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2010-09-25 06:26:29
Ah, but the question Patito is - can we fly directly from Vancouver? Your airports are a little spooky for us Canucks since 911 and I can be mouthy... a bad combination, si? The problem with non-tourist areas is that the water in hotels and restaurants are not filtered. So, Montezuma lurks around there. Otherwise, I would love to stay in a non-tourist area and do some hiking (if mtns/hills) and just take to the open road... A foot and light-hearted I take to the open road Healthy, free, the world before me The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, pospone no more, need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, Strong and content I travel the open road. Walt Whitman wherever I cho
2010-09-25 06:11:36
You don't need to apologize for your comment; it was another point of view - and that's what makes things interesting on this site. This whole page has been informative and interesting. No one has gotten angry at anyone's point of view and experiences. My brother and his wife lived all year round in Ajijic for over five years. They had no problem with the 'manana' way of life. But, they had problems with a corrupt City Hall and others. Perhaps you had bought a house already built and in a gated community. My brother and his wife had done the same thing at first, and there was no problem there. But, when they bought property and had a house built - the corruption surfaced...with the builder, stealing, substitution of top quality material with cheaper ones, lies, shoddy work, the workers. He had to be constantly on site because of that. My brother used to own a business, so he was not green when dealing with contractors, employees, etc. Then, his new neighbour bought off City Hall officials, which had a negative impact on my brother's property. While I was there, I spoke to a lot of Americans and Canadians who live there...some all year round. There are many concerns re corruption, break ins; and like I said, two women in one month, were attacked and raped in Ajijic! But, the drug wars are not around Lake Chapala. Those areas of Mexico, on the whole, are not a concern; it's the tourists areas that are dangerous. Those are not "tales". My brother and his wife used to go often to Mexico for Winter holidays during their working years. They loved the people, the food, the country. It's the same with me. But, Mexico is no longer the same as it was then. There was always corruption, but the drug wars were not like now. My experience in your part of Mexico was with a corrupt government official at the Guadalajara airport - and bus drivers going between Chapala & Ajijic and to Guadalajara trying to charge me more than Mexicans. I knew the fare and that is what I paid. They would get angry and tell me off but then leave me alone. One instance, on the way to Guadalajara, the driver insisted on charging me more. I was adament to not pay more; so he threatened to throw me off the bus - on the highway. That was a bit scary. So, the Internet service is still slow there? Pixdaus is slow; it's not just because of the Internet service in Mexico.
2010-09-25 00:48:28
Hey..don't apologize..this was a good thread and an example of how a page of comments can evolve....it reflects a lot of experiences by different people, different takes on a situation, and some useful information...also, it has been noticibly free of nasty or snide remarks, personal attacks, and the typical troll drivel that so often pollutes these pages... For years I've entertained the notion that I'd like to live in Jalapa or one the little villages nearby. That's my favorite part of Mexico and if you've never visited I recommend it highly. Jalapa is the capitol of the state of Vera Cruz, but is up in the mountains so it's much cooler and more pleasant than down on the coast, yet it's near enough to the coast to have great seafood. It's also the home of the state university of Vera Cruz so there are lots of cute little chicas to admire, and it has a world-class anthroplogy museum, yet surprisingly few Gringo tourists. And you You can fly directly to Vera Cruz from Houston or Los Angeles and Jalapa is then just a two-hour bus ride from VC. Viva Mexico ! Viva Jalapa !
2010-09-24 18:02:45
I am sorry because I somehow feel that I may have started all of this. I just wanted everybody to know that I was a Canadian expatriate that retired to Mexico ten years ago. I have been very happy and comfortable here and have absolutely no problems. Connie refers to relatives of hers that have encountered problems, that may be, but I have been here for almost ten years solid and have not heard a word of this kind. I have been able to live a lifestyle here, on my retirement income, that would have been impossible in Canada. There is a 'manana' attitude in Mexico that some Canadians (and Americans) have a hard time adjusting to. Often those that can't adjust turn around and go back north with tales of woe about Mexico, however for those of us that stay we are genuinely very happy. Internet service is not very good here and Pixdaus pages load impossibly slow, so I spend very little time on this site. Viva La Mexico.
2010-09-24 12:14:33
The Menger is still habitable, very comfortable, and is purely organic Old San Antonio, being built of the very stone of the country on which is stands, unlike the Hyatts, Radissons, Marriotts and their ilk which are all virtual clones of each other and indistinguishable from their counterparts in Las Vegas, Miami or Denver. The floors in the older sections of the Menger do tend to creak a bit sometimes, and guests ocassionaly encounter ghosts in the hallways, but the Menger is the Real Deal and there's not anything else like it...except maybe the Driskill up in Austin.
