When in Rome (or Oaxaca) Try This!

Traveling to exotic locales opens up a world of opportunity to experience new things. You might not plan for it, but grasshoppers, ant larvae, and mezcal de pechuga are all things you must try when you come to Oaxaca. Mexico is the home of Mexican cuisine, and even though Mexican restaurants can be found all over the U.S., it’s likely you’ve never tried these Mexican foods before.

Chapulines (grasshoppers)

No, these are not the mint and fudge Keebler elves cookies. Chapulines might sound like something only foodies would enjoy, but ignore the fact that these are grasshoppers for a moment. Think protein. And then remind yourself of what a good Mexican chef can do with a protein. Mexican spices. Deep fried. Crunchy. Chapulines are often sprinkled on other foods (like guacamole), featured in a taco, or eaten straight from the bag as a salty, chile-lime flavored snack.

“Mexican fried grasshoppers, chapulines, will knock you out of a taco rut faster than a speeding mouse in a sombrero.”

Escamoles (ant larvae)

Let’s be honest. Ant larvae was probably featured on Fear Factor: contestants had to eat it to win the big prize. But sometimes delicacies are those foods that are the most foreign to us, maybe even lacking in appeal. So it takes a little more gumption even just to try it. This weird food is really an ancient delicacy of the Aztecs.

“Ant larvae, or as it is often lovingly described, insect caviar” aren’t very sexy, but you’ll find the taste and texture might surprise you in a good way. Served in tacos, omelets or by themselves, escamoles have a nutty taste and soft texture.

Mezcal de pechuga

Tequila is not the only Mexican spirit that comes from the agave plant. After harvesting and roasting the agave plant (usually the espadin variety), mezcal is distilled in clay or copper stills. After two distillations, a third distillation is necessary to produce mezcal de pechuga, which involves usually a raw chicken or turkey breast which cooks in the vapors, giving the mezcal a unique flavor. Other ingredients include fruits, nuts and grains, “a melange of flavors that some pechuga drinkers swear they can detect when sipping.”

“Mezcal de pechuga (pechuga translates to breast), is made when a finished mezcal is redistilled with local fruits, grains, and nuts, and a raw chicken or turkey breast is hung over the still, cooking in the emanating vapors, supposedly adding to the spirit’s final flavor.”

While not every experience in your travels is noteworthy, you’re bound to have memories of the exotic foods you taste.

Where to Stay

Casa Divina Oaxaca is a charming and intimate resort located four blocks from the many fascinating historic sites and wonderful restaurants of downtown Oaxaca. The resort, located within a lovingly restored 19th-century Oaxacan home, reflects the culture of this fascinating city. Authentic Oaxacan art hangs from sun-dried clay walls, making Casa Divina Oaxaca truly feel like a home away from home. Oaxaca is a historic and cultural marvel famous for its spectacular architecture and delicious food. Immerse yourself in this magical place at Casa Divina Oaxaca.

Adrenaline Rush Winter Adventures

Every skier and snowboarder is looking for the ultimate experience on the side of a mountain. That experience must involve fresh powder and some serious vertical drops. Throw in some moguls, the possibility of catching some air in the Stash parks, and probably a few wipeouts here and there, and you’ve got another ski trip to remember.

Jackson Hole has all that and more, inviting skiers of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels to come and find their ski adventure. In case you’re wondering where to spend your next snowcation, just take a look at all that Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has to offer.

“Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is notorious for steep terrain and gorgeous scenery, the perfect stomping grounds to many of the world’s best freeskiers”. http://www.onthesnow.com/wyoming/jackson-hole/ski-resort.html

3 World Class Ski Resorts

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and  Grand Targhee Resort are all within driving distance of the western town of Jackson. Combined, these resorts have 5,502 acres of skiable terrain, complete with quad chair lifts, gondolas, and trams servicing the trails. And that doesn’t count the 3,000+ acres of backcountry terrain for the freeskiers in your family.

Besides skiing and snowboarding, there’s also tubing, night skiing, Nordic skiing, Alpine ski racing, and snowshoeing. Forbes selected Jackson as one of the best choices for expert and extreme terrain for skiers in the U.S. For the extremely daring, be sure to consider Corbet’s Couloir, the famous drop-off at the top of Jackson Hole Mountain.

