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Visit Zacatecas – Where Culture and History Meet Beauty and Excitement

Visit Zacatecas – Where Culture and History Meet Beauty and Excitement

Mexican Insurance Review

Visit Zacatecas for an authentic Mexican experience.

When people think of Mexican culture and history, most people will think of the pyramids of Teotihuacan just north of Mexico City. They are wonderful and deserve their place.
Zacatecas

One of the shining jewels of Mexico is the City of Zacatecas. Zacatecas is truly a confluence of culture, history, beauty, and modern excitement.

When you visit Zacatecas, one of the first landmarks to become visible is the Cerro de la Bufa. Look for a natural rainbow-shaped wave formation. It’s the tallest peak in the city and at night it’s all lit up.

During the day it is worth taking a bus or driving up to visit La Bufa. It’s a treat to enjoy many sites and attractions there.

Cerro de la Bufa
Cerro de la Bufa

At La Bufa one can overlook the panorama of the city When doing so, a photo with a larger-than-life Pancho Villa is a must-do, as well. Pancho Villa is a hero here.  It’s because he played an important role in liberating Zacatecas from the Spanish during the Mexican Revolution.

In addition to Mr. Villa, there is a monastery and a cable car (Teleférico). At the base of the Cerro de la Bufa is the historic centro which includes an insightful Mining tour showcasing the rich abundance of silver that made Zacatecas into the city it is.

Zacatecas Centro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The UNESCO World Heritage designation is no joke.  The truth is, it’s not difficult to see why.

Surprisingly walkable and very safe, the centro is a wonderful place to simply start walking. At night the environment becomes more festive with a charming nightlife and playful traditions.

One of those traditions is the callejoneadas or alleyway parties. These can happen at any time. Loud traveling musicians will romp through the small streets and alleys dancing and having a great time. Along the way, there will be people holding big bottles of rot-gut mescal or a beer-derived punch called Heribertas. At many of the squares or plazas in the centro, find dancing and live music. In one of the squares, watch the history of the city projected onto the façade of a cathedral. It’s truly spectacular to watch.

Quinta Real Hotel
Quinta Real Hotel surrounds Mexico’s First Bullfighting Ring and the Roman-styled Aqueduct.

Zacatecas also features some very unique aspects. Mexico’s first bullfighting ring is in Zacatecas. Perfectly preserved, the ring is now encompassed by the elegant and stately Quinta Real Hotel. The bullring itself is used for public and private events including weddings and celebrations. Running alongside the Quinta Real Hotel is the original Roman-style arched aqueduct.

Fine dining and exciting nightlife can be found throughout the city. Zacatecas has a significant European feel to it, and many authentic world flavors can be found right here for your epicurean pleasure.

Zacatecas features a world-class university that draws in a diverse cross-section of students.

Find Zacatecas about 75 minutes away from San Miguel de Allende and 3 hours from Guadalajara.

Wonderful evening in the Centro Historico

Zacatecas deserves at least an overnight visit and preferably a weekend to enjoy the many wonders of this small but vibrant and critically important city.

Zacatecas is in the northern central region of Mexico situated below Durango. One of the first things visitors will notice is that it’s at a high elevation. The city sits at just over 8,000 feet (2440m). This means that even the hottest Mexico days remain comfortable and enjoyable. The high elevation also means that it occasionally snows during the wintertime.

Driving is very easy from the US border. It’s located about two days south of the international border.  Most routes pass through some spectacular regions of Mexico.  These can include Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Durango, depending on your route. You will need a Passport, Visa, and Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TVIP). Of course, you’ll also need Mexican Insurance because accidents do happen.

History of Zacatecas projected onto a facade.
A band in one of the town’s centro plazas.
Statue of Pancho Villa at the top of La Cerra de la Bufa
Roman styled Aqueduct running through Zacatecas
Group of cub scouts walking through the centro historico.
A photographer uses the centro as a backdrop for his model
Mexico’s first Bullring
The Teleferico running over the historic centro.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, displays the Baroque style.

