Thursday, May 30, 2019

Pyramid of El Cerrito

Atlas Obscuro features Pyramid of El Cerrito.

Just outside the beautiful city of Querétaro, towering above an arid landscape of scrubland, looms the desolate stone ruins of a pyramid known alternately as El Cerrito and El Pueblito. In ancient times, this site was the religious center of an enigmatic civilization that devoted itself to the fervent worship of an inscrutable and buxom goddess of fertility.

The Chupícuaro civilization and its city center, known today as El Cerrito, arose around 300 BC and was for many centuries contemporaneous with the Teotihuacan civilization. Later in its history, it was conquered and came under the influence of the Toltec empire as a vassal state. This socio-cultural change was reflected in the city’s architecture, and led to the construction of the Toltec pyramid that still dominates the site and the surrounding landscape today.
Interestingly, the main deity worshipped here above all others is believed to have been a powerful mother goddess. Excavations in the area have repeatedly discovered clay statuettes that depict curvaceous female figures believed to represent her. These sculptures were typically found buried in areas where staple crops such as maize, beans, and squash were cultivated. It’s been theorized that these objects may have been annual votive offerings to gain the favors of the goddess and to invoke rain or bountiful harvests, keeping the ever-present threat of catastrophic drought and famine at bay. 
The archeological evidence suggests that the cosmovision of the Chupícuaro civilization venerated the fertility of agriculture and nature, embodied by the image of this enigmatic divinity. Yet not much more is known about the cultural practices or ontologies of this mysterious Mesoamerican civilization, which has often been overshadowed by other Central Mexican cultures such as the Teotihuacanos, Toltecs, and the Aztecs. 
The collapse of El Cerrito and the Chupícuaro appears to have occurred around the same time as the fall of the Toltecs in 1168, and was probably similarly caused by a combination of environmental stressors and the invasions of warlike northern tribes known as the Chichimecas. The absence of archeological evidence after this time period seems to suggest that the practice of worshipping the goddess was suddenly discontinued by the survivors, who perhaps felt angered or that they had been abandoned in their time of need. 
Nevertheless, although El Cerrito was never again to regain its former glory, it is known that the area continued to be inhabited by small tribal communities right up until the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Today, the El Cerrito Archaeological Zone is an intriguing and easily overlooked archaeological gem just a short drive from Querétaro. Aside from the ruins, there is an interesting museum displaying artifacts from the Chupícuaro civilization that were discovered at the site.
Know Before You Go
The archaeological site and museum are open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. Entrance is free.

PHOTO: Cristopher Maubert Salgado - 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Does Medicare Travel Well?

As seniors venture overseas, whether for recreation or new living arrangements, a key question to ask is what benefits travel with them. While Social Security benefits follow Americans to other countries, basic Medicare likely will not, and seniors may need to be prepared for alternate arrangements.

First, while Medicare does cover residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, except for some rare cases of inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico, traditional basic Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States.

These rare cases for inpatient hospital services in Canada or Mexico relate to three possibilities. One is that you live in the U.S. near a foreign hospital and need emergency or non-emergency treatment and the foreign hospital is closer or easier to get to from home than the nearest U.S. hospital. Secondly, if you are in the U.S. when you have a medical emergency and the hospital in Mexico or Canada is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat the emergency, Medicare might cover. Third, if you are crossing through Canada on your way between Alaska and another State and experience an emergency and the Canadian hospital is closer than any hospital in the U.S., there might be coverage.

Since most circumstances do not involve these three exceptions, other alternatives need to be explored.

Examine the plan and get information first before traveling.

First, travelers and Americans living overseas should review their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans before leaving home and call to ask if there are questions. Some Medicare Advantage coverage may come with worldwide travel benefits. However, generally speaking, Medicare Advantage plans do not travel well. They might not even cover in other locations in the U.S. outside their territory. Even if it does, you might need to pay first and file a claim. Some Medigap (also referred to as Medicare Supplement) plans might also provide Foreign Travel emergency health care for travel outside the United States. Find out first.

Consider travel insurance.

Medicare recipients who are traveling might also seriously consider buying a short term travel insurance policy to cover health care expenses in other countries. Travel coverage could include evacuations such as when an accident or illness occurs on a cruise ship or in remote or difficult areas with limited access to health care.

