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Is Mexico Safe? Get the Facts!

By August 28, 2017 Countries, Destinations, Travel
Do you Think Mexico is Safe? Get the Facts!

I’m sure by now you have read, watched, or heard all the media attention given a recent death in Mexico, and shortly following, the adjustment to the US State Department’s travel warning for Mexico.

Recently, I have fielded hundreds of questions on the topic of travel to Mexico, and have taken a lot of time to research facts. In a nutshell, there are concerns you must be aware, but frankly, they are NOT what the media and some individuals think. Lets go over the major questions, and some important insights that you have not been told.

  1. The news says Mexico is no longer safe for travel, is this true?  If you plan to go to Mexico, and start your own competing cartel in the drug trafficking business, Its definitely not safe. If your intent is to visit one of the fine All Inclusive resorts, visit a port on a cruise, or experience travel with a reputable tour operator, then I would have to say your visit to Mexico will be as safe as visiting any city in the United States under the same pretense. There are no warnings that include these specific tourist destinations,  and no events that have occurred within those safe parameters.
  2. But Didn’t the State Department specifically list specific states, and the towns within those states as dangerous? Yes, the state department made some very general warnings, by state, and included the names of some cities of concern. A thorough reading of the full warning makes it very clear that the concern is outside of the tourist properties within those states, and that no US citizens have been targeted specifically because of their nationality.  If you are visiting Mexico, and staying within the resort, You should be very safe. Wandering on your own, well outside the resort, in the local community, at dark, you take a huge unsafe risk. This risk isn’t because of your race, sex, or specific nationality. Its because you are an easy target – foreigners in general have travel money and at risk of robbed, or kidnapped til you make a sizable deduction at an ATM. You could also be the untimely, unintended, victim of gang battles that occur in that location.
  3. Why were these locations specified in the travel warning? The location were listed because of an uptick in the homicides, according to data being tracked by the US State Department. These homicides were admittedly targeted attacks on individuals, likely assassinations due to their association to a gang or one of its members. These homicides were not targeted toward tourists. Again, if you hook up with a local, and go to their home for drinks, your danger risk increases many-fold. Stay in your resort, the risk is extremely low.
  4. I’m still concerned as my recently booked cruise or resort is in those areas, what should I do? First, lets approach this pragmatically. Are you afraid to travel to the United States? How about specific states such as Florida, or Michigan? How about specific cities like New York, Boston, or Los Angeles? Foreign countries have travel warnings to all these places for their citizens. I’m not talking about North Korea, but countries like The United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, France, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Germany all who urge caution to U.S.-bound travelers. Statistically, you are more likely to be a homicide victim in your own state than in the Mexican state which your resort is booked. In fact, the rural states in the US have higher homicide rates than the Yucatan – where Cancun and many other resort communities, are located. Then consider that your resort is a private facility, with security, gated properties, and a vested interest by the local, state, and federal officials to keep those places safe. The last thing you should be thinking about is canceling your travel. That’s a kneejerk reaction to media fearmongering. Talk it over with a travel professional, and experts of the area.
  5. What about the deaths involving tainted or drugged alcohol?  There have been reports of people having issues after drinking alcohol at resorts. We don’t have the medical facts about all of these reports, however experts have reviewed what information is available and have surmised that a variety of causes are at play. Lets break them down:
    1.  Date rape drugs are a concern worldwide, including Mexico. Spring Break has more occurrences than any other time, but you could be a target anywhere, at anytime, and at any age. Alcohol alone is the #1 drug used for date rape, so the more you drink, the greater at risk you may become. Individuals can add other drugs, and it may be wise to reject any suspect beverage, or have a test kit on hand. You can get them here.
    2. The Mexican Government has revealed that over 30% of the alcohol available in the country is actually illegally manufactured. That doesn’t mean that 30% of it is unsafe to drink – just that the manufacturers are bootlegging the product, without the proper permits, inspections, and taxation required within Mexico. Some of it may also be unsafe to drink because it wasn’t properly brewed, distilled, or blended. Recent reports at the Iberostar resort of unsafe alcohol have been levied by some tourists. While their particular experiences are tragic, there is no evidence to support that the resort was serving tainted alcohol. There is evidence to support that it wasn’t.
