|This might sound rash to non-computer users, but I now consider the Internet to be the worlds best all-around source of information on travel and living in Mexico and Central America. Since the last issue of this Travel Letter, weve seen an information explosion, both on the World Wide Web (WWW) and in UseNet discussion groups. When I have a question about Mexico and it can be as simple as the current peso/dollar exchange rate or the name of a small hotel in Puerto Vallarta, or as esoteric as an English translation of the lyrics to The Ballad Of Pancho Villa the information is almost always readily available on a Web site, by email or in a cyber-travel discussion group.
At such an early stage in the evolution of the Internet, the implications of almost instant access to travel information and advice are still difficult to grasp. For example, if Im planning a trip to northern Mexico, I can view current satellite weather photographs, query people who actually live in Mexico about hotels and restaurants, book discount air tickets, gather background on everything from history to bird watching, read local newspapers in Spanish and English, and last but not least, discuss my plans in minute detail with travelers who have just returned from Mexico. This is such a far cry from the days when the only information that leaked out of Mexico related to killer earthquakes or beauty pageants that Im still in something of a daze.
The purpose of this new CyberMex column will be to point you toward some of our favorite travel resources on the Internet. I also want to encourage you to join online discussions, such as the moderated Move To Mexico Forum hosted at http://www.mexconnect.com. I think youll find the "conversation" in these groups to be stimulating, informative and a heck of a lot of fun.
Are you entirely new to computers and the Internet? If so, try to set up an internet session through a friends computer, at a library or in a cyber-cafe. You cant expect to learn this stuff overnight, but its worth the effort to find someone who can help you connect to the Web sites we list here. Once you get a taste of whats available, youll have a much better understanding of the value of having your own computer and Internet access.
CompuServe Information Service (CIS) "Go Travsig" and "Go Mexico" Forums
You have to pay ten bucks a month to access CompuServe, but its a great way to get your feet wet in cyberspace. Better yet, the Mexico-related forums are very well organized, with messages flying back and forth between participants on a variety of topics, as well as excellent information archives on Mexico. Considering that you get comprehensive Mexico coverage along with
email and World Wide Web access, CIS is your best bet among online services.
Though MexConnect is still in its Web infancy, this Mexico-based site is attracting attention from those of us interested in living and retiring in Mexico. Lorena and I often participate in the Forum discussion area, where the questions and answers tend to focus on serious topics such as the legal issues involved in living in Mexico, real estate laws, cost of living, health care, etc. MexConnect also offers good business and background information, as well as links to Mexican newspapers, weather reports and financial news. David McLaughlin, one of MexConnects founders, told us that their goal is to create a 'one stop' site for information on Mexico. Thats an awesome task, but judging from what theyve accomplished so far, MexConnect is definitely a place to watch.
@migo Interactive (Mexico Online): www.mexonline.com
Like MexConnect, the @migo site covers everything from information on travel in Mexico to shopping, business networking and cultural/historical background. The "Interactive" discussion forum has suffered from technical problems, however, and message traffic has been quite light. Although @migos producers seem to be ironing out the technological wrinkles, I wish that moving through the site was simpler, with more obvious 'signposts'. Their searchable database of Mexico information presumes you know what youre looking for, but when Im just browsing I find indexed lists to be quicker and more intuitive. Overall, this is an excellent site with a lot of potential.
Eco Travels in Latin America: www.planeta.comRon Mader gets the prize: Eco Travels is not only loaded with useful, up to date information on travel and environmental issues in Latin America, but this site is both attractive and easy to use. Youll find everything here from personal experience articles on eco-tourism in the Copper Canyon and Honduras to comprehensive lists of NGOs, Spanish schools, bibliographies, periodicals, eco-tours, and much more. This is a top notch site: Bookmark it! Ron also publishes an excellent print newsletter, El Planeta Platica (The Earth Speaks). Send a check for $25 to Talking Planet, 12345 SW 18th St. #417, Miami, FL 33175.
Also check out:
Stan Gotlieb's Letters From Mexico: www.dreamagic.com/stan/letters.html.
Choose Mexico: www.hway.net/gateway.
The exceptional pottery of Mata Ortiz is described at www.goodnet.com/ "mataort/matahp.html.
If youve discovered an interesting or worthwhile information source, or if youd be interested in receiving an email version of this newsletter, please email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org