Travel Tuesday – The Pure Magic of Bacalar

Bacalar is one of the most magnificent places that one can ever experience!  If you talk to anyone that has been to Bacalar they will tell you, it’s purely magical!  And that is as true as it gets!  It is not just a beautiful place to see but it leaves every visitor with a special feeling; sort of unexplained and mysterious!

Bacalar lagoon is the second largest lagoon in Latin America.  It is known as the lagoon of 7 colors and has been announced to be one of the most magical sites in Mexico!


The Charm of Bacalar Town Center!

When you enter Bacalar you head into a small, but quaint, Mexican village!  Although this is a tourist destination, the town remains pure with a small center, a local church and a couple of local restaurants and cafes that have been operating for years.  This magic town is little but it is big with charm!
One of the biggest landmarks in the town center is the Fortress de San Felipe Bacalar which was built after the town had been attacked by pirates in the 17th century.  This fortress is a staple in the town and can be visited as a museum during the day light hours!


Finding a place to stay!
If you intend to stay the, or for an overnight stay in Bacalar, you will need accommodations.  I will highlight the fact that there are no resorts or high end hotels in Bacalar.  Your options will be more like bed and breakfast type concepts.  Instead of typical hotels, you will find houses that rent out rooms and will likely provide you the use of their back yards and docks. Most of these houses are located directly on the lagoon!  Vacationing in Bacalar is more like going to a lake for calmness and pure relaxation rather than a beach which might hold lots of attraction.


The Magic of the Lagoon!

But now for the best part!  The Lagoon!  The Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most special and intriguing sites to see!  If you look out you will notice colors ranging from crystal, deep blue, to turquois!  What makes the colors shine is the pure white sand at the bottom!  It is incredible how one body of water can take your breath away so deeply!
Swimming in the lagoon is incredible!  Everything is crystal clear and you can see everything!  One of my most favorite things to do is to swim downwards and then rise up to the surface looking up towards the sun. The water is so crystal clear that you can’t even tell when you will reach the surface; again leaving you with another magical feeling and experience.


The Green Lagoon

The lagoon is about 34 miles long and is connected to a deeper lagoon heading to the jungle called the Green Lagoon!  The Green Lagoon is much deeper and can be visited simply by taking a boat tour through the lagoon.  The Green Lagoon can give you somewhat of a creepier feeling as you are surrounded by nothing but jungle.


Deep underwater world in the Centotes
The Bacalar Lagoon is also connected to seven different cenotes (deep natural sinkholes).  Cenotes are a very popular location for swimming all around Mexico and Latin America.   One of the most popular cenotes connected to the Lagoon is called “Cenote Azul”.  What makes this cenote so wondrous is that nobody actually really knows how deep it goes.  It is estimated to be 90 meters (295 feet) deep. Many flock to this area to swim every day!


Getting around the lagoon!

It is a great idea to take a boat tour through the lagoon if at all possible!  One of the interesting attractions that your tour guide will take you too is where you can take a natural mud bath and experience the weird sensation of walking through quicksand!


Sunrise Sundown!
After the sun goes down you can look out into the quiet calm Bacalar lagoon and find peace and quietness.  It is a place to be completely in tune with nature and your surroundings.  In the morning when you wake up you will have the chance to see the sunrise over the Bacalar Lagoon which is sure to be one of the most amazing sunrises that your eyes will ever have the honor to witness.


The Feeling of Bacalar

There are so many mysteries and wonders about the Bacalar lagoon which is why it can leave you with such an interesting and amazing feeling.  The whole town and lagoon itself is filled with history and mysteries!  Where else do you get to swim in crystal clear waters, seemingly eternally deep cenotes, walk through quick sand and be surrounded by miles and miles of jungle and nature?

For more adventures and quick trip ideas through Mexico, click here!

-By Bea Lozano

Churches, Pyramids, Volcanoes and Pure Colonial Charm: Cholula

Churches, Pyramids, Volcanoes and Pure Colonial Charm: Cholula
Just this week I posted a picture of one of Mexico’s most famous volcanoes – Itzaccihuatl, the one that looks like a sleeping woman.  Now, this volcano is right next to another one, Popocatepetl, which recently had a small eruption.  Some photographer captured a picture of a church on a hilltop with the erupting volcano behind it; the picture is so beautiful that I decided to make it my computer wallpaper.

Here’s the funny thing; I didn’t realize until today that I’ve actually visited this site!

This discovery has brought to mind another great place to visit in central Mexico – the town of Cholula.

Where is it?

Cholula is a town which has been swallowed up by metropolitan area of the larger (colonial) city of Puebla.  It would be misleading to say “suburb” since it’s much more like a town and not at all like the modern idea of a suburb.  This means it’s about 2 hours away from Mexico City, just on the other side of the famous volcanoes I’ve mentioned.

