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Dolores Hidalgo – Mexico


Cradle of Independence–Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico                         by Erica Soto

Dolores Hidalgo-esAs we enter Dolores Hidalgo, we are welcomed with streets filled with a rainbow of stores selling hand-glazed talavera pottery.  We stop at a work shop where the process is explained to us.  We see some of the artists at work, drawing and painting each piece by hand.

Our first stop is at the Nuestra Senora de Dolores Church where Miguel Hidalgo, the parish priest rang the church bells to summon the town’s people to issue a speech against the unfair Spaniard government. Being that the day we were there was a Saturday, the church held many ceremonies from baptisms, quinceneras and weddings; almost every hour.  The church doors where filled with many locals preparing for the ceremonies.   It was a privilege for us to here on a Saturday and become part of their celebrations.  We were even invited by the bride and groom to follow the procession of their wedding.

Just across the church there is a large monument of Father Hidalgo in the tree-filled plaza. It is a perfect spot to enjoy some exotic ice-cream.  What a difficult decision in deciding what flavor to try! Luckily we could combine flavors from traditional vanilla, pecan and chocolate to the more exotic and unique, such as tequila, avocado, elote (corn), nopal (cactus), and shrimp, among many others.  The vendors are happy to let you sample the flavors and enjoy seeing your taste buds react.  You might just be surprised which flavor you choose!

Dolores Hidalgo maintains its quaint-Mexican charm that makes you feel very welcome here.  The local people appreciate your visit.  We were invited to return soon!

S & S Tours
4250 S. Hohokam Drive; Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
Ph:  866 780 2813 or 520 803 1352; Fax:  520 803 1355
Email:; Website:  http://www.

Atotonilco – Mexico

Place of Hot Waters- Atotonilco, Guanajuato, Mexico                         by Erica Soto

Atotonilco sanctuary w logo-e.s.Approximately six miles from San Miguel de Allende we stop in the village of Atotonilco, which means “place of hot waters.”  Atotonilco has one of the most revered sacred churches in Mexico.  The sanctuary of Atotonilco is a mysterious church used for pertinence.   It also has an important part in history as the route for independence and where the banner of the Virgin Mary was ripped from the sanctuary wall by Father Hidalgo and used as a representation of freedom from the Spaniards.

When we step out off the car we immediately notice the silence of this village.   We stop in front of the Sanctuary of   Atotonilco.  From the outside it is a very simple church with high, plain, white walls. But as you get closer and take a good look, encrypted are various faint murals.  You will have to look very closely to be able to depict them. The façade murals were noticed after the sanctuary having been neglected for centuries was named and UNESCO World Heritage Site and funds were available for restoration.  When the outside walls of the sanctuary were being prepped for painting one of the workers realized that these murals were hidden behind the dust of the sanctuary walls. The sanctuary entrance is the original 1740 carved wooden doors and lock.  The wearing down of the entrance step is also noticeable.

Once inside the sanctuary it was entirely an opposite sight from the outside.  There are huge carved wooden images of mythical creatures, bleeding penitents, suffering saints and frescos. One of the most notable and important figure is of a bleeding Jesus of Nazareth.  This same figure is used for pilgrimage during holy week procession from the village of Atotonilco to San Miguel de Allende.

After the intense visit of the sanctuary, we stopped to have a relaxing lunch at the banks of Rio Laja surrounded by mesquite trees and cacti.  From here, we are only 10 minutes away from San Miguel de Allende!

S & S Tours
4250 S. Hohokam Drive; Sierra Vista, AZ 85650
Ph:  866 780 2813 or 520 803 1352; Fax:  520 803 1355
Email:; Website:  http://www.

Copper Canyon Bus & Train Tour

Copper Canyon

“The Balderrama hotels exceeded my expectations! The driver & guide were excellent!” P.D., AZ

At S & S Tours, we are Copper Canyon specialists! This magnificent 25,000 square-mile canyon system in northwestern Mexico is deeper, greener and wider than Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Copper Canyon is home to primitive Tarahumara Indians, some of whom still live in cave homes. The railroad trip through the Canyon has been described by the Reader’s Digest as the “most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere.”

cc-sueerica-cc2Because this is a remote area it is difficult to access by plane, S & S Tours in association with the Balderrama Hotels now offers an innovative 10-Day; 20-50 passenger monthly scheduled group bus tours between Phoenix and Copper Canyon. The last one this year is December 4-13, 2016. The hotels in this remote area have all been chosen with great care. We utilize the best hotels in the canyon system, Balderrama Hotels, wherever available.

Your adventure begins and ends in Phoenix, Arizona. We pick up people in Tucson and Green Valley, AZ, along the way.

