Saturday, September 25, 2010

Top Outdoor Destinations

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Amazing series of Videos showing the Beauty and Diversity of Mexico


Friday, August 13, 2010

A Video about La Posada del Rio Sonora by my brother

Sunday, August 01, 2010

L.A. Times article Report: Mexico's tourist zones much safer than many in U.S.

Dolphin goes airborne at Cabo Dolphins facility alongside the Cabo San Lucas marina.
Now Mexico's real estate industry is fighting back. A day before President Barack Obama visits Mexico to discuss, among other things, the troublesome drug war issue, RE/MAX Investment Properties issued the results of its research claiming that tourist zones in Mexico are up to 26 times safer than many tourist zones in the United States.
Among its findings: The state of Baja California Sur, which includes some of my favorite destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto, has a homicide rate 26 times lower than Orlando, 18 times lower than Miami, 17 times lower than West Palm Beach and 12 times lower than Tampa and Honolulu.
(Note to self: Stay away from Florida!)
Almost ditto for Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
The report used some of the same sources Outposts has used, including a daily tally of drug cartel-related homicides kept by Excelsior newspaper, which through Tuesday listed only one homicide in 2009 in Baja California Sur (compared with 115 in the northern state of Baja California, which includes Tijuana), and four in Quintana Roo.
The report also states that BCS has a homicide rate 39 times lower than Washington D.C., 19 times lower than Houston and 17 times lower than Dallas. There's lots more but the point is as clear as a glass full of blanco tequila, which may or may not be offered to Obama.
-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Dolphin goes airborne at Cabo Dolphins facility alongside the Cabo San Lucas marina. Credit: Pete Thomas / Los Angeles Times

Murder Rate of Americans in Mexico

  This is a Re-Posting of an Important Message from a man that has been living in Mexico.
Warning ! - The contents of this article are shocking and may induce fear of violence.

Murder Rate of Americans in Mexico - According to the US State Department and Associated Press

Since I wrote this impassioned article about the murder rate of Americans in Mexico in 2009, things have changed. The murder rate for American citizens in Mexico went up. You still are more likely to get hit by lightning in the USA than to be murdered in Mexico, but murder is gaining ground! I just want to give you the facts and let you reason things out. I am not trivializing the deaths of anyone. Death is a tragedy. Neither am I sensationalizing these peoples' deaths, as the media does. I encourage people to go to Mexico. The news stories and Mexico bashers harp on the thousands of deaths due to drug violence. Here is a less sensationalistic story about your personal chances of being murdered in Mexico as an average tourist.
The Associated Press came up with their own statistics (although I could not verify them with the U.S. State Department web site. Call it a conspiracy or maybe I have gotten senile, but I found the death rates for US citizens in Mexico and the world easily last year and now they are all gone?).

Deaths Are Up

Let's assume the AP stats are legit. As sensational as they are, they should be examined. One story reads that, "... the number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico in 2009 was more than double the number killed in 2007." Hmm, and what happened to 2008? That astounding, astronomical number of deaths of Americans in Mexico was - 78 (more people are murdered in the USA in 2 days). In 2007, 37 Americans (they say) were killed. That is possible, since in 2008 the U.S. State Department authenticated the murder deaths of Americans in Mexico (from ALL causes, not just drug-related) at 50.
Every death is a tragedy. Statistics dehumanize deaths, but maybe that is a good thing. Cold, dispassionate numbers should help to put things into perspective. We, the general public cannot know all of the people who have died.

These Murder Statistics Will Scare You

But even when reduced to numbers, murders can induce hysteria. That is what is happening now.
The murder rate is frightening. It makes me afraid to go back. And to think I used to live there! Why, since Jan. 31, 2010 (to April 1) 40 people have been murdered.  That is an increase of 107.7% in just the last week. Since the first of the year 28 more people were murdered . That is 58 people this year alone.
Lest you assume I am talking about Mexico, let me assure you that these statistics are from a city with a Latin-sounding name, Los Angeles, California.  This info is not from a tabloid, but from the LA Police Department’s own web site
LA is not the most dangerous city in the USA by a long shot (pardon the pun). Places like Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia (a friend from NJ told me she would not go to Philly because, “people shoot each other in braid daylight there.”),  Newark, New Orleans and so usually win the death lottery.
Every day, approximately 45 people are murdered in the USA, according to FBI statistics.

The USA Leads Canada In This

611 people were murdered in Canada in 2008. That is less than 2 a day.
Yet, the Sunbelt states are happily inundated with unarmed Canadians every winter. I guess they have not heard the news that the USA is dangerous. Or maybe, they view things in perspective.
I am not denying that there is a dangerous war going on in Mexico between the drug gangs and the government. I am not denying that people are getting killed. I do not deny that very unfortunately, a few innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire. Even worse, deadly mistakes have been made by the very people charged with cleaning up the gangs.  They have shot innocents. But how many innocent people are killed in the USA every day?

The Border Is Not All Mexico

Mexico is not Reynosa. Mexico is not Nuevo Laredo. Mexico is not Tijuana. And so on. Mexico is not one city. In general, Mexico does not have murders like the USA does. Drug gangs and soldiers slug it out. Drug gangs kill other drug gangs. I talk to friends in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Cabo San Lucas, Tamazunchale, Pachuca, Puebla, Oaxaca, San Blas, Putero Vallarta and on and on. Not one of them expressed fear of living in Meixco. Every one of them knew what was going on back on the border.

