached on their Mexican cell at 322 – 294 – 4979 or email

Peña Nieto Inaugurates Mazatlán-Durango Highway

The 227.3 kilometer (136 mile) highway cost a total of 28.6 billion pesos ($2.28 billion).
The 227.3 kilometer (136 mile) highway cost a total of 28.6 billion pesos ($2.28 billion).


Today México’s most ambitious highway project, the Mazatlán-Durango highway, will officially open when President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mario López Valdez, the governor of Sinaloa, and Jorge Herrera Caldera, the governor of Durango, inaugurate the Mazatlán-Durango superhighway. The ceremony will take place at a point midway between Mazatlán and Durango about 130 kilometers (78 miles) from Mazatlán.

The 227.3 kilometer (136 mile) highway cost a total of 28.6 billion pesos ($2.28 billion). 15.114 billion pesos ($1.209 billion) were spent on the Sinaloa side of the highway and 13.486 billion pesos ($1.079) were spent on the Durango side.

The Mazatlan-Durango highway will have a positive financial impact not only on the states of Sinaloa and Durango, but also the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, which, together with Sinaloa and Durango, comprise what is now referred to as the Northern Economic Corridor.

With the opening of the superhighway Mazatlán will become the gateway for products moving from Asia to the east coast of the United States. The drive from Mazatlán to San Antonio, Texas will now be reduced to six hours.

The Mazatlán-Durango highway has 61 tunnels with a total length of 19.4 km (11.6 mi.) and 115 bridges, having a total length of 12.5 kilometers (7.5 miles), one of which is the Baluarte Bridge, one of the highest cable-stayed bridges and longest in the world, with 124 meters (406.8 feet) length and 390 meters (1,280 feet) high, and the second longest tunnel in the country.

(from El Sol de Mazatlán)




Mexican Mushrooms        ©Tara A. Spears

The consumption of edible fungi in Mexico represents a culinary tradition that descends from pre-Hispanic times. Mushrooms are the reproductive structures of fungi (also known as sporocarps or fruiting bodies) and are a major food item in many human cultures throughout the world. Since much of Mexico has a temperate to tropical climate there are hundreds of wild mushroom species that thrive during the rainy season. Using mushrooms as food and for religious ceremonies is a little-known aspect of Mexican cuisine and culture that is practiced by the indigenous people such as the Huichol and Tepehuan. There are mushrooms in Mexico besides those that allow one to "speak to the Gods," as one authority on hallucinogens puts it, and Mexicans for whom wild mushrooms are a regular part of their diet.

The white mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is also known by other names like Portobello mushroom, table mushroom, parasol mushroom, and common mushroom. It was first described in 1884 as a variety of Agaricus campestris. The average diameter of white mushrooms is 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm).  Aside from Vitamin D, white mushrooms are excellent sources of Vitamin B. Likewise, they also contains high levels of valuable nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid are also found in white mushrooms. Modern scientific findings also show that table mushrooms have certain properties that can enhance the immune system. White mushroom is a fairly common species in well-drained soil, usually growing in pastures or grasslands but only occasionally in woodland. 

Read More about Tara's Mexican Mushrooms Here

Carlos Santana to Perform Live Concert In Guadalajara

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Carlos Santana will perform with a star-studded cast of musicians at a once in a lifetime concert event in Guadalajara, Mexico. To date, Santana has won ten Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.
Ten time Grammy-Award winning rock icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Carlos Santana and his band will be performing at a once in a lifetime concert event in Guadalajara, Mexico - in his native state of Jalisco - on December 14th at the Vicente Fernandez Arena.

Santana will perform with a star-studded cast of musicians, all celebrating their Latin music heritage. Confirmed celebrity performances at the concert include Chocquibtown, Gloria Estefan, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Juanes, Miguel, Nina Pastori, Samuel Rosa of Skank, Salvador Santana, Soledad, Diego Torres, among others. More celebrity performances will be announced.

Santana is currently headlining, at a multi-year residency, at House of Blues at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas thru November 17th. On December 8th, Carlos Santana will be awarded the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors Award.

This concert is a homecoming for Carlos and a festive kickoff event to mark his forthcoming album project entitled Corazon. In addition to the superstars performing at the Guadalajara show, Lila Downs, Ziggy Marley, and Romeo Santos will also be joining Santana on this star-studded album project with all-Spanish songs.

"I am truly elated to be involved in Carlos' first ever Latin themed album," Michael Vrionis, Santana's manager and President of Universal Tone Management, said. "This project will have world wide appeal and features some of today's most popular artists. The music will take you on a journey that you have never experienced before. We are thrilled to be able to share this project with the world soon."

