Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Charlie Sheen, Peter Greenaway to Attend Baja Fest

The Baja International Film Festival kicks off with Juan Jose Campanella's "Foosball."

MEXICO CITY -- Charlie SheenPeter Greenaway and Oscar winner Juan Jose Campanella will attend the 2nd Baja International Film Festival in November, an emerging industry-focused event held in Los Cabos.
STORY: Baja Film Fest to Open With Argentine 3D Animated 'Foosball'The four-day fest, which runs Nov. 13-16, opens with Campanella's animated featureFoosball (Metegol), a big-budget soccer-themed picture from the director of the Academy Award winner The Secret in Their Eyes.
British director Greenaway will talk about his latest production, the biopic Eisenstein in Guanajuato, which focuses on Russian director SergeiEisenstein's stay in Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1930. An admirer of Eisenstein, Greenaway
says the movie is a certain type of homage to the helmer.
Charlie Sheen, aka Carlos Estevez, will be in Baja for a screening of Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills, in which he plays Mr. President.
The official competition section consists of eight features and documentaries from Mexico, Canada and the U.S., includingMatt Johnson's Sundance winner The Dirties and Daniel Patrick Carbone's drama Hide Your Smiling Faces, which premiered at Tribeca.
Five films will have world premieres: Bering: Equilibrio y ResistenciaFilosofia Natural del Amo,LutoEl Charro Misterioso and Volando Bajo.
Baja is promoting itself as an industry-friendly event that offers a film fund, Work in Progress prizes and a sales agent workshop, with experts from Memento Films, The Match Factory, Mundial and Rise and Shine. Additionally, representatives of the Participant Media PanAmerican film initiative (a development and co-financing venture with Latin America's top producers) will be on hand to discuss their latest projects.

Baja 1000 Preview, Russell Wins GNCC Title, Supercross Rumors! – The Weekly Dirt: October 30, 2013

SCORE has shortened the course a bit from initial reports with total mileage of the loop that starts and finishes in Ensenada now about 833, though it’ll still start for bikes and ATVs at 11:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 14, with qualifying for start position taking place the day before.
Unlike the Baja 500, the Bonanza Plumbing/FMF KTM factory team will pin its hopes on just one squad: Mike Brown, Kurt Caselli, Ivan Ramirez and–get this–Kendall Norman!

At the 500, of course, Norman ran his own Kendall Norman Racing/Red Bull team with partner Ryan Abbatoye; it was their first race on an Anthony Dibasilio-prepped KTM 450 XC-F identical to the one ridden by the Brown/Caselli/Ramirez trio to second behind the Johnny Campbell Racing Honda threesome of David Kamo/Colton Udall/Timmy Weigand.

The JCR Honda team is the defending race and series champ, of course, and will rely on those three once again. Then there’s the THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki-mounted unit of Robby Bell/Steve Hengeveld/David Pearson/Taylor Robert that should also be right there, with hints brewing of a mystery rider possessing a supercross background being added to that group.

In what’s often considered a tune-up for the 1000, all three teams raced the John Burr Cycles 24 Hours of Glen Helen last week with modified rider line-ups, mostly to make sure their lighting systems are up to par. JCR Honda added Ryan Dudek to the mix, Mike Brown rode as part of ZipTy Racing/Bonanza Plumbing KTM with Ty Davis/Bobby Garrison/Gary Sutherlin and THR’s Robby Bell teamed up with Chris Hollis (who was on his way back to Australia after being part of the Aussie World Trophy team at Six Days) plus Ty Renshaw and Justin Seeds.
Honda clawed its way back from an early mechanical setback to sprint past Kawasaki in the final hours for the win by just a minute and 34 seconds, unofficially. Purvines Racing Beta’s Ryan Abbatoye/Nick Burson/Max Gerston/Justin Morrow/Jason Parsons/Tallon Taylor claimed the Open Expert win and third overall while KTM was fourth.

Speaking of 24-hour races, probably the biggest one around is the 24 Hours of Starvation Ridge up in Washington state with nearly 100 teams/entries fairly average. The course is more open and flowy than the confines of Glen Helen, taking full advantage of the eastern Washington venue.

For the second year in a row (and third time in the past four years), the MotoSport Hillsboro KTM team took the overall, this year comprised of returnees Reid Brown, Don Boesphlug and Monte McGrath plus newcomers Dan Jordan, Joey Lancaster and Irving Powers.

Getting back to Baja, Kawasaki Team Green owned the peninsula during its run. It started its streak by winning the 1987 Baja 500 in its first foray to Mexico, but it really got going the following year and continued to dominate until finally withdrawing after winning the 1000 in 1996 for the ninth consecutive time.

Many of the people involved with the effort are still around, though they may no longer be at Kawasaki. But much like a high school reunion, getting everyone together can be a lot of fun and that’s what happened on Saturday night at Kawasaki’s corporate offices in Irvine, California: the Kawasaki Team Green Baja Reunion.

