Thursday, July 29, 2010

Traveling safely in Mexico

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Mexico is a popular tourist destination among Americans, and is a relatively affordable and convenient destination to visit. While most travelers never experience problems while visiting the country, it is important to take some precautions when visiting Mexico.

• First and foremost, research your destination before your trip. In light of the recent tensions between the drug cartels, it is important to make sure the areas to which you are traveling are deemed safe. Certain areas with high volume of drug related crime should be avoided.

• Before traveling to your destination make sure to make at least two copies of your passport and travel documents. One to leave with a friend or family member staying in the United States, and one to bring with you in case your passport is lost or stolen. Also be sure to take your bank or credit card Company’s international telephone number along, should your card be lost or stolen. Before leaving the United States, make sure you inform your credit card company or bank that you are traveling abroad, or chances are they may temporarily deactivate your cards as a security precaution.

• While in Mexico it is important to try to blend in, or at least to not have the appearance of the stereotypical American tourist, with the baseball cap and white sneakers, as this type of appearance draws attention to thieves and pick-pocketers. Also, it is important to avoid using ATMs in deserted locations or at night. Remember to put withdrawn money away immediately.

• For women: It is especially important to be mindful of travel safety. It is a good idea to wear a purse with a long strap that drapes over the shoulder and diagonally across the body and zips. This type of purse stays close to the body, and makes it difficult for pick-pocketers to break into. Also, it is important to always ignore cat calls from local men. Even negative responses are perceived as an invitation to continue and possibly advance further. One helpful phrase you can use against harassing men is “estoy esperando a mi esposo,” which means I am waiting for my husband.

• Always act as if you know where you’re going and never stand on the streets looking at maps and guide books appearing lost. And remember, trust your instincts. If they tell you venturing to a certain place is a bad idea, it probably is.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mexican Cuisine

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Because it is so close to lunchtime I just HAD to post about some delicious Mexican food.Real Mexican food is quite unlike the dishes found in most Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in other countries. In tourist areas you’ll find restaurants with familiar names and gringo menus, though the offerings will often be over-priced and not of a high standard.

You need to check out the REAL DEAL in Mexico. 

Let's get the icky part out of the way first...The sanitation codes and measures in Mexico are not the same as what you may be used to in the US or other countries, so please keep that in mind.  As always, with trying new food and being in a new environment your immune system may be overwhelmed with all sorts of new bacteria to digest and thus you are more apt to get sick from eating abroad than from eating at home.  Be smart about it, get your Hep A and Typhoid vaccinations (and any others that the Travel Medicine Specialist thinks are necessary) and bring along some anti-diarrhea meds and some rehydrations salts and you should have all your bases covered.  NOW let's eat!!!



Ceviche-
There are several different preparations and types of ceviche.  It is safer to eat ceviche from an upscale restaurant as opposed to a street vendor who may not have the proper equipment to keep it at the proper temperature.




Chicken with Mole Sauce-
A wonderful rich sauce made with the unlikely combination of chocolate, chilies and many spices. It can be red or green depending on the ingredients and the moles of Puebla and Oaxaca are particularly famous, hence ‘mole poblano’ or ‘mole oaxaqeño’. The sauce is often served over chicken, though turkey is more traditional.
 
Tamales-
Cornmeal paste wrapped in corn or banana husks and often stuffed with chicken, pork or turkey and/or vegetables, then steamed.  Pop open a Modelo, Dos Equis, or any number of Mexican beers if you are a fan.  It will go great with all these foods!


Buen provecho!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mexican Fiestas!

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One of the best parts of traveling is experiencing your destination’s local culture. Mexico in particular, has a diverse culture and many holidays that may differ from yours. Mexicans love to honor their holidays with elaborate celebrations and fiestas. On your next Mexican vacation, try to head to the nearest city to celebrate these holidays with the locals.

Dia de los muertos (day of the dead) Oct. 31st-Nov. 2nd.





Dia de los muertos is a Mexican holiday stemming from ancient Aztec times, intended to celebrate deceased loved ones. Tradition says that the spirits come back and visit their families on October 31st, and depart again November 2nd. This fiesta embraces death, but mocks in a fun way with its smiling skulls and dancing skeletons. Mexicans create altars filled with sugar candy skulls and skeletons, along with candles and marigolds to honor the dead. The best parts are the elaborate feasting, costumes, and dancing in the streets.