One source for information regarding health insurance for traveling and for living abroad is the U.S. Department of State website, Bureau of Consular Affairs at, Insurance/Medical/Health Insurance Overseas. The site also refers to Another, obviously, is your own insurance company or insurance agent.

Answers could be sought for such questions as: What questions should I ask my health insurance company? Can the U.S. government assist me if I become disabled overseas? Where do I find a list of physicians abroad? What insurance information should I carry with me abroad? Where do I find a list of U.S.-based air ambulance/med-evac companies? Or foreign-based air ambulance/med-evac companies? Or U.S.-based travel insurance companies?

For Americans considering moving to other countries, options are limited. If the retiree is moving to a country with strong national health insurance coverage, he or she could explore buying into a plan in the country of destination to receive coverage comparable to other residents. Also, some insurers may offer “expatriate” health insurance plans. All of these plans would need to be investigated to ensure that they handle the needs of the American moving abroad.

On returning to the United States, Medicare enrollees who lived overseas should remember that they are returning to the U.S. Medicare system or Medicare Advantage with all of the usual Medicare rules.

If the American living overseas did not keep up his or her Medicare Part B payments and Medicare Part D while living or traveling in other countries, he or she would be subject to the same rules regarding penalties as Americans who remained at home. So, if there is a likelihood of return, consider paying Medicare B and D premiums while abroad.

In brief, if you are traveling or moving overseas, you should spend some time determining health insurance options. Do not leave home without them.

Janet Colliton, Esq. is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and limits her practice to elder law, retirement and estate planning, Medicaid, Medicare, life care and special needs at 790 East Market St., Suite 250, West Chester, Pa., 19382, 610-436-6674, She is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and, with Jeffrey Jones, CSA, co-founder of Life Transition Services LLC, a service for families with long term care needs. Tune in on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. to radio WCHE 1520, “50+ Planning Ahead,” with Janet Colliton, Colliton Elder Law Associates, and Phil McFadden, Home Instead Senior Care.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Tandy Martin - The Heart of the Silence

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Ben Pietra birthday at his house out in the country. As we were leaving,  Bev and I met a woman who claimed to be a psychic and a Tarot card reader. I am fascinated by all things a little kilter. When our friends get together, we exchange stories about strange occurrences in our lives: ever seen a ghost? ever had an ESP experience? do you see auras? do you know people who can tell you your future?

Anyway, we met Tandy Martin on the way out and were immediately fascinated by a Tarot card reading, so we made an appointment to have our cards read for 500 pesos each.

For me, Tandy didn't immediately start with the cards, She wanted to know if there was a question I had for her.

I wanted to know if there was anything holding me back from achieving my goals. She turned over a card and it was a Happiness card. What she told me is subject to my memory and my interpretation of her words. Ok?

What I got was Bev and I made a decision four years ago to pack up and move from Portland, OR to San Miguel de Allende. We are currently building a house and that causes us some stress, but the Happiness card is telling us we are happy and in a great place. Nothing to be worried about.

Tandy dealt out more cards. Soe may consider our conversation filled with "woo woo." She asked me what my soul wanted The answer I came up with was attuned to what was on my mind recently. Generally, am I the same person I was in Portland or have I changed. If I am the same person, what do I need, what does my soul need to be a bigger person.

Sometimes, I don't know the answers whether it is with the novel I've been working on or answers like what does my soul want. 

She said, "Why don't you ask?  Your father is right here over your left shoulder or your grandma Meme, who you were close to. " Both of whom have passed.

It's hard enough to ask for help, but I never considered asking for answers in that way.

I was blessed in meeting Tandy and blessed that she spent so much time with both of us.
Tandy is a writer and currently working on a film. Call her if you want an experience you won't forget and take a look at the trailer for her film:

The Heart of the Silence

When we listen from this heart of silence, we invite healing on the deepest level, welcoming everything just as it is. This is as true in our ordinary relationships as it is in the specialized relationship between therapist and client.

Encourage her to complete this work so the world can benefit.

Tandy's  phone is 703 935-9696

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Pros and Cons of Retiring Abroad

From The Week,

After working as an environmental engineer for nearly 40 years, Ann Kuffner had had enough of corporate politics. She and her husband, Michael Brunette, who owned a contracting business, were overworked and burned out.

"We made good money but worked like dogs. We had little free time for family, friends, or hobbies," says Kuffner, 68, via email from her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. "Once we figured out that we could retire early due to the low cost of living overseas, we took a risk and went for it."