Over 160 former riders, support staff and volunteers (and their families and friends) gathered for a lot of bench-racing, a taco feed, the chance to view lots of old photos, T-shirts and other memorabilia, and just getting together with friends old and new, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in 20 years or more.
Among the riders were Anna Cody, Chris Crandall, Ty Davis, Ted Hunnicutt, Paul Krause, Danny LaPorte, Dave Ondas, Kenny Parry, Larry Roeseler and Garth Sweetland. Team manager Mark Johnson also made it as well as many of the techs who built and cared for the all-conquering KX500s, 250s and 125s, plus Pro Circuit’s Mitch Payton and Jim “Bones” Bacon who were instrumental in the effort as well.

While the KX500 that won the 1994 Baja 1000 was also on display (complete with its imposing trio of quartz-halogen lights), the evening was mostly about remembering the people who made it all possible. Despite many years not seeing each other, it seemed that old friendships were instantly renewed, with everyone marveling it had been 25 years since that first Baja 1000 victory. As the evening wound down, guests took the mike and shared anecdotes of what they remembered, some of the accounts probably being told in public for the first time.

As Cody said in a Facebook post, “It was a great evening seeing everyone after so many years and hearing stories in the company of some very fast racers…as well as the mechanics and the men behind the team.”
Right after the OiLibya Rally of Morocco, Team HRC Rally sent two of its riders to the Merzouga Rally (handily, also in Morocco) for additional seat/testing time. Since it’s not a part of the FIM Cross-country Rallies World Championship, it’s not attended by many top teams, but the team felt it wouldn’t hurt to have Helder Rodrigues and Sam Sunderland participating to further develop the brand-new CRF450 Rally that proved so dominant last week.

It again proved to be an excellent week for both riders and their new bikes; they won four stages over the next five days and ended up going 1-2 with Sunderland topping the final day and the overall, Rodrigues a strong second after a navigating error on the third day.

That’ll be the final race for the team before Dakar and the expected showdown with the Red Bull KTM Factory Rally Team’s Kurt Caselli, Marc Coma, Ruben Faria and Francisco Lopez. —Mark Kariya

Rumor Mill: Things We’ve Overheard

We hear there will be announcement soon about the format for the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross Series. The new format for the night show “we hear” will be as follows:

450 Class
• Two Heat races with four transferring from each heat
• Two Semis with five transferring from each semi
• One LCQ with two transferring from that
• Main Event total of 22 riders with last place getting one point
Riders that don’t qualify for the Main event out of the heat race will go to the Semi but the Semis will be based on finish. Odd riders going to one Semi with evens going to another. This means that if a rider is in Heat one and doesn’t qualify that doesn’t guarantee him to get Semi number one.

250 Class
The 250 class will feature the usual format for the heat races (nine out of each heat) but will take four out of the LCQ for a total of 22 riders on the gate. Last in the Main Event will get one point.
We here at Dirt Rider like this change (if it happens) because it gives riders more TV time that usually wouldn’t get any and lets fans see more races on any given Saturday night. —Kris Keefer

Wild Side of Cabo Still Unexplored

San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico (PRWEB) October 30, 2013

Cabo San Lucas resorts are well renowned for providing some of the world’s most luxurious accommodations. Many five star Cabo hotels cater to an elite, well-traveled clientele and provide unlimited amenities and activities. Unfortunately, along with the notoriety comes unwelcomed attributes found in many other popular resort destinations – crowds, noise, traffic, too much glitz and the antithesis of what many are truly seeking during a well-earned vacation.

There is an alternative and it is as close to the main airport at San Jose del Cabo as the popular Cabo San Lucas resort destination. The East Cape of the Baja peninsula is spectacular in its undeveloped nature and provides the backdrop for a truly serene, ultimately relaxing vacation with virtually unlimited Baja recreational activities. The problem with spending any time there previously was the lack of any truly comfortable accommodations in the area. That all changed recently, with the opening of VIDASOUL Resort near San Jose del Cabo, a brand new eco-resort on a private beach near the spectacular Cabo Pulmo reef area.

VIDASOUL offers an unrivaled and truly unique travel experience. The 16-room resort sits directly on a private beach adjacent to the world famous Punta Perfecta surfing venue. The hotel features stunning, clean, modern architecture. The resort is off the grid and completely self-sustaining, generating its own power through a vast solar array with back-up generation. A truly green, eco-friendly development, VIDASOUL provides incredible luxury for such a private, remote location. Each guest accommodation features TempurPedic mattresses, fine bed linens, luxurious terry, Bulgari bath amenities, large screen HD television, dramatic rainforest showers where the water changes color through LED lighting, wireless Internet access and air conditioning. Activities abound, including scuba diving and snorkeling at the most pristine reef left on Earth (Cabo Pulmo), surfing, SUP boarding, sea kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, whale watching, ATV excursions or just lying in the sun and swimming in the crystal clear ocean. On site, the Crossroads Restaurant provides a world class dining experience, featuring locally sourced seafood and produce. Featuring Mexican and Italian cuisine, the restaurant serves three meals daily and has a full bar. Weekend entertainment provides concerts for hotel guests with dancing under the stars with the spectacular ocean as the backdrop. An easy 45 minute drive from the airport at San Jose del Cabo, yet worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life, VIDASOUL offers an unforgettable experience on the undeveloped, private East Cape of the Baja peninsula.

