Paradise Found in Magic Town of Bacalar

From Cancun all the way south along the coastline, passing Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Sian Kaan, and down to Mahahual, the Mexican Caribbean coast has dazzling shades of blue waters, fine sand, and over 345km of beachfront to find the perfect tropical escape. On my latest travels through Mexico, I found my perfect paradise at a Mexico Beach rentals in Bacalar.

bacalar panoramic

Over the years dedicated to traveling Mexico as much as I can, I have covered most of the Mexican-Caribbean coast, from Cancun to Tulum and even the surrounding islands of Holbox, Mujeres, and Cozumel. My visits here were usually crossing off the “must sees” down typical tourist tracks… but on my last trip I was searching for a truly unordinary escape, yearning for those idyllic shades of blue waters but somewhere far away from mega-resorts and overpriced bo-ho huts.  What I found was the paradise of Bacalar.

About four to five hours from Cancun, Bacalar is a small village just a bit inland from the ocean’s coast.  It is a Magic Town (my favorites places in Mexico!) and known for its large freshwater lagoons that display an impressive kaleidoscope of blue shades…. hint the nickname “Lagoon of Seven Colors”. It is just outside the Riviera Maya region and nearly borders the neighboring country of Belize.

In Bacalar, visitors will find basic infrastructure and a city center spanning just a few blocks. Artisan shops, small supermarkets, and enough restaurants to provide variety make the town very cozy.  The lagoon’s coast is dotted with palapa-hutted hotels and private homes for rent with dreamy, picturesque views of wooden swings overlooking the ocean and sun-dreched hammocks strewn across decks.  My favorite part of Bacalar is that the cool breezes on the lagoon create ideal sailing conditions, a popular activity for visitors, and perfect way to discover the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, including the great Cenote Azul.

With a intriguing history of Mayans, Spanish, and pirates I do believe the Magic Town of Bacalar is indeed meaningful to Mexico’s heritage and culture. On my next trip to Mexico’s southern Caribbean coast, I plan on combining Bacalar with a few days in Sian Kaan, a protected Biosphere Reseve with virgin beaches and nearly no development besides one or two hotels and grand, private homes to rent for the week.

If planning to visit this area, the best best is to find a Mexico beach rental. With limited infrastructed, it is very important to find a private rental with all services included (staff, meals, etc) so you can feel comfrotable during your stay. After knowing and traveling almost all of Mexico, this is one, true unspoiled beach destination where you can truly just relax.

B A C A L A R 💙

A photo posted by Jessica Seba (@mexicanatheartj) on

A Road Trip Through the Yucatan Peninsula

Hey amigos! So, my husband (Eddy), furbaby (Benito) and I will be taking a road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula this month and I’m looking for YOUR advice!

We’ve already done all the main archaeological sites, Magic Towns, and obvious stops… We are looking to visit off-the-beaten path pueblos, villages, artisan communities, Maya secrets, and natural wonders. We will be estrenando our Jeep, so tough terrain is no worries and actually preferred. Amigos Yucatecos: Please let us know the BEST hidden gems! And places to eat! Note: Must be corgi-friendly

Here is an outline of our itinerary:

Friday, August 19 – Cholula to Veracruz (5.5 Hours), Overnight Coatzacoalcos Veracruz

Saturday, August 20 – Veracruz to Campeche (7.5 Hours), Lunch in Ciudad Carmen, Crab Legs in Chompoton  Overnight Hacienda Uayamon

hacienda-uayamon-new-7 hacienda-uayamon-6

Sunday, August 21 – Enjoy Hacienda Uayamon, pass through Campeche City for lunch (where?), Overnight Hacienda Temozon

Monday, August 22 – Tour Celestun with Angel Loaiza, pueblear (where?), Overnight Hacienda Temozon

hacienda-temozon-new-15

Tuesday, August 23 – Tour Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, pass through Merida for lunch and shopping (where?), Overnight Hacienda San Jose

hacienda-sotuta-peon

Wednesday, August 24 – Pueblear (Izamal, Valladolid), cenote (which?), Overnight Cancun Air BnB

cenote-ikil-1

Thursday, August 25 – Swim with Whale Sharks with Journey Mexico, Overnight Cancun Air BnB

Friday, August 26 – Lunch in Tulum, visit Sian Kaan (where?), Overnight Casa Lamat Bacalar

Saturday, August 27 – Bacalar Beach Day, Overnight Casa Lamat Bacalar

bacalar-ocv-photo-header

Sunday, August 28 – Bacalar beach to Villahermosa (7.5 Hours), Overnight Villahermosa

Monday, August 29 – Back to work!