What Are the Necessary Documents To Travel In Mexico?

Best Mexican Insurance

One of the most common questions people ask about traveling in their personal vehicle in Mexico is, “What are the necessary documents to travel in Mexico?”

This question doesn’t have one answer but rather a set of answers determined by your destination and duration in Mexico.

Let’s start, first and foremost, with what you always need to have, no matter what. For any traveling in Mexico, you must bring a Passport (or Passcard) for every person traveling in your group. Second, you should have the best Mexican insurance policy for your vehicle be it car, RV, or motorcycle. If you are towing a car with your RV, both vehicles need to have insurance.

Lastly, each vehicle must have a home state-issued vehicle registration form. It must be the original and not a copy.

With that out of the way, let’s go further.  There are two documents a visitor may need to get depending on the duration of the stay and the location of the intended destination.

Tourist Visa

The first document you probably need is a Tourist Visa. A Visa is official permission to be in Mexico. Like every other country on earth, Mexico requires a Visa of some sort to legally be in the country. There is a little loophole for those staying 72 hours or less and not going too deep into Mexico. If your travels do not go further than 15 miles across the border or in the case of Sonora south of Guaymas or beyond Baja California, you do not need one. If you are staying longer than 72 hours, you have two options.

You can obtain a free 7-day Tourist Visa with a crucial caveat, or pay for a full visa good for up to 180 days for the asking.

One must return the free 7-Day Tourist Visa to an INM Immigration office, and your passport must be stamped that you are leaving, before crossing back into the USA and before the seven days are up. If you neglect this task, you will be obligated to pay the full 180-day visa price plus a penalty before you can get a new visa.

Furthermore, returning the Visa in Baja California can be quite tricky.  The INM Immigration office is not conveniently located by the egress point, where you cross the border in many cases.
You are supposed to return and officially check out of Mexico, when leaving with the full 180-Day Visa, as well. There is no penalty if you don’t.

Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TIP or TVIP)

If you thought the visa was tricky, the TVIP is a little more complicated.

Documents To Get To Travel In Mexico
Sonora’s Hassle-Free Zone

If you are traveling exclusively in Baja California, Baja California Sur, or the Hassle-Free Zone in Sonora, you do not need a TVIP.

If you plan to take the Ferry at La Paz over to the mainland, you must have a TVIP before boarding the ship.

Fortunately, you can get a TVIP at several places south of the border, as long as you already have your tourist visa. If you do not have a visa, forget it. They will tell you to go back to Ensenada or Nogales to get your visa.  Since you’re smart and you have your visa, you can easily get a TVIP in (The port at La Paz) or Empalme (Guaymas).
It’s good for as long as your Visa is good.

If you get a TVIP, you MUST turn it in, before the expiration date to get your deposit back. If you fail to return your TVIP before the expiration date, you lose your deposit.  Furthermore, expect to explain to Aduana how you didn’t sell your vehicle in Mexico. The duties for selling your vehicle in Mexico total about half of the value of the vehicle.

It may be an inconvenience, but you must return your TVIP before leaving Mexico.  This is the only way to receive your deposit back. Except for Baja California, most Banjercito locations are located at the same or similar Immigration checkpoints you used when crossing into Mexico. In Mexicali, the Banjercito is located at the east gate (Garita II). In Tijuana, the Banjercito is near the airport at the Otay Mesa crossing. Tecate’s Banjercito is right at the border crossing.  Drive to it and they will direct you to park west of the entrance gate and walk to cancel out your visa and TVIP.

Do not be tempted to travel with your US or Canadian plated vehicle outside of Baja California, Baja California Sur, or Sonora’s Hassle-Free Zone without the proper permit. There are checkpoints throughout the country, at random locations, to verify current and proper registration. Failure to have this could mean a lot of grief, vehicle impoundment, and fines.