VIDASOUL Resort, with its tagline “Come as You Are” is priced to be accessible to all, yet still provide a luxurious, incredibly unique experience. VIDASOUL is ideal for corporate retreats, destination weddings or any group event seeking a private, luxurious venue with stunning beauty, a myriad of activities, outstanding cuisine and attentive service. Though only open as of this writing for a few months, not surprisingly the hotel has already found immense popularity with guests “buying out” the entire property for private retreats and events.

Aboard a floating fortress of solitude in the Sea of Cortes

Rising at dawn to catch the sunrise, cruise passengers nursing coffee cups watched as the Safari Endeavour glided past the Baja Peninsula’s ragged coast. As the rays played over the cliffs, each thumb-shaped cove and crescent beach came into view for a minute or two, then slid out of sight, disappearing astern.

Fifty yards off the starboard bow, a whale surfaced to breathe, blowing an airy spray of mist and leaving a widening circle of ripples. On the port side, a squawking band of sea gulls hovered over a rocky islet shared by a colony of croaking sea lions.
They — and the Endeavour — were the only signs of life, or so it seemed to this first-time visitor to the Sea of Cortes, the 700 mile-long finger of ocean separating the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. (It’s also known as the Sea of Cortez, Gulf of California, and Vermilion Sea, in addition to its various Spanish-language names.)
In nearly a week on the ship, touring at sea and on land, we’d spotted three of the seven whale species that frequent the region, part of the abundant stew of marine residents, including dolphins, green turtles, mobula rays and dozens of birds. We’d walked through a tiny fishing village. Hiked the narrow trails to dusty cliff-top ridges. Snorkeled in glass-clear coves. But except for a brief glimpse of two small sailboats, we’d had the lonely Sea of Cortes all to ourselves.
Behind us on the bridge, Capt. Jill Russell, the Endeavour’s 40-something skipper, was in her element, peering through binoculars and reading weather signs in the clouds. A chunky dynamo with energy to burn and a hands-on approach to management, she checked the wind, wondering if the day’s planned expedition should be canceled.
Button-holed by a photographer who asked where the ship was heading, she was ready with a snappy come-back. “I don’t know,” she answered, pausing for comic effect. Then she grinned. “But I’ll know when we get there.”
A few of the passengers, mostly cruise veterans expecting an orderly progression of ports and tours, suddenly felt unmoored. “Now what?” asked a retired lawyer from Maryland. “Can they change the route just like that?”
But the officers on the bridge, watching the whitecaps smacking against the bow, knew what to expect. Captain Jill, as they called her, would wait and watch, then decide.
One thing was certain. The 86-passenger Endeavour, an Un-Cruise Adventures ship, was a solo act. At the present, only Holland America and Carnival sail anywhere close by, and that with one ship each, calling only a larger towns with port facilities: La Paz, Loreto and San Jose del Cabo on the Peninsula, and Topolobampo and Guaymas on mainland Mexico’s Pacific coast.
A cruise third cruise vessel, Lindblad Expedition’s 62-passenger Sea Bird, also sails here in January and February, exploring Baja’s virgin beaches. But only Un-Cruise Adventures goes off the grid, leading shore expeditions to deserted bays and coves “in country,’ places like Ensenada Grande, Bahia Aqua Verde, Espiritu Santo and El Cardonal.
We’d expected to spend that day on shore, wandering along the beach, looking for shells and driftwood, snorkeling among the rocks, looking for angelfish, emerald wrasse, sea horses and even sea turtles. Some passengers planned to kayak across the bay; the Endeavour’s techno-savvy, storage-and-launch rack (nicknamed the “pickle fork”) lowers the 20 two-man kayaks to the water level for easy loading. Other passengers had signed up for the guided hike through the brush-and cactus forest that looks like a desert but isn’t.
“We’ll be exploring what scientists call a “low elevation deciduously-treed jungle,” promised Naturalist and hike leader Paulino Perez during the previous evening’s slide show. But with choppy seas and heavy surf, beach landings were put on hold.
So I stood by the rail instead, searching for leviathans. Sperm whales and grey whales, humpbacks and blues, even fin whales and giant whale sharks frolic in these protected blue waters, “the world’s aquarium,” according to marine biologist and diver Jacques Cousteau, who labeled the region the “Galapagos of North America.”
Idling near the rocky pinnacles called Los Islotes we spotted pods of dolphins, sea lion colonies sunning, and brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies jockeying for sunny perches. But the week’s highlight was the shore tour to Magdalena Bay, on Baja’s Pacific Coast, to see the migrating grey whales.
“Tomorrow we’re heading for the historic village of Loreto, where you’ll have two options,” said Expedition Leader Mark Hopkins. “You can spend the day there, touring the old Mission church, or shopping. Or you can join the bus tour to Magdalena Bay on the Peninsula’s Pacific Coast, to see where the migrating grey whales spend the winter months. They come in February and March to breed and give birth,” he said. An obvious choice,” I thought, signing up for Magdalena Bay.
