Muchas gracias, Todos Santos

My Love Affair With Baja

fromTheAir

When I was a teenager in the 60’s in the beach town of Pacific Palisades, California, I had heard some pretty raunchy stories recanted by some of my adventurous fellow high school mates (guys) of their wild weekends in Tijuana.  I got the impression it was a dark, mysterious place where anything goes, and anything could happen, and did. There were plenty of tales of all the boozing without age restrictions, and going to bull fights and strip clubs. The shocking stories of strippers pole dancing with donkeys going at their private parts were enough to keep me and my girlfriends away.  I also knew, though, that there was another side to TJ too, since my parents enjoyed their excursions over the border to gamble at Jai Alai games and savor “real” Mexican food.

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Nature’s Wonderland: Tulum

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Where the white sand joins the jungle and sea, where the turquoise water melts into the turquoise sky, where the people smile and the energy is easy, this is Tulum.
This once-secret hideaway for soul seekers is now a prime Mexico-Caribbean beach destination as people discover its special energy and majestic beauty, and share the secret with others. Sun seekers flock to make it their new home, investment location, vacation mecca, dive spot, adventure land, and Mexico’s hippest new hot spot. There is no doubt about it, Tulum, Mexico is now the place to be. It is the place to see and be seen. To feel and learn and live in a way, never experienced before. It offers an escape from the ordinary, and a quest into the extraordinary.

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Using cell phones in Mexico

Side profile of a young woman using a laptop with a young man lying beside her looking at a cell phones in Mexico

One of the most common questions asked when people are coming down to Mexico is what to do about their cell phones. While each person’s situation will be a little different and there are hundreds of options to choose, here are some basic tips for cell phones in Mexico.

Did you know the richest man in the world is Mexican? Mr. Carlos Slim owns Telcel the largest cellular company in Mexico, among other things. The world of cell phone companies is complicated and rife with intrigue and drama, none of which I’m going to go into. What you need to know about Telcel is that it has the largest service area in Mexico. If you are traveling around the country, Telcel is the company to choose.

Personally, all the service providers suck. Cell phones in Mexico are expensive and until recently the only real option was Telcel. With the passing of anti-monopoly laws this is slowly changing.

There are other companies that may work well for your purposes including Nextel and iUSACell. Each has its own benefits and you can see their options online.

For our purposes we are going to focus on Telcel because it is the most accessible.

Cell phone options in Mexico

Depending on how long you are planning on being in Mexico you may have a few different options for cell phones in Mexico.

  1. Add-on. Get an appropriate international plan with your carrier before you leave your home country.

This is great if you’re here for a short time. Don’t want or need a local number and have access to free wifi (or a starbucks nearby).

  1. Purchase a phone in Mexico. For as little as $20 ($300 pesos) you can buy a ‘burner’ phone at most grocery stores or convenience stores. This phone will come with a chip, its own phone number and anywhere from $10-300 pesos credit. The first time you use it you will be asked to register via text message (in Spanish) your name and birthdate.

cell phones in MexicoThese burner phones are cheap and easy to use – great for calling taxis, making dinner reservations and staying in touch with your fellow travellers. For $20 you only get a phone (no whatsapp, no facebook, no translator app) and depending on your level of expertise, the frustration of trying to send a text message using T9 may be enough for you to drink (more margaritas.)

  1. Just the chip. You can also purchase only the chip for $150 pesos (with $50-100 pesos in credit) if you have an unlocked phone. This gives you a local phone number and you get to continue using your phone that you know and love.

telcel chipLikely you have a cell phone from the US or Canada that you want to bring with you. This phone needs to be unlocked which means that the phone company you purchased it from will allow you to change carriers. Usually this can only be done if you’ve finished the contract on your phone.

Depending on your phone it is possible to unlock most of the time and there are many places that offer this service. Expect to pay about $500 pesos for it to be done in Mexico. Or search Craigslist in your city for businesses that offer this service. Note: make sure the chip you buy is the correct size. Some phones use microchips. Both are available for purchase.

  1. Skip all the nonsense and buy one. You want a smartphone but you don’t want to or can’t unlock yours. You can buy a phone outright from all the various cell phone companies. You won’t have a contract and you’ll be able to buy as much cell service as you need, when you need it. While pricey upfront this is a great option if you travel in Mexico frequently or for long periods of time.

Again, I don’t love Telcel and they are not paying me to write this but for matter of convenience and demonstration purposes here are some tips that I enjoy.

Telcel has a number of promotions that are not always advertised. It is good to check out their website for offers and tips including:

  • When you buy cell phone credit of more than $100 pesos at a time you get bonus (regalo) credit. The amounts can change but currently if you pay for $500 pesos you get a regalo of $400 – this is good for calls and text messages and using the internet – and more than enough for a month of service.
  • If you put more than $200 pesos on the phone each month your cost for local calls drops from about $2 pesos to less than $1 peso per minute.
  • Free facebook and whatsapp. This promotion seems to come and go. You need to register your phone number online and this may be a bonus available. Another is 2 or 3 free phone numbers.
  • Free phone numbers are only good with other Telcel phone numbers and while you can make unlimited calls to those numbers they are limited to under 5 minutes. Consider adding a timer app to your smartphone to remind you when time is up.
  • Without a contract you can still buy monthly packages for internet, text messages and calls. This is called the Amigo plan and it is as easy as sending a text message each month. For example you can add 2gb of internet for $349 pesos. You send Medio 30 to the number 5050 and for the next 30 days you get 2gb of internet and the cost is deducted from your balance. (You can not use regalo credit for purchases.) There are bigger and smaller amounts as well as one day or week-long packages you can purchase.