How and where to get these documents

When crossing the border, most border crossings will have an INM Migration office and Banjercito.  They’re located either right adjacent to the crossing or just out of town when on the mainland on the main roads headed south. Unless it’s a major holiday or a Saturday morning, the lines are usually only a couple of minutes long.

Alternatively, one can order these online, but there is some risk involved in doing so. Generally, the biggest risk is if you wish to take another vehicle, you can’t.  Still, even when you get the TVIP online, you still must get it stamped as you enter Mexico.

Those reasons alone make it worth simply stopping at the border Immigration center and taking care of everything there.

One thing is super easy though, and that’s making sure you have the best Mexican insurance policy before you leave for your trip. It’s fast, easy, and required before entering Mexico. Simply Shop, Buy and Print your policy in minutes. Please leave a comment or a question below.


6 Reasons to Make Your Next Mexico Vacation a Road Trip

Important News and Information by Mexican Insurance Store

Mexican Insurance Store

Story by Jim Foreman

Each year over thirty-five million people visit Mexico. It’s not difficult to understand why. The beaches are some of the best in the world accompanied by spectacular warm weather during the traditional months.
A vast majority of visitors choose to either fly or take a cruise ship to Mexico. Despite that, there is a growing number of people who are choosing to drive down from the US or Canada to visit Mexico.
The reasons are obvious, including cost savings. Taking out the financial factor, there remains a compelling argument to make your next visit an overland visit to Mexico.

This option is not nearly as far-fetched as it may seem.  Take a look at this Happiest Countries In The World’. There’s a good reason for that, but you’ll probably never discover it if you stay at a mega-resort and choose not to spend time with locals.
Spanish is one of the most important languages one can learn. Being even somewhat capable in Spanish can open a tremendous world of wonderful experiences and opportunities.

4. Discover Pueblos Magicos Along The Way

This is a huge aspect that is lost when one limits themselves to a mega-resort. Pueblos Magicos are towns, cities, or villages that have unique and charming characteristics that truly deserve discovery.
Many are wonderfully preserved colonial towns while others offer warmth and culture that one won’t find elsewhere.
Go to Visit Pueblos Magicos to discover some Pueblos Magicos along your journey. In nearly all cases, they are worth it.

5. You Have Transportation The Entire Time

When you fly or take a cruise ship, one thing becomes immediately obvious. You are entirely dependent on expensive shuttles, taxis, or organized tours. When you drive your own vehicle, you can go anywhere, any time you wish without having to worry about departure times, bus numbers, or leaving a destination sooner than you wanted. You can also move on if you decide the place you’re staying isn’t ideal for you. Renting a car may seem like a good idea at first, especially for $10 – $15 per day, but you are forced at the counter to purchase insurance at $35 – $40 per day too and this adds up fast.

6. Street Tacos and Authentic Food

This really must not be understated. The food is something wonderful. Far beyond what most gringos equate to Mexican food, a culinary paradise is at your fingertips when you explore regions overland.
Whether it’s a street vendor offering up Horchata con Coco (a delicious drink) or a vendor serving ceviche or coctels mariscos, you are guaranteed some excellent and memorable eating at a drastically reduced price over what you pay in common tourist areas.

There are many more reasons to choose an Overlanding adventure. Naturally, there are some guidelines and legal requirements you must pay mind to drive your car, motorcycle, or RV into Mexico. You can learn about them in this award-winning article detailing what’s required and how to safely and successfully travel in Mexico.
Additionally, please read this important story about Safety and Mexico to better understand the realities and realistic expectations of traveling.

As you can probably guess, it’s quite fun and easy to travel in your own car in Mexico. All you need is a destination, your Passport, and a Mexican Insurance Policy By Mexican Insurance Store.