The drive WAS long, two hours on a continuously winding road. But by mid-morning we and 40-odd other travelers were there, seated in four large pangas and motoring slowly across the lagoon. At first, the lagoon seemed empty, the whales gone. But just as we’d decided the trip was a bust, a mottled hump silently broke the surface nearby. Then a second shiny wet back emerged with a calf by her side.
As the day warmed, so did the whales, rolling sideways to inspect us with one eye and “spy hopping” straight up between the pangas for 360-degree look-around. A few whales slid next to the panga, as if courting the touch of a human hand. Whales were everywhere, gently cruising, rising, breathing and diving.
Whaled out, we were ready for lunch by 1 o’clock, served at a local café that offered plates heaped with chicken enchiladas, tacos, rice, beans, chili verde, sliced mangoes and a fresh green salad, served with a soda or beer.
How much leeway does a ship captain have in a place like the Gulf, where the itinerary can be flexible, I wondered. Was the Magdalena Bay tour available on a day’s notice?
“It’s rarely a problem,” said Russell. “That’s what I like about out-of-the-way places like the Sea of Cortes. The big cruise ships depend on stopping at ports with facilities, the docks, tour buses, guide services and shops. They have to go where they’re expected. But here in Baja we get to decide when and where to anchor and what to do that day.
It’s the kind of flexibility that Un-Cruise cultivates. Three years ago, Un-Cruise Adventures was a minor player. A small Alaska-oriented outfit, its four ships sailed under two names: Inner Sea Discoveries (active expedition trips) and American Safari Cruises (luxury yachts). Growing was a someday topic that was never seriously pursued. Then Cruise West, Alaska’s oldest and best-loved cruise line announced it was going out of business and selling its fleet of expedition-style ships.
“The vessels were already right there, in Alaska, and they came on the market at the right price,” said Un-Cruise spokesperson Sarah Scoltock. “It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
When the purchase was complete, the company’s fleet of ships, now sailing under the Un-Cruise Adventures logo, had doubled. So, too, had the number of cruise itineraries, each designed with the idea that independent travelers want to be active participants. “Comment cards and feedback say that our passengers want good food, a choice of wines and the little luxuries that matter,” she said. “But they don’t want to sit in the lounge and look out the window. They want to make their own adventure.”
In the lonely Sea of Cortes, that goes without saying.
THE ROUTES: Starting in December 2013, the 64-passenger Safari Voyager takes over the Safari Endeavour’s Sea of Cortes routes, cruising year around. Seven-night roundtrip itineraries from San Jose del Cabo include “Baja’s Whale Bounty,” and “Cousteau’s Aquarium of the World.” The seven-night roundtrip cruise out Guaymas, mainland Mexico, focuses on the “Marine Miracles of Baja California.” The 14-night one-way cruise between Guaymas and San Jose del Cabo explores the “Essential islands of Baja California North and South.”
THREE CRUISE STYLES: Ships in the “Wilderness” category focus on active adventure. “Safari” designated ships offer soft adventure with a touch of luxury. The “Heritage” designation offers living history aboard ship and port-side.
RATES AND SERVICES: Cabins are priced per person double occupancy starting at $2995 in low season. Rates include port fees and taxes, airport transfers, park entrance fees, sports equipment, guided hikes, yoga classes, a wellness program and all onboard guide services. Valid passports are required to enter Mexico. Call 888-862-8881 or visit

Biggest Wave Ever Surfed?

It was only a few years ago when the world's biggest waves were found at places like Cortes Bank, off the coast of Baja, Ghost Tree in Northern California and Mavericks south of San Francisco. 

In other words, West Coast winters often rule the world of big-wave surfing. Now a beach called Nazaré in Portugal is simply dominating the sport, and there might just be a new record wave ride:

On Monday Brazil's Carlos Burle got towed into a monster that some are calling 100 feet, which could set a new biggest-wave-ridden record.
Burle actually gets swallowed by the whitewater after making the drop. He told Stab magazine:
It looks like it might be one of the biggest ever. I don't want to be the one who calls it. It's hard to tell. Someone else can tell me how big it was.
It was a momentous day. Burle is credited with helping to rescue fellow Brazilian Maya Gabeira after she pearled, was held down and floated to the surface unconscious. She's alive.
Garrett McNamara is said to be the current record holder with a 78-foot drop at Nazaré in 2011. He decided not to go out Monday because, he said, it looked too dangerous.
The waves of Nazaré are unique because they're created by a 125 mile offshore canyon that goes from three miles deep to just feet, producing explosive surf that was previously thought to be unridable.

