Monday, November 30, 2009

Mexico -- Part Two: Los Cabos and The Day of the Dead

In Mexico Part One, I talked about my very first visit to Mexico back in 1972. This time I'll take a look at my last visit which was in 2006.

I had always wanted to visit Mexico during their Day of the Dead festivities, which is November 2. All Souls' Day.

The Mexicans have a ritual where they set up memorials to their deceased loved ones. The memorials include the favorite foods and memorabilia of the loved one.

In 2006, Kurt and I decided to combine a beach vacation with the day of the Dead, or El Dia de los Muertos, as it's known in Spanish. Incidentally, our wedding anniversary coincided with the dates.

In late October, we flew into the airport at Los Cabos, a resort area at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula. If you plan to follow my footsteps on your own trip to Cabo, don't do what my husband and I did -- allow ourselves to get talked into a timeshare spiel.

At least we got a free boat ride and meal out of the nonsense, but it was an otherwise waste of our time.

Anyway, The Cabo (cape) area is home to two towns -- the touristy San Lucas, and the more authentic Mexican town of San Jose del Cabo. Since we had never visited either before, we chose a boutique hotel mid-way between the two towns. (It's about 20 miles from one town to the other along the "corridor".)

We couldn't have enjoyed our location more. The beach was deserted, and every night we took sunset strolls to the sound of crashing waves. We were in Cabo for Halloween, our Nov. 1 wedding anniversary and the marvelous experience of the Day of the Dead festivities in San Jose del Cabo.

Can't wait to visit there again.

Happy travels!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mexico -- Part One: My First Visit South of the Border

OK, if yesterday's blog was about Mexico, why am I calling this second blog on the country Part one? That's because I just thought of the idea of doing a series of articles on the one country I've visited more than any other.

Let's travel back in time to summer 1972.

I was dating Kurt, my eventual hubby, when I first set foot in Mexico. Kurt grew up in Phoenix, and I was visiting his hometown for the first time. That's when we decided to take a day trip to the Mexican border town of Nogales.

Nogales is much smaller than the better-known border cities of Tijuana and Juarez. We drove down to Nogales, Arizona, parked the car, and then walked through customs to other side.

The tourist area is one big flea market -- or so it seemed. Nogales would never rate as a primary travel spot by anyone's definition, but it was tons of fun for me -- someone who was studying Spanish and had yet to set foot in a Spanish-speaking country.

So I had the chance to practice my Spanish and bargain for a few trinkets. I may have taken a picture of a burro standing on a street corner. I do recall that Kurt bought me a silver ring with a turquoise stone. I still have it.


Until next time...nos vemos pronto.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Telenovelas and the Magical Towns of Mexico

Mexico! I absolutely love the place. Recently my husband and I started watching a telenovela -- a Mexican soap opera -- on one of the Spanish-language TV channels we get. The network is Univision.

So you are wondering: what the heck are Magical Towns and what do they have to do with a silly soap?

Let me explain. The program we watch is called "En Nombre del Amor." That's "In the Name of Love," for those who may be romance-language challenged. It's your typical soap...heroes, villains, everybody fighting over the opposite sex and half the characters clueless as to who their biological fathers are.

But that's what makes a soap, right? What's neat about this soap is its setting -- the city of Real del Monte in the state of Hidalgo.

In recent years, Mexico has started a program where they designate different communities as Magical Towns -- places whose culture and architecture make the community special.

Real del Monte is such a place. Thanks to an influx of Cornish miners in its past, the town boasts some architecture that is a tad more English than it is Spanish colonial -- Although Spanish colonial style reigns supreme.

At an elevation over 8,000 feet, Real del Monte enjoys a climate Mexicans like to call "perpetual spring." Warm days and cool evenings year-round.

And with only a population of around 11,000, it's not an overwhelming community to get a handle on.

So next time you're planning a trip to Mexico, consider Real del Monte in your plans.

Happy travels, Joyce