 


San Felipe, BC – Mexico’s Other Weekend Destination

Everyone could use a weekend in San Felipe -Unknown

Mexican insurance, San Felipe
Group of Friends on the Malecón

When you say “Weekend in Mexico,” you’ll likely hear Ensenada, Rocky Point, or Rosarito.

Occasionally, someone smart will say, ‘Why not spend the weekend in San Felipe?’ Not to say the other destinations are not fantastic.  They are.  San Felipe though stands on its own because it takes a little more effort to get there.

Located between the phenomenal Colorado desert and the waters of the sea of Cortes, San Felipe is unarguably one of the choice destinations, particularly for foreigners who are looking to buy a vacation home.

From Los Angeles, San Felipe is about 350 miles away.  That’s about 50 miles further than the distance to Las Vegas.  From Yuma, it’s only 175 Miles.  In most cases, Mexicali serves as your entry point.

The road (Mex 5) down to San Felipe is in excellent condition and is a pretty straight shot south.

Visitors to San Felipe won’t find large mega resorts or cruise ships in port.  Instead, San Felipe is a quiet village with fishing and tourism as its primary sources of income.

For lodging, San Felipe has many options from Rental homes with popular sites like Airbnb and smaller hotels.  Some favorite choices for hotels include the El Cortez Hotel and the next-door Stella Mar Bungalows.  The cost is very reasonable, and the location is about 500m south of the malecón (boardwalk).  Both are situated right on a beautiful stretch of beach.

Sunrise at low tide.

Speaking of beaches, San Felipe has a beautiful phenomenon in addition to warm water temperatures.  During low tide, the water recedes about a kilometer or more making for some incredible sunrise or sunset photos.  The shallow seabed makes playtime in the water safe, fun, and enjoyable.

Dining is quite good.  San Felipe, commonly attributed to inventing the fish taco, serves up some of the best.  There are many seafood options along the malecón all vying for your business.  They are excellent for lunch or a quick bite.  When you want a memorable dinner, the choices are more limited.  Highlights include the El Nido Steakhouse on the south end of town and La Vaquita Marina on the north end.

If you’re looking for a place to hear live music and knock back some great drinks, head back out of town onto Mex 5 for about 10 minutes and stop at either the Roadrunner Café or the Sand Rail Pizza and Jolly Mon Bar.

If you love fishing, you’re in luck.  On any weekend in San Felipe, one can easily hire a local with a Panga to take you out to some secret spots.

There are plenty of fun activities you can engage in, including off-road driving walks along beaches, sports fishing, desert tours, tours along the surrounding mountains, etc.

Because of the incredible dunes inland, ATVs, dune buggies, and Dirt bikes are regularly seen in town.  Several vendors also rent out ATVs by the hour.

When it comes to peaceful, family-friendly getaways, a weekend in San Felipe makes an excellent choice.  The region’s vast combination of accessibility, fun, and value shines brightly.

Panoramic view of the Coast.

Getting to a weekend in San Felipe is easy.  , head to El Centro via I-8 and head south to Mexicali.  Returning is also hassle-free with two main crossings in Mexicali.  The East Gate (Garita II) is typically far less busy.  Leave on Monday instead of Sunday and sail back across the border like a boss.

The only other thing you need is your passport and your Mexican Insurance from MexicanInsuranceStore.com.


15 Secrets to enjoy motorcycle riding in Mexico

Who knew motorcycle riding in Mexico could be so much fun? -Tom White

Many riders are surprised by how good the motorcycle riding in Mexico is.  We all know Mexico is a great country for overland travel. It’s got a well-developed highway system and wonderful cities and places to visit throughout the country.

Motorists and truckers mostly like motorcyclists and think you’re cool!  Treating them with mutual respect makes for a more pleasurable journey.

Riding a motorcycle is different from riding in the USA or Canada. Americans and Canadians are sticklers for rules and right-of-way. In Mexico, driving priority is primarily based on who is bigger and who is there first.

Mexican Insurance Store
A group of riders stopped to snap a quick photo at sunset.