Putting Things Into Perspective

The facts are that an American’s (extrapolated to any foreigner’s) chance of being murdered in Mexico is less than his chance of being struck by lightning. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2008, 50 Americans were murdered in Mexico. 90 Americans were struck by lightning in the USA. Read on if you have an open mind. Oh, and to further fly in the face of accepted hysteria, in an average year, 20,000 people are killed by the “common” flu in the USA.
One advantage of living a few decades is that it gives you perspective. Back in ancient times (the 1960’s and 1970’s) people tried to dissuade me from driving to Mexico. It’s not safe, they cried. You’ll be robbed … shot by banditsarrested. Today people shout  the same untruths. They were wrong then and they are wrong now, according to US State Department and FBI statistics – the same statistics used by the Houston Chronicle, MSNBC, AP and others to scare people from going to Mexico.
In forty years and half a million miles of driving to almost every nook and cranny of Mexico. I’ve yet to see a bandit. I’ve yet to be kidnapped. I’ve yet to be afraid. Oh, I was arrested once, but I deserved it.
About 1 ½ million Mexican tourists visit the USA yearly. How often have you seen a headline: Mexican tourist robbed (or shot)? It happens. It’s just not headline-worthy. A friend of mine in the consular service in Los Angeles said that helping Mexicans who’d been robbed or murdered were part of his duties. Not one newspaper every asked him about such “incidents.”
The Chronicle headline that screamed that more than 200 Americans had been killed in Mexico since 2004. That’s nearly five years. That’s about fifty a year, but that’s not headline-worthy. To the Chronicle’s credit, it fairly pointed out that most of the homicide victims were involved in organized crime. Some were wanted for crimes in the USA. It allowed that in 70 cases, “ the victims were apparently visiting family, vacationing or living or working there.”
People get murdered anywhere in the world because of grudges, arguments or love affairs gone wrong. Or, sometimes people just get robbed and shot who don’t deserve it. It happens here. Every few days I read about someone getting shot in my hometown. It’s a shame, but it’s not a symptom of …  a nation out-of-control as some try to label Mexico.
Yes, gangsters shoot at each other and the army shoots back. It’s unlikely you’ll be in the neighborhood – any more than you’ll be in the neighborhood of a gang shootout at home. The chance of getting murdered for any reason in Mexico is less than the chance of getting struck by lighting in the USA (90 deaths versus 50). It’s one-sixth the likelihood of your being gunned down in the USA. You could get gunned down in the USA at: a museum in Washington DC, a church, a mall, a fast food restaurant / convenience store, by a serial killer in South Carolina, California or anywhere, a drive-by shooting and so on.

Statistics From 2007 and 2008

The FBI 2007 statistics state that there were 1.4 million violent crimes in the USA. 466.9 per 100,000 people with 16,929 murders or 5.6 per 100,000 people. That sounds pretty scary to me.
The US State Department reported that for 2008, there were 221 deaths from all causes of American citizens in Mexico. As I said earlier, the link to that document is gone (deleted) from the State Department web site.
Detroit is as far from the Mexican border as you can get so that claims of “spillover violence” can’t be used (unless there is a Canadian Cartel). It has about 900,000 residents. In 2007 there were 19,690 violent crimes with 392 murders.  Houston, our forth largest city with about 2 ½ million people had 24,564 violent crimes (351 murders the same year. Gee it seems that some of our cities have more murders each year than death from all causes of American citizens in the entire country of Mexico.
Most Americans who met their Maker in Mexico did so via highway accidents or pedestrian fatalities (89). Second was homicides (50), next was suicide (24) with drowning and my favorite “Other,” trailing in the polls at 21 each. I’m surprised the Chronicle didn’t glom onto the category, “Executions.” (9). All but one of those occurred in Cd. Juarez.
Sometimes news stories mention a “poor American” who got into trouble in Mexico, but, believe it or not, some of us get drunk, high or loud-mouthed and go places we shouldn’t. I speak from experience, having done all four in my youth in Mexico and the USA. The only places anyone pulled guns on me or beat me up were in the USA. Well, there was that time in Oaxaca, but I don’t want to talk about it.
With about three million Americans tourists a year and about one million living in Mexico, the murder rate for Americans is around one per 100,000 or so – about one-sixth the murder rate in the USA.

Here’s what Antonio Prado, director of The Spanish Institute of Puebla had to say about safety for Americans in Mexico in my upcoming book,
Meet The Mexicans:
Most of our students are surprised at how safe they feel in Mexico compared to how they thought they would. I have been at this school for ten years. In that time we have had about 5,000 students. The worst thing that happened to any of them was that two had their pockets picked. Most Mexicans are afraid of the States from what they see on TV. My wife and I went to a Catholic Mass. There was a Black man there. My wife was afraid to shake his hand because of the negative stereotypes from movies.
The people who are committing the crimes in Mexico know who they are committing crimes against. I feel very safe and in twelve years of living in Mexico, I have never had an incident. In the USA I was broken into, my car was stolen. Here the worst that happened to me was that the mirrors from my car were stolen.

  For more article like this visit.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Entrance to "La Fonda Banámitzi" at

"La Fonda Banámitzi" at "La Posada"

La Posada del Rio Sonora a boutique hotel in the charming historic center of Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico , the very center of the historic and scenic route called "La Ruta Rio Sonora". This is an area steeped in historical, biological and geological significance. A place where time is simpler and the sun shines about 360 days a year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Los Cenzontles

Los Cenzontles provides the local community with a family-friendly setting for traditional arts education and cultural events while producing critically acclaimed CDs and DVDs and attracting collaborations with internationally recognized recording artists.
In our classes, we are listening to and learning from our maestros. In our events and performances, we are adding our own voice to living traditions. Through our CDs and DVDs, we document our journey to share with you, the world and future generations. Check them out at

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pets Pack Your Bags for Mexico

bringing pets into mexicoYes...You may bring cats, dogs, and other household pets into Mexico.