“While Jackson Hole is known as being a natural playground of terrain, the natural features are complemented by two terrain parks, four Burton Stash parks and a halfpipe.” http://www.jacksonhole.com/terrain-parks.html

Snowboarders especially appreciate the Burton Stash parks. The Deer Flat Stash, Campground Stash, and Stashley Ridge, all made of local wood, are all favorite spots of skiers and snowboarders alike, testing their skills and video recording those awesome jumps, grabs, and stunts.

If you’re particularly adventurous, and you prefer to explore the less tame, less trodden areas, then look no further than heli-skiing. High Mountain Heli-skiing operates A-Star helicopters, taking brave skiers and snowboarders to the “ranges south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, including all of the Snake River and Palisades Mountain Ranges, and portions of the Hoback, Teton and the Gros Ventre Mountain Ranges. Vast open bowls, steep chutes, enchanted forests and glades can all be yours to explore.” They fly in groups of five (one guide and four guests), giving these snow explorers a full day on the open slopes. Six runs, 12,000 – 15,000 vertical feet, and transportation to the heli-pad are all included.

Jackson Hole Can’t Miss Winter Events

While you might spend most of your time making fresh snow tracks on your favorite ski runs, there are some incredibly fun events in Jackson that you’ll want to check out. Ever heard of skijoring? How about cutter racing? Here’s just a bit of what’s going on this winter in Jackson Hole.

December 1

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort Opening Day

December 3

Snow King Mountain Resort Opening Day

December 17

National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides Open

Double H Bar, Inc. will take sleigh riders on an unforgettable ride through the thousands of elk that make their home on the refuge. Dress warmly for this adventure for the whole family!

January 27

International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race

The 21st annual sled dog race takes place in stages, crossing the state of Wyoming from January 27 to February 4. The race practically starts in Jackson, so head out to cheer on the dogs and mushers on January 27 as they begin the 8-day trek across the beautiful terrain of the Cowboy State.

January 29 – February 15

6th Annual Jackson Hole WinterFest

Come join in the festival that “highlights the best of winter in Jackson Hole with two weeks of snowy fun. It features events on skis, on horseback, on the dance floor, in the theatre, under the iconic elk antler arches, and under the bright lights of Snow King Mountain.”

February 11-12

5th Annual Skijoring Championships

You’ve never had an adrenaline rush quite like skijoring. Skijoring involves a skier, holding onto a rope, pulled by a horse. Part water skiing, part rodeo horsemanship, this event features some small jumps, gates, and obstacles. There are always some wipeouts, too. Check out this video.

February 18-19

46th Annual Cutter Races

The cutter races are chariot races on snow. Just picture Ben-Hur in a Patagonia 3-in-1 jacket, commanding a chariot pulled by two horses in a quarter mile drag race. Sponsored by the Shriners, the races benefit kids with various medical conditions in the local area.

February 18

Moose Chase Marathon

Held at Trail Creek Nordic Center, this Nordic ski race on the snow beckons all interested racers (no matter how experienced) to join the competition. The trails are groomed at night to give the best race conditions the next morning. Racers can choose the distance they want to compete in: 30 km, 15 km, 5 km, 3 km, and ½ km.

Where to Stay

Teton Club combines unparalleled luxury with rustic Western aesthetics to create an unforgettable vacation experience. Teton Club offers a wide range of amenities you can enjoy during your time in Jackson Hole, including ski-in/ski-out access, an underground parking garage with valet service, a private lounge, library, and a Great Room ideal for relaxing after a long day on the slopes.

Ski time! Must-Have Gadgets

Fresh powder, beautiful vistas, and REI winter sales mean one thing: ski season is upon us! When you are planning to visit Telluride, Park City, Whistler or Jackson Hole ski resorts this year, whether it’s your first time skiing or you’re a seasoned pro, you’re probably already browsing the sales and making your wish lists. And since you won’t find a ski gadget vendor walking among the skiers like a hot dog man at a baseball game, you had better plan ahead.

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It’s quite the understatement to say that technology has changed skiing over the years. The early skiers were hunters and trappers in Scandinavia. Skis were made by woodcarvers. Metal didn’t come into the picture until the 1920s. Fiberglass, the main material in modern skis, was originally used for making skis in 1960s. Imagine going back to wooden skis today!

