AMPI Real Estate News: What Time Is It Here

Time Changes

Spring ahead, Fall back. That’s how we’ve always remembered the method of changing clocks. Daylight Savings starts in the spring and ends in the fall, this year on October 27th in Puerto Vallarta.

A little known fact about Daylight Savings Time or DST, is that Canada was a leader in this time-change trend. Austria and Germany were the first to employ DST in Europe in 1916, but in 1908, Port Arthur, Ontario, which is now Thunder Bay, began to turn their clocks forward by one hour on July 1st of that year. It didn’t take long before it had spread across the northern part of the continent.

Two years into World War I, on April of 1916, clocks were turned ahead in Germany and Austria by one hour in a rationalization to minimize the use of electric and gas lighting. Saving fuel in the war effort was extremely important. England, France and other countries followed suit, but most turned back to standard time after the war. World War II brought DST back to Europe.

Amazingly, the original plan for setting clocks forward and back was much more complicated, and comprised of switching ahead twenty minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and doing the same with a switch back in September. Imagine changing a total of eight times a year; what we do now seems simple.

Although the European Parliament recently voted to discontinue the use of DST, all Union members need to agree to pass it into law and that has yet to occur. It’s been a continuing discussion for several years in the United States to abolish DST. There are way too many opinions about what and how changes should be made, with states like Florida going in the opposite direction, wanting to institute it all year long. Hawaii doesn’t observe DST at all, and only a tiny slice of Arizona does.

This past summer in Washington State, a bill was signed by Governor Jay Inslee, and passed both state House and Senate to change permanently to DST but it hasn’t been instituted into law as of this date. Oregon and California followed Washington’s lead, and British Columbia, Canada is making plans to authorize the same.

Given all this, it won’t be long before Mexico makes the same decisions and we no longer have DST in Puerto Vallarta. Airlines have made it clear that it will be vital for everyone to be operating on the same clock. In the meantime, we still turn back on October 27th, 2019.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Chili Cook Off

Puerto Vallarta Chili Cook-Off

Many years ago, when we first arrived in Puerto Vallarta, an event enlightened us to the camaraderie of the expat group, as no other had. This wasn’t drinks at a beach bar. This was a small sector of the population coming together to make a statement. A delightful chili cook-off with colorful characters and a sizeable, impressive donation to a local non-profit for animals. The gathering indicated not just friendship but a real sense of community. This event disappeared, much to our dismay, but returned about seven years ago at the El Rio BBQ Bar in Paso Ancho, a perfect location for the gathering. Last year’s Puerto Vallarta Chili Cook-Off, co-hosted by Kurt Sinner, owner of El Rio; the Puerto Vallarta’s American Legion Post 14; and The Jay Sadler Project, an officially recognized non-profit organization in the State of Jalisco, attracted over six hundred attendees. As popular events in any given city tend to do, this one has outgrown its shoes and finds itself again, in a new location for 2020.

Parque Parota in Fluvial Vallarta, at 48320 Av. Francisco Medina Ascencio, is just north of the Marbella complex, in the huge lot where carnivals take up residence every now and again. Any bus going in the direction of Wal-Mart will drop you off at the main entrance.

It’s a very good idea to get an advanced ticket, which are available in several locations in Puerto Vallarta, since it will save you $50 pesos off the at-gate price and allow early entrance at 11:30 am. Tickets at the gate will be $300 pesos and entrance will be at 12 noon. You can also buy tickets online at eventbrite.com.

Twenty or so chili vendors will be judged by local food critics and restaurateurs. The public will also have the opportunity to serve as judges, with a popular vote.

Along with chili, there will be several other types of food available, including but not limited to seafood, tacos, ice cream and cupcakes from various local vendors and restaurants. We’re excited about the music, which is always a treat in Puerto Vallarta, where we have some incredibly talented musicians and entertainers. Along with a beer garden, there will be martini bars, a Bloody Mary bar, and cocktail lounge.

The Silent Auction has always been a big attraction at the Chili Cook-Off and this year is no exception, with the usual donations made from generous establishments around town, plus a few new contributors. This year’s Puerto Vallarta Chili Cook-Off will be held from 11:30 am – 7 Pm on February 22, 2020.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Shoes?

Wearing Shoes in Puerto Vallarta

We discovered when we first moved to Puerto Vallarta that Most Mexicans don’t wear their outside shoes in their homes. They usually have cheap slip-ons, slippers or flip flops for indoors. Kids might run around barefoot inside but it’s uncommon to see a woman of child bearing age or older without shoes. Men also make sure to have no contact with the ground, whether inside or out.

