Sunday, March 27, 2011

Travel To Los Osuna And El Caliete

We've been back from Mexico now a week and I will not forget our trip to the Los Osuna tequila Factory and El Queliete about 30 miles northwest of Emerald Bay. We hired Fernando who works for Avis. The van for six of us and the driver was 1,000 pesos plus gas.

We left at noon headed for Los Osuna. Along the way some scary marines were randomly stopping traffic. They carried automatic weapons and were dressed in jungle camoflage. Their faces were covered to protect their identity. We were not stopped, maybe because Fernando was a marine.

The tree pictured here at the factory is over 220 years old!

Tequila is made from blue Agave. We were told by comely Marina that the workers in the field slice off the leaves and then dig out the root, which is about the size of two bowling balls.

First the root is chopped in pieces and steamed to soften the root. 

In the early days a horse pulled a rock grinder around in a circular pit . 

Now the agave root is ground by a large circular rock.The juice is then drawn off and fermented in oak casks.

Just look at that ceiling, all hand made and the building was cool on that 95 degree day.

After the tour, for 25 pesos, we could sample the tequila. I don't drink, but took a small taste on my tongue. I'd forgotten how much alcohol is in the taste of tequila. It was not as good as my cup of tea.

We all jumped back in the van, foregoing the zip lines down the road, and headed for El Quelite. 

Before going into the town itself, we parked and took a short hike up a prominent hill that looked over the valley. It was all very dry as was the river. The Sierra Madres loomed in the distance. Fernando wanted us to arrive at the restaurant El Meson in time for the entertainment.

Not only is there a great view, but a shrine on the top, maybe to thank God we didn't have a heart attack hiking up.

The restaurant is El Meson. We had heard great things about the restaurant and we were all starved. 

Oddly, we all ordered Barbecoa. We wanted to sample what Taco Bell has been advertising so frequently on TV. Barbecoa is beef that has been cooked until it's well done and stringy. In flour and corn tortillas it was very good and spicy.

After lunch we were entertained by two couples showing us traditional dances. Then native Mexicans danced a dance that told the story of the Eagle pictured on the Mexican flag killing the snake.

Finally, we paused to reflect on the wonderful food and entertainment on the front porch in the setting sun.

We were gone about five hours. If we had chosen to go on the zip lines, we would have returned much later. In the end we tipped Fernando 600 pesos for his tour and safe driving. Bev brought home her bottle of Los Osuna tequila for her margaritas.

Mexico Calling

This post is a repost from Mover Mike:

Well, we found the place to move to in Mazatlan for at least six months a year: Paraiso Costa Bonita!

...where we can see the sunset from our living and bed room:

...and this floor plan:

It was 82 degrees and sunny with a gentle breeze off the Pacific! I read that it was 36 degrees in Portland this morning. Why would I want to live in Oregon in the winter?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crime Comparisons by Country: U.S. and Mexico

When I told my friends I was vacationing in Mexico, they looked at me as if I were nuts. I always kidded them by saying I was going to be ok. I would wear my Kevlar vest! The truth is I've never felt that it was unsafe to travel to Mexico. Recently, a study was released that compares crime rates in the U.S. and Mexico. Here's what the study shows:

The U.S. is 8th in the world in total crimes at 80.0645 per 1000 residents, giving you an 8% chance of being a victim in the U.S.

But here is the real clunker – Mexico — the country the U.S. government tells you not to visit, and the U.S. media has a field day reporting any crime, be it significant or not, to further put the fear of God into staying away from, well, Mexico ranks 39th in total crime in the world with a per capita of slightly less than 13 crimes per 1000 residents… That is a 1.3% chance of being a victim of crime in Mexico.

According to almost every measure, Mexico is much safer than the U.S.:

Assaults — the U.S. ranks number 6, Mexico number 20

Burglaries — the U.S. ranks number 17, Mexico number 34

Car thefts — the U.S. ranks number 9, Mexico number 22

Fraud — the U.S. ranks number 18, Mexico number 29

Rape — (Canada number 5) the U.S. ranks number 9, Mexico number 17

For me, it's the perfect place to be a snowbird. I enjoy the warm days, perfect sunsets and soft evenings in the city of Mazatlan on the Pacific Ocean as far south as Cabo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon Speaks About Safety

Just days before Mexico's President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to arrive in the United States to meet with President Obama, ...Calderon speaks candidly with Gabriela Zabalua-Goddard, vice president and editor of AARP VIVA, the organization's bilingual publication for Hispanics, about safety for tourists and retirees in Mexico, the graying of his nation and how U.S. retirees in Mexico are having an impact in his country.

After a tumultuous year of being in the headlines for the violence and drug trafficking running rampant throughout the country, and at a time when the U.S. continues to warn its citizens against traveling to Mexico, the country's leader offers his views on hot-button issues. In this rare interview, he insists that Mexico is not a dangerous country.

Translated Excerpts from the Interview:
His Personal Message to Tourists
"They shouldn't worry. Obviously, there are problems, but these are associated with certain places and to conflicts within criminal elements. Over 2.5 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico--half of them retired--and they live very peacefully. For them, Mexico is a safe country, and we are always very alert to any incidents that may occur."
"Mexico welcomed over 20 million international tourists last year, 49 million tourists from across the border, 6 million tourists by cruise ships, and there were no real major incidents. I can assure you that Mexico is a peaceful, safe and pleasant country. We have lovely retirement communities: San Miguel de Allende, Chapala, Morelia, Vallarta; we're very happy with them. Mexico is a great place to live and enjoy, so, come with peace of mind, feel safe. We're also working to improve the living conditions of our people in Mexico."

Changes Taking Place In Mexico
"In Mexico, we are carrying out a very important transformation of our infrastructure, of its economic, social, educational and health areas. Mexico is a vibrant democracy where people live within the law. Where human rights are respected; a society where there's freedom, you can have your opinions and vote in absolute freedom."

On Financial Security and Poverty in Mexico
"In 1997/96, there were nearly 40 million people in Mexico still living in extreme poverty. And that figure has decreased considerably, to approximately 18 million now, even with the severe economic crisis we had. And we're doing even more. Mexico has a program, Oportunidades, that has been copied by many countries, especially in Latin America, where we provide financial support to mothers with the condition that they take their children to school and to the doctor. This is a way of breaking the cycle of poverty. This program has been able to get millions and millions of Mexican families out of poverty."