While not exhaustive, these secrets will enhance your journey and increase the number of friends you make.

  1. Wave to military vehicles, truckers, children in cars, drivers when you pass them, and of course other motorcyclists. A simple wave or better yet, a peace sign is a perfect way to demonstrate respect and mutual camaraderie.  Even wave to cops.  You’ll be surprised how often a wave gets you a smile and wave back.
  2. Passing is an art in Mexico. If you are on a two-lane road and you want to pass, flick on your left-turn blinker.  This lets drivers ahead know your intention. They will often pull over to the right a little bit to allow you to pass ahead. If a vehicle wishes to pass you, do the same. Move over to the right and let them.
  3. When passing trucks, also use your left-turn blinker as you approach and pass. This alerts them you are there and keeps you visible to them.  Do this even when you are in the passing lane and they are in the right lane.
  4. Never pass trucks or vehicles on the right shoulder. This is because it’s the first place they will go to make room for emergency vehicles or to let others pass.
  5. SLOW DOWN when approaching and within a town or city! This is very important for several reasons. There are often bus stops, gas stations, and topes (speed bumps) as you approach towns. This is also where both Policía Municipal and Policía Federal like to wait with radar guns to catch speeders. Slow it way down.

     

    Pro Tip: Enjoy motorcycle riding in Mexico but don’t skimp on Mexican insurance.  Get a Full-Coverage policy from CHUBB Platinum.  The amount of coverage is phenomenal including your helmet, gear, and motorcycle accessories.

  6. If you are at or below half of a tank, fill it up at the next gas station. The next one may be many kilometers down the road.
  7. Take signs that read ‘Aguas’ and ‘Curva Peligrosa’ seriously. ‘Aguas’ means ‘Heads up’ or ‘Pay Attention.’ Also before many corners that are deemed ‘peligrosa,’ look for rumble strips.  These can seriously affect traction and control.
  8. Be friendly at gas stations. People will come up to you and ask the size of your engine, how much it costs, how fast it goes, and if you like Mexico. These are very typical questions and don’t feel weird about answering them.  Smile and be gracious with your answers.
  9. DO NOT RIDE AT NIGHT. This is a big one. When riding toward the end of the day, hold your hand out with three fingers showing. If the sun is at or below your fingers from the horizon, you have 15-20 minutes to find a place to stay the night. Do not try to continue. Road hazards, livestock, and in some regions, criminal activity become acute at night. Find a hotel and enjoy a good dinner.
  10. Lane Sharing and lane filtering are OK, and drivers are typically quite good about it. Don’t abuse the privilege drivers give you to pass. Do it safely and discretely. Be sure to wave and thank the drivers who make room for you.
  11. Drink about half a liter of water every time you stop. Many riders crash and suffer significant injuries and sometimes fatalities due to dehydration. A simple way to tell if you are properly hydrated is that you need to use the restroom at each stop and your urine is a light color. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.
  12. If you see a rider on the side of the road or a motorist in need, stop if it is safe, to offer help. There may not be mobile reception, and you may be the angel of the day. They will stop for you if you are in trouble, too.
  13. When motorcycle riding in Mexico, keep your chin up and always scan in the distance.  Look for hazards, errant drivers, debris, accidents, and animals. Doing so will give you plenty of time to take evasive action and not become a bigger problem. Be careful not to daydream when riding.
  14. If you have them, flash your emergency lights to let other drivers or riders know of oncoming hazards or sudden stops.  Flashing your brake light also works to alert drivers.
  15. In windy curving roads and especially blind corners, take it easy and stay to the right. Large vehicles including buses and trucks will take those corners wide. Give yourself plenty of time and options to remain safe and happy.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but this should give you an excellent primer on riding safely and enjoyably in Mexico.


Travel Warnings About Mexico & How to Correctly Read Them.

Important Travel Tips From Mexican Insurance Store

Family of four on beach vacation in Mexico

 

Story by Jim Foreman.