Dia de la Independencia- September 16th




Dia de la Independencia is another great fiesta to attend on your Mexican vacation. September 16th celebrates the day that Mexico was free from Spain. In the streets, hundreds of food stands are set up to serve antojitos, or finger foods. Mariachi bands play music, and people gather in the zocalos, or main plazas to watch a re-enactment of when Hidalgo rang his church bell, calling every Mexican to fight for liberty from the Spanish rule.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mexican Dancing Lessons!

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Want to be in the know about the latest Mexican dance moves?Want to know more than the Cha-Cha slide to get by?
Want to steal the show on the dance floor during your trip or at least hang in there with a festive two-step? Try some of the most popular Mexican styles of dance and put your own personal touch on the classic moves!! Let’s get learning!!!

Mariachi Dance




This style of music is synonymous to the Mexican culture and traditional way of dance. Just as important as the moves are the authentic Mexican instruments and dress. Colorful, festive and elaborate is the way to go and be sure to smile to emote the true energy of the motions.

Take a look at the video below of a California-based Mexican Dance Group.



Mexican Hat Dance


The Hat dance is Mexico’s National Folk Dance! It is still danced by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans alike. It is used to celebrate an array of different life events and much like everything else in Mexican culture it is dance to vibrant acoustics with vivid costumes!!





Traditional Folklorico




Take from the traditional what you will and make it your own with the folklorico style of dance! Express the spirit of the Culture and have fun!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mexico: Popular Restaurants

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Popular Mexican Restaurants

One of the best parts of traveling is trying out some of the destination’s unique cuisine! While it is important to remember food and water safety, and to be properly vaccinated against food borne illnesses and other diseases specific to your destination, it is also important to explore the local taste and flavors of your destination. The following are a list of great restaurants in popular Mexican tourist sites.

Cancun
• La Habichuela


One of Cancun’s most popular restaurants, featuring an array of dishes made with fine ingredients, a romantic Mayan setting, and a wonderful outdoor garden in which to dine. This restaurant is situated downtown in the heart of Cancun. Be sure to order one of this restaurant’s fabulous seafood dishes!

•Cambalache Steak House



This Argentine-style steak house is one of the best steak houses in Cancun! They offer the finest slow-cooked bife de chorizo (very similar to a rib eye), and a variety of fine wines, with an atmosphere authentic to steak houses in Buenos Aires.


•La Destileria



La Destileria is a must for travelers to Cancun! This restaurant features contemporary Mexican cuisine, and also produces its own tequila! Tourists can come and take a tour throughout the tequila kitchens and see how tequila is made, followed by a tequila tasting!

Puerto Vallarta
•Banana Cantina



This restaurant is a favorite among tourists to Puerto Vallarta. It has a lively, colorful ambiance and features many unique dishes, such as its banana martini and almond crusted garlic shrimp.

•La Palapa




Come to La Palapa to experience fine dining right on the beach of Los Muertos! This restaurant features exotic dishes made with fresh ingredients full of local flavor and offers a casual yet elegant setting. This restaurant has gained international attention and earned many awards and is a must for any tourist staying in Puerto Vallarta.

•Pincho y Ole



This restaurant and lounge is a popular restaurant among travelers. It features Tapas, or small appetizers served in Spain. The bar also features excellent gin and tonics, and has a fine range of Spanish-grown wines served by the glass.

Cabos San Lucas

•Arriba Tequila Bar



A great restaurant if you want great food, live music and fun! Every night features a theme from a different Latin American Country, with different music and dance. Arriba also features a tequila night with over 80 types of tequilas for tasting. Be sure to book your reservation 24 hours in advance!

• Don Emiliano



This restaurant features top-notch fine Mexican cuisine, along with world class wines that have been specifically chosen for the restaurant. Food recipes come from world renowned Mexican chefs, and the Executive chef has won many international awards.

• Nick-san Japanese



Probably the most popular Japanese restaurant in Los Cabos! A unique fusion of Japanese food with local Mexican flavor, Nick-San has a very creative menu. The drinks are also very creative with colorful, creative garnishes, and this open-aired restaurant has an atmosphere that is casual but still very elegant.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mexican-Inspired Fashion Trends 2010!

