The best things to do in Mérida, Mexico

By Lilit Marcus | CNN
Mérida is one of those dream destinations where “something for everyone” is not just a tourism-board platitude.
The capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, there’s a ton of Spanish colonial and Mayan history, as well as stretches of sunny beachfront practically engineered in a lab for perfect relaxation.
Here’s everything you need to know about enjoying the city, whether you have a quick weekend of travel or a lot of time to hang out.

Arts and culture

The best way to begin your visit to Mérida is by exploring the area’s history and figuring out how Mérida fits into the bigger story of Mexico.
The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya provides necessary background.

The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya provides necessary background.
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Mérida, named for the town in Spain, was built on the site of a thriving Mayan city. Even today, these two major cultures brush up against each other — it’s not uncommon to hear Maya still spoken in the area.
Next step: take a walk along the Paseo de Montejo, which begins not far from the city center.
The Spanish colonizers became rich from agave farming, and many built mansions along the Paseo de Montejo, named for one of the first Spanish sailors who landed here.
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These days, the mansions are in various conditions — some have been converted into B&Bs, some are still single family homes and a few are in disrepair waiting for the right buyer to come along and fix them up.
While it’s far from authoritative, this walk will really help you to visualize how Mérida has changed over the years and what it may have felt like two hundred years ago.
Dzibilchaltún Mexico

Many people combine their visit to Mérida with visits to Mayan sites like Chichen Itza throughout the state.
But if you’re short on time or want to experience multiple spots, Dzibilchaltún is close to central Mérida and you’re likely to be the only tourist there.
As yet another example of Mayan and Spanish cultures intersecting with each other, Dzibilchaltún has both a temple and the ruins of a church, as well as a small museum that gives background and context on the area.
For a more modern — and complete — church, head to Mérida Cathedral, aka San Ildefonso Cathedral.
Modern is a relative term here, as the cathedral is one of the oldest in the Americas and dates to around 1598. Look down for foundational stones from a Mayan temple and up for Renaissance-era architecture.

Where to chill

One of the best things about Mérida is how many different kinds of activities are packed into a small area. Besides history, ruins and food, there’s also a great beach culture in Progreso, about 45 km (29 miles) away from downtown.
On weekends and in the summer, this area is packed with families and hotels and rental houses sell out way in advance, so plan carefully.
If you just come out for the day, stroll along the malecon (walkway along the waterfront) and then break for a casual lunch at Flamingo’s, where you can sit in a plastic chair, wear flip-flops and eat fresh-cooked fish that were caught just that morning.
Progreso Beach's malecon has gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Progreso Beach’s malecon has gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico.
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Many of the former haciendas built by wealthy Spaniards are a considerable way out of town.
However, one way to get this langorous feeling while still being in walking distance of the city center is to stay at the lush Rosas Y Xocolate hotel on Paseo de Montejo, which is a member of the Design Hotels of the World group.
The neon pink-painted open air courtyard frames a shallow swimming pool that changes colors throughout the day as the sun sets and the interior lights shift.
But if you’re lucky enough to stay the night there, ask for a room with a bathtub – they are made in an elegant old style where water is poured into a stone-hewn tub via a “bucket” on the wall. It’s as beautiful as it is relaxing.

Comida tipica

Yucatecans have a reputation for independent spirits, and sometimes other Mexicans joke that they think of Yucatan as a separate country.
Their rich, varied food scene is definitely in a class of its own.
To get started, settle in at La Chaya Maya, a local establishment likely to have lines around the block (they recently expanded to a second location to handle demand).
Cochinita pibil is a popular request at La Chaya Maya.

The “specials” section is a good place to get started — look for lime soup (with peppers, turkey, cilantro and crunchy slivers of tortilla chips), panuchos (small fried corn tortillas topped with chopped turkey and vegetables) and papadzules (flour tortillas stuffed with chopped up hard-boiled egg, with a pumpkin and epazote herb sauce).
For a more casual evening out, Mercado 60 is an open-air food hall with a range of options from classic Mexican to Brazilian churrascaria, pizza and solid vegetarian options, plus craft beer.
Finally, for a splurge, the best spot for a fancy dinner is Kuuk, whose twelve-course tasting menu is a stunning, multisensory take on Yucatecan dishes.
Though the menu changes seasonally, you can count on local ingredients like beans, corn tortillas, shellfish, tamales and fruits like guava and mango paired in unexpectedly delightful ways — and there’s always Yucatecan chocolate at the end.

Why Lake Chapala, Mexico?

