Day of the Dead: sharing in honor of those gone

Mexican culture is colorful, lively and very unique. It doesn’t matter how grim or sad a holiday may seem, Mexicans will find a way of making it come to life– literally and metaphorically – in ways only their imagination allows. Day of the Dead is no exception to this, as the holiday is celebrated throughout the country. Although it sounds as if it should be a day of sadness, it is in fact a joyous day. It´s filled with music, food, friends, family, and remembering those who have gone.

A lot of time is invested in this November holiday as it features elaborate make up of catrinas, setting up altars, baking delicious meals, decorating with cempasuchil flowers, and dressing up the graves at the cemeteries,  The holiday is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the first being dedicated to remembering children and infants and the latter for honoring the deceased adults. However, with the integration of Halloween the celebrations tend to start a few days earlier in certain parts of the country.

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The holiday is meant for those who have gone, so there is no indulging in what you like but rather in what they enjoyed. Altars are set up with a photo of the deceased person and decorated with cempasuchil flowers, while the deceased’s favorite food and drinks are placed on it as an offering. It is believed that on this day the dead come back to the world of the living to spend time with their loved ones. For this reason, all of their favorite things are placed on the altar to welcome them back.

Graveyards are a special place during this time of year, but visits to the graves are not as you would imagine. Instead, you will find families gathering around the tombs of their loved ones with flowers, offerings and even picnics. Throughout the night they will share their favorite stories of the person they are honoring and remember them. Mariachis are often found roaming throughout the graves singing the deceased’s favorite songs and bringing the cemeteries – quite literally- to life.

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Of course, with every holiday comes tales and legends, and this is also the case with the Day of the Dead. Some believe that not creating an altar for a deceased family member can have deathly consequences. According to legend, or as it is known in Spanish las malas lenguas, if a spirit comes back to see it has been forgotten they can be angered. This is especially true if they see the big and elaborate altars left for other spirits. Those who forget it will be struck with illness and maybe even become dead soon after. Some people celebrate the holiday out of fear rather than tradition, love and commitment. But hey, these are just stories.

And let’s not forget about food! Day of the Dead is full of some delicious treats such as pan de muerto and sugar skulls. It is tradition to buy sugar skulls with the name of a person and offer it as a gift to friends and family members. These skulls are usually decorated with catrina-like make up and have a sticker on the forehead with a name. The sugar skull is given as a gift. This is not to mean that you are suggesting death to the person you give it to, but rather as a statement of love. It says that if they were ever to be gone you would remember them on this day.

The other traditional food is the pan de muerto, which is a bun with decorations that resemble bones on top. It is a traditional sweet roll baked throughout the country and shared by family members by the grave or at home.

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Throughout the country you will find parades, parties, festivities and many things to celebrate this amazing tradition that has been around for centuries. Foreigners are welcomed with open arms to join the celebrations as Mexican culture dictates that teaching and sharing traditions with outsiders is good. Ask around your community and join the many events throughout. There is often theater, music, parks, pub-crawls and more.

Now you know how this beautiful tradition is celebrated and what to expect, so get out there and be a part of it. Nobody says that only Mexican souls come back. Erect an altar for your loved ones who have gone and they will surely appreciate it.

 photo 10384583_10152548898892648_7336645153002255580_n_zpsgg4qaw2z.jpgDo you want to be a part of this festive and lively culture that we all admire? Then maybe it’s time to consider moving to Mexico. Top Mexico Real Estate caters to American and Canadian expats looking for a forever home in Mexico. Browse through our thousands of properties and get in touch with one of our Top Buyer Representatives who will guide you through the process of becoming a homeowner in paradise.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

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Grand Opening of La Memorable

Friday October 9, 2015 saw the grand opening La Memorable, a new food market located next to the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Located on the corner of 1st avenue and 26th, this is the third food market to open in Playa del Carmen and this night was dedicated to giving the residents of Playa a taste of what they have to offer. With a DJ and live band providing the soundtrack to an evening that gradually built in attendance, guests eventually filled the market and enjoyed the free samplings of wine and food. Juggling clowns and various street performers added to the entertainment ambience.

