” The Lost World of Quintana Roo”

 

"The Lost World of Quintana Roo" out of print today.

“The Lost World of Quintana Roo” out of print today.

If you have ever wanted to visit the Mexican Caribbean, or even considering retiring or living in Quintana Roo, this book is a must read. This book tells of a young Frenchmen’s journey and quest down the Mexican Caribbean from Cozumel to Belize in 1958. The book is not published anymore, and a friend gave me his old copy to read, and it was fascinating.

At the ripe old age of 21, back in 1957, Michel Peissel gave up his Wall Street activities & went off alone to the Mexican jungles of the Quintana Roo territory where he discovered several Mayan cities lost for over 400 years. This seething jungle was the site of one of the highest civilizations ever achieved by humanity. The Mayan Indians have ruled the jungle there for 3700 years. Those Mayas still living in the jungle today preserve the physical type but have almost no memory of their vanished splendor. With colossal innocence and no food or gun (he even loses his shoes & knife), he staggers down 250 miles of Mosquito Coast discovering town after lost town which archaeologists had missed from their planes and boats. The largest town he investigates turns out to be an enormous architectural complex almost a mile square, which he describes at thrilling length. He relates his nearly constant fright with much wit & irony.

Through a strange set of circumstances, Peissel’s fate led him on a solo walk through the dense jungles and thick mangroves from Xpu-Ha (just south of the future Playa del Carmen) to Belize.

After graduating from Harvard in 1958 Peissel planned a six-month sabbatical in Mexico before entering graduate school for a business career. After meeting a German writer in Mexico City, however, he became fascinated with a little known territory in the Yucatan, Quintana Roo. Peissel headed first to Merida, then Progresso, where he chartered a boat to Cozumel. From there he planned to sail down the Quintana Roo coast. On arriving in Cozumel he hired two young Mayas in an 11-foot vessel with a bamboo mast and a rag as a sail to take him to the Quintana Roo mainland.

After a harrowing eight-hour crossing, they arrived at a small coco plantation (cocal) at Xpu-Ha. Exhausted, Peissel fell asleep and missed the second half of the journey on the Maya sailboat, which left him with a fateful decision – how to get to Chetumal in a land with no roads and virtually no people? After being abandoned, his only hope to exit the jungle was to travel on foot from cocal to cocal, relying on the assistance of the Mayas who lived there for food, water, and direction.

Wearing only sandals, he began his 200-mile journey through dense jungle and mangrove swamps. He was chased by chiclero bandits and encountered Chan Santa Cruz Indians, who until then killed any white man on sight as the Caste War of the Yucatan had ended just 20 years earlier. He partook in religious ceremonies with indigenous Mayas and stumbled onto unknown pyramid sites. Peissel became the first person known to walk the coast of Quintana Roo, arriving in Belize 40 days later.

In 1962, four years after his first excursion, Peissel made a return trip to this coast and found “many things changed.” In 1974 Quintana Roo became a state of Mexico and shortly thereafter the Mexico Tourism Council devised a project for a planned resort community, which became Cancun.

Since I live in Mahahual, and on the same coastline that the author walked and had his experiences, I could not put this book down. I have lived in Quintana Roo and Belize and this book described the area which I am very familar with as it existed almost 70 years ago today. His description of all the people and Mayan ruins along the coast that he encountered I found fascinating. I can imagine all the turmoil and strife he must have encountered, because even today a lot of the Mexican Caribbean along Quintana Roo, is still sparsely inhabited.

He even visited Mahahual, Rio Indio, and Ubero Playa (now Uvero Beach, a tourist spot), and describes what they were like in 1958. In fact he describes his walk and trek from Punta Herrero to Xcalak and describes an abandoned cocal settlement, Guadalupe (which would in the future become Mahahual).

He also mentions Banco Chinchorro and the waters around it that are full of old shipwrecks, and of all the dangers of sailing the area. He spent five days in Rio Indio due to weather, and explored a lot of the area known today as Costa Maya, and was the first white man in history to do so. He also goes into vivid detail about the cocoanut plantations that existed along the coast from what is today Mahahual all the way down to Xcalak.

His journey through Quintana Roo ends in Xcalak, not long after a hurricane destroyed most of the village. He spends some time in Xcalak before he makes the final part of his journey to Belize, (then British Honduras). In 1958 Xcalak was the only point of civilization on the whole Quintana Roo coast. The first thing he had back in civilization was a cold Pepsi, which trust me I can relate to. His description of Xcalak in those days is not to far from what it is today, a final outpost before Belize.