There is a good reason for this. Streets are dirty. When we see gringos walking barefoot down the sidewalks or malecón, we cringe. We know what kind of evil lurks there. Aside from sharp rocks and glass, there are some nasty bacteria that can wreak havoc on feet. If you’re diabetic and have little to no sensation in the soles of your feet, you risk serious infection and in many cases, amputations.

There’s a fungus similar to athlete’s foot which is responsible for toenail fungus, an ailment we see a lot of here in Puerto Vallarta. This usually turns into a very long process, with toenails needing to grow back out after treatment and can take months, even years. Hookworm is probably the worst of what one can be afflicted with from running around without shoes in Puerto Vallarta. Hookworm attaches to the lining of the intestinal wall of affected dogs; it’s a common ailment in street dogs in Puerto Vallarta. Since it’s rare in the USA and Canada, tourists may go back home and not realize they have hookworm until they begin to suffer the effects. Doctors in the north, who rarely see it, have a difficult time diagnosing it. Once the abdominal pain begins with intense intestinal cramps, nausea, fever and loss of appetite, a doctor may misdiagnose and therefore the patient can go without proper treatment. Plantar warts are a virus that is also caught from going barefoot. They tend to grow inward, are very painful and difficult to treat, due to their resiliency.

According to Dr. Andrew Shapiro, a podiatrist in private practice in Valley Stream, New York, and spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association “a proper shoe with good support provides shock absorption for the rest of the body and reduces stress on bones and ligaments.”

Whether you’re tottering around in Manolo Blahniks or keeping the pavement separate from your body with simple flip flops, they bring the same amount of filth into your house. You must think of the places you’ve been walking to relate to what you are trailing into your kitchen, bedroom, bathing area with your shod feet. It’s not hard to imagine without wanting to live in a Hazmat suit.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Ajijic

Ajijic

For those looking for a nice adventure out of town while the temps are still high, we recommend a trip to Ajijic, a quick ten minute drive to the west of Chapala on Lake Chapala. With a population of approximately 12,000, Ajijic has moderate traffic and climate. What’s not to like? About an hour south of Guadalajara, it’s a 5.5 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta. You’ll definitely want to plan overnight accommodations and stay for at least a couple days.

There are only estimates of the number of foreigners living in Ajijic, but among them, there are most likely around 1,500 full time retired Canadians and US citizens, plus another thousand snowbirds, those folks who come during the harshest winter months in the north when they want to avoid shoveling the white stuff back home.

Ajijic abounds with great affordable restaurants, boutique hotels, Airbnb’s and RV parks. There are galleries galore with fabulous art, clothing stores with a wonderful variety, and no shortage of gift and curio shops, as well as seasonal craft markets and fairs. We love walking through the town, observing great murals, mosaics and street art. The malecón (boardwalk) along the lake welcomes walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, and strollers.

While in Ajijic and the Chapala area, you will want to check out The Lake Chapala Society, https://lakechapalasociety.com. A small group of expats, numbering twenty-one original members, started in 1955 with two committees, “Mosquito Control” and “Information Service.” With a few growing pains, they quickly grew to include a children’s reading room and lending library, along with an information center and the formation of plans for burial sites in the local cemetery. Over the decades, the Lake Chapala Society (LCS) has created many wonderful activities for foreigners and locals alike, and there are currently forty-four students who benefit from financial aid.

There is a wealth of entertainment in Ajijic. We found live music and dance venues, along with karaoke bars and comedy clubs; performances by local and imported talent, plus a locally well-known chorus, performing concerts at Riberas Auditorium. Fabulous shows at The Spotlight run all year around, with performers you may have missed in Puerto Vallarta, visiting from the USA, Canada and Europe. Jazz Festivals have begun to appear on the Ajijic program in the past few years, which draw followings of some amazing musicians.

There’s something for everyone, including very nice cinemas showing first run films at the Libramiento at Centro Laguna, located between Chapala and Ajijic.

We think of Ajijic as a Boutique Town and love the change of scene from Puerto Vallarta.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Huichol People

Art of the Huichol People

There’s still time to see the incredible exhibit of Wixárika (Huichol) at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas in Guadalajara. A quick trip over the mountains during the holidays is a good idea, when the beaches are crowded with nationals on winter break. Grandes Maestros del Arte Wixárika (Grand Masters of Wixárika Art) is showing until December and then the pieces will go back to places like Harvard University and the Museum of Natural History in New York, from whence they have been borrowed. There are about fifty pieces of these amazing yarn paintings which are created in a manner of pressing the yarn of brightly colored dyed pieces into a beeswax and pine resin base.