While still in their 50s, the couple left California and retired to Belize in 2008, where they pursued their passion for scuba diving and other water sports. They decided to relocate to Mexico last year because they wanted more cultural stimulation and Kuffner says the health care in Belize was not adequate for people their age (Brunette is 69).

The couple is among a growing segment of Americans opting to retire abroad. As of April 2019, the Social Security Administration was sending 685,000 payments to beneficiaries overseas — a 40 percent increase over the past 10 years — but that's likely just the tip of the iceberg.

"Most people continue to bank in the U.S. and have their Social Security checks deposited at home, even if they themselves are physically abroad," says Jennifer Stevens, executive director of International Living, a website and publication that advises people on living, working, and retiring overseas.

It's impossible to know exactly how many people retire abroad, but Stevens — who has been at International Living for 23 years — says the numbers are increasing. And not just for Baby Boomers or those who retire completely.

"We're definitely seeing more people retiring part-time abroad, in part, because they want the flexibility, and also because they have older parents they need to attend to," Stevens says. "The other trend we're seeing is people retiring earlier. People are saying, 'I'm not going to wait until I'm 65; I hate my job. My accountant is saying I have to stick it out for another 8 years. No, I don't. I'm just going to retire now and go overseas.'"

In many of the hot retirement spots around the world, the cost of living is substantially lower. Food, housing, and domestic help are often cheaper. Plus, many other countries boast excellent health care at a fraction of the costs found in the U.S., which makes retiring abroad sound awfully appealing. But how is it done? Can you really just pack up and move to a different country?

Looking at a globe and choosing where you want to retire can be overwhelming, particularly if you've not traveled extensively. Stevens recommends making a list of priorities, such as proximity to the U.S., language, and climate. The dollar will buy an extremely high standard of living in southeast Asia, for example, but it's far away and can be scorchingly hot.

"The first order of business is to profile yourself and be really honest about it," Stevens says. "If speaking English is important, if you do not under any circumstances want to learn a new language, that needs to be on your list."

Next, do your research. Look at published lists of retirement destinations and match them to your priorities. Go online, but be mindful of the sources you use. A country's tourism site is naturally going to give a slanted view. Stevens recommends joining expat Facebook groups, where you'll get honest information and can ask questions.

You'll also want to visit the U.S. State Department's website, which has information on the legal logistics of retiring abroad. Each country has its own visa requirements, which can be found through their embassy or consulate's website. Some countries have a special visa to encourage foreigners to settle. For example, Malaysia's My Second Home Program offers 10-year visas for individuals over 50 who have at least $84,000 in liquid savings and a monthly offshore income of $2,400.

When you've narrowed your choices down, hop on a plane.

"Go and check out the places that are on your short list, but don't just go for a week," Stevens says. "Go for a month or two or three and see if you like living there. You may be surprised that the place that intellectually checks all your boxes, doesn't speak to your heart." She adds that one inexpensive way to explore is through house-sitting.
When Chip Stites, 72, and his wife Shonna Kelso, 59, decided to retire overseas, they visited three of the nine countries on their short-list, and settled on Italy in 2015.

"We have other connections to Spain and France but we loved Italy" writes Stites from his home in Reiti, about 90 minutes outside Rome. "The pace of life here, the Italian love of living, a different way of thinking, and living in a culture that is more than 3,000 years old is incredibly appealing to us."

Stites, who spent 40 years as a certified financial planner, notes that there are downsides to such a dramatic move. As much as he loves Italy, he says dealing with the bureaucracy is tough, and that he had to learn new ways to do basic functions like making a phone call and drying clothes without a dryer.

"Retiring overseas isn't for everybody," cautions Stevens. "No place is America-light. If you are looking for a place that's just like where you live now, only cheaper, you're not going to find that and retiring overseas may not be for you."

For those with an adventurous spirit (and kids and grandkids who don't mind traveling), however, retiring abroad can be transformative.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Terry , L. Turrel tells a story on her blog Retirement Before the Age of 59, about getting sick on a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta. It started as a simple, fun weekend getaway to Puerto Vallarta. It didn’t end that way.

“Jon and I were only going to spend two nights in Puerto Vallarta, go out to dinner both nights, go to the beach for a couple of hours, and go to Kelly’s Pour Favor Saloon and Cookhouse to listen to music Saturday night. We never made it to anything fun before I became very sick.”