The colonial beauty

Like the city of Puebla, Cholula is full of pure colonial charm, with many churches and buildings with colonial architecture; the town is simply a lovely place to walk around and enjoy the scenery.  There are also good restaurants.

Mystery and Magic

While there are many sites worth seeing and writing about in Cholula, I want to focus specifically on the one I mentioned at the top – the church, called Nuestra Senora de los Remedios, on the hilltop with the view of the volcano (more correctly volcanoes, since besides those two, you can see 2 others further in the distance.)

First of all, it’s worth noting that it’s actually not on a hilltop.  If you look at any picture of the church and “hill,” you will notice that the sides are very straight and almost flat; what appears to be a hill at a first glance is actually a pyramid that has been overgrown.  The church was built on top of the pyramid!
The pyramid was from a more ancient civilization in the area, and was actually abandoned around the 12th century; by the time the Spanish arrived and built the church, the pyramid was long out of use and overgrown.

In recent decades, the bottom part of the pyramid was excavated, allowing you to see the bottom steps, and revealing a large network of secret tunnels in the bottom part of the pyramid!  The top has not been excavated because of the church on top, which is also a treasure!

The Church

After you check out the fascinating pyramid, you can make your way up the “hillside” to the church (walking only, 48 steps, 850 ft upward!).
First of all, the views of the volcanoes are stunning! You can look out over the green, patchwork countryside with the majestic volcanoes towering in the distance.

The views of the city of Puebla are also amazing. (Here’s a challenge; count how many churches you can see.  If you can visit all of them, you’ll know the entire city, and have seen some of the most beautiful architecture to be found!)

The church itself is spectacular.  The orange painting outside with white trim and elegant domes and arches is true to the best of colonial style.  In the interior, the painting, gold work, images, statues and structure are all very original and very beautiful.  It’s a place where you can just stand in silence, absorbing it!
It’s easy to see why the church, like the pyramid in ancient times before it, is one of the region’s most important pilgrimage sites.

If you are traveling in central Mexico, I would definitely recommend a trip to Puebla and the town of Cholula!  Among the many sights you will see in your life, few will be as specular is this one.

-by Bea Lozano
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The Hidden Magic of Guanajuato, Mexico

Recently, we’ve started exploring some of Mexico’s “Hidden Gems” – places that absolutely fabulous to visit, but in the international picture, are entirely off the radar.

The central Mexican city of Guanajuato is one such place.

The Magical City

With beautiful, classic old homes, and alleyways so narrow that two people leaning out two opposite windows could kiss, this city is not only very beautiful, but also very romantic.  The hill landscape and and the seemingly orderless roads add an element of the unknown and discovery.  There are also the classic old churches and gardens with bright flowers:

The city is also fmous for its mines and mummies:

A Beautiful State

Besides the beautiful city, there are many amazing places to see throughout the state, which has the same name.  These include the town where the Mexican War of Independence started (Dolores Hidalgo,) old monasteries and a huge statue of Jesus on hill (called “Cierro de Cubilete”) just north of the city of Guanajuato:

A Touch of the International

While I’ve said that Guanajuato is largely off the international radar, there are a couple of striking exeptions.  One is the town of San Miguel de Allende, which is a beautiful colonial town that is home to between 8000 and 12,000 expats, mostly Americans.  This is one of the largest community of Americans in Mexico, and they have been largely responsible for restoring and keeping up the authentic colonial beauty of the town.

Another exception is that in 2012, the pope visted the City of Guanajuato and gave a Mass at the bottom of the hill where the huge state of Jesus; since he was old, he couldn’t travel to the top:

Some Americans will be familiar with San Miguel de Allende or the pope’s visit to El Cierro de Cubilete, but even most of these will be unaware that these are located within the State of Guanajuato, or of the riches to be seen and experienced here!

I would certainly recommend Guanajuato as a top option for a place to visit on your travels around Mexico – or even to live in for those interested in a small colonial town like San Miguel.

-by Bea Lozano
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Akumal is Everyone’s Beach!

The Riviera Maya is known for its beaches, so it’s no surprise that everywhere you go you can find cool fresh white beaches of sand and awesome green blue water. But my favorite stretch of beach is called Akumal.

Akumal is about 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen and about 10 minutes from Tulum. It’s a small little beach town that sports only a few restaurants and cabin-like hotel rooms. It’s a perfect spot for a relaxing quiet beach day.


The Best Thing about Akumal

Well there are a few things, but first, it’s a great place to go snorkeling. You can swim right off the beach and find turtles and fish within seconds. And not just little turtles and fish, huge ones!


Secondly, the beach is spotted with palm trees, so it makes finding a shady spot easy. I love just taking a sarong and sitting under a tree reading a good book or listening to some music.


Another great thing is that it is a bay, so the waves are calm and don’t knock you over. You can sit in the water and enjoy the gentle rock of the water.