“Every season there seem to be more advancements in gear, from the shaping and makeup of the skis and boards themselves, to the release of new bindings and other products.” Time Magazine

While you’re not likely to ski in search of food, you’re wise to take stock of what’s available today in ski gear and gadgets. Usually gear refers to the protective equipment (or the skis and poles themselves), while gadgets refer to the techie items which most likely require a battery. Both categories are cool! And you’ll find they make a difference for your winter vacation on the slopes.

Before you buy, consider your purpose, and let that determine what you buy. Do you really need a GoPro Hero camera? Or do you just like to buy gadgets? If you’re not planning on filming yourself or others, skip the camera. Shiny things (like this new Suunto Spartan Ultra Titanium Watch) are attractive, but they’re not necessary for you to have the ultimate skiing experience this winter.

Protective Ski Gear

When you’re out there taking on the elements, you need protection. You’re not the abominable snowman. Here are some current offerings to keep you warm, dry, and less bruised.

Sweet Protection Bearsuit Soft Back Protector

Snow sports often mean you end up on your backside. Even the pros fall from time to time. Sweet Protection is here to help. Their Bearsuit Soft Back Protector helps cushion your fall. If you are a beginner, you might spend more time falling than you expect. It can’t hurt to have a little extra padding down there. The runs and bowls at Grand Targhee Resort will be a little more inviting with this Protector.

 

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Abom anti-fog goggles

Goggles are the definition of cool. You’d probably wear them instead of sunglasses all the time if it was socially acceptable. The problem? Out on the slopes, they tend to fog up. Enter Abom anti-fog goggles. Designed to “keep your vision crystal clear” while tackling those black diamonds, Abom’s goggles feature Carl Zeiss lenses and KLAIR anti-fog technology. Just push the button on the side and you can activate the technology and expect clear goggles.

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Seirus Heat Touch Inferno Gloves

Some of us have colder hands than others. But when we’re braving the blizzards, we all have cold hands. These heated gloves might be a bit pricey, but your hands will thank you when you don’t visit the hospital for frostbite. These leather gloves include a built-in temperature controller. Give the button a push, and your extremities will feel the instant heat.

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Giro Range MIPS

Only you can determine if you need a helmet for skiing. Snow sports demand warm clothing, so you’ll be wearing something on your head anyway. May as well protect it with a Giro Range MIPS helmet. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. It includes a venting system in case you get hot, and a mount for your camera.

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Cool Ski Gadgets

You might consider buying some of these gadgets to impress others, but you’ll probably impress yourself just as much! They’re small, handy, and pack a punch.

GoPro Hero5 Black camera

Likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of ski gadgets, the newest GoPro camera has voice control, a 2-inch touch display, a simple shutter button, and improvements in video stabilization. It’s waterproof, mountable, and works with your phone. It’s perfect for capturing all those jumps, flails, rolls, switchbacks, and stunts you’ll be performing this year.

Trace

The ultimate sports tracker, Trace claims to have 10x more accuracy than any smartphone GPS. It is the perfect companion to any GoPro camera. With its 9 sensors, it will track every move you make with precision. Great battery life and 100% waterproof mean you won’t be stuck in Park City Mountain Resort with a useless gadget.

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Zippo Hand Warmer

Don’t underestimate how useful this little guy can be! Just because it doesn’t cost $500 doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. Just stick it in your pocket and whip it out anytime your hands need some warmth. The Zippo Hand Warmer comes in handy for any sport in cold weather. Extreme sports just became a little more manageable thanks to Zippo!

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Celestron Elements Firecel+

Another pocket item, the Celestron Elements Firecel gives you a portable power pack, a red and white LED flashlight, and a hand warmer all in one. The rechargeable lithium ion battery can charge most of your handheld electronics (smartphones, MP3 players, USB-powered cameras), even up to 2 full charges. Designed for rugged use, this gadget is a must-have for skiers and snowboarders who might be outside all day. You don’t want your camera to run out of juice!

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Gear and gadgets make a difference, but the main thing is to get out there and conquer those pistes! Ski season, here we come!

