Earthquake in Mexico – Organizations and Donations to Help the Victims

On September 8, 2017, an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico affected at least 2.3 million people in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, and claimed around 96 lives. The official reports count a total of 40,000 houses with a damage in Chiapas, and around 12,000 in Oaxaca.

Thankfully, there are some organizations already working on helping these victims; but there’s a lot to do and people in the affected areas have many needs. So, you if you were wondering how you can help the earthquake victims, here’s a list of what the Family Services Agency (DIF) is collecting:

  • Blankets and bedding
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Canned tuna, sardines, beans, cereal, biscuits and instant coffee
  • Powdered milk and water
  • Soap, tooth brushes, toothpaste and sanitary towels

Earthquake in Chiapas and Oaxaca

Where can you provide these items?

The local Red Cross, Walmart and Superama stores are collecting donations. Also, Starbucks Café is accepting donations such as: non-perishable foods, bottled water, clothing, blankets and personal hygiene products.

You can also donate cash to:

  • Account #0404040406 at BBVA Bancomer in the name of Cruz Roja Mexicana IAP.
  • Account #066 900 6667 at Banorte

In addition to this, Club Rotary Tulum with the help of Ex-Pats Tulum and Gaia Hotel Tulum, will be receiving items to help earthquake victims in Oaxaca and Chiapas until Tuesday 19, 2017.

They are collecting:

  • Non-perishable foods
  • Bottled water
  • Clothing
  • Blankets and towels
  • Sleeping bags
  • Lanterns and batteries
  • First aid kits

You can bring these products to Gaia Hotel Tulum; for further information, call (984) 134 6082.

Although it’s been more than a week since the earthquake affected Mexico, it will take a long time for these communities to recover and any aid is still helpful.

For more information, visit the Red Cross website or click on this link to make an online donation through the Red Cross website.


Travel Tip – The City of Oaxaca Reflects Mexico’s Colonial Beauty

Whether you’re looking for a less-known choice for retirement in Mexico or not, it’s always good to get a glimpse of some of the beautiful locations throughout Mexico; the travel options never run short here in Mexico, and if you’re looking for something new, you’ll always find it!

At a blog called, I found this great post about Oaxaca.  Take a look at some of the pictures:

We’ve written about the Oaxaca culture fair in Playa del Carmen, but going there directly is, of course, always the best way to go!

The city of Oaxaca is yet another colonial gem, again with its own regional variation, distinct from what you’ll find in central Mexico, or on the Yucatan Peninsula, for instance.  Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“Oaxaca’s historic city center is a photographer’s dream. Colorfully painted Spanish colonial buildings and churches line the narrow stone streets.

“Like Mexico City and Puebla, it’s compact enough to walk, yet it can take days to fully appreciate all the details and nuances. One need only pick a direction, and wander, eyes wide open, to find interesting angles.

“The center, along with the nearby archaeological site of Monte Albán, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

“Landmarks not to miss include the Former Monastery of Santo Domingo, with its gilded interior, the adjacent Cultural Museum of Oaxaca next door, which features a fabulous turquoise-covered human skull, and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, located in the Zocalo (main plaza).”

(Read the rest here.)

The state of Oaxaca is also the most famous area for production of mescal, a stronger-flavored sister to the world famous tequila.

The city is in the interior of the state, but the Pacific beaches are only a few hours away.  They are fairly undiscovered and offer a quiet getaway off the beaten track – especially off the “international” beaten track.

-by Bea Lozano

Mexico Insurance Kit

5 of Mexico’s Best Kept Secrets – Travel Tips for Expats and Vacationers

Now, if you’ve been reading our blogs or otherwise making use of the Top Mexico website, 3 of the 5 of these will be no secret to you, but this is a nice overview of 5 mostly undiscovered locations in Mexico.  These locations are ideal for your own discovery road trips – which are a great way to spend retirement years or vacations in this beautiful country – or you can even choose them as your home away from home!