Corazon - the concert and album project - brings Carlos back to his birthplace, in the city of Autlan, just south of Guadalajara, and celebrates Carlos' love of his musical heritage. It showcases Carlos' own personal influence on Latin music and on today's generation of Latin superstars. Many genres of Latin music are represented in these collaborations including pop, rock, salsa, hip-hop, folk, reggae, traditional, and bachata.

Santana is currently in the studio in Las Vegas recording many of these superstar collaborations for Corazon with producer Lester Mendez at the helm. The album is a joint release between Sony Latin Iberia and RCA Records. It is executive-produced by Carlos Santana, Clive Davis, - Santana's longtime collaborator and Chief Creative Officer - Sony Music Entertainment, and Afo Verde - Chairman and CEO for Sony's Latin Region, Spain, and Portugal.

For forty years and 50 albums later, Santana has sold more than 100 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won ten Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. He won a record-tying nine Grammys for a single project for 1999's Supernatural - including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for Smooth. He also received the Billboard Century Award in 1996, was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and received the Billboard Latin Music Awards' Lifetime Achievement honor in 2009.

Along with his many other honors, Carlos Santana has also been cited by Rolling Stone as #15 on their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." Celebrating the chart debut of Guitar Heaven in 2010, Santana joined the Rolling Stones as the only musical act in chart history to score at least one Top 10 album in every decade beginning with the 1960s.

For tickets and more information regarding the concert, visit


Chacala, Nayarit

“Place of Shrimps”

Chacala Fast Facts

Location – Chacala is located on the Pacific Ocean coastal plain, ten miles west of Las Varas.

Weather – Tropics. Beautiful warm winters and hot and humid from July to October – the rainy season.

Population – 300

Elevation – 1 meter

Founded – 1524 by Spaniard Francisco Cortés

Industry - Fishing and Tourism

Medical – Doctor. Hospital in la Varas

Money – Nearby town of Las Varas for Banks and ATM

Airport – Puerto Vallarta


South coast of  Nayarit and highlands of Jalisco were inhabited by the Tecoxquin (sometimes referred to as the Throat cutters) from approximately 2000 to 2300 BC. They left petroglyphs in Alta Vista and other nearby places.

Mainly fishermen and farmers  they also traded salt and cotton and coaco reaching Sinaloa to the north, Colima to the south and Michoacán to the east. The small villages were under control of Teuzacualpan Chila Valley – now known as Zacualpan.

They practiced Shamanism and used psychotropic plants to communicate with their Gods during altered states. The Tecoxquin’s were wiped out through disease and epidemics once the Spanish arrived.

In 1524 Hernán Cortés' nephew Spaniard Francisco Cortés de Buena Ventura arrived in the bay and later Portuguese explorer Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeño stopped in Chacala on January 7, 1596 from Manila. Father Kino departed from Chacala in 1683 on his way north.

Chacala was a small commercial port in the 1800 (coffee) and did not reach the import of commercial volume that San Blas or Puerto Vallarta did.


Things to See and Do

Alta Vista

Beach comb, relax, water sports, fish



RV Parks

Directions: Drive Highway 200 South of Las Varas Nayarit and turn West at the intersection marked Chacala. Turn and drive 11kms to the beach and town.






Tule tree by Bill Bell

Isn't nature grand? grande" Mucho Grande!

Árbol del Tule (Spanish for The Tree of Tule) is a tree located in the church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, approximately 9 km east of the city of Oaxaca on the road to Mitla. It is a Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), or ahuehuete (meaning "old man of the water" in Nahuatl). It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world. In 2001 it was placed on a UNESCO tentative list of World Heritage Sites. Dimensions and age
In 2005, its trunk had a circumference of 42.0 m (137.8 ft), equating to a diameter of 14.05 m (46.1 ft), a slight increase from a measurement of 11.42 m (37.5 ft) m in 1982. However, the trunk is heavily buttressed, giving a higher diameter reading than the true cross-sectional of the trunk represents; when this is taken into account, the diameter of the 'smoothed out' trunk is 9.38 m (30.8 ft).[2] This is still slightly larger than the next most stout tree known, a Giant Sequoia with a 8.98 m (29.5 ft) diameter.[4]
The height is difficult to measure due to the very broad crown; the 2005 measurement, made by laser, is 35.4 m (116 ft),[ shorter than previous measurements of 41–43 m (135–141 ft).[3] According to the signboard by the tree (see gallery, below), it has a total volume of 816.829 m3 and a weight of 636.107 t (701.188 short tons); these figures are however not independently verified, and given the same signboard's claim of a girth of 58 m (190 ft), must be treated with suspicion.
It is so large that it was originally thought to be multiple trees, but DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree.This does not rule out another hypothesis, which states that it comprises multiple trunks from a single individual.
The age is unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years, and even one claim of 6,000 years;the best scientific estimate based on growth rates is 1,433-1,600 years.[8] Local Zapotec legend holds that it was planted about 1,400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehecatl, the Aztec wind god, in broad agreement with the scientific estimate; its location on a sacred site (later taken over by the Roman Catholic Church) would also support this.
The tree is occasionally nicknamed the "Tree of Life" from the images of animals that are reputedly visible in the tree's gnarled trunk. As part of an official project local schoolchildren give tourists a tour of the tree and point out shapes of creatures on the trunk, including jaguars and elephants.