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By Michaela | Retire in Lake Chapala

Unless you have a serious aversion to Mexico, Ajijic, on the shores of Mexico’s largest lake, Lake Chapala, is one of the finest places on the planet that you could consider retiring to. True, it’s not the commercial advertisement of a hot bikini clad body sipping a margarita on the beach, but it has enough development, a large expat community and a perfect year around climate to make settling here easy and stress free.

After having traveled to other Central American countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua searching for a pleasant climate to call home, Ajijic, Mexico has check marked all the boxes on my wish list. When you look at all the factors of what makes an ideal retirement destination for year around living you find that there is a world of difference between retiring to Lake Chapala verses other retirement destinations such as Boquete, Panama; Cuenca, Equador; Grenada, Nicaragua; or any other country in Central America. Hands down, Lake Chapala beats the climate options, commerce options, ease of travel to and from USA or Canada, and quality health care options compared to these other destinations. Heck, they even have all the things we love such as Walmart, Costco (Guadalajara), Autozone, etc. Even Amazon.mx!

Lets look at some of the things people look for in a retirement destination:

Climate
Likely the #1 reason why so many choose Lake Chapala as their retirement destination. Lake Chapala has an incredible climate with with an average temperature of 72 degrees F (21 degrees C). Rains happen only in the summer and then mostly only at night. How awesome is that?

Cost of Living
Cost of Living is about 35-50% of what it would cost to live in the U.S. or Canada. Assuming you own your own home, have 2 cars, and eat out/entertain (2-3 times/week), you can expect to pay about $19,000/yr USD per couple. Some even live here well on Social Security at $15,000 /year.

Rents run at $500-2500 USD/month with a normal range of $700-$1200 USD for year long leases that can include some or all of the utilities such as electric, gas, cable, water and trash, gardener and maid. Remember too, there is no need for heat or AC in the home.

Personal services are a quarter of the cost of the US (maid, car driver, personal care, concierge – $2-4/hour). Auto mechanic a quarter to a third of the USA cost. Haircut – $3.00, Car wash – $3.00.

Lifestyle
Imagine living in a real Mexican Village complete with plaza/churches/festivals/parades, boating/kayaking on the lake, hiking in the mountains, discovering ancient artifacts (caves, pyramids, petroglyphs), lazing the day away in thermal baths, visiting rustic rural villages/farms, and even enjoying world class shopping, 5 star restaurants and the opera in the second largest city of Mexico, Guadalajara. Now this is living your retirement years to the fullest!

Entertainment
There is a huge entertainment schedule weekly with live music every night at some restaurants throughout the village.

View
A 400-year old village with cobble stone streets and church bells ringing, colorful murals and homes, mountains, Mexico’s largest lake (50 mile long, 12 miles wide), ever blooming flowers, birds galore, butterflies, palm trees, and more.

Health & Health Care
Once you are acclimatized to the altitude, you will notice a significant feeling of increased vigor.

You’ll eat healthier than ever before with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from roadside stands and the weekly organic farmers market. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to eat less processed foods while living here as all foods are prepared on a ‘as ordered’ basis with fresh ingredients.

The health clinics in Ajijic are just minutes away with English-speaking doctors ($15/visit) and full service hospitals and specialty centers are located in Guadalajara along with many forms of alternative medicine offerings both in Ajijic and in Guadalajara.

Convenience
You can walk to most anything from Ajijic and a drive of more than 5 km (3.1 miles) from the main street (Colon Street) seems totally unnecessary.

For those times you desire something special, Guadalajara has other options such as Sam’s Club, Frescos and Costco. You can find anything in Guadalajara, Mexico’s 2nd largest city, that you could find in the USA (theater, opera, a zoo, Home Depot, etc.)

 Vacationing
Mexico is huge country with a surface area encompassing more than all of Central America combined so there is more ground to cover for travel options and exploration.

You have access to a lot of climate zones too, from true desert to true jungle with jaguars and crocodiles. You can enjoy semi cold winters and snow, or sweltering, humid summers, or dry searing desert heat all within a couple days drive and depending on the season.

Flights to anywhere in the world is a breeze while living in Ajijic with only a 30 minute drive to the airport. Once there, flights to the U.S. and Canada are frequent and well priced.

Mexico is bound on either side by the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, offering the Lake Chapala expat a variety of beach options. In fact, Mexico has 9,330 km (5,800 miles) of coastline! The Pacific Coast village of Cuyatlan is the closest and only 3 hours away, Manzanillo 3.5 hours and the Caribbean can be easily accessed through the Guadalajara airport with direct flights taking you to Cancun, Cozumel and Chetumal.