An overnight on the spectacular Sea of Cortez breaks up our bus journey.

The picturesque colonial town of El Fuerte, founded in 1564 deserves two nights of lodging. Famous for being the legendary birthplace of Señor Diego de la Vega, you will meet the charming Zorro at 6:00 happy hour. From there, we board the famous Copper Canyon train. The Copper Canyon train ride is an inspiring journey that took more than 100 years to construct. National Geographic calls it an engineering marvel. Imagine yourself riding a train that will take you from sea level to almost 8,000 feet elevation into the heart of the majestic, rugged western Sierra Madre Mountain Range (25,000 square miles of unspoiled landscape).

A visit to Sue’s favorite place in the canyon system—the small rural village of Cerocahui—allows you an expansive rim view of the deepest canyon in the system, Urique Canyon.

Our hotel on the rim of Copper Canyon is the prime location in all the 25,000 miles of Canyon system. Your room will have a balcony overlooking the Canyon. Zip lining and a cable car ride across the Canyon are available here.

On the way home we overnight in the famous pottery making town of Casas Grandes. We have a demonstration in one of the pottery family’s homes.

Fly to Copper Canyon Mexico

For the first time in 8 years, an airline route between Tucson and the Copper Canyon Mexico

Aeromar planeA long awaited inauguration occurred at the Tucson Airport on September 30th. Aeromar, the oldest airline in Mexico, will begin offering flights between Tucson and the Copper Canyon October 3rd. Aeromar operates more than 100 daily flights to 41 destination with an on-time performance level exceeding 93%. The comfortable flights will hold 48-63 passengers.

The flight will leave Tucson at 1:20 pm and arrive in Los Mochis (for the Copper Canyon) at 5:40 pm. You will be able to credit miles on AeroMar toward your Milegage Plus account with United and Aeromexico’s frequent flyer account. is the website. Please check it out.

Gray whale watching tour

“A Dream Come True” Gray Whale Watching in Baja California, Mexico


Gray whale watching tour

Baja California Whale Watching

Even though I was raised in Iowa with no whales anywhere near to be seen, I have been fascinated by them since I was a very young girl. When my parents took me to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (they even had a mine there), they asked me how I liked it and my answer was “They do not have a whale here.”

The first few times I went whale watching in Magdalena Bay out of La Paz, my clients commented that they watched me as much as the whales. I was so excited about every sighting and could not express enough my enthusiasm for these “gentle giants.”

The Grays have migrated to Baja California to rest from Orcas, their prime predator, to breed and to calve in the protected lagoons. These elite migrant mammal travelers, journeying up to 12,000 miles round trip, come from the ice-plagued waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea to bask in the warm waters of Baja California’s bays.

The babies thrive in the warm waters as they have no protective layer of blubber at birth. It is a wonder to watch baby grays rolling over onto Mom’s back, teasing her all the while, or swimming under our skiff as though stuck to mom’s side. Whales breaching and spy-hopping add to the awesome adventure.

Friendly whales are common in this area and some will actually approach the skiff as though to say “hello.” Whale researchers have speculated if whales see the boats a potential mate as they can come up under the skiffs and rub against them. Or, perhaps some whales are just friendly.


10 days in the Copper Canyon

Copper CanyonI just returned from 10 days in Copper Canyon with travel agents. I marvel again at the Adventure Park at the Divisadero Area in Copper Canyon. Rock climbing, repelling, cable cars and zip lines are among its offerings. The Park offers a 7-jump zip line which is the longest in Mexico and the Zip Rider which is the longest single zip line in the world.

I have ridden the 7-jump zip line about 6 times and I am always ready to go again. It is such a trill to be flying through the air over canyon views that one cannot see any other way. At one point you are 2275 feet above the canyon floor. Three miles of course with two hanging bridges added in gives you plenty of time to revel in the scenery. Looking around you see dramatic scenes with steep rocky cliffs, stream beds and Tarahumara Indian ranches. One of the lines is 1.2 km long and on one of the lines you double up so you will make it across the chasm to the other side

The Zip Rider seems too tame for me, but, for those who want soft adventure riding in comfortable chairs at 65 miles per hour, it can be an adrenaline rush. The vertical drop is 450 feet and is over 8000 ft. long with a 17% grade. It takes about 2.5 minutes whereas the 7 zip line can take up to 3 hours, depending on how many people are riding it that day. You can boast you have ridden the fastest, highest and longest single zip line in the world.

Even if you do not ride a zip line, you should at least ride the cable car across the canyon. It is 3.6 miles long and offers a good view of Tarahumara Indian ranches and the canyon floor and flora. On the 7-jump zip line, you return on the cable car so you get both adventures in the same adventure.