“Nothing, contagious. Just my GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) that acts up once or twice a year. Normally, I take one of my metoclopramide (Reglan) tablets that I carry in my purse and ten or fifteen minutes later, I’m fine. Not this time.”

She made several mistakes:

First Mistake: I hadn’t brought my promethazine suppositories with me to Puerto Vallarta. They were sitting in the refrigerator at home, safe from melting at room temperature. I hadn’t needed to use one for over six years. Why would I need one for a quick weekend to PV?

Second Mistake: We didn’t know that “Urgent Care” in México means Emergency Room at a hospital. We just wanted a walk-in clinic to give me some medication and maybe  IV fluids. CMQ wanted to admit me to the hospital with full services. Not really what we had in mind.

Third Mistake: The clerk asked if we had medical insurance that covered my care in the hospital.
“No, we don’t. We have chosen to pay for our health care out of pocket and, so far, that has not been a problem.”
The clerk informed us that we would need to pay 50,000 pesos ($2500US) before I could be admitted to the hospital and receive health care. He said the cost might end up being less or might be more than that amount, but we needed to pay 50,000 pesos up front!
“What? We didn’t have that much money with us!”
The clerk asked if we had a credit card to pay the 50,000 pesos.
“No. We had left our debit and credit cards at home, expecting that our 10,000 pesos would be more than enough for our weekend trip.”
Jon complained. The doctor confirmed that this was hospital policy, that most hospitals require this. 

Fourth Mistake: I took one look at the dirty white walls in the Red Cross waiting room that probably hadn’t been painted in ten years, and the wooden backless bench seats set six inches off the ground that looked like they could double as gurneys, and I told Jon that I hoped the examination rooms were cleaner than this. He spoke Spanish to a Mexican woman in scrubs with a scowl on her face and her arms crossed. She said there was no doctor until 7:00. I told Jon I didn’t want to be there. We walked out with relief.

Fifth Lesson Learned: Don’t assume pharmacies in México will stock the prescription medication you use or even a therapeutic equivalent. Bring your medications with you.

Check out her NEW RELEASE, "Life in Mexico: Never a Dull Moment" available on Amazon worldwide. This is the #4 eBook in the "Healthy Living in Mexico” series.

Monday, May 20, 2019

La Santisima Trinidad

Yesterday, we celebrated Sue Reid's birthday at La Santisima Trinidad restaurant near Dolores Hidalgo. We had a wonderful lunch in a must-see place. 

The Mediterranean styled food offered in the restaurant is based on the highest quality ingredients. Being there is like being transported to Italy to a Tuscan B and B or Hotel. 

The housing development has private houses and condominiums, with a great amount of open space for vineyards, and lavender fields. There is a hotel with a pool and spa, a polo field and many other amenities. I am told that all the housing lots are sold.

The food was fantastic. I had grilled salmon, with puree de papa, mashed potatoes. So much more fun to say puree de papa! Beverly and Gary Reid enjoyed coconut shrimp with a side of mango sauce. The birthday girl and a chicken salad. While there we saw friends from San Miguel and met new people who have moved in the last four years, like us, to San Miguel. I would go to La Sistisima Trinidad again in a heartbeat.

After getting back to SMA, we stopped at Mi Bistro 300 for the finest Key Lime pie I have ever tasted. The perfect dessert on a hot day. It was smooth and cool to the taste with a hint of lime. Sue thanks for inviting us to celebrate your birthday.

Now Comes the PIckleball Invasion.

It started with just a few American retirees. These days, two dozen players fill the courts at the municipal sports center most mornings, swinging paddles at plastic balls. There are so many clubs in Mexico dedicated to the U.S. sport that a tournament was held here last year.

“It was a madhouse,” said Victor Guzmán, a 67-year-old entrepreneur from Charlotte who helped pull the event together. President Donald Trump regularly assails the flow of migrants crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Less noticed has been the surge of people heading in the opposite direction. Mexico’s statistics institute estimated this month that the U.S.-born population in this country has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990. And that is probably an undercount.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates the real number at 1.5 million or more.  They’re a mixed group. They’re digital natives who can work just as easily from Puerto Vallarta as Palo Alto. They’re U.S.-born kids — nearly 600,000 of them — who’ve returned with their Mexican-born parents. And they’re retirees like Guzmán, who settled in this city five years ago and is now basically the pickleball king of San Miguel.

