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]

Mexico: Safer But Not Safe Says Travel Warning

Troubled with crime, Mexico has been on the bad list of places to visit for quite some time. But the situation is improving. Murders of U.S. citizens are down. Drug-related violence seems limited to isolated areas of the country. But a new warning issued by the U.S. Department of State urges caution.

The State Department is warning travelers to “defer nonessential travel” to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Tamaulipas in Mexico. The continuing concern involves Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) that are “engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity,” says the State Department warning.

The latest travel warning urged caution when visiting Mexico, including Mazatlan in the state of Sinaloa, saying travelers “should exercise extreme caution particularly late at night and in the early morning.”

Giving credit to an improving situation in Mexico, the State Department notes that 32 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico in the first six months of 2012, compared with 113 in all of 2011. Still, the number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of concern with both local and expatriate communities victimized.Casting a more positive light to illuminate efforts being taken to improve the situation, Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete of the Mexico Tourism Board said the protection of tourists “is at the pinnacle of importance to the Mexican government,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

Indeed, festivals and events continue in Mexico and draw big crowds. Fifteen thousand people turned out for a mass yoga class in Mexico City, once a central location in the drug wars ravaging the country, now an area where no advisory is in place, as we see in this video:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user MattMawson]

Google Street View Offers Virtual Trips Around Mexico’s Ancient Monuments

We’ve talked a lot about Google Street View here on Gadling. It seems that every month a new attraction is added to this amazing and somewhat sinister application.

The latest is a series of views of the great monuments of Mexico. Google has been cooperating with the National Institute of Anthropology and History to take images of important sites such as Teotihuacan, Palenque and Chichen Itza. They hope to have 80 sites online by the end of the year.

The uber-cool archaeology news website Past Horizons reports that instead of the usual Google Street View van, a tricycle took the 360-degree panoramas. This method has been used at other sensitive sites like Stonehenge. I’ve taken a look at some of them and they’re as crisp and clear as the photos Google took of your house.

The Mexican sites are only some of hundreds of important spots around the world taken as part of the Google World Wonders Project. Hit the link to see more.

[Photo of Templo de la Calavera at Palenque courtesy Tato Grasso]

Could you be a Papantla Flyer in Mexico?

Do you think you could handle having one leg tied to the top of a shaky 30 meter pole while you hang limply from the top? How about then being quickly spun in circles as you slowly fall to the ground?

The feat is known as the Danza de los Voladores de Papantla, or Dance of the Flyers. The ritual, which is thought to have been used to call on the gods during times of drought, is best associated with the town of Papantla, Veracruz in Mexico, where it still takes place. There are five people who take part in the dance, including four flyers and one person who stands at the top of the tall pole dancing and playing a flute and drum.

We’ve seen the thrill seeking travelers of Fuel TV‘s “Strangers in Danger“, Mike “Rooftop” Escamilla and Zach “Catfish” Yankush eat live octopus in Korea, and tonight we’ll get to watch as they do the Dance of the Flyers, a feat which seems to scare them even more. Check out a clip of what you can expect here or watch the full episode tonight (and every Tuesday) at 10:30 E/P.

5 classic Baja outposts

Given the recent violence in Mexico, the number of Americans traveling to Baja has taken a precipitous fall. Prior to the reign of the narcotraficantes who are wreaking havoc on so many of the country’s border zones, the Baja peninsula was the ultimate playground for rogue surfers, story-swapping fisherman, and grease covered, offroading desert dogs.

Even with the violence, many Americans are still choosing to venture down the peninsula, despite a handful of highly publicized attacks against Baja surfers. I know, because I am one of them. Sure, Mexico is in the news a lot, but this is Baja. It’s different. Life is good down here. Then the authorities went and discovered the largest marijuana plantation on record smack in the middle of the Baja desert in a place I have driven by 20 times in the last five years.


While times may be changing and the future of Baja travel is uncertain, the fact remains that Baja remains one of the most pristine desert hideouts this side of the Sahara, and the places listed below are just as beautiful as before the border violence began.

Hence a list of 5 classic Baja outposts, their desolate shores waiting for someone to pull up a truck, crack open a Pacifico, and worry about nothing at all.
1. Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga

For decades, difficult desert access has kept this fishing village on the Sea of Cortez removed and isolated from the over development that plagues its northern neighbor, San Felipe. All of that is set to change however with the construction of the paved highway that has slowly been creeping its way south towards Bahia Gonzaga for years.

Prior to the paved highway, the only roads into the turquoise bay in the desert were the shock destroying washboard road that runs along the coast past Puertecitos, and the unpaved mountain pass that’s home to Coco’s Corner, an eccentric compound in the middle of nowhere that’s largely constructed out of aluminum cans and spare parts by a welcoming double amputee named Coco. It can get lonely in these parts.

2. Bahia de Los Angeles

Located 400 miles south of the border on the placid Sea of Cortez, Bahia de Los Angeles is better known for what’s found in the water than what’s found on land. A classic outpost for dorado fisherman, the waters of Bahia de Los Angeles are also part of the Bahia de Los Angeles Biosphere Reserve, which at over 950,000 acres is home to the much sought after and elusive whale shark, nature’s largest fish.

Offshore, 360 sq. mile Isla de La Guarda provides protection from the rougher waters of the Sea of Cortez, making the entire bay a haven for sun seeking sea kayakers who have little on the itinerary outside of mirror calm waters and the fish tacos back on shore.

3. San Juanico

Known to surfers as “Scorpion Bay“, the fishing village of San Juanico has been drawing wave-seekers ever since Surfline founder Sean Collins allegedly first surfed the spot in 1969.
Regarded as one of the longest waves in the world, conversations at the campground cantina frequently oscillate between current road conditions and who’s had the longest ride of the summer.

Given the remote nature of San Juanico, half of the adventure is found in the journey. While approachable from the south and east, most visitors from north of the border opt to traverse a 112 mile dirt road that runs through vast salt flats and car-swallowing moondust on what many consider to be one of the worst roads in Baja. But oh the rewards once you get there…

4. Playa Santispac

One of the pearls of Bahia Concepcion, Playa Santispac is the type of place where you sleep under the stars, watch the sunrise over the water, and have a breakfast of tamales from the guy selling them out of the back of his truck. A longtime haven for sailboats cruising north from La Paz, the aqua waters of Bahia Concepcion provide a sandy anchorage for boaters, while the dozens of beaches within the bay provide ample camping and swimming opportunities.

5. El Socorro

A little visited seaside community on the northern Pacific coast, El Socorro is set at the base of some of the largest sand dunes found anywhere on the peninsula. Camped out at the base of the dunes directly along the shoreline, on many mornings the receding tide will expose the offshore reef and lure what seems to be the entire village to harvest bucketfuls of clams.

El Socorro is also a popular spot for surfers in the winter months when strong Pacific storms send waves towards the reefs set just off of the sand dunes. It’s a long way from here for any real supplies, so pack well, plan ahead, be safe, and lose yourself in the Baja we will all forever love.