2010-09-24 08:48:54
I had an excellent meal in Guadalajara and Ajijic & Chapala, but not so much in the tourist areas (ie Cancun, Puerto Rica, etc). I've heard of Vera Cruz, but I don't know where it is. I would rather not stay in a hotel along the Riverwalk; I would prefer a couple of blocks away, so I could go back during the day and at night to a quiet oasis to relax from the crowds, noise and tourists. One thing that does not appeal to me - at least for now - are all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. You don't really feel like you are there. The benefit is their water is all filtered, so it's fairly safe to eat salads, brush our teeth, etc. Is the Menger still habitable after all these years Patito? :-) As for Miami - while there we saw people walking down the main streets carrying gun in holsters or at their waist. The right to bear arms is enshrined in your Constitution; but, it's quite a shock to Canadians and other nationalities. It may have been a good idea during the Revolution, Civil War and the wild west days; but now.....
2010-09-24 08:28:34
Visiting Mexico can be fairly safe for a visit...especially in certain area. But, my brother and his wife lived there year round. While visiting them, I spoke to dozens of Americans and Canadian, and they are very concerned. Like I said, two women were raped within a month in the town of Ajijic...far from the usual tourist haunts. It never was reported in the media! We found out through someone who knows a policia. I was told that is the norm; the authorities hush up crimes to protect their tourist industry, and not to make Canadians & Americans living there nervous and sell out on mass. When Canada (an overly diplomatic & overly concerned about offending countries) seriously considers issued an official travel advisory to not go to Mexico, you take that very seriously. But, the government made sure the media knew a travel advisory had been considered. This way, without offending Mexico, we got the message to think twice about going there.
2010-09-23 21:33:28
Lisa maybe right about the hotels on the Riverwalk being relatively more expensive than some other places. But I've been staying at the Menger since I was a child visiting San Antone with my parents and wouldn't even think about staying anywhere else. My grandparents stayed at the Menger, back when the Riverwalk was just the river. It's almost like being allowed to spend the night in a museum, especially the old part. It's not right on the Riverwalk but it's only a couple of blocks away, and it is right next door to the Alamo, which is sort of like the spiritual or ceremonial heart of Texas. And it used to be right next door to the old Joske's store, which was San Antone's answer to Neiman Marcus. Lisa's also right about the food ...you can get some excellent food in Mexico, especially in Vera Cruz, which has its own style, as do other regions of Mexico, and none of them are the same as the Mexican food in Texas . But Texas Mexican food is no less 'authentic' because of that, anymore than the American food in New England is less authentically American than the food in Iowa or Kentucky. As for places like Cancun and Isla Mujeres ..of course they're cheaper than their US counterparts... the people who work in those places make about as much in a day as the typical hourly wage in the US. And those places are fine if what you want is a nice vacation on a beautiful beach. They're cheap, and probably at least as safe as Miami. But don't fly down to Cancun, spend a week in a resort hotel, then fly back to the States and think you've seen Mexico. What you've seen is a an isolated and sanitized version reserved for Gringos.
2010-09-23 18:51:35
Living costs in San Antonio are a different matter from visiting there. If anybody is to visit the town they are going to want to stay right on the riverwalk. I did a quick search of hotel rates and couple of other places for comparison with Hyatt.com., with this result for fall and spring rates: Hyatt Regency, San Antonio, av. room rate $229.00 Hyatt Regency, Denver, av. room rate $219.00 Hyatt Regency, Cancun, av. room rate $95.00 Hyatt Regency, Merida, MX, av. room rate $91.00 These are all nice hotels that I have stayed in, however I feel that the one in Merida is by far the best. And, by the way, I vacation with my family at least once a year in Mexico and have never had a problem of any sort nor have we ever felt we were in the least bit of danger. The food in Mexico is excellent, especially in places like Vera Cruz, Oaxaca and Merida and it is quite inexpensive compared to the US. In the south of Mexico it is very different from the Tex-Mex food that is called Mexican food further north. We simply could not afford to vacation in any of the spots indicated by Connie. But even with that aside, we actually prefer Mexico.
2010-09-23 14:43:19
The latest figure I saw in the newspaper is $795,000 for the average price. But, it had peaked before to $900,000. The rents are a good bit higher in Vancouver than in Austin. Vancouver is getting to be a very expensive city to live in. Most immigrants settle here or Toronto or Montreal; but more and more they come here...especially the Asians. Many eastern Canadians move here. So, there is a lot of demand for housing, but because of our mountains, waters, etc. we are slowly running out of space to build these condos and homes.