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The Magic of Telluride in Winter

Every winter Telluride reminds us why it is one of the top skiing destinations in North America. The snowcapped San Juan Mountains provide the views. Downtown Telluride supplies the atmosphere. And travelers bring the fun. Whether you’re in search of a challenging double black diamond run or that perfect Bourbon cocktail, Telluride welcomes all and meets every expectation of charm, beauty, and daring winter sports.

Mountain Backdrop Snapshot

Photo: Chris Hunkeler

The skiers in your family will be delighted by the many options available for every skiing level. Beginners can get lots of practice and even take in some of the fantastic views you wouldn’t expect for a green run. Newbies can ride to the top in some places and yet enjoy a comfortable, manageable ski trail to the bottom.

Intermediate skiers will want to take advantage of every chute, bowl, and run within their skill wheelhouse. Moguls, glades, and bump runs dot the map, giving intermediates plenty of choices. The real advantage for all skiers at Telluride Ski Resort is the speed of the lifts, quality of the ski trails, and the sheer number of options for skiing. If you find one area a little crowded, there are bound to be some trails that need some attention.

“I can’t think of a mountain that has the sheer variety and quality of skiing at every level that Telluride offers.” Forbes.com

One thing to be aware of on fresh powder days: if there’s any reason for the locals to be on the mountain, don’t expect shops to be open for their usual hours. The locals live in Telluride for a reason. Many of them came to Telluride on vacation, fell in love with the area, and just had to move there. So when there’s fresh powder just calling out to the skier (or snowboarder!) in you, the locals will try to beat you to the punch.

“It’s a well-known fact that Telluride Ski Resort boasts some of the steepest, deepest and most diverse terrain of any ski resort in North America,” according to Olympian Gus Kenworthy, a Telluride local. onthesnow.com

Snow Sports You Might Not Have Tried

When you come to Telluride, keep an open mind to try new things. It’s very likely that there is some kind of snow activity you’ve never tried, and Telluride is just the place to experience it. Here are some suggestions:

Fat Tire Bicycle Rides

Bicycling is not just for warm weather anymore! Bundle up and hop on for a casual ride on the Valley Floor, or seek out a more difficult trail for some real exercise.

Ice Climbing

Probably not for the faint of heart, ice climbing presents a challenge to climbers of all skill levels. A local guide might be the best help you can find to identify where you want to climb and how to approach each climb. Bridal Veil Falls has been one of the most sought after ice climbing achievements in the U.S. Before you go, get the recommended gear (listen to the experts), check the ice conditions, and follow the rules for access and method.

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Snowmobiling

Several outfitters in Telluride will rent out their snowmobiles for your pleasure riding. If you sign up with a guide, you can get access to ghost towns, backcountry trails, and hot springs. Some tours even include lunch. Dress warm, don’t forget your ski mask and goggles, and get out there!

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Heli skiing

Untapped, untrodden alpine bowls sound lovely to any skier or snowboarder. Heli skiing was developed from the idea that there are places ski lifts can’t reach, but why should that stop you? Some of the best chutes and runs are in the backcountry, only accessible to heli skiers. Contact Telluride Helitrax, the high altitude powder specialists, for the ultimate skiing adventure.

In Telluride, it’s easy to become enraptured by the picturesque beauty around you. You might spend all day skiing and forget there’s a town at the bottom. Downtown Telluride is a quaint community with lots to offer. You’ll find art, shopping, dining, bars, and plenty of reasons to stroll downtown. The ski resort may beckon you to come to Telluride. But the people and charm of this small town will make you stay. And maybe you’ll be smitten, just like the locals.

Where To Stay

Franz Klammer Lodge is a luxurious ski resort located among the towering San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Colorado. The mountain-side resort, named after Franz Klammer, a legendary skier, offers guests exceptional accommodations and service just steps away from the alpine slopes of one of the best ski destinations in North America. In addition to all the great skiing, guests also enjoy access to a full service bar and club room, rejuvenating spa, and a 24-hour fitness center.

Skiing in Whistler, BC

Whistler, British Columbia, can be summed up in two words: ski country! This is the place where the ski season is long, the powder is fresh, and skiers unite to blaze trails all over Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. With over 8,100 acres of beautiful skiable terrain, Whistler Blackcomb boasts the claim of largest ski resort in North America. Skiers and snowboarders alike love to take advantage of the 16 alpine bowls, 3 glaciers, and over 200 ski trails.

“Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are a skier’s dream destination, the ultimate in big mountain experiences”. Whistler.com

Skiers have been coming from all over the world to Whistler since 1966. The resort has been the main attraction for the past 50 years. In 2010, when Vancouver, British Columbia, hosted the Winter Olympic Games, officials named Whistler the Host Mountain Resort. International athletes flocked to this little resort town to showcase their talents in hopes of a gold medal. The Whistler Mountain Inukshuk, a symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics, stands tall as one of the many reminders of the snow sports competition, but also a reminder of the Inuit peoples who have lived there for centuries.

Visitors to Whistler are welcomed by vistas not seen elsewhere. By taking the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, visitors can experience the wide horizon views of both peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. This record-setting gondola takes its passengers across a wide ravine, a journey lasting 11 minutes. Besides skiers and snow below, everyone is treated to the incredible beauty of glaciers, rainforests, and mountains.

Skiing in Telluride

What’s New

The Peak 2 Peak Gondola is just one example of what the resort has done over the years to keep expanding and improving. Here’s just a smattering of what’s new at Whistler Blackcomb this year:

  • Upgrades to the grooming fleets including the new model 600 Pisten Bully Polar piste grooming cat
  • $2.4 million invested in learning areas for new skiers
  • Ollie’s Grilled Cheese stand will serve gourmet cheese sandwiches at Olympic Station
  • Expanded patios at the Roundhouse Lodge and Garibaldi Lift Co.

“The resort’s ski area is one of the largest in the world, with some 8,000 acres of pistes and 1,610m of vertical. Running from mid-November until May, its season is long and snow-sure, with an incredibly reliable average snowfall of 12m.” Telegraph.co.uk

There’s a reason that this little corner of Canada welcomes so many visitors every year. Not only does Whistler have incredible skiing and snowboarding, but the whole resort was designed with visitors in mind. From the lovely walkways, restaurants, and gondolas, to the brilliant Whistler Village with all its shops, cafes, and pedestrian areas, it’s no wonder why tourists keep returning year after year.

One advantage Whistler has is its weather. With snow you can count on every season, outdoor enthusiasts delight to try out some of the more extreme snow sports. Some are brave enough to jump out of helicopters for some heli-skiing. Others will mount a snowmobile and take advantage of the tour guide’s expertise, exploring backcountry trails and old growth forests.

Dog sledding is a bit like stepping back in time—before there were snowmobiles. This sport is still hugely popular in the north. As one site says, it is “a uniquely Canadian way” to travel through the arctic forests. Arctic sled dogs are specially bred, and require a certain quality to handle the freezing temperatures and work as a team.

Fun in the snow also includes snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice skating. But for the really daring, there’s also ice climbing (ever climbed a glacier before?) and winter bungee jumping. Truly you are only limited by your imagination in this magical ski land. Want to fly over the skiers and forest below? There’s winter ziplining.

Want to see 360 degree views, with the sunset hitting the peaks at just the right angle? Hop on board the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. How about a breakfast feast before hitting the fresh powder before anyone else? The Fresh Tracks Mountain Top Breakfast has you covered. It’s as if someone thought of everything.

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Even non-skiers find plenty to content themselves with in Whistler. Whether shopping, participating in events, visiting museums, scouting out the nightlife, or determining their favorite restaurants, visitors never run out of things to do in Whistler. And after all the day’s activities are over, there’s always après—the special “after” time when everyone hangs out at the pub, takes in the fire and ice show, or finds a chic nightspot for dancing and drinking. Ski country is not just for skiers anymore!

Where to Stay

Whistler Resorts is a collection of 16 condominium properties in Whistler, Canada, a charming village widely regarded as one of the world’s best skiing destinations. Among the 16 properties, you’ll find everything from studio units to four-bedroom condominiums ideally located near Whistler’s fantastic shops and restaurants. Whistler, which sits at the base of the scenic Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, offers travelers world-class skiing, hiking, and mountain biking and is the perfect location for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. Book your next Whistler vacation at Whistler Resorts and see for yourself what makes this Canadian mountain town special.

Day of the Dead Celebration

Mexico celebrates Halloween but the holiday, known as the Day of the Dead, is much bigger than America’s version of Halloween. It’s also more important to their culture. And Oaxaca is the center of the celebration in Mexico.