The artistic creations of the Huicholes, which have found a market throughout Mexico, consist mainly of colorful yarn paintings and clay objects, gourds, jewelry and clothing. They’re sold through distribution in museums, boutique shops, airport souvenir stores and directly from the artisans. Made with a foundation of thin layers of wax and resin into which the yarn is meticulously pressed, nierikas or votive paintings are the result of dreams and journeys. Tiny glass beads, imbedded in the same type of basework, magically cover gourds, vases and clay objects in such shapes as deer, reptiles, jaguar heads, skulls and masks. Older works of art contain seeds, coral, semi-precious gems and tiny shells. The Huichol art was a well kept secret until the early 1960’s when it began to make an appearance in art galleries in Guadalajara. Interest caught on quickly and what were once left as offerings to gods in caves and the hills of the high desert, became highly desired collectors’ pieces, some fetching none too altruistic prices.

The Huicholes symbolism has serious significance and is the groundwork of the culture. Tatewari, the god of fire and Tayaupa, the sun, are the grandparents and the source of all life. The Blue Deer, Kauyumari, the guardian spirit, leads the shamans in their peyote dreams. The deer give their life to the Huichol so they might sustain theirs and when a deer is sacrificed, an elaborate purifying ceremony follows to make sure the animal is properly acknowledged and thanked. Arrows represent departed family; Birds are messengers to and from the gods; Turtles are responsible for all forms of water; Snakes are direct instructors to shamans. The Scorpion is represented as a repellent of bad luck and evil, thought to be very dangerous and yet held in great esteem. Candles are very prominent in ceremonies and characterize the illumination of the human spirit. Traditionally, colors in yarn paintings were limited to White (cloud spirits), Red (fire and masculinity), Blue (water, ocean, rain, femininity), Green (earth, heaven, healing, heart, grandfather, growth), Orange (the sacred land where the peyote grows) and Yellow, often thought to represent corn, the basic sustenance of all ancient Mexico, but used primarily as a ceremonial face paint.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Sierra de Vallejo

Sierra de Vallejo

North of Puerto Vallarta, stretching from Bucerias to La Peñita de Jaltemba, we have found a biosphere reserve where approximately twenty percent of Mexico’s mangroves are found. With less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta, you will arrive at the southern tip of this incredible biosphere. The freshwater River Ameca meets with the briny Pacific Ocean to create a perfect habitat for an array of animals. Eco cruises are available, taking tourists on boats through the swamps along the canals where three lakes meet. ATV tours are also obtainable but we eschew such a disruptive presence in this beautiful, natural world where wildlife is easily disturbed. With nearly 550 square kilometers (340 sq miles) there is likely room for everyone but we prefer to give Mother Nature as much peace and tranquility as possible.

Protected Planet www.protectedplanet.net has monthly updates with submissions from governments, landowners and communities regarding Sierra de Vallejo. The site is a good resource for checking out terrestrial and marine protected locations. At this site, you will find out more about Sierra de Vallejo and can access related statistics, as well as download data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).

Bring your camera on this daytrip from Puerto Vallarta. An astonishing population of wild boars, crocodiles, and jaguars live in Sierra de Vallejo Biosphere Reserve, along with several types of colorful parrots. You will see herons, seagulls, pelicans, ducks and other birds thriving in this stunning forest shelter. In the distance, you will observe the Sangaguey volcano, which hasn’t erupted since 1724 (according to local indigenous legend); it is an impressive sight to behold, the highest volcano in the corridor.

For birdwatchers, there’s nothing like viewing a black-bellied tree duck, great blue heron, or roseate spoonbill in this amazing landscape. Tours are available from several agencies and a simple online search will reveal wonderful opportunities for exploring this fabulous site only a short distance from Puerto Vallarta. Buen viaje!

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AMPI Real Estate News: Flying With Pets

Flying with Your Pet Onboard

There have been some new regulations in the past year regarding flying with in-cabin pets. We want to keep everyone updated as it would be a miserable experience to arrive at the airport, with Fifi and Fido ready to go, only to be told they won’t be allowed on the plane.