I enjoyed this book so much I was in the car with my boss, from Mexico, and as I started to tell him about the book,he told me he has heard of the book, and has wanted to read it for years. He told me that he was aware of the journey and the guy who wrote the book is kind of a legend around this area.

In 2011 Michel Peissel died in his sleep in Paris at age 74. Peissel’s book was a life changer for me and countless others who were lucky enough to locate a copy.

Thanks for reading, and if you can find a copy of this book it is a must read if you are interested in the Mexican Caribbean.
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

HOW TO PISS OFF A MEXICAN

I am in several ExPat groups and I get sent interesting artiles and stories sometimes, and this I got recently I thought I would share.  I am on the road today heading back to Mahahual because there are 2 ships in tomorrow and I am working.  So I thought I would include this cute article about Mexicans.  I have experienced some of the things below.

Thanks, Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Article from http://www.matadornetwork.com

by  on 

Mexican woman pissed off.

Mexican woman pissed off.

HOW TO PISS OFF A MEXICAN

Claim our food is not “that” spicy.

An Italian visiting Mexico once dared to say: “We have chiles a lot spicier in Southern Italy.” That was the last thing he said. His throat is still recovering after eating a chile toreado.

Fail to say good morning when you enter an elevator.

You can spit on our shoes — well, no, you can’t really — but we may be less offended than if you enter the elevator without saying buenos días.

Say we don’t look Mexican.

If you’ve met more than one Mexican in your life, you know we’re like tamales: de chile, de mole, or sweet. We all look different — call it multiculturalism, crossbreeding, or foreign invasion. And even when some of us don’t look like the Mexicans you see in the movies, we’re all “more Mexican than mole.”

Ask something completely ignorant, as if your image of Mexicans from an old movie where they’re always taking a nap in the shade of a cactus.

Example: “Are there cars in Mexico?”

Say Mexico isn’t in North America.

I’m not going to lie — many of us would love to be as far as we can from the gringos. But, after studying geography for many, many years, we’re 300% sure Mexico — or the United States of Mexico, our official name — is in North America.

Think “Mexican” is a language.

In Mexico we speak Castilian (you can also call it Spanish). And we’re very proud of the variations and idioms we’ve given to our language. ¡Ándale!

Claim to have been to Mexico because you went to Cancun.

Enough said.

Say your favorite Mexican dish is chili con carne.

Which is NOT a Mexican dish. Period. And please be careful; this topic has destroyed the strongest of friendships.

Arrive on time.

We’re not famous for our punctuality. In fact, we’re very well know for our creativity when it comes to making up excuses for being late.

When you get invited to a party, the worst thing you can do is be on time. The hosts will open the door and look at you, perplexed and offended, “What are you doing here now?!” The best is to be the last one to arrive. You’ll be the hero because everyone thought you weren’t going to make it, and there you are!

Insult our mothers.

Okay, it’s bad everywhere to insult someone’s mother, but in Mexico it’s particularly dangerous. You can use the worst insults you know when you talk to a Mexican; he’ll laugh with you, and he may teach you some new ones. But please don’t mention his mother, or it’ll be the last thing you do!

What if we’re already pissed off?

Invite us to drink mezcal, eat the worm inside the bottle, make us laugh, and…you’re forgiven!

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins, Costa Maya, Mexico

A lot of cruise ship passengers when they come to Costa Maya take and enjoy the Chacchoben ruins nearby. It is probably the most popular tour in Costa Maya. I went there recently and here are some photos and more information about this recently new discovered site.

Overview of site.

Overview of site.

Chacconben map.

Chacchoben map.

Chacchoben’s roots reach back some 3000 years.
Earliest human settlements in the area have been dated 1000BC, by 360AD Chacchoben was a prestigious ceremonial center boasting Gran Basamento as its most important ritual plaza.
Today Chacchoben’s Temple One, soaring above the canopy of the tropical forest, still expresses the glory of the city’s ancient sophistication.

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Chacchoben is only 50 minutes from the Costa Maya Port, which makes it perfect for a half day tour.
The popular Chacchoben Maya Ruins Tour for cruise ship guests is completed in 4 hours total.

Recent history of Chacchoben started in 1942 when Serviliano Cohuo, a young Maya man looking for the perfect spot for his farm accidentally found the temples in ruins and decided to settle down there. Over the years Serviliano Cohuo build his home, got married and had children having the temples in ruins of Chacchoben as their backyard.