Those wishing to travel to Mexico with their dogs or cats must obtain the following documents beforehand:
1. A Health Certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and
2. Proof of vaccines against rabies and distemper, administered at least 15 days before the arrival of the pet in Mexico.
3. Proof of ownership. A letter from your veterinarian will suffice or you may have an adoption certificate from your local shelter.
No consular certification is required and it is not necessary that these documents be translated into Spanish.brining my cat to mexico
However, in the numerous times we have driven from Mexico, through the U.S. into Canada and back again, we have never experienced anything more than slight interest in our pets. We even have “Pet Passports” which we thought were real cute, but nobody has ever wanted to see them. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared! And the best thing is there is no quarantine in Mexico!

The Secret Powers of Time

  This visually depicted discussion of time, culture and geography was quite interesting to me. It helps me understand perhaps why I am the way I want to be when at lower latitudes with higher altitudes. It just fits.

  Well enjoy.....


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cabalgata 2010 Rio Sonora

To get a glimpse of the numbers...x 20, estimated at 2500 riders. I will be brief and was AWESOME!!!

As we enter Baviácora from the South

Our first and only Cabalgata so far was 24 kilometers long. We rode with approximately 2500 other riders (all of which wore white cowboy hats, while mine was dark brown). The Governor of Sonora Guillermo Padrés Elías (PAN), rode along with us. The entire ride lasted 3-1/2 hours and ended in La Estancia. We were hosted by the Contreras Family, they provided transportation, Great horses for Cheri and myself, sipping Tepúa Bacanora and cold beer. They watched over Cheri like she was a daughter or sister and this allowed me to mix with the crowd and sample other types of Bacanora, Tequila, Mescal and even some form of whiskey. It is amazing that I stayed on the horse, but had I fallen off or had any trouble, I am confident that there would have been plenty of friendly folks there ready to help. This event was absolutely AMAZING. I hope we can repay the kindness and generosity shown to us there. We made some "once-in-a-lifetime" memories that day.


The Tepúa Bacanora King Roberto

A new friend and a new family and a new home. Cheri and I are Blessed to have made so many great friends in such an amazingly short period of time. The genuine quality that I admire and respect so much in my new friends is their willingness to share and to help us forge into a new life. The Contreras Family of Hermosillo and the Rio Sonora area have been so kind to us. This photo is of Roberto Jr. and he is an incredible fellow, a bright young man that will help his Father achieve a family dream of making and marketing Bacanora (under the Tepúa label in Mexico and Cielo Rojo in the United States). We cannot wait to attempt to help them achieve their dreams as they have helped us with ours.
Finding Great people to have as friends is one of the greatest gifts we can have in our lives. I will always be Grateful!

Back on Pavement

Back on Pavement, originally uploaded by MexicoEcoResort.

Sometimes those rough patches in the road of life are there just to make you appreciate the smooth parts.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

En la masa

En la masa, originally uploaded by Fano_Quiriego.

Con las manos expertas Doña Lupe prepara tortillas de harina a la orilla de la playa de Bahía de Lobos, una pequeña población pesquera del Municipio de San Ignacio Río Muerto que, frente a lo ordinario de sus calles y casas, ofrece al visitante un escándalo de naturaleza sin par.

Uploaded by Fano_Quiriego on 13 Oct 09, 10.25PM MST.

With the expert hands Doña Lupe flour tortillas , prepared at the edge of the beach of Bahia de Lobos, a small fishing village of San Ignacio Rio Dead that, contrary to the ordinary streets and houses, offers visitors an unparalleled nature scandal .

This album had some of the best photos of children I have seen. Cheri nailed it when she said "If people (Gringos) could only see the happiness on the children's faces, then they wouldn't be trying so hard to change their culture..."

I really like the way Fano captured the hands.

Wonderful Water in Sonora

Vertedor(HDR), originally uploaded by Iván Fernández V..

I have been asked by several friends and relatives about the water around the area. They all know me and Cheri and know how important water and natural beauty is in our day-to-day lives. My foto-search on Flickr with the query of "Sonora Beauty" brought me this striking image from Iván Fernández V. of a Dam and water reservoir. I wanted to share this via the easy (almost too easy) "Blog This" feature from Flickr. This Álvaro Obregón Dam has been captured so beautifully with the sky and earth and water.

Opata Words Defined

A message manipulated by Hate, Fear & Ignorance

A message manipulated, originally uploaded by MexicoEcoResort.

"Thank God for the border patrol that this did not come over the border. "
"Look what they found at the Arizona border!"

Sent to me in an attempt to warn me of the dangers of Mexico, by those whom have never been.

Taking images (from others) and trying to tell a story (lies and deception) of how the Mexican Drug Cartels are trying to smuggle guns and ammo North of the Border and that US Military captured them. Which was a series of lies that were 180 degrees from the Truth.... but via ignorance and the ease of forwarding to all your email buddies and they in turn to theirs and on and on. That is how Fear, Lies and Propaganda spreads like wildfire all across the good ole USA.

South of the Border, confiscated by Mexicans......

Exactly what do you think you are seeing here?

This is a Mexican Military Operation confiscating more than 300 long guns, 200 short guns, grenade launchers, RPG's , grenades, ammunition and vehicles all being smuggled from the United States to the Narco-Traffickers that in return try to keep Americans supplied with the Cocaine, Marijuana, Chrystal Meth, and now even Heroine that they can't ever seem to get enough of. I am glad to see that at least one side of the Border is being Pro-Active in this 185 Billion Dollar per year drug/arms trade. When was the last or even first time you can remember any of our more than 3500 ICE Agents along the Border stop the U.S. Gun Smugglers before they can make their way across the Border heading South? Why is Arizona the most concentrated area of weapons and ammunition sales in ratio to population in the Western Hemisphere? Where do you think all those "legally purchased" guns and ammunition is going? Go online and see where the "Big Gun Wholesalers" and "Bulk Ammunition" sales companies are located.