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1. One fashion trend that will always remain classic and authentic to Mexican culture is the- PEASANT TOP! This look, while loose and flowy can be worn for casual outings or a festive night party! **Be sure to lather up those exposed arms with plenty of sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and don’t forget all other exposed areas.

2. MIRRORED JEWELS!
Bling out your outfits whether simple or fancy. Do this with earrings, rings or bracelets that reflect the beauty of the sun in Mexico! **Mirrored jewelry is generally a safer option to travel with as opposed to the real thing and will have the same amazing bedazzle!

3. ANYTHING EMBROIDERED! Detail your wardrobe with enthusiastic zigs and zags, coils and curls of intricate designs on almost anything. Whether it be, your tops or bottoms, hats or fanny pack you’ll more than fit in with the traditions!

** Be sure to refrain from any tattooing of any sort, while traveling. Sanitation and medical standards in Mexico are not the same as in the US, so the risk of infections can be very high. Feel free to embroider things other than your skin!


4. Don’t be afraid of BRIGHT COLORS! While sometimes people are shy about color, take advantage of your trip and explore the rainbow of color options in Mexican fashion. Wear a colorful flower in your hair to spruce up all collections or for ladies simply wear bright nail color. (OPI nail color is a good starting point). You can start with colors ranging anywhere from “Pink Flamenco” to “Conquistadorable Color.”


**Color your speech with preparation. It never hurts to know some of the basics of the language or languages spoken in your region of travel.

5. Last but not least, care to splurge a bit? GET BACK TO FASHION. If you’re already into fashion and want to continue after your return, PRADA has a nice Mexican themed printed canvas bag that is sure to enhance your cultural senses. There are also more modest price points in lines like Rocket dog MEXICO for some nice new zapatos or the De Florista dress by Modcloth!

**Don’t forget to follow-up on those booster shot appointments as well as general check-ups upon your return too!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mexico- Art

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On your Mexican vacation, be sure to check out some Mexican art! Mexico, especially Mexico City, offers great museum exhibits of true Mexican art, like the Diego Rivera Mural Museum and the Mexican Museum of Modern Art. If you want to check out some Mexican art before your vacation, there are some great Mexican Art Museums in the United States such as the National Museum of Mexican art in Chicago.

Before you go, familiarize yourself with some Mexican artists, so you know what to look out for in the Museums. Mexico’s two most famous artists are Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera is one of Mexico’s most famous muralists and painters. Diego married another famous Mexican artist named Frida Kahlo, 20 years younger than him. His marriage to Frida was probably more famous than his actual art work. They had a tempestuous relationship filled with infidelity, divorce and remarriage. Diego studied art in Mexico, and then headed to Europe where he took up the style of Cubism. His works generally reflect his communist politics.




Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is probably Mexico’s most famous female artist. She had survived Polio, and at the age of 18 was in a bus accident that fractured her spine and Pelvis, among many other injuries. As a result of the accident she had over 30 surgical operations in her life time. Frida was married to Diego Rivera when she was 22. Her original intent was to be a doctor, but while she was in bed after operations, she began producing art and made over 200 paintings and drawings, 55 of which were self portraits.



Friday, July 9, 2010

Make your own Mexican Pizza!

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Craving something a little zestier than your usual slice? Taste buds wanting something traditional but with a slight twist? Whether it is chipotle pepper, cumin, a blend of cheeses or your favorite mango salsa, you can spice it up anyway you like! Why not Mexican Pizza?!

Some things you will need are:

1 can refried beans
1 lb. ground turkey (chicken or beef if you prefer)
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2 cup Mexican blend cheese
1 small can sliced olives
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onions
Your favorite salsa

Check out the video below for a different recipe and step-by-step instructions to make a delicious Mexican Pizza!  Is it time for lunch yet? MMMMMMmmmmmm

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cave Diving in Mexico

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Cave diving is an intensely thrilling activity that is very popular in Mexico. At the Riviera Maya, just south of Cancun in the Yucatan peninsula, cave divers can find some of the most amazing underwater caves in the world.


The video below gives you a real idea of just how dangerous cave diving can be.


Before embarking on your cave diving adventure, it is important to make sure you are trained in cave diving. Inexperience accounts for almost all cave diving accidents, so make sure you are well informed and trained before diving in the Yucatan’s amazing caves!