So what are you waiting for? If you can afford only one move or don’t have time for trial and error, make it Lake Chapala!

Original Source

Opening A Business In Mexico

opening-business-Mexico

By Christian Reeves | Escape Artist

Today the US Dollar reached $18.57 Pesos in Mexico and experts are estimating that the dollar will only go up in the coming days. In recent years more and more Americans have taken advantage of this spike in value by vacationing in Mexico, crossing the border to shop, and even starting a life south of the border.

American business men and women have benefited the most from the current state of the dollar in Mexico as more and more companies are starting to open operations in Mexico. Forget all the hype around Trump… that just applies to import / export businesses. If you are in the service business, our operate online, then you can move to Mexico without any new tax costs.

Since NAFTA, many of the restraints placed on Americans seeking to operate or invest in businesses in Mexico have been erased. The process will become even easier in the upcoming years as Mexico is starting to recognize the necessity of foreign investment. Foreign investment in Mexico reached 15,645.2 million dollars in the first half of the year, an increase of 8.8% compared to the preliminary figure for the same period of 2016.

Mexico is the easiest country in Latin America to start a business as its faster and much less complicated to do so. In some cases it only takes a day and zero dollars to begin running your own company. Still, there are some steps that you must complete in order to comply with the Mexican rules and regulations established to help you begin.

Request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE).

The first step in creating a company is to submit a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where five possible business structures are listed in order of preference for the company. This is done to ensure that there is no company already established in the country with the same corporate name.

Drafting the Constitutive Act.

Once the SRE gives the approval and determines the applicable Business Structure, the Constitutive Act must be created. This document is the one that gives life and stipulates all the general and basic aspects of the company: company name, objective, type of company, administration, duration, etc. Once the company is created, the Constitutive Certificate must be notarized before a Notary Public.

Registration before the Tax Administration Service (SAT).

When the Constitutive Act is created and legalized the next step is with the Tax Administration Service, the Mexican equivalent to the IRS. From this register, the Tax Identification Number is obtained, which contains the Federal Taxpayer Identification Number (RFC).

Registration in the Public Registry of Property and Commerce (RPPC).

The next step is to appear before the Public Registry of Property and Commerce  in the state and city where the company will be registered, as well as its purposes, objectives and commercial goals. For this process the presentation of the Constitutive Act is required, the RFC and the power of attorney that allows the legal representative to carry out actions for the company.

Registration with the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).

Next is to subscribe your business to the Mexican Institute of Social Security. Even if it is a company in which only the employer exists as the only worker, since it will be necessary for him to make his personal contributions to his Social Security accounts. Also, if you have not done it in time, you may be liable for a fine by the IMSS.

Registration before the other required Government offices. Depending on the commercial activity that the company will perform, you may be required to register to different government organisms, the most common being: Ministry of Health, Secretariat of Ecology and Environment, Mexican Institute of Industrial Property, etc. At this point you must also fill out all municipal or state permits that are required in the geographical area in which you seeks to establish.

It is worth noting that, as in the United States, there are many grants that the government gives to new business, you’ll have to look up and see which one applies to your type of business.

Tax Considerations

The corporate tax rate in Mexico is 30%, much higher than the United States thanks to President Trump. Even so, many US export service business are moving to Mexico for lower wages and overhead.

  • An export service business is a company that provides a service from Mexico to people or companies outside of Mexico. For example, affiliate marketers, outsourcing, and internet businesses.

Because of the high taxes in Mexico, we usually suggest you also incorporate an offshore corporation in a low or zero tax country such as Panama. Clients will pay the Panama corporation and you will bring into Mexico only the money you require to operate the business. That is to say, the business in Mexico will break-even or have a small taxable gain.

Note that this only works if your clients pay the Panama company and not the Mexico company. Mexico’s tax authority is likely to deny a deduction for expenses paid to a Panama company.

Also, US citizens should draw their salary from the Panama company maximizing the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

Please keep in mind that these tax suggestions apply to ordinary business income. I am not considering passive income, capital gains, or cryptocurrency trades.

How to Learn Spanish

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By International Living

The very best way to enjoy the culture of any country is by being able to speak the language. If you’re contemplating a move to a Spanish-speaking country, you must start with planning on how to learn Spanish. You don’t have to be fluent. You don’t need to be perfect every single time. But you do need to master a few basics.