Thousands of Mexicans are moving home are taken into account, the flow of migrants from the United States to Mexico is probably larger than the flow of Mexicans to the United States. The American immigrants are pouring money into local economies, renovating historic homes and changing the dynamics of Mexican classrooms.

“It’s beginning to become a very important cultural phenomenon,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said in an interview. “Like the Mexican community in the United States.” And yet, he said, Mexican authorities know little about the size or needs of their largest immigrant group. He has been tasked by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with changing that.

While the United States is deeply divided over immigration, American immigrants here have largely been welcomed. In San Miguel — where about 10% of the city’s 100,000 residents are U.S. citizens — Mayor Luis Alberto Villareal delivers his annual State of the Municipality address in English and Spanish.

Thanksgiving is celebrated a few weeks after Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Restaurants have adopted “American timing” — serving dinner at the ungodly hour of 6 p.m. — the mayor reports. “Despite the fact that Donald Trump insults my country every day, here we receive the entire international community, beginning with Americans, with open arms and hearts,”

Villareal said. Mexican authorities say that many of the Americans are probably undocumented — typically, they’ve overstayed their six-month visas. But the government has shown little concern. “We have never pressured them to have their documents in order,” Ebrard said. Typically, violators pay a small fine.

Villereal shrugged. “We like people who come to work and help the economy of the city — like Mexicans do in the United States.”

San Miguel de Allende is about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City on a mile-high plateau where the sunshine coaxes bougainvillea to erupt in blazing colors and spill over walls.

U.S. veterans began moving here after World War II to study at the local art institute on the GI Bill. Over the past 30 years, expatriates flooded in, enchanted by the city’s hilly cobblestone streets, soaring Gothic church, and houses painted in sunset colors: dusky rose, peach, yellow, orange.

The scenery isn’t the only draw.

Given the dollar’s strength against the Mexican peso, even an American getting by on Social Security and a modest pension can rent a high-ceilinged apartment, hire a maid and eat out most nights. “You can live here on $2,000 or $3,000 a month — and live well,” Guzmán said.

Technology has shrunk the distance between the countries. In the 1980s, expat author Tony Cohan would contact his daughter in New York by trekking to the “larga distancia” office, where an operator would put a call through, as he recounted in his popular memoir “On Mexican Time.”

These days, Bill Slusser, 66, from Los Angeles, does part-time marketing work for American clients without leaving his home here: “The internet allows that to happen.”

Moving to Mexico

One good source of information about Mexico is When it comes to moving large volumes or covering long distances, in Mexico it is recommended to leave it up to the expertise of professional movers who will take charge of the removal process.

Some tips to prepare your move:

Start your moving preparation 3 months in advance

You may have to obtain visas, work permits, vaccination, or cancel services which require a notice period. Make a list of all you need to do. Being well-organized will help the move go more smoothly.

Sort through your belongings

Choose which goods you would like to bring along to Mexico and which ones you prefer to leave behind either with a friend or in a storage unit. Seek advice: it might cost less to buy goods in Mexico instead of bringing over your belongings.

Choose the right moving company

Finding a good moving company is essential to any expatriation project. Independent regulatory bodies like FIDI will help you find reliable moving companies. Internal quality processes, specialized packing materials and a large network will guarantee high standard of quality and service.

Prevent the risk of breakage

Since zero risk does not exist, material damage insurance is highly recommended.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

What Is Ceviche?

From Coastal Living comes a definition of Ceviche. What Is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a seafood dish where diced cubes of raw fish marinated in a lemon or lime juice mixture, and the reaction of the citrus juices cures the fish protein and causes it to become opaque and firm while absorbing flavor. This process is called denaturing—you’re more familiar with the process of denaturing with heat, a.k.a. cooking, but this reaction achieves a similar effect. After curing, the fish is then served with colorful seasoning elements such as onions, cilantro, and peppers. It’s a simple and bracing dish where fresh fish and bright flavors are put on display.
The ceviche method of preparing fish is elemental to coastal South American cuisine and was born out of the need to preserve food. The true birthplace of the dish isn’t completely clear: The Incan Empire preserved fish with fruit juices, salt, and chili peppers, and the introduction of limes from Spanish conquerors brought citrus juices into the picture. Some sources even indicate origins as far away as the Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific. Regardless of the exact origin, the most varied and plentiful examples of the dish are found in Peruvian kitchens and restaurants—the country has even declared ceviche as its national dish.
Variations of the dish exist across South and Central America. Ecuadorian ceviche tosses shrimp and tomato sauce into the marinade, and crispy tostadas or tortilla crisps accompany Mexican ceviche or the similar aguachile (shrimp drizzled with a chili-infused lime mixture just before serving) from the northern Pacific coast of Mexico. Caribbean styles include a creamy touch from coconut milk. Even within Peru, a Japanese-Peruvian version called Nikkei adds another layer of variation with finely cut fish amidst soy sauce, togarashi, and sesame oil. The dish made its way onto American plates starting in the 1980s when Caribbean flavors came by way of Florida.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


