Things That Matter

Something Is Going On In The Dominican Republic As The 11th American Dies And Countless Others Return Sick

There have been varying reports of illnesses and deaths that have come out of the Dominican Republic that has many wondering what’s going on. At least seven Americans have died this year already in the Dominican Republic, with questions being raised about how is this happening. But despite the news, the island nation says that there is nothing for tourists to be concerned about.

Here is the list of American tourists that have died in the Dominican Republic in the last year.

Donette Edge Cannon. Died in May 2018 if kidney failure after staying in Punta Cana.
Yvette Monique Sport, 51. Died June 23, 2018 at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana. 
David Harrison, 45. Died July 14, 2018, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. 
Robert Wallace, 67. Died April 12, 2019, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.
John Corcoran, 60. Died at the end of April inside his hotel room in the Dominican Republic.
Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41. Died May 25, 2019, at the Bahia Principe Bouganville. 
Edward Holmes, 63. Died May 30, 2019, at the Bahia Principe La Romana.
Cynthia Day, 49. Died May 30, 2019, at the Bahia Principe La Romana. 
Leyla Cox, 53. Died June 10, 2019, at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana.
Joseph Allen, 55. Died June 13, 2019, at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua.
Vittorio Caruso, 56. Died June 17, 2019, at the Boca Chico Resort in Santo Domingo.

Officials in the Dominican Republic aren’t buying that there is a problem going in there.

All 11 Americans who have died over the last 12 months in the Dominican Republic were staying at luxury hotels and all died under somewhat similar circumstances. The FBI is assisting Dominican police with investigations and the State Department has stated there has been no evidence of foul play or sign that the deaths are connected.

Ministry of Public Health spokesman Carlos Suero told Fox News this week the deaths shouldn’t bring alarm or fear to potential visitors. She says the people that passed died of natural causes.

“It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism, this is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists, we are a popular destination,” Suero told Fox News. “People are taking aim at us.”

Two of the sudden deaths happened at the Hard Rock Cafe in Punta Cana. Liquor from the minibars is suspected in the deaths and the resort is responding by removing the dispensers in the guest rooms. According to CNN, General Manager Erica Lopez said the decision was made to “provide more tranquility” for the guests and tourists.

Despite these reports, many agree that the Dominican Republic is still a safe place to travel.

The U.S. State Department currently rates the D.R. as a level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. Visitors in countries rated as 1 should “exercise normal precautions” while Americans aren’t encouraged to travel to countries rated as 4.

“Millions of Americans travel to the Dominican Republic every year,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “Speaking generally, we have not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen deaths reported to the Department.”

People on social media aren’t letting these reports stop them from visiting the Dominican Republic.

Many aren’t buying the news that they should be “fearful” when traveling to the Dominican Republic. Some say the recent string of deaths and illnesses are a huge coincidence that’s being blown out of proportion.

According to CNN, there were an estimated 6.5 million tourists that traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2018. Out of that number, 2.2 million of those were American. Tourism makes up about 17 percent of the Dominican Republic’s economy which might be the reasoning behind why officials have dismissed the idea of an epidemic or growing danger there.

“People die all over the world,” Suero told Fox News. “Unfortunately, very unfortunately for us, these tourists have died here. We had about 14 deaths last year here of U.S. tourists, and no one said a word. Now everyone is making a big deal of these.”

READ: Eighth American Dies In The Dominican Republic And Families Are Pressuring The US Government To Demand Answers

10 ‘Instagram Vs. Reality’ Photos Of Mexico’s Most Instagrammable Places To See Before You Book Plane Tickets

Culture

10 ‘Instagram Vs. Reality’ Photos Of Mexico’s Most Instagrammable Places To See Before You Book Plane Tickets

It’s no secret that Instagram is the highlight reel of life, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded from time to time. Sometimes we forget that influencers, celebs, brands —and even ourselves— are guilty of editing and filtering photos so heavily that they end up looking nothing like the real life version. In the search for the perfect “Instagram-worthy” shot, we lose perspective of what things looked like in reality. 

These places are still beautiful —just a little different than you might expect. 