    3. Alex Zozaya, CEO of the resorts’ parent company, Apple Leisure Group. was recently held to task on the matter. He confirmed that the resorts owned by that corporation (and their competitors) use the most reputable supplier in the country for over 90% of their alcoholic beverages, and that supplier has no record of problems distributing illegal alcohol. Frankly, knowing this, and that other resorts have not had this problem, it stands to reason that the cause lies elsewhere.
  6. So if tainted alcohol isn’t likely the real problem, what else could it be? As already stated, date rape drugs is a possibility. However, there can also be other organic, and environmental causes. 1. Its very common for travelers to arrive in Mexico, and go straight to the swim up bar. Long flight with associated typical dehydration, warm pool water, empty stomach, beverage with high alcohol content, and overindulgence can be a recipe for a medical disaster. A Hot tub can exacerbate the risk. Taking prescription medication with any combination of the above can also result in negative outcomes. Using any drug unlawfully with alcohol is just stupid, and has resulted in fatal incidents. Let’s be honest, these are probably the most likely causesassociated with tourists, especially when those events are occurring on the day of arrival. Studies have shown that each one of these on their own, can increase your rate of inebriation two to four times the normal rate of intoxication. Combined its a much higher rate, and can replicate the same symptoms found with date rape drug cases.  Consult your medical practitioner for greater detail on how your specific body handles alcohol in these circumstances.  Or better yet, get settled in, enjoy a meal, and rehydrate with no alcohol. You have the rest of your vacation so why ruin it on the first day.
  7. So you are saying the media was wrong? Bluntly, yes. They capitalized on a tragic event, made it salacious for their own interest, and avoided factual, honest journalism. They are still painting Mexico as an CNN Screenshot of typical media coverage on Mexicounsafe place to vacation, when real data, facts, and evidence from all reputable sources prove otherwise. Look, in the last 15 years, roughly only 20 cases have been reported. For the sake of comparison, lets add 30 more cases as unreported. 10 Million+ visitors go to Mexico annually. That’s 150 million people, of which 50 people possibly had an issue with tainted alcohol at a resort, cruise, tour.. That’s .0000003 probability that you would have an issue.
  8. What can I do to maximize my safety while traveling to Mexico? First, get involved with a reputable travel professional that has expertise in your destination. He/She can offer much in ways of protecting yourself by choosing safe travel options and destinations, insuring your travel investment, travel documentation, and more. Second, while traveling abroad, register your travel with the state department through the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP). Third, don’t be like most tourists who fail to get immunized for the area of travel, or take necessary health precautions. Of concern to tourists to Mexico are Hepatitis, Malaria, Typhoid, Zika, and Chikungunya. The CDC has recommendations here.
  9.  If its safe, why don’t I hear about it from the media? In my opinion, much of the US based mainstream media has become so focused on attracting your attention, and thus preserving their market share and valuable advertising income, that journalism has largely disappeared. They no longer operate foreign new bureaus, instead, they will promote the sensational points of a story without much of the less sensational, factual information. Honestly, relying on only one of two sources is going to leave you without the information you deserve to make an educated decision. In researching Mexican travel, over 100 reputable sources were utilized. What’s painful to point out is that the U.S. State Department has failed to list Alcapulco as a danger to tourists, yet it has had specific, tourist targeted attacks, homicides, kidnappings, and other events over the last 15 years, that should have it on a warning. For some reason yet to be discovered, they have failed to do so. These events are well documented in the NarcoBlog.  The media, nor the state department have been forthcoming and sharing details that are important to travelers. Frankly, Mexico has the 3rd largest homicide rate in the world, yet 90% of that occurs along the US/Mexico border and is associated with drug and human trafficking. Over 90% of tourists to Mexico do not go to these areas, instead traveling to destinations that for most of visitors, are safer than their home communities.
  10. If I have specific questions on a destination, can I ask you? Whether Mexico, or other destinations, I am happy to provide answers to your travel questions. I am associated with a number of consortiums and associations filled with experts for most destinations. If I don’t know the answer, I know who can provide  it, and I’ll share that information. The best traveler is the informed, prepared traveler. Leave your question in the comments.