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In 1972 Dr. Peter Harrison, an American Archeologist leading a project sponsored by Tulane University and the Royal Ontario Museum, made the first professional exploration, the first maps and reported Chacchoben ruins to the Mexican Government.

In 1978, Serviliano Cohuo, was designated honorary guard of Chacchoben and was granted his right to stay in his beloved farm, where he lived for the rest of his days. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to fulfill his dream of seen the temples restored.
In June 1994, a new chapter in the history of Chacchoben was opened as the restoration project under the auspices of the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) started. During the years that followed the complexes identified as Group I-A and Group I-B were excavated and restored.

Chacchoben’s ceremonial center covers an area of nearly 6 square kilometers. It is located in an area known as the “Region of the Lakes” due to the number of lagoons and areas with low terrains that are permanently humid or flooded during the rainy season.

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Earliest human settlements in the area of Chacchoben, have been dated around 1000BC. The evidence collected during the excavations suggests that the site was abandoned and reoccupied a few times, being finally abandoned around 1000AD. Most structures that have been restored were modified several times during the occupation period with the most remarkable modifications dated around 300-360AD.

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The ruins site of Chacchoben takes its name from the village located a few kilometers away that has the same name. The most accepted translation of the name Chacchoben is “place of the red corn”. So far, no inscriptions referring to the original name of the site or the name of one of its rulers have been found, therefore it is officially called Chacchoben, the place of the red corn.

In October 2002, the Government and the community of Chacchoben, settled an agreement. The land was expropriated from the Cohuo family, and the restored complexes were officially opened to the public.

Although most of the land surrounding the site is used for farming, Serviliano Cohuo always kept the jungle covering the different complexes untouched.

Today the site rests within a green island of trees covered with Spanish moss, palm trees and different varieties of orchids among other plants.

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This particular landscape gives Chacchoben a special touch that enhances the magnificence of the different structures, and invites you to relax and feel the harmony of nature and history.

So if you are plan on coming to Costa Maya in the future, and are interested in Mayan ruins, you might want to visit Chacchoben.

Thanks for reading, Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Belize versus Mahahual, Mexico Part 3

I have been doing a series of articles on this blog lately, comparing life in Belize to Mahahual, Mexico. I lived in Belize for almost 2 years, and I have lived in Mahahual for the last 4 years. I lived in Corozal and Kich Pan Ha, Belize, and have traveled extensively through Belize.
I get asked all the time about life in Belize, and which do I prefer the most, living in Mahahual or Belize. At the cruise ship port I talk to a lot of people who stop at Costa Maya Port after their ship was in Belize the day before or so. I also encounter some tourists on their way to Belize, and they always ask me about it and what to expect.
As I have written in earlier posts, People from USA and Canada are attracted to the fact that English is spoken in Belize and that attracts a lot of them to inquire about retiring there. But there are a lot of other factors in deciding where to retire on the Caribbean, and in these posts I plan on addressing some of these factors.
Today I am going to compare food and drink in Belize compared to Mahahaul and Costa Maya.
I want to state again that these are my opinions and my observations that I have accumulated over my 5 years in Mahahual and Belize.
These comparisons are for people looking to live or retire in Belize or the Mexican Caribbean. I am talking about everyday life and not tourist related comparisons for people looking to visit for a week.

FOOD AND DRINK

First of all this is going to be an easy post because there is really no comparison, but I will continue.

There is a joke in Belize that says, “You have 2 choices in Belize for things to eat, rice and beans, or beans and rice”. Trust me that is very true. Now if you are rich and can afford to live in San Pedro, or one of the Cayes, you can eat pretty good in Belize. Belize has some nice places to eat on the islands, but it is pretty expensive.

Belize meals range with the cultures who make them. Barbecued chicken served with rice, beans and coleslaw is a standard Belize dish. Due to a influx of Chinese immigrants, Chinese food restaurants can be found in almost every Belize town.

Other Belize meals

Stew chicken or fish: Chicken or fish rubbed in Red recado, or achiote paste, and slow-cooked in broth. Served over rice and beans.

Garnaches: Fried tortillas coated in refried beans, cheese, and cabbage and carrots doused in vinegar.

Boil ups (or “Bile ups”): A Creole dish containing boiled eggs, pig’s tail (yes, really), fish and ground plantains, sweet potatoes and/or cassava (yuca).