This is why we thought we’d round up Mexico’s most “Instagrammable” spots according to social media users and show you the curated, edited and heavily filtered version, as opposed to the everyday scenario. And don’t get me wrong, all of these places are beautiful in their own way. I simply thought you might want to know that there can be crowds, it can get hot and humid, and Instagram won’t show any of that. 

1. Hierve el agua 

Instagram

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Reality 

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Hierve el Agua is a set of natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that resemble cascades of water. There’s no denying that this place is a wonder of nature —but be warned; it will get crowded and the water isn’t always crystal clear. Depending on the season, the pools get a little opaque, just letting you know.  

2. Islas Marietas

Instagram 

Credit: trip_and_trip / Instagram

Reality

The Marieta Islands are a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of the state of Nayarit, Mexico. Playa del Amor, commonly known as the Hidden Beach, is thought to be —because of deceiving IG posts— “a lovers’ beach, tucked below the surface of the island, provides a safe haven for romance.” In actuality, the beach is only accessible via boat —and you have to swim to get to the hidden beach. Once there, there are crowds and crowds of people in orange life-vests (these are mandatory unless you want to risk a ticket and fine). The place is still beautiful, but getting an insta-worthy shot might be close to impossible unless you make it out there before 9am.

3. Las Coloradas

Instagram

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Reality 

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The viral cotton candy pink lakes located in Yucatan, Mexico are really a sight to be seen. The vibrant pink color of these lakes is due to red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that thrive in the salty environment. As the water evaporates, these organisms become more concentrated, glimmering pink in the bright Mexican sunlight. Unfortunately this is a not a year-round event —sometimes the organisms that give color to the lakes run low, and so the water takes on the regular murky color of a good old lake.

4. Grutas Tolantongo

Instagram 

Credit: ilikemexico/ Instagram

Reality

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Tolantongo is a box canyon and resort located 17 kilometres from Ixmiquilpan on Route 27 in the Mezquital Valley, State of Hidalgo in Mexico, It is about 1.5 hours northwest of Pachuca and 198 km or three-to-four hours northwest of Mexico City —aka. it’s a looong drive into the country. The place no doubt, is beautiful and well worth the drive. But you might have to wait a bit to grab a pool due to the large groups of tourists that flock to the area as soon as spring and summer hits Mexico.

5. Jardín Escultorico Las Pozas 

Credit: Mariana.14es / Instagram

Reality

Credit: ankakubacha / Instagram

Las Pozas is a surrealistic group of structures created by Edward James, more than 2,000 feet above sea level, in a subtropical rainforest in the mountains of Mexico. The place is comprised of over 80 acres of land —so you best bring a tour guide, lots of water and a change of clothes, because it will get sweaty. Oh, and don’t forget the mosquito repellent, it is the rainforest after all.

6. San Miguel de Allende

Instagram 

Credit: viajeras_mexicanas / Instagram

Reality

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San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands, is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and cultural festivals. In the city’s historic, cobblestoned center lies the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Keep in mind that this city was first built in the 16th century so it wasn’t planned with cars and crowds in mind. The place can get pretty hectic and busy, so set a meeting point for your friends and/or family to meet in case you get lost in the crowds.

7. Ruinas de Tulum

Instagram

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Reality

The trendy town of Tulum was built next to the Mayan ruins. The 13th-century, walled Mayan archaeological site at Tulum National Park overlooks the sea. It incorporates the clifftop Castillo, built as a watchtower, and the Templo de las Pinturas, with a partially restored mural. The place is truly magical, you’ll get a chance to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean after you tour the ruins —but a word of caution: the walk from the parking lot into the archaeological site es LONG, and it’s HOT in Quintana Roo, so if you can, take the shuttle. Bring lots of water and if possible, a parasol or hat to to get some respite from the sun.

8. El salto del Meco 

Instagram

Reality 

Credit: josuegomzz / Instagram

If you visit this waterfall in dry season (May-September), you might find it empty, because a company located next to it, takes all the water to provide energy for the region. But although the waterfall itself is just visible in rainy season, the beautiful green natural pools are always there to amaze you.

9. Sayulita

Instagram

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Reality

Sayulita is a village on Mexico’s Pacific coast backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. It’s known for beaches with strong surf, like the central Sayulita Beach and for its brightly decorated streets. Yes, the place is beautiful but remember that filters and editing can make a place look much more ‘enhanced’ than it might look like IRL.

