The Daily Gusketeer

Baja Trek's daily blog.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mexico`s Tourism Sector Sees Tremendous Growth Despite a Lagging World Economy

Reprinted from Travel Daily News
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The number of international tourists reaching Mexico by air experienced a 35.2 percent increase in June 2010 compared with the same month last year marking an impressive first half of the year for the Mexico tourism industry.

During the same period, 818,278 tourists from different nationalities visited Mexico, versus 605,435 who visited in June 2009. Of those, some 573,016 travelers arrived by air from the United States, representing a 23.7 percent growth over June 2009. Even more impressive are the 41,184 tourists that arrived from Canada; 21,322 more than in June 2009 - a whopping increase of 107.4 percent.

“We feel these numbers are evidence of the strength and quality of Mexico`s destinations,” said Mexico Secretary of Tourism Gloria Guevara. “Despite all that`s going on in the world today, the traveler knows he or she can come to Mexico and find unique vacation experiences offering not only our famous sun and beach destinations, but the chance for archeological, culinary and artistic experiences as well. Mexico is the only place on the earth where you can experience all that in a single trip.”

Increased Flights
This increased demand for Mexico by American travelers has been reflected in a handful of important new flights to Mexico. AeroMexico, Mexico`s largest transcontinental airline, announced the beginning of its new Monterrey-Miami service effective on June 28, and its new Monterrey-Houston route, which became effective on July 5.

The airline also included summer service between high-demand routes, such as Mexico City to Miami, New York, Orlando and San Antonio; Merida to Miami; Monterrey to San Antonio; Los Angeles to Aguascalientes and Bajio; Chicago to Durango and Guadalajara. In November 2010, British Airways is slated to begin operating the only direct flight between London and Cancun, for which it has already begun selling tickets. Meanwhile, China`s Hainan Airlines will begin flying directly to Mexico City. Other airlines such as US Airways and Frontier Airlines have also created new routes to Mexico, such as US Airways` Charlotte to Los Cabos and Charlotte to Puerto Vallarta; and Frontier`s San Francisco to Los Cabos; San Francisco to Cancun; and Los Angeles to Cancun. Meanwhile, Virgin America has announced their intent to launch new non-stop services from San Francisco to Los Cabos and Cancun, as well as from Los Angeles to Cancun.

More Hotel Rooms
Secretary of Tourism Gloria Gueva Manzo recently announced that hotels in Mexico have experienced substantial growth throughout the country. The number of available hotel rooms in Mexico has increased 4.6 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2009. According to the Datatur System, this growth was recorded in 56 of the 70 destinations that are monitored by this department.

Of those 70 destinations analyzed by Datatur, room availability jumped from 310,391 to 323,916, registering an increase of 13,525 rooms now available for foreign visitors. In these 70 destinations, the number of hotel rooms occupied during the first six months of 2010 was 11.3 percent higher than in the same period of 2009.

This increase in hotel rooms is widespread across Mexico. For example, from January - June 2010, Morelia saw a growth of 19.3 percent in hotel room availability and a 30.2 percent increase in hotel room occupancy compared to January - June of last year. Likewise, Huatulco saw a 9.6 percent growth in hotel room availability and 15.4 percent growth in hotel room occupancy, while Merida experienced a 5.9 percent growth in availability and 6.6 percent growth in occupancy during these same months.

Cruise Ship Passengers on the Rise
Cruise travel is also booming, witnessing the number of American cruise passengers in the first four months of 2010 increase 6 percent compared to 2009. The rise in Canadian cruise passengers was a healthy 9 percent compared to the same time last year. Today, Mexico has a repetition rate of 95 percent among cruise passengers arriving in Mexico.

Last year, Mexican ports received 5 million cruise passengers. This year, the ports expect to receive nearly 6 million. In fact, some carriers want to increase their presence in order to accommodate the larger demand of cruises into Mexico. In 2009, cruise tourism alone generated an economic spillover into Mexico of 500 million dollars, despite the economic crisis

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three Cheers for the California Condor in Baja

Near extinction in the 1980's these majestic creatures can still be seen flying over San Pedro de Martir National Park in Baja California. One of the few locations in the world where they are still visible. Like the Whale Shark, once you have seen one you will not soon forget the experience. With a wingspan of 10 feet these are some of the largest birds in the world and are revered by the locals and Native Americans alike. So rare are these birds that by 1987 only 27 existed in the world. Through conservation efforts there about 188 in the wild now with many living and breeding in the wild near the Observatory in the National Park of San Pedro de Martir in Central Baja California. Many local tribes have used the feathers of the condor in tribal ceromonies for generations. So thanks for hanging in there California Condor we'll see you in a few weeks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"You're listening to... Radiolab"

If you aren't already listening to Radiolab, you probably should be.

We like to play installments of this fantastic and enlightening radio show in podcast-form through Gus's speakers as the sun sets over one of our favorite beaches and just before the air temperature drops so that cooking dinner doesn't seem like a chore.

Self-described: "Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we'll feed it with possibility."

For your digestion, here's a short video that they just put out to supplement their most recent episode, called "Words":

Seriously, we're in love with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the hosts.

To listen to (or download) their podcasts, new and old, go to their website here. Don't forget to click on the "Shorts" tab for all the little supplementary goodies that belong to each episode. They add something new about once every two weeks, so you'll have to keep checking back. Or you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and have it update automatically on your computer/gadgety thing.