From Atlas Obscura "The small, human-made island of Mexicaltitán in the western Mexico state of Nayarit is believed to be the location of the mythical city of Aztlán, the long lost birthplace of the Aztec civilization."
Legend tells that this quaint island village, which dates to the start of the 12th century, was the original home of the Aztecs before they abandoned the site to found the great city of Tenochtitlan in 1325.
There is little evidence to support the claim, although the streets of Mexicaltitán are laid out in a circular, cruciform pattern similar to Tenochtitlan, and Aztec mythology does suggest the civilization originated on an island.
Regardless of the veracity of the legend, the quiet island of Mexicaltitán de Uribe is well worth a visit. It is small and easily walked, and still relatively removed from the tourist trail, accessible only by boat. The residents traditionally dry shrimp and fish in the sun on the raised sidewalks of the island, which is crossed with canals and has been called the “Mexican Venice.” It is said that during the rainy season when the street is flooded, you can see the pigs swimming in the street. 
Know Before You Go
The island is accessible by water taxi or ferry from La Batanga.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

On the site of an ancient lakebed, the ground is burning

According to Mexico News Daily, “On what used to be an ancient lakebed in the state of México, just one misstep could send your feet plunging through the surface and suffering nasty burns.”

Two weeks ago, residents of Santa Catarina Ayotzingo and San Juan Tezompa, once waterfront villages on a now dried-up part of Lake Chalco, noticed smoke coming from land where residents grow food on the San Miguel Ranch in Chalco, México state.

Upon closer inspection, residents discovered gas was being emitted from the ground and the temperature — reported to be as high as 370 C — was hot enough to melt plastic bags and bottles and burn grass. Rumors of volcanic activity quickly spread among residents of the region.

After all, the Popocatépetl volcano is just 50 kilometers away.

But it was not a new phenomenon, and it wasn’t a volcano forming.

San Juan Tezompa resident Leonel Ramírez remembers that it was his father who first told him that the ground sometimes spontaneously ignited on the dried bed of the ancient lake, which he later confirmed.

“When you walk [in that area] you can feel the discomfort in your feet. If you scratch a little at the earth, you feel it even more.”

Local official Pedro Camacho remembered another occasion on which a woman reported she had been walking on the ranch with her young son when suddenly his foot broke through the surface of the ground. The heat burned the boy’s foot.

Geologist Ramón Espinar at the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred) was called in to inspect the grounds by federal authorities in response to requests from local officials. Chalco Civil Protection head José Antonio Aguilar said the geologist’s investigations led him to conclude that the phenomenon was not caused by volcanic activity.

“People were alarmed because they thought that it was the birth of a volcano, but that theory was discarded. Cenapred explained to us that it is actually peat, an underground fire. This was once a lake, but when it dried up many organic materials and fossils remained and decomposed over time, causing high temperature that set underground fires.”

Aguilar said that local authorities will cordon off the area because of the danger presented by the high temperatures.
Source: Milenio (sp), OEM (sp)

Friday, May 3, 2019

It Is a Celebration of the Holocaust

While walking Javier this morning, I saw streamer crossing the streets of Baranca and Chorro. My neighbor Juan greeted me with buenos dias, and after replying, I asked why the streamers were up?
He said, “It is a celebration of the Holocaust. There is a parade of many that will wind up the street and end at the church on Chorro.” He invited me to attend at 8:00.
I declined saying, "I didn’t know what we were doing tonight."
I was puzzled. Why would a Catholic country remember the Holocaust? When I got home, I searched for Mexican holidays for May 3rd.
To honor and Remember the Holy Cross