Beyond being able to order another cerveza (beer) and ask where the bathrooms are (and those are important, of course) you might want to be able to talk to the locals…to ask for directions and get to the places you want to visit, to go about your daily errands and generally make yourself understood.

Why should you learn Spanish? Because you never know where it will take you. Not only is this important for your comfort but it will greatly enrich your experience traveling or living abroad. And it will earn you a great deal of respect from your local friends and neighbors.

Here are three very different experiences from expats learning Spanish abroad.

Adventures and Feeling Younger Learning Spanish Overseas

By Michael Sump

When my wife, Suzanne, and I retired, we loved the free time, but we found filling it with something meaningful a bit tricky. We wanted to tackle new goals and new activities and avoid flabby waistlines and flabbier minds. We were determined to make the most of our time.

We started by exploring the United States in a small RV. We visited most of the national parks and stayed active by biking and hiking. Along the way, we discovered that we didn’t need as much stuff as we owned, that a more minimal life was liberating, and that we no longer wanted our house of 25 years. This was followed by the “Great Purge,” as we spent a year downsizing and selling the house.

After two years as full-time nomads, we realized—in the time it takes to blow an engine—that it was time to try something new.

We had circled the globe dozens of times in our work lives, but we had never crossed the equator into the southern hemisphere. So we decided to explore South America. But we wanted to pick up enough Spanish, so we could ask for directions to the bathrooms, order a beer, or give an address to a taxi driver.

For the last four years, we have been Spanish students on the move. We’ve spent time in 12 countries in Latin America and have found the people to be warm, friendly, and welcoming. Our travels have been a blast, but the schools and their contacts have lent structure to our voyage of discovery.

With some Spanish skills, your world will expand, your competence will increase, and you can choose whom to hire and how you will travel. On our first trip to South America, we visited Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, and Chile.

Going back to school in your 50s and 60s is an enlivening experience. It’s a wonderful way to meet young, energetic people. Their “my whole life is ahead of me” enthusiasm can extend to those of us whose lives are mostly behind us. Shouldn’t life be as exciting and full of possibilities for jubilados (retirees) as for the jóvenes(young people)? Our studies have made us feel younger and more mentally healthy.

Thanks to the schools we’ve attended, we have friends all over the world. We watched a fellow student sing in the Lima Opera Fest, and we’ll soon head to Bogotá to see a classmate’s newborn son.

There are also immediate advantages. You’ll have better access to local knowledge and services. A few bucks go a long way with a local seamstress, cobbler, or artisan, if you can describe what you want.

Travel can be tough on luggage and on shoes; locals can repair them for a few dollars. It’s much cheaper than back home.

You also have a way to handle emergencies: the doctor, a dentist.

When my tooth became infected in Chile, I was able to talk to the dentist about what was wrong and what we could try before submitting to an expensive treatment.

We started our language journey with five months in Costa Rica in 2014. We chose Costa Rica because it welcomes U.S. citizens and was close to home. We used Heredia, just outside San José, as our base for exploring the rest of the country, and we attended a highly ranked school (see sidebar).

We couldn’t have chosen a better place to start. Costa Rica is small and one can get from the Pacific to the Caribbean coasts in a day, or stop in the middle to explore the mountains, volcanos, and wildlife of the highlands. We also made trips to adjacent Nicaragua and Panama. Our immersion into the language was enhanced by two “home stays,” where our Mama Ticas kept things lively and introduced us to traditional foods and the tico culture.

The next year, we headed to South America. On our first stop, we fell in love with a school in Peru’s capital, Lima. It has become our “home school.” The teachers are talented and eager, and it’s located in an unbelievably beautiful place. Miraflores is a suburb of Lima that sits atop a tall cliff over the Pacific Ocean. A malecón (promenade) 300 feet above the sea winds through a string of parks for six miles along the coast.

Miraflores is both clean and safe. We are comfortable walking around, even at midnight.

We spent the next seven months exploring, including vacations to Easter Island, the Galápagos, and Tierra del Fuego. In the Galápagos Islands, you have such amazing access to sea lions, penguins, blue-footed boobies, and tortoises, that it’s easy to forget they are wild.

But what we enjoy most is being able to experience a city beyond the tourist route. We rent a local apartment, we shop in the local markets, we explore local venues. We walk everywhere, and we both weigh considerably less than when we started this adventure.

After South America, we headed to Europe (including three months in Spain). We found the Spanish of the motherland somewhat different, but we had enough basic vocabulary to get around. We spent the rest of 2016 traveling around non-Spanish-speaking parts of Europe.