Do you Think Mexico is Safe? Get the Facts!

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Explore the Splendors of Croatia – Tour Specials!

By February 24, 2017 Cities, Countries, Destinations, Family Travel, Fine Dining, Food, Tours

Explore the Splendors of Croatia

Discover this incredibly beautiful and diverse country.

Discover this incredibly beautiful and diverse country. Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split and Zadar are among the fabulous cities reflecting its rich culture with many UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will be transported back in time when strolling through winding stone-paved streets and squares. Enjoy one or more of the 8 national parks. Forests rich in vegetation, cascading lakes and beautiful travertine waterfalls create a masterpiece of nature. Also visit the fabulous Croatian Islands caressed by the sun, gentle breezes and aromas of pine and lavender filling the air. Enjoy the fabulous beaches with their crystal clear blue sea should not be missed!

The Splendors of Croatia: Croatia Escapade

12 Day Tour
Dubrovnik, Mostar, Plitvice, Sibenik, Split, Trogir, Zadar, and Zagreb

• Two nights in Zagreb, three nights in Zadar, two nights in Split and three nights in Dubrovnik at a selected first class hotels
• Four private 3 hour walking tours in Zagreb (funicular), Zadar, Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace a Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• All inclusive 7 day manual car rental with pick up/drop off at hotel
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
• Schedule small group tour to the Plitvice Lakes National Park
• Private transfers Zagreb Airport/Hotel & Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
11 Day Land Tour starting at
$995 per person, double occupany

Brac, Hvar, & Korcula: Croatia Island Hopping

11 Day Tour
Brac, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula, and Split

• One night in Split, two nights in Brac, two nights in Hvar, two nights in Korcula and two nights in Dubrovnik at a selected first class hotels
• Ferry transportation Split/Brac/Hvar/ Korčula/Dubrovnik
• Private transfers Split Airport/Hotel, Split Hotel/Pier, Brac Pier/Hotel, Brac Hotel/Pier, Korčula Pier/Hotel, Korčula Hotel/ Pier, Dubrovnik Pier/Hotel, Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
• Private 3 hour walking tour of Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace & Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
10 Day Tour starting at
$1130 per person, double occupancy

The Splendors of Croatia: Enchanting Croatia

10 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, and Ston

• Three nights in Split, three nights in Hvar and two nights in Dubrovnik at a selected hotels
• Ferry transportation Split/Hvar/Dubrovnik
• Two private 3 hour walking tour of Split (Diocletian’s Palace) & Dubrovnik (Rector’s Palace & Franciscan Monastery) including entrance fees
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service fees and taxes
• Private transfers Split Airport/Hotel, Split Hotel/Pier, Dubrovnik Hotel/Airport
10 Day Tour starting at
$995 per person, double occupancy

Croatia Food Tasting

8 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Konavle, Metkovic, Split, Ston, and Trogir

The food specialties of the Slavonian area abound with hot spices, home grown ingredients and meat. The famous paprika flavored sausage, kulen, is usually served with cottage or dried cheese followed by goulash meat stew or freshwater river fish paprikash. Along the Adriatic coast small wine growing and olive oil estates can be found almost everywhere. Authentic stone villages and olive mills scattered all over the Istrian Peninsula will transport you to the past. One of the most recognizable culinary treasures of this area is the world known Istrian white truffle. The Dalmatian cuisine closely related with the Adriatic sea and consists a great variety of sea food dishes such as fish stewed brodettos or risottos. Fresh Adriatic fish is usually grilled with local olive oil and served with boiled vegetables which make this cuisine one of the healthiest in the world. A must-try is also Dalmatian and Istrian dried ham.

• Three nights in Dubrovnik, two nights in Split, one night in Ston, one night in Korcula at a selected first class hotels
• 7 dinners and 6 lunches without drinks
• 3 wine tastings
• Private transfers and ferry
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service Fees and taxes
8 Day Tour starting at
$1890 per person, double occupancy

Croatia Wine Tasting

8 Day Tour
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Opatija, Split, Ston, Trogir, and Zadar

What makes Croatia interesting for wine lovers is the wide variety of wine categories and grape types grown throughout centuries in limited space. Croatia is divided into two main wine making regions: the continental and coastal region. The delightful continental region with its unspoiled countryside covered with fruitful plains and forests in Slavonia and the amazing green hills in Zagorje and Međimurje are the main providers of white wine varieties. The Adriatic area is known for producing the Bordeaux reds like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but also by the deep and intense colored Teran, considered the indigenous wine of Istria, together with white Malvazija. The outstanding scenery of the Dalmatian coast and its undisturbed Mediterranean vegetation is home to a stunning pallet of indigenous grape types. Tasting one of the most regarded Croatian red wines such as Postup and Dingač will take you to a fulfilling journey your senses will never forget!

• One night accommodation in Zagreb, Two nights accommodation in Opatija, two nights accommodation in Split, two nights accommodation in Dubrovnik
• 7 dinners and 6 lunches without drinks
• 3 wine tastings
• Private transfers
• Hotel stays include daily breakfast, service Fees and taxes
8 Day Tour starting at
$2160 per person, double occupancy

Interested in these tours? We are ready to answer your questions!

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Save More Money on Purchases in Mexico!

By January 5, 2017 Cities, Countries, Destinations, For Your Journey, Products

Everyone is looking for a deal, and appreciative when it can save some money. It’s Even better when an offer of savings can apply to purchases regardless if they are on sale, discount, or clearance.

In Mexico, foreign tourists can receive a tax refund valued to 8.96% on many purchases, as part of a tourism initiative that was started in 2008. Despite its nearly 10 years of operation, it is still fairly unknown, which translates into millions of pesos left unclaimed as a refund to tourists who had visited Mexico.