Some of our favorites:
-New Normal
-Memory and Forgetting

Happy listening!

(And if you need more listening material, check out our other favorite podcasts of radio shows: This American Life and Car Talk...)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baja Time - On the road down Baja

Baja Time

On the road down Baja you get a glimpse into the every day life of people, what they do, how they live, where they live. To most it seems incredible that a different culture and way of life exists merely 50 feet from the international border. You cross it and you’re immediately plunged into a different world. Even the hustle and bustle feels different.

Then you go further south and wide stretches of nothing and nowhere keep getting even wider between towns that seem to get smaller and less populated. You get this feeling that you are being taken away from anything and everything that you’ve been accustomed to.

Then it may not happen that same day or the next, and sometimes it happens gradually not suddenly, but it eventually happens— you find that you don’t bother asking what time it is in the day or what day it is in the week. It just stops as there’s no need to know or care. There is no place you need to be, no appointments to attend to. It might happen when lounging at a deserted beach, sitting to eat at a taco stand, or watching the road loop lazily into the distance.

It’s Baja where time is measured by how many pelicans dived into the ocean since you began watching, how many shooting stars you counted more last night from the previous night, how the sunlight filters down through the palm trees in an oasis and shimmers on the white sand at the beach.

And when it feels that it’s too soon to leave or that time actually did fly faster it’s still all good. Baja will still be here when you come back.

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another Kind of Veggie-Powered Bus

Hey! Check out this other cool retro-fit for a school bus: Richmond, Virginia's got their own "mobile micro farmers market on wheels," which motors around town taking farm-fresh produce from local farms to households in town. Pretty cool! The effort is called Farm to Family and also hosts a CSA program in addition to the market-on-wheels.

My favorite part is how they rebuilt the bus interior to hold baskets of yummy-looking veggies.

In their words: "Farm to Family is about building personal relationships within the community and bringing people together." Wait a minute! That kind of sounds like something we would say! And hey, doesn't this guy (to the left) even kind of look like Nico?! 

Perhaps we have some soul-mates over in Richmond...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Baja - Why it's so different

Sunset at Baja Baja’s waters call in different ways depending on where you are.

On the Pacific side it demands your attention by spewing forth foam and spray, its endless waves crashing against rocks and stones. You can feel the salt in your hair and taste it on your lips when the wind hurls delicate droplets toward shore.

And when the night comes it roars rushing ever onward, still roaring in spite of the changing tides. But it isn’t loud and obtrusive, no, it gently lulls you to sleep, rocks you til you wake in the grey dawn to find that the mist rose from its waters and unfolded itself, spreading wide and blanketing all that you see. Then the sun rising higher scatters the damp mist away and lays bare the Pacific once more in its roiling, seething grandeur.

But this is not so with the waters of the Sea of Cortez. Far from demanding your attention, your eyes are inexorably drawn unconsciously to its deep dark blue stillness. Yes, compared to the Pacific the Sea of Cortez is still and quiet. It whispers; its waves curling dreamily over sandy flat shores, its warmth soothing and calm.

Two different coasts, one peninsula, a world to discover.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baja Trek - The Idea

Baja Trek - The Idea

Ideas are powerful things. We often get asked about how the concept of Baja Trek came about. The mental wheels were actually set in motion a few years back.

After driving my old VW Bus through countless dirt tracks I came to a small village in the heart of Baja Mexico. Kids played Soccer on the dusty unpaved street they called the center of town. I clearly remember pulling up to the town's little park and getting out of my old Volkswagen to stretch. Children seemed to appear out of nowhere. They just stood, looked and smiled. For some strange reason I felt privileged to be in their company. One child ventured forward and said they were curious because they had never seen a person with blue eyes before. As they stared, an older women, a mother of one of the children, came out from her house and asked if I would like lodging for the evening. She said that her husband was the President of the village and they had a spare room they could give a wayward traveler. This unprompted invitation, took me aback. I have never experienced such outward kindness to a stranger in my life. This is Baja.

I accepted her kind invitation and we retreated to the President's house which was a very small 3 room home near the center of town. At sundown the president arrived and welcomed me to town while his wife lit lanterns to light the house. The town had never had electricity. I was still awed by the kindness of people who had so little to give. At this point I vividly remember asking myself "What can I do to help out"? Though they had very little, they gladly shared what they had. This is the reason for Baja Trek. The idea is to bring people together, through travel, to experience other cultures first hand, help the local economy of the places we visit and, hopefully, learn a little about ourselves along the way. Thanks for reading

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley

Monday, August 2, 2010

Santa Monica Surfers Invade Baja!!

Greeting Mighty Road-Mo-Nauts,

Just a quick post to let you all know what has been going on with the Gus Crew and around Trek Hq. Busy, Busy, Busy. Just last week we went down to a couple of double secret surf locations in sunny Baja. Thanks to the Santa Monica Surfers and 310 Surf Chicks who commandeered Gus the Beach Bus for 3 days of surfing and partying in Ensenada. After a long ride down a raggedy old dirt road we had our own uncrowded waves. Baja style! Oh and by the way, we're breezin' out again Aug 14 for the Mother of all Treks. The one and only Beach Express. So get up and get on. The road is calling!!!