Our next trip was to Mexico. To knock off some rust, we hired tutors (another useful approach) in Mexico City. After a month, we went to Guanajuato. This is a gem of a college town, surrounded by steep hills that any hiker would enjoy. We spent six months wandering around Mexico and even took a three-week journey into Cuba.

In Cuba, Spanish was crucial, because very few people speak English. It enabled us to work directly with providers, rather than having to rely on a costly, government-structured tour. Best of all, we were able to find out what the Cubans really think. They are incredible people who’ve experienced great hardships. They’re careful about what they say but will loosen up over a shot of rum and a Cuban cigar.

After a short visit to the States, we are now back in Peru. We’re meeting interesting people of all ages and catching up with old friends. One of our friends owns a leather workshop and is making me two hand-tooled belts, all leather, and better than any I’ve ever owned. I saw the tanned hide being cut and watched the workman handstamp the leather, using tools made from old automobile valve lifters. It’s costing me just $3.

We’ll be down here for another six months. This time, if we do our homework and keep practicing, we may cross the line into feeling truly bilingual.

The Challenges and Joys of Learning Spanish

By Janette Sullivan

When I moved to Ecuador almost four years ago, I did not speak a word of Spanish. Well, I could say “good morning,” “good afternoon” and “good evening,” but that was pretty much the extent of it. I had decided before I moved that learning Spanish was very important to me, in order to better integrate into the culture here.

Ten days after I arrived, I enrolled in a fairly intensive Spanish immersion program. It was three days a week, four hours a day—no English allowed. I’m not going to sugar coat it…it was a challenge. There was a lot of charades going on for the first few weeks. But honestly, I think all those charades made the words stick better.

I had heard from someone that there was a young lady who worked in a local store that wanted to learn English. So I thought what a great way to improve my Spanish. I can teach her English, and practice my Spanish. We met in her store a few times a week, and then relocated to her house in the evenings. She was married with two little kids, so I learned a lot of little kid jargon. Before I knew it, I was joining her at her husband’s basketball games, and spending time with the kids.

Learning Spanish was a big learning curve, but before I knew it I was able to communicate fairly well. I was able to shop, exchange pleasantries, and even argue if needed. I went to school on and off for the first year, using the time off to actually practice what I had learned in school. (Spanish classes run about $8 to $10 per hour for an individual lesson, and $6.50 to $8 for a group lesson.)

I did, however, have a few blunders. One day, I asked a contractor working at my house if he would like a “child” in his drink instead of “ice” (hijo vs hielo), and I was constantly asking for “Thursdays” instead of “eggs” (jueves vs juevos). Mostly I just got funny looks, realized that I said something wrong and tried to correct it.

After a year of Spanish classes, I decided to undertake a home-stay in order to practice my Spanish. I had met a family who lived outside the city of Cayambe, high in the mountains. They were a fairly poor farming family, but generous people. The dad and kids all worked or went to school during the day, so I spent most of my time with Carmita, the mom. Every morning we worked the cows, cleaned the guinea pig cages, and did other farm chores. The whole time we would be chatting away in Spanish. It was a very interesting experience and really did help me learn more Spanish.

I try to incorporate several techniques into learning. I often find that I just like to venture out on my own and find people to talk to in Spanish, whether it is on the bus or at a restaurant. Also, I often tune the TV or radio into Spanish to listen to in the background. But, most important is that I fortunately have friends who find learning the language a very important quality, and we are constantly encouraging each other, sometimes even writing our emails to each other in Spanish.

I feel so much more confident and happy now that I am able to communicate. Like with anything in life, there is always room for improvement, so after nearly four years, I have gone back to school again. I find now that since I understand the language better, everything that I am learning at school is clicking so much faster. This time around has become very rewarding for me, which in return keeps me motivated to continue working up that learning curve.

How This Expat Improved Her Spanish Skills Through Knitting

By Warren Hardy

Margie is in her mid-60s and a retired school teacher from California. She is currently enjoying retirement in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. One day she was in front of her house knitting when two local neighborhood girls walked by. She was used to greeting them in passing but today was different. The girls, about 12 years old, walked over to Margie and watched her as she knitted.

Margie didn’t know the word for knitting in Spanish, so she said it in English and asked what it would be in Spanish. The girls told her (it’s tejer = to knit) and she taught them the word knitting in English. The girls moved on.

A couple of days later the same girls passed the house once again and saw Margie. The girls wanted to see her knitting. Margie brought out her knitting and a couple of chairs and the girls looked on as Margie got to work with her needles. Margie saw that they wanted to learn to knit and the school teacher in her kicked in. She invited them to come back and she’d teach them to knit.