So, from Fodor’s, here are excerpts from “Undiscovered Mexico: 5 Places You Haven’t Been”:




Costalegre (from Costa Alegre, “Coast of Joy”), also known as the “Virgin Coast,” is a series of beaches, capes, and bays set like pearly brooches along the Pacific coast, just south of Puerto Vallarta. If travelers know Costalegre at all, it’s for the fabulous eco-centric jetsetting celebrity haunt, El Careyes, with its polo fields, golf courses, turtle recovery program, and spectacular multi-million-dollar cliff-side villas exploding with color. But you don’t have to be Heidi Klum (who owns), or Uma Thurman and Francis Ford Coppola (who rent), to enjoy its wonders. …





The vision of cobblestone streets lined with craft markets and cafes, street vendors selling authentic foods, magnificent museums, and splendid colonial architecture lives in Morelia, tucked away in the central mountains. The capital of the state of Michoacan was founded in 1541 under the name Valladolid, and its original layout comprises a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 17th-century aqueduct, notable for 253 stately arches, still supplies water to the city. Most of the grandest structures date back to the 18th century, encompassing the various architectural styles that have been fashionable in Mexico, but most magnificent is the Cathedral, with its twin 200-foot bell towers. Nearly all are constructed of cantera (pink stone), really more ecru, which is particularly stunning at dusk. …



Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada


Tequila, tacos and… Tempranillo? Not to mention Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and more? Surprise: the Western Hemisphere’s first winery was established in 1597 in Coahuila. And the better-known Argentine and Chilean vineyards literally stemmed from Mexican grafts. Today, Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, just northeast of Ensenada and 75 miles south of San Diego, is wine central, with cool Pacific breezes and morning fogs mimicking the climatic conditions of the Napa or Rhône Valleys. Despite medals at international competitions and raves from such influential industry icons as Robert Mondavi, it remains undiscovered—meaning lower prices and a warm welcome, often from the vintners themselves. …





If you believe all the Yucatan has to offer aside from Mayan ruins is pre-fab Cancun and Riviera Maya all-inclusives, think again. Two hundred miles west of Cancun, cosmopolitan Merida remains virtually unknown to American tourists despite its reputation as one of Mexico’s safest and most gracious cities. Merida is nicknamed “The White City:” some claim for the gleaming limestone of the buildings, others for the residents’ cleanliness bordering on fetish. The Sunday market here jams with live bands and locals selling traditional crafts. The Paseo de Montejo, often called Mexico’s Champs-Elysées, offers chic boutiques, art galleries, and sidewalk cafes. You can also tour Mérida’s boulevards and plazas by horse-drawn calesa. …



Mazunte/San Agustinillo


Dubbed both the Costa Chica (“Little Coast,” despite Pacific swells that lure surfers) and the Riviera Oaxaqueña (despite its poverty), the 75-mile stretch between Puerto Escondido and the failed Cancun-wannabe Huatalco features gorgeous, unspoiled beaches the color of champagne and just as apt to make you feel giddy. The Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, percolating with resurgent coffee plantations, practically tumble down to the Pacific, forming a glorious backdrop. …



You can read the entire article there.  Of course, there are many other well-kept secrets in Mexico, such as Campeche, but this list is good one.



-by Thomas Lloyd
Mexico Real Estate Investment Kit

It’s Time to Redecorate Your Home – Oaxaca Style!

Don’t you think it would be a great time to redecorate your home? People are always talking about “out with the old, in with the new.” Why not try “out with the new, in with the old” – or the traditional, at least!


Take a look at some of these fine household decorations, arts and crafts that I found at last week’s Oaxaca culture fair.  In this first picture, notice the busts of a Mexican president made of the same materials and along side of the ancient pre-hispanic pottery, skulls and animal figures.  (I believe the president is Benito Juarez, given recognition in Mexico similar to that of Abraham Lincoln in the U.S.)


