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Japanese leaf blowers hijacked Mexico’s Spotless Sidewalk Syndrome

Many years ago, I taught English in Querétaro, which was then so small you could easily reach every part of it on foot. The first time I crossed the town early in the morning it was so quiet I expected to see nothing but empty streets. To my surprise, I found neither the streets nor the sidewalks empty. It was, in fact, downright dangerous to walk around at that hour, because, without warning, gallons of water (clean, fortunately) might come sailing out of any doorway at any time. This was my first introduction to a curious and charming Mexican custom which, for lack of a better name, I will call the Spotless Sidewalk Syndrome.

Could Jalisco open the world’s next geopark?

“Geoparks  are the fastest growing kind of parks in the world,” announced Ross Dowling,  coordinator of the third Global Conference on Geotourism, held in Muscat, Oman last week. Naturally, the Guadalajara Reporter was there to cover the event, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Jalisco’s Casa San Matías, distiller of Pueblo Viejo tequila.

A geopark in my back yard?

Not long ago, I received an invitation to participate in the Third Global Conference on Geotourism. I wanted to go, but there was a slight hitch: the meeting would be held in Muscat, Oman, 15,000 kilometers from Jalisco. Miraculously, my transportation problem was solved when Casa San Matias, the people who make Pueblo Viejo Tequila, offered to pay for my plane ticket. That left only one small question I still needed to answer: exactly what is Geotourism?

On top of old Colli: An excursion to the peak of Guadalajara’s volcanic plug

Colli is that high hill located right behind the Omnilife Stadium, which  on Sunday (October 30) will be the focus of much attention for the closure of the Pan American Games. The hill, of course is actually a volcanic plug created after the Primavera Caldera’s last explosion about 25,000 years ago. In the June 4, 2010 Reporter, I described our discovery of a steep path up the south side of Colli from the prolongation of Avenida Guadalupe. The trail we followed was hot and dusty, without a square centimeter of shade, but we found plenty of tall pines, brisk breezes and of course a great view, once we reached the top.

Exploring Tala’s ‘River of Ghosts,’ spooky spires, fossil fumaroles and picture postcard pools

El Río de las Animas is born in the Primavera Forest and flows past the town of Tala, eventually emptying into Lake La Vega

I used to call it “The River of Souls” until I learned that there are two words for soul in Spanish: alma and ánima. The former refers to the souls of living persons as well as those who have made it to heaven or that other place. An “anima,”  however, has not yet reached its final destination. This word covers the souls in Purgatory as well as the ones you find wandering about cemeteries, haunted houses and the new Teuchitlán Interactive Museum (where the night guards have spotted dozens of ánimas, perhaps once belonging to the skeletons unearthed while digging the building’s foundation).