Travelling to Mexico–How Safe Is It…

Travelling To Mexico – How Safe Is It To Be A Foreign Tourist In Mexico?  3-19-15

bus carrilThere are many, many reasons to visit Mexico. From an incredible culture, to stunning historical sites, to a cuisine that’s admired worldwide, Mexico quite simply ticks all the travel boxes. However, Mexico does also have something of a reputation for lawlessness which may put off some travellers. In actual fact, this reputation is highly exaggerated, and no traveller should have anything to fear. However, in order to put minds at rest, here is a rundown of the dangers one may face in Mexico, and what can be done to avoid them.

Human Danger

Mexico has gained herself a reputation as a mafia stronghold, rife with cartels and racked by violent drug wars. This foreign perception of Mexican affairs is largely influenced by movie and televisual portrayals of Mexican gangsters. The truth is that, while (just like any other nation) Mexico is not without its problems, the overwhelming majority of tourists could spend months in Mexico and see no evidence of this whatsoever. Even the US Department of Passports and International Travel freely admits that “there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality” and that tourists in Mexico “generally do not see” the kind of drug-related crime and violence of which Hollywood is so enamored. It is true that Mexico is home to some drug trafficking routes, but cartel activity along these rarely if ever bothers itself with tourists. As in any big city, one would be advised to keep an eye on one’s belongings in case of pickpockets while in crowded urban areas – but tourists can expect absolutely nothing that they would not expect in any European nation when it comes to crime and violence.


While nations with nationalized medical facilities will often provide you with a high standard of healthcare without asking for payment, this does not apply in Mexico. However, this does not mean that the country’s healthcare system is a shambles. There are some very good hospitals around, particularly in Mexico City, and many American citizens have expressed a preference for Mexican doctors over their own. Mexican healthcare is generally cheaper than that available in the US, yet provides a very good standard of care for the money spent. One thing is for certain – in the unlikely event that you do fall sick or get injured in Mexico, you won’t be in any danger of not receiving adequate treatment. Mexican doctors and nurses are extremely professional, and Mexico is home to some of the best hospitals in the world.

Natural Dangers

Mexico is home to certain diseases which the wary traveller would be wise to take precautions against. However, if you prepare correctly, they are all very easy to avoid. People coming to Mexico should get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, and rabies – particularly if they’re going to be coming into contact with wild animals. You should also get vaccinated against typhoid. Mosquitos which carry malaria are a problem in certain parts of Mexico, particularly the more rural areas. Mosquito bites can be avoided by covering any exposed skin as much as possible, and taking anti-malarial pills like Chloroquine. You can also reduce your chances of being bitten by mosquitos by sleeping with screens, doors, and windows closed and through the use of repellents. In fact, the greatest natural dangers prevalent in Mexico are probably the sun and the water. Travellers should stick to drinking purified, bottled water, and try to avoid sunstroke. While it may seem an innocuous delight at first, the sun beating down on one’s head all day long can quickly cause heat-stroke and sun-sickness. While not usually particularly dangerous, these conditions are unpleasant to experience, so try to avoid staying out in the sun too long, and wear a shady hat if you’re planning on an extended stay outdoors. Also do try and avoid sunburn, as it can be severe and may lead to skin cancer in later life. So, in summary – forget the cartels, the sun is your main enemy in Mexico! Stock up on sun cream, pack some malaria tablets, and have a great, safe time!

Submitted by Sally Bowie

Flight of the Monarchs

Flight of the Monarchs: High in the Sierra Madres, the butterflies are literally everywhere
Butterfly sanctuary trek in Mexican mountains an eye-opening time

Monarch Butterfly ToursThe butterflies are everywhere – swirling about our faces, alighting on bushes, quivering in the sunshine on nectar-laden lupines.

Thousands upon thousands of delicate orange-and-black Monarchs fill our view. When clouds scuttle overhead, we even hear the susurration of their wings, like soft rain falling, as they flutter to the trees to huddle in clumps. It’s quite magical – almost otherworldly. Read More

Experience Mexico’s Copper Canyon

Experience Mexico’s Copper Canyon
Topics: Travel Experiences

Written by: Mexperience

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Many expats living in Mexico will have a list of must-see places to visit while they living here.  No such list would be complete without inclusion of one of the most breath-taking travel experiences Mexico has on offer: Barrancas de Cobre – Copper Canyon – an area of outstanding natural beauty situated in north-western Mexico.

The ‘Copper Canyon’ is actually a series of twenty canyons, formed over the years by six rivers. The area is about seven times the size of the Grand Canyon, and has distinct topography, flora and fauna to Arizona’s premier natural wonder.

