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Bubba

Dec 15, 2006, 3:02 PM

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On Southern Mexico

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Well, today, we drove the last leg of our journey from Chiapas to Ajijic coming up from Toluca to Ajijic in less than four hours kicking ass on the Toluca-Ocotlan autopista and a fine, if expensive, highway that is. We were taking our time but the journey took us from San Cristobal to Juchitan on the Isthmus in Oaxaca state and on to Oaxaca City before we hit the freeway to Toluca via Mexico City. This is a mighty fine voyage but the reason I post these remarks here on the General Forum rather than the Southern Mexico Forum is because I want to disabuse folks of the many unpleasant prejudices they hold about Southern Mexico, a beautiful and tranquil land suffering mightily from misconceptions these days.

We, of course, have a commitment to Southern Mexico that may seem paradoxical since we have lived in Jalisco for the past five years. It is in our interests to see foreign tourists avoid this magical place where we have recently purchased a home but we cannot help but see the suffering so many fine people are going through because of misconceptions fed by the Mexican and foreign press.

I promise you this:

Urban areas and most rural areas of Chiapas and Oaxaca States are tranquil and welcoming of tourists.
You have never met nicer and more hospitable people anywhere. anytime.
Oaxaca City. San Cristobal and other urban areas and their rural surroundings are strikingly beautiful and absolutely safe for the tourist.
The climate in those parts is almost always extraordinary. Crystal light and blue skies the likes of which you´ve never seen and I´m from California. Landscapes of indescribable beauty follow one after the other.
These days you will be received with utmost graciousness and will received deeply discounted hotel rooms because they desparately need tourists.
Beauty and climate between land and sea that must be seen to be believed.

Here is another gift for you. You can drive through Mexico City between Puebla and Toluca with the utmost of ease if you know what you are doing. We drove though that massive conurbation in less than an hour. It is a witch without a broom. Ask me and I´ll tell you how to do it.

This is a wonderful country. Forget the pettiness of such unpleasant enclaves as Lake Chapala and get out and discover the Mexico of your dreams. You won´t regret it.
.



VSOP

Dec 15, 2006, 7:19 PM

Post #2 of 37 (8054 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Beautiful post, Bubba! Thank you.


No hay rosas sin espinas . . .


morgaine7


Dec 15, 2006, 9:42 PM

Post #3 of 37 (8028 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Bubba, welcome back and thank you for sharing. Your new area sounds lovely and is high on my list of places to visit once I move. I'll warn you first ;-)

Kate


waltw

Dec 16, 2006, 7:03 AM

Post #4 of 37 (7989 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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In Oaxaca City, a huge Christmas tree is lit up in the Zocalo and flowers (Flor de Noche Buena) have been replanted. Most of the buildings around the Zocolo that were covered with grafitti just a month or so before have been repainted. Christmas is really a magical time here. Lots of posadas and fiestas to attend, and La Noche de Rábanos just a few days away.

http://www.planeta.com/.../oaxaca/rabanos.html


Bubba

Dec 16, 2006, 9:43 AM

Post #5 of 37 (7952 views)

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Re: [waltw] On Southern Mexico

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Well said, Walt:

We were mightily impressed by the beauty and cleanliness of the central historical district of Oaxaca - a city I have been critical of in the past. They have some of the most striking colonial architecture in all of Mexico. As you say, grafitti laden walls around the zocalo have been repainted and the city and zocalo sparkle and are open for business. I wish I could say the same thing about my new co-hometown of San Cristobal which is defiled by ubiquitous grafitti. The Oaxaca zocalo is covered with poinsettias and soon the PFP troops will be moving out and dismantling their tents. The restaurants and hotels are open but still nearly empty of tourists as they continue to avoid the area much to their personal loss. You will, however, find many Oaxacans out and about and that beats walking amongst great historic beauty surrounded by a bunch of geeks from Peoria.

Despite the great beauty of the historical center, Oaxaca continues, post APPO, to be a place of frenetic traffic bordering on anarchy so, those of you unfamiliar with driving there are better off parking your car and walking or taking taxis. We have three hotel recommendations for those of you who take our advice on this. We always stayed at La Parra near the zocalo in the past but I was afraid they might still be closed after the recent problems so we went by an old favorite, the (inexpensive) La Casa de Maria at 205 Belisario Dominguqez which is a B&B and run by a nice woman named Maria Diaz. She couldn´t accomodate us so took us to a great hotel where her son works called Hotel Casa Conzatti within walking distance of the zocalo which fronts a beautiful park and is normally a bit expensive at about $120USD a night but is now at about $55USD a night. This Casa Conzatti is in a very nice neighborhood with large and tranquil parks among the frenetic activities of Oaxaca City which is a zoo but a damn fine zoo if I must say so.