To the untrained eye, some folks might be easily mistaken in believing that these are American Armed Forces capturing weapons being smuggled North into our country. Anyone believing that may as well believe that the USA is the largest drug smugglers and providers of illegal drugs to Mexico and all of Latin America. With that logic, you would have to also believe that Mexico has a higher percentage of it's population addicted to drugs than anywhere else on the planet. Any and all of these assumptions would be 180 degrees wrong and would represent the height of ignorance and the ability of propaganda to lead uninformed people in any direction, even to believe in the opposite of Truth.

Uploaded by MexicoEcoResort on 23 Jun 10, 6.47AM MST.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Colors of La Posada del Rio Sonora

LaPosada UpperPorchJan10, originally uploaded by MexicoEcoResort.

This photo by my great friend Bill Steen is still my favorite image of the hotel. We finally did it! Now I am trying to handle getting both houses sold and do my Ultra Job while still planning ways to bring new customers to the hotel. and are our two websites and I am trying to remake both of them. Each one will have a defined and separate focus and demographic target.
Please feel free to FB or Twit or share in any way possible. We need Your Help. Thanks for all the support so far. We couldn't have done it without it.
Ciao for now!


A Guest Survey - Please feel free to fill-out and submit if you have stayed there

If you have stayed there in the past, could you be sure to add approximate date in the last field before hitting submit? Also I would really like to have your email address...please, It is for hotel promotions only.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Buchichiqui, originally uploaded by DrCarlosAMG ¡Vamos México!.

There have been some awesome photos made of Hummingbirds/Collibri but this one is my new fav on Flickr. I have been exploring the images from Old Mexico from so many Great Mexican Photographers. In fact I have joined several of the photo groups focused on Old Mexico and specifically Sonora, and even more specific - La Ruta del Rio Sonora. It is a great way to share a common hobby and an enchantment with the landscape and the people of Mexico.
Viva Mexico!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Upper Terrace View in the Morning

This is the first video post that I have tried from Flickr. It should give you a breif look around the upper terrace at La Posada. The back apartment is being rented by a Gold Miner's Daughter and the front apartment has just been occupied by our General Manager.
Please make plans to come and visit us after we make the Big Move. Now it is just a matter of time.


La Posada Patio & Courtyard

Mine at last...well ours actually. Although there have been no big "Press Release" regarding this transaction, it is official now. Cheri and I have purchased "La Posada del Rio Sonora" in Banámichi and will be moving there later this year. We are keeping on all the staff and even promoting Mauro Maldonado to General Manager. Over the next couple of weeks you will most likely notice a new look if you check in on our two websites: and

Please share this on FB or any medium you can. We are counting on making this non-typical, non-touristy experience successful by generating as much good old fashioned fun and adventure as we can in this beautiful location. It is hard to describe, but impossible to forget. Just ask the folks that have been there.

This will be the beginning of an entirely new chapter in our lives.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cascada de Tamul @ Tanchachin, SLP, Mexico

There are so many WONDERFUL locations within this vast country. Living and working here will allow us to not only experience and immerse ourselves in a new culture, but will allow us to intensify our exploration of this beautiful place.
Tomorrow is the "Cabogata" a horse festival with around 2,000 riders including the Governor of Sonora. Cheri and I will be riding thanks to the Contreras Family. Roberto Contreras Sr. and Jr. are the proprietors of "Cielo Rojo" (Red Sky) Bacanora (a type of tequila). We want to thank them in advance. They also sell it under the name "Tepua" in Mexico and we are more than proud to serve it in our signature drink at "La Posada del Rio Sonora" - Bacarita.

Find out more at

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Choices (to wait or not to wait)

Dr. Seuss’ words about waiting
The Waiting Place…
…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
Clearly to Dr. Seuss, waiting is not a good thing. (& I agree)
I read it again recently and one part keeps popping in my head. The story warns the boy about getting lost in life’s “rat race.” Not taking action, but instead just …waiting.

Enter Franz Kafka. As a writer, he’s one of the all-time greats. As a boy born in Prague in a German Jewish family, Kafka struggled with identity. A minority of a minority. He didn’t accept it well. It was tough times for Franz and his writing shows it. His dark writing style was usually about “senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity.” (sources)

What’s Kafka say about waiting?

Kafka’s words about Waiting
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
In a Nutshell…
There you have it.
Seuss says: waiting = bad
Kafka says: waiting = good

What are your thoughts?
Anyway, this is what’s weighing heavily on my mind, and the past few weeks.
Thanks for reading,

Google Search to a New Life

Mexico-our New Winner

 Mexico-our New Winner

Moving up four places to take our top spot as the world’s top retirement haven this year is Mexico. Mexico offers the perfect mix of centuries-old traditions and contemporary lifestyles. Moving to Mexico means you can still have all of the amenities you grew accustomed to north of the border: cable TV, high-speed Internet, and modern home appliances. And if you prefer, when you move to Mexico you can even bring all of your favorite things with you without paying import taxes.

Goods and services cost less, so you can afford the kinds of luxuries only the very wealthy enjoy up north: a maid, a cook, and a gardener for example. In your retirement here, you’ll have time to volunteer at the local school, time to golf in the mornings, time to relax on the beach…time to savor life.