Day of the Dead Dance || Baile Dia de Muertos

Day of the Dead Festival & Farmer´s Market 2013

Sunset World Resorts & Vacation Experiences, Cancun and Riviera Maya Win Seven 2013 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards

 Sunset World Resorts & Vacation Experiences, with resort properties in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Mexico, has been awarded seven 2013 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, including three gold and four silver, representing the best in the travel industry and saluting the outstanding travel professionals behind it all, all over the world.

The company's Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Spa & Nature Park captured a gold in the best eco-friendly green resort category, a gold for its junior suite in the hospitality elements luxury five-star standard room design category and a silver for hospitality overall -- family resort/hotel.  Its Sunset Marina Resort & Yacht Club also earned gold for hospitality overall -- waterfront resort/hotel, while Sunset Royal Beach Resort captured silver for its premiere elite floors in the hospitality elements luxury five-star category in penthouse design. Corporately, Sunset World won silver awards for its Share Referral Program in the hospitality overall loyalty program category and for its Club Sunset take home video in the hospitality marketing category for promotional video.

"We are extremely proud of our achievement in receiving this prestigious honor for our properties, our programs and our teams" said Orlando Arroyo Marroquin, CEO of Sunset World Resorts & Vacation Experiences.  "It truly defines our commitment to excellence."

The Magellan Awards is the premier awards program honoring a broad range of industry segments including Hotels and Resorts, Travel Destinations, Cruise Lines, Online Travel Services, Airlines and Airports, Travel Agents and Agencies, Tour Operators and Car Rental Companies.  It is the award to win if you are in the business of travel.

"Once again, the bar was raised by Magellan entrants," added Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly.  "The creativity that travel industry marketers and designers display to inspire travel and enhance the travel experience continues to impress our expert judges and readers."

Online or in print, Travel Weekly brings depth, context and perspective to events in the industry.  By providing news, research, opinion, analysis and information found nowhere else, Travel Weekly maintains its position as the most important and influential source of news, data and commentary to the travel industry. For more information, go to

Sunset World Resorts & Vacation Experiences offers all inclusive plans, a VIP Travel Club, its own marina, yacht club, equestrian center, rental car operations, wellness spas, golf privileges and travel services.  In addition to the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Spa & Nature Park in the Riviera Maya, Sunset World operates its Sunset Royal, Sunset Marina Resort & Yacht Club and Sunset Fisherman resorts in Cancun.  For more information, go to

Alejandro Fernandez Performs Songs from “Confidencias” in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY – Singer Alejandro Fernandez performed songs from his most recent album, “Confidencias,” for about 10,000 fans at Mexico City’s National Auditorium.

The 42-year-old Mexican singer promised fans at the start of Saturday’s concert that he would give them his “soul, heart and life” after not performing at the venue for a long time.

The concert was one of the stops on Fernandez’s “Confidencias World Tour 2013.”

Fernandez opened with a bit of the “big band” sound, performing “Se me va la voz” and “Concavo y convexo.”

He then changed into a traditional jacket and sang several of his hits, such as “Matalas,” with a group of mariachis.

The most touching moment of the evening came when the singer dedicated some ranchero songs to his father, Vicente Fernandez, calling him “my friend, my example, my confidante and my teacher.”

Vicente Fernandez, considered the leading performer of mariachi music in Mexico, announced his retirement from the stage in early 2012 to spend more time with his family.

Alejandro Fernandez’s tour will take him to the United States, where he will perform at concerts in a dozen cities, including New York, Atlanta and Miami.

Mexico, China face historic opportunity in bilateral ties: Ruling party chief

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 25 -- Mexico and China are facing a historic and great-ever opportunity in bilateral relations, head of the Latin American nation's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua at PRI headquarter in Mexico City on Friday, Cesar Camacho Quiroz said his party "appreciates very much the attitude of Chinese President Xi Jinping toward Mexico and our President Enrique Pena Nieto, because they are not only heads of state, but also friends."

This attitude "opens window of opportunity in the history of our relations which has never been greater," said the politician, who paid a visit to China in September.

The leader of Mexico's largest political party said during his latest visit to China, he found "a country with boundless economic growth and remarkable improving of the Chinese people's living."

As for the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, he said, "it is a model for us to have aspiration, that is, when we see what makes the Chinese government and people in unity, we noticed that we still have a long way to go."

"There are many things we can learn, and there is possible presence of Mexican entrepreneurs and investors in the area," he said, adding that Mexican companies' access to the Chinese market must be made in accordance with the Mexican laws, institutions and culture.

He said the two countries could exchange experience in free trade zone, and noting that each country and region "has their characteristics."