By the way, Hotel La Parra has reopened and is a mighty fine place one block from the zocalo.



These hotels are all nice and will put you within an easy walk or taxi ride of the zocalo


(This post was edited by Bubba on Dec 16, 2006, 9:48 AM)


geri

Dec 16, 2006, 4:22 PM

Post #6 of 37 (7883 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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During our almost six-month "unrest," I heard so many times, "It will take forever to clean up Oaxaca." Uh uh, thought I. I know what Mexicans can do with a brush and bucket of paint!!! The PFP removed the burned vehicles and barbed wire blockades in a few days and it only took a few more for the city to be a rainbow of sparkling colors. I guess I'm weird, but I sort of miss the graffiti. Some of it was VERY creative. Just kidding, sort of. Casa Conzatti is one of the finer places to stay and great location. I can't believe it's only $55. That's the first lowered hotel price that I've heard about, but I don't 'do' hotels here.

I think the Mexicans are even nicer/friendlier right now, if that's possible.


song_of_joy

Dec 16, 2006, 6:38 PM

Post #7 of 37 (7853 views)

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Re: [geri] On Southern Mexico

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Here's another link for Oaxaca City accommodations:
http://www.oaxacadream.com/

I really like the owners of this B&B.


geri

Dec 17, 2006, 3:37 AM

Post #8 of 37 (7804 views)

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Re: [song_of_joy] On Southern Mexico

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I agree. I know the owners of this place. Great people!


Bubba

Dec 17, 2006, 7:00 AM

Post #9 of 37 (7784 views)

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Re: [geri] On Southern Mexico

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Casa Conzatti is one of the finer places to stay and great location. I can't believe it's only $55. That's the first lowered hotel price that I've heard about, but I don't 'do' hotels here.

It´s interesting you say that geri. Maria Diaz (the owner of Casa Maria who introduced me to Casa Conzatti) was warning me that it was a high end joint and was shocked that they had lowered their base rate by over 50%. I didn´t check with La Parra. All the lowered rates in the world will not bring back the tourists as long as the press and foreign governments keep scaring their constituents half to death over nothing. It´s a damn shame.

We will be too tied up in our San Cristobal remodeling project to spend much time in Oaxaca in the next six months but otherwise, that city would be a great place to spend a few months.

If any of you head that way, drive or taxi the 25 or so kilometers to Teotitlan del Valle for some great deals on rugs - if you use your head.


alex .

Dec 18, 2006, 12:26 PM

Post #10 of 37 (7638 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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It is a good thing that you are enjoying your new adventures south of the 17th parallel, Sr. Bubba. Building unforgettable memories, expanding your experience, seeing the good in man, and sharing with us. Just as in Jalisco, though, you mustn't take everything at face value as people are people everywhere.
Suerte,
Alex


Bubba

Dec 18, 2006, 1:40 PM

Post #11 of 37 (7610 views)

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Re: [alex .] On Southern Mexico

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Alex:

You are kind to remind me of the deplorable nature of human beings but I do believe that I´m familiar with that problem. Thanks for the reminder anyway. You are no more cynical than I and I have enjoyed your posts but if you think I have high expectations from my move to Southern Mexico, then I have mislead you.

The highest expectation I have of mankind is that I will suffer the fate of the dead Boobalina from Zorba The Greek and, like Boobalina, I will not give a damn at that point.


wendy devlin

Dec 18, 2006, 1:50 PM

Post #12 of 37 (7603 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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So...how much are these highway and bridge projects related to
Plan Puebla Panama (PPP)?

The PPP will create an elaborate infrastructure of ports, highways, airports, and railways aimed to connect the development of the petroleum, energy, maquiladora, and agricultural industries. While the PPP's proponents assert that its main objective is to improve the quality of life for area inhabitants, critics of the Plan see it as an attempt to exploit the abundant, cheap labor force and precious natural resources in order to attract foreign investment eager to reap the benefits of an area stricken with poverty.

Note that PuertoChiapas is open for business and cruise-ships.

http://www.puertochiapas.com.mx/eng/home.html

Or more mythology?