Whether your vision of the ideal retirement involves shopping, fishing, sunbathing, diving, biking, mountain climbing, parasailing, collecting crafts, visiting archeological sites, partying, going to concerts, attending the theater, or fine dining, in Mexico you can engage in all of these activities, and many more.

How our Global Retirement Index is scored

* Real estate. Countries where real estate prices are low and the purchase of real estate is relatively easy receive the highest scores. We use our own experiences plus reports from our contributing editors and real estate contacts around the world to rate each country. Weight: 15%

* Entertainment, Recreation, and Culture. This category considers the number of newspapers per 1,000 citizens, the number of museums and cinemas per capita, the number of university students, the literacy rate, and the variety of cultural and recreational offerings. Weight: 10%

* Cost of living. This score is based on statistics from the Indexes of Living Costs Abroad, Quarter Allowances, and Hardship Differentials, published by the United States Department of State, and on data published by Business International. We also use our firsthand experiences living and traveling in these countries. The lower the score, the higher the cost of living. Weight: 20%

* Safety and stability. This measure of unrest in each country is based primarily on Interpol data and State Department statistics. It also takes into account the civil liberties and political rights granted by each government. Our own experiences and reports from expatriates living in these countries also influence the safety scores. Weight: 5%

* Health care. Considered in this category are the cost of a typical visit to a general practitioner and the cost and coverage particulars of health insurance. Weight: 20%

* Climate. Countries with temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rain fall, and little risk of natural disaster come out on top in this category. We use data representing each country as a whole instead of favoring one region over another. Weight: 5%

* Special benefits. This category considers government provisions that make moving to and living in each country easier and more affordable for foreigners. Taken into account are property rights for foreign residents, property tax rates, duty-free imports on personal belongings, currency controls, employment restrictions, voting rights, and transportation discounts for seniors. Weight: 20%

* Infrastructure. This section considers the number of cars and telephones per 1,000 residents, the length of railroad track in usable condition, the number of airports, the quality of the country’s road and highway network, and the availability of telecommunications. Weight: 5%

If health care is a concern, you should know that in much of Mexico the health care is first rate. Private clinics and hospitals are staffed by expert physicians (many of whom trained in the U.S., Europe, or in Mexico’s own world-renowned teaching hospitals), and medical care and prescription drugs will cost you only a fraction of what you would pay in the States. In our Index, Mexico scores 79 out of a possible 100 points in this category.

Mexico is such a diverse nation that everybody can find exactly what they want. You don’t have to choose between water or mountains; here you can have both. And because of geographic diversity, you can also choose the climate to enjoy during your Mexican retirement: from hot and dry in the north, to hot and humid in the south, to spring-like temperatures all year round in the Colonial Highlands.

You can also own the home of your dreams in Mexico-for much less than it would cost you most anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. The real estate market offers endless possibilities for your retirement. Mexico receives a high score of 84 in our Real Estate category. Despite what you may have heard, it’s not too late to buy real estate here.

You can own beachfront-not just ocean view property-in Mexico for less than $100,000.

Once you decide to move to Mexico, it’s difficult to know where to go-it’s a big country. Below are the 10 places we think make the most sense for expatriate living in this country, based on criteria such as health care, climate, infrastructure, and housing costs. These are places our husband-and-wife team in Mexico, Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins, have personally scouted and personally recommend above other options in this great big country. They are: Rosarito Beach, Puerto Vallarta, Quer?ro, Mazatlan, M?da, La Paz, Campeche, Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya, Ajijic/Chapala, and Sayulita/San Pancho (San Francisco). Of course, we’re not forgetting San Miguel de Allende, one of Dan and Suzan’s favorite places in Mexico. Suzan recently reported of this town: “San Miguel is one of the prettiest towns in all of Mexico. Stepping into San Miguel’s Centro is like stepping back in time…but with all of today’s modern conveniences.”

In second place…

Ecuador always does well in our Retirement Index,.....

Top for Europe

Italy comes third in our Index this year with high scores across the board. It’s difficult to......

Why Panama fell from glory?
Panama won our Retirement Index for six years in a row. But, it’s fallen from the top spot....

Mexico drug war doesn’t stop Americans from moving south of the border

‘As safe as Seattle,’ says a transplant to Mérida, Mexico, where there is no sign of the violent drug war waging in the north. Expatriates are fast buying and renovating colonial haciendas.