Here’s what I found on Mexconnect:
“Each year on May 3rd processions of singing pilgrims carrying streamers and flowers wend their way through towns, cities, and villages of Mexico to decorate the crosses along roadsides and on mountaintops to honor and remember the Holy Cross. All over the country thousands of crosses in streets, parks, cemeteries, and churchyards are visited and decorated each year to honor the cross on which Jesus was crucified.”
“The people with their colorful garlands of real and crepe paper flowers and ribbons bring to mind flower-filled May Baskets, erecting and decorating of a Maypole with the dancers' multicolored streamers, the crowning of the Queen of the May with wreaths of flowers. and the many other colorful traditions of May Day celebrations. All of these traditions are remnants of Roman and Druid agricultural and fertility rites celebrating the beginning of summer in countries and cultures around the world.”
“The Pope canceled May 3rd celebrations, but in Mexico, the construction workers union had long been celebrating the Day of the Holy Cross as their special feast day. Because the church understands the ability of the people of Mexico to keep traditions they prefer, even when the church doesn't approve, the Mexican episcopate made applications to Rome to keep May 3rd. The faith and desire of the construction unions won, Rome wisely agreed to allow the popular spring celebration also called the Day of the Flowery Cross to continue, just in Mexico and thus avoiding a difficult and unpopular fight.”
Of course, we will have thousands of cohetes (sky rockets).  The first dramatic volley of thousands of joyful cohetes (skyrockets) begins at midnight as each crew attempts to be the first to announce the celebration of the Day of the Holy Cross. This macho rivalry between workers continues sporadically all night and for the entire 24 hours of May 3 with each crew hoping to set off more skyrockets than their competitors to remind one and all that this is a special day.
At every job site in the area, the rest of the day will be filled with a great deal of noise, cohetes, music, laughter, activity, food, and drink as the men return after mass to work, and to celebrate. Most crews fasten a cross brightly decorated with crepe paper flowers and streamers onto the uppermost section of the building, continuing the tradition that began with the building of churches by the Spanish in the 1500s. During the celebration on the day when the cross was added to the top of the newly finished church, the workers were honored with food and drink and allowed a rare opportunity to enjoy traditional dancing. The workers offered burning copal, the local pungent incense, music, and fireworks to frighten any loitering evil spirits from the area. In the 21st Century, puffs of smoke dot the sky marking the construction sites and the crews of joyful and thankful workers, still releasing skyrockets, though they no longer remember originally they were to clear the area of dangerous spirit.
Mike Landfair

Is Lake Chapala Polluted?

I have not been to Lake Chapala. I hear it is beautiful and many expats have made it home. One question keeps popping up: Is the lake polluted?

Here's a darn good video from an expat who lives there about Lake Chapala, Mexico

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10 best places to retire in Mexico in 2019

MORE AMERICANS HAVE retired abroad in Mexico than any other country. The low cost of living, sunshine, accessibility, established expat communities and diversity of lifestyle options draw many retirees south of the border.
Here are the 10 best places to retire in Mexico in 2019 according to U.S, News and World Report:

Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a little beach town an hour south of Cancún on Mexico's Riviera Maya. Once a sleepy fishing village, the port was inadvertently put on the map by Jacques Cousteau in 1954 when he filmed an underwater documentary on the Great Maya Reef just offshore. Today Playa is home to more than 10,000 foreigners, including young couples, families with small children and retired folks. At the center of it all is La Quinta Avenida, the pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach. All along 5th Avenue, music rolls out of the open storefronts, including Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Buffett, salsa and Latin ballads.


Mazatlán is one of the few places in the world where you can walk for miles on an uncrowded beach within the city limits. Mazatlán has beautiful beaches and a walkable colonial center that manages to be both a popular expat choice and an authentic Mexican resort town. Located midway along Mexico's Pacific coast, Mazatlán's historic center has undergone an impressive facelift. Mazatlán lies about 720 miles south of the Arizona border, making it a 13-hour drive down highway 15D. What a luxury to be able to throw everything you need in the car and drive to your new life overseas. Ajijic, 

Lake Chapala

The Mexican government estimates that nearly 20,000 expats reside full time in the state of Jalisco. The area around Lake Chapala is home to an organized and developed expat retiree community. The Lake Chapala Society reports about 4,000 American and Canadian residents. Moving here, you could set up a lifestyle that isn't dramatically different from the life you left behind in the U.S. You don't have to worry about learning the local language if you don't want to because this is an entire community of non-locals. Retiring to Ajijic, you could make a comfortable life for yourself in a place that's beautiful, safe, affordable and also exotic. Over the past four decades, Ajijic has attracted such a volume of foreign retirees that it's become very friendly to foreign residents.