“I will never forget the excitement I felt getting ready for my first knitting class,” Margie told me. “I got my materials together and when the girls arrived we sat down and went to work.”

Margie says most of the lesson was show and tell but soon the girls were teaching her knitting words in Spanish. “I learned the word for knot, needle, and thread,” she says. “And we went through all the colors. They learned the English words and I learned the Spanish ones.”

Margie and the girls were both excited about their knitting/Spanish class and so they met again and this time the girls asked if they could invite their sisters. “The next class, there were five students,” Margie says. “Each girl brought one of their sisters and even one of their brothers showed up.”

Margie says as the lessons went on she was getting more comfortable with the Spanish terms.  Over a year later, Margie’s knitting class has eight regular students. Not only is she learning Spanish, but she’s also been “adopted” by the girls’ families. “I’m invited to events with this family,” she says. “This is something that I cherish and would never have imagined in my wildest dreams. My Spanish, even though improved, still needs a lot of work, but that said, I do speak fluent knitting.”

Margie is not unique. Everyone can learn Spanish and as Margie’s story shows, you never know where learning even just a few important words is going to take you. No matter how lousy you think your Spanish is, there is always an opportunity for new friends and new adventures.

Original Source

Exploring the Riviera Maya

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By Brian | Retirement Type

We stood impatiently at the counter in the chaotic, sticky-hot car rental agency near the Cancun airport. The friendly young señorita carefully finished the paperwork, congratulated us in perfect English, and handed over the keys.

My wife Kristi and I are seriously considering retiring part time in Mexico with the hope that we can retire earlier with less money. We’ve enjoyed trips to the Yucatan before – it’s one of our favorite places in the world.

The Riviera Maya

“Riviera Maya” is an exotic name invented by the local government in 1999, designed to beckon tourists with a familiar Sirens’ call. It encompasses a stretch of the Mexican coastline along the eastern side of the Yucatan from Puerto Morelos to just below Tulum and includes the island of Cozumel.

The beaches are world-class, the water is a perfect temperature, the surf is invigorating, and the snorkeling is otherworldly. There are few places around the globe that can offer such a rich smorgasbord of aquatic experiences, and few places with people and communities as open and inviting as here.

I first explored this coastline during college in the ‘80’s. It was undiscovered and quiet then, and the infrastructure was primitive. Over the years and a dozen trips I’ve watched it transform into a thriving collection of unique and vibrant communities, while still managing to retain a strong connection to its Mayan roots.

The area is scattered with countless ruins from the Olmecs, Toltecs and Mayans, dating back more than 4000 years. There are dozens within driving distance that are meticulously restored and willing to share their captivating ancient stories of battles, games, struggles, and human sacrifices to anyone who’ll listen. Our favorites are Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Cobá and Tulum, but one could spend years immersed in study of the complex history of this region.

Spaceships

We drove down highway 307 from the rental car agency towards our first destination, Puerto Morelos, just 25 kilometers south. On our way we passed at least a dozen all-inclusive golf, spa, and beach resorts, many welcoming their guests with majestic entry gates with manned checkpoints to keep out the riffraff. Several of the properties were protected with kilometers of tall fences and armed guards stationed atop elevated towers.

There are two ways to enjoy the local hospitality and natural beauty of this region. One is to immerse yourself in the colorful, unpredictable, and often-unexplainable people and culture of the region, and the other is to teleport into a heavily-armed, all-inclusive mega-resort spaceship hosting all the fantastical comforts you’ve ever imagined.

A vacation is, by definition, a departure from one’s regular life. It deserves to be treated as such.

We refer to the resorts as spaceships because they isolate their passengers from the alien lands around them while carefully maintaining proper levels of life support cocktails and epicurean atmospheres. It’s a wonderful experience if you’re looking for a simple, safe, and sanitized version of American luxury.

Karma Chameleons

We’re not disciples of that type of space travel and prefer to explore and personally experience the natural delights and tribulations of the local communities and people.

Our first night was in Puerto Morelos, where we sloughed our traveler’s skins, donned our sombreros and huaraches, and went undercover as best as two pale-skinned Americans could do.