Here are some places to consider enrolling in your cave diving courses:
http://www.dir-mexico.com/fundamentals.html
http://www.cavediving.org/cave_courses/index.asp

•After your cave diving training remember to hire a guide for your excursion! Many of the entrances to various caves can be difficult to find, and you can waste a lot of time looking for them and use up valuable oxygen! Guides are also great, because they know how to find the way back to your resorts, as the jungle in the Yucatan is a very easy place to get lost!

•Also remember to bring an extra light source, and have your diving partner bring an extra light source as well! Light failures in cave dives are not unheard of, so having a back up is a good way to prevent any accidents or injuries while diving.

•Finally, remember to leave a trail or a guide line for exit! Caves can be difficult to navigate through, even with a map, and often times swimming towards the clearest water can lead you further into caves.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

SOUVENIR GUIDE De MEXICO

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Match the personality traits of a family, friend or colleague by bringing back just the right item from your trip to Mexico! Sure, clothing is always an easy Go-To when it comes to souvenirs but you can try to get more creative on this trip!! Going for a certain degree of sentiment? Maybe a big smile? These are just a few suggestions on gift-getting the Mexican way!

HAND-MADE


Hand-made goodies like hand-woven baskets are extremely popular and common in the native culture. Nab a few woven crafts to send to co-workers or friends back home!


POTTERY





Mexico is rich in red clay and in some regions black clay. This allows for production of massive amounts of clay work and pottery. You can choose something neutral and simple or with as many colors as you desire.


WOOD CARVINGS


Oaxacan wood carvings, most of the time portray mythological animals from Mexico and can be purchased all over the country. An added perk about this souvenir is you can usually watch the craftsman create your gift right in front of you.

SILVER

This gift option centers on a little more sentiment but since Mexico is a big silver mining country, there is no lack of options of silver selections. Not only is there silver in abundance, the craftsman can create about anything you want and all at very nice and often negotiable prices!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Interior Design- Mexican Style

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If you’re on your way to Mexico or maybe just returning you may be one of the travelers that fell in love with the Mexican Décor. You fell in love, so much so, that you would like to create a room or section of your home with Mexican flare? You're in luck! Take some pointers from here and begin your Mexican home makeover!

UNO
Use bright bold colors! Don’t hold back!



DOS
Place some rustic pieces in your room! This will give it that old traditional Mexican feeling you’re going for!




TRES
Mirrors and Mosaics! The two M’s will give a double punch of Mexican flavor to the room.



QUATRO
On the practical side use any lighting fixtures you feel like, but to add the Mexico touch, include lanterns and lamps! Preferably ones that allow for candles, you’ll feel like you’re there.


CINCO
To round it off, place some colorful basketry anywhere in the room. This can be to hold magazines or a spare blanket that will come in handy while curled up watching a movie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mexico: What can you expect?

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We are SO excited to be featuring Mexico for the month of July!  Here are a few facts about Mexico to get YOU excited!  You can also look forward to some awesome posts about food, fashion, adventure travel, art and MUCH more!!

Population: Over 107 million people.

Size: Just under 2 million square miles.

Geography: There are 31 states in the country of Mexico. The United States borders Mexico to the north, and Belize and Guatemala border Mexico to the south. To the west of the country, is the Pacific Ocean. On the eastern border is the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the country’s vast size, there are many different areas, from the Baja of California, which has many great beach resorts like those of Los Cabos. Along the Gulf of Mexico, there are cool and high mountain ranges. In central Mexico, there is a scorching desert with many archeological sites. In the north there are dry, arid mountains. The Pacific coast is very beachy, along with the Yucatan peninsula, which is filled with gorgeous beaches and fascinating history.



Baja California, Cabo San Lucas


Central Mexico

Yucatan peninsula

Religion: 90% of Mexicans practice Roman Catholicism

Capital city: The capital of Mexico is Mexico City, and over 18 million people live in this thriving city! Mexico City is one of the top ten most populated cities in the world.

Language: The official language spoken in Mexico is Spanish, but there are many indigenous languages spoken in the rural areas of the country.

Country dial code: 52

Currency: The Mexican peso

National sport: Soccer.

¡ Hasta Pronto!!