Don’t be one of those tourists who leave money behind! Here is what you need to know, so you can take advantage of this promotion.

  1. Only those departing Mexico by Air or Sea can qualify. If you are going by Land, sorry, you can’t participate.
  2. Have a photocopy of your passport, Immigration Document, or Cruise Pass and/or boarding pass to attach to your documentation. Private charter fliers can participate if they can present a flight manifest.
  3. Purchase only from Mexican retailers who display the TAXFREE or MONEYBACK signage. If in doubt, ask before your purchase, if the retailer is a participant.
  4. Current law in Mexico requires retailers to provide an invoice (receipt) to every international visitor with itemized details of your purchase. On the invoice should be the generic tourist code: XEXX010101000
  5. Only tangible purchases, that will be carried home in your luggage can qualify. No services, lodging, dining, online, or shipped purchases are accepted.
  6. Only 3,000 pesos worth of cash purchases can be claimed, but there is no maximum with purchases made on Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards. American Express credit cards are also acceptable.
  7. Retain all your invoices.
  8. Take your documentation, and invoices, to a refund kiosk located at the mall, cruise port, or airport. Additional paperwork will be completed and your refund submitted.

Mexico advertises that the refund will take 45-60 days, but some take over 9 months to process. The good news is that its money that was already calculated in the cost of the products you purchased, so the refund should be a benefit.

This promotion is available for use by retailers across Mexico, but you will likely only find it in destinations with many tourists. You will be able to participate in Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Taxco, Acapulco, Ixtapa, Merida, Loreto, Costa Maya, Cuernavaca, Queretaro, Puebla, La Paz, Puerto Chiapas, Ensenada, Leon, Mazatlan, Toluca.

I hope that this helps you save a little more money in your travels to Mexico.

If you send me an email, I will send you, at no cost, the brochure and submission document you will need to apply for the refund.

The Brochure is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.

 

save money in mexico

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5 Authentic Recipes from the Bahamas

By December 27, 2016 Countries, Food, Recipes

I recently made a trip to the Bahamas. If you’ve never been, you might consider a visit. Its close and easily accessible to the U.S. You can read about my visit Here. If you have spent any time on the islands, I’m certain you have encountered these dishes.

Many delicious foods are unique to the Bahamas, and I’ve chosen a few that are a top pick while visiting, that you might like to try again at home.

Peas ‘n Rice

This dish is a very common staple among the locals. It has been served in the Bahamas for as long as international explorers, settlers, rum runners and slave traders have occupied its many shores. Well… not exactly. Before rice was commonly imported, it was served as Peas ‘n Grits, and the peas are really a domestic bean from Africa, but other than those variables, its been around for a very long time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion – diced.
  • 1 green bell pepper – diced
  • 1/2 C  bacon grease or cooking oil
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 T coarse thyme or 2 fresh sprigs chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t browning sauce
  • 1 large can of regular pigeon peas or pigeon peas in coconut milk (Goya brand is common in US)
  • 2 C long grain white rice – Mahatma preferred (uncooked)
  • 3 C water
  • 5 QT Crockpot

Heat grease (oil) in pot. Add diced onions and peppers, and thyme. Sweat down until onions are t

ranslucent. Then add paste, salt, pepper, and browning sauce. Stir till well mixed. Add pigeon peas, water, and stir. Bring to boil. Slowly stir in the rice, reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Rice will color as it absorbs the water. When most of the water has absorbed, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until rice is fully cooked.

 

Historically, this would also have cooked meat stirred in, similar to jambalaya, and served as a complete meal. You could do so, or just serve this as a side. The bacon grease gives this an authentic flavor, but on the islands, you use what is available, so oil works just fine. Green pepper can be

Peas n' Rice

Peas n’ Rice

substituted with other colors, or even kicked up a notch with mild chili like Hatch or Anaheim. Don’t have any onion? Go with thin sliced celery. The point is that in the Bahamas, you use what you have, or change it to what you prefer, if the original recipe doesn’t suit your palate. Serves 4

 

Conch Fritters

Conch is a sea snail, that has been a staple in the Bahamas, even among the original occupants- the Lucayans. With the influence of many other cultures, and the availability of flour, and other vegetables, the Conch Fritter was born. Every restaurant in the Bahamas will have this as an appetizer, but you cannot go very far down a local road before you encounter a fry shop serving this as the main menu item. Frankly, they seem to taste better on the street.