Puerto Morelos is an old seaport still used actively for shipping and fishing. The population of 9,000 is relatively small, and so far the city has resisted the extravagant nightclubs, boutique retail shops, and watersport activities that attract the typical tourists and the craziness they bring. It does have an amazing beach, friendly locals, and a casual downtown with quiet cafes, seafood restaurants, and shops.

beach wedding

That evening, as we started our walk down the beach to a much-anticipated seafood dinner in town, we passed a group of workers preparing for a grand fiesta. After a scrumptious meal we returned and hid in the shadows to watch a beautiful Mexican beach wedding. The bride was stunning, flowers were abundant, and the young flower girls pranced across the dance floor while the celebrants surprisingly partied to Cindi Lauper and her 80’s rock and roll cohorts.

We returned to our room, singing along with the classic tunes as they filtered through our traditional palapa thatch roof, fantasizing about retiring here and becoming one with the locals. Hours later as the drunken revelry intensified, and the DJ twiddled the volume dial, we realized that there aren’t any noise laws or curfews here, and we still have a ways to go in our transformation.

Finally, we buried our heads in our pillows and Boy George sang us into a fitful sleep. A spaceship might have been better that night.

Discovery

Following a tip from some locals we met the night before, we cautiously drove down a narrow road away from the coast and civilization.

Eduardo and Miguel were sitting calmly on the wobbly picnic table when we arrived. The two youngsters perked up when they saw us and eagerly took our pesos in exchange for two old snorkeling masks and a tour of their three cenotes hidden deep in the jungle.

Cenotes are common throughout the Yucatan. Over many centuries, underground rivers carve away caverns in the soft limestone and dolomite. When the roof thins, weakens, and collapses, you’re left with a deep hole and a pool of cool refreshing water at the bottom. Most of these cenotes have steep walls and can only be safely accessed with ladders. It’s rare, but a few can be reached only through caves.

Eduardo hopped in the car with us and directed us through a maze of rock-strewn dirt roads to an indistinct turnout. I was nervous for our safety, but he was a skinny kid and I figured I could take him if he tried anything.

In case a quick getaway was needed, I let the car idle for a moment as he lifted the lid of a wooden box, pulled a cable, and grinned as a compressor reluctantly chugged to life.

cenote2He led us into a cave, now lit by a string of bare bulbs, and down a gentle slope hewn with stairsteps. At the bottom was a wooden platform jutting out into the wide-open air of a cavern cut with the teeth of dozens of stalactites and stalagmites. “Where’s the water?” I asked in Spanish, and instead of replying he tossed a stone just past the platform where it plopped into rings of ripples that spread across what I thought was midair.

It was the clearest water I’ve ever seen, and cold enough to shock us practically into paralysis.

Well? Riviera Retirement?

These are the experiences we all yearn for: Encounters with wonderful people you wouldn’t meet unless you take a risk and turn left on the road to adventure; Fascinating places that seem like they’ve never been discovered before; Experiences that are completely unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

And it was only our second day.

Original Source

Moving From The Usa To Mexico

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By Mexicanbeachbum

Are you looking for a change in your lifestyle? Have you decided to start a new life out of the USA? Moving from the USA to Mexico is becoming more appealing to many American residents. If you are one of them, this article might help you prepare for the moving day.

Moving from one country to another implies considering many factors. First of all, there’s the financial factor, finding the perfect housing and getting a job. Even if you have everything figured out, you still have to deal with the cultural shock of starting a new life in Mexico. Depending on how you prepare, moving to Mexico can be a good or a bad choice for you. Read on and find more information about planning your perfect Mexico relocation.

BEFORE MOVING FROM THE USA TO MEXICO

Before your moving day, there are some important things to consider. First of all, you should decide on the city you want to live in. You can choose between a city center, smaller town or suburbs. After you find the perfect area, it’s time to choose the right neighborhood, which will depend on a few factors. First of all, if you are moving alone, consider living in a busier part of the city. This way you can be closer to the city happenings and meet a lot of interesting locals and newcomers. On the other hand, if you are moving to Mexico with a family, it’s a great choice – Mexico has some gorgeous natural landscapes where you can find a small house to raise your kids.

If you already have in mind a perfect location in Mexico, you should consider housing options. Buying or renting a property has its pros and cons, depending on your financial status. Also, make sure to decide whether you want to live in a house or an apartment. Make a list of pros and cons and prepare for contacting a real estate agent. During the moving process, he/she can help you with everything from home scouting to filling out the application forms.

CONSIDER THE COST OF LIVING IN MEXICO

It’s not a secret that living in Mexico is way cheaper than living in the USA. However, moving process will imply many additional costs, so you should plan your budget on time. Besides thinking about the cost of hiring professional movers, there are more costs to consider. Here’s a list of the things to bear in mind when it comes to the costs of living in Mexico:

The purchasing power in Mexico is higher than in the USA. This is good news for everyone moving from the USA to Mexico. The reason for this is that a median household income in Mexico is around one-tenth of the one in America. Still, make sure to calculate the budget on time. Make sure to set some money aside for the first few months of living in your new home.