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Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a celebration of the dead, with religious roots that go back to the Aztecs. The holiday is not really a somber occasion, as you might think of people mourning or remembering their loved ones. It’s more of a joyous fiesta, with lots of flowers, sand art, food, and costumes.

“Originally an indigenous holiday celebrated by the Aztecs and other Meso-Americans thousands of years ago, the newly-arrived Spanish (after failing to eradicate it altogether) moved the holiday to coincide with All Saint’s Day (November 1st) and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd) and tried their best to inject some Catholic influence.” TrailingRachel.com

Once again, here’s a huge Mexican holiday that can be traced back to pre-Hispanic origins. The Aztec ancient festival was a dedication to a goddess of the dead. When the Spaniards arrived, they added the Aztec festivities to the Christian holidays, forming a mixture of beliefs and traditions. The end result is a modern day celebration, which means big fun for tourists and locals alike.

The first day, November 1, is known as Día de Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is dedicated to children who have died. The second day, November 2, is Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead). But really the whole celebration is known as the Day of the Dead.

If you come to Oaxaca for this celebration, you will be treated to decorations and traditions you won’t see in other parts of Mexico or any other time of the year. Ofrendas (altars) are built as a sort of invitation to the dead spirits, with an arch that acts like a doorway or veil between the living and the dead. Family members will build an altar to help the spirit find its way home. Each altar is dedicated to a specific person or group of people. In fact, altars should not be dedicated to the dead in general, because that is an open invitation to any spirit, good or evil.

The arch can be made of sugar cane stalks, but other materials are used, too. Marigolds (cempasúchil) are the traditional flower for this holiday. Marigolds and skulls adorn the arch, which stands over a table covered with other symbolic items. In the center of the table is probably the most important part: a photo of the dead person. Without this, there’s no telling who the altar is dedicated to. A glass of water is an interesting element. Water is necessary because it is believed when the spirit returns, it will be thirsty. Fruit, pan de muertos (bread of the dead), calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls), and other food are placed on the altar in between the flowers, candles, and copal (tree resin) incense. Papel picado (literally cut paper; colored tissue paper, but can be plastic sheets nowadays) is hung around the edges of the table.

“Many of the Day of the Dead altars you’ll see in Oaxaca are works of art. Schools and social organizations hold contests for the best altars and some of them are astonishingly intricate and beautiful.” GoMexico.about.com

You’ll want to wander the streets and see as many different altars as possible. While wandering different areas of the city, especially Calle Alcalá, you will likely encounter a comparsas (parade). The procession, made up of skeleton-costumed dancers, may be spontaneous or planned. Everywhere you go you’ll find booths and street sellers offering everyday items as well as special holiday treats. You might consider purchasing some hand-painted skulls (not real human skulls, just in case you were wondering), hand-painted masks (skeletons again), or handmade jewelry.

Every holiday has some kind of special foods associated with it. Day of the Dead is the best time to enjoy mole negro (black mole sauce) and calabaza en dulce (candied pumpkin). Hot chocolate is also served, but it may not be sweet depending on who sells it. In the past, hot chocolate was a spicy drink. The calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) are special candies, but not for eating. They are part of the decorations on the altars.

As you’re strolling the festive streets of Oaxaca, make an effort to visit the Zócalo (city center). Sand art or tapetes de arena (sand tapestries) can be found here. They often depict a scene or a famous person. Be on the lookout for Catrina, who is the symbol of the Day of the Dead. She was first depicted in a painting by José Guadalupe Posada, called La Calavera Catrina (“The Elegant Skull”). Women in a Catrina costume will look like skeletons with a large hat full of flowers.

Lastly, try to visit the cemeteries. In Oaxaca, there are three main cemeteries: Panteon General (Oaxaca General Cemetery), Panteon Viejo (old cemetery), and Panteon Nuevo (new cemetery). If you can, venture outside Oaxaca and see the villages in order to experience their unique traditions for this holiday. The Day of the Dead honors the dead and celebrates life, which is good reason to have a festive atmosphere full of parades, fireworks, and fun food.