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Below you will see a photo gallery that not only captures the evening’s action but also also serves as an intro to the many shops that you will find when you arrive and explore for yourself.

 photo gonzales_zpsfaknbywg.jpg Upon first entering the food market you will come across the Gonzalez artisanal beer bar. There is only Mexican beer sold here, with seventeen on tap and 21 different bottled beers. The prices for beer begins at 35 pesos and goes up to 100 pesos.  If beer is not your drink of choice then there´s a full alcohol bar available as well. The bar´s location makes it an ideal place to sit and watch the people on the street but also is a good place to expand your palate of beers.
If you are a wine lover then head over to the Ensenada wine bar. It only features Mexican wines. and is the perfect place for business meetings or enjoying a drink after a day of work. Prices are very reasonable at about 90-140 pesos a glass, with bottles selling for between 300-1000. If you’re interested in something a little different, try picking up a bottle from the  Paladar De Mezcal store. There is not a lot of mezcal sold in Playa, so grab some for yourself or as a souvenir. They have a great selection that includes flavors such as mango and tamarind, and you can also order from their special cocktail menu.  photo DSC00371_zpsp6lwtdts.jpg

If you’re hungry and looking for something to eat head over to the Oye Carino seafood restaurant, a place where you can select your own fish for your meal or just have fish tacos. If you prefer a traditional  Mexican taqueria then head to the back of the market where you will find Taco Taco,  featuring a wide array of Mexican tacos.

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For dessert try the El Socio candy store, perfect for the kids and people with a sweet tooth, then wind things off with a trip to Sabor Illegal,  the place to go for specialty cigars from Cuba and all over.

 photo DSC00422_zpsewxlcwn1.jpgSee for yourself why this was a such big attraction to the residents of Playa. La Memorable is now open so drop by and enjoy for yourself!

Top Mexico Real Estate is your source for information about life and culture in Mexico. Let us show you what is like here, and what you will be enjoying when you begin your adventure as a property owner in the paradise of the Mayan Riviera.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

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Mexican Independence Day: Celebrating Like a True Mexican

We all know that part of being an expert expat is to engage in the country’s culture and traditions. Luckily, you’ve chosen a country that lacks nothing in those areas. Mexico is a country rich in culture, heritage, gastronomy and traditions, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that September 15th is Mexican Independence Day celebration.

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Although Mexico is going through some political and economical rough patches, the spirit of the Mexicans is hard to shoot down. Many citizens will engage in el Grito in the traditional way (by watching the President give the speech on television), others will engage in the fun live with tequila in hand yelling the cry of independence from Spain.

Traditionally, Mexicans will prepare chiles en nogada, pozole and nopales, amongst other Mexican delicacies that will leave you drooling and wanting more. If you can’t wait to be a real Mexicano, here are some places where to celebrate Mexiacn Independence Day with your fellow Mexican friends…and make sure you clear your throat, because you’ll be screaming “Viva Mexico!” all night long.

Mexican Restaurants

Well, this was an obvious one! Traditional Mexican restaurants throughout the Riviera Maya are ready to serve some gourmet, top of the line, and absolutely delicious Mexican dishes to anyone visiting them. With the amount of restaurants available throughout Playa del Carmen, you are sure to find somewhere to try a delicious pozole accompanied by a tequila shot. You can either choose one of the many options down 5th Avenue (although you should probably have a reservation), or try your luck at the smaller, more local restaurants off the touristy path.

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Stroll through Playa’s Main Plaza

If you’re just out going for a walk, make sure you walk by the main square, Plaza 28 de Julio, where the City Hall is lit up in green, white and red, as well as decorated with sculptures made of lights. If you want to live the full experience, hang around. At 11 the Municipal President, Mauricio Gongora, will come out to the balcony and give the traditional Grito speech…after everyone screams “Viva Mexico!” three times, fireworks will go off, Gongora will ring a bell and everyone will celebrate in unison. To top it off, popular norteño band, Los Tigres del Norte, will be performing completely free! There will also be stalls with food and drinks to go around. Celebrate Mexican Independence Day with other,.

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Celebrate in Xoximilco (or any Xcaret park!)

Xcaret parks go all out when it’s about celebrating traditions (seriously, look into attending the park for Day of the Dead!). The Independence Day celebration is no exception to this rule, and Xoximilco, their newest park, is where the party will be. Tequila, beer, traditional Mexican food, mariachis, music, dancing, and El Grito…need I say more?