2010-09-23 11:19:49
Just posted a climate data chart for San Antone....as you can see the avg. daily low in the winter months is around 40 F. San Antone is pretty near 29 degrees north latitude...it's slightly south of Houston, which was once described by Molly Ivins as like Los Angeles with the climate of Calcutta. But Houston is actually on about the same line of latitude as Cairo. San Antone is a little further south, but not quite as humid as Houston. Here's some more for instances re cost of living: For a single-family home in 2008 the mean price was: Austin....$287,500 Dallas...235,500 Houston..132,900 San Antone...142,900 Avg (median ) apt. rental: Austin ....$890 Dallas .....770 Houston...775 San Antone...735 For comparison...the avg. price for a single-family house in Vancouver B.C. is over $900.000.
2010-09-23 10:45:16
What's the weather in the Winter - say Dec - Feb - for San Antonio? I posted some photos on Pixdaus of the River Walk - one was for you Ol' Patito. Did you see the one I had posted for you Happy Jack?
2010-09-23 09:46:37
I have visited San Antonio at least a half a dozen times, it is a very interesting town and, in my opinion, the best place in Texas. Really great food and a lot of ethnic diversity in San Antonio plus the River Walk and The Alamo. If you do go to San Antonio, staying at a hotel on the River Walk should be a must. I must disagree with previous comments in one respect, however. I have found San Antonio to be relatively expensive for a visitor even though the actual cost of living for a resident there is relatively low.
2010-09-23 07:57:07
Still a lot of what we call Snow Birds who winter in the Rio Grande Valley...folks from Canada and the Upper Midwest escaping the dread grip of winter..avg. temp. in Harlingen, for example, in Dec. and Jan. is about 50 F. ..I'd be the same way if I lived up there... spent a winter in Iowa once and that cured me for life of every wanting to experience anything like that again... And San Antone is one of the least expensive major cities in the US..and yes, it is a beautiful, charming old town...I've never gotten tired of being there...before you rent your apt. spend at least a night or two at the old Menger Hotel, right across the alley from the Alamo...have a drink at the Menger Bar, where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders...stroll the River Walk or sit in one of the cafes and watch the people passing by....fall or spring is the best time to be there...winter is okay..avoid Texas in the summer...
2010-09-23 01:59:50
Connie is right ! Why risk your life and health traveling to some foreign country ? Come spend your vacation in Texas, which is kind of like a foreign country except almost everybody speaks some recognizable form of English and you don't have to worry abut confusing currency exchanges since we take American money. We have beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, scenic woodlands, swamps, deserts, and fertile rolling farmland, and miles and miles of big, wide, well-maintained highways where you can drive 80 mph legally. We have gleaming modern cities with world-class museums, symphony orchestras, galleries, chic boutiques and gourmet restaurants, as well as colorful ethnic communities from every corner of the globe. If it's Latin flavour you seek San Antonio has more Mexicans than most Mexican cities and better Mexican food than Mexico. Plus you can eat the salad and drink the water without worrying about Montezuma getting back at you. We have our own national beer and national airline, and a couple of football teams so we're a real country according to Frank Zappa's criteria. In fact, we're the only state that was an independent country before joining the federal union. So come on down. You'll find the friendliest people, best barbecue, coldest beer and most beautiful women anywhere, no border checkpoints or meddlesome customs agents, and no passports or visas required. It is true that we don't have skiing. As someone once observed, if God had wanted Texans to ski He'd have made bullshit white !