Tamales: Boiled pockets of corn dough, stuffed with meat or sweet corn and served in banana leaves.

Hudut or Hodut: A Garifuna dish made from fish cooked in coconut broth, served with mashed plantains.

Cows foot soup: A cow’s foot in broth. I have had this in Orange Walk, different.

Snacks & Sides in Belize:

Ceviche: Chopped raw fish, shrimp, or conch mixed with onions, tomatoes and cilantro, and marinated in lime juice. Served with fresh tortilla chips.
Cassava bread: There are two kinds of Garifuna cassava bread. Ereba uses cassava juice in a pancake-like bread. Bammy is a fried bread made with grated cassava root and coconut milk.

Belizean rice and beans: Red pinto beans mixed with white rice and flavored with coconut milk.

Where to Eat & What You’ll Pay:

Outside of pricey luxury resort restaurants, Belize food is cheaper than U.S. food, but still some of Central America’s most expensive. If you’re on a budget, you can frequent food stalls at public gathering placed like parks and bus stations, or dine at basic local eateries (most which only serve one or two menu items a day, like stew chicken and barbecued fish). Expect to pay around $5 USD for a plate of chicken, rice and beans, and coleslaw from a roadside grill, on down to $1 USD for a single tamale.

As you can see for yourself there is not much of a wide range of choices for cuisine in Belize, and I will compare to Mahahual later. The Chinese (Taiwanese), have basically bought out most of the eating places throughout Belize on the mainland, and everywhere you go you will see a Chinese restaurant. All these places sell fried chicken, chinese food, and hamburgers. And let me tell you from personal experience, the food does not taste that good. It is cheap and basically the only choice you have for cheap eating in Belize.

The local stores in Belize, mostly Chinese, also do not have a wide choice of selections. The first thing I did when I got to Mexico was to go to a store and buy some ham and cheese, and make me a sandwich. In fact a lot of women I knew in Corozal would cross over the border to Chetumal to do their shopping, and would smuggle meats and other things you can’t buy in Belize back over across the border. There is a very poor selection of meats, cheeses, and vegetables in Belize. You can go to the fresh market and buy fruits and vegetables, and sometimes some good fish and meat, but to do so you have to get there early.

My diet in Belize consisted mainly of a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, rice and beans, Ramen noodles, and some fruits. A local woman next door to me in Corozal, Yada, cooked some meals for me from time to time and that made life bearable. There was also a “Gringo” meeting once a month, and all the ExPats would bring a covered dish dinner, trust me I used to look forward to that.

When I finally left Corozal and went to Mexico, I weighed 175 pounds, which is thin for me. Also I must confess eating rice and beans all the time in Belize gives you a lot of gas, and I could not believe the difference once I reached Mexico.

Now comparing Mexican cuisine to Belizean cuisine, trust me people Mahahual and Mexico wins hands down. The food is Mexico is excellent and there is a wide range of choices. The food in Belize has practically no taste, unless some local cooks it for you, if you are that lucky.

There are numerous Mexican dishes I could list like I did with the Belizean dishes above, but most people reading this know about Mexican cuisine so I will not make a list.
I eat very good in Mahahual, and my average meal here runs 50 pesos. I also have bunch of choices compared to Belize. In Belize if you want a good meal or for instance a pizza, it would run you $10 USD. Every meal in Mahahual is not served with rice and beans like Belize, and you can get a good hamburger and fries also in Mahahual for around 50 pesos.
I have a woman on the malecon, Rosa, who makes my lunch everyday for me. Everyday she cooks something different , from fresh fish to chicken mole, and everything is fresh and healthy. A lot of the locals on the malecon eat her lunches, and everyday when I ride by on my bike to work she yells at me in Spanish what she is cooking that day.

Fresh fish meal on malecon.

Fresh fish meal on malecon.

In Mahahual there are a lot of different places to eat that are owned and operated by a lot of different people from different countries. From Italian, French, German, Canadian, and cuisine even from the USA ,you can make your choice in Mahahual.
The stores here in Mahahual and Mexico have a vastly superior selection to anything in Belize. I was shocked when I first got to Mexico, and I saw all the choices of food I could eat here compared to Belize. My first week in Mexico all I did was eat things I could not eat in Belize.
Also if you live in Mahahual and want a McDonalds or a Burger King hamburger, you can go into Chetumal, they even have an Applebees in there. Also there is a Sam’s Club and Walmart in Chetumal, which they don’t have in Belize at all.