Bahía Principe Residential & Resort Celebration 

We’re sure Bahía Príncipe won’t be the only resort celebrating Independence Day, but it sure knows how to throw a party. The hotel is already quite traditional, built as a hacienda, and their full-day program involves exhibition, dances, performances, food, drinks, and the traditional Grito accompanied by a fireworks display. If you’re already a guest at the hotel, no need to go out to find anything else, you will find it all within!

12th Street

Mexicans love any good reason to celebrate, even if it’s on a Tuesday (Wednesday might be a slow business day). If you’re eager to keep drinking tequila, beer and other traditional Mexican drinks after giving el Grito, head over to 12th street and hop into any of the many clubs and bars available. They will be playing traditional Mexican music while all tourists and locals keep screaming the words we all love to hear.

If all else fails, you can always head over to Pozoles Doña Olga the next day (or any day of the year) for a delicious pozole made by true Mexican hands. Are you ready to give El Grito de Dolores? We sure are! Don’t forget to dress up in traditional Mexican colors and to be ready to see Mexicans celebrate like there is no tomorrow.

Top Mexico Real Estate is a proud American-owned real estate company, leader in its field in the Riviera Maya. If you are looking to become one true Mexican during these festive dates, make sure you check out our array of real estate options. If you have any questions, please contact one of our Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives who will gladly guide you through the process of becoming a homeowner in Mexico.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We Make It Happen!

Viva Mexico: The Story Behind El Grito

Thanks to misplaced advertising and a lack of general knowledge, many people around the world believe that the Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on May 5th, or more commonly known as Cinco de Mayo. However, the battle for independence actually started on the 16th of September of 1810 and has been celebrated on that date ever since. It ended on September 27th of 1821, but El Grito is given on the 16th. Let’s rewind a couple of centuries and start at the beginning.

As many know, Mexico was under Spanish ruling for 300 years after Hernán Cortés and his men invaded the lands, ridding themselves of the ancient colonies and building cities that resembled Spain. For years and years, Indians, creoles and mestizos were regarded as nobodies and were never appointed to any important colonial positions, unable to do anything about their status.

After Spain was invaded by Napoleon, Mexicans found strength and belief in making themselves an independent land once again. Armies of Mexican rebels started to arm and rise against the Spanish government that had cast a shadow over their land for centuries.

Mestizos and Indians throughout the country planned conspiracies to bring down the Spanish government; one by one, however, were discovered and the leaders harshly punished. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a progressive priest, along with Royal Army officer Ignacio Allende, had planned to start the insurrection against Spain on October 2nd, 1810.

However, as Spanish officials started rounding up those who were to stand against them, Hidalgo heard they were soon coming for him. Instead of going into hiding or surrendering, he took to the town of Dolores on the morning of September 16th and announced that he was going to take up arms against Spain. He issued a famous speech that is still repeated today by every President, and it has come to be known as El Grito (the cry). It took very little convincing and soon he had an army with which to march into Mexico City.

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It was not long before he and his army found themselves at the doorstep of the city, but he mysteriously retreated and left the army in the hands of Allende. In 1811, they were both capture and killed. It looked as if hope had died with them, but the passion and anger within the armies that had risen was not over yet, and new leaders stood up in the fight for independence. José María Morelos fought until his death in 1815, and Vicente Guerrero took his place, continuing to fight until 1821.

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On September 27th, 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, a royal officer, granted the liberation of Mexico, thus signing over the independence. Funnily, in Mexico they celebrate the beginning, when Hidalgo rose, rather than the actual signing of independence.

Every year, Mexicans around the world gather in celebration to hear and give the cry, el Grito, in a very traditional manner. Everyone dresses in green, white and red, representing the colors of the flag. Amongst the typical dishes to be made and eaten are chiles en nogada and pozole, all accompanied by tequila and beers. Families and friends gather around the television on September 15th at 11pm precisely to hear the President in turn give El Grito.

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“¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria! ¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva Morelos! ¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez! ¡Viva Allende! ¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros! ¡Viva la Independencia Nacional! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!” goes the cry, followed the ringing of the bell to commemorate the day. Everyone repeats “viva” after each phrase.

Music, dancing, traditional food, and plenty of partying go around throughout the night. September 16th is celebrated with parades throughout the streets with the military, never allowing anyone to forget the lives lost for a free and sovereign state.

Viva Mexico!