2010-09-22 17:43:34
I do not trust any Mexican statistics...none whatsoever. You must be very naive to even think that there is even some truth to them. The average Mexican would laugh at them. Their government will lie through their teeth and accuse innocent Canadians and even charge them with the crime, to protect their precious tourist industry. Obviously, Bradley Grant, if you are a Canadian, you have not been reading Canadian newspapers or watched the National News for the last few years. Here is one to jog your memory: Two middle aged Canadian women were threatened with prison and being charged for murder simply because their hotel room was next door to where the murder occur. Mexican officials said the women were in Mexico dealing in drugs and had no other reason for being there! Also, they said it was suspicious that they left Mexico after only two or three days of being there (I can't remember the exact number of days) and after the police interviewed them. They went to Mexico to attend a wedding. They returned to Ontario as per the date on their return tickets. They were interviewed by CBC and showed the tickets. Their families attested to that. Ottawa investigate and confirmed; the Prime Minister then discussed his concerns with the Mexican President. Not long after, Mexican officials announced that it was all a misunderstanding, but that the women had still acted in a suspicious way. Yeah right - how stupid of them to return to Canada on the date that was on their return ticket, and even more stupid was them going to Mexico simply for a wedding...and for such a short time (note the sarcasm). There were also incidents reported in the media across Canada where innocent Canadians have been accused and some charges with theft, assault and rape....which were later dismissed without any explanation from Mexican officials. Also reported in the media - Canadians getting shot at and some killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (mistaken identify or hotel room). Canadian women getting raped. Six Canadian tourists were killed in less than two years in tourist resorts. That's six too many! In most cases, the Mexican police tried to put the blame on Canadian tourists for the crimes. It got so bad that Ottawa was cautioning Canadians, and were seriously considering issuing an official travel advisory warning to all Canadians. But, they were very very diplomatic as to not offend the Mexican government. It's easy to blame Canadians instead of Mexicans to protect their precious tourist industry. They avoid blaming Americans because Washington is less of a patsy than Ottawa, and the US has more clout. None of my friends, relatives and people I know go to Mexico anymore. We're back to where we used to go in Winter before all those resorts/tourist locations were developed. On the West Coast, for shorter stays, we go mostly to Hawaii. For longer stays ie Winter, it's mostly Arizona, a few to Calif. & Texas. On the East Coast, for short stays, it's the Caribbean - long stays back to Florida. In Central Canada they go either way, but mostly same as the West Coasters.
2010-09-22 15:31:15
The death rates in Mexico, tourist or otherwise, are summarized as follows by the Mexican government: 1. Ciudad Juarez - 133 per 100,000 2. Nuevo Laredo - 95 per 100,000 3. Tijuana - 38.8 per 100,000 4. Mexico City - 8.1 per 100,000 These are rates per year, and while tourists are not specified, the number of tourists is insignificant. Miami and Los Angeles both have death rates nearly as high as Mexico City. As for Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, the rate is reported as less than 1 per 100,000. If all of the deaths in these two cities were Canadian citizens would that represent an alarming number? Of course, Mexico could cover up some of this to protect it's vital tourist industry, but it would be impossible to prevent word from reaching the press in Canadian cities regarding Mexican tourists not coming home from Mexico, and this has not happened.
2010-09-22 14:54:41
The tourist areas (Cancun, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, etc. are no longer safe. An alarming number of Canadian tourists have been killed there! Some were caught in crossfires, others mistaken identity (wrong place at the wrong time), etc. Since Calderon has declared war on the drug lords, a lot of Mexico has become a war zone - particularly along your borders. It's really sad what is happening there. You are right Patito, I have read that some drug lords have control over some areas. I agree 100% that if we legalized, taxed & regulated drugs, the horrors would cease or at least greatly lessen. Our governments are a bunch of hypocrites. It's ok to smoke cigarettes, drink booze, and have junk food that contain a lot of sugar or sodium. Yet, these things cause more health problems than marijuana. Prohibition did not work; it brought the Al Capones into existence with gangland wars.
2010-09-22 12:53:21
The Former Albertan is right about Mexico being a relatively big country...it's almost three times the size of Texas, and Texas is bigger than France. I was born in the Rio Grande Valley about a rifle shot from the border, have traveled over most of Mexico by car, bus, train and motorcycle, and have visited some parts of it numerous times. I've studied its languge, culture and history and I love the country and it's people. But if I were going to travel there today I'd fly down to Vera Cruz or Puebla and I'd stay south of Mexico City. There are areas near the border that are virtual war zones, and there are even areas in the interior where the drug lords wield as much power and influence as the government, and in some areas they are virtually running the show. It's a sad situation, and it's largely our fault, since the market for the drugs that fund the cartels is almost exclusively the US. If those drugs were legalized, taxed and regulated most of the major problems would wither up and go away.