Ed and Fran

Dec 18, 2006, 2:07 PM

Post #13 of 37 (7594 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] On Southern Mexico

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The PPP will create an elaborate infrastructure of ports, highways, airports, and railways.....


Well, seeing as how no one seems to be in any hurry to rebuild the railway (Ferrocarril Chiapas - Mayab, or "FCCM") that runs through that area after the damage it sustained in last year's storms, maybe they're just concentrating on highways.

Ed


Bubba

Dec 18, 2006, 2:34 PM

Post #14 of 37 (7584 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] On Southern Mexico

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The PPP will create an elaborate infrastructure of ports, highways, airports, and railways aimed to connect the development of the petroleum, energy, maquiladora, and agricultural industries

You know, Wendy, poverty stricken places are always full of grandiose plans that will take them from rural backwaters to important centers of commerce and tourism and it´s all bullshit. When I was a kid in Alabama in the 50s, there was always some scheme to turn a poverty stricken part of the United States into an example of modern commercial success and it was always a load of crap so that some crooked politician could benefit from selling some swampland he had bought for nothing.

Down in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec they still dream of the new Panama Canal which will accommodate modern ship traffic the Panama Canal cannot handle over a canal/land bridge from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Tehuantepec at Salinas Cruz and it´s a pipe dream that will never happen while we are still on the planet but it makes them feel important and that is what it´s all about.

As Jack Nicholson said in Five Easy Pieces, "...my life is filled with auspicious beginnings...." Latin America is filled with the auspicious beginnings of what almost always turns out to be nothing at all but a half finished ruin rotting away in the sun with people observing it for the first time going, "What the hell was that supposed to be?"


(This post was edited by Bubba on Dec 18, 2006, 2:36 PM)


wendy devlin

Dec 18, 2006, 3:26 PM

Post #15 of 37 (7569 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Well, Bubba, your last post is full of truisms.

But just call me a titsy-witsey skeptical.
Being one of my brothers is in the international gold mining business. Where he advises sis...most of the money is in promotion.

Recently as in two weeksago, a developer pitched a proposal which has got our council (and other local business movers and shakers) all a ga-ga over a proposal to build an international airport(small) to help service a gated 60, million + dollar homes with their own hospital, firehall, sewage treatment system.

Homes will have West-coast waterfront views, or near views and a number of them feature 'taxiways' so corporate executives can fly their Cessnas nearer to their homes.

In a public presentation of the corporate proposal, the spokesman said that Jack N and that Norm guy had already walked the land in question for a prospective golf course.
(now that N has reportedly nixxed San Migue)

That and a five star hotel, a world class equestrian center...the list goes on.

All this...and so much more...just behind my ranchito on what we thought was the edge of the south Canadian wilderness. Trouble is...some people are buying it.

Look what's happened elsewhere.


(This post was edited by wendy devlin on Dec 18, 2006, 4:47 PM)


trpt2345

Dec 18, 2006, 9:51 PM

Post #16 of 37 (7506 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Hey, Bubba, I know how to get through Mexico City in an hour too. When my suegra lived in Cuautitlan we used to do it all the time. The secret is you have to do it between 2 and 5 a.m. Rush hour doesn't really ease up until after midnight and it begins by 6 and lasts about 18 hours.

Michael McLaughlin "el bolillo ranchero" (still working on snaring a job at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa. Latest signs look good, but hatcheting no counts before they chicken).


Bubba

Dec 19, 2006, 5:55 AM

Post #17 of 37 (7477 views)

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Re: [trpt2345] On Southern Mexico

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Michael:

Believe it of not we made it from the eastern outskirts on the Puebla autopista through Santa Fe in one hour during the rush hour from 4:00PM to 5:00PM last Thursday afternoon. However, our game plan for the future when we drive to Chiapas is to drive to Toluca from Ajijic on a Saturday and on through the city on Sunday morning when there is virtually no traffic.

The last time we drove through Mexico City we made the mistake of driving in the slow lane and a couple of their thug cops pulled us over for some mordida. Friends native to the city gave us two pieces of valuable advice. Stay off of the pereficos which the cops cruise for out-of-staters, taking the internal circuit instead and stay in the middle and fast lanes during rush hours as the cops are loath to stop someone in the fast lanes going with the flow of traffic since they might start a riot.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Dec 19, 2006, 9:36 AM)


alex .