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR SUGGESTIONS IN THE COMMENT BOX BELOW!!!

Want to follow along?
On Instagram:  @MexicanAtHeartJ @BenitoElCorgi

The Top 5 Mistakes Expats Make When Shipping Their Vehicle to Mexico

As a native of the United States planning a move to Mexico, you may find that it is nearly impossible to address all facets on your own. With all of the wonderful moving companies and transporters throughout the world, finding local businesses with the right services and qualities to assist your relocation shouldn’t be too complicated. Of course, you will need to make sure that the companies that you call for more information and quotes are verifiably experienced in international transport.

For more information on shipping your vehicle to Mexico, or to get a free quote see https://www.a1autotransport.com/ship-car-to-mexico.php or call 1-800-452-2880.

If it is a vehicle that you wish to transport to another country, it is nearly impossible to conduct the process without the services of qualified worldwide transporters. International auto transport companies like A1AutoTransport understand the difficulties of getting a vehicle into another country. They will do everything they can to make the process of shipping successful. Nonetheless, the outcome of the vehicle’s import into Mexico is also the vehicle owner’s responsibility. Without being aware of the most common mistakes that expats make when it comes to shipping their vehicle internationally, you could easily put your vehicle and your pocketbook in harm’s way.

 

  1. Paying a large down payment or for full services before the shipping process begins.
    Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with how auto transport works can easily fall into the hands of a scam artist. Nearly all reputable transporters won’t expect payment until the job has been completed and the vehicle has safely arrived at its destination. Be cautious of any company asking for money upfront.

  1. Not researching the transport company before hiring them for services.
    Researching the companies that are local to you is important. Find a transport business that specializes in international auto shipping and carries a well-noted reputation for their successful deliveries. They should also have proof of DOT approval and other facts validating their authenticity as a shipping company.

  1. Not asking if the company carries insurance coverage.
    It is quite uncommon for anyone to receive damages on their vehicle during the transport. Despite of this, if an accident were to occur while the vehicle was in the hands of someone other than its owner, insurance coverage is important. Your personal insurance policy is ineffective when the vehicle is the responsibility of someone else and therefore it will not cover the automobile during its shipping process. The added protection is a requirement for all transport companies and it helps guarantee their services.

  1. Not preparing the automobile as asked by the transporters.
    Despite the more arduous task of complying with the Embassy of Mexico in regards to the country’s import policies, the vehicle will need to be readied for its travels. The prep work is all in the best interest of the vehicle and those handling it during the shipping process. Fortunately, the requests include simple tasks such as cleaning the vehicle and making sure the fuel is less than a quarter full.

  1. Not presenting the proper documentation to Customs.
    If you hire a reputable overseas transport company, it is more likely that you will comply with the regulations of the import policy in place. The transporter will have experienced personnel help you gather the proper documentation. However, there are many individuals who fail to present the proof asked for. This will immediately put a damper on the transport process especially in a time crunch. Until all regulations are addressed and satisfied, the vehicle will not be permitted into the country.

Resources for Expats: Filing Your Taxes

After some time of living and working in Mexico, I finally met the threshold to have to file taxes in the USA. Year after year I had been in touch with my go-to tax gurus,  Taxes for Expats, as they had guided me and advised me patiently until the time came that it was actually necessary to file.  As someone who is totally clueless, I cannot recommend them enough. The process was straight forward, seamless, and they answered all my questions with patience.

 

Here are some resources if you have ever asked yourself “Do I need to file taxes if I live abroad”:

US Expat Tax Guide for Mexico 

Expat Tax Obligations – Do You Need to File?

logo-4f80468dfa235e6bf3448805a78eaf489d96cc2e6c8d8cc19260a6c693c97cee

Things you should take with you when hiking the land of the Aztecs

Hiking is a highly beneficial activity, particularly in scenic locations such as Mexico. Hikers can enjoy not only enjoy the beautiful sights of the land of the Aztecs but also the health benefits that hiking provides. Hiking helps to keep your body fit and active and is also thought to boost your mental wellbeing.

Before you set off on any hiking trip, there are a number of essential items that you will need for your backpack. Hiking is an enjoyable activity, but you will need to make sure that you are well prepared for your trip, especially if you are planning to be away from home for a number of days. Keeping your backpack well stocked with essential items will help to reduce the risk of any problems during your trip.

