Mexico Rebounds With Festivals And Events In 2013

Mexico, apparently immune to the scary headlines that might as well have been “Dying In Mexico A Sure Thing For Tourists,” is enjoying a robust return to business-as-usual. In fact, the Mexican Tourist Board predicts record numbers of visitors to the country in 2013.

With the cloud of doom retreating from over Mexico, annual events are heating up. Here are some festivals and events to look for in 2013.

Merida International Arts Festival – Merida, Yucatan, January 5-23, 2013
The state of Yucatan and the city of Merida host an arts festival featuring live concerts, opera, dance, theater, poetry readings, art and photography exhibitions and films from all over the world. Many events happen at the Jose Marti Cultural Center, Olimpo’s Cultural Center, Merida’s city theater, the University of Yucatan and Jose Peon Contreras Theater.

Corona Rally Mexico – Guanajuato State, March 11-13, 2013
The cities of Guanajuato, Silao and Leonin Guanajuato State host this exciting event.
The 2005 Corona Rally is a two-day, 600-mile race through central Mexico’s plateaus and mountains. In addition to 15 legs of intense off-road driving, festivities include traditional dance, music and food.Extreme Adventure Hidalgo Competition– Husteca, Hidalgo, February 23-26, 2013
This competition, which will take place in the mountainous region of the state of Hidalgo, is one of the most important adventure competitions available worldwide. More than $60,000 in prizes will be awarded at the competition that will require kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, canyoneering, swimming and caving. Teams from countries sourced from around the world will participate.

This video shows some of what contestants go through to prepare for Extreme Adventure Hidalgo:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user El Emanem]

Renewed Mexico travel warning threatens spring break travel plans

The U.S. State Department has issued a new Mexico travel warning, superseding last April’s warning. Apparently, cartel violence stemming from drug trafficking, specifically violent struggles among the criminal organizations for control of trafficking routes, has resulted in a rising number of carjackings, kidnappings and gun battles throughout Mexico.

“U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs (Transnational Criminal Organizations) which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico, says the State Department in the new warning posted on their website today.

Detailing the problem, the State Department says “The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.”

Mexico government figures indicate that 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, the warning states. Most of those killed were members of the criminal organizations.

The big problem: State Department numbers indicate that 120 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico in 2011, up from 35 in 2007, according to the warning.

Bad news for college students, the government says spring break destination Rocky Point is a key area in the international drug and human trafficking trades and can be extremely dangerous.

Arizona college student Juan Pantoja told, “I was there two or three months ago. I go down there often and go to Rocky Point. I have never thought twice about it. It’s always a good time.” University of Arizona student Chase Tsui added, “I would love to go visit my boyfriend’s family, but the problem is getting there. My mom still has this thing about going to Mexico, so she still doesn’t want me to go.”

The updated warning advises against nonessential travel to areas within 16 Mexican states, including Veracruz and the border areas of Aguacalientes and Zacatecas, and Colima and Michoacan says TravelWeekly but notes that no advisories are in effect for the state of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum), the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara and Guanajuato (San Miguel de Allende and Leon).

Travelers are advised to stay within the tourist areas of Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mazatlan, Monterrey and Zihuantanejo.

Flickr photo by scazon

Mexico kissing ban gets locals hot and bothered

PDA, (public displays of affection) are a way of life in many countries. Young lovers, often caught by the watchful eye of parents at home, use shared public spaces like parks, mass transportation and monuments to gain a degree of “public anonymity” and exchange a few amorous pleasantries.

In most countries, this behavior is taken for granted – it’s simply a way of life to make out with your lover on a train because there’s just nowhere else to do it. But in a number cities around the world, public kissing is in danger. In addition to a recent smooching ban at the train station in Cheshire, UK, the city of Guanajuato Mexico has had enough. This past January, Guanajuato’s city council, led by the socially conservative National Action Party, updated the city code of public behavior. The code targeted not only jaywalking and “offensive language” but something Guanajuato’s mayor, Eduardo Romero Hicks, has described as “Olympic fondling.” One can only imagine what he had in mind. Many Guanajuato residents, upon hearing of the ban, took it as an attack on all public displays of affection, including kissing, and the outrage began to grow.

Needless to say, Guanajuato’s many lip-lockers and “Olympian fondlers” were immediately up in arms (and lips) over the new proclamation, going so far as to stage a massive “kiss-in” at the city’s main plaza on Valentine’s Day and post satirical videos about the ban on YouTube. It didn’t take long before the city council caved, shelving the new ordinance for “further review.” I guess it just goes to show you that when it comes to kissing in public places, love knows no bounds…

Lonely Planet names top 10 “weird” cities

Top 10 lists are the lifeblood of blogging. How else, dear reader, can we quickly inform you of all you need to know about a topic in a format that is quick to read and simultaneously entertaining? The end of the year is fertile ground for top 10 lists, providing an opportunity to take a look at the previous 365 days and gaze at the marvelous things that have come to pass.

With this in mind, travel publication extraordinaire Lonely Planet has published their 2008 list of the “world’s top 10 weirdest cities” as part of their book, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009. Here’s a few of their picks:

  • Tokyo, Japan – I don’t think anyone is going to argue with this one
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – true only if you find $5 all-you-can-eat lobster tails to be eccentric
  • Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – a country with flaming holes and an eccentric dictator definitely qualifies in our book
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands – whoa, cannabis and sex shows. So weird!
  • Guanajuato, Mexico – I had always thought of Guanajuato as a charming Mexican colonial city, but that’s wrong. Apparently they have mummies. Mummies!

Anyone interested in checking out the full list can find it here. You have to wonder who was in charge of compiling these cities, but considering that Gadling might some day want to publish their own book of top 10’s, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

What do you think of this list of top 10 weird cities? Think it’s a load of crap? Have any cities you think they left out? Leave us a comment below and tell us about your favorite weird city.