By Sara Miller Llana

Mérida, Mexico

Bill Engle is outside, sweating in work clothes while he oversees renovations to his colonial house in Mérida, Mexico. It sits on a street dubbed “Gringo Gulch,” a pretty row of baby blue, violet, and mustard facades where expatriates outnumber Mexicans.
It is not the climate,” says Mr. Engle, explaining why he moved to the Yucatán Peninsula. “It is the people. It is the most welcoming place.”
Americans scared off by violence in Mexico? Not here.
In towns far from the US border such as Mérida, Mexico’s drug wars seem like another world. In fact, according to a recent survey by the International Community Foundation, violence reduced the frequency or duration of trips to Mexico for only 7 percent of American retirees who live or travel frequently to Mexico.
No one knows how many foreign retirees, entrepreneurs, and families relocated to Mérida in recent years, but judging from real estate deals, new members to the English-language library, and observations by locals, it is not a few – nor is it ebbing.
'As safe as Seattle'"I feel more part of a community here and safer or as safe here as I did in Seattle," says Martha Lindley, a retired chaplain and lawyer who moved here three years ago.
Of 5.25 million Americans living abroad, 1 million are estimated to live south of the border. Some communities, such as San Miguel de Allende (a Heritage Site in central Mexico), seem virtual US suburbs. Mérida is becoming a magnet as transplants rush to buy old mansions and haciendas from the 19th century boom in henequen (a fiber used to make rope).
"I do not feel any violence here," says Dan Karnes, a retired lawyer from New Orleans who moved here last year. He purchased an 18th-century colonial mansion, last used as a warehouse, and on a recent day was overseeing workers digging a pool foundation and laying an oval courtyard. When done, Mr. Karnes will boast an 18,300-square-foot home.
Mérida housing market rebounds with retirees Mérida became a hot destination five years ago, says Mitch Keenan of Mexico International Real Estate. He's sold homes here for 15 years. While the global recession hurt sales, he says the market is rebounding and sending in more well-heeled retirees.
With America's baby boomers retiring, potential for further growth is huge. The International Community Foundation found that Mexico remains their retirees' No. 1 travel destination. The possible extension of Medicare benefits to Americans who retire abroad could further fuel that.
Ellen Fields and her husband, Jim, run the site and help expatriates settle here with the company Yucatan Expatriate Services.  "It is so neighborly," she says. She once left her keys in her door; instead of getting robbed, the keys got returned.
Locals say foreigners blend easily with the city's 1 million residents.
Alvaro Martinez and Sara Lopez, who moved to "Gringo Gulch" 70 years ago, long before it earned its nickname, are one of two Mexican families on the street. "They are good neighbors, there are never any problems," says Mr. Lopez, his arm draped around his wife. "They are moving in all around us."

Mexico's health care lures Americans

MEXICO CITY — It sounds almost too good to be true: a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, free medicines, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses, even dental work —
all for a flat fee of $250 or less a year. 
To get it, you just have to move to Mexico

As the United States debates an overhaul of its health care system, thousands of American retirees in Mexico have quietly found a solution of their own, signing up for the health care plan run by the Mexican Social Security Institute.
The system has flaws, the facilities aren't cutting-edge, and the deal may not last long because the Mexican government said in a recent report that it is "notorious" for losing money. But for now, retirees say they're getting a bargain.
"It was one of the primary reasons I moved here," said Judy Harvey of Prescott Valley, who now lives in Alamos, Sonora. "I couldn't afford health care in the United States. … To me, this is the best system that there is."
It's unclear how many Americans use IMSS, but with between 40,000 and 80,000 U.S. retirees living in Mexico, the number probably runs "well into the thousands," said David Warner, a public policy professor at the University of Texas.
"They take very good care of us," said Jessica Moyal, 59, of Hollywood, Fla., who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a popular retirement enclave for Americans.
The IMSS plan is primarily designed to support Mexican taxpayers who have been paying into the system for decades, and officials say they don't want to be overrun by bargain-hunting foreigners.
"If they started flooding down here for this, it wouldn't be sustainable," said Javier Lopez Ortiz, IMSS director in San Miguel de Allende.
Pre-existing conditions aren't covered for the first two years, and some newer medicines and implants are not free. IMSS hospitals don't have frills such as televisions or in-room phones, and they often require patients to bring family members to help with bathing and other non-medical tasks. Most doctors and nurses speak only Spanish, and Mexico's overloaded court system doesn't provide much recourse if something goes wrong.
But the medical care doesn't cost a dime after paying the annual fee, and it is usually good, retirees and health experts say. Warner said most American retirees enroll in IMSS as a form of cheap insurance against medical emergencies, while using private doctors or traveling back to the USA for less urgent care. Medicare, the U.S. insurance plan for retirees, cannot be used outside the United States. 

Program prompts relocation
The program has helped people such as Ron and Jemmy Miller of Shawano, Wis. They decided to retire early, but knew affording health care was going to be a problem.
Ron was a self-employed contractor, and Jemmy was a loan officer at a bank. At ages 61 and 52, respectively, they were too young to qualify for Medicare, but too old to risk not having health insurance.
"We knew that we couldn't retire without Medicare," Jemmy Miller said. "We're pretty much in Mexico now because we can't afford health care in the States."
The couple learned about IMSS from Mexico guidebooks and the Internet. They moved to the central city of Irapuato in 2006, got residency visas as foreign retirees, and then enrolled in IMSS.
The IMSS system is similar to an HMO in the United States, Jemmy Miller said. Patients are assigned a primary care physician and given a passport-size ID booklet that includes records of appointments. The doctor can refer patients to specialists, a bigger hospital or one of the IMSS specialty hospitals in cities such as Guadalajara or Mexico City.
In 2007, Ron Miller got appendicitis and had emergency surgery at the local IMSS hospital. He was in the hospital for about a week and had a double room to himself. The food was good, the nurses were attentive, and doctors stopped by three or four times a day to check on him, he said. At the end of it all, there was no bill, just an entry in the ID booklet.
The Millers may soon move back to the United States, but Jemmy Miller said they want to try to maintain the IMSS coverage. "If something big really comes up, we'd probably come back to Mexico," she said.

Different levels of care offered
IMSS is one of several public health systems in Mexico, each with its own network of hospitals and clinics. The program, which was founded in 1943, is funded by a combination of payroll deductions, employer contributions and government funds. It covers 50.8 million workers.
IMSS facilities are a step up from the state hospitals, but not as advanced as Mexico's private hospitals, which are often world-class, said Curtis Page, a Tempe, Ariz., doctor and co-author of a book about health care in Mexico.
Most patients seem grateful nonetheless. When Michael Kirkpatrick, 63, of Austin, fell off his motorcycle near his home in San Miguel de Allende, IMSS surgeons gave him a stainless-steel artificial hip.
There was no physical rehabilitation after the surgery, just a checkup a few weeks later.
"There was not the kind of follow-through and therapy that you would expect if you were doing this in the first world," Kirkpatrick said. "But it was satisfactory. The hip feels good."
Bob Story, 75, of St. Louis, had prostate-reduction surgery at an IMSS hospital in Mazatlán and discovered that patients were expected to bring their own pillows. It was a small price to pay, he said, for a surgery that would have cost thousands of dollars back home.
"I would say it's better than any health plan I've had in the States," he said. 