So in summing up in my opinion the food in Mahahual and Mexico is vastly superior to any Belizean food on a day to day basis, and also is a lot cheaper and more healthy. Also your choices at the store are better and wider in Mahahual compared to Belize.

Beverages in Belize:

The main Belize beer brand is Belikin, which comes in Belikin Beer, Belikin Premium, Belikin Stout and Lighthouse Lager. Belize wines are fermented from creative ingredients like blackberry, cashew fruit, sorrel and ginger. Rum punch is the standard Belize cocktail: a mix of rum and whatever juices happen to be laying about.
Belizeans juice every fruit available, from standard fruits like orange and pineapple, to more exotic ones like soursop

For all of you that don’t know, Belize is a country run by monopolies. There is one brand and beer company Belikin, and it controls the whole country. Beers from the USA and Europe are smuggled in and are very expensive. The Bowen family in Belize owns the beer company and also the Coca-Cola rights. You cannot get Pepsi or any other brands of soft drinks in Belize, because of the monopoly that exists. In fact, I have seen people get Pepsi taken away from them at the Belizean border, for trying to smuggle it into Belize. I think you get more jail time in Belize for smuggling Pepsi into Belize than you do for smuggling drugs. Don’t get me wrong the Belikin beer is not bad, and I drank my share, but it is the only choice, and for me I like different choices. I also like Pepsi Light, and I can get that in Mahahual.

In Mahahual and Mexico there are a vast amount of different beers, wines, and liquors compared to Belize. You can even get beer from the USA in Mahahual and Costa Maya. Also the beer in Mexico is better than Belize and you have a much more wide range of choices. I like Montejo myself a local Mexican beer.

So in summing up, if you are considering retiring or living in Belize or the Mexican Caribbean, I hope this post comparing the food and drink between Belize and Mahahual, Mexico has given you some insight. Again I want to say this is my opinion and my observations and other people may feel differently. As for myself, I eat much better and healthier in Mahahual than I ever did in Belize, and the USA for that matter.

Thanks for reading, Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Mexico tourism rebounds with new developments.

 

Dawn at Costa maya Port.

Dawn at Costa maya Port.

A lot of new developments in tourism are occuring in Mexico, and especially in Costa Maya, Mahahual and Quintana Roo.  A lot of the focus on tourism  is in Quintana Roo, and Mahahual is getting its fair share of attention.

Just recently Mahahual was awarded 2 million dollars from the Mexican government for the development of infrastructure to help increase tourism.  Also with the new water park being constructed, and plans in the future for a golf course in Mahahual, tourism will continue to increase.

Below is an article I came across about future developments in the near future concerning tourism in Mexico.

This is a good read, Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Mahahual Downtown

Maribeth Mellin, Special to SFGate

Published 3:05 pm, Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mexico’s tourism industry appears to be recovering dramatically after several worrisome years. Some travelers may be staying away because they’re afraid for their safety, thinking drug cartels are wreaking havoc from coast to coast. But Mexico received 23.7 million visitors in 2013, 18 percent more than in 2012. From the looks of things at the recent Tianguis Turístico, Mexico’s largest tourism trade show, the country is on a rebound.

Now in its 39th year, Tianguis brings together travel agents, travel wholesalers, destination agencies, hotel and airline companies and the press. Many of those who attend annually seal friendships as well as deals, and displays from nearly all of Mexico’s states remind even frequent visitors of the country’s rich cultural and natural opportunities. The state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancún and the Riviera Maya, hosted this year’s show, and attendees took full advantage of gorgeous beaches and lavish resorts. But reminders of ancient cultures and traditions shone through the region’s modern trappings. An appearance by actor Kevin Spacey on the show’s second day added a touch of intrigue.

President Enrique Peña Nieto (apparently a Spacey fan) kicked off the show with an inaugural speech announcing plans to invest $13.8 million in tourism infrastructure. A few days later, Secretary of Tourism Claudia Ruiz Massieu announced that the show attracted buyers and press from 61 countries including Vietnam, Nigeria and Norway. Conferences covered a wide range of topics including strategies to increase tourism from Russia to programs to enhance attractions in Chihuahua, Michoacán and other culturally rich destinations. Here are a few of the major announcements.