The most popular – and best – way to travel into the canyon is by making use of the remarkable railway which traverses this rugged wilderness. Opened in 1961 following decades of construction, the line is an extraordinary feat of engineering in its own right. The railway line was originally devised to connect the commercial Pacific sea port at Los Mochis to the central colonial city of Chihuahua. An astounding feature of the line is that it begins at near-sea level on the Pacific coast, rises to an altitude of over 8,000 feet and then declines again to an altitude of around 2,500 feet. The incline of a railway track cannot exceed fifteen degrees, so to accomplish the ‘climb and descent’ the engineers needed to construct bridges, burrow many tunnels through the mountains and use ‘switch-back’ stages in order to complete the route. By the time the line was finished, engineers had laid over 390 miles of railway track crossing thirty-nine bridges and traversing eighty-six tunnels: the longest bridge runs for a quarter-mile, and the longest tunnel for nearly a mile.

Two first-class trains begin the journey across the canyon daily: one starting in Chihuahua City and the other in Los Mochis. They meet, roughly half-way, near Divisadero station, which is also where most of the canyon hotels, lodges and tours are based from. The most scenic and dramatic areas of the canyon are on the west side so, to take advantage of the daylight, it’s generally accepted that the train traveling west to east, from Los Mochis towards Chihuahua, is a better sight-seeing option than the one traveling east to west.

Although the train journey begins in Los Mochis, most tour visitors board the train at its first main stop situated in the beautiful colonial town of El Fuerte. Los Mochis is an industrial port city without much to offer travelers, so it’s best to fly there and take the hour-or-so road trip to El Fuerte, stay at least one night, and board the Copper Canyon train from there. When you arrange your visit to the canyon using a tour company, there will be a driver and vehicle waiting to meet you at the airport.

You can take the train straight through to Chihuahua City and simply see the canyon ‘in passing’ on the train. However, to properly experience the canyons, and get the most out of a visit to the region, explore the various tours on offer and arrange to stay at one of the hotels or eco-lodges in the canyon itself (the more adventurous can camp in the canyon) and, from there, participate in some of the wonderful outdoor activities on offer.

For detailed information about the Copper Canyon, including local knowledge about the area, best times to travel, the train journey, the attractions and activities on offer, connect to our comprehensive Guide to Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

For details about professionally organized tours, we highly recommend you contact Sue Stilwell of S&S Tours.  Sue has been taking small groups to the Copper Canyon for decades, and knows this area intimately.  Her love of Mexico and the Canyon resonates in the tours she crafts and in the testimonials of the travelers she has introduced to this breath-taking natural habitat.

See original article here

Escorted Group Adventure Tours

2013 Escorted Group Adventure Tours still available :

****NEW!!! Bike Tours in the Old West:  Mountain bike, road bike and family bike tours offered with Tombstone, AZ as the baseFirst  mountain bike tour is Fe 15-17.  April tour dates TBA.  ****

NEW Bus Tours between Phoenix and Copper Canyon:  We are cooperating with the Balderrama Hotels to make Copper Canyon more accessible and more economical. Call for dates and more information. Monthly.  These tours have been a huge success.  We fill up the bus with 43 tourists and have waiting lists!  We still offer small group escorted tours and independent tours to Copper Canyon.

Colonial Cities:  Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and QueretaroOctober 1-8, 2013

Magnificent Spain :  Because you have asked for another trip to Spain, here it is. Visit Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Gibraltar, Seville, and Toledo.  Save this month.September 16-27, 2013.

Travel Tips:   How NOT to stand in long lines in the airport—Global Entry Program,

This is a US Customs and Border Protection Program for expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. (No taking off shoes, belts or light jackets or separating out laptops, etc.)

     Participating entry points for returning to the US are increasing and there seem to be enough to make the program fee of  $100 (paid by credit card) worthwhile.  The fee is nonrefundable if you are not approved. You must submit an application online at where you will find a description of the program. If you are approved for the program, the fee is good for five years.   To apply, you will need to have a passport, birth certificate number and a list of countries traveled to in the last five years, in addition to providing personal information such as name, address, etc.

When you receive an e mail approving your application, you need to book an appointment at an approved Enrollment Center for an in-person appointment.  The locations are listed on the website.  The email explains what you need to take with you and that you will be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted.  The appointment can take 20 minutes.  Your passport will have a special sticker on the back and you go up to the Global Entry kiosk in passport control and use a machine that looks like an ATM to get processed.   You fingerprints are checked and you are screened on a camera. You may be issued a Global Entry card to use when traveling across the borders into Canada and Mexico. Note:  Few security personnel are trained in the program so you may need to explain to them your special status to join the crew and diplomat line.

You still have to present a Customs declaration form to a Customs agent. You receive this document from the machine that processes your passport swipe.