Hawley is Latin America correspondent for USA TODAY and The Arizona Republic

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Does driving a 4x4 through the canyons and in the river sound FUN?

Courtesy TerritorioScuola

This eight minute video done by Robert from New Years shows the hotel really well. It also shows how fun driving the "Old River Route" can be. Don't get me wrong the scenic 98 is incredible and probably one of the least used and most scenic drives in the Southwest, but for a real adventure I prefer the more watery route. We have done this a couple of times and each time it still thrills me.

  The greenish-yellowish highlighted route from Nogales to Magdelena to Cocurpe to Banámichi is absolutely the fastest way from Tucson.  We usually go through Bisbee and Naco toward Canennea and turn South on 98 (which is marked 118 and my Garmin shows as Hwy 17) just before entering Canennea. This is what most would consider the scenic route. Probably takes 30-45 more minutes than Nogales going down, (depending on city traffic), but the return portion is so much easier for me at Naco that I choose this route going North. If I am in no big hurry I turn off toward Bamori at this sign-

about 15-20 miles North of Banámichi there is a dirt road to the right. If you look back 20 yards/meters after turning on this road and see the sign above, you are on the right road. (I will try to include lat lon soon) but you get the idea. Then just follow the road through a little village and make your first river crossing and bear left where the most defined marks are, in a worse case scenario wait until you see a cowboy on a horse and see which way they are heading or ask "Arizpe" and point, they will laugh and point you in the right direction. After all getting a little lost on a wagon trail that criss-crosses the river about a dozen times is part of the adventure, right? We never needed 4x4, but may need it during monsoon season when I expect much higher water levels and rougher road conditions.

  Then if you are lucky, you will roll into the Southside of Arizpe on a shady tree-lined smoothe dirt road that is where the teenagers and young folk hang out after church on Sunday afternoons. We even saw several of those gorgeous Sonoran girls riding bareback. A couple of them sharing a horse almost ran into a tree while flirting with this old gringo in the old 4x4 Montero. Cheri was telling me to keep my eyes on the road....and believe me I was, but I was driving sllooooww to take in all the sights and sounds and finally the smooth feel of pavement. Then we backtracked a bit on the main road and had a Great Lunch at the Pemex on the Southside of Arizpe. Leave a note on a napkin under the clear plastic table-clothe if you do make it there, and tell 'em DJ and Cheri sent ya (they won't understand a word of it, but they will smile and feed you some really great food at a very decent price anyway).

Tinamastes Banámichi

Courtesy TerritorioScuola

*Outdoor Training
*Excursiones/ Excursions
*Rappel/ Rappel Training
*Cañonismo / Rock Climbing
*Puentismo (Rappel in Real World)
*Senderismo / Hiking
*Bici de Montaña / Mountain Biking
*Tours Off Road

A.P. Impact: US-Mexico border isn't so dangerous

It's one of the safest parts of America, and it's getting safer.

It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.

The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.

The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.

In addition, violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the border for the first time in seven years. So far this year assaults are slightly up, but data is incomplete.

"The border is safer now than it's ever been," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

Can you domesticate a wild Javelina? ....only in Banámichi

Courtesy TerritorioScuola

I found this short video of a local Banámichi Hombre that has done just that,
made a pet out of a wild pig. Only in a place as tranquil as Banámichi.....

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Rules for Travel to Sonora

Only Sonora” is a vehicle permit program that allows Americans to enter their cars into Sonora by paying a federal temporary importation permit fee. Only Sonora operates from the 21-kilometer checkpoint, which is about 12 miles south of Nogales, Sonora. Tourists who plan to drive beyond the 21 checkpoint in an American vehicle are required to have a car permit and a personal visitor permit.
However, the inspection station will be relocated within a year from past February to the border zone of Empalme, which is about 350 miles south from the US border. This will allow US vehicles to travel without a permit around most of Sonora and without having to pay the $29 federal temporary importation permit fee unless they decide to travel beyond Empalme.
Sonoran Governor, Eduardo Bours, announced this relocation will improve tourism and support investments planned for Guaymas and San Carlos. As well, he outlined that this will not change the activities related to customs and immigration inspection done at 21-kilometer checkpoint. Mexican officers will keep monitoring the importation of goods and materials, as well as issuing tourist visas. However, vehicle permits will now be done at Empalme, Sonora.
The new relocation of the inspection facilities will benefit all of those Americans who like to travel to our beautiful Sonoran beaches, including Rocky Point, Kino Bay, and San Carlos!

  It may be possible then by entering at Nogales and heading East at the center of the Magdelena By-pass Road to Cucurpe and on to Sinoquipe, you may be able to visit the entire Ruta Rio Sonora and Banamichi without needing to pay for (or go through the process of obtaining)  a vehicle decal. This makes the entire state of Sonora far more accessible to tourists North of the Border. (see Map at this link), We took this route last time and were able to make great time down and enjoy the more scenic route by heading North via the Ruta del Rio Sonora on Hwy 89. 

   I will continue checking out various routes and get more details regarding when the "Ruta Rio Sonora" is officially included in the "Hassle Free" Tourist Zone.  Look for a post after the June 12-18th, 2010 trip, including Lat Lon coordinates and more photos.