10.Mercado de la Ciudadela

Instagram

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Reality

The Ciudadela Market is a traditional style Mexican market which specializes in the sale of Mexican handcrafts and folk art, located in the southwest corner of the historic center of Mexico City. The place is ideal if you need to buy some souvenirs, other than that, it’s just a good old Mexican ‘mercado’.

Monarca Butterflies Were Almost Declared A Threatened Species — This Year, The Number Of Butterflies Arriving To Mexico Is Shocking

Things That Matter

Monarca Butterflies Were Almost Declared A Threatened Species — This Year, The Number Of Butterflies Arriving To Mexico Is Shocking

Every year, hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies travel up to 3 thousand miles in their annual migration from Canada and the United States, to their wintering home in Mexico. Once there, the monarchs set camp in the Oyamel Fir trees of Michoacan, Mexico. After years of increasingly declining populations, monarch butterflies could be making a comeback across North America.

The ‘Monarca’ butterfly has started to descend upon the Mexican forests of Michoacan.

The beautiful butterflies have started their annual fall migration, and early reports from observers suggest that more of them are making the trek than in years past. The increase is attributed to good weather conditions during the migration period, as well as larger numbers of milkweed, an important food source, along their path.

The brightly-colored butterfly starts its long migration in October and heads back North toward the end of Winter in January.

Come October when temperatures start to drop in Canada and the United Sates, millions of  beautiful black and orange monarch butterflies start their mesmerizing migration, which sees them flapping south, nearly 3 thousand miles to the center of Mexico. These butterflies cluster into Pine and Oyamel trees in the forests of Michoacan.

The massive migration of monarch butterflies still remains a mystery to researchers.

A lot is still unknown about how the butterflies are able to find their way to Mexico every fall — or how they make the return trip north to Canada and the northeastern United States come spring. One thing we do know is that when the weather starts warming up in the U.S., they’ll head back north from Mexico, stopping in southern states like Texas and Louisiana to mate and lay eggs, which quickly become caterpillars that transform into butterflies that continue flying north bit by bit, mating (and dying) along the way.

Another thing that’s become clear in recent years is that monarch butterfly populations are dwindling.

https://twitter.com/SouthernGroupAL/status/1188940480760946693

In fact, over the last two decades, more than a billion —yes, billion— butterflies have disappeared. One reason is the decline of milkweed, mostly a result of herbicides. Milkweed is the only plant on which monarch butterflies can lay their eggs — and the only food caterpillars feed on before turning into butterflies.

Although, monarch butterflies have not yet been declared a threatened species, the prospects of future migrations are unsure.

Recent figures indicate that the number of monarch butterflies arriving to Mexico has been far lower than usual. The monarch butterfly biosphere reserve is located in the central Mexican Mountains. The creation of this biosphere reserve was to protect the forests and butterflies that overwinter there.

Surprisingly, this year started out well for the eastern monarchs.

The NRDC cites a count of monarchs in Mexico last winter that showed more than double the previous year’s number. It was the highest number in 10 years! Now that the southward migration is on, monarch lovers are hopeful that the population will remain strong. Civilian butterfly boosters are spotting the colorful road warriors on their journey.

One key way that the butterfly fans encourage the monarchs on their annual odyssey is by planting milkweed.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the loss of milkweed plants in both urban and rural areas is a big reason why monarch populations have dipped, and the success of milkweed restoration projects may be contributing to their return. Fortunately, word is spreading about the need to bring back milkweed.

Tourists can visit 3 reserve areas that are open to the public: El Rosario in Ocampo the most popular, one. It receives visitors from November to March. And it also offers guided tours. Sierra Chincua in Angangueo is easy to visit, and finally, the most perfect among the three is Cerro Pelon. These reserves are visited by many Mexican and international tourists from Canada, United States, Germany, Japan, France and Spain.

The town of Angangueo, located in far eastern Michoacan celebrates the ‘Monarch Butterfly Festival.’

In the year 1922, Angangueo decided to start a festival to promote awareness of the habitat of butterflies and the arts and culture of the area, all proceeds from the festival go back to protecting the butterfly biosphere reserve as well as local indigenous groups.