Culture and Nature in Quintana Roo

The most exciting development, in my opinion, combines Mayan culture and ecotourism in a program called Maya Ka’an. After many attempts, government agencies, eco-tourism groups and private businesses have come together with a solid plan for ensuring the sustainability of the Riviera Maya’s natural attributes and its Mayan communities. Small tour companies and cooperativas are offering guided adventures to remote villages where healers demonstrate their use of local flora and homemakers teach guests how to cook in an earthen oven and weave sisal into ropes. Other tours visit small fishing villages where electricity is scarce and families rely on gathering lobster and conducting fly-fishing tours for visiting anglers.

Kayaking, bird watching and nature tours focus on Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve, protecting a precious million acres of lagoons, canals, mangroves, and reefs along a relatively undisturbed Riviera Maya coastline south of Tulum. And, for extreme adventurers, there’s a nighttime bike ride to a spooky cave where snakes hang from crevices in the cave’s ceiling as they catch and devour flying bats.

Local licensed guides lead visitors around untrammeled archeological and natural sites. Other community members are learning how to interact with outsiders and develop small businesses producing souvenirs like honey products (including wonderful honey shampoo), handicrafts and jams. Maya Ka’an aims to prove that community-based tourism encourages the sustainable use of natural resources and improves the quality of life for people whose reap few benefits from the massive tourism activity in their homeland.

Circus in the Riviera Maya

On an entirely different realm, Cirque du Soleil showed of its new custom theater at the Grand Mayan resort, where the company will present “Joya,”a full-scale Cirque production with eight performances per week. Looking like an abstract UFO, the freestanding 600-seat theater was still under construction during Tianguis, but practice was underway for the elaborate show, which opens on November 8, 2014. Tickets range from $85 to $225.

Mazatlán cruises again

Reports of rising crime rates along with a weakened economy caused, five cruise lines to pull out of Mazatlán in 2011 and 2012 despite its popularity in the Mexican Riviera circuit. City and state leaders responded briskly several safety measures, leading to a 90 percent decrease in crime over the past two years, according to Francisco Cordoba, secretary of tourism for the state of Sinaloa. Now five lines—Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Azamara Club Cruises—have returned the 2014-2015 seasons, carrying an estimated 200,000 passengers. Mazatlan received more than 300,000 travelers in 2013, when cruising was nearly nonexistent. The future looks bright for 2014.

Other developments

Los Cabos keeps getting swankier. Puerto Los Cabos, the new marina development in San José del Cabo, is slated to gain a new Secrets resort in December 2015 and a JW Marriott is under construction.

Super Shuttle has begun service at the Cancún airport with shuttles running to Cancún and Riviera Maya hotels. Advance reservations are required. In the U.S. call 877-392-1516; in Cancún 998/843-5015.

Back to Spacey

Puzzlement seemed to be the common reaction when attendees were told Kevin Spacey would be on stage during Tianguis. Skepticism turned to frenzied enthusiasm when the hour arrived for his appearance, and the crush to get near the stage would have done the Beatles proud. Ever gracious, the star settled into a well-prepared interview where he answered questions about acting, mentoring and “House of Cards,” of course, with practiced humor and sincerity. It was all great fun, but one still wondered “Why is he here?” When the interviewer asked when he liked about Mexico, Spacey said he was fond of Mexican food, and several great movies had been made in Mexico. He mentioned dining with the president at a new, luxurious Cancun resort. He was obviously not a Mexico expert.

Controversy swirled over the next few days as the Mexican press delved further into the Spacey mystery. At a closing conference, a tourism official responded to queries by saying all major international conferences have a keynote speaker. That didn’t satisfy the curious crowd. Soon press photos appeared of the Mexican president and Spacey chatting together. Rumors of millions of dollars paid to the actor for his appearance abounded. Spacey inadvertently fueled the fire when he posted a selfie with the president, adding, “1 President is real. W/Pres Nieto in #Mexico. Good meeting a man also making progress in 1st year in office.”

A furor over his seeming endorsement of Peña Nieto rose, and Spacey responded. According to CNN, he said, “I guess nobody got the joke. I was in character as Francis Underwood in ‘House of Cards,’ not myself! I don’t know jack about Mexican politics.”

Mahahual Secret Paradise on the Mexican Caribbean

Costa Maya Mahahual

Mahahual lighthouse and Costa Maya Port in background. Mahahual lighthouse and Costa Maya Port in background.