One essential item is a mini first aid kit. Hiking is fun, but it is not without risks. There is always a risk of trips or falls, which could result in cuts or bruises, or a risk of developing painful sores or blisters caused by footwear. A mini first aid kit should be kept well stocked with items such as bandages, plasters, cleansing pads, and antiseptic ointment. A small pair of scissors is also a useful addition to a first aid kit so that you can easily cut bandages or clothing if you sustain any injuries.

If you are planning to go on a hiking trip that will last a few days, then you are likely to be away from facilities such as showers. Items such as baby wipes or hand sanitizers are essential in this case as they will help you to stay fresh during long hikes. Hand sanitizers will enable you to maintain good hygiene during long hiking trips, and as they are available in bottles and pouches, you will be able to easily fit them into your backpack.

Exploring the outdoors provides plenty of adventure, but it can risky if you have allergies. Before you go hiking, you may want to consider packing some antihistamines, particularly if you are planning to explore lots of nature trails where there is likely to be lots of plants and insects. Antihistamines will help to provide relief if you suffer from any pollen allergies, and they will reduce the risk of severe reactions to bee stings or other insect bites.

When hiking, it is also important to have the right compression wear with you in case you need to support your joints. There is a variety of brand new compression gear available, including workout gear for men. Choosing the right compression gear will help to support your joints and muscles during hiking, providing relief for any strains or aches.

By making sure that you have the right compression wear and have packed your bag with all the essential products, you can have a much safer hiking trip and enjoy all the benefits that the activity has to offer.

My Bachelorette Party in Cancun #BridesBoat

On February 14th, 2015 I married the Mexican man of my dreams in Puebla, Mexico.  During the wedding planning stages, I had no doubt in my mind what I wanted my day to look like and where it would be — in an hacienda in Puebla. I also had no doubt what I wanted for my Bachelorette party either — a yacht in Cancun!

It made sense to travel to the beach for my despedida, because most of my girlfriends all live in Cancun and when I told my family (who all live in the very cold USA) I wasn’t having my wedding at the beach, they were kind of bummed.  With that said, I knew that it was the perfect scenario to bring them to Cancun a week before my big day for some sun time, family bonding, and a blowout Bachelorette Party.  The pressure was on for me this whole trip because this was this the first time many of my family members would be in Mexico and I wanted them to fall in love with it the same way I had. The easy, fool proof way to make that happen I knew was renting a private yacht to sail the crystalline waters of the Mexican-Caribbean Sea. Come on, does it get any better than that??

I was so happy to be able to have my friends from Mexico and my family from the US all be in the same place at the same time to celebrate with me a new chapter of life. At my bachelorette party, there was no need for strippers, monstrous heels, and late night clubbing — the luxury Sea Horse yacht from the Sunset Marina Admiral Yacht Club  was all we needed, jamming out to N*Sync in our bathing suits, drinking mimosas and being waited on like royalty, swimming at Isla Mujeres, and just having some fantastic girl time, laughing away!

I really, don’t have words to how much fun we had and what a incredible memory I will cherish with me forever. For anyone wanting to have a memorable, Bachelorette Party in Cancun or the Riviera Maya, I highly recommend doing exactly what I did. Here are some pictures,hope you enjoy!

bachelorette-party-games-2

bachelorette-party-games-1 bachelorette-party-games-3 bachelorette-party-games-cancun

If you want to read more posts about how much fun just each of us had, check out some of our posts:

What Am I Still Doing In Cancun – #BridesBoat #Cancun: A Bachelorette Party *hiccup*
Gringation – This Is How You Do a Bachelorette Party in Cancun
Olympus Tours – Yachting to Isla Mujeres, Things to do in Cancun

 

A Punta Mita Mexico Holiday

puntmita

I recently had the fabulous opportunity to go on a Punta Mita Mexico holiday for four days. Escaping on a Mexican Pacific Coast vacation in the middle of May was a real treat for me after so much time of living in the big city and even better, it was a beach destination in Mexico I wasn’t quite familiar with.

Despite living in nearby Puerto Vallarta when I first moved to Mexico, I never explored up the coast despite having heard about all the great things to do in Punta Mita which was only 45 minutes away. After listening for years about the great surfing, luxurious hotels, scrumptious fo0d, and fantastic laid-back town of Sayulita, I finally had the opportunity to experience it for myself! My trip to Punta Mita, Mexico started as I made my way en route from Puerto Vallarta. Unlike Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita is in the Mexican state of Nayarit, on the very northern tip of the Bay of Banderas and is a very ‘exclusive’ kind of destination — usually reserved for the wealthy; and very frequently, the famous.  It’s a bit of a more ‘exotic’ getaway, more than most other Mexican beach destination, because of its secluded location and virgin beaches.