Dec 19, 2006, 7:53 AM

Post #18 of 37 (7440 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Salina Cruz....its been a long time since I heard the name. Its what brought me to Mexconnect in...... 1997 was it? I had a girlfriend from there, she thought it would be grand to purchase a taxi and run it in Huatulco. I had visions of doing wonderful things working at a desalination plant. The plan was to have her older brothers each drive a shift in the tourist zone, third shift would be a maintenance shift to keep the Tsuru in top shape. Yea, it was 1997 as I bought a brand new 1998 Tsuru, the new rounded body style, 4 door, white, air conditioning...the tourists would like that. Since she was from there she could get the business permit, something like 19,000 USD, good for life and transferable to a subsequent generation. I was inquiring here, when Stan was the resident Oaxaca expert, about the competition we might expect. How did it work out? She decided there was more fortune and glory being a prostitute in Nuevo Laredo and I later lost the car to US Customs. My grand adventure never happened as planned, so I had to go make another adventure instead. Thank God for unanswered prayers?
Alex


(This post was edited by alex . on Dec 19, 2006, 8:00 AM)


Bubba

Dec 19, 2006, 9:45 AM

Post #19 of 37 (7400 views)

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Re: [alex .] On Southern Mexico

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Great story, Alex. I does seem to me that opportunities for prostitutes in Salina Cruz would abound with that huge naval base there so why Nuevo Laredo.

By the way, Bubba has unofficially designated Salina Cruz as the single most God-awful ugly urban area in Mexico. I may be wrong, however, as I have yet to travel through Agua Prieta.


Ed and Fran

Dec 19, 2006, 10:27 AM

Post #20 of 37 (7385 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Could be a tossup between Salina Cruz and Cd del Carmen. Matamoros is probably right in there with them.


jerezano

Dec 19, 2006, 6:04 PM

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Ugliest city in México

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Hello Ed and Fran,

You said: Could be a tossup between Salina Cruz and Cd del Carmen. Matamoros is probably right in there with them.


Ouch! ¡Au WEEE! Of the Texas border crossing cities of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros, Matamoros is by far the cleanest, the most interesting, and the prettiest. And even with all the improvements going on in Tijuana it still beats Tijuana. About Nogales I can't say.

With that said, the border crossing at Matamoros is difficult in both directions. Tolerable going South but coming North forget it.

Adiós. jerezano.


Bloviator

Dec 20, 2006, 5:34 AM

Post #22 of 37 (7271 views)

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Re: [Ed and Fran] On Southern Mexico

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I've been in Ciudad del Carmen and Ciudad del Carmen is no Cutzaqualcos. If there is a more god forsaken town in Mexico than Cuatzacualcos, I hope I never visit it. As the old joke says, I spent a year there one night. It is truly ugly - all the charm of old oil derricks and refineries without the leavening of any form of regulation to mitigate the results.


Ed and Fran

Dec 20, 2006, 6:03 AM

Post #23 of 37 (7262 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] On Southern Mexico

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Ah yes, Coatzacoalcos (and it's sister city of Minatitlán), another place not in danger of becoming "Lakeside III".


Ed


Bloviator

Apr 18, 2007, 5:12 AM

Post #24 of 37 (7034 views)

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Re: [Bubba] On Southern Mexico

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Just to prove I'm doing some research, I'm piggybacking on this discussion.

Last night my wife came down from our hot bedroom and informed me that we are either going to get air conditioning or travel for a lot of May. Since air conditioning is only needed for about six weeks of the year and I love to travel, I quickly chose the travel option.

I'm considering a couple of days in the Patzcuaro area, followed by one or two days in Cuernavaca, and then Oaxaca for a week or more, making day trips from there.

I'm looking for inexpensive accommodations. I was shocked by the prices on Travelocity for Cuernavaca and am hoping for better suggestions. We prefer accommodations that are clean, attractive, and located on or near a central plaza, though for a week in Oaxaca and economy are willing to give up the central plaza part.

We enjoy either hotel or B&B accommodations and would like to travel with our dog if possible - and perhaps will be accompanied by another couple for all or part of the trip.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.


yucatandreamer


Apr 18, 2007, 5:50 AM

Post #25 of 37 (7026 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] On Southern Mexico

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http://hotelsinoaxaca.com/paradorsa/index.html I stayed in Oaxaca at this hotel about 5 years ago. It was very basic, but clean and you couldn't ask for a better location. A lot can change in 5 years of course, but I was very happy with the price, location and general feel of this little place.
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