5 Sports Bar to Watch NFL Games in Playa del Carmen

Steelers will come face to face against Super Bowl champion, New England Patriots, to kick off the NFL season on September 10th. This promises to be an exciting season as teams from the East to the West, the North to the South, and everything in between fight for the ultimate title. Regardless of what team you are rooting for, we are all equally excited about the season kicking off! Football season is here and there are several sports bars where you can watch NFL games in Playa del Carmen!

If you’re living or traveling in Playa del Carmen during football season, you need to know where to go cheer for your team. Without further ado, here are five sports bars that you can watch NFL games in Playa del Carmen at – because who doesn’t enjoy chicken wings, draft beer and football?

1. Wah Wah Beach Bar

This sports bar is an all-time favorite among American expats residing in Playa del Carmen. It is the only sports bar throughout the city on the beach, so that is nothing but a win-win situation, regardless of the final score. Food is delicious, drinks are endless, and the environment is fun, fun, fun. With a huge stage (for music performances), 4 big flat screens and a projector, there is no better way to enjoy NFL, or any sport for that matter.

Location: 2nd Street North and the beach

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2. End Zone (or EZ Bar)

Another favorite among expats and locals alike, EZ Bar is a unique, down-to-earth sports bar in the heart of Playa del Carmen. There are screens for everyone, often playing more than one game. The backroom projection is always showing the most important game. Drinks and food are relatively cheap and delicious. EZ bar has customers all day long, so make sure to arrive earlier if you want to get a good seat for the NFL game!

Location: 5th Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets

3. Legends Sports Bar

Eight HD screens and a projector decorate this fun and lively sports bar. Legends offers an extensive finger-licking menu (hot dogs, burgers, hot wings), and don’t forget their wide array of beer options. This sports bar is up to date with all sports and is more often than not showing the most popular games around; so make sure to check what they will be playing before heading there.

Location: 16th Street between 5th and 10th Avenue

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4. McCarthy’s Irish Pub

This Irish pub recently opened its doors in Playa del Carmen, but comes from an extensive family of pubs around Mexico. Famous for its live music weekends, it never forgets its sports fans. Their motto “eat, drink, be Irish” could easily be interpreted as “eat, drink, and come watch sports”. Again, like many sports bars, they will be playing the popular game, so make sure you know what you are going to go watch!

Location: 5th Avenue corner with 22nd Street

5. Tequila Barrel

For some American expats this bar can be “too American”, but it certainly is unique when it comes to sports. An inside air-conditioned room with a huge screen and betting machines are the perfect scenario for sports fanatics. Football, air-con, friends, delicious American food, beer, and an overall exhilarating ambiance make this place a fun sports bar. You can’t go wrong in Tequila Barrel. Now if you’re going for cheap, head to one of the above mentioned bars.

Location: 5th Avenue between 10th and 12th Streets

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There is still a month left until kick off, but if you’re a true sports fan you’re already planning your calendar and social events around your team’s scheduled games! Now you know where to go watch the games if you’re looking for entertainment and a little bit of rivalry! Happy football season!

Top Mexico Real Estate is a leading real estate website selling properties in the Riviera Maya and throughout Mexico. If you’re looking to enjoy every NFL season for the rest of your life in paradise (which you really should be thinking about), then contact one of our Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives! They will gladly guide you through the process of purchasing real estate and possibly engage in NFL talk with you.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We Make It Happen!

Celebrating 22 years of Solidaridad!

July of 2015 is giving people from Solidaridad (one of the ten municipalities that make up the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to Playa del Carmen) many reasons to celebrate. Twenty-two years ago, on the 28th of July in 1993, the small entity of Solidaridad was founded by the decree of the State Congress. Today, it boasts with tourism, beautiful beaches, residents, and a lifestyle to envy! Just like any young child, Solidaridad has grown to become something amazing full of life, history, culture, art, gastronomy, and much more.

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In celebration of this 22nd anniversary, the Municipal President of Solidaridad, Mauricio Góngora Escalante, will officially inaugurate the long awaited City Theater. The theater will host an array of culture and artistic activities for its opening night and for the celebration of the 22nd year of Solidaridad.

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For the next couple of days, the municipality has put together a program that represents the growth and strength of Solidaridad, highlighting that the harmony and living of its citizens and authorities is steadily moving forward, creating a better environment.

The great celebration will bring families together; joyful for the celebration of the place they call home and for finally having the artistic stage that had been missing to make Playa del Carmen a fully cultural place. $650,000 USD was invested in the building of the City Theater, with an amazing display of activities and the presence of political figures.