2010-09-22 10:36:02
My brother & his wife had a home in Ajijic - in a gated community. Then he had a home built in Riberas del Piar (between Ajijic & Chapala). They finally sold it because they were fed up with the corruption at City Hall re issues with his Mexican neighbour who built his home after my brother's...not in accordance with the permit and the impact to my brother's property. The neighbour had bought off officials at City Hall. The police in the area are ok, because they know they are dependent on Canadians & Americans in the area (so many there). But, when driving to Guadalajara, the police on the highway shook my brother down for money. While I was visiting, two women within about a months (one before I arrived and one while I was there, were beaten and raped in Ajijic. I'm very independent and gutsy, so I liked to walk or jog to Ajijic & Chapala on my own, but when I heard that, I did not go by myself anymore. One day, I took the bus to Guadalajara, but made sure I returned before it got dark. I lost my visa, so I went to the Guadalajara Airport. The Immigration guy would not issue me one right then, but refused to provide a reason. He told me to come back an hour before my flight. We knew what he was up to. When I got there I asked to see Rafael (name he gave me). The person did not know a Rafael, and insisted there was no Rafael working there. When I explained why I was there, he said "Oh yes, Rafael" with a laugh. 'Rafael' held my visa in his hand; when I asked for it he shook his head no. The line-up got longer and longer. I told him I had worked for Canadian Immigration and Canadian Citizenship...knew my rights regarding visa etc...that perhaps I should call the Canadian Embassy etc. etc. He gave me a dirty look, and threw the visa at me. I met a couple from Edmonton at an outdoor restaurant in Chapala (near the lake), but living in Ajijic. (I was told there are more Canadians in Ajijic than Chapala). They had scary stories to tell about themselves and other Canadians/Americans living in the area. A couple who are friends of my brother and his wife warned them when driving back to Canada, to arrive at the US border at such and such time. Otherwise, they will get stopped and demanded payment to be able to continue on to the border. The drug lords and their wars are very active in Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. There are also drug activities in Mazatlan. You would know that Canadians, more than Americans, are being targeted and killed...maybe because Ottawa does not defend its people like the US does (we don't have the same clouth). Then the Mexican police try to say it's because they were involved with drugs, with absolutely no evidence, and eventually disproved. We were going to go to San Miguel de Allende and perhaps a train trip through the Copper Canyon, but as usual when in Mexico, I got food poisoning. That's why I prefer Hawaii. I can eat anything I want, wherever I want without getting sick. Also, as a single woman, when I'm travelling alone, I feel very safe there; I go all over Oahu by bus. Another benefit is our money is almost at par now. You might actually have known my brother and his wife, and perhaps their friends. The husband is a retired Mountie. If you know them, please don't give out their names...for security reasons.
2010-09-22 05:04:13
Connie, when you say 'Mexico is no longer a safe country for tourists' that is quite misleading and not correct. Mexico is a relatively large country, and while is does have quite dangerous areas, it is mostly quite friendly, welcoming and cordial to visitors. The popular tourist destinations in Mexico are not dangerous at all, but I would highly recommend flying, rather than driving, to reach them. I am a Canadian expatriate, retired and living near Guadalajara at Ajijic. There are large numbers of Canadian retirees living here and perhaps more at Chapala, not very far away. None of us have experienced any problems of any sort. Mexico is a wonderful place for tourism and relatively inexpensive to boot. My advise would be to stick to the popular tourist areas and colonial towns, like San Miguel de Allende, and to stay away from Mexico City and the US border regions. Also avoid driving, particularly the relatively deserted stretches between major tourist areas.
2010-09-21 05:16:32
I was teasing you. Canadian is a big country (2nd only to Russia) - from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, but I've seen a good amount of it; I have a sibling living in Montreal. It's unfortunate that there is corruption in Brazil. I understand that it is becoming a rich country. When a country goes from third world to second world to first world, corruption follows along. The same thing is happening in Russia going from Communism to Democracy (at least Putin's idea of democracy). They rushed too fast and did not put safeguards into place. China is taking it more slowly. Mexico has a lot of oil, but the benefits do not filter down to the poor; it's a very corrupt country. Many of the police, judges, government officials are under the thumb of drug lords. The Presidente has to have the Federalists police (least corrupt because of higher salaries than regular police) constantly shifted, so they don't stay too long in one place...to prevent the drug lords from buying their cooperation. Mexico is no longer a safe country for tourists.
2010-09-21 02:51:47
He he...now, not every Canadian has been to Vancouver or Montreal have they? ;-) Rio is pretty far from my place, Brasilia is even more and the Amazon is on the other side of the country! Honestly, I´m not that interested in visiting our corruption center (our capital) - I´d rather go to the paradisiac beaches in the Northeast ;-) The Amazon would be rather exciting too though...I hope that couple of friends of yours have enjoyed it!
2010-09-17 16:49:08
You're Brazilian and you've never been to Rio!! The botanical gardens are supposed to be beautiful. Your capital Brazilia(or Brazila?) is also supposed to be very interesting with a lot of modern art - sculptures...not surprising since the capital was built not too long ago. An old boyfriend of mine and his wife took a cruise down the Amazon last year.
2010-09-17 16:14:51
Never been there Connie, they say it´s a beautiful place!