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Have tips of your own? Leave them in the comments.

Calling in Mexico is a whole other can of worms. That’s for next week.

If you like this info – also follow our facebook page that is Mexico Travel specific at Life and Travel in Mexico and/or sign up for our twice monthly email newsletter.

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Expatriates living in Ajijic: Roger and Alison

Lake-Chapala

Roger and Alison, who retired young!  Roger’s career was in anesthesia, and Alison was an RN.  Alison’s parents had retired to Ajijic in 1983, and through them Alison became passionate about the Mexican people, their rich history, language, culture and architecture. Dividing their time between Canada and Mexico, Alison has developed a second career as a photographer, and has published two books featuring the vibrant colours and clever architecture of Mexico.

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Getting from A to Ñ – Cheap travel options in Mexico

GOOD TO KNOW – use Google Flights to find the best travel options in Mexico

Travel options in Mexico and around the world

Travel options in Mexico and around the world

The internet? Is that thing still around? – Homer Simpson

Probably my favourite benefit of the internet is the ability to search for travel options in Mexico. Clearly here to stay, using the internet to save a few bucks isn’t rocket surgery but searching for cheap flights can be a tedious task. Checking one site against another, not really sure what airline flies out of what airport. Comparing various airports, days, and airlines can be time consuming but not anymore.

Apparently around since 2011, I have just recently found Google.com/flights. It is similar to Kayak.com in that it agregates all available flight info/ pricing to give you the best options but it goes one step further (or backwards) with the most awesome travel map in the world.

I know – big words, but it’s true.

San Lois Potosi is my new obsession. There is so much to see and do in this area. Can't wait to explore!

San Lois Potosi is my new obsession. There is so much to see and do in this area. Can’t wait to explore! Notice that Google Flights shows me cheaper dates in case my schedule is flexible.

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Playa del Carmen property for sale – SIAAN

playa del carmen property for sale

A long-time well-respected Playa del Carmen developer is now offering 46 UNITS. 2 & 3 BEDROOM CONDOS, LOFTS & PENTHOUSES located in the heart of the town.

Located in downtown Playa del Carmen, in the best residential area, two blocks from the beach and few steps from famous 5ª Av. Surrounded by nature, by the newest residential developments and the best shopping & dining. SIAAN is located at an important avenue and beach access, which offers excellent exposure for commercial area at ground level and spectacular ocean views from penthouses and the rooftop pools and terraces.

VIEW MORE DETAILS ON THESE PLAYA DEL CARMEN PROPERTIES FOR SALE HERE

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Modern Adobe Home for Sale in Bucerías, Nayarit

modern adobe house for sale in Bucerias

Pancha Mahabhuta (The Five Elements)

A truly ecological two story home with underground parking and basement

The fresh, integrated concept combines ancient building techniques with modern technology, renewable and recycled materials that are appropriate for the environment and resources available.   As the Bay of Banderas presents a warm, tropical climate, the house is oriented to the north to avoid overheating associated with sunrise and sunset.

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Beachfront Condo for Sale in Los Cabos, Mexico

Condo for sale in Los Cabos

Beachfront with four pools and ocean views – you’re just a sunset away.

Las Mananitas, San José Del Cabo, Baja California Sur

Located on the finest beach in San Jose del Cabo, Las Mananitas is set on 10 acres of beachfront with lush tropical grounds, 4 swimming pools, fitness centre, tennis courts, security, rental and property management and more.

VIEW MORE PHOTOS AND DETAILS HERE

This beachfront condo for sale boasts custom granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances,marble flooring, 3 large bedrooms, ensuite baths, walk in marble showers and tub. A custom furniture package makes this beach condo turn-key ready for you and your guests to enjoy two ocean view master suites and a large flowing floor plan.

Custom features include water purification, wireless internet, satellite TV, hurricane shutter protection, one car garage, custom built terrace bar. A large spacious terrace with stunning panoramic views to enjoy what you came here for, sea, sun and sand. Los Cabos property ownership provides discounts at all local golf courses. It doesn’t get any better than this. Make your Mexico real estate dreams come true!

USD $ 695,000

Contact Connie Meyerhoff for more information. 

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Mexico vs. Canada – Dare to compare!

Ocean views vs. a rendering plant neighbour. Mobile home vs. beachfront luxury. Do you love frostbite and snowblowers? Is that even a fair question? Let’s look at some Canadians properties for sale vs. ‘comparable’ properties in Mexico.

Even with the recent changes in the Canadian dollar, when you compare dollar for dollar what you can purchase in Canada versus what you can buy in Mexico, it makes the decision to retire in Mexico, even part-time, a whole lot easier.

We have found typical listings in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia to compare with similar listings in the Mexico… In our opinion, there is no comparison!  Viva Mexico!

$200-300K

The battle between the two properties for under $300k takes place between two of the most expensive areas in Canada and Mexico. Featuring Vancouver and Punta de Mita the results are staggeringly different. You can choose between an apartment building in an industrial area close to a rendering plant in East Vancouver or a brand new condo on one of the most exclusive beaches in Mexico.

Punta Mita - Ocean views

Punta Mita – Ocean views

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