Groceries and food are also cheaper. If you are a gastronomy lover, this will be great news for you. The food pricing, as well as restaurant pricing, go from 10% to 130% lower than in the USA.

Housing and transportation are a lot cheaper than in the US. Wherever you choose to live in Mexico, you probably won’t spend most of your monthly income on rent and transportation. Of course, this implies to everyone not working for an average Mexican income.

The overall monthly budget you’ll need after moving from the USA to Mexico is between 1000$ and 2000$.

GATHER ALL THE PAPERWORK AND VISA REQUIREMENTS

Moving from the USA to Mexico is easier if you are an American resident. For those staying less than 180 days in Mexico, The Tourist Card is needed. But, if you wish to stay longer than 3 months in Mexico, you will need the FMM visa (Forma Migratoria Multiple) and a valid passport.  In case you don’t have an American citizenship, make sure to visit the official website of the Mexican government.

Besides applying for a visa (if necessary), you have to sort out all other documents, and you should do this months before moving from the USA to Mexico. First of all, you should go to your local bank and ask for more information about your account transfer. Also, if you are selling your home, make sure to do it enough in advance, so you can plan the budget for your Mexican relocation.

In the end, consider all the moving costs. Make sure to get a quote and learn how much you will pay for hiring international moving companies from NY. Professional movers will help you with all the hard work moving from the USA to Mexico brings, so you don’t have to deal with it.

HIRING PROFESSIONAL MOVERS

One of the most important questions during a move is should you hire professional movers? Well, if you write the list of pros and cons, you’ll see that it definitely pays off. Considering how much valuable time and energy you can save, you will surely conclude that hiring movers is a good idea.

Moving from the USA to Mexico can be a big change in your lifestyle. Professional movers can help you with planning and the transportation of your belongings. U. Santini Moving and Storage Brooklyn is a reliable and affordable moving company from New York. Their moving professionals offer various moving services including both residential and commercial moving assistance. Also, if you lack time to prepare for the move, ask your movers about packing services or packing supplies. In the end, make sure to start planning the relocation on time and learn more about Mexican culture before the move.

Original Source

Turismo en México crece por arriba de la economía mundial

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Por Leticia Hernandez | El Financiero

La actividad turística en México aporta casi el doble de lo que en promedio contribuye a las economías de la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económico (OCDE). Mientras en el país aporta aproximadamente el 8.7 por cientodel PIB, para el conjunto de economías del organismo representa en promedio 4.9 por ciento.

Asimismo en México el sector provee 2.3 millones de empleos de tiempo completo, equivalentes a. 5.9 por ciento del empleo y 79.9 por ciento de las exportaciones de servicios, más que el 22 por ciento que en promedio representa para los países de la OCDE, señala el reporte “OCDE Tendencias del Turismo y Políticas 2018”.

A nivel global la industria turística ha mostrado buen crecimiento, por arriba de la economía mundial, pero se requieren políticas integradas para asegurar su competitividad, sostenibilidad e inclusividad en los próximos años, advierte el organismo internacional

En el caso de México, el documento identifica que los principales retos que enfrenta el sector turismo en México “Incluye la sustentabilidad, un entorno competitivo para los negocios, la conectividad, infraestructura y responsabilidad social”.

Destaca el Plan Sectorial para el Turismo 2013-2018 con cinco objetivos: Transformar el turismo y fortalecer esquemas de colaboración; explotar las ventajas comparativas que ofrece; facilitar el financiamiento y la generación de proyectos de inversión Público-Privado; motivar la promoción turística para contribuir a la diversificación de mercados y promoción del desarrollo sustentable de destinos turísticos con el incremento de los beneficios sociales y económicos para las comunidades receptivas.

De acuerdo con el documento, México recibió 35 millones de llegadas internacionales en 2016, un 9 por ciento de incremento respecto al año anterior con la expectativa de que esta cifra alcanzó los 37.5 millones en 2017, siendo su principal mercado Estados Unidos, seguido de Canadá y Argentina.

EL reporte señala que la actividad turística entre los países miembros de la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económico (OCDE), creció a un ritmo más rápido que sus economías con un incremento de 4.9 por ciento entre 2012 y 2016, superando al 4.4 por ciento que en promedio ascendió el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB), global.

Fuente Original