Puerto Vallarta

Until the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta was a small fishing village along a spectacular bay on the Pacific that was modestly popular among Mexicans as a beach resort. Then, in 1963, John Huston filmed "The Night of the Iguana" in Mismaloya, a seaside village just south of Puerto Vallarta. The film's star, Richard Burton, was involved with actress Elizabeth Taylor at the time, and the paparazzi tracked them both. Suddenly, Puerto Vallarta was in the American newspapers. Around the same time, the Mexican government began to invest heavily in infrastructure in the area, including highways, roads and public utilities, which made Puerto Vallarta a more accessible and attractive destination. Puerto Vallarta is now one of the most sophisticated resorts in Mexico. You will find cosmopolitan cultural activities including plays, films, jazz and classical concerts, gourmet restaurant festivals, and gallery openings.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is both the geographic and cultural heart of Mexico. About equidistant from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean and Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, San Miguel is also just a day's drive from the Texas border. At an altitude of 6,200 feet, it's warm and dry during the day and cool at night. Founded by the Spanish nearly 500 years ago, San Miguel was an important town on the route for transporting Mexican silver. Wealthy businessmen and ranchers built beautiful Spanish-colonial homes on the cobblestone streets of this picturesque hillside town. This well-preserved Spanish-colonial city is now home to one of the biggest communities of foreign retirees in Mexico.


This small colonial town of fewer than 25,000 is nestled in an inland valley surrounded on all sides by mountains and wild countryside. Álamos was founded in the late 17th century after silver was discovered in the area. The huge wealth generated by the mines allowed residents to build dozens of colonial mansions and hundreds of colonial homes throughout the downtown. The city is walkable and safe, and there are many opportunities for volunteering. The expat community is cohesive, active, welcoming and artistic. Newcomers stay in touch with each other, hang out together and support one another when they need it.


Built in the 16th century, Morelia was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. When you've seen it, you'll wonder what took them so long. Adding to its architectural charm, Morelia's beautiful Spanish Renaissance buildings are all colored the region's trademark warm pink, thanks to the locally quarried cantera stone. This is a center of music and home to the oldest music conservatory in the Americas. This picturesque town is the capital of the central Mexican state of Michoacán. Few foreign tourists visit Morelia, but Mexicans are frequent visitors. The few expats and foreign retirees who have discovered Morelia try to keep the secret to themselves. The quality of life available in this city of 600,000 is special and unique.


Just 20 minutes south of Playa, Tulum feels a world away. This tranquil area is home to about 18,000 people. The location of important ancient sites and natural attractions, the focus in Tulum is more on preservation than development. The path of progress is rolling down this coast, just a bit more conscientiously in Tulum. Thanks to the long-standing tourism industry, English is commonly spoken. This part of Mexico is decidedly first world. The infrastructure is as good as the best in the United States. If you're not up for immersing yourself in another culture, the Riviera Maya could make for a welcoming place to retire.


Huatulco is situated on Mexico's Pacific coast at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. It's about an hour south of Mexico City by plane. This master-planned community has a total area of about 50,000 acres, with 90% protected for ecological conservation and the remaining 10% used for tourist and residential development. Compared with other Mexican hotspots such as Cancún and Los Cabos, Huatulco has a more small-town feel and offers a more authentic experience. The area boasts 36 white sand beaches that span 20 miles of Mexico's Pacific coastline. Just inland from the beach areas is La Crucecita, Huatulco's main town, where you find grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. Huatulco has been awarded the Green Globe certification as a sustainable tourist area. Much of Huatulco's energy is wind-driven, and hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs operate using renewable energy.


Durango is not an expat destination, but a large, sophisticated Mexican city with great weather and a high standard of living. Nestled in a valley high in Mexico's western Sierra Madre range, the city's surroundings look like what we think of as the Old West, and many Hollywood movies have been filmed in the surrounding mountains, valleys, and deserts. The city boasts clean, safe streets, good infrastructure, a thriving central market and architecture reminiscent of Europe. The almost complete absence of foreigners means no tourist pricing and a low cost of living. However, you'll find almost no expat community and few English speakers. Spanish lessons should be a priority for anyone planning to relocate to Durango.