On tourism, the PRI leader said Chinese visitors in Mexico would "feel ;like at home," where they are not only moved by hospitality of the Mexicans, but also attracted by the country's ancient culture, rich nature and technological advances.

The Mexicans wait for Chinese visitors with open arms, he said.

Surf Competition November 2 & 3

Forecasters: Raymond becomes hurricane in Pacific

MIAMI (AP) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Raymond has become a hurricane far off Mexico's Pacific coast and poses no threat to land at this time.

The Miami-based center says Raymond has top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and is centered about 735 miles (1,180 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
The hurricane is moving toward the west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph). No coastal watches or warnings are in effect.
The hurricane center says some additional strengthening is forecast Sunday and gradual weakening of the storm is expected to begin by Monday.

Costco Has Room For Growth In Mexico

Costco (COST) is the largest warehouse retailer in the U.S. with over 530 stores in North America and around 100 stores in international markets such as Mexico, the U.K., Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Australia. In terms of store count, Mexico is the third most important market for the company with 33 stores operational at the end of September 2013. Costco started its operations in Mexico through a 50% owned joint venture, and its store count had been stagnant for the past four-five years. However, the warehouse retailer acquired the remaining 50% stake from its partner last year and has opened one store since. Costco plans to add another store in the current quarter and we expect it to continue expanding in Mexico in the future. The retailer has seen robust comparable store sales growth in its Mexican operations and the region's retail market holds tremendous potential. 

Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America and the 11th most populous country in the world. Over the past few years, Mexico has seen strong growth in its retail industry with a stable economic environment, controlled inflation and increase in credit facilities. The market potential is clearly visible from the fact that the retail giant Wal-Mart (WMT) operates close to 2,500 stores in the region. Although the economic growth has suffered in the recent past, lower interest rates and diluted tax reform should have a positive impact on consumer confidence going forward. Even the prevailing economic weakness bodes well for Costco's growth since the retailer provides its customers with a valuable cost saving shopping option.
Our price estimate for Costco stands at around $125, implying a premium of about 5% to the market price.

Mexican Retail Market Holds Good Potential
Historically, Mexico's retail industry has remained strong as the region has sustained its economic growth and kept inflation under control. What's promising is that the retail market growth exceeded the country's GDP growth last year. 

What a catch! Sneaky sea lion steals fisherman's prize fish

It was quite the catch... and not just for the fishermen who had caught two enormous dorado, but for one plucky seal.
It all happened in the blink of an eye as the friends were posing for the cameras with their prized catch in Cabo San Lucas off the coast of Baja California Sur.
Just as the duo are striking a pose and presumably thinking whether they'd like it served pan-seated or filleted for lunch, the sea lion decided he could wait no longer.

Apparently, the sea lion called Pancho, is a regular down by the docks in Cabo.
Still, there is a complete look or surprise on the fisherman's face.
Though take a closer look at the pelican in background... it looks as though he might have been in on the whole thing!

Mexico drives North American auto investment, challenges China

DETROIT (Reuters) -- The Mexican auto industry is about to go on a $10 billion factory building spree, illustrating the nation's rising economic challenge to rivals from the United States to China. 