After checking in to my hotel in Punta Mita, I spent the day just relaxing at the pool and hearing the soothing sounds of the waves crashing into the white sand shores. I found myself in a true paradise.

The next day was a bit of exploration on the Pacific Coast. I started the day  by going to Sayulita, a few minutes away from Punta Mita, and wandering to all the hippie-chic artisan shops. The vibe of the town was indeed laid-back just like I had been told and all the facades were painted in cheery colors, making it almost impossible not to instantly fall in love with this place! I hit the beach, started talking with the locals (many of which are expat-foreigners, and decided to be adventurous and try surfing! There are plenty of surf schools to choose from on the beach and they are all about the same price. Within about 15 minutes after my guide gave me a rash guard, showed me the basic stances, and took me out in the water.. I was able to catch my first wave! Never in a million years did I think it would be so easy.

Later that day, instead of eating at my hotel, I opted for some authentic Mexican tacos. Instead of going to commercial places such as Si Senor and The Blue Shrimp, I decided to keep it simple by just buying tacos from a street vendor. It was the right choice, it was some of the most memorable tacos al pastor I have ever had.

The rest of my trip I just hung out at the beach trying to get a tan. I was happy to finally know what all the hype was about Punta Mita. It is definitely a contrast from any other beach I had been to in Mexico. If you’re looking for a Punta Mita holiday from the UK, check out travel agents like First Choice where you can find best packages to enjoy beautiful Mexico! Viva la Mexico

surf

Mexico’s Mayan Ruins: What to See?

 

When beach lovers think of Mexico, they may automatically think of its perfect position on the Caribbean Sea and the white sandy beaches that can be found at its popular beach resorts, such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen. However, seasoned travellers who love the taste of adventure will know that Mexico holidays offer much more than simply sun, sea and sand (not that there’s anything wrong with that, though!)

Mexico played a crucial role in the ancient Mayan civilisation and, as such, there are an abundance of breathtaking ruins remaining nowadays that give people the chance to be blown away by the architecture, culture and history that surrounds this beautiful country. As far as tourism is concerned, the Yucatán Peninsula is probably the most prolific site with regards to Mayan ruins, home to a great deal of intriguing historical attractions begging to be explored during your next holiday to Mexico.

As one of the most popular sites to visit, the Chichen Itza is highly recommended. Home to Kukulkan, the ancient pyramid temple, this UNESCO site is just a short drive away from Valladolid and, while it’s incredibly popular, it’s an absolute must-see. Head there at the crack of dawn to beat the hordes.

Tulum can be found on the shores of the peninsula and, while the ruins themselves aren’t as prolific as others in the area, if you combine a visit to them with a chance to appreciate the surroundings themselves, you’ll understand why it’s well worth a trip. Meanwhile, the UNESCO site of Uxmal is home to the Pyramid of the Magician, and Ek Balam is the site of a humungous pyramid whose steps can still be climbed – if you’re not too fussed about contributing towards their erosion, anyway!

Whether you opt for tourist favourites or choose to head away from the beaten track, Mexico holidays are full of intrigue and wonder waiting to be discovered.

DSC05771

 

 

Discover Mexico

On a holiday to Mexico, you can’t help but be swept up by a sense of the exotic. With white sandy beaches, gently nodding palms and sparkling azure seas, not to mention cloudless blue skies and fantastic hotels gracing the skyline, holidays in Mexico really are something special.

So what can you expect from a break in this beautiful corner of the world? For starters, it’s home to some cracking beaches. On Mexico’s Caribbean Coast you’ll find the vibrant resort of Cancun, home to endless shops, bars and clubs, along with other resorts like Riviera Maya and Playacar. From here you can visit the mysterious remains of Chichen Itza, with its famous pyramid and ancient Mayan culture, or take a tour into the jungle to discover Mexico’s wild side.

Over on the other side of this vast country, you can experience Mexico’s beautiful Pacific Coast, and soak up its magnificent beaches and spectacular scenery. Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta are two lovely resorts offering knock-out beaches, local attractions and a touch of nightlife, which serves up a completely different perspective to holidays in Mexico and an alternative culture to life on the Caribbean Coast.