Ingredients:

  • 5 C cooking oil
  • 3 medium conch – minced or ground
  • 1 bell pepper – finely chopped
  • 1 small onion – minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt

Directions: 

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350 degrees. Clean and skin conch, remove eye,  and put through a meat grinder or food processor. Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl to make a batter. Check batter for consistency. Too Runny – add some flour. Too Stiff – add just a little water. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon into hot oil.  fry for 4-5 minutes, then turn over for another 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Allow fritters to drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce

Dipping Sauce:

In a bowl, mix:

  • ½ C Catsup
  • ½ t horseradish
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

This basic recipe is used in the home. The local shops and restaurants modify it slightly in an attempt to set themselves apart from their competitors, and you are welcome to do the same to suit the recipe to your own palate. You can find this made with the addition of celery, goat pepper, carrot, etc.

Courtesy Bahamas Travel Guide

Conch Fritters

 

Can’t find Conch, or its cost prohibitive in your area, you can substitute with canned minced baby clams. Or just throw it to the wind, and go with finely minced crayfish, shrimp, or lobster. Might be just a delicious with bacon too!

The dipping sauce is pretty standard, but if you are making your own, I’d go with Fry Sauce. Its another cultural food novelty mostly found in Utah and East Idaho. I’ll have the recipe another day. Serves 4

Conch Salad

A fresh citrus marinated salad. Its refreshing, and very popular.

Ingredients:

  • 4  conchs – skinned and cubedBahamian Boiled Fish
  • 2 freshly squeezed limes
  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 Tomato – Diced
  • 1 Onion – Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper – Diced
  • 1 t salt

Process the conch first, and add it to the lime juice in a bowl. Then prepare all the other ingre

Bahamas Conch Salad

Bahamas Conch Salad

dients. As each ingredient is completed, add to the bowl. When all are added, its tradition to mix with your bare hands, but utensils are a better idea given that this is not cooked. Dish up contents in bowls, with plenty of the marinade.

 

You can also substitute other seafood, but unlike the conch, you will need to cook them first, as this marinade isn’t going to cure the ingredients the same way as would  a ceviche dish. Some wonderful additions can be other cubed fruit such a mango or pineapple. Serves 4

Fish Boil

If you have ever had a New England Boiled Dinner, you might be thinking that this dish is similar. While its roots might be tied to British and American colonists’ boiled cooking methods, a Fish Boil in the Bahamas is a more subtle, savory dish. The fish is not actually boiled, but simmered near the end of the cooking process.

Grouper is the ideal fish among the locals, however any whitefish will do just as nicely, so don’t hesitate to try this with snapper, cod, halibut, flounder or any other suitable species. One species that would do very well for you to request from your local fish shop is Lionfish. Its an invasive non-native species in the Caribbean, and because it has toxic spines, has not been a favored catch among fishermen. Cut those spines off though, and process like any other fish, and you have one of the best tasting fish on the market. By requesting this species, you’ll create a demand for Lionfish, and perhaps its numbers will finally be reduced, so native populations aren’t as impacted by this invader. If you do get your hands on this delicious species – you will be in for a real treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs of Grouper or other whitefish. Filets or bone-in are fine.
  • 2 Limes – juiced
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Pepper
  • 4 Potatoes – Large cubes
  • 2 Celery Stalks – Large Cubes
  • 1/4 Goat Pepper- diced (Or other hot pepper)
  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 T Cloves – Whole
  • 1 Garlic clove – chopped
  • 3 C Water

Season fish with lime juice, salt and pepper. Set side to marinate. In a pot, combine all other ingredieBahamian Boiled Fishnts, bring to boil and cover for 15 minutes until potatoes are just becoming soft. Uncover, add fish with lime juice to pot, setting on top of potatoes. Reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until fish is flaky. Don’t leave too long or it will fall apart, and potatoes will be mushy.

Place contents on plate, sided with Peas n’ Rice or buttered grits. Additions to consider are carrots or cabbage. Plantain also pairs very well. Serves 4.

 

Guava Duff

The Bahamas were part of the British commonwealth until fairly recently, and adapted many of their words and gastronomy. Duff is a traditional English word for pudding, and both duff and pudding have been used interchangeably in English literature. In the Bahamas it has more commonly been a substitute for the word dessert, although many of these are boiled/steamed much like English pudding anyway.

Guava Duff is served with a butter sauce, often infused with rum in true Caribbean style.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Sugar
  • 4 T Butter
  • 3 Eggs – beaten
  • 3 C Guava – mashed (seeds removed, then food processor or steamed and mashed)
  • 1 t Nutmeg – ground
  • 1 t Cinnamon – ground
  • 1/2 t Clove – ground
  • 4 C Flour
  • 2 t Baking Powder

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl, and blend till well creamed. Now add eggs, guava, and spices, blending until smooth. Add baking powder to flour and stir or sift until well mixed, then add to bowl with all other ingredients. Stir well until all ingredients are well mixed and a firm dough is formed.