You might also want to add a few candles to your new decor, in these clay candle holders, made onsite:

These fans would look nice on the wall, but if you’re living in Playa del Carmen, on the beach, I would suggest keeping them on the coffee table so people can actually use them:


Finally, while you’re in the process of redecorating, you might as well throw out the old pots and pans, and perhaps the dishes too, and try something more “down to earth:”

I love these culture fairs that we enjoy here in Playa del Carmen.  I makes it easy to get a taste of other parts of Mexico. While traveling to these places is always the best way to go, it might help you decide which location to travel to first!


-by Bea Lozano


Can You Imagine Dressing Like This?

Playa del Carmen is most certainly a laid-back place where no one would be too concerned if an American woman was enjoying a sunny day on the beach or on Fifth Avenue in a traditional Mexican clothing! Of course, many non-Mexicans who wouldn’t go for the dress might feel more comfortable in one of the beautiful blouses.

Whether you choose to try out some of Mexico’s more traditional clothing for yourself or not, the beautiful embroidery work and bright colors are certainly appealing to look at, either on people or even just on display.


Last week’s Oaxacan culture fair in Playa del Carmen was one opportunity to enjoy seeing traditional clothing for women and men:


beatlo's Oaxaca Traditional Clothing album on Photobucket

(If you can’t see the slide shows, click here.)


And there was also a good bit of jewelry:


beatlo's Oaxaca Jewelry album on Photobucket


Tomorrow, we will see some decorations, arts and crafts from Oaxaca as our final post on the culture fair that we enjoyed last week!


-by Bea Lozano


Mexico Real Estate Testimonials

Oaxaca’s Traditional Toys Mix the Old and the New

As I pointed out on Friday, last week there was a fair presenting various aspects of Oaxaca’s culture here in Playa del Carmen.  As I said in that post, which was about the food, Oaxaca is one of the more distinct regions of Mexico, on the south end of the country’s Pacific Coast.


Today, I want to share some pictures of toys we took.  I love seeing the toys, not only because we have two younger kids, but also just because of the colors, the variety and the style.


Today, they’re in a slide show:


beatlo's Toys - Traditional Mexico album on Photobucket

(If you can’t see the slide show, click here.)

Notice the variety; some are simple, fun, colorful traditional toys, like the rattles, some are figures that include religious scenes, history and day to day life and some, like the maps, are educational.  Yet, a single colorful style can be seen in all of them.


Also  notice the puzzles with Disney figures on them.  First of all, I don’t suppose they bothered getting copyright approval.  Secondly, notice that they also end up with the same colorful, authentically Mexican look!


 – by Bea Lozano


Mexico Real Estate Testimonials

Oaxaca Comes to Playa del Carmen with Delicous Food!

As I’ve said before, Mexico is actually a combination of various distinct regions each with its own culture, customs and traditions.  One of the benefits of Playa del Carmen is that throughout the year there are culture fairs where artists and vendors from various regions will sell food, handicrafts, artwork and clothing among other items, as well as have presentations of music and dance.


This week, one such culture fair is taking place in the city square presenting the culture of Oaxaca, pronounced “Wa-HA-ca.”  Oaxaca is a region which has gained little attention internationally but is fairly well recognized within Mexico as a distinct culture.  It is the southern most state on the Pacific Coast, bordering Guatemala.


Over the next few days, I’m going to share pictures of the various items which artisans and vendors were selling.  Today, I’ll start with the big #1 – food!


First of all, one of the items that makes a fair like this very difficult for me is the bread – which is almost too good to resist!  It is freshly baked, on site, and the smell of fresh, sweet bread fills the air:




Here, you can see the bakers at work:


Mexico retirement - traditional food


Next, take a look at all the different ice cream flavors – it includes some normal ones like walnut and strawberry, but also some more exotic flavors like tequila and cheese. One is “A Oaxacan Kiss” (Beso Oaxaceno). I wonder what that flavor would be!


