What's Going On In This Country?

September 4, 2017 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

All aboard! There are only four tourist trains in Mexico, and the number of passengers traveling on those train each year is just a small percentage (less than 5%) of the 1.6 million tourists coming to Mexico each year.

But the good news for those tourist trains is that passenger numbers have doubled in the last five years, and travel experts think Mexico’s train tourism industry has the potential to explode (in a good way) in the next few years.

Last year, 76,000 people traveled on the four tourist trains, taking routes to the Copper Canyon, through tequila country and across Baja California North, going from Tijuana to Tecate. What do we have to do to get a train that runs from Tijuana to Cabo? A lot of tourists and expats would gladly take that train instead of making the two to three day road trip along the peninsula.

Speaking of tourist trains… That’s just one of 16 tourism projects in Mexico that are looking for investors. Sectur, the federal tourism department, recently released its “large projects investment portfolio,” with a variety of projects that are looking for both national and foreign investors. They’re not fussy, they just want dinero. The projects have already been granted the necessary government approvals.

Included in these projects are hotels, golf courses and retirement communities. Up in BCN, there’s a 59-acre piece of oceanfront property, about 10 miles south of Rosarito and 30 miles north of Ensenada, that’s listed for only $12.5 million.

The site has approval for 653 luxury dwellings, although Sectur says a business retreat center, educational institute or hospital equipped for medical tourism are also possibilities for the site.

From Mexico with love 50 pounds of marijuana have somehow been flung over the border, landing with a thud that alerted border agents. The bundle landed harmlessly, not on anyone's head, raising the question that when the inevitable happens and someone does get beaned, does what's left of Obamacare pay, or will the Mexicans pay for it?

Drugs have been launched by such exotic weaponry as T-shirt cannons, catapults, and even cranes.

In other weird drug news… A 25-year-old man was charged with smuggling 13 pounds of meth from Mexico to the U.S. His mode of delivery? A drone.

The guy admitted he had used drones to smuggle drugs five or six times since March, usually delivering them to an accomplice in San Diego, and was being paid $1,000 USD for the most recent shipment.

Drones aren’t able to carry large drug stashes, which is why more druggies don’t use them for this. Other drawbacks are that the noise they make attracts attention and their range is limited.

What a monster Scenes from the newest Godzilla movie were shot in Mexico City couple weekends ago.

The city is just one filming location for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is scheduled to be released in March of 2019. It’s being directed by Michael Dougherty (you’ve probably never seen any of his other films) and is a sequel to the Godzilla movie that was released in 2014.

Mexico City’s mayor said the filming would have a positive economic impact on the city, creating around 2,000 jobs and bringing in revenue for local businesses.

Hmm, is anyone doing a “Creature Of The Black Lagoon” remake that we could lobby to be shot here in Cabo?

Something’s missing from the menu One of Mexico’s iconic dishes, chiles en nogada, is suffering the effects of inflation. Foodies are paying almost double to enjoy the delicacy this year compared to 2012 because all of its main ingredients have been hit by higher prices.

The dish consists of stuffed poblano chiles smothered in a white walnut cream sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds (you can get the full recipe in this issue’s Cooking Like A Mexican column),

Today, a pound of green poblano chiles costs about $1 USD. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a 55% increase from their 2012 price. And if you own a restaurant that’s buying truckloads of poblanos, that starts to add up.

Beef is up by just over 50%, and pomegranate has spiked by a whopping 242%. The owner of a popular marina restaurant just told us that his place doesn’t offer the dish year round because it’s too expensive to keep pomegranate seeds in stock all the time.

The price in cheaper eateries for the patriotic specialty, whose colors match those of the Mexican flag, has risen by 87.5% in recent years. That means the dish is usually selling for around $9, whereas in 2012 the cheapest price was about half that.

The dish is most commonly eaten during the month of September when independence celebrations coincide with the greatest availability of some of its ingredients. And did we mention you can read more about chiles en nogada in our Cooking Like A Mexican column?

Unemployment rate hits 11-year low Mexico’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in 11 years, according to data released by the national statistics institute, Inegi.

In July, 3.2% of the economically active population (meaning those who can work and are willing to do so) was jobless. With just over 1.7 million people unemployed, that is the lowest level since May 2006, when the figure was 3.1%.

However, almost 30 million people or 57.1% of all workers in the country are considered vulnerable to job less because they work in the informal economy (meaning they get paid under the table).

Baja California has one of the highest jobless rates, coming in at 4.6%. The only regions that were worse were Tabasco (7.3%), Mexico City (4.9%) and Coahuila (4.8%).

The problem in this country is not unemployment, but underemployment. People not being paid a fair living wage. This is why we can’t even hire cops and when we do, they steal. They start at less than $1000 a month.

But wage pressure is bound to mount, as we’re seeing a growing number of help wanted ads around town. There will soon be bidding wars.