Japanese and German auto manufacturers are spearheading the drive, say parts suppliers and researchers who see more auto factories built south of the border than in the United States between now and the end of the decade.
The United States will consume the vast majority of the new cars, but Mexico's domestic market has rebounded from a long slump, and in a sign of Mexico's growing global role, auto exports outside of North America will rise faster than those to the United States.
BMW AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz are expected to announce at least $2 billion of deals in the next year or two, according to supplier and other industry sources. That's on top of nearly $6 billion in announced plants by Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG.
U.S. automakers, all of whom have been building cars in Mexico since before World War II, will spend another $1 billion or more to upgrade Mexican plants. And Nissan and VW also are considering expansions at existing factories that could total $1 billion or more, according to sources familiar with their plans.
Mexico "is quickly turning into the China of the West," said Joseph Langley, a senior analyst at Michigan-based research firm IHS Automotive, pointing to Mexico's low wages, a strong supply base and a global web of free-trade agreements.
Mexican auto exports beyond North America are growing even faster than those within, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. They accounted for nearly 30 percent of the 2.4 million exported last year. Altogether Mexico built 3.0 million cars and trucks, according to Automotive News, compared with 10.4 million in the United States and 2.5 million in Canada.
By 2020, Mexico will have the capacity to build one in every four vehicles in North America, up from one in six in 2012, according to IHS.
The investment shift has implications for auto jobs and labor unions north of the border, particularly in Canada, which will see a 20 percent decline in production, IHS projects. Output will soar 62 percent in Mexico.
U.S. auto production will rise 12 percent, and Detroit-based automakers are expanding domestic production by ramping up the pace at existing factories to as many as three shifts running six days a week, said IHS. By those calculations, Mexico is building more auto plants than in the United States or Canada through 2020.
Lower costs
"It's all about lower production costs and lower export costs," said Michael Tracy, principal at the Agile Group, a Michigan-based auto consultancy. "That's what Canada used to be -- the place for low-cost manufacturing and shipping. Now, everybody is targeting Mexico."
Mexico's economy is seen growing faster than Brazil's next year, underscoring the success of Mexico's export-driven model versus regional economic powerhouse Brazil's more protectionist policies. The promised auto investment could help Mexico challenge regional dominance by Brazil. Analysts are warning of excess Brazilian auto production capacity within five years.
Suppliers say the Detroit auto makers, with more than half the production capacity in Mexico, have not signaled any plans to expand vehicle output there. But General Motors and Chrysler this year have said they will install additional engine and transmission production capacity in Mexico.
In the competition for jobs with the United States and Canada, "Mexico's momentum, combined with its increasingly dense and capable supply chain, its persistent cost advantage and its trading relationships may give it a leg up," said Brookings Institution researchers in a report released last week.
Auto employment in the U.S. South, where Japanese, German and Korean automakers all operate non-union plants, is holding relatively steady at 18 percent of North American auto workers, according to Brookings.
$12 an hour
Pay ranges as low as $12 per hour for temporary workers at plants in the U.S. Southeast, compared with about $35 an hour for skilled union veterans at U.S.-owned plants. Union workers in Canada on average are paid even more. A year ago, GM CEO Dan Akerson described Canada as "the most expensive place to build a car in the world."
But at around $2.50 an hour, manufacturing wages in Mexico are nearly 20 percent cheaper than in China, according to a mid-year Bank of America study. That study put U.S. manufacturing wages at just under $20 an hour, on average.
A shortage of trained engineers and concerns about crime and security may hold back Mexico, according to research firm PwC Autofacts.
Energy costs also are considerably higher than in the United States, but they are lower than in China, according to Boston Consulting Group. And because of Mexico's proximity to the United States and Canada, transportation and logistics costs are lower than for parts coming from China.
Largest footprint
The largest producer in Mexico, Nissan, opens its third factory next month, the $2-billion Aguascalientes No.2. Nissan built 683,520 cars in Mexico last year, and the new plant will add capacity for 250,000 more, mostly compact models such as the Nissan Sentra for North America and other markets, company officials said.
Moreover, an expansion of Aguascalientes No.2 is already in planning, according to two sources familiar with Nissan's plans. Slated to open in 2016, the sources said, it likely will be dedicated to production of compact luxury vehicles for Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz, which has a platform- and engine-sharing agreement with Nissan.
Nissan said it had nothing to announce, while a Mercedes spokeswoman said joint production of compact cars was an option, but that no decision had been made.
Nissan also is expanding a complex in Cuernavaca, which will take the automaker's total capacity in Mexico to 1.1 million vehicles a year by 2020, two supplier sources said.
Nissan's closest rival south of the border is Volkswagen, which opened a complex in Puebla in 1967. A new $550-million engine plant in Silao, as well as a $1.3-billion assembly complex in San Jose Chiapa that is slated to be opened in 2016 by VW's Audi subsidiary, will raise total VW group annual capacity by 100,000 vehicles to 850,000 by 2020, according to IHS.
VW and Toyota are battling for global sales leadership, but the Japanese automaker lags well behind its rivals in Mexico, where it has only a small truck assembly facility in Tijuana.
Now, the automaker is scrambling to catch up with its competitors, according to two supplier sources who say Toyota is actively shopping for a site. Toyota executives in recent months have said the company needs additional production capacity in Mexico, without providing specifics. A Toyota spokeswoman said the company "would not comment on any potential plant announcement" in Mexico.
Luxury manufacturing
BMW, which operates a U.S. assembly plant in South Carolina, also is shopping prospective plant sites south of the border, according to Mexican government officials.
Supplier sources said BMW already has mapped out a production timetable for Mexico, with a tentative plan to begin assembly operations in late 2017, ramping up annual capacity to 200,000 by 2020.
A BMW spokesman said he had nothing to confirm.
Other vehicle and parts manufacturers are expected to set up shop or expand existing facilities in Mexico by 2020, said Tracy, of the Michigan-based auto consultancy.
IHS's Langley summed it up: "The level of activity in Mexico is insane."

“The Traveler’s Life” (An Irishman in Mexico)

Welcome to the first edition of our new column, ‘The Traveler’s Life’, with me, Stewart Mandy.

