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Mexpert's Blog

Travel news and information on Mexico from Mexico.

Tag Archives: travel

Writing a love letter

to that special somewhere in my life

Heart-shaped earrings made of jipi japa palm

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’ve decided to lay my cards on the table and declare my love. The object of my affection? A very special town in Mexico. I was there in late December and there was definite chemistry. I had been there before, but this time was different. Now I find myself going back over every detail of the trip, replaying the highlights, daydreaming about what we’ll do when we’re together again. That may not happen for a while (when’s Easter?), so for the moment I’ll have to settle for cathartic letter writing. If there’s a special somewhere in your life, I encourage you to do the same. Here’s a basic Mexico-inspired template to get you started:

Dear ______ (fill in the blank),

Ever since I first laid eyes on your (choose one of the following or write one of your own) delicate church spires/snow-capped volcanoes/towering pyramids against bright blue skies, I can’t stop thinking about you. I long to swim again in your crystal clear cenotes/lagoons/coves. I can still hear the rustle of the motmots/howler monkeys/iguanas in the trees around us. Most of all, I miss our late night snacking on tacos al pastor/carnitas/sweet tamales…I’ll always cherish the amate painting/woven earrings/silk rebozo you gave me. See you soon, I hope.

Yours, M


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In 2012, the Mexico chapter of NYC-based Fashion Group International celebrates half a century of promoting the world of fashion, from apparel to jewelry and accessories, beauty and interior design. Since its founding in 1962, the group has helped members via networking events, business opportunities, trend watching and more, and future members through the creation of scholarship programs for study abroad.

To celebrate Mexico’s Fashion Group turning 50, Mexico Ink will spotlight several of the group’s 150 members and their contribution to the world of fashion in this and upcoming posts, starting with designer Dalia Pascal. Creator of artisanal chic jewelry and accessories, Pascal’s combination of folk art and contemporary design has helped revive and safeguard traditional indigenous crafts.

Pascal won Most Socially Responsible Handbag Award of the year in 2010 for a design made of recycled textiles crafted by indigenous artisans in Chiapas. As many as a thousand designs from countries around the globe compete annually in the Independent Handbag Designer Awards, considered the Oscars of the handbag industry, with prizes presented at a glittering ceremony attended by personalities from the world of fashion, such as Tim “make it work” Gunn of Project Runway fame.

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Remnants of what is believed to have been the Yale, Harvard or Princeton of the great Aztec empire have been turned into an on-site museum in Mexico City’s Historic Center. The discovery of the Calmecac — where sons of the Aztec ruling class studied and were groomed for high office — is yet another reminder that hundreds of years of pre-Hispanic civilization lie buried beneath the capital.

The small underground museum is built around a raised platform that was once part of a much larger courtyard at the Aztec school for the elite. On display around the platform are 88 artifacts unearthed during the dig, which date from pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern times. Among the prized relics are two clay sculptures about six feet tall, in the form of a snail shell that’s been cut down the middle. The snail designs are considered iconic of pre-Hispanic architecture and descriptions of the Calmecac in codices suggest that a string of similar sculptures formed the cresting along the top of the building.

“Many factors indicate that this was the Calmecac,” said leading archaeologist Raul Barrera during a recent tour of the museum, “including its location on the northwest corner of the sacred great plaza of Tenochtitlan.” The platform and relics were unearthed by accident during excavation work begun in 2006 to expand the garage under Spain’s Cultural Center and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Calmecac Museo de Sitio del Centro Cultural de España en Mexico
  • Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 5 pm, Sundays to 3 pm
  • Free admission

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After exploring the ruins at Tulum, visitors take a refreshing dip in the Caribbean

More than a million people visited Tulum in 2011, making it the most visited archaeological site in Quintana Roo – the state that’s home to famed vacation destinations Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya. The only Mayan city overlooking the Caribbean, Tulum leads the state’s 12 open-to-the-public archaeological attractions, drawing an impressive 1.8 million visitors. (Thousands more overgrown ruins are scattered throughout the Maya World, but they’re not ready to receive guests just yet.)

Rounding out the top five most visited archaeological sites in the state are Coba, in second place with 400,000+ visitors; San Gervasio, in Cozumel, with 137,000+; Chacchoben (explanation coming up), with 56,000+; and Kohunlich, with 50,000+. Unbeknownst to you and me, or maybe just me, Chacchoben is a popular shore excursion for cruise ship passengers landing in the Costa Maya, a stretch of coast that begins where the Riviera Maya leaves off.

But wait, there’s more: Tulum additionally tops the list of the three most popular sites nationwide among international travelers, with Chichen-Itza and Teotihuacan in second and third place. Looking refreshed from recent renovation work, Teotihuacan is still the hands-down favorite overall, with more than 2.2 million visitors.

Expect lots more in 2012

Cultural tourism in general is on the rise in Mexico, according to year-end figures from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) that show upwards of 18 million people flocked to museums, archaeological sites and historic monuments around the country in 2011. Give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. In reward for your interest, Mexico plans to unveil a host of new attractions this year.

As part of Mundo Maya’s new age celebrations in the lead up to December 2012, watch for the opening of San Miguelito, a Mayan archaeological site located, conveniently, on Cancun’s main strip, Kukulkan Boulevard, as well as the new Cancun Museum of Archaeology, also on the main avenue.

In other parts of the country, too, archaeologists have been hard at work reassembling crumbled pyramids and dusting off ancient artifacts, reports INAH. Sites soon opening to the public include Lagartero and Iglesia Vieja, in Chiapas; Atzompa, in Oaxaca; Cerro del Teul, in Zacatecas; Cerro de Trincheras, in Sonora; El Pañhu, in Hidalgo; and Teteles de Santo Nombre, in Puebla. See you there.

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Chile en nogada: gay or straight?

I haven’t actually read Simon Doonan’s book, though I’m looking forward to it (something tells me I have more in common with gay men than with French women). But I did come across an excerpt in the Guardian online (“The ‘Gay Diet’”) where Doonan is quoted as claiming that “Mexican food is unbelievably macho” and points to a burrito as proof. This makes me think that Doonan’s idea of eating Mexican food is ordering from Taco Inn (who knew they were still around?). Anybody remotely familiar with Mexican cuisine can tell you that it covers the entire spectrum of human sexuality, from frijoles charros (Mexican style baked beans; decidedly macho, homophobic even) to chiles en nogada (an elaborate stuffed chili dish sprinkled with pomegranate seeds; Liberace on acid gay, to borrow a phrase from the author). In between, there’s tamales (could swing both ways) and enchiladas (enjoys threesomes). Simon, if you’re ever in Mexico, dinner is on me.

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Robin Hood 702 accompanied by his “Maid Marian,” a.k.a. Lady Greice

The anonymous do-gooder that goes by the name Robin Hood 702 has struck again, this time at the Westin Los Cabos on the tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. While on vacay at the swishy resort, RH found a deserving beneficiary in assistant food and beverage manager Daniel Luna, who impressed the swashbuckling 99 percenter with his dedication to the job and devotion to his mom (Luna redirected his career abroad so he could return to Mexico and help care for his ailing mother). RH showed his appreciation with a generous gift of two months’ salary and an offer of an all-expenses paid weekend in Las Vegas.

“In these trying times the world is in, people forget about the service industry,” said RH. “They come to work with a smile on their face every day trying to make a difference so people like us can enjoy their vacation time around the globe. They are special people in my book and should not be forgotten!”

RH apparently spends an inordinate amount of time around people in the service industry even when not vacationing, as a high-stakes Las Vegas blackjack player (702 is the city’s area code). To learn more about him and his gambling-fueled charity work, visit


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