From July 30th to August 2nd, residents and visitors of the municipality will enjoy a great variety of cultural activities. Amongst them, the Quintana Roo Symphony Orchestra, the hilarious Vagina Monologues, a great Ballet Gala with the State Dance Company, and the presentation of the play The Witch and the Witch Doctor which originally opened in the famous art and culture Cervantino Festival.

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The theater will become a permanent home to the hundreds of artists that already call Playa del Carmen “casa”, such as poets, actors, artists, musicians, and more. Although it is not a huge theater – only hosting 780 spectators – this space will provide Playa del Carmen with the opportunity to place itself on the artists’ map. Cancun is home to the Cancun Theater were plays from around Mexico, concerts, and big events were held.

Playa del Carmen is giving Cancun a run for its money thanks to the growing interest in this beautiful part of the Riviera Maya. Hopefully the Theater will become an important cultural reference for Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Related: Cirque du Soleil Tumbles Into The Mayan Riviera

Mark your calendars, because this weekend will be busy with art, music, theater, and more! Raise your glasses for Solidaridad and the amazing growth it has witnessed in its short life.

Top Mexico Real Estate is a leading real estate website based in the Riviera Maya. Anyone wanting to relocate, permanently move or retire to Mexico can check out our thousands of properties listed throughout the country. Contact one of our Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives who will gladly help you on your journey to become a homeowner in paradise.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We Make It Happen!

4th of July in Playa del Carmen

Tomorrow is 4th of July… and for many of us we begin to feel a little homesick for Independence Day celebrations back home in good ol’ U.S.A.   Backyard BBQs, potluck parties and breathtaking displays of fireworks… Oh how I miss them!

This is Mexico… why would they celebrate the 4th of July in Playa del Carmen?

Well, this cosmopolitan beach town beckons to people from all over the world. In Playa del Carmen you will find Canadians, French, Germans, Chinese… the list goes on and on.  Consequently, we also have a large expat community from the United States.  With so many expats, there are sure to be great American hangouts celebrating the “red, white and blue” right?   Whether you are living in Playa del Carman or just on vacation here… you don’t want to miss out on this beloved holiday.

Related: Yucatan Peninsula: A Safe Haven for Visitors, Expats and Retirees

We have found some fun ways to celebrate Independence Day “beach style” here in Playa del Carmen.

Wah Wah Beach Bar is one of the most popular expat spots in Playa del Carmen. This beach club is located right on the beach and offers free beach chairs, a huge projection screen (where they show all the big games), wonderful food and drinks and great company. Wah Wah has decided to combined two great independence days… Canada (celebrated on July 1st) and the United states (celebrated on July 4th). Wah Wah throws this ultimate celebration, or as they call it, the “…biggest party south of the border”. The party will start at noon on July 4th and carry on into the night. There will be a delicious BBQ with traditional 4th of July treats and many drink specials such as 15 peso drafts, 2 for 1 margaritas and big liter house drinks for only 100 pesos. The live music starts at 7 p.m. filling the tropical night air the sounds of The Nasty Bastards and The Smokin’ Aces. The event is fun for the whole family so bring the kids along, there will be a big bouncy house and face painting!

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Additionally, Bad Boys beach bar is also having their annual 4th of July party this Saturday. Bad Boys is another favorite expat hangout for Americans here in Playa del Carmen. The festivities will start here at 3 p.m. with an appealing BBQ potluck style buffet featuring a whole roasted pig provided by your host. Accordingly, make your favorite 4th of July side dish or dessert to share and head over to the annual 4th of July celebration at Bad Boys. So have a couple of drinks, eat some BBQ and jam out to live music by Creizy Toy.

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Furthermore, most resorts will have some kind of 4th of July festivity; from BBQs to activity for the kids, from spectacular firework display to fun had by all.

Put on your “red, white and blue” and celebrate the 4th of July in Playa del Carmen.

Happy 4th of July Playa del Carmen!

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Celebrating Canada Day in Playa del Carmen

Yesterday was Canada Day and Canadian expats, tourists and non-Canadians alike gathered at the Blue Parrot beachfront bar to celebrate! For those non-Canadians thinking to themselves… What is Canada day? Well, Canada day is the national day of Canada, celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North America Act (today called the Constitution Act), which united three colonies, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the United Province of Canada into a single country called Canada.

So happy 148th birthday Canada!