Cooking has a number of options. Traditionally this would be cooked in a calico or light muslin p

Guava Duff

Guava Duff

udding bag. You can wrap in many layers of cheesecloth. If you don’t have such a bag or cloth, you can place in a long plastic bag and seal up, so long as no holes are present. A used plain bread bag would work. Another option is to use a double boiler, oil the top pot and put the duff evenly in the pot. The last option would be to put the duff in a narrow, empty can, and place in a pot of boiling water deep enough to come up to 3/4 way to the top of the can.

 

Boil / steam for 3 hours. Slice and serve with butter sauce drizzled on top.

Butter Sauce

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 t boiling water

Cream butter, then gently blend in sugar, as this stiffens, mix in the water.  Melt just before serving. If you want Butter Rum sauce, just add 1/2 T of rum, or 1/4 T rum extract in the mixing process.

Beverages

Bahamian meals would not be complete without authentic drinks. Personally, I don’t imbibe, and don’t encourage it. but if you do, these drinks can be mixed with 1-2 fl oz of your favorite liquor, such a rum, gin, brandy.

Switcha

This is a staple citrus beverage in the Bahamas. Nobody is quite sure how it got its name, but it will definitely please.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Lime Juice (preferably Key Lime)
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 1 C Simple Syrup (Or granulated sugar)
  • 1 Gallon Water

Mix all the ingredients, and chill for 1-2 hours or serve directly over ice. This is a tart, but less puckering version of limeade. To make this like a limeade, just cut the water to half. Key limes really make the difference here, but whatever limes you can acquire to juice will be fine. Least preferable would be to use bottled juice. Locals who have no lemons available, have opted to use orange juice, which is an interesting, refreshing variation. Serves 8

Sky Juice

This was originally an alcoholic beverage that required a very non Caribbean alcohol – vodka. With the exception of the resort towns, that ingredient is not as prevalent or popular, and thus it has also been made with more commonly available liquors. But there is still a large demand for it without alcohol ie “unleaded” as some locals like to say.

Ingredients

  • 3 C Coconut Water
  • 1 C Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and chill for 2-3 hours. If you have had the good fortune of getting fresh coconut water, use the coconuts to serve this simply delicious drink. It will take 5 to 6 coconuts to have enough water. You can use the Canned Coconut water just as easily. Its reminiscent of Horchata but with a tropical twist. This can also be processed in a blender with ice to create a very nice frozen drink!

 

For those of you who have visited the Bahamas, I anticipate that these recipes will bring back fond memories. Those that haven’t yet visited, What are you waiting for?  Until you can visit, these recipes will give you a small taste of the Bahamas.

bahama-recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you looking for Over-the Water Bungalows?

By December 12, 2016 Countries, Destinations, Travel

For many years, Tahiti has held the market for Over-the-Water resort stays, but options for other destinations is rapidly expanding!

Sandals recently debuted the Caribbean’s first-ever Over-the-Water Villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Dec. 1, 2017. These are the first of their kind in the region, and are designed to “convey an intimate connection to the Caribbean Sea.”

With these new Over-the-Water Villas already in high demand, it was no surprise that Sandals Resorts has announced they are creating additional Over-the-Water suites at new locations throughout the Caribbean. These new suites will be unveiled at select “Luxury Included” resorts throughout 2017 and 2018, including 12 additional Over-the-Water Bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean slated to open in March 2017.

In a recent press release Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman and Founder of Sandals Resorts said, “I have always said that being out on the water is where I am happiest, and with these suites, guests can experience a direct link to the Caribbean Sea.”

Each of the five villas has a different design, representing the Feng Shui elements: Wood, Water, Fire, Earth and Metal. The interior and exterior spaces are merged through expansive glass doors, facilitating couples’ opportunity to admire the beauty of the ocean from their private infinity pool, on an over-the-water hammock, or through glass floor panels.

Beyond the majestic ocean views, guests staying in the Villas have access to unparalleled services and exclusive resort amenities; from 24/7 butler service, and personalized in-room dining, to private yoga classes and direct resort access via a “Royal Duffy” luxury boat.

Additional villa features will include: “personal airport greeting with expedited immigration; private luxury resort transfers; House of Marley sound system; welcome gift, including a branded beach tote and towel set; Molton Brown bathroom amenities, free Wi-Fi and more.”

These Villas are built along a beautiful wooden boardwalk, and are connected to land at Sandals Royal Caribbean’s offshore private island, Sandals Cay. The island features a signature pool-bar; two restaurants- The Jerk Shack, offering authentic rustic cuisine and Royal Thai, capturing the flavors of the East; and a number of nestled hideaways.

Sandals Cay is a 10 minute transfer from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport. The hotel features over 200 rooms and suites and in addition to the Over-the-Water Villas and Bungalows, there are also recently renovated “Romeo & Juliet Suites” and “Windsor Beachfront Club Level” rooms. The “Luxury Included” resort also features eight on-property restaurant and bars, with access to 12 additional five-star Global Gourmet dining experiences at Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Inn through Sandals Resorts’ “Stay at One, Play at Three” program.

Rates for the Over-the-Water Villas begin at $2,870 per couple, per night, while the Over-the-Water Bungalows are available for booking ahead of the 2017 debut, will begin at $2,200 per couple, per night.

But it doesn’t end there! Sandals will be developing additional Over-the-Water lodging on its other properties, and we will share those details as they become available, so “Stay Tuned!”

Ready to book? Contact your Travel Professional.

For more information on these villas, visit sandals.com.

 

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Excellent Source for Travel Brochures!

By December 7, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cities, Countries, Cruising, Destinations, Family Travel, Fishing, For Your Journey, Products, Solo Travel, Tours, Travel, Wild Places, Wildlife & Safari

If you travel at all, you appreciate the value of good travel brochures that inspire, and educate you about great destinations .

It does get frustrating when I lose them, or want to review one while I am abroad, and don’t have access to them.

Ah, but technology can fix this! If you have internet access, I have found an online source for hundreds of up-to-date travel brochures. They update regularly, and I don’t need to re-order or carry around glossy copies. I can download those that I really like, to keep with me on my laptop, or tablet.

And look, you can even sort them by location and other parameters. I’m always discovering something new in these brochures!

You can see the entire selection by clicking the image or get your Brochures Here.

Enjoy over 100 Travel Brochures provided by East-West Global Travel

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Why haven’t you visited Bimini Bahamas?

By November 29, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cheap Eats, Countries, Destinations, Fishing, Tours, Travel, Wildlife & Safari

And I’m sure at this point you are asking Where? Even if you have been to the Bahamas, odds are very high that you haven’t been tobimini the “Gateway to the Caribbean.”

If you are the traveler that likes those “sleeper destinations” where amenities and decent lodging is available, yet there is plenty of space to explore (or lose yourself), Bimini should be on your list.

In fact, if you are the Ernest Hemingway type, this is the perfect island for you! Hemingway spent much time here, staying at The Compleat Angler. While the hotel has been destroyed by fire, most of Bimini retains its authentic feel that is reflected in Hemingway’s writings like “Old Man and the Sea.”

Hemingway isn’t the first famous person to live on Bimini. Ponce de Leon scoured the shores, mangroves, and highlands in search of the Fountain of Youth. While it wasn’t discovered, there a certain calmness and ease on the island that makes you feel younger, more refreshed. Perhaps that mojo rubbed off on another visitor – Jimmy Buffett.

Getting there

Bimini is just shy of 50 miles off the coast of  Florida. While you probably could hitch a ride on one of 10,000 sport travel-to-biminifishing boats that will ply the gulf stream between Miami and Bimini, I would recommend a more conventional approach.

FRS Caribbean is the primary ferry service operating daily to Bimferry-caribbean-san-gwannini. For just under $200, you can get roundtrip transportation from Miami, and arrive in about 2 hours.

If air is more appealing, Silver Airways operates regional jet service from Miami, and Tropic Ocean operates seaplane service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Both range from $300 to $500 for roundtrip service.seaplane

If you are a US or Canadian citizen, just bring your passport. Other countries need to check with your consulate for details.

Staying on the Island

Unless you are looking for a dive, or intent on squatting along the beach, the best choices in my opinion are Resorts World, Hilton, Bimini Big Game Club, and Bimini Sands.

Resorts World is located on North Bimini near the apex peninsula that extends over to East Bimini. Tcruise-2016_8559ahey offer very nice condo, cottage, and villa lodging, ranging from studio to 5 bedroom properties. Free trams and shuttles take you to the marina, casino, beach, and shopping areas, as well into downtown Bailey and Alicetown. The beach area is standard fare for resorts, complete with water sports, jetskis, lounge chairs, umbrellas etc. Prices start as $250 per night.

Hilton at Resorts World was completed summer 2016. Its a fresh and inviting structure, located within Resorts World, and houses the new casino. It also functions as the main terminal for shuttles and trams. Onsite restaurants, coffee bar, nightclub, and more, offer all that you have come to expect in the Hilton line. Prices start at $275.

Bimini Big Game Club began has a supper club, and evebbgc-marinantually moved to its current location to expand to a renowned resort and marina. Dining here is still as popular as before, and the resort services have kept pace with its reputation. Its an older property, but that doesn’t reflect on the quality or service found here. Its located near the southern end  of North Bimini, in Alicetown. Not far from the haunts of Ernest Hemingway and other famous visitors. There is a pool area at the resort, and 2 blocks west is Radio Beach, so named as its location was ideal to pick up radio signals from the United States. Prices start at $189.

Bimini Sands is located on South Bimini, not far from the airport, and just north of Port Royale. Its effectively a condo structure built around a private marina, with about half also facing the open ocean. Clean and quiet, its location is perfect for those who enjoy quiet time on deserted beaches, or exploring the many paths within the adjacent nature preserve. Prices start at $280.

I viewed all four properties in November of 2016, and found them

to be of good value for your money. While many travelers are looking for low budget rates, I wouldn’t recommend any other locations at this time. If you have visited Bimini, and have input on other locations, I would love to hear from you.

Thing to Experience

First, going to Bimini and not going fishing, is akin to going to the North Pole and not visiting Santa. Except the fishing is real, and its epic! The gulf stream flows right between Florida and Bimini, and the coral reefs are teaming with life. An abundance of fish await your bait. whether you are a dock fisherman, or deep s

Ansil Saunders Master Boatbuilder and Fishing Guide

Ansil Saunders Master Boatbuilder and Fishing Guide

ea sport, you are bound to have a great time.

As for me, on my next visit, I’m going to look up Ansil Saunders, and spend a day fly fishing. Ansil is a renowned guide who has been awarded for his skill and service. Ansil first hit the world scene when he was the guide for Martin Luther King Jr, who was on respite on Bimini, just prior to receiving the Noble Peace Prize. Ansil hasn’t stopped since, and everyone gets the same world class service, no matter your station. Spending a day with Ansil would be fine enough without catching anything, but his reputation indicates I’ll catch plenty.

Second, book a guided tour with the Resorts World staff. They will spend 4 hours with you, visiting both islands,cruise-2016_8411a and showing the local haunts, historic locations, mythical places, and more. It will set the base for what to do, and where else you might want to visit over the duration of your stay. You’ll get more value if its a private tour. Plan on visiting the well allegedly investigated as the fountain of youth by Ponce de Leon.

Third, go on a diving excursion. They are less expensive here than found in other international marine areas. You can snorkel in the mangrove areas, or full on SCUBA on the edge of the reef. An international shark research center is located on Bimini, and perhaps you might find the courage to be involved with one of their studies of the Lemon Shark!

Fourth,  Find yourself a local Conch Shop. They’ll treat you right, serving up conch fritters, fried conch, and other dishes made of conch. Its a mainstay of the Bimini diet.

Fifth, arrange for a trip out to the Healing Hole. A natural subsurface well, that percolates mineral laden fresh water into the sea water above. Its well hidden among the mangroves, and missed by Ponce de Leon. Clearly its not a fountain of youth, but the mineral content is high enough to have some health benefits. Before the end of the last ice age, this natural well would have been above water. If you have ever visited Soda Springs, Idaho, or Montezuma’s Well in Arizona, this would have been quite similiar. Some even speculate that the well was used by the Antlantean people written about by Plato (Same people who presumably occupied the city of Atlantis.) Couple this with the modern spirituality movement who have declared Bimini and the Healing Hole as a energy vortex, and you have reason to at least visit the location. (Sedona Arizona is the epicenter of said vortexes.)

Sixth, Go visit Ashley Saunders and his Dolphin House. If you do the tour as mentioned in #2, you will visit this location. If you have chosen to forego the tour, at least make time to visit this iconic house. Ashley Saunders is a poetcruise-2016_8427a laureate in the Bahamas, who has written a two volume history of the Bimini islands. In 1993, he began building a home that could withstand the harshest of hurricanes. The walls are thick and the home constructed of recycled materials. These items come available when other buildings are destroyed in the storms, and then gathered by Saunders to further his expansions. His artistic side is demonstrated in the extensive murals and designs on every wall of the property. Named the Dolphin House after his love of Dolphins, and a Dolphin tile mosiac above the doors of his museum and gift shop. The second floor is full of mosiacs made of shells, tiles, and license plates from all 50 US states. Donations are appreciated.

There is much more to do and see on Bimini, and I hope you discover them as you experience the six I have listed.  Its certainly a place that draws you in, with its own unique flair and mystique.

If you are ready to visit, reach out by email, as I would be happy to discuss more about Bimini.

cruise-2016_8564a

 

 

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