Through this column I will be your virtual guide to a host of useful and interesting information, features, and events. I will be bringing you the latest travel news related to the Yucatan Peninsula, getting here, and moving around, as well as reports of events, attractions, and information you can use.
I’ll cover local happenings, show you the hidden side of places you may already have heard of, and take you to some places that foreigners don’t often go.
Sometimes, I will ‘eat and drink’ on your behalf, so you’ll know if a place is worth the trip. If you are planning a trip, I will help to whet your appetite for what awaits you.
While those of us who live here already know that the Yucatan is the best place on earth to live, we all need to get away sometimes, and therefore I’ll also be covering other destinations within Mexico and abroad, for when you fancy a change of scene.
Please let me know if there is an aspect of living in or traveling around Mexico and the Yucatan that you would like covered in a future column. I hope in the weeks and months ahead to keep you entertained, intrigued, and informed.
Without further ado, let’s look at this week’s top Mexican travel story – the exciting news that VivaAerobus, Mexico’s fastest growing airline, has agreed to purchase 52 Airbus A320 aircraft, representing the biggest Airbus aircraft order by a single airline in Latin American history.
The airline will begin welcoming the new aircraft in the 2nd quarter of 2014, and will replace its entire existing fleet of older 737-300 aircraft by 2016.
The new aircraft will also be used to realize VivaAerobus’ domestic and international expansion plans. The airline’s intention is to convert long distance bus travelers to air travelers, by offering low fares and convenient services. Its operation is similar to low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines in the USA, or Ryanair in Europe.
Currently, VivaAerobus serves 5 cities in the southeast of Mexico: Cancun from 11 cities across the country including Mexico DF, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Veracruz; Merida from Guadalajara and Monterrey; Campeche from Mexico DF; Villahermosa (Tabasco) from Cancun, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Toluca; and Tuxtla Gutierrez (Chiapas) from Cancun, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Cancun is the airline’s third largest hub, providing easy access from the Caribbean coast to destinations across Mexico.
 What else this week? Here in Merida, we are preparing to celebrate Hanal Pixan, the Mayan version of the Day of the Dead celebration which is observed in the rest of Mexico.
Hanal Pixan occurs on November 1 and 2, and as a prelude, on October 31, Merida will experience El Paseo de las Animas, the Passage of the Souls. The route will run from the General Cemetery to the arch at San Juan, starting at 6pm.
There will be music, regional gastronomy, the ceremonial parade, and exhibition of the typical Yucatecan altars. Guided tours of the cemetery will be available (in English and Spanish) as well as three performance stages along the route. It’s a truly unique event, not to be missed.
And coming soon… the Yucatan State Fair at Xmatkuil, one of the highlights of the year for many people in the region.

Walls Update Velvet & Zoer in Mexico


Velvet and Zoer just returned from Mexico and shared this recent set of walls and murals painted during their trip. An assortment of pieces from 1 color works to more intricate full color pieces. Both artists continue to push the medium forward with a diverse set of imagery and style. based upon letter form yet incorporating imagery of industrial cars and machinery the artists establish their own signature aesthetic. The placement and execution of the simpler pieces also shows just how in tune the artists are with their surroundings when painting in the street, Excellent work.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Family travel in Cancun

Most families will choose one of Cancun's all-inclusive beach resorts for their base of operations. Some of these resorts are destinations in themselves, and families may have a hard time tearing away from all of the activities and free-flowing food and drinks. That would be a mistake, since there's much to experience in Cancun beyond the walls of the resorts. 

The Maya Museum opened this year and is a great entry point into learning about the ancient Mayas. Its exhibits showcase over 350 Maya artifacts. A highlight that will fascinate kids is the 14,000-year-old skeletal remains discovered in research dives into the underwater caves surrounding the ancient Maya site of Tulum.
If a family is visiting Cancun during the summer months they should consider joining one of the whale shark expeditions. These creatures measure up to 50 feet in length and weigh up to 15 tons. It's possible to get into the water and swim and snorkel among these gentle creatures.
Isla Mujeres is an island right offshore from Cancun. It's easily reached by ferry and families can explore the island on bikes and visit Garrafon Park, where they can snorkel, zipline or swim with dolphins.

Romance in Cancun

Cancun supplies the essential ingredients for a romantic getaway — Caribbean breezes, white sand beaches and swaying palms. Once lovers get their bearings, there's much else to discover. The Cancun Underwater Museum is full of magic. Couples can explore the museum via snorkeling or scuba diving and marvel at the evocative figures sculpted by the artist. As these figures change with the effects of the sea, they'll become a refuge for sea creatures to breed and flourish.

Cancun's spas are mostly affiliated with the top resorts in the destination. Many of the spas offer couples massages, as well as treatments that can be challenging yet rewarding, such as the authentic temazcal hut (Mayan steam bath) at the Westin Resort & Spa. The cleansing and purification process is overseen by a Maya shaman. Additional Maya-themed treatments are the Mayan Cacao massage at NIZUC Resort & Spa, and the kukulkan (four-handed massage) at Le Blanc Spa Resort.
For a deserted island getaway, climb aboard the ferry or hire a water taxi to bring you to Isla Holbox, an island only 25 miles long. Most of its residents are still fishermen and almost all live clustered around the main town, which is only a dozen square blocks. There are a few rustic but sophisticated boutique hotels, where visitors can decompress and unplug.