You might be asking yourself, why celebrate Canada Day in Playa del Carmen?

The Playa Time wrote that, “Mexico is the second most popular destination for Canadians, attracting 25,000 snowbirds every year. Approximately two million Canadian tourists came to Mexico last year, and around 50,000 Canadian Mennonites live in Mexico out of which 25,000 have dual citizenship.”

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Playa del Carmen is home to people from all over the world and has a large Canadian expat community. From year round retires to those just wanting to escape the winter cold and enjoy some fun in the sun. But no matter how long one has been living in Playa del Carmen… you can’t take Canada out of a Canadian. Their Canadian pride runs through and through. This was evident by all the folks that came out yesterday to enjoy the festivities, have a taste of home and celebrate Canada Day in Playa del Carmen.

Related: Why Mexico Consistently Ranks One of the Top Destinations for Retirees

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The Canada Day celebration was sponsored by The Playa Times which is owned and operated by a Canadian citizen who wanted to bring this festivity to the local Canadian expat community. The guests enjoyed a barbecue cookout with Canadian specialties such as poutine (French fries smothered in a rich brown grave and topped with homemade cheese curds what took a whole day to perfect) and Canadian sausage… all which were enjoyed by the participants! Additionally, a live band was covering popular Canadian artists throughout the event along with carnival games and other activity to entertain the kids. Fun was definitely had by all.

 photo Canada Day 4_zpsffhgm0ru.jpgNot being from Canada myself, by the end of the party I was feeling the true Canadian spirit and felt truly welcomed into the Canadian family. I felt the urge to belt out a verse from, “O Canada! Our home and native land!”… but don’t worry I held myself back.

Related: Cancun Real Estate Celebrates July 4th & Canada Day

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So fear not, there is no need to miss out on native nationality celebrations in Playa del Carmen as there is a huge expat community. Yesterday many Canadian expats, Canadian tourists and non-Canadians alike gathered to celebrate the “Canuck” spirit in the Mexican Caribbean. Canada Day, what a wonderful holiday.

10 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

  1. Despite their name, the whale shark is neither a whale nor a mammal; it is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known fish species. The whale part of the name comes from its sheer size. The whale shark is an Ovoviviparous species, this means that it keeps its eggs inside her body and once they are mature; tiny whale sharks emerge alive from the mother’s body.

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  1. The whale shark has an extremely thick skin, in some cases up to four inches thick. In addition, their skin has a much darker tone than the rest of the fish with white patterns comprising dots, vertical and horizontal lines; making really interesting patterns.
  1. The whale sharks huge mouth can be as big as five feet long, but swimming alongside a whale shark is 100% safe as they have no interest in consuming humans. They also have a filtration system that does not allow the passage of anything bigger than small fish like sardines and their many rows of tiny teeth are located in the back of their mouth; so they can not really harm anyone.

 photo whalesharkteeth_zps9pmy2akf.jpg Whale Shark Teeth
Source: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/whaleshark/whaleshark.html

  1. These majestic animals have an advanced filtration system that allows them to eat without having to swim, compared to other animals that require them to move forward to push water inside their mouth. The whale shark is able to use their gills to pull water into their mouth, where it accumulates plankton, krill and other small seafood like sardines or anchovies.
  1. These fish live in tropical waters at an average 700 meters deep. They are generally solitary animals, but are grouped when they find an area rich in food.
  1. The whale shark is known to be the world’s largest fish, with verified specimens as long as 40 feet; that is as long as a trailer. There are many reported sightings of much bigger whale sharks, over 65 feet long; but they have not been documented and therefore are considered a myth.
  1. Despite its imposing size, whale sharks are completely harmless and peaceful creatures. Tourists can swim very close them, and in the past visitors were even allowed to even touch them but this is no longer permitted.

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  1. Summer is the best season to observe these magnificent creatures, especially the months from June to September. The Riviera Maya has many tour companies that organize whale shark tours, which includes everything you need to enjoy this experience.
  1. If you live in the Riviera Maya or are vacationing here, the best places to find whale sharks are in the area between Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Holbox Island.
  1. Each year an estimated 1,400 whale shark reach the coasts of the peninsula, and about 200 approach the islands of Holbox and Contoy in the state of Quintana Roo.

Swimming with the whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience, remember this is a peaceful creature but there have been reports of them attacking boats; after being harassed. If you are going on a whale shark tour, respect the whale sharks and follow the indications given by your tour guide.