Mexico retirement - traditional food


The candies – SO MANY delicious candies:


Mexico retirement - traditional food


Mexico retirement - traditional food


Mexico retirement - traditional food




As you can see, the sweets are my favorites! But, moving to the savory flavors, here are some curious items. This next pictures shows “chapulines” which are roasted grasshoppers. Surprisingly, they’re quite tasty! People eat them like you would roasted peanuts (which were being sold in the bin next to it):


Now, these next two pictures are seasonings and sauces made with the same roasted grasshoppers as a key ingredient:


Mexico retirement - traditional food


Mexico retirement - traditional food

And now, one of my favorites – mole! I don’t think we’ve written about this before; it’s a thick, rich, somewhat spicy sauce that is usually served over chicken. As in traditional markets, a fair like this offers many varieties of different colors and sweetnesses:








You’ll notice that this last picture is of “pepian” which is a similar enough, that for the sake of this post, we’ll just categorize as “mole.” In the future I hop to dedicate an entire post to mole.


You’ll also notice that many of the mole stands sell round disks of chocolate. Chocolate is actually one of the key ingredients in mole. Oaxaca is known for its chocolate. These disks are melted into hot milk to make hot chocolate.


Finally, there were a few booths of mezcal, the liquor for which Oaxaca is famous. You’ll notice the packets tied to the tops of the bottles, which have salt mixed with ground up worms – as in the kind you find in tequila:


Mexico retirement - traditional food


One Monday, we’ll see some pictures of traditional toys, followed by other handicrafts.


-by Bea Lozano


Mexico Real Estate Testimonials

Meet Tequila’s Older Sister, Mezcal

Retirement living MexicoWhen the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, they discovered fermented drinks the Aztecs and other indigenous people drank, notably “pulque,” a thick, sourish drink made from the agave cactus plant.


The Spaniards, familiar with the process of making liquor by distilling, soon discovered how to produce a stronger distilled liquor from the same plant, specifically the maguey agave; the Aztecs gave the drink the name “mezcal.”


Retirement living MexicoOver the next few centuries, an important region emerged in the production of mezcal, made from the blue agave instead of the maguey, with a cleaner, easier flavor.  This newer, distinct form of mezcal was given the name of the valley in the state of Jalisco where it was invented and is still is primarily produced to this day: “tequila.(Jalisco is the state where Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are located.)


The Differences

While it was the tequila variety of mezcal that gained the most popularity throughout Mexico and the world,Retirement living Mexico other forms of mezcal continue to be produced on a large scale.  The most significant region for production of the older form of mezcal is Oaxaca.


Even though they are simply two forms of the same drink, people simply call the older form “mezcal” and the one from Jalisco “tequila.”


Anyone who has had tequila will also notice the difference in flavor as well.  Mezcal has a fuller, smoky flavor.  People say it’s stronger, this refers only to the robust flavor; commercially produced mezcal and tequila have the same alcohol content.  Some varieties are sweetish.


Retirement living MexicoTypically, from what people have told me, those who enjoy whiskey will usually enjoy mezcal.


The Worm

In the U.S. and Canada, people often associate the worm in the bottle with tequila.  In reality, this custom was started in the 1940s as a marketing gimmick for mezcal, and not tequila.


Mezcal, however, goes a few steps further, and you can find bottles being sold with a scorpion in it!  Now, they say you’re supposed to drink the worm – but what about the scorpion?!?


If you like hard liquors, especially stronger-flavored ones, I recommend trying mezcal.  It’s not very common north of the Rio Grande, but it’s becoming easier to find.  Here in Mexico, you can find it in most liquor stores and souvenir shops.  In places like Playa del Carmen, they also have some mezcal bars, right on the main strip so they’re easy to find.

-by Thomas Lloyd


Mexico Real Estate Testimonials