A Place for Everyone

Retirement living in Akumal, MexicoAkumal really is a great place to enjoy the beach on any day. I guess the only negative thing is that on Sunday it’s the place to be and can get a little crowded. You can find all the locals enjoying their surrounds as much as any tourist. The whole family comes down to the beach, with coolers full of drinks and lunch for everyone.


It really is nice to see that Akumal is not only a touristic place but also home for so many. Take a trip and enjoy!!!


-by Bea Lozano



Mexico’s Charm Comes in Simple Images – A Car in a Village

Imagine this – a traditional Mexican town, with brightly painted homes, an old VW parked on the road …


Well, you don’t have to imagine.  Here’s a picture:


If you live in Mexico, scenes like this are very common.  Notice the man fixing his own car an the roadside.  Back home, this may indicated some sort of emergency repairs, but here, this is normal; even in repair shops in working-class communities will have a car or two on the roadside while they work on them.


Also notice the VW Beetle; “Bugs” (or “Bochos” in Spanish) went out of production 10 years ago, in 2003, so relatively new Beetles can still be found on the road.


As I’ve said before, now and then I just like to do a Google search for images on Mexico.  This is the second time I’m sharing some of these pictures, and I think I’ll do some more in the future.


– by Bea Lozano


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Visit the Beautiful Silver Town of Taxco in Central Mexico

Mexico Discovery TripsNestled in the rugged hills of central Mexico is the silver mining town of Taxco. Little white homes and shops line steeply sloped streets; the entire town is on a hillside.  Standing above the town is the classic old church, which looks taller than it actually is since it’s located uphill from most of the town.


I simply love walking around the town.  It feels like you’re stepping into a different time.


The Silver

Than there is the silver.  Taxco has remained true to its mining town heritage with silver shops on every corner, selling necklaces, rings, figures, engravings and much more.  The pure silver is of high quality and prices are low.


Whether you a silver fanatic or not, I’m sure you’ll find a few knickknacks to take home.  I always do.


As you can see in the picture below, the shops selling silver are much more in an informal “market” style than an elegant jewelry shop.  For me, this is part of the charm.


How to Get There

Most retirees tend to settle in the popular beachfront locations in Mexico, or in the two interior towns of Chapala or San Miguel del Allende.  But getting to a place like Taxco is not so difficult.


Very cheap plane tickets can be found to Mexico City from the places like Cancun – often under $100 USD round trip.  If you fly to the nearby city of Toluca, you’re even closer to Taxco (as well as the quaint lakefront town of Valle de Bravo) and you will skip out on Mexico City’s traffic.


The bus ride is about 2 hours from Toluca.  Mexico City should only be about 20 minutes more by distance, but traffic could add another hour.


Now, this sounds like a lot of travel just to get to a little silver town, even though it is picturesque and quaint; however, there are a number of beautiful little gems hidden in these hills, and it’s worth a discovery trip of a few days – or even a week or two – in this part of central Mexico.


More Pictures

This is a beautiful view of the town at sunset:

Here you can see how the houses and shops line the steep streets:

Thi is the picturesque town square, right in front of the church, as is always the case in Mexico:

I hope that you have the pleasure to visit Taxco one day in your Mexico retirement!


-by Bea Lozano

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The Village of Tepoztlan – Part 2: Markets, Shops and Cobblestone Roads

living in MexicoEarlier today, I wrote about the village of Tepoztlan, a truly magical village just south of Mexico City – an area which I just happen to be visiting right now for my work with AMPI. I focused on the hill with the mysterious ancient pyramid on top and the old convent.  I would also like to share a bit more about the town itself.


Living in MexicoThe Town

The main street and a few of the roads surrounding the convent are the center of the town, with artisan shops, colorful restaurants and cafes.  The cobble-stone streets of the entire town are lined with adobe-brick houses with red, clay-tile roofs.  The town is worth walking through just to enjoy the picturesque scenery and quaint atmosphere.

Living in Mexico

The Market

Another feature of the town center is the market, which is located right next to the church.  While it is probably the least picturesque part of the village, there is something very attractive about.  Living in MexicoVendors offer very fresh and tasty fruit and vegetables at amazing prices.  There is also an area where they prepare food, and you can enjoy everything from quesadillas to roasted grasshoppers, to full meals of traditional Mexican dishes like “mole” (a think black sauce that is both spicy and sweet usually served over chicken.)


Living in Mexico


One of my personal favorites is mushroom quesadillas; all the tortillas are freshly hand made.  There are also some shops that sell charcoal roasted chicken and rabbit.



While I’ve never seen a UFO or had a witch put a spell on me here, I most certainly feel a different kind of magic standing on the pyramid overlooking the town, seeing the centuries-old paintings in the convent and church, walking in the streets of the town or just enjoying good food!



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