If a trip to Mexico tickles your fancy, you’ll find plenty of holidays in Mexico available as package break through tour operators like Thomas Cook. The Caribbean Coast is by far the most popular, and resorts like Cancun and Riviera Maya draw the most visitors. But if you’re looking for a something a little different, where the response is more likely to be “Oh, where’s that?” as opposed to “Yes, I’ve been there”, then a trip to Mexico’s Pacific Coast could be the answer.

Whichever part of Mexico you choose to visit, you’re pretty much guaranteed a fascinating stay that will live with you long after you return home.

Secrets Puerto Vallarta by AM Resorts

Falling for Mexico in Guanajuato

gto-top

View from our room at Boutique Hotel Casa Colorada

When I told my Mom I was moving from Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City she was not thrilled. Her idea of Mexico was laying on a beach with endless margaritas and the thought of having to visit me in the giant, polluted metropolis of D.F. didn’t really sound too enticing to her. Reluctantly, but with an open  mind, she visited me in D.F. for the first time in December 2011. As suspected, she hated it. I myself definitely think D.F. is for a certain type of traveler and not for everyone, but it still stung a little because this was her first glimpse into ‘real Mexico’ and I wanted her to see why I feel so madly in love with the country. Oh well.

After that trip, we decided the next time she visited that we would meet in Riviera Maya or Puerto Vallarta, which worked out nice for the both of us. Almost two whole years later, she decided she would give Mexico City another try (well, it wasn’t so much that, more than the last-minute flight was only $250 dollars). I was excited and determined to get her to fall in love with ‘the real Mexico’ the way I have. So the agenda was: head to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende! They were two places I was already familiar with and knew their charm was hard to resist.

As with most baby-boomer Americans, this region of Mexico is one of the few non-beach destinations people have heard of, so she was excited when I told her. I had decided that we would leave on a Thursday for a long weekend: 2 days in Guanajuato and 2 in San Miguel de Allende. I had reached out to my friends at Hoteles Mision because I had heard they had an amazing  boutique hotel that overlooked the entire city and I wanted her to have the best of the best for the trip. Arriving first thing Thursday morning and checking into Boutique Hotel Casa Colorada Guanajuato;  my  mom was already stunned simply by walking into the room. At the end of the inviting room was floor to ceiling windows with the most colorful and incredible paroramic vista of the entire city. Her jaw dropping was first sign that this was going to be a trip to win her over.

guanajuato-1

The hotel kindly set up for us a private tour of Guanajuato through Grupo Minero Turistico. Down to the last detail both parties had everything covered. Our guide picked us up at the hotel an we made our way down to El Pipila. Now, El Pipila is where all tourists go up to get the iconic panoramic views and shots of the city, but since our hotel actually sat even higher than Pipila, we had to come down as our guide pointed out major buildings in the city.

After taking literally, like a million photos (that will still never do the view justice), we made our way down to land via the funicular (cable car) and headed to Teatro Juarez. Minutes from closing, the nice lady at the ticket booth let us in which I think was mostly because she and everyone in town seemed to know our guide. Most tours in Guanajauato just do a quick drive by Teatro Juarez with a brief explanation so  I actually was really happy we had an explanation.  It was the first time I understood the importance and history of the magnificent place and I was able to appreciate it more than ‘just a pretty building’. With our guide, we stopped at all the other Guanajuato highlights: Museo Iconográfico del Quijote, Plaza de la Paz, The Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, La Plaza Baratillo, Guanajuato University, Callejon del Beso, Mercado Hidalgo, Bocamina de San Ramón, Templo de San Cayetano de Valenciana, Museo de la Inquicision, and Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato.

guanajuato-6

guanajuato-4

guanajuato-5

All was great, as usual, and all, without a doubt are must-sees. BUT I will say, skip the Museo de la Inquicision. It is all about torture techniques used back in the day, and last time I went it was really large and interesting filled with lots of “eewwwwws” and “yuuucks”, but this time it was small, rushed, and the best parts were taken away. My favorite part of Guanajuato (besides the over all European-feel to the city) has to be San Cayetano and learning about how important mining was…. and hundred of years later, still continues to be.

guanajuato-2

guanajuato-3

guanajuato-7

After the long day of touring around the city, we couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel. After plopping down on our soft beds, my mom let out a giant sigh and said  “well, that was a lot of fun! I really like this place, it would be cool to live here”.  Yep, Guanajuato will do that to you! Mission Accomplished: Get Mom to love Mexico beyond the beaches.

 

 

A special thanks to Hoteles Mision for hosting our night’s stay and making it a very memorable trip to Guanajuato.