Would you like to partake in unique experiences like this all the time? Consider retiring or purchasing a vacation home in Mexico there are so many things to do here, you will never run out of once in a lifetime experiences.

From dreaming to owning your dream home in Mexico, Top Mexico Real Estate has a decade team of Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives with the experience in helping foreigners become homeowners in Mexico.

Top Mexico Real Estate…

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Behind the 9th Travesia Sagrada Maya (Sacred Mayan Journey)

For thousands of years, the ancient Mayans would pay respects and prayer to the goddess of fertility, Ixchel. Every year, they would take off from the Polé market (known today as Xcaret), and row all the way to Kuzamil (or the Island of Cozumel, as it’s known nowadays). Brave oarsmen and women would row in Mayan canoes facing the wild Caribbean ocean, risking their lives, to bring offerings to Ixchel and be granted favors in return.

As the years went by and the Mayan civilization slowly disappeared, many of its traditions disappeared with it. However, the Xcaret Park, which is located right where the market was, decided to continue commemorating the old traditions of the Mayans by reliving this sacred and spiritual ritual. For the past nine years, the Travesia Sagrada Maya (or Sacred Mayan Journey) has seen hundreds of modern oarsmen and women bravely cross the ocean and pay tribute to Ixchel and the old civilization we’ve all come to know and love.

(Related: Read more about the history of Travesia Sagrada Maya here.)

Of course, Top Mexico Real Estate did not want to miss out on the opportunity of being part of this, so they chose one brave participant from the Marketing office to take part in this journey. Julio Salinas, designer, took a step forward and volunteered himself for this spiritual pilgrimage that will change his life forever.

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“I decided to participate because I had the chance to see this great event in 2014, and I was motivated by the drive and emotion that the participants delivered that year, and the passion with which they were willing to relive the history and tradition”, shared Julio. And rightly so; training sessions have been ongoing for six months, where they have worked “resistance, concentration, swimming, sailing, and we went through different filters to prove that we were ready to achieve the goal”, he said.

Six months of physical and mental preparation – the journey can take five hours to complete, depending on the wind and ocean’s conditions of the day. The journey does not end in Cozumel. Here, they rest for the night after a spiritual welcome ceremony, and take off the following morning to return to Xcaret. Amongst the things that they have learned, Julio emphasizes on the importance of keeping these traditions alive. These are traditions that “have lost strength, language, and communication through time”.

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Teamwork is another key element in this journey. While spiritually the pilgrimage might be personal and unique to each individual, the physical journey to the island of Cozumel, and back, relies on teamwork. Ten oarsmen ride in each canoe, and they are unable to finish if anyone of the gives up. “The most important thing is to learn from your team and to support it. While we trained, motivation and communication became very important elements”.

While the tradition is very rooted to Mexico, it is not only a journey where Mexicans can participate. Over time, more and more foreigners have decided to be part of a tradition that was very important to the ancient Mayans. Many travelers or people who have moved to the Riviera Maya indefinitely from other countries want to be involved in everything to make them understand the history and culture of this beautiful country. Julio finds it especially joyful to see that foreigners are taking part. “It’s nice to see that not only Mexicans are interested in being part of the Journey, as many foreigners […] have joined this party full of tradition and history”.

You can be part of the oarsmen’s journey by joining them in the farewell ceremony on Friday 22nd of May, at 6am in Xcaret. If you are located in Cozumel, you can receive them around 1 or 2pm in Chankanaab Park and participate in the Sacred Mayan Journey Dances for the Lady of the Moon (Ixchel). You may also bid them farewell and a safe journey back to Polé the following morning (May 23rd) at 9am. For those located in Playa del Carmen, you can watch the sacred Mayan celebration and receive the brave oarsmen at Xcaret around 1pm, as well as enjoy all that the park has to offer.

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“The idea of completing the journey makes me feel great emotion and great satisfaction, because it’s been a long preparation”, Julio shares. As part of our team, it makes us feel great satisfaction, as well! Every participant of the Journey will return changed and with great spiritual stories to tell of their sacred pilgrimage to see Ixchel.

Top Mexico Real Estate is the leading real estate website in the Riviera Maya. If you are looking to be part of the land that has seen thousands of traditions born, and relived, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Top Buyer’s Representatives who will gladly help you in your personal journey to find the perfect paradise home.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We Make It Happen!