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Dear Readers, if your answer is “yes” to the above question, I would like to ask you to participate in a survey by my friend, Zeferino Mendoza.

Zeferino is a Zapotec weaver from Teotitlán, where he participates in the village’s system of cargo (community service), speaks and teaches Zapotec, and studies Cultural Management and Sustainable Development at the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca.  He is currently working on a thesis about cultural tourism and believes:

that the culture of Teotitlán deserves to serve as a sustainable development of the village…. This time I need to survey the range, the advantages and disadvantages of the village to hold and promote cultural tourism.”  My thesis is a diagnosis of its cultural potential to highlight the attractions, services and activities…. I eventually, will do some research among the Zapotec people, its artisans, cooks, and guides so we can have a broader idea about the practice of tourism.

This survey is for an academic study in order to better promote tourism in the village of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca.  Please send your numbered answers directly to:  gestionculturalteotitlan@gmail.com  And, if you have friends who have visited Teotitlán, please consider forwarding the survey to them.

1. Your age:    a) less than 30        b) between 30 a 60        c) 60 and over

2. Where are you from?______________________________________________

3. Gender:     a)  Male       b)  Female

4. How much are you willing to spend or did you spend?

a)  $ 500-1,000 Mexican pesos

b)  $ 1,000-5,000 Mexican pesos

c)  $ 5,000-10,000 Mexican pesos

d)  More than $ 10,000 Mexican pesos

5. When are you planning to visit or did you visit?__________________________

6. Would you recommend visiting Teotitlán del Valle to friends/family?

a)  Yes    b)  No   c)  Maybe

7. What brought you to visit Teotitlán?

a) a guide-book    b) a recommendation from a friend

c) Other: ___________________________________________________________

8. What draws you to visit Teotitlán del Valle?

a) Museum   b) Weaving    c) Hiking   c) Riding horses   d) Restaurants

e) Other: ___________________________________________________________

9. What other kinds of activities interest to you?

__________________________________________________________________

10. What aspects of culture would you like to know more about?

__________________________________________________________________

11. What aspect of culture or customer service did you enjoy the most?

__________________________________________________________________

12. What kind of problems have you experienced during your stay that have not been resolved to your satisfaction?

__________________________________________________________________

13. Have you enjoyed your visit?    a) Yes      b) No

c)  Other: ___________________________________________________________

14. Did you find everything as you expected about the village?     a) Yes     b)  No

c)  Other: ___________________________________________________________

15. Was it your first time in Teotitlán?   a) Yes    b) No

c) Other: ____________________________________________________________

16. What questions or suggestions do you have?

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

If you have any questions about the survey, please email Zeferino:  gestionculturalteotitlan@gmail.com

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A week and a half ago, we were strolling Havana’s Paseo de Prado.  It was a sunny, blue-sky, already hot and humid Saturday morning.  Amid the backdrop of crumbling, but not abandoned, buildings, vendors had set up their stalls…

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and were ready to sweet talk a tourist or two into buying a tchotchke or three or four.

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Locals walked purposefully down the uncrowded promenade.

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All was tranquil, save for those gathered on one of the blocks (middle of the image below) to buy and sell properties.

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The scene and the people were a far cry and a world apart from the glitz and glamour of the Chanel fashion show staged along that same paseo yesterday.  The average monthly wage in Cuba is the equivalent of $20 (US), thus I find the spectacle of European haute couture prancing down the Prado, in the center of Havana, deeply troubling — never mind the exploitative use of stereotypes.   Here’s what local Cuban designer, Idania del Rio had to say:

“I think that catwalk is going to be more for Chanel than for Cuba. I don’t know whether the people here in Cuba are ready for this type of product.”

Nevertheless, as a fashion designer she was curious: “I want to see what $40,000 clothing looks like,” she said.

Afterwards, the 33-year-old was not entirely impressed: “It was very interesting and maybe too nostalgic. A lot of Cuban cigars, colours and hats from another era. It represented a Cuba that doesn’t interest me right now, because today’s Cuba is another, more contemporary Cuba.”

I’m glad we weren’t still there; I don’t think I could stomach the over-the-top excess versus the real need we saw around every corner.  I don’t know…  Does Cuba really want to return to it’s decadent pre-revolutionary role of being playground to the world’s wealthy?  Trickle down economics has an abysmal track record, so I’m not sure that it’s the best model for Cuba to follow

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… in their shoes.  A couple of weeks ago, as I crossed the Alameda, I came across the following scene.

Blindfolded Municipal Police

According to this article in Noticias, this is part of the Blind Accessible Tourism 2013 project of the Municipal Tourism Office.  “During the tour, the participants experience the uncertainty that visually impaired people feel when walk the streets, and reflect on the importance of signs with street names written in Braille and audio traffic lights,” said Vladimir Martinez Lopez, who has been blind since age 11 and is the instructor for the course.

I blogged about the Braille street signs and the library for the blind and visually impaired soon after the signs began appearing at the beginning of 2012.  Since then, I’ve seen them used by the sightless and intrigue and stimulate conversation among the sighted.

Blindfolded police walking with white canes

Now if they could just do something about the hazards of crossing the street at the intersections.  Be they cars, buses, trucks, or motorcycles, they do not stop before turning a corner.  Visually impaired or sighted, it’s like playing Russian Roulette!

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… and I’m not talking weather!  Today, I headed down to Soriana for a major restocking of the empty larder.  As I was perusing the wine section, a new sign caught my eye.

Sign - "Estimada clientela: Anticipe sus compras de vinos, licores y cervezas ya que el fin de semana habra ley seca por disposicion oficial por motivo de las elecciones federales.

(Translation: Anticipate your purchases of wines, spirits and beer for the weekend. There will be an official prohibition on selling because of federal elections.)

In the event you were unaware, there is a big election in Mexico this weekend; on Sunday, July 1, Mexican voters elect their next president.  In anticipation, the above sign went up and Noticias reported that Oaxaca’s governor, Gabino Cue, announced on Monday that alcohol sales are forbidden from midnight June 30 through midnight  July 1 — the entire 24 hours of election day.  This, he said, was in compliance with the provisions of the Federal Code of Electoral Institutions and Procedures, “thus ensuring the safe and harmonious development of the Federal Election Day on Sunday 1 July.”

I’m confused!  According to an article in NOTIMEX and other sources, the 1915 federal law prohibiting the sale of alcohol 24 hours before the elections and throughout election day (Paragraph 2 of Article 239 of the Código Federal de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales (Cofipe) was repealed prior to the 2006 presidential election.  It was a nod to the states with a heavy-duty tourism industry.  No cervezas and no margaritas for 24 hours equals unhappy campers at Mexico’s popular resorts!  Regulation was left up to the individual states.

So I ask, is Oaxaca’s ban a state statute?  Or, has the federal law changed again?  Or, has word of the 2006 change not reached this far south?  Hmmm…

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We, who live or spend a significant amount of time here in Oaxaca, can’t say it too many times…

Are Americans safer in Mexico than at home?

Robert Reid Lonely Planet author

Every week or so I get asked, ‘Is it safe to go to Mexico?’ I had always said, if you’re thoughtful about where you go, yes. But after my most recent trip there, I’m changing my answer… to a question:

Do you think it’s safe to go to Texas?

To be clear, violence in Mexico is no joke. There have been over 47,000 drug-related murders alone in the past five years. Its murder rate – 18 per 100,000 according to this United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime report – is more than three times the US rate of 4.8 per 100,000. Though Mexican tourism is starting to bounce back, Americans appear more reluctant to return than Canadians and Brits (5.7 million Americans visited in 2011, down 3% from 2010 – and, according to Expedia, more than four of five bookings were adults going without children). Many who don’t go cite violence as the reason.

What you don’t get from most reports in the US is statistical evidence that Americans are less likely to face violence on average in Mexico than at home, particularly when you zero in on Mexico’s most popular travel destinations. For example, the gateway to Disney World, Orlando, saw 7.5 murders per 100,000 residents in 2010 per the FBI; this is higher than Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, with rates of 1.83 and 5.9 respectively, per a Stanford University report (see data visualization here, summarized on this chart, page 21). Yet in March, the Texas Department of Public Safety advised against ‘spring break’ travel anywhere in Mexico, a country the size of the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy combined. Never mind that popular destinations like the Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica have far higher homicide rates (36, 42 and 52 per 100,000). Why the singular focus?

Before you nix Mexico altogether, consider these five things:

[Read full article HERE]

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