Some time ago a group of friends decided to enjoy Chinese Food together. At the end of the meal as the check arrived, the most outspoken and perhaps the most attractive friend grabbed her fortune cookie and stood up.

She pronounced that everyone had to add the words ‘in bed’ after every fortune. One by one, we all read aloud our fortunes with the additional fun words.

Today it seems whenever you try to plan a trip down south, some news report comes out. Don’t go this week, the US State Department just issue another warning! The cheeky nerve… Who are these people at the State Department and have any of them even traveled to Mexico?

How to interpret Mexican travel warnings

As of this writing, many popular destinations are on the US State Department Travel Warning page for Mexico.  One should actually read it rather than rely on others to tell them what to think.

Go ahead and click on the link. The first thing you’ll notice is these warnings nearly always specify US Personnel. This means US Government employees. In particular, the warnings mostly refer to US Embassy and Consulate employees and Anti-Drug officials.

One must chuckle at the line, “U.S. government personnel are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit.”  It’s seemingly okay for US Government personnel to patronize ‘Adult Clubs’ (legal brothels) in other states of Mexico.

The more important line to take from all of this is, “There is no evidence criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality.

For many readers and travelers to Mexico, this is all common sense. However, for those who sell gear, also known as the news media, this will add to the ignorant indignation.

Foolish ‘American Traveler’ naiveté causes many to take regrettable and ridiculous actions at home and while traveling. Later these same folks dare to complain when something does go wrong and blame everyone else for their complete lack of common sense or reason.

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Follow these simple guidelines to enjoy the amazing Mexican culture.

  1. You should not travel at night. Be off the road before dusk, and don’t mess with this one.
  2. Don’t wear shirts with a large ‘DEA’ printed on them.
  3. Don’t get gas or visit an ATM at night. Do you do this at home?
  4. Don’t be a loud, obnoxious, overly complaining boor. Ever! Whether traveling or not.

Seriously, be aware of the ever-changing situation in Mexico. Talk to people who have recently (within the last 3-4 months) been there. Get their perspective. Don’t rely on people who have never been or only have anecdotal stories about their brother’s friend who, for no reason wound up in a Mexican jail.

Because of this, it’s wise to avoid sensational or out-of-date info from the news media, TV shows, movies, pulp thrillers and especially Facebook and what passes for news on the internet.  Remember, the ‘News’ is not there to inform you. Above all, its sole purpose is to keep you angry and afraid.  Watch 20 minutes of any newscast and then see how you’re feeling.  When one is angry and afraid, one can be manipulated into believing or doing anything, no matter how abhorrent.

Why You Should Buy Mexico insurance coverage for driving.

You need to have a valid policy from a Mexican insurance company. You can get this coverage from MexicanInsuranceStore.com.

Some insurers in the US and Canada provide limited protection for Mexico. They may cover physical damage to 25 miles from the border. Your domestic insurance can not extend liability coverage to you. US and Canadian liability coverage is invalid in Mexico. If a car accident happens and you are found to be at fault, it can be really hard.

In Mexico, it is required that all drivers have car insurance.  The minimum protection is liability-only.  Get full coverage unless your car, motorcycle, or RV is over 20 years old.  The best advice is to match your US or Canadian insurance when buying Mexican Insurance.  This way, your risk remains the same.

A Liability Only Mexican insurance policy will only cover the damage you cause to other people or property.

 

Mexico is a warm and wonderful place to visit offering some of the best beaches, weather, culture, and hospitality anywhere in the world. More than 15 Million people visit Mexico each year with nothing but sunburn and great stories. Few places in the world offer all the benefits that Mexico does.

Going back to the story about the Chinese food fortune cookies with friends, add the words, “If you’re involved in the drug trade” to the travel warnings to get an accurate perspective.

For more information please read, “Rookie Mistakes to Avoid While Traveling