Mexican Paintball Team Earns Respect at World Cup

                                                         ©Tara A. Spears


Extreme sport enthusiasts eagerly followed the recent Paintball World Cup tournament that was held in Paris, France last week. Mexico was represented by team Riot from Guadalajara. Mexico was the only Latin American country participating. Although the team is comprised of dedicated amateur players- meaning that the men have jobs other than paintball- they ranked 10th of 24 teams competing! Since the Mexican team was rated 18th before the tournament, they were proud to elevate their standing against other countries. “We knew we were up against strong talent going into the tournament”, said Sergio. “The 10-Man field layout for the World Cup was also a challenge as the Mexican Paintball League plays 5-man. But we were able to concentrate and perform well.” Not only was the Paintball World Cup well attended, the games were televised in Europe where the sport has a large following. This inaugural event was hosted by the European Paintball League  (EPBF) & the Asian Federation of Paintball (APPBF) and is considered the first true international competition at Chantilly with teams attending from all over the world. This event was a big boost for the profile of the sport amongst mainstream audiences. “The Mexican team Riot Guadalajara gave us a very tough prelim match on Saturday on the CPL field,” said the number one team captain, Ainsley Baddeley.

Click here to read the entire  


Pyramid of the Sun

by Dorothy and Bill Bell

The Pyramid of the Sun - photographed from the North

Likely used as a religious and sacrificial center, the Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure on the site and third largest pyramid in the world after Cholula near Puebla Mexico and Cheops in Egypt. When the site was rediscovered early in the 20th century, the pyramids appeared as hills of stone rubble with trees and plants growing up from the rocks. The temple atop the Pyramid of the Sun had long vanished from the towering structure.

The Pyramid of the Sun -

photographed from the South



Building of the great pyramid commenced around 100 AD over a cave shaped like a four-leaf clover. The cave was sacred to Mesoamerican cultures and archeologists believe that this particular cave was considered the womb of the universe or the place the Gods created the world. The pyramid of the Sun was like built over the cave to signify the importance of the spot and potentially determined the alignment of the city.

Thousands of Visitors a month climb the 248 steps up the Pyramid

Click here to read the entire story






Sisal: Another Mexican Original

                   ©Tara A. Spears

Gardeners, farmers, and sailors have relied on sisal twine and rope since the indigenous Mexican people first started using the agave plant leaves centuries ago. The Mayans were probably the first people to use Agave fibers in ancient times and the first to cultivate Agave fourcroydes on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico from the first century onwards. The ancient Mayan carvings show slaves with rope around their neck as well as other every day use of woven fiber. The early use of sisal or henequén was strictly a Mexican invention. Mexican artifacts collected in the 19th century include stringed instruments, bows, nets and twine-carrying bags. Cloth was woven from the fine fibers found at the growing tip of the bud that came from this native plant. While Agave fourcroydes and Agave sisalana plants originate in Mexico, the plants were eventually smuggled out of the country and are now naturalized for commercial production in parts of Africa, Madagascar, the Caribbean, the southern USA, and on some Pacific islands. During the time of foreign rule in Mexico when the agave fiber began to be exported to other countries, a tiny seaport village on the Yucatan north coast became the global centre for the export of henequen. Each bag of henequen was stamped “Port of Sisal” and to the rest of the world, the rope that kept the navies of the world operating was called “sisal.”

Read More about Sisal here 


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Avenue of the Dead...Teotihuacan "where the gods were born"

Take a walk down the Avenue of the Dead with Dorothy and I as we stroll from the Pyramid of the Feather Serpent to the Pyramid of the Sun. It is a magical one and half kilometer walk with much to explore and wonder about what went on here during its zenith.  Photography by Bill Bell


        Phone: 322 133 0081