I am in Playa del Carmen now on vacation, and I run into a lot of people here all the time who ask me about Mahahual. I am staying in a condo with a friend in downtown Playa del Carmen, and when people hear I am from Mahahual they ask me questions and want more information. Yesterday I was sitting by the pool getting some sun and reading a book, when a woman from Canada that lives here in the condos came up and sat beside me and asked how much houses go for in Mahahual, and if any were availiable. I told her what we have and about life in Mahahual. She said Playa del Carmen was getting a little crowded and she might be looking to move south, to a place like Mahahual, like is not over developed. She is…

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5 Foods You Must Try When Living In Mexico

One of the best thing about living in Mexico is the food. Whenever I show photos of the food on Facebook I get a lot of comments.
Mexico has a great tradition when it comes to food, and there is different cuisine throughout the country, but here are 5 Mexican dishes you must try when you visit. I have had all these dishes and trust me they are a lot different than the Mexican cuisine you get in the USA.

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Food is an integral part of Mexican culture. Mexican cuisine bears several influences from other countries over the years and even today it retains its unique cultural characteristics, while steadily adapting to and exploring innovations in cooking methods and flavors. The restaurants and street stalls in Mexico are storehouses of delicious and exciting dishes and here are five such foods you don’t want to miss out on.

Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican food and consist of lightly fried corn tortillas triangles, topped with salsa or mole, which are simmered until they soften.

Scrambled or fried egg and pulled chicken are thrown into the mix and the dish is topped with cheese or sweet Mexican cream. A serving of refried beans usually accompanies Chilaquiles. There are several variations of this recipe and each region, even each family, is likely to have their own unique version of Chilaquiles. While the dish is commonly cooked to soften the tortilla chips, in central Mexico they are left crisp by adding the salsa at the very end just before serving. This variation also features garnishes of avocado and raw onion rings. Chilaquiles make for a great breakfast or brunch food.

Mole

Mole refers to different types of quintessentially Mexican sauces. Making mole can be arduous process considering there are above 20 ingredients that go into it. You can be sure that Mole will be on the menu at nearly every Mexican celebration. It is especially popular in central and southern Mexico, although most regions have their own special variation. Some of the common types of mole include the famous mole poblano, which originates in the Puebla region and is considered to be the national dish of Mexico. There’s also mole negro from the region of Oaxaca, known for its dark appearance due to the addition of the Hoja santa plant. Oaxaca is also the birthplace of the mole verde, a type of mole made with toasted pumpkin seeds, tomatillos, lettuce and cilantro.

Tamales

These steamed packets of corn dough with savory or sweet fillings actually have their origins in Aztec and Mayan times. Unlike tamales served in most Mexican restaurants around the world, the ones in Mexico are prepared simply and served plain. There are numerous different varieties of tamales and each uses a certain type of corn dough or masa. Tamale fillings can range from beans and pumpkin seeds to chicken and hard-boiled eggs. In the Michoacán region of Mexico, you will find a special type of tamale called corundas, recognized by their triangular shape and steamed in long green corn leaves. In the Yucatán region, you have vaporcitos, made by smearing thin layers of the masa on banana leaves. In Culiacán in the Sinaloa region, vegetarian tamales are rather popular. These come with fillings of different vegetables, beans, corn and even pineapple.

Pozole

A traditional stew-like soup, Pozole is made of hominy and some type of meat. Hominy are dried maize kernels that are soaked in a solution of lime. A large-kernelled white corn found in Mexico, called maize blanco, is traditionally used to make pozole. The dish is stewed for hours until everything is thoroughly cooked. It is served in bowls and then ingredients such as radish, onion, lettuce, lime juice and oregano are added on top. Pozole can be made either as a clear broth or as a spicy green or red soup.

Torta ahogada

Translated as drowned sandwich, torta ahogada hails from the Mexican state of Jalisco. It is also commonly eaten in others parts of the country. Torta ahogada is either partially or completely submerged in a sauce made with chile de árbol, a type of dried chili pepper. There are also variations with milder sauces made from red tomatoes. A partially drowned Torta ahogada is called ‘media ahogada’ and a well-drowned one is called ‘bien ahogada’. The sandwich is made from birote bread, which is soft in the middle with a thick and crisp crust.

The texture of the bread allows the sandwich to absorb the sauce without disintegrating. Torta ahogadas usually contain fillings of fried pork or chicken. Eating a Torta ahogada can be a messy affair, yet it is best enjoyed when eaten with bare hands.

Thanks for reading and Provecho,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina