Mexico is one of the top 5 countries in the world in terms of ecological diversity and is home to the Paricutin Volcano that is also one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. This is the result of Mexico’s topography which varies significantly and its geographic situation which places it between distinct eco-zones. There are many ways to enjoy these natural wonders found in Mexico including white water rafting, scuba diving, sailing, trekking, mountain climbing, bird watching, biking and a variety of other eco-activities. Naturally, there is some disagreement about which of mexico’s natural wonders are the best, so researchers have conducted surveys to determine which of these is most popular. Copper canyon was determined to be the most popular followed by Sumidero Canyon, the butterfly reserves and the meso american barrier reef..
Tapalpa is a rustic mountain village surrounded by pine forest at an altitude of approximately 6800 feet and it is a popular weekend resort for nature lovers in the Guadalaja area. It is also one of Mexico’s pueblo magico’s and offers the eco-tourist a variety of outdoor activities. What attracts eco tourist to this village are several extreme outdoor adventure parks including the Bosque La Mexicana, Eko Park, Parque Natural Los Frailes and Parque Aventuras la Ceja and Monte Real Adventura. These parks feature zip line canopy tours, rappelling, rock climbing, atv trails, mountain biking, hang gliding, trekking and obstacle courses. One of the favorite attractions for the extreme adventure lover is the Canopy Tour at Eko-Park. This is a circuit consisting of 9 zip lines more than 25 meters off the ground where the longest is 300 meters and you can reach speeds of 50 kilometers per hour.For the less adventurous, there are scenic hiking trails to both springs and waterfalls such as Salto del Nogal which is the highest waterfall in the state of Jalisco at just over 100 feet. In keeping with the spirit of outdoor living, you will also find many good restaurants around the village that specialize in outdoor grilling of fresh meats. Bon appetite..
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and the cultural center of Western Mexico. Its status as a city was granted by the Spanish King Charles the sixth in 1550 along with a coat of arms that the city has today. The Central Historic district is the oldest section of the city where it was founded and where the oldest buildings are located. They include a combination of religious and civil colonial buildings which are noted for their architectural and historic significance. While the colonial buildings are the most common style of architecture found in the historic district, one can also find examples of Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Viceregal and Art Deco designs. One of the buildings, the Instituto de Cultural Cabana, is a world heritage site.
From an architectural standpoint, the Templo Expiatory is perhaps the most interesting building in the historic district and its neoclassical style was designed by Manuel Tolsa. Although the cornerstone was laid in 1897, the church is made of stone, carved as it was done in the middle ages.The three tympana on the church’s facade are accented with Italian mosaic’s created in the Vaticans mosaic factory. Also seen on the facade is a church clock imported from Germany and installed by German technicians along with a carillon of 25 bells which play 25 religious pieces such as Ave Maria. Whenever a musical piece is played, minature statutes of the 12 apostle’s rotate in and out of the campanile. Of course a church would not be the same without stained glass and this one has huge stained glass windows created by Jacques and Gerard Degussecau of France. In addition to the musuems and galleries in the historic area, the sites shown in this gallery are the most popular attractions for cultural tourism in Guadalajara.
The village of Patzcuaro is found in central Mexico at 7200 ft. above sea level and is one of the countries Pueblo Magico’s because of its 16th century atmosphere. In addition to the town of Patzcuaro, the lake is surrounded with small villages, artisans. lush green landscapes, pine forest and wetlands. There are also 6 islands to explore in Lake Patzcuaro, the most popular being Janitzio. It has tourist facilities and is famous for its day of the dead festivities which begin with a candlelit boat procession from the mainland to the island and ends at the Janitzio Church graveyard with an all night candlelit graveside vigil. At the islands highest point there is also a 40 meter statute of Jose Morales, a hero of Mexico’s independance. Inside this statue, one can climb a spiral staircase to the top where there are great views of the surroundings while the interior walls of the staircase have murals depicting the life of Jose Morales.
The area of Lake Patzcuaro also offers the eco-tourist many outdoor activities such as hiking trails in the forest of El Malpais de Arocutin, birding, horseback riding, mountain biking and such nearby attractions as the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve and the National Park in Uruapan. The latter is Mexico’s only national park found within the limits of a city, It is famous for the beauty of its flora and the crystal clear water of the Cupatitzio river with its cascading waterfalls as seen in the photo gallery below.