  In the future I will be adding waypoints for GPS units that may be handy for many travellers that use these devices.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Fellow Blogger Does a Great Story of Banamichi and Aconchi

Please take the time to read this young couples story of their travel experience when they traveled through the Rio Sonora area in an old Airstream. They are really getting to experience the culture and the people of the area and the flavor, which is what caught my attention. He or she writes really well...much better than you will get from this blog, but it will get better; Just hang in there.

Airstreaming Mexico: (more comprehensive link)
Bringing the Heat. Agua Caliente and Chiltepin

"Life on the road is wonderful and I can feel my body grow stronger and my soul grow quieter with every breath I draw in." - a quote from the author of TurkeyDawg Blog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Finding the right vehicle for our Mexican Adventure

We were in search of just the right vehicle for our transition into the "Mexican Culture".  Of course it has always been a hobby of mine to sniff out good deals on vehicles, but rarely have I been put in the circumstances that I had found myself in. We actually needed to buy a vehicle and have it there for use during an upcoming trip. My guests will be having a tight schedule and I cannot miss much time from work during high season, so that left me with using the Internet and the help of my great friends Ed & Trudi.....

  We needed to find an SUV type vehicle that meets the following criteria:

  1. It needed to be reliable
  2. It needed to be not too flashy
  3. It also needed to fit 4 adults
  4. plus luggage and 2 dogs
  5. I really wanted a 4 x 4 
  6. but fuel economy was important too, with 22 MPG targeted as a minimum ave.
  7. It needed to be unique & cool
  8. I really wanted A/C and a good sound system....
  9. To make it really challenging, we needed to keep it under $5,000
  10. Lastly, I wanted something that I could kinda customize over time, you know with Rhino Bar, winch system, jerry jugs, the whole "Off-Road" ready-to-go anywhere look.
I wanted something that could not only cross the Sonora River on the few times that the main road crosses it, but could handle crossing it during Monsoon Season. This vehicle should be able to allow us to cross over the river even on the old wagon routes or maybe on some routes that don't even exist yet.

   We would be able to take something like this all the way to "Five blues Lake" in Belize...that's a whole other story that I'll reserve for another day.

 We even wanted to explore some canyons and arroyos in the region.

  Well after I had exhausted my search in the Tucson area on Craigslist and, I was feeling a little less than optimistic. Then Trudi emailed me and directed me to check Sierra Vista on C.L. and after about an hour, we got lucky.

  Called the real seller, (you won't believe how many are scammers on Craigslist) and talked to a nice old guy named Carl. Then after the initial conversation, I asked E & T to drive 20-30 miles to check it out and they happily agreed.

When I got the initial, post-test drive reviews from Trudi and Ed, I knew we had found the right vehicle and here she is. Just the right color for the desert and blending in. The A/C works, cruise, power windows and 4x4. It is a Mitsubishi Montero LS 1991 with about 92,000 miles. Everything works and Ed is going to have a mechanic buddy of his to give her a good once over and then meet us at the Tucson Airport.

Now if that isn't a couple of AWESOME friends, there is no such thing. You guys are GREAT.
 After finding that we had sealed the deal, I did some more research by reading the consumer reviews. There were so many extremely positive things said by so many current and previous owners. It seems to have a more loyal following than Jeeps, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers combined.

  And with the price being less than
one half of our budget, it leaves
plenty of money for repairs, accessories
and extra cool toys.......
Like some T-90's and Vintage Vespas

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hotel in Banamichi

The streets of Banamichi.

Casa de Huespedes in Banamichi. In other words, a simple hotel.

Dax on Banamichi morning ride.

P  Photo by Bill Steen

Banamichi plaza band stand.

The old bus station in Banamichi, Sonora.

Nopales (prickly pear) on Banamichi street.

Banamichi fields.

Hidden Gems

 Hidden Travel Gems
Every traveler dreams of discovering that picture perfect spot free from other tourists and their associated influence on the local culture, prices, food, etc... There's no better feeling than going out on your own and telling your friends tales of exotic and unheard locales. While some of these locations might not be entirely hidden from travelers, they may be popular with local travelers or tourists from one specific part of the world, they are for the most part off of the typical tourist trail.
   The look and feel of an Historic Hacienda with all the timeless beauty that is Mexican Architecture.

     The comfort and style that will bring peaceful rest to the adventurous traveler that is willing to take "the road less traveled by".....
The Mexican Courtyard that is reminiscent of an oasis and celebrates a climate that is easily enjoyed all year long.

A cozy spot to relax and read a good book or have a glass of wine with a lover while enjoying a warm fire during the high desert chilly nights. Something you surely wouldn't experience in the sandy, humid beach side resorts.

A converted Mill that has been transformed into a full service spa to rejuvenate the body and soul.

  All of these elements I see potentially available in the Historic Ruta del Rio Sonora. All it takes is some imagination, motivation and willingness to invest in an area that is still a diamond in the rough.

  The materials and skilled labor is already here or near by. The buildings that warrant the investment are just waiting for the right set of people to come together to bring this area back to the beauty and grandeur that it was 300 years ago when it was the cradle and capital of New Spain, which today is made up of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and the Northern parts of Mexico.

   Those early Spanish Aristocrats had great taste in climate and natural beauty and chose this area to be the heart of their vast domain. Now we have the opportunity to embrace this paradise and preserve it for future generations without turning it into a major "Tourist" destination. I prefer a slow, sustainable process of renovation and enhancement that will not impact the sleepy little communities that embrace life on life's terms and creates the warmth and charm that is the best of Old Mexico, and is still a "Hidden Gem".

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"Attitude is Everything" "God let me WANT what I already HAVE.." "Always look for the miracles in life that surround us"