 

Where to Stay:

Casa Divina Oaxaca, a charming and intimate resort located four blocks from the many fascinating historic sites and wonderful restaurants of downtown Oaxaca. The resort, located within a lovingly restored 19th-century Oaxacan home, reflects the culture of this fascinating city. Authentic Oaxacan art hangs from sun-dried clay walls, making Casa Divina Oaxaca truly feel like a home away from home. Oaxaca is a historic and cultural marvel famous for its spectacular architecture and delicious food.

 

 

Whale Watching Season in Los Cabos

If you were a whale, wouldn’t you want to visit the mild waters off the coast of Los Cabos? Of course you would!

Almost every whale species can be found in Mexico’s bays and the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s coast. Whales migrate from the colder waters up north in the Arctic to visit their annual breeding grounds. Experts calculate some whales to have traveled over 14,000 miles round trip, migrating from Russia to Mexico and back. In Mexico’s warmer waters, whales procreate and raise their calves, staying in the warmer climate for months.

This means whale watching for you!

“Each year in early autumn, one of nature’s most delightful signs of seasonal change occurs—the migration of hundreds of whales from the frigid waters of the Arctic to the warm, calm waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula. And, from December to March, there is no better place to view such a spectacle than Los Cabos.” VisitMexico.com

Travelers make their own migration to Los Cabos to join in the pleasures of whale watching. But which whale species actually come near Los Cabos? And how can they be identified? Bryde, humpback, gray, blue, sei, minke, and fin whales have all been spotted off the coast of Baja California. When you’re out on a whale watching tour, it’s good to know a little bit about the various species, especially something about their appearance to help you identify them.

Characteristics of Each Whale Species

Bryde whales have a slender body with blue-grey skin. Look for the three ridges on their heads. Humpback whales have lots of bumps on their heads called tubercles. Look for their dark flippers and listen for their long, complex songs sometimes lasting over 30 minutes (actually, you probably need special underwater audio equipment for that). Gray whales have gray skin covered with barnacles. They don’t have a dorsal fin, but their narrow head has baleen (whale teeth) that are a sight to see. If you spot a blue whale, you’re in luck! Blue whales are the largest animals on earth. Look for their long bodies with blue or gray skin. Their heads are so huge that they take up about a quarter of the total body length. Minke whales are smaller. Their heads narrow to a sharp point. Their skin is black or grey. Look for their most distinguishing feature: white bands on their flippers. Fin whales have been nicknamed the “greyhound of the sea.” They have white bellies and dark grey bodies. Look for their small dorsal fin.

What to Bring

When you go whale watching, be sure to bring a few things along to help you maximize your adventure. First, dress appropriately for the weather. Second, get a good pair of binoculars. You’ll be out in the ocean and someone will spot a whale, and if you don’t have binoculars, you might miss the spectacle. If you’re a photographer, think about what gear you need in order to take the best shots: tripod, zoom lens, protective coverings from the weather, etc. Also, think about getting a guide on whale watching. It doesn’t hurt to read a little on vacation. You’ll impress the other onlookers with your knowledge of the deep!

“Los Cabos is a prime location for whale watching,” said Ruben Reachi, Los Cabos Tourism Board Managing Director. “Our region’s ideal climate, shallow waters, salinity and abundant marine life make it the perfect place for whales to birth and rear their young each year.” TheMexicoReport.com

The best time to go to Baja California Sur for whale watching is January and February. The season lasts from December to March, but the most whales are in the area in January and February. Find a tour company which suits your taste. How long do you want to be out on the water? What kind of amenities are you expecting (breakfast, lunch, drinks, etc.)? And, is there an expert on board? Someone who will talk your ear off or someone who can answer your questions? Maybe both? Both Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo have plenty of tours to choose from.

Lastly, if you’re still wondering if you should go, consider this: whales are intelligent animals. They communicate through sonar which can be heard for miles. They raise their young much like any good parent. When you see a whale surface, you appreciate the enormity of their size, and you’re reminded of the preciousness of life. Soak in the experience. Capture the moment on film. Los Cabos is just the place to find your whale inspiration.

 

Where to Stay

Club Regina Los Cabos is located just an easy fifteen-minute drive away from the heart of Cabo San Lucas, right in the middle of the action! The resort rises above the shoreline where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Every unit faces the ocean and you can enjoy colorful sunsets and sunrises from your terrace.