This Japanese garden is found inside a large metropolitan park that is called Bosque Colomos. It is one of the most popular attractions in Guadalajara for both tourist and local residents. In addition to the garden, there are miles of trails for hiking and bicycling, outdoor exercise equipment, a cultural center for children, a small lake, a bonsai pavilion, an area for riding horses and a variety of outdoor sculptures.
The traditional Japanese Garden is designed to reflect the countries culture and philosphy which involves harmony with nature, tranquility, serious contemplation and discipline. Several types of Japanese gardens exist and the most common include a rock or zen garden, a tea garden, a water garden and strolling gardens. The latter type of garden can be either a strolling garden designed for recreation and aesthetic pleasure or a strolling garden for meditative walking which will incorporate some spiritual imagery in the landscape.
Lake Chapalpa is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico and the village of Chapala has been a popular weekend and holiday destination for both Guadalajara residents and international tourist since the 1920’s. The lakefront promenade or malecon has 2 scenic piers, boat rides, restaurants, hotels, playgrounds, skateboard park, mariachi’s, retail vendors and yacht club. One of the malecon’s landmarks, seen below, is the old Victorian style mansion built in 1906. It is now a restaurant called Cazadores but was formerly owned by the Braniff family of airline fame and fortune, In addition to tourist, ,many local people come to the malecon on a regular basis for picnic’s, see the sunsets or watch the birds who migrate here in the fall.
The day of the dead is a long standing tradition in Mexico similar to Halloween or all saints day in other parts of the world and was inscribed into the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2008. In Mexico, it is also a national holiday celebrated on November 2nd. On this day Mexicans pay homage to deceased family members, friends, national hero’s, luminaries and even world leaders with personalized altars that offer gifts to the departed. These offerings usually include flowers, favorite foods, beverages and possessions of the dead. Alternately, family members will visit the grave site of departed souls and leave similar offerings.
Today , Katrina’s are the most highly recognized symbol associated with the Day of the Dead. Years ago, however, a Katrina referred to an elegant and well dressed woman of class and privilege until a mexican artist created an illustration of a well dressed skeleton during revolutionary times that was supposed to symbolized the death of mexico’s ruling class of privileged aristocrats. Eventually, the Katrina figure came to represent the joy of life in the face of its end.
Founded in 1529 by one of Hernan Cortes captains, Taxco remained an unkown village outside of Mexico until the discovery of a silver mother lode in the 18th century fueled the cities development. Sometime in the 1920’s as the silver mines were being played out, an American silversmith by the name of William Spratling came along and began teaching local people the art and science of silversmithing in his own workshop. The result was that the crafting of silver started a creative and economic boom that still exists today. Taxco now has over 300 silver shops including open air markets, metal workshops, and high end boutiques where buyers from around the world come to stock their retail stores with a variety of earrings, necklaces, rings and other creations .of silver finery. Besides the silver shops Taxco has other tourist attractions such as that old world ambiance of Spain with its winding cobblestone streets and small plazas, an aerial tram, good restaurants, some impressive architecture, Los Pozas Azules and several silver museums including the William Spratling museum dedicated to his contributions. For additional details, see the photo gallery below.
Located in the heart of Ajijic, the Lake Chapala Society was founded in 1955 by a group of 21 expatriates and today has over 3,000 members.The mission of LCS is to contribute to the social enrichment of its members and the Lakeside community through a variety of services and programs designed to facilitate the integration of expatriates into the Lakeside community and foster interchange between ex pats and mexicans to name a few. More details about LCS are available at http://www.lakechapalasociety.org and in the photo gallery there are images of the LCS facilities, garden and the recent Woodstock 45th anniversary party.
Ajijic is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, less than an hour’s drive away from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. It’s a small village with a population of approximately 10,000 and over half of these people are either retired Americans or Canadians who relocate here for a variety of reasons including attractive scenery, tempered climate, lower cost of living, english is spoken, and a variety of recreational activities tailor made for the cultural background of North Americans to name a few. So relocating to this part of Mexico also means less cultural shock then would be experienced in many other parts of Mexico or Central America and this is why Ajijic and Lake Chapala has been the top choice for most expatriates seeking retirement outside of the states since the 1940’s. The photo gallery below focuses on the plaza in the heart of Ajijic.