Several major airlines have tightened their guidelines on flying with pets and service animals, both of which can fall into seriously different categories. There have been some regrettable incidents with passengers vs. pets and this has unfortunately caused airlines to take a second look at their procedures. Earlier this year on a Delta flight, a military veteran was mauled by a 50 pound dog that was sitting in a fellow passenger’s lap (an egregious departure from Delta policy) resulting in a lawsuit against both the airline and dog owner. Delta has banned pit bulls and animals under the age of four months, regardless of whether they are claimed as pets, service or support animals. Sadly, much of this has been caused by travelers avoiding fees for their pets by claiming them as certified support animals. Certification is as simple as going to a website and printing out a document.

There have been incidents that have hit the media with little restraint on what is actual news, but in one case a passenger at Schönefeld Airport in Germany insisted his fifteen inch boa constrictor was a support animal, after he tried to slip it onboard unnoticed in his pants. When customs pulled him aside, curious to the unnatural bulge in his trousers, all joking was put aside and the animal was confiscated and taken to a rescue center, the passenger boarded and was given a hefty fine, giving a whole new meaning to support.

This doesn’t mean you can’t bring your furry friends while vacationing or traveling to and from your home in Puerto Vallarta. This isn’t going to stop over a million people annually who travel with their pets, and bona fide service and emotional support animals. What it does mean is that you need to be fully aware of the rules and regulations of each airline of which you book tickets. All of the airlines spell out their rules in great detail on their websites, so there is no excuse in not having the knowledge. If you have further questions, make use of the 1-800 number.

More precise rules now govern what is regarded as a service animal. They are not considered pets, and must be [individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person
with a disability] and be able to prove if so demanded, according to the Department of Transportation. These animals can fly for free, just as an airline wouldn’t charge someone for bringing an oxygen supply on board. However, with both items, there are certifications and standards to be followed.

All airlines have taken these new rules into consideration and have made many changes; we highly recommend calling the airline directly to be absolutely certain before booking your flight to Puerto Vallarta. If you are traveling with a support animal, such as a guide dog, it is imperative you contact the airline at least 48 hours in advance. They will let you know their requirements, which will include certification from a medical or mental health professional, as well as veterinarian certificates that confirm the health of the animal and up-to-date vaccinations.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Changing Times

Who’s Changing Mexico?

As we watch Puerto Vallarta continue to grow on an annual basis, it’s clear, there are people moving here from all over the world. There’s no doubt as to where they are coming from, though who are they? According to the Pew Research Center, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are returning to Mexico, where they are optimistically finding life more livable than NOTB. Given that, and the amount of US citizens who continue to migrate south, there is a burgeoning scene that has affected all of Mexico, especially coastal towns. This is a phenomena occurring on both the east and west coasts and having an impressive impact on Puerto Vallarta.

These migrations have a profound and positive effect on schools, neighborhoods and the local economy overall. Where we once found large Mexican communities in cities and towns in the United States, we now have pockets of expats all over Mexico, not just in resort cities but in small settlements, far away from the hustle and bustle.

An area that has seen change and improvement is medical services and hospitals. We have always felt more than comfortable in the hands of dentists and doctors in Puerto Vallarta, appreciating not only the state-of-the-art treatment and facilities, but with the benefits of costs that are reasonable and won’t bankrupt the Average Joe if you need serious medical attention. Expats and Mexicans returning to Mexico have all heavily affected these services, as well as certain imports.

More items that were previously available only NOTB but not so much in Puerto Vallarta have made appearances over the past decade. Big box stores like Costco and Wal-Mart have been very happy to cater to the needs of those who aren’t willing to give up certain lifestyle needs. People traveling back and forth from the two countries once had lists of things to bring both for themselves and others. We remember when Campbell’s Tomato Soup was in high demand. Carrying cans of soup and albacore tuna, among other treasures, in baggage on airplanes was not unheard of. Enforcement of weight restrictions has also changed that. If traveling by auto, it wasn’t unusual to cart cheddar cheese, by the pound in a cooler. What some would consider decent wine was in short supply and though rum, tequila and gin were easy to get, good Scotch was pricy. Liqueurs, such as kahlúa and Tai Maria were plentiful but imports like Anisette or Drambuie could be requested at the local liquor store year after year with no response. Now you find them at Wal-Mart. Bed sheets with high thread count is a holdout but when we search we find stores like Chedraui carry all kinds of surprises.

Road travel has certainly changed. With autos and buses rerouted, time and again, the pressure eases and then builds again. But the introduction of services like Uber to Puerto Vallarta has brought tremendous relief.

We follow the premise that change is good, though sometimes it can be head-turning. We make our best efforts to appreciate all the good stuff.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa

It’s fun to dress up as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata for Halloween, Mexican Revolution celebrations in Mexico, and Cinco de Mayo in the US (they don’t actually celebrate this day in Mexico). If those donning costumes knew more about Pancho Villa, who was frequently referred to as the Centaur of the North, they may change their minds. Whereas Zapata’s army was more likely to be known as caballeros (gentlemen), Villa’s troops had a bloodthirsty, brutal side. During the revolution in Chihuahua, sixty female soldiers (soldaderas) were captured and one of them, still in possession of her pistol, tried to shoot Pancho Villa. The indignant Villa marched through the group of women inquiring which lady had fired the shot. No one would speak, all in defense of the others. Villa had them tied up “like stacks of firewood or barrels,” and dousing them with kerosene, lit the group on fire. The soldaderas did not beg for mercy. Instead they screamed in rage at the maniac who would go to such lengths to defend his male ego.

Villa, who changed his name from José Doroteo Arango Arámbula to Francisco Pancho Villa, was the commander of the Mexican army in the northern reaches of Mexico, while Emiliano Zapata, leading his Zapatistas, was the in charge of the south. They were very different leaders in many ways.

Little is known about Villa in his younger days but he liked to claim his true father was a well known bandit, Agustin Villa, rather than the wealthy landowner who raised him, Agustin Arango. Villa was not a great scholar and didn’t waste time in school, lending his hand to his mother on their vast ranch after Agustin Arango died. Before becoming a revolutionary, Villa worked as a sharecropper, arriero (muleskinner), bricklayer and even as a foreman for the US railway. Led to a more adventurous life as a bandit, it was a natural ascendance to soldier, leader and commander of the Mexican army, a level he achieved due to his willingness to take chances others avoided.

Pancho Villa lost his final battles of the revolution. He turned to the not so lofty occupation of a mercenary, attacking a small US/Mexico border town, which turned into the Battle of Columbus in 1916. Villa consistently evaded capture by US Army General John Pershing, until Pershing was called back to Washington DC at the outbreak of World War l.

Pancho Villa was recruited to star as himself in Hollywood movies, and his popularity grew with corridas (ballads), the type of which we still hear to this day, aggrandizing cartel criminals as heroes and celebrities. In the end, after once barely escaping execution by firing squad and being pardoned by President Madero, Villa tried to involve himself once again in Mexican politics. He was assassinated in 1923, allegedly by order of the less tolerant President Obregón.

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AMPI Real Estate News: Women Warriors

Women of the Mexican Revolution

Women, as military at every level in the Mexican Revolution, have captured the fascination of movie goers for decades. Our personal favorite is Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), the 1989 film from the Laura Esquivel novel of the same name. Gertrudis, one of the sisters in this story, is lured into the revolution by her lust for a handsome soldier, joins the movement, and eventually ends up in a brothel, disowned by her mother. Gertrudis is a fictional character but her real life counterparts led lives as thrilling and desperate.

These female soldiers, soldaderas, are seen in photos with rifles, pistolas, on horseback, with children and men, often their husbands, with whom they fought stalwartly, not simply as companions. They were given duties, offered help in any way they could, forging ahead to set up camps and keep fires burning, and sometimes working as prostitutes (often given no choice) to keep the military from abandoning. Many battled bravely alongside their male counterparts.

María de Jesús González was a secret agent. She was able to disguise herself and pass herself off as a man to complete tasks for Carranza’s army. Catching this spy was difficult due to the fact that María returned to her dresses and hairdos, once her mission was accomplished. Not to be confused with another María de Jesús González, the murderess madam, the revolutionary María had high aims in the Mexican cavalry. When she was interviewed by First Chief Carranza, he was duly impressed by her knowledge of the battles of Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and others, and installed her in the ranks of his army as a spy.

Rosa Bodilla never relinquished her feminine garb. Having joined Zapata’s army with her husband, she took his title and place when he was slain. Given his title, she was henceforth known as Coronela Rosa Bobadila vied de Casas, the widow of Casas, and gave orders as any other general, respected and revered by the men.

Amelia Robles became Amelio following the revolution. As a revolutionary transgender, Robles found the perfect opportunity to defy norms of the day and take on the gender with which they identified. They abandoned their home in order to join the Zapata army, presenting as a woman. Slowly but very effectively, they took on the masculine identity they would live with the remainder of their life. Considered a war hero, he reestablished himself in his community as a man and was recognized in death as a male.

For an excellent read and more information about women in the Mexican Revolution, we recommend